After last week's expedition into the merely silly, time to hit a genuine classic of a title sequence with Mission: Impossible. The 60s was a time when everyone went spy-crazy. You could barely switch on the TV at times, it seemed, and not see a spy series of some kind, whether it was Danger Man, The Man From UNCLE, The Champions, Man in a Suitcase, Espionage, The Avengers, The Prisoner, I, Spy, Get Smart, or any of the numerous others. Each of these needed its own niche to survive - hell, look at The Wild, Wild West - and Mission: Impossible, which lasted an incredible seven seasons, found one that worked for it very well: the spy heist.
Here, accompanied by the award winning iconic theme tune by Lalo Schifrin, is Mission: Impossible's equally iconic title sequence - the format remained the same every week, but each time the title sequence was adjusted to include the highlights of that episode, so you'd have to guess how everything fit together. Now this is how to rack up tension.
In the US: Tuesdays, 8/7c, ABC In the UK: Yet to be acquired
Brace yourself: this is the first of not one but two superhero shows on network US TV coming this Fall, with NBC's The Cape due some time soon (presumably as soon as NBC cancels another show, since there's no actual airdate yet).
But of the two, this is the most family-friendly. Family, incidentally, is the operative word here. Since ABC scored big last year with Modern Family, it must have seemed natural enough to go for family with the drama as well. Here we have an "ordinary family" - which apparently means "family doing regular stuff but with deep seated emotional issues and resentments, but nothing too dramatic" - whose plane crash-lands in the Amazon. Exposed to some weird green stuff in the river, when they return to the US, they soon discover they have super-powers, which in traditional Heroes style are exactly what they need emotionally: super-strength for the father who wants to fight crime, super-speed for the mother who has too little time, super-brains for the learning disabled son and the ability to read minds for the girl who can't fit in.
It's not as adult as Heroes, it's not as kid-oriented as Kyle XY, it's not as good as The Incredibles and it's not as "ordinary" as Misfits - but it's got Julie Benz (Buffy, Angel, Dexter) and Michael Chiklis (The Shield, Fantastic Four), it does have some really cool special effects and the stories are something the whole family can enjoy. Basically, it's Merlin for Americans - but better, obviously
In the US: Fridays, 10/9c, CBS In the UK: Not yet acquired
In the neverending quest for new ways to do cop and legal dramas, the concept of the "super-format" has emerged (I just made up that name so don't go looking for it anywhere else. It's mine). So you want to do cop shows, but you also quite like the whole lawyer thing as well? Well, how about Law & Order, where you get both cops and lawyers: a twofer super-format. Or maybe you quite like stories about guys on patrol, rookie cops and detectives? Well, how about Southland, then? That's a threefer super-format. Or perhaps you even like the mix of politics that you get at the top of the police hierarchy with the day-to-day police work of the rank and file as well as lawyers? Well, how about The Wire then?
Indeed, The Wire was perhaps the first of the "super-super format" shows: a format that tries to amalgamate everything to do with the legal system and look at it all equally. But post The Wire, what new super-super format can you have?
Blue Bloods rather cunningly does the very American thing of making it all about family. In this case, the Reagans, a New York Irish family of cops and lawyers. We have Tom Selleck, complete with his old Magnum PI moustache, as the New York chief of police. His dad is the former chief of police. He has two sons, one a detective (Donnie Wahlberg), the other a beat cop. He had another son, who was also a beat cop, but who died in the line of duty. And he has a daughter (Bridget Moynahan) who is an assistant district attorney.
The result is a show in which you get to see all aspects of New York policing, from the politics at the top to the investigations by detectives to the day-to-day issues of the average beat cop to the problems of the legal system - all while the politics of torture are discussed over Sunday lunch. For a while, it actually seems pretty good - and then six minutes before the end, we get the Blue Templars and everything falls apart.
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.
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.
Praise for the blog Cision: fourth most important UK TV blog Blogging Edge: Blogger running Britain 2013
"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."
"The Medium Is Not Enough is a light-hearted look at TV, often from the US, but also from the UK. With varied, well-written content, the blog features healthy engagement and features well in search engines."
"Billing itself as 'officially the fourth most popular UK TV blog', there are several whimsical regulars here that could help it climb as high as number three…"
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.