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Some of the best articles on the blog. Typically, these have a picture. It's a low entrance requirement, I know.


March 9, 2012

Mini-review: BeTipul (In Treatment) (Sky Arts 1)

Posted on March 9, 2012 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

BeTipul

In the UK: Monday-Friday, 9.30pm, Sky Arts 1/Sky Arts 1 HD. Repeated Saturdays & Sundays
In Israel: First aired 2005

In Treatment was a show I really loved. Clever, engrossing, theatrical, it was fantastic TV. Terribly scheduled, mind. Half an hour, five nights a week? That's not happening for me or for most people - as the ratings bore out.

For those who missed it (why? It was brilliant… Oh yes, now I remember…), it saw therapist Gabriel Byrne see a different patient each day, Monday to Thursday, before seeing his own therapist on Friday, where he'd discuss his feelings about his patients. Then the next week, you'd see the next session with each patient. Over the weeks, you saw his own family, occasionally the patients interacting and more.

But it was based on an award-winning Israeli show, BeTipul, that first aired in 2005. Now Sky Arts 1 is cleverly showing the original five nights a week. And it's very weird to watch.

As with the the US remake of The Killing, it feels almost frame-by-frame identical, just in a different language. It's not quite identical, for obvious reasons, but the dialogue is almost identical, as is the theme tune (which is slightly more upbeat in the Israeli version), and Assi Dayan (Re'uven) looks an awful lot like Gabriel Byrne.

But there are instructive differences. Unlike the very theatrical In Treatment which was largely shot in a studio, BeTipul is naturalistic and shot in a real apartment. Casting also affects things. The Laura-equivalent, Na'ama (Ayelet Zurer), is older than Melissa George, is less vulnerable and (sorry) less attractive. Their relationship, as a result, is different and speaks more to the therapist's difficulties with his wife than Laura/Paul's relationship did in In Treatment, which is correspondingly more about opportunity and desire than emotions.

There are also interesting cultural differences in terms of therapy:

All the same, despite the differences, it feels somewhat futile watching BeTipul having watched In Treatment. BeTipul is different rather than superior, but the differences aren't big enough that having watched In Treatment, you don't feel like you're watching an odd re-run as you do so. It's a case of watch one or the other - but not both.

Here's a trailer with a crappy voiceover or you can watch some of the first episode on the Sky Arts web site:

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March 9, 2012

Mini-review: Danger 5 (SBS1) 1x1

Posted on March 9, 2012 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Danger 5

In Australia: Mondays, 9.30pm, SBS1. Available on the SBS web site (Australians only)

So imagine a world where the Second World War is happening in the 1960s, Hitler is still alive and five secret agents from around the world have ganged up to try to stop the Nazis.

What do you mean, "Why?" Because I tell you to, that's why.

Actually, that's a very good question that maybe we should ask the creators of Australian show Danger 5, who seem to have taken some peyote while watching Thunderbirds, The Prisoner, The Champions, Inglourious Basterds, the Godzilla movies and huge amounts of those bizarre 1960s eurospy movies that Tanner writes about. They've come up with a very precise pastiche/homage that tries to walk the line between affectionate and mental, except the peyote is so strong the line actually looks like a blancmange being ridden by Anne of Cleves.

So we have Hitler sending out zeppelins to steal the Eiffel Tower in scenes that remind you of Derek Meddings' efforts on a bad day; someone with an eagle's head dressed like Patrick MacGoohan in The Prisoner; deliberately bad dubbing; seductive, smoking, talking robot dogs; bad accents; Champions-like telepathy; exploitation cinema bondage scenes; and more - but for no apparent reason other than it looks cool and people who love the 60s will go "Oh yes, that's from X". There's no plot coherence and no real jokes.

It looks fantastic. A lot of work has obviously gone into it. But it'll leaving you wondering what the whole thing is supposed to accomplish and why you should be watching it. Even more than Garth Marenghi's Darkplace, in fact.

Here's a trailer in case you missed it the first time I showed you and the Internet-only pilot episode so you can see for yourself.

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March 9, 2012

Mini-review: Dirk Gently 1x1

Posted on March 9, 2012 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Dirk Gently

In the UK: Mondays, 9pm, BBC4. Available on the iPlayer

I'm not sure this is worth a full-on review, so innovation time! It's a mini-review. Staggering hey? That's how imaginative I am.

Now there was obviously a pilot to this, based on the Dirk Gently books by Douglas Adams, and when I micro-reviewed it c. Christmas 2010, this is what I said:

Very disappointing, given it was based on a Douglas Adams character and written by the creator of Misfits. A pilot for a series, rather than a straight adaptation of any of the books, it changed all the characters and made them less interesting, and strip-mined the books for anything that could be achieved on a budget of 50p and wasn't too fantasy/sci-fi. Only the last 10 minutes was in any way interesting.

And we're pretty much there for the series proper. Even moving on from the fact that this isn't Douglas Adams' Dirk Gently but a different Dirk in his own right, so that we can judge the show on its own terms, this still isn't a particularly funny or entertaining programme. There are a few good ideas struggling to get out, mostly inherited from the books (and it turns out that there were still a few things that could be strip-mined from those, such as the strangely accurate horoscopes); there were some original, mildly entertaining concepts, too, that actually fit right in with Adams' thinking.

But it's still not as good as it could or should be, especially given Howard Overton's presence on the scripts and Stephen Mangan and Darren Boyd in front of the camera. There wasn't much laughter, action or anything. It was just sort of 'there'. This first episode was also missing Helen Baxendale, which didn't help, but at least she's in next week's. And Darren Boyd was effectively reduced to Doctor Who assistant level - and I'm talking Nyssa or Harry here, not Rose.

So I'll forgive you if you watch it - I might watch next week's episode, too - but don't be expecting to do much other than see Mangan and Boyd do their level best to make something funny that just isn't.

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