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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.

Continue reading "Review: Doctor Who - 7x5 - The Angels Take Manhattan"

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.

Continue reading "Review: Vegas 1x1 (CBS/Sky Atlantic)"

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September 28, 2012

Review: The Mindy Project (Fox) 1x1

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

The Mindy Project

In the US: Tuesdays, 9.30/8.30c, Fox
In the UK: Not yet acquired

When is an anti-romcom romcom not an anti-romcom romcom? When it's a romcom!

You will, of course, have seen it before, the anti-romcom romcom. Sleepless in Seattle spends a lot of time deconstructing romcoms, with Rosie O'Donnell famously remarking to Meg Ryan: "A movie! That's your problem! You don't want to be in love. You want to be in love in a movie."

The Mindy Project dwells a lot on the inauthenticity of romcoms, as well, explicitly having our heroine, the thirtysomething single doctor Mindy Kaling (played by The Office (US)'s Mindy Lahiri), watching When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle et al religiously since she was a little girl while critiquing their realism.

Yet it wants to have its cake and eat it, by simultaneously following the path trod by Bridget Jones, giving us a woman who doesn't quite fit society's female ideal (she's Indian-American, not a size 0, not very tall and a terrible conversationalist), yet who's clearly fated to end up with the proud, rude Mr Darcyish doctor she's taken against from the first moment, rather than the Hugh Grant-alike she thinks she should end up with.

It's an anti-romcom romcom that dismisses the conventions of romcoms while embracing them. Everything cancels out and it's a romcom.

It's also so far the only genuinely funny new comedy of the Fall season: witty, surprising, clever, with a decent cast, decent characters, a proper plot and almost no recourse to cringe comedy.

Anyone surprised that NBC turned it down? No, me neither.

Here's a trailer.

Continue reading "Review: The Mindy Project (Fox) 1x1"

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