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September 2, 2010

Review: Rubicon - 1x1-1x6

Posted on September 2, 2010 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

grant-will-tanya-miles.jpg

In the US: Sundays, 9pm/8c, AMC
In the UK: Acquired by BBC4

It used to be that you could rely on AMC for one thing: movies. That's what AMC used to stand for - American Movie Classics. But after it changed its name to AMC in 2003, before you knew it, it could be relied on for another thing: re-runs of The Sopranos.

Mad Men changed all that. Suddenly, AMC was in the business of making TV drama. Excellent TV drama. Slow, excellent TV drama that takes a long time to develop and in which not much happens for a long time.

Then came Breaking Bad, a slow, excellent TV drama that took a long time to develop and in which not much happened for a long time, and The Prisoner, a slow bad TV drama that took a long time to develop and in which not much happened for a long time.

Rubicon, AMC's latest TV drama, is a conspiracy theory show set in the world of American spies that echoes movies like Three Days of the Condor, Parallax View and The Conversation. It stars James Badge Dale (24, The Pacific) as an analyst who begins to see crossword clues take on greater significance - and Miranda Richardson, whose husband commits suicide after he receives a four-leafed clover.

Anyone want to guess what it's like? I'll give you a clue - you'll have to wait until episode five before you're even going to get a hint at what's going on… and it gets good.

Here's a trailer.

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July 30, 2010

Weird old title sequences: Man From Atlantis (1977)

Posted on July 30, 2010 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

The Man From Atlantis

Back in the 70s, Doctor Who was a ratings juggernaut. If you were ITV, you aired a show opposite it at your own risk, knowing it probably wouldn't survive the ordeal. But some shows did survive and even beat Who in the ratings. Ask many a Whoer, and they'll know that Buck Rogers in the 25th Century was one of those victors, but few realise that Man From Atlantis, a short-lived show that did badly in its native US, actually beat Doctor Who on several occasions.

Could it be a fit man without many clothes on was the reason? If Doctor Who was for the dads, then what were mums watching…?

Man From Atlantis saw Patrick Duffy - best known now as Bobby Ewing in Dallas, in which his character cheated death by revealing an entire season of the show was just a dream - as "Mark Harris", an amnesiac who is possibly the last survivor of the lost continent of Atlantis. In the first of four TV movies that launched the series, "Mark" is washed ashore near a naval research base, where he's nursed back to health by Doctor Elizabeth Merrill (Belinda J. Montgomery - best known now as the mom of Dougie Howser in Dougie Howser MD). "Mark" turns out to be able to breathe underwater, withstand extreme depths and has superhuman strength.

Despite the fact Mark's hands and feet are webbed, Merrill isn't put off and recruits him to join the Foundation For Oceanic Research, a government agency that explores the depths of the ocean in a sophisticated submarine called the Cetacean, doing spy work and fighting aliens - yes, it was that kind of show. There was even some time travel, with Mark going back to the Wild West and Romeo and Juliet's Italy. However, his main enemy is "Mr. Schubert", who in typical Bond villain stylee, has a secret underwater base and plans to take over the world with nuclear missiles, giant jellyfish, melting the polar ice caps - that kind of thing.

Despite the success of the four TV movies, Man From Atlantis only lasted 13 episodes as a TV series - largely because it was pretty dreadful, even by the standards of mid to late 70s US sci-fi. Only the pilot movie has been released on DVD and only in the US. Nevertheless, it was iconic enough that it proved the making of Duffy's career.

Here, though, for your enjoyment is its weird old title sequence, featuring Patrick Duffy without many clothes on, as well as a few clips that show just what a big old pile of pants it was.

July 28, 2010

Review: Sherlock 1x1 - A Study in Pink

Posted on July 28, 2010 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Sherlock

In the UK: Sundays, 9pm, BBC1/BBC1 HD

Sherlock Holmes is one of those classic characters who gets revived with incredible regularity. You can't go for more than five years without yet another Sherlock Holmes remake. Sometimes, he gets revived in Victorian times (The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes), sometimes he's Victorian and gets transplanted to modern times (Sherlock Holmes Returns), sometimes you get a modern day version of him but in another genre (House) and sometimes you just get him in modern times.

Steven Moffat, showrunner of Doctor Who, has also given in to this latter temptation with Sherlock. This sees Benedict Cumberbatch as modern day consulting detective Sherlock Holmes meeting Afghanistan war hero Dr John Watson in 2010, and running around modern day London, solving crimes in his usual ways - but also texting a lot.

When asked what the difference between Sherlock and Doctor Who was, our Stevie said "Sherlock's on an hour later" - and that's about right.

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