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April 4, 2011

Review: The Borgias 1x1-1x2

Posted on April 4, 2011 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

The Borgias

In the US: Sundays, 10pm ET/PT, Showtime
In the UK: Acquired by Sky Atlantic for the Summer

First, a request: in one weekend, we've had two hours of Camelot, two hours of Spiral, two hours of The Killing, two hours of The Kennedys and now two hours of The Borgias - dear TV networks, please can you just show one episode at a time of your TV shows because I won't watch them again if you don't. I won't have the time. Not that there's much chance of my watching either Camelot and The Borgias again.

There, I've already ruined the ending of this review for you. Oops.

So, let me tell you for why I say that. Here's something curious. HBO is upper class. It has natural breeding. Showtime is middle class. It looks up to HBO, but it looks down on Starz. And Starz is working class. Each knows their place.

Yet for some strange reason, all of a sudden, Showtime would like to be Starz and Starz would like to be Showtime. Yet there is no social mobility here. Starz cannot be Showtime; Showtime cannot be Starz. Starz may have nicked the bloke who made The Tudors to come up with their own Arthurian version, Camelot, but it's still a tacky piece of vulgarity - much like Spartacus. But that does at least have the virtue of some cracking plotting, internecine politicking, John Hannah and Xena: Warrior Princess. Oh, and some full frontal nudity, softcore porn, language that would shock a sailor and massive bloodletting.

Starz cannot be Showtime.

Similarly, although Showtime would like to make something like Spartacus, in which there's sex, incest, murder and swordfights, it ends up hiring Neil Jordan to make something with Jeremy Irons in it that's largely about the 15th century Catholic church's papal laws of ascendency. Who'd have though sex, incest, murder and swordfights could be so boring?

Showtime cannot be Starz.

Cue the trailer.

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April 4, 2011

Review: The Killing (US) 1x1-1x2

Posted on April 4, 2011 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

The Killing

In the US: Sundays, 9pm/8c, AMC

Ha ha. Fooled you. That's obviously Sarah Lund from Danish TV's The Killing, not the US The Killing. This is Sarah Linden from US TV's The Killing.

Sarah Linden in The Killing

See? Easy mistake to make. They even have similar sweaters.

That's not all. You see, it seems a vast batch of carbon paper has been sent over to the US (and Canada) of late. You may recall my complaining that the US-Canadian remake of Being Human, in which a vampire, a werewolf and a ghost houseshare, was practically identical to the British original. Well, in comparison, this remake of the Danish version of The Killing makes the Being Human remake look like it was really about five talking rabbits in sombreros on a cycling tour of Kenya, because we have here something that, bar the fact it's in English and there have been a few, very slight name changes and alterations to dialogue, is a frame-for-frame, note-by-note remake of the original - because they even use the same music. Yet, somehow, it's not quite as good. Good, just not quite as good.

Cue the trailer that might seem a little familiar to those who have seen the original…

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April 3, 2011

Review: Engrenages (Spiral) 3x1-3x2

Posted on April 3, 2011 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Engrenages (Spiral)

In France: Last Summertime
In the UK:
Saturday 2nd April, 9pm, BBC4. Available on the iPlayer

Bonjour, tout le monde! Welcome aboard previous Engrenages (Spiral) lovers and hello to all those of you with a The Killing-shaped hole in their Saturday night TV schedules and thought you'd give a French TV series a try.

Yes, after months of our collective breath holding, Spiral is back with typical high-powered BBC4 advertising - a brief trailer after last week's The Killing - ready to make us all go "WTF? No, seriously, WTF? That's seriously how France runs its justice system?" again at Canal+'s answer to The Wire. All our old favourites are back: Laure, the captain of police, consummate cock-up artist and lover of brutality; Pierre, the handsome ambitious prosecutor; Roban, the ambiguously sexual, fair but draconian judge; Gilou, the over-emotional prosie-loving detective; 'Tin Tin', the cipher; the wonderfully evil, foul-mouthed red-headed lawyer Karlsson; and that weird chief lawyer who looks like a lizard. He's odd-looking. It's the eyes, isn't it?

To accompany us on our ride into darkness, we also have the usual gruesome scenes, blanket misogyny, prissy subtitles, police corruption and rule-breaking, and eye-opening sub-plots that we've come to expect from Spiral - as well as a new singular image to illuminate and potentially define a whole season. In season one, it was women suffocated by transparent plastic; in season two, it was Aziz setting fire to people in cars in the banlieues; in season three, it's a handwritten sign: "Fermé pour pédophilie."

Here's a slightly low quality trailer in French for the first two episodes:

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