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Some of the best articles on the blog. Typically, these have a picture. It's a low entrance requirement, I know.


April 15, 2008

Season finale: The Fixer

Posted on April 15, 2008 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

The Fixer

ITV has something of a problem. It's had such rubbish programmes on for so long that even when it gets some decent shows, no one will watch them. And since no one watches them, it can't get the advertising to fund them properly so they're not as well made. Have a look at the Hornblower adaptations with Ioan Gruffudd for examples of what happens when you get a good cast and good scripts but bog-all cash.

Or, indeed, take a look at The Fixer. On the one hand, we've seen it all before: convicted criminal bust out of jail by the government to assassinate criminals who are above the law. It's La Femme Nikita, isn't it? Then make him a taciturn, thoughtful guy who has qualms about his job; give him an irritating sidekick and a stern boss who'll have him dumped in a river if he starts misbehaving and you've essentially got Callan for the 21st century: nu-Callan if you will.

But the show really transcended that unoriginal formula to give us a show worth watching. It's been an action show that's far less concerned with action than it has been about character, plot and dialogue. Sure, it was afflicted by Tamzin Outhwaite as an implausible femme fatale. But with Peter Mullan on hand to make even George Cowley of The Professionals seem like a soft Sassenach jessie, fine performances by Andrew Buchan and Jody Latham as the Fixer and his sidekick Callum (hmm...) respectively, and some interesting plotting pyrotechnics, it's been an interesting, gritty show that just needed a bit of a polish. And some budget.

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April 15, 2008

Season finale: New Amsterdam

Posted on April 15, 2008 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

New Amsterdam finale

Some shows know when it's their time to die and head off to the other side gracefully. New Amsterdam, which ironically told the story of an immortal Dutchman who was waiting for the one woman who could kill him, not only knew it was going to die, it knew it was doomed even before it aired, with only eight episodes ever shot.

Again, ironically for a show whose main message was that the candle that burns the dullest lasts the longest and that death has its place, it never really hit levels of greatness. Bar its intriguing central character, played by equally intriguing Danish actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, none of the other characters were that interesting. The plots, while a cut above the standard crime fare, never really inspired and were usually solved by some bizarre skill (grifting, knot-tying) that our hero picked up during his 400 years.

All the same, it had a certain something. It was never quite what you expected – as the season finale showed.

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April 14, 2008

Review: Battlestar Galactica 4x1-4x2

Posted on April 14, 2008 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

BSG 412

In the US: Fridays, 10/9c, Sci-Fi
In the UK: Tuesdays, 9pm, Sky One. Starts 15th April

It's easy to have a love-hate relationship with Battlestar Galactica. On the one hand, if you ever need to cite an example of well executed adult science-fiction, all you have to do is say "Battlestar Galactica" and you're sorted. Space-faring humanity lives on 12 colony planets, fearing only the return of their own robotic creations, the cylons, who've been quiet for the 40 years since their war of independence. The robots come back – looking like humans and convinced they're God's new favourites, endowed with souls – and nuke the hell out of the colonies, leaving just a few tens of thousands of survivors who manage to escape, protected by the one surviving military vessel of note, Galactica

So far, so bleak. And indeed, much of the first season is unrelentingly bleak, as humanity tries to work out how to get food, water and other necessary supplies, all the while chased by the unresting, unrelenting legions of cylons trying to exterminate them once and for all as they try to find the missing 13th colony – Earth.

But if there's one watchword that defines the series, it's change. Everything changes. Relationships between people change. Characters die. New characters appear. The whole format changes, with another Battlestar appearing, the humans finding a new world to live on. and characters suddenly finding out that they are in fact cylons themselves.

And not all of these changes have been for the good. In particular, BSG began to suffer from "up its own arse" syndrome. Weighed down by its own mythos and intricacies, it stopped being an accessible metaphor for war and terrorism and became more than a little daft at times. When it was good, it was very, very good, but when it was bad, it was horrid.

So what's season four – the final season, even though it's been cut in half – going to be like?

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