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October 3, 2008

Review: Dirty Sexy Money 2x1

Posted on October 3, 2008 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Dirty Sexy Money

In the US: Wednesdays, 10/9c, ABC
In the UK: Channel 4, probably sometime in January if their acquisitions budget holds up

As we've found out already, the US writers' strike has proved to be a boon creatively (if not ratingsly) for a host of shows. Heroes has come back refreshed, albeit daft as a brush as always; My Name is Earl is back on track, but still not desperately funny; and The Unit is vibrant and exciting again.

Other shows haven't quite fared as well. Chuck's a little better, but is pretty much the same old, same old; while Life's intricate storyline is proving hard to get back into without sufficient incentive for the viewer.

Dirty Sexy Money is having similar issues. Last season, it was confused. It thought it was intelligent television and so needed to have a message - something like rich people aren't to be envied since they're messed up. But it never really could work out what its message was and got its head all confused, poor thing. The result was an extremely convoluted storyline of extreme silliness, involving bed-hopping, Catholic priests with illegitimate sons living in Brazil, politicians with transgender mistresses and murder.

Over the break, though, the writers have sat down, meditated, and decided they know what's wrong. Screw intelligent TV, screw messages: let's just have fun. And even more convoluted silly storylines.

Continue reading "Review: Dirty Sexy Money 2x1"

October 2, 2008

Review: The Border 2x1

Posted on October 2, 2008 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

The Border

In Canada: Mondays, 9pm, CBC

Not so long ago, there was a writers' strike in the US. Faced with the unthinkable prospect of watching British television, I decided to have a look at some of the programmes available from other countries - in particular, Canada. CBC's The Border was one such programme and to my incredible surprise, it turned out not just to be a good programme "by Canadian standards"* but a good programme, full stop.

Seemingly intended not just to demonstrate that Canadians easily have what it takes to make good TV but to show that they're not all the liberals stereotypes would have us believe, The Border is a cross between Spooks and 24, right down to the shaky cam, with Canada's heroic Immigration and Customs Service (ICS) defending the country against all kinds of threats - all of which seem to be American or Muslim.

Although by no means the best action-thriller series ever made, it was reasonably clever, albeit a touch low budget, and didn't dumb itself down like Flashpoint did to attract an international audience. The inter-departmental conflict with Canada's CSIS - the country's equivalent of MI6 and the CIA - was interesting, even if it was cast in strictly black and white terms, with CSIS boss John Bennett (Forever Knight) almost twirling a moustache during every appearance. And the usual conclusions to stories were a touch, ahem, Canadian, with the villains either misunderstood or American.

But now it's back after just six month's absence - it was that popular - and changes are afoot.

Continue reading "Review: The Border 2x1"

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October 2, 2008

Review: Chuck 2x1

Posted on October 2, 2008 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Chuck

In the US: Mondays, 8/7c, NBC
In the UK: Probably Virgin One again

Chuck was a show that had a lot of initial promise that it never quite managed to live up to. Chuck (Zachery Levi), a tech support guy for a consumer goods superstore, accidentally gets all the CIA's and NSA's intelligence data dumped into his brain and so gets thrown into the deep end of spy work. Assigned to protect him are the NSA's John Casey (DanielAdam Baldwin), a Reagan-loving, gun-worshipping hard man; and the CIA's Sarah Walker (Yvonne Stahovski), an aggressive-passive high-kicker whom Chuck would quite like to date (and vice versa) and not just for their cover story, if only it weren't for the rules of the job.

Anyway, despite the fun premise of spies working undercover down at the local shops among all the IT slackers and fast food flippers, the show never really grabbed me. It was always close to being very good, but never quite made it. There wasn't a whole lot of chemistry between Levi and Stahovski, both of whose characters are quite dull, despite all plot indications to the contrary, and I gave up after three episodes - only for my wife to start loving it on Virgin 1 and so I ended up watching the rest anyway.

So with a good few months to think about the show and how to fix it, have the producers managed to tinker enough with the format to make it more appealing?

Continue reading "Review: Chuck 2x1"

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