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September 29, 2015

Review: Blood & Oil 1x1 (US: ABC)

Posted on September 29, 2015 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Blood & Oil

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

'Rags to riches' stories have been a popular genre for centuries, with the (literally) poor audience getting to imagine what life would be like for them if they were suddenly rich, typically showing that they have some inner morality from years of abjection and hard work that makes them in some way better than those who had been born into wealth.

Think Cinderella, Aladdin, Great Expectations, Oliver Twist or anything by Catherine Cookson, just for starters.

It's a worthy genre, but one with rules. So to a certain extent you have to admire Blood & Oil for breaking possibly the most iron clad of them all. 

It stars Chase Crawford (Gossip Girl) and Rebecca Rittenhouse (Red Band Society) as a young working class couple who go to seek their fortune in the North Dakota oil rush, hoping to make it big with a laundromat for the no-doubt dirty workers. Unfortunately, their dream and most of their possessions soon evaporate into thin air.

More fortunately, just as things look their worst, an opportunity arises through which they might be able to make it really rich through oil tycoon Don Johnson (Miami Vice, Nash Bridges) and his wife Amber Valletta (Revenge).

Will they succeed? Will they make it big in life? Will their marriage be ripped asunder by all the temptations before them? 

I don't know and I largely don't care, because of Blood & Oil's horrific transgression. Because our heroes, the one's we're supposed to root for, are complete fucking idiots.

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September 28, 2015

Review: Quantico 1x1 (US: ABC; UK: Alibi)

Posted on September 28, 2015 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Quantico

In the US: Sundays, 10/9c, ABC
In the UK: Acquired by Alibi

The TV business can be risky, particularly the US broadcast TV business where a show can be cancelled after just a few episodes and lose millions of dollars in the process.

As a result, broadcast networks tend to want to play safe. If they find something that does well in the ratings, something that usually hasn't strayed too far from the previous year's not especially adventurous offerings, they'll try to create something relatively similar the next year to capitalise upon it.

This isn't a good idea, but if you're a TV exec, you're not likely to lose your job over it, since you can always say: "It was a safe bet. Hell, the last one did well and this was pretty similar. Who could have predicted it would tank?"

Last year's "something quite close to lots of things you've already seen but which is a bit different" on ABC was How To Get Away With Murder, which was basically a remake of the 1970s law school show Paper Chase except with a more diverse cast and added murder. That was popular enough that it got renewed by the network. That, of course, means that this year we need something that's quite close to How To Get Away With Murder but which is a bit different.

The setting and general structure of How To Get Away With Murder is this: a team of diverse recruits to a prestigious school, all competing with one another to be the best, with the action running in two timelines, one before, one after a crime. What Quantico stupidly does is think you can transfer that from a law school to Quantico and have more or less the same kinds of people and principles. 

You'll probably have heard of Quantico: it trains the FBI, the DEA and the Marines. When you hear the name 'Quantico', you probably think of something like this:

What you probably don't think of is Muslims in hijab climbing assault courses; people with lots of deep, dark, borderline felony secrets; mean girls picking on their teachers for not being sexy and marriagable enough; and an Indian superstar trying to make it big in the US as an FBI recruit accused of committing a 9/11-level atrocity and trying to prove it was actually one of her classmates.

Here's a trailer. Be warned - the show's single redeeming feature, Dougray Scott, has been replaced by Josh Hopkins from Cougar Town

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September 25, 2015

Review: The Player 1x1 (US: NBC)

Posted on September 25, 2015 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

The Player

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

I'm sure a lot of you will have seen CBS's Person of Interest. In case you haven't, let me précis: a genius programmer creates the ultimate surveillance computer, able to predict crimes before they happen, and he recruits an ex-special forces soldier to help him stop those crimes. Initially content simply to be 'crime of the week', the show evolves over the seasons to partly become about a war for control of that computer.

Imagine then an NBC show in which someone had wrested control away of that computer from CBS and was using it to… gamble. What you'll have then is The Player.

Returning to his old Crusoe stomping ground to join his former Strike Back pal Sullivan Stapleton (Blindspot) on NBC, Philip Winchester is an ex-terrorist hunter FBI agent turned Las Vegas security consultant. While helping to secure some foreign dignitaries, things all get a bit personal and before you know it, he's on the run from police.

Little does he know that he's attracted the attention of a group of very wealthy people who have been tapped into the world's information networks for years and can now predict when certain crimes are about to occur. They'd quite like him to help the dignitaries and stop further crime. 

But they're not that bothered. See, what they really like to do is gamble on what's going to happen. It's all a big game to them. A game in which Winchester is The Player. Providing help but also supervising the game and making sure no rules are broken are The Dealer (Charity Wakefield from Any Human Heart, Wolf Hall, and Mockingbird Lane) and The Pit Boss, played by none other than tax-dodging action hero Wesley Snipes.

And as you might expect from a show set in sunny Las Vegas, rather than chilly grey old New York, as well as making you feel like you've taken something and lost big chunks of time, it's a lot more explosive, a lot more funny and a whole lot more ludicrous than Person of Interest

It's also loads of fun.

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