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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.


January 30, 2012

Preview: Touch (Fox) 1x1

Posted on January 30, 2012 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Kiefer Sutherland in Fox's Touch

In the US: Mondays, 9/8c, Fox. Starts March 19th
In the UK: Acquired by Sky1

Firstly, can I just ask what BSkyB's acquisition strategy is? If you have a new channel supposedly entirely devoted to US TV (Sky Atlantic), what is Sky1 doing acquiring this?

Anyway, that off my chest, let's talk Touch. Remember Heroes, in which lots of people around the world discovered that they not only had superpowers but were interconnected in some way? Well, now we have a show from the creator of Heroes, Tim Kring, in which lots of people around the world don't discover they have superpowers, but that they are still all interconnected in some way... and a kid with superpowers knows all about it.

Another great mental trek by US TV producers, then.

The slight difference in the set-up between Touch and Heroes is that there are really only three central characters - Kiefer Sutherland, a widower and former journalist who now takes blue collar jobs in order to pay for his son's care; his son, who might be autistic, is at least mute, but who is the next step in human evolution, can see the future and can see how everything is interconnected; and British actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw, last seen in NBC's dire Undercovers, as some kind of social worker who comes to discover that Kiefer's son does indeed have superpowers.

But around the world, various lives are interlinked through the actions of Kiefer's son, Kiefer, some cellphones and who knows what. Well, Danny Glover, in full loon mode, does.

Here's a trailer.

Continue reading "Preview: Touch (Fox) 1x1"

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January 26, 2012

Lost Gems: Sir Arthur Streeb-Greebling, A Life in Pieces (1990) and Why Bother? (1993)

Posted on January 26, 2012 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Peter Cook as Sir Arthur Streeb-Greebling

Sir Arthur Streeb-Greebling had a long and illustrious career as a comedy character. Originally created by Peter Cook for Beyond The Fringe and Not Only… But Also, he was an aristocrat used by Cook to satirise any number of things as well as for pure surrealism. But he's probably best known for his attempts to get ravens to fly underwater.

Dudley Moore: Is it difficult to get ravens to fly underwater?

Sir Arthur Streeb-Greebling: Well, I think the word difficult is an awfully good one here. Yes, it is. It's nigh impossible... There they are sitting on my wrist. I say 'Fly! Fly you little devils!!'... (then) they drown. Little black feathery figure topples off my wrist and spirals to a watery grave. We're knee deep in feathers off that part of the coast... not a single success in the whole forty years of training.

DM: Does this makes your life a miserable failure?

SAS-G: My life has been a miserable failure, yes.

Probably his finest hour, however, was in Christmas 1990, when over a period of 12 days on BBC2, he explained to Ludovic Kennedy what gifts he'd like for Christmas in A Life in Pieces. These five-minute sketches allowed Sir Arthur to look back over his life in exchange for gifts of a partridge in a pear tree, two turtle doves and so on. However, his reminiscences exposed him unwittingly as a coward, liar, murderer and many other things.

If you have an hour or so, even though they haven't been released on DVD, you can enjoy on YouTube all 12 episodes of A Life in Pieces:

That wasn't the last the world heard of Sir Arthur Streeb-Greebling, however. He went on in 1994 to record for Radio 3 a series of five interviews, Why Bother?, with none other than Chris Morris. During the interviews, Sir Arthur talked about his experiments on eels, his role in the racial violence during the 1992 Los Angeles riots following the Rodney King trial, his military career, including his time in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp during World War II, and his habit of strangling his business partners, as well as his next project: cloning from the fossilised remains of the infant Christ.

The interviews were completely improvised and Morris says:

It was a very different style of improvisation from what I'd been used to, because those On The Hour and The Day Today things were about trying to establish a character within a situation, and Peter Cook was really doing 'knight's move' and 'double knight's move' thinking to construct jokes or ridiculous scenes flipping back on themselves, and it was amazing.

Thankfully, the BBC has, in its wisdom, released Why Bother? on CD, but it's also available on YouTube. Alas, Peter Cook died in 1994. He is much-missed.

January 23, 2012

Review: The LA Complex (CTV/MuchMusic/The CW) 1x1-1x2

Posted on January 23, 2012 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

The LA Complex

In Canada: Tuesdays, 9pm ET, CTV/MuchMusic
In the US: Acquired by The CW for spring 2012

So here's how TV normally works: you come up with a pilot episode and then you cast it. Normally, you'll slip in a few Australians or Canadians because they're cheaper. Then, to save more money, although your show is supposedly set in the US, you'll film your show in Canada, with most of the supporting cast being Canadian, with just the occasional American flown in for luck. Once your show is made, you'll then sell it to Canadian TV companies.

Now imagine the craftiness of the Canadians who have inverted that entire process with The LA Complex. It features a big group of Canadian actors - as well as an Australian - some of them famous from US shows, Jewel Staite (Firefly, Stargate: Atlantis) and Chelan Simmons (Kyle XY), some from Canadian shows (Cassie Steele from Degrassi: The Next Generation). They all play Canadians (apart from the Australian) - actors, dancers, singers, comedians and musicians who have all come to LA for a shot at the big time. Rather than being shot in Canada, it's shot in LA and there's the occasional American added for good luck (Mary Lynn Rajskub as herself). And now it's been sold to The CW.

And despite the fact it's largely about young, pretty actors, it's really quite good and has an unexpected edge.

Continue reading "Review: The LA Complex (CTV/MuchMusic/The CW) 1x1-1x2"

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