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October 7, 2008

Review: Sanctuary 1x1

Posted on October 7, 2008 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Sanctuary

In the US: Fridays, 10/9c, SciFi; 7p, Movie Central; 8e, The Movie Network
In the UK: Mondays, 9pm, ITV4

There are two big trends in TV and film production at the moment. Okay, there are lots of trends, but here are two big ones.

The first is green screen, in which rather than building great big sets, you stick the actors up against a green screen and use special effects to add a computer-generated set in later. George Lucas pioneered it on Phantom Menace, but it's only proved its truth worth recently on films like Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow and 300, in which pretty much everything other than the actors was computer-generated.

The second is the Internet. You might have heard of it. Now, all sorts of shows that don't manage to get a look-in on the mainstream networks can be shot cheaply, uploaded to YouTube or a dedicated web site, and suddenly everyone's watching it and one of the big networks picks it up. Quarterlife and The Peter Serafinowicz Show both managed it, but many argued they should have stayed on the Internet.

Sanctuary is a shiny new show, airing almost simultaneously on the US's SciFi, Movie Central and The Movie Network channels and ITV4 in the UK, that combines both these trends. Not only is there a massive amount of green screen work, but it started off on the web before being spotted by SciFi. Starring and produced by Amanda Tapping of Stargate SG-1, it's a bit of a dark piece in which faux-Brit Tapping, her faux-American kick ass daughter and a faux-bright criminal profiler join together to investigate odd beasties that they then take to their 'Sanctuary'.

But despite all these shiny trends, is it a show that's good in its own right, or simply "not bad for the Internet"?

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October 7, 2008

Review: The Sarah Jane Adventures 2x2

Posted on October 7, 2008 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

The Last Sontaran Part 2

Well, the public has spoken and who am I to argue? Weekly The Sarah Jane Adventures reviews not so much start here as carry on from part one of The Last Sontaran, which aired last week. Are you brave enough to look within?

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October 6, 2008

Review: Valentine 1x1

Posted on October 6, 2008 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Valentine

In the US: Sundays, 8/7c, The CW

Valentine is one of those high concept shows that could, depending on how they're implemented, turn out to be fundamentally excellent or fundamentally awful. "The Greek gods are alive and well and living among us". Brilliant, hey? I'd buy that book/watch that TV show, because it's a great idea.

But, and here's the problem, if the gods just sit in front of the TV all day, it's going to be very dull; if they demand human sacrifices or set nation to war with nation to reduce the excess population, it's going to very dark and scary. So pitch is very important.

US TV tends to go for light and/or fighty when dealing with the Greek gods. Hercules (yes, I know he's Roman) and Xena (completely made up) went for light and fighty on the few occasions when they went modern-day; Cupid (also Roman and coming around for a new series some time soon, despite having been cancelled once) went for light. They were all fun in their way, sometimes extremely imaginative, but generally nothing to make you mourn their passings too much.

Valentine (yes, not even Roman but early Christian), in which Aphrodite, Eros, Hercules/Heracles and other gods try to fix mortals up with their soul mates, goes for light in a big way. Starring Jaime Murray (Hustle, Dexter) as Aphrodite aka Venus aka Grace Valentine, it's imaginative, quite fun, but at times excruciatingly bad - as well as instantly forgettable.

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