In the US: Mondays, 9/8c, Fox In the UK: Acquired by Sky 1/Sky 1 HD. Coming soon
'Gritty' seems to mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. To many, it means 'realistic' - that it depicts the seamier, less pleasant parts of life. To others, it just means 'looks a bit grimy'.
The Chicago Code - formerly called Ride Along - is gritty. A cop show set to a backdrop of corrupt Chicago city politics, it wants you to believe that it's gritty in the sense of realistic. But to be honest, although it has Shawn Ryan (The Shield, The Unit) as show runner and principal writer, in a post-Wire, post-Southland world, it doesn't really succeed - it just looks a bit grimy.
It's not half-bad and it features the likes of Jessica Beals, Jason Clarke (Brotherhood) and Delroy Lindo, but it's not as cutting edge as it likes to think it is. Here's a trailer, followed by a featurette in which you get to hear Clarke's normal Australian accent.
The Independent Film Channel isn't well known as a haven of comedy - more for earnestly liberal movies - but I'll tell you what is well known for comedy: Saturday Night Live (at least it used to be). So imagine what would happen if you married IFC with SNL.
Portlandia, that's what.
It's essentially a comedy sketch show set in the (supposedly) earnestly liberal city of Portland, Oregon, a place where Steve Buscemi has to buy a 14-part series of books about a woman's journey from a feminist book store in order to use the toilet and people have to investigate the farm their organic chicken has been reared in before they'll eat it in a restaurant. Executive-produced by Lorne Michaels and featuring in most of the roles SNL's Fred Armisen and the most underrated female guitarist of all time, according to Rolling Stone magazine, Carrie Brownstein - collectively known as ThunderAnt - Portlandia isn't 100% funny but it is one of the top two US comedies of the last year or so and if you like Flight of the Conchords, you'll probably like this, too.
Diana Wynne Jones is a name that'll be familiar to some, but won't ring a bell for others. However, she is one of the most celebrated authors of children's fantasy books around. Small wonder that the BBC would turn to adapting one of her most famous award-winning novels, Archer's Goon, back in the early 90s.
The premise is relatively simple: normal English schoolchild Howard Sykes (Jamie De Courcey) comes home from school one day to discover a huge man (the eponymous Goon, played by Morgan Jones) in his house, claiming that he's owed 2,000 words which he has to give to someone called Archer. It turns out that 13 years earlier, Howard's dad, Quentin, agreed to write 2,000 words each quarter for a town official called Mountjoy, in return for not having to pay any taxes. However, he's forgotten to do it this quarter.
Eventually, Howard and the Goon go to meet Mountjoy who reveals that the town is secretly run by seven wizardly brothers and sisters: Archer, Shine, Dillian, Hathaway, Torquil, Erskine and Venturus. Each one 'farms' a separate industry, with Archer farming money, electricity and gas, Shine looking after crime, Dillian minding law and order, and so on.
Armed with this new knowledge, Howard and the rest of his family go looking for the wizards, trying to work out exactly what Archer needs with all those words. The siblings try to stop them, resulting in their various industries taking action against the family (musical instruments rebel, for example). Of course, when they discover Hathaway lives 400 years in the past and Venturus lives in the future, it all becomes a lot trickier
The six-part BBC adaptation was actually pretty faithful to the books, thanks in part to Wynne Jones's close collaboration with the producer and the scriptwriter Jenny McDade. It had a reasonably star-studded cast, with Roger Lloyd Pack (Trigger on Only Fools and Horses) playing Quentin, Susan Jameson (the queen in The Queen), Andrew Normington as Torquil, Annette Badland as Shine and Clive Merrison as Hathaway. It was also surprisingly complicated, with the eventual revelations about the identities of the siblings (the clues are all there if you can spot them) making it a cerebral affair as well as a fun one.
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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.
Add in film, theatre, art, books, events, competitions and even weekly reviews of Wonder Woman comics, and you've (hopefully) got officially the fourth best blog on the web for media lovers. Oh yes, and there's The Barrometer, the ultimate guide to quality TV.
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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.