Archive | Featured articles

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


January 12, 2016

Preview: Teachers 1x1 (US: TV Land)

Posted on January 12, 2016 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Teachers

In the US: Wednesdays, 11/10c, TV Land. Starts January 13
In the UK: Not yet acquired

The trouble with reviewing things is you actually have to have opinions about them. This means Teachers is causing me a fundamental problem. I've sat here for ages, staring at the screen, trying to have an opinion about Teachers and it's almost proving impossible. So how I can review it?

I've thought about merely stating the facts. Teachers is based on a web series created by and starring improv comedy group The Katydids, who presumably named themselves after the famous children's book, rather than the crickets, pop groupboat or even the sculptures. It's about six elementary school teachers who have their own personal issues about things like dating, friendship, body image, etc, and have a marked tendency to bring those issues into the classroom, which is in no way like pretty much any show about teachers of the past 20 years, including Channel 4's Teachers. It's produced by Alison Brie of Community fame. It's on TV Land, which with shows like Impastor and Younger is trying to reinvent itself as a network watched by people other than those one heart bypass surgery away from death. 

That at least gets me a few words further into a review. Then I figured if I described the plot of the first episode that will get me even further. Here, the teachers are tasked with developing an anti-bullying programme in a school that has no reported bullying. Rather than search the Internet for any anti-bullying campaigns who could advise them, go to their teachers union for best practice advice or ring another school and ask what they did, they come with a whole bunch of ill advised ideas based on their own personal issues, which ends up with an outbreak of bullying.

See? Halfway there already in terms of word count. But the key to the whole review thing is to have an opinion about a show, and I'm struggling to have one. The characters are pretty much what you'd expect - a whole bunch of comedic stereotypes that you'll have seen before and probably work well in improv, but aren't really innovative or individual in any way. Dumped woman still hung up on her ex? Check. Single woman desperate for a man, particularly hot dads? Check. Vain woman who thinks kids' drawings of her are unflattering? Check. 

But now I'm getting stuck, trying to remember if any of the other characters had any significant character traits. That's no help, is it? I can't even few inspired or insulted by them if I can barely remember them, let alone care about them, can I?

What I do remember is that about 10 minutes before the end, Alison Brie turned up and was funny. A lot funnier than anyone in the regular cast. I thought that was probably a bad sign. Do I think the lack of comedic acting talent will destroy the show? I honestly don't know. I just can't decide. 

Oh yes. I remember now. It was quite funny that the anti-bullying campaign was called STAB (stop teasing and bullying) and that they got the kids to say mean things to one another. Erm. Ish.

So there. I can't review it. It feels like I'm covered in some kind of space age material that causes opinions to roll off me without leaving a trace when it comes to Teachers. So I guess all I can say is Teachers is there. It's a programme on TV that you can watch. 

Read other posts about:

January 12, 2016

Review: Angel from Hell 1x1 (US: CBS)

Posted on January 12, 2016 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Angel From Hell

In the US: Thursdays, 9.30/8.30c, CBS
In the UK: Not yet acquired

Sometimes, it doesn't matter how good your cast is if your script sucks. Sometimes, even if your script doesn't totally suck, it doesn't matter since you'll be airing on CBS - the network that likes to make comedies that leave the viewer feeling they've just been licked by a random stranger on a subway train.

Angel From Hell has a good cast. A good cast. It's got Maggie Lawson from Psych and Back In the Game, as a workaholic dematologist who lives to help everyone else but whose own life is a mess. It's got Jane Lynch from Glee and Party Down as a crazy stalker woman who claims to be - and might actually be - Lawson's (foul-mouthed, sinning) guardian angel, breaking the rules by directly intervening to help Lawson fix her life. It's got Kyle Bornheimer (Worst Week, Family Tools, Perfect Couples) as Lawson's recently divorced brother, who now lives in her garage. And it's got Kevin Pollack (The Lost Room, Family Tree) as Lawson's widowed dad.

