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October 2, 2012

Review: Made in Jersey 1x1 (CBS)

Posted on October 2, 2012 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Made in Jersey

In the US: Fridays, 9/8c, CBS
In the UK: Not yet acquired. I'm assuming Sky Living had a fit of the vapours

Beware the juggernaut, my son!

The juggernaut - aka CBS - is the goliath of TV. It dominates the ratings. It had oodles of cash. It can do pretty much what it likes. And if you don't like that, it'll run all over you.

The newest trick CBS appears to have discovered is to take existing programmes, file the serial numbers off, bolt on a procedural and then call them its own. This season, it's already deployed its own version of Sherlock as Elementary. Vegas - not to be confused with NBC's Las Vegas, but easily confused with its The Playboy Club as well as A&E's Longmire - emerged blinking into the moonlight last week and on Friday, we got Made in Jersey.

Now at first sight, you might not spot what Made in Jersey obviously rips off. After all, the lead character in this legal show, in which a street-smart Jersey girl gets her big break in a Manhattan law firm, isn't blonde (hint, hint).

But by the end of the episode - in which her exciting knowledge of hairstyling products is used to prove that the student accused of murdering her professor is innocent and that despite everyone's belief that she's an airhead, she really can be a lawyer - you'll be going, "Oh, so that's what CBS couldn't get the rights to cheaply! Legally Blonde!"

Because that's what we have here: Legally Blonde with hair dye but without any humour, and with a legal procedural element bolted on. Another triumph for CBS's assimilation department.

Are there any redeeming features to the show? Well, at a push, since it's clearly not the dialogue, plotting, plausibility or characterisation of Made in Jersey that is going to save it, I'd have to say it's got one thing going for it, other than Kyle MacLachlan looking very bewildered by the whole thing: for the first time in a long while, we have a US TV show that's about class.

Here's a trailer:

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October 1, 2012

Review: Doctor Who - 7x5 - The Angels Take Manhattan

Posted on October 1, 2012 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Angels Take Manhattan

In the UK: Twas on BBC1 on Saturday. Available on the iPlayer
In the US: It was on BBC America on Saturday, y'all

Vroomfondel: I think our minds must be too highly trained, Majikthise

From the Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy

So here we are. The end of an era. Exeunt Ponds, stage right, chased by a baby Angel. Stevie Moffat introduced them to us two and a half years ago with the first of his stories, The Eleventh Hour, and here he is, writing them out again.

Should be quite a moving moment, shouldn't it? Rusty usually managed to make companion departures the big tearjerkers they should be. Maybe not Martha, although who cared about her. But the 'death' of Pipes? The 'death' of Donna? Pass me a snivel-rag now.

Except, while there was a certain degree of sadness right at the end, this wasn't quite the tour de force I was hoping for from our Stevie. The trouble? I think that Stevie might be getting too clever for his own good. And working too hard.

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September 28, 2012

Review: Vegas 1x1 (CBS/Sky Atlantic)

Posted on September 28, 2012 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Vegas

In the US: Tuesdays, 10/9c, CBS
In the UK: Acquired by Sky Atlantic HD

As you may recall, last year, everyone when 60s crazy. And by everyone, I mean NBC and ABC, with The Playboy Club and Pan Am. The Playboy Club was hampered essentially by budget and a script that tried so hard to fair to everyone and not be exploitative that not much interesting happened when Amber Heard wasn't around in a scarlet bunny outfit. Certainly nothing interesting happened when Eddie Cibrian was on-screen.

Pan Am, by contast, had no problems with budget or even its cast. Instead, it was hampered by a script that was tedious bollocks. Trans-atlantic flights are more interesting.

The accusation then was the networks were trying to cash in on the popularity of period cable show Mad Men. Maybe a bit, but given Mad Men first aired in 2007 and the networks had already tried series set in the 70s, 80s and 90s, it's a stretch to say it had to be because of a mad rush to ape Mad Men. But it was at least an attempt to emulate the tone of the quality period dramas of cable TV. Hell, even Starz is trying to do that with Magic City and it is a cable network.

But all those efforts failed, because fundamentally neither NBC nor ABC can make those kinds of shows. Fox? Don't even think about it. It's busily trying to be CBS.

Just as we all were starting to despair that no US broadcast network could actually make decent, quality dramas of any kind any more, let alone period dramas, along comes CBS - our last, best hope for quality - and saves the day with Vegas, written by Nicholas Pileggi of GoodFellas fame. Set in 1960s Las Vegas and based on a real story, it has a stellar movie-star cast that includes Dennis Quaid, Carrie-Anne Moss from The Matrix and Michael Chiklis (The Shield, Fantastic Four, No Ordinary Family), features some seamless attention to detail, a suitably complex bit of plotting and characterisation, and - because it's CBS - a bit of police procedure.

Oh yes, and it's got Jason O'Mara from Terra Nova. Can't have everything right, huh?

Here's a trailer and behind-the-scenes preview.

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