In France: Some time last Summer In the UK: Saturday 9th April, 9pm, BBC4. iPlayer: Episode 3, Episode 4
Well, the people have spoken and as many as three of you want me to do episodic reviews of Spiral aka Engrenages aka "the good French TV programme... that BBC4 keeps showing but no one watches".
So let's give it a go. No doubt my reward will come in Elysium rather than in this life.
Anyway, season three of Spiral looks like it's going to be a little bit different from previous years. As I mentioned last week, usually each episode of Spiral has an A-plot and a B-plot that randomly taps into some random injustice of the French legal system. This year, however, both a-plot and b-plots seem to be focused on just a couple of questions.
The first: will the current reforms planned to the French justice system produce a better system?
The second: it's all very well wanting police to be "over-zealous" in a Life on Mars stylee, but what happens if our 'heroes', rather than being the good guys who know the truth but are impended by a system that values the rights of criminals over their victims, are in fact over-zealous because they're incompetent, in-fighting screw-ups? What happens if they start bribing prostitutes with coke, threatening other car drivers with pistols because they're having nervous breakdowns - or they end up torturing and framing the wrong guy because they think they're right?
Here's a poor-quality trailer in French for episodes three and four.
So here's something I've learnt this week - it turns out that if you can't actually get the actors you want, there is in fact an entire set of impersonators you can get instead for probably not even a tenth of the price.
Take Breaking In. This has Bret Harrison of The Loop and Reaper as a hapless college student who's been hacking the college computers to ensure that he never has to graduate and can stay there forever. Except he gets found out by a team of semi-reformed criminals who are hired, Sneakers-stylee to break into places to test their security. They blackmail him into working for them.
So for something like this, with a boss who's a bit devilish, a bit alpha-male-ish and smokes cigars, you'd want someone like Jack Nicholson. But if you can't afford Jack Nicholson, you can get Christian Slater instead, since he can do a rocking Jack Nicholson when he wants to.
Now there's obviously got to be some girl interest for Harrison to pine over. However, she has to be out of his league and just want to be friends. That's what happened in The Loop. That's what happened in Reaper. It must be in his contract. So how about we get Missy Peregrym, who did that in Reaper so well? What's that? She's starring in some Canadian show? Okay, how about we get Odette Annable née Yustman from Brothers and Sisters instead? They look the same, they act the same. They don't cost the same.
Now we need some black guy who's a bit sassy. Clearly, it would be great if we could get Chris Rock or Orlando Jones. No? Fine. Alphonso McAuley's cheap. He's barely been in anything. So let's get him.
So now we pretty much have our cast, how about we get someone to do an impression of a funny script, by nicking a load of bits from other shows, and see where that takes us? Hmm?
It's been 10 years since the tragedy of 9/11. Do you know how you can tell?
The date. Obviously.
The fact that virtually every new spy show or movie that comes out these days seems to be a comedy - or comedy-drama
In the last few years on TV certainly, instead of the hardcore likes of 24, Threat Matrix et al, we've had InSecurity, Covert Affairs, Chuck and Undercovers, to name but a few. To that list - for a brief time at least - let us add Chaos, a show which at first glance looks like a very bad spy comedy but which soon metamorphoses into a surprisingly-not-awful dramedy full of action, crossing, double-crossing and mildly humorous situations.
In it, CIA recruit Rick Martinez (Freddy Rodriguez) arrives on his first day at work to find government cutbacks have already made his job at the Clandestine Administration and Oversight Services (CHAOS) redundant. His boss (Kurtwood Smith) offers him the chance to stay with the agency provided he agrees to spy on a small department full of 'loose cannons' run by paranoid genius Eric Close (Dark Skies, Without a Trace, and Now and Again). He does and after they play with him for a while, he soon learns that they may actually be the only members of the CIA doing proper spy work any more...
Because it's the law on US TV, there are no fewer than three Brits in the cast of seven: Carmen Ejogo, who hasn't been in much; Christine Cole (as of episode two), whom you might remember from the terrifyingly bad Sky 1 Buffy rip-off Hex; and James Murray, whom you might remember from the quite reasonable ITV1 Doctor Who rip-off Primeval - he got killed by dinosaurs. Well, you would if he weren't trying to do a (surprisingly acceptable) Scottish accent the whole time, anyway.
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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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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.