If there's one big surprise this season, apart from the sheer amount of dollars wasted on obviously bad shows, it's that there are a few good ones out there, even on ABC. And it's largely been the one's that you didn't think were going to be any cop that have turned out to be the surprises.
Suburbagatory is one of these shows. It sees Manhattan single father Jeremy Sisto (unrecognisable after his stint in Kidnapped as an action hero) discovering his teenage daughter has condoms, decides he wants her to grow up wholesome, so moves her upstate to the suburbs.
Here, their jaded, cynical Manhattan selves discover a realm of happy, smiling people of overwhelming, horrifying, oppressive normality. Are they prisoners, surrounded by Stepford husbands and wives? Or are the inmates of Suburgatory just as much prisoners of convention as they are?
In the US: Mondays, 8/7c, Fox In the UK: Monday, 8pm, Sky 1 HD. Starts 3rd October
A true scientific law about TV: while having the name 'Steven Spielberg' attached to a movie is almost always a blessing, with a TV show, unless it's an historical drama about the US military, it's almost certain that that TV show will suck collossally and usually feature various men agonising about the responsibilities of being a father.
Another true scientific law about TV: if your script is written by former Star Trek producers René Echevarria and Brannon Braga, it will almost invariably involve time travel and temporal paradoxes.
The final true scientific law about TV: it's almost impossible to go wrong with dinosaurs on a TV show. Almost.
You can imagine the thought processes involved in the making of Terra Nova. "You can't go wrong with dinosaurs. Remember Jurassic Park? Let's have a TV show about dinosaurs."
"Dinosaurs are millions of years in the past. How do we have have a show about dinosaurs?"
"Can we just make new dinosaurs?"
"Jurassic Park – we'll get sued."
"Can we bring the dinosaurs from the past to now?"
"Primeval – we'll get sued."
"Dinosaurs on another planet?"
"Why would there be dinosaurs on another planet? How about we go into the past? I do like time travel and timey-wimey paradoxes."
"Why would we go into the past to meet dinosaurs?"
"Maybe the whole world is falling apart from environmental catastrophe and the only way to escape it is to go back into the past."
"That makes no sense, but it would mean we could pretend to do Blade Runner for 20 minutes. Then what?"
"Well, we could tell a story involving lots of kids and really dangerous dinosaurs about how hard it is to survive millions of years in the past with only the bare essentials."
"Where's the fun in that? How about we create a show in which people go 'glamping' - that's glamorous camping – in the past to escape from the terrible future and have mildly exciting adventures in which they're surrounded by inhospitable but only marginally threatening outsiders, while a bunch of guys worry about how hard it is to be dads?"
"Cool. And even though it's set in the year 2149, do you think we could have minimal changes in technology and social order, while reinforcing every single possible modern-day stereotype imaginable?"
"Sure. Although it's going to sound a bit like Earth 2, isn't it?"
"Meh. Who remembers you even did that show, Steven? Falling Skies is the one everyone will be reminded of because it's on TV right now."
In the UK: Saturday 24th September, 7.15pm, BBC1/BBC1 HD. Available on the iPlayer In the US: Saturday 24th September, 9pm/8c ET/PT, BBC America
So another one that I quite liked, despite a slightly disappointing ending to the main plot. A strange callback to RTD-era style writing, principally because his best pal Gareth Roberts wrote it (clearly a man who has recently become a father), a lot of the time it felt like a David Tennant-era story. The Cybermen obviously helped on that score, but the familiar, everyday setting, copious one-liners, et al were indicative.
All the River Song stuff at the end was good, as was the Doctor's maudlin nature as he walks to his own death and the cameos by two former companions. Good to see some cybermats around, too, and they were actually scary for once to boot.
All in all, a good fun one. But what did you think?
About the blog
A UK media blog focusing on the best scripted TV from around the world, with daily news, views, exclusive reviews and good conversation. There's a bit of a bias towards the latest and greatest US TV, but we also cover Scandinavian, Canadian, European and Antipodean TV, as well as UK TV ranging from new Doctor Who to old Z Cars, and BBC4 to S4C.
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"For most of us watching the telly of an evening is a way to wind down and relax, but for Rob Buckley it’s his blogging bread and butter. With reviews of cult classics and up and coming US and Brit television shows, The Medium is Not Enough is fast becoming essential reading for TV buffs, with over 50,000 hits a month."
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I'm Rob Buckley, a freelance journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of, although you might have heard me on Radio 5 Live's Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I've edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for trade magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider and the equally short-lived Death Ray and Filmstar magazines; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it "web site for urban hedonists" The Tribe. I'm freelance now and have contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network and TV Scoop.