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October 7, 2016

Review: No Tomorrow 1x1 (US: The CW)

Posted on October 7, 2016 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

No Tomorrow

In the US: Tuesdays, 9/8c, The CW

Most love stories see boy meet girl, boy and girl fall in love, boy and girl live happily ever after. The CW, being part of the Internet age as well as the home of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, knows life's not that simple and the boy or girl of your dreams might turn out to be a complete fruit loop.

So it is with No Tomorrow, which should perhaps be renamed Crazy New Boyfriend. Based on Rede Globo Brazil's Como Aproveitar o Fim do Mundo (How to Enjoy the End of the World), it sees uptight American girl Tori Anderson fall in love at first sight with carefree Englishman Joshua Sasse (Galavant). After a chance encounter reunites them, she's all prepared to ditch mumbling dull boyfriend Jesse Rath (Defiance) for Sasse when Sasse reveals that the reason he's so happy-go-lucky is that he believes the world is going to end within the year, thanks to an impending collision with an asteroid. He's going to live like there's no tomorrow and he's got a Bucket List to work through.

At first, Anderson resists but a near-death pogo stick-induced experience causes her to re-evaluate her life - but on her terms not his. Will she and Sasse end up together or will she go back to Rath? And what will she put on her Bucket List?

How much you might enjoy No Tomorrow is almost exclusively down to how much you enjoy the company of Anderson and Sasse. Now normally, Sasse is the kind of transatlantic posh boy who gets on my nerves. He probably pronounces 'water' with a tap and his accent is sufficiently odd that The Guardian thought he was Australian. He was certainly annoying in Galavant

Yet, there's something actually quite likable about him here, a former science journal copy editor who gave up everything and became free and easy because of science and maths. Although he probably calls it math. He's a bit controlling in his certainty but he's got a good heart and is appealing. It's also good to see an inversion of the usual 'English dull, American fun' and manic pixie dream girl stereotypes.

Meanwhile, Anderson is amazing. It's hard to believe that she's been confined to Nickleodeon and web TV series until now. She's appealing, funny and lights up every scene she's in. Which is pretty much all of them.

Don't like them? Going to hate this, because it's going to rely very heavily on their interactions. True, we have all of Anderson's co-workers, her boss and her family to entertain us, each of them in their own way several shades of whacky; Sasse is a bit more on his own, although there's a slight twist at the end of the first episode that suggests he might bring his 'friends' along for what is likely to be a far scarier ride for Anderson than she expected.

But ultimately, it's going to be Anderson and Sasse going off on dune buggy rides, singing karaoke together and doing whatever other life experiences 20somethings think they should be doing before they're dead. Could be good, but the evidence of the first episode suggests it might be more fun for them than for us.

All the same, No Tomorrow has a good deal of charm, two good leads and a promising first episode. One to try just to make your day a little brighter.

October 7, 2016

Review: Frequency 1x1 (US: The CW; UK: Netflix)

Posted on October 7, 2016 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Frequency

In the US: Wednesdays, 9/8c, The CW
In the UK: Acquired by Netflix. New episodes on Thursdays

Time travel takes many forms in TV and movies. Often, as we've seen with the likes of Doctor Who and more recently Timeless, it's about physically going into the past, maybe to kill Hitler, maybe because it sounds like a laugh. This form of time travel has its pros (eg getting to see how things really were first-hand) as well as its cons (eg exposure to virulent plague, crime, war, etc). 

Then there are the stories that are all about the personal, with people going back in time within their own lifetimes, usually to sort out their own issues or those of their friends, family or perhaps even complete strangers (eg Quantum LeapBeing Erica, Hindsight). These have pros (eg excellent knowledge of the historical events, chance to improve one's own life) and cons (eg chance to ruin your own future happy marriage, alienate friends, never have your kids).

Perhaps the most genteel, distant yet also somehow the most intimate are the shows that don't involve travel at all, but are about temporal communication - being able to send messages back into the past to change the future. The surprisingly lovely yet plothole-tastic 2006 movie The Lake House is one such example, with Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves able to send each other letters through time and fall in love - and maybe prevent a terrible tragedy from happening.

Similarly, 2000's Frequency, which starred Dennis Quaid and Jim Caviezel, saw son and dead father able to communicate to each other across the space of 20 years through a ham radio. Unfortunately, their communication causes history to change and they somehow then have to prevent the new tragedy.

The CW's new adaptation of Frequency changes quite a bit of the movie yet stays essentially true to it. The CW favourite Peyton List (The Tomorrow People, Big Shots, The Flash) gender-swaps Caviezel's role to become Raimy Sullivan, a 28-year-old cop who is herself the daughter of cop and The CW favourite Riley Smith (Drive, Nashville, The Messengers), who was killed not long after her eighth birthday.

