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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.


May 20, 2011

Lost Gems: Leg Work (1987)

Posted on May 20, 2011 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Margaret Colin in Leg Work

At the moment, CBS is top of the US ratings, able to deploy any old rubbish (Mike and Molly, Two and a Half Men) and people will watch it happily, while NBC is currently drilling a hole in the ratings basement so it can go and live in a new sub-basement it's planning on building, even though many of its shows (well, Community and 30 Rock) easily trump whatever CBS has to offer.

But go back 25 years or so, and it was NBC that was the ratings juggernaut, crushing CBS with its peacock feathers and shows such as The Golden Girls, despite CBS turning out more than a few decent shows itself. CBS did, of course, have private detective show Magnum PI, which amazingly ran from 1980 through to 1988. But in 1987, with Magnum's fortunes waning, CBS went on a great mental trek and asked itself what kind of show it could replace Magnum with and came up with the astounding idea of… a private detective show.

However, in contrast to other private detective shows of the 80s (Magnum, Simon & Simon, Riptide, Tucker's Witch), this one would be a little more realistic and star a woman - Margaret Colin, then famous as a comedy actress from shows such as Foley Square, but better known now for Gossip Girl, Now and Again and Chicago Hope. What a feminist move, echoing the likes of Honey West? Nope. This was a show for men and to let men know they were allowed to watch it, the producers called it… Leg Work. And focused a lot on Margaret Colin's legs.

Eschewing gun fights and car chases in favour of humour and wit, the show was actually quite good. Colin played Claire McCarron, a former New York district attorney who becomes a private detective because of her skills at tracking down people and information. Keeping it real, the show regularly had McCarron in meetings, dealing with admin and interviews, suffering from a poor personal life, never having any money, dealing with creditors and having to track down her own clients so she could get paid.

Assisting McCarron were her father, a retired cop, and her PR cop brother Fred, played by Patrick James Clarke of Saracen fame, as well as her best friend/roommate, former fashion model Willie (played by Frances McDormand of Fargo fame). And she drove a rather nice Porsche 911, as well.

"The scripts are great," Colin says. "The best of all possible worlds would be for us to be able to do a small picture each week. With a lot of emotion, a lot of character and conflicts that are real and not manufactured. Our stories are more Europe. They're not as tidy as most American shows. The focus is on emotion and the characters. And the writers have hooked into my sense of humor."

Nevertheless, up against NBC's Golden Girls, Leg Work only managed to squeeze out six of its 10 episodes before it was cancelled, although the whole run aired in the UK on ITV. While not a classic of TV, it was still a cut above some of its more ludicrous rivals and should have made Margaret Colin a whole lot more famous than she ended up. Anyway, here's a trailer for it and the title sequence, which has a very Mike Post-ish theme tune.

May 19, 2011

The CW's upfronts 2011

Posted on May 19, 2011 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

The CW Upfronts

Poor Alex Breckenridge - let down by pilot season again. The CW, which is largely ruled by reality shows, only has about thruppence ha'penny to rub together, so isn't going to be picking up her pilot, Cooper and Stone. Shame.

Still, what have they picked up instead?

  • Hart of Dixie, in which Rachel Bilson gets used to being a doctor in a small town after she leaves the big city. Hang on, isn't that Doc Hollywood?
  • Ringer, in which Sarah Michelle Gellar goes on the run by assuming the identity of her twin sister. Genius plan that one. Still, it does feature Ioan Gruffudd, Nestor Carbonell and Kristoffer Polaha, so might be worth a look
  • The Secret Circle, which comes from the author of The Vampire Diaries and sees Britt Robertson from Life Unexpected discover she's a witch. Another good supporting cast - Thomas Dekker, Gale Harold, Ashley Crow and Natasha Henstridge - but if it's anything like The Vampire Diaries, I might be out before this has even started.

Not sure they picked the right shows there. Details and trailers after the jump.


Continue reading "The CW's upfronts 2011"

May 19, 2011

CBS's upfronts 2011

Posted on May 19, 2011 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

CBS Upfronts

CBS is, of course, king of the US schedules. It can put on more or less any unfeasibly bad TV show (Rules of Engagement, Mike and Molly, Hawaii Five-0, CSI Miami) and it'll do well. So this year, they've actually had to move some of their best-rated shows to Saturday and Sunday (an unheard of move), just to add a little variety to the midweek schedule.

What variety? Well, there's just a few new shows to tempt your palette with:

  • 2 Broke Girls from the 'writer' of the Sex and the City movies, Michael Patrick King, in which two waitresses try to start up a business making cupcakes
  • Unforgettable, about a police detective who can remember every single detail about everything except who killed her sister
  • How To Be A Gentleman, about an etiquette columnist who becomes detached from modern life and is forced to put a modern sexy twist on things with the help of Kevin Dillon, Mary Lynn Rajskub and Rhys Darby
  • A Gifted Man, which stars Patrick Wilson, Jennifer Ehle and Julie Benz but is about a surgeon whose dead wife teaches him the meaning of life from beyond the grave.
  • Person of Interest from JJ Abrams, which gets ex CIA agent Jim Caviezel to team up with billionaire Michael Emerson from Lost to prevent violent crime before it happens.

Person of Interest looks good, and anything with Julie Benz in gets my vote (temporarily at least), but frankly that looks like a right bunch of clunkers to me. Still, what does CBS care, given all the shows it already has?

Unfortunately, in traditional CBS über-suck style, there are no videos for me to show you that work outside the US so enjoy the descriptions after the jump, UK readers; and have fun with the full vids US readers.

Continue reading "CBS's upfronts 2011"

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