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June 23, 2010

Review: Scoundrels 1x1

Posted on June 23, 2010 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Scoundrels

In the US: Sundays, 9/8c, ABC

It's official. The UK's drama output has sunk to an all-time low. You know how I know? Because not only has US TV stopped plundering us for formats, it's now started plundering New Zealand TV for idea.

Outrageous Fortune is one of NZ's most popular shows, a slightly Shameless affair about a criminal family trying to go straight. Now ABC in the US has decided to remake it as Scoundrels - since clearly the cancellation of The Riches wasn't warning enough.

It's put some fair old talent into it, too: Virginia Madsen (Dune, Sideways et al), David James Elliot (JAG), Leven Rambin (The Sarah Connor Chronicles), Carlos Bernard (24), Patrick John Flueger (Brothers) and Jessica Collins (Tru Calling). So why does it fall so flat? Oh yes, because it's mainstream summer TV and edgy is just not what we're looking for.

Here's a trailer for Scoundrels followed by a trailer for Outrageous Fortune: see if you can spot the difference.

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June 23, 2010

Review: Pretty Little Liars 1x1-1x3

Posted on June 23, 2010 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Pretty Little Liars

In the US: Tuesdays, 8/7c, ABC Family

Sometimes, it's really possible for TV to make you feel old. I remember watching an episode of Quantum Leap back in the early 90s while I was at university and thinking to myself, "Ah, isn't that sweet? Donald Bellisario and Deborah Pratt have put their little four-year-old daughter Troian into an episode."

Troian Bellisario is now 25 and one of the stars of Pretty Little Liars. In fact, of all the stars she's the oldest.

God damn it. I'm officially old.

Pretty Little Liars is an attempt to somehow meld Gossip Girl with Vampire Diaries, with just a hint of Desperate Housewives. Based on the book series of the same name - which ironically was only developed in the first place when an attempt to create a TV show from the initial idea floundered - it features four pretty high school girls who were once the best of friends. That all ended a year ago, when the fifth member and leader of their group, Ali, disappeared one summer. A year later, one of the friends returns from a stay in Europe to find the group has fallen apart.

Yet something's going to bring them together. Could it be Ali? If it is, why won't she reveal herself and why does she keep sending them anonymous text messages? Worse still, is she going to give away all their secrets?

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June 22, 2010

Review: Persons Unknown 1x1-1x3

Posted on June 22, 2010 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Persons Unknown

In the US: Mondays, 10/9c , NBC

A little while ago, AMC and ITV1 remade The Prisoner. It was awful, so awful in fact that I gave up after three episodes and didn't even bother reviewing it. Not only was it very dull, it entirely failed to understand the original's paranoia and themes.

This is quite a common thing to happen: after all Cape Wrath/Meadowlands was pretty much The Prisoner but with criminals. So you might think that The Prisoner could never be remade well.

Fortunately, it seems someone did understand The Prisoner and although Persons Unknown isn't exactly The Prisoner, Christopher McQuarrie (The Usual Suspects) has taken many of the elements that made the show work, and after crossing them with elements from computer adventure games, transplanted them into this summer mini-series.

So don't stop me if you've heard this before: in Persons Unknown our heroine is gassed and abducted and wakes up to find herself in a quaint small town in America. The town is impossible to escape from, cameras are watching the whole time, and bar a couple of store owners - and some fellow prisoners - the town is entirely deserted. Mysteriously, no one knows why they're there, only that they have to escape. But who can they trust and why do the people behind it all keep playing games with them?

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