Angry all her life at the man subsequently revealed to be dirty and who abandoned her and her mother, she's somewhat surprised when her boyfriend (Daniel Bonjour) digs her father's ham radio out of the garage and although it doesn't work for him, it works for her, putting her in touch with her dead father just a couple of days before his death. Is she going mad or is it all true? And can she save her actually innocent father without causing even worst things to happen to her own history as a result?

Here's a trailer that gives away everything that happens in the first episode, so we can talk spoilery stuff after the jump.

Continue reading "Review: Frequency 1x1 (US: The CW; UK: Netflix)"

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October 6, 2016

Review: Conviction 1x1 (US: ABC; UK: Sky Living)

Posted on October 6, 2016 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Conviction

In the US: Mondays, 10/9c, ABC
In the UK: Acquired by Sky Living. Will air in November

This is not a paying job. I try to keep the ads to a minimum. I ignore the now daily requests for 'native advertising' ("I am interested in publishing an article on your website which will be relevant to the theme of your website and am happy to suggest some topics to you") - they are not for me. I want this place to stay classy.

That does mean everything on TMINE has to fit round the stuff I actually do get paid for, though, so I don't always have the time to do everything I'd like to do. Like proof-read. You probably noticed that.

Anyway, right now, all things being equal, I'd be getting out my copy of Adobe Illustrator CC to design a cracking mock up of an Ikea illustration in which a rather large number of bog standard parts are put together to assemble a television that looks exactly the same as any other television. Maybe I'd even make a video of it being assembled in Premiere.

But I don't have the time to do that. Instead, I'll have to paint a picture of Conviction with mere words. 

Imagine basically any ensemble procedural show in which you have a crack team of lawyers/doctors/antelope wranglers, all the top of their respective fields, all representing at least one aspect of diversity, but each with one specific issue that none of the others has. They'll work very hard each week to solve whatever the problem is, because they care so very, very hard and are just so, so brilliant. But they'll work extra hard if in some way the problem of the week touches on their issue.

However, said show can't be something like Chicago Fire, Chicago Med, Chicago PD or Chicago Justice. No, it has to be the specific sub-variety of "brilliant but damaged leaders who speak their minds" shows, where the show is really about the leader and everyone else is subversient to him or her, no matter how racist they are. Think Shark. Think House.

In fact, specifically think House because Conviction's co-creator is Liz Friedman, last seen being played by the ridiculously marvellous Hudson Leick on the equally ridiculously marvellous Hercules: The Legendary Journeys episode Yes, Virginia, There Is A Hercules. No, really - watch for a couple of minutes and you'll see what I mean.

Anyone, she was a producer on House so knows how to do these things backwards. 

And now, you've got Conviction in which Hayley Atwell (Marvel's Agent Carter) plays the messed up genius who heads the team of underlings who work hard every episode to prove her right. She's the daughter of a former president, she used to be a DA with a 95% prosecution rate, then she became a law professor. Then she started taking cocaine and shagging all her students. Oops.

Anyway, DA Eddie Cahill - whose greying temples make me feel so old because I remember him when he was Rachel's 'toy boy' boyfriend on Friends - lets her off, provided she head up his new unsafe convictions unit. Her job is to make sure everyone in prison should be in prison, the theory being that it takes a coke-addict bad girl to spot a coke-addict bad girl. At first, she takes it as sinecure. But soon, she begins to enjoy the job.

And that's all you really need to know. It is absolutely generic procedural TV. Atwell, who's forced to deploy an exceedingly wobbly American accent, clearly accepted Conviction as a lifeboat role when Agent Carter was being cancelled. There's certainly no artistic merit to it, nothing remarkable about it, other than the idea that the only unique thing a female leader could offer is cleavage and an ability to party. I'm not sure that's a selling point.

Of course, Atwell can't actually be truly heartless in the same way as Gregory House is, because she's a woman so wouldn't be likable. So there have to be signs she cares and she's touched when mothers demand she care about their innocent/dead sons and daughters. Little tears and everything. 

Legal insights are also minimal and there are attempts to steal from any other crime show that's passing in the hope that something might be popular - we even have some CSI-ing by lawyers, in which they take a pig carcass out into the woods at night to see if there are any flies on it in the morning. Guess what, idiots: either you scared the flies away or you didn't wait the several days necessary for the eggs to hatch, none of it's admissable and you could have just asked a forensic scientist. So why did you spend an entire night in the woods with a pig carcass, you great steaming twats?

Anyway, insert tab A into slot A, take flange B and attach it to nozzle C. Now you've built your own Conviction, you don't need to take this one home.

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