So, good cast. But not a great or original concept - someone ambiguously claiming to be a guardian angel/deity and trying to do their good (or evil) works on Earth is the grist of Cupid, Mr Frost, The Muse et al, while the angel who's no angel, sometimes comedically so, has been worked to death everywhere from The Prophecy through to Supernatural.

The show doesn't give either Lawson or Lynch much to work with either. Everything's incredibly predictable. Lynch, doing her normal schtick, isn't that sinning, usually just stealing things, drinking and having to go to the toilet after a bad taco. The ambiguity about whether her character is an angel or not, which arises from her spooky knowledge about Lawson's life, is constantly explained away by her ability to hack computers and social media, which is funny the first time, less the fifth or sixth time. Lawson, in turn, is sweet yet still surprisingly manages to hold her own against Lynch, but her character is thanklessly dull. Bornheimer's funny when flirting with Lynch, underserved the rest of the time, while Pollak's pretty much only there so that the cast list has 'with Kevin Pollak' in it.

So good cast, the occasionally funny joke and some obvious intelligence in the writing. But by contrast, there's plenty to offend anyone moderately Christian and nothing that makes Angel From Hell anything but exceedingly average. I'm pretty sure it's going to die a death in the ratings. Whether that's because it's just no good or because of God's wrath I suspect will turn out be less than ambiguous.

Read other posts about:

January 11, 2016

Preview: Colony 1x1 (US: USA Network)

Posted on January 11, 2016 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Colony

In the US: Thursdays, 10/9c, USA Network
In the UK: Not yet acquired

They say the secret of comedy is timing. I think the same is true of TV. A bit over a year ago, I was asked on Radio 5 why I thought zombie shows were so popular. I went for the glib Zoolander quote "they're so hot right now", but also mentioned that there was an obvious subtext - just in case you weren't listening, I was talking about rich versus poor, fear of diseases and the other, with an enemy that can't be understood and negotiated with, only fought, and yet which keeps on coming, no matter what you do.

That, of course, was two years ago and was at the back end of the zombie/disease/Occupy Wall Street trend. Now the big fear is that immigrants are going to come in, swamp us, and take over our countries. They're going to invade us.

TV, of course, can take a long time to get made, with years sometimes passing between genesis, gestation and eventual realisation of a show. Had Colony come out a year or so ago, back when I was doing that radio show, it would have looked prophetic and pioneering. Had it come out say two or even three months ago, it would have been riding a wave. Coming out now? It's missed the boat.

Continue reading "Preview: Colony 1x1 (US: USA Network)"

Read other posts about: , ,

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135 136 137 138 139 140 141 142 143 144 145 146 147 148 149 150 151 152 153 154 155 156 157 158 159 160 161 162 163 164 165 166 167 168 169 170 171 172 173 174 175 176 177 178 179 180 181 182 183 184 185 186 187 188 189 190 191 192 193 194 195 196 197 198 199 200 201 202 203 204 205 206 207 208 209 210 211 212 213 214 215 216 217 218 219 220 221 222 223 224 225 226 227 228 229 230 231 232 233 234 235 236 237 238 239 240 241 242 243 244 245 246 247 248 249 250 251 252 253 254 255 256 257 258 259 260 261 262 263 264 265 266 267 268 269 270 271 272 273 274 275 276 277 278 279 280 281 282 283 284 285 286 287 288 289 290 291 292 293 294 295 296 297 298 299 300 301 302 303 304 305 306 307 308 309 310 311 312 313 314 315 316 317 318 319 320 321 322 323 324 325 326 327 328 329 330 331 332 333 334 335 336 337 338 339 340 341 342 343 344 345 346 347 348 349 350 351 352 353 354 355 356 357 358 359 360 361 362 363 364 365 366 367 368 369 370 371 372 373 374 375 376 377 378 379 380 381 382 383 384 385 386 387 388 389 390 391 392 393 394 395 396 397 398  

Featured Articles

Marvel's Iron Fist

Season two of Daredevil but done right