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June 8, 2012

Mini-review: Longmire (A&E) 1x1

Posted on June 8, 2012 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Longmire

In the US: Sundays, 10/9c, A&E

After Saving Hope, here's another show that doesn't quite merit a full review. Longmire appears to take a page out of AMC's book - as well as Craig Johnson's series of mystery novels - by being a slow-moving character piece about a widowed sheriff out in Wyoming - the eponymous Longmire (the Australian actor Robert Taylor, best known as one of the agents from The Matrix).

Longmire doesn't really have a lot to do, at first, beyond dealing with an uppity but friendly new female deputy from out Phili way (Katee Sackhoff from Battlestar Galactica), a male deputy who wants his job, his lawyer daughter (Cassidy Freeman from Smallville) and a bunch of native Americans who don't like him and are either off running mobile brothels or being corrupt reservation cops - all apart from that nice Lou Diamond Phillips, of course. Then the unthinkable happens - there's an actual crime and Longmire has to investigate it, doing as little talking as possible.

It's beautifully shot on location in, surprisingly, New Mexico. It has an impeccable cast, has some real attention to detail and manages to offer a relatively fresh view on crime stories, although it's not a million miles away from Justified's 'modern western'. It's also touching as well, with Longmire's love of his deceased wife shining through.

But it reads like a last hurrah for conservatism and patriarchy, with the old, white straight guy being smarter and more honourable than everyone else, particularly city folks, women and those pesky Indians who aren't to be trusted. And despite a few action scenes, it's not the most exciting of shows either.

Still not bad so far, although since the trailer for the next episode has Sackhoff stripping by a pole in a club, I might be switching off in protest. Not that I count towards ratings, of course. Oh well.

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June 8, 2012

Mini-review: Saving Hope (CTV/NBC) 1x1

Posted on June 8, 2012 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Saving Hope

In Canada: Thursdays, 9pm ET/PT , CTV
In the US: Thursdays, 9/8c, NBC

I can't quite muster the enthusiasm to write a full review of this, since it's quite a bad, quite a boring show. Essentially, you have Erica Durance (Lois Lane in Smallville) and Michael Shanks (Daniel Jackson in Stargate SG-1) as irritating, arrogant doctors who work together and are about to get married. Unfortunately, there's a car crash, Shanks is nearly killed and he ends up in a coma.

You might think that was the end of that, but he then spends not just the rest of the episode but quite probably the rest of the series in an out-of-body experience, moving around, talking to ghosts and anyone else in a coma presumably, mulling over whether he was too much of a dick when he was alive.

Meanwhile, in the background to all of that, you have an incredibly tedious standard medical procedural where every patient has an Issue that needs to be dealt with.

Weirdly, we've already seen this done before very recently with A Gifted Man and it wasn't that good then. What makes this worse is that rather than the lead interacting with the invisible lover as per A Gifted Man, Shanks and Durance don't actually get to interact at all now Shanks is disembodied. To some this may seem romantic; to others, it means the show is even less interesting than it otherwise would have been. Even the addition of a supposedly hunky, sensitive Australian ex-lover for Durance to triangle with doesn't lift the script anywhere above forgettable.

Durance is fine, showing slightly more range than she was allowed in Smallville, but only a little. Shanks is very one-note, which is disappointing, given we know from Stargate that he's pretty versatile. The rest of the cast might as well be made from polystyrene for all they matter, but at least you can like them, unless Shanks' and Durance's characters.

Although the central concept is at least interesting, it's tedious, derivative, shows no sign of getting much better, so don't bother with it.

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May 31, 2012

Nostalgia corner: The Zoo Gang (1974)

Posted on May 31, 2012 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

The Zoo Gang

The gods alone know how I missed this one when I was doing my recap of ITC's 1970s shows, but I did, so let's rectify that mistake ASAP.

A close inspection of ITC's early 1970s shows, including The Persuaders!, The Protectors and The Adventurer will reveal a very subtle trend: a move away from casting bright young unknowns who might become stars to casting stars who were - trying not to be harsh - perhaps very slightly over the hill. Roger Moore obviously still had a career as James Bond ahead of him, but he'd already been The Saint and Ivanhoe, so who knew if there was a future for him in 1971. Ditto Tony Curtis, Robert Vaughn and Gene Barry who had been big… once.

The Zoo Gang married that trend with ITC's new dedication to overseas filming, casting Brian Keith (The Westerner, The Parent Trap, Nevada Smith, Family Affair and eventually Hardcastle & McCormick), Barry Morse (The Fugitive, The Adventurer and afterwards Space: 1999), Lilli Palmer (an award-winning German actress) and Sir John Mills as a group of World War 2 resistance members who reunite 30 years later to wreak vengeance on the compatriot who betrayed them to the Gestapo during the War. Their job done, the elderly group decide to stay together to use their skills to scam con artists and criminals out of their money so as to build a hospital in memory of Palmer's deceased husband.

Based on a book by Paul Gallico and set on the French Riviera in Nice, the show ran for six episodes and took its name from the fact that 'the Zoo Gang' all had animal codenames: the Elephant, the Tiger, The Leopard and The Fox. And while the scripts were nothing special, it did have a great title sequence - that's rather a lot like The Persuaders!'s in style - and, in a first for ITC, a theme tune by Paul and Linda McCartney.

Here's the title sequence and if that's not enough for you, the entire first episode is after the jump. Yes, you can get it on DVD, you lucky people. No, you can't get Barry Morse's hat - why would you want to?

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