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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.


September 3, 2015

Preview: Minority Report 1x1 (US: Fox)

Posted on September 3, 2015 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Minority Report

In the US: Mondays, 9/8c, Fox. Starts September 21
In the UK: Not yet acquired

Ah, movie spin-offs. How I miss them. There used to be a time when the airwaves were crammed with them. But ever since film became the lesser cousin of TV and TV decided books, comics, other countries’ TV and - heavens to Murgatroyd - original ideas were better than two robots hitting each other, film adaptations have been hard to come by.

As nostalgia-tinged as that last paragraph was, now I think about it, most movie spin-offs were dreadful, tepid versions of their source material, adding nothing original and being content to merely spread everything good about the movie thinner and thinner over multiple episodes.

Why am I thinking about it? Because now we have a spin-off of 2002’s Minority Report, a pretty good Tom Cruise/Steven Spielberg flick based on a Philip K Dick story about future cops who have access to a group of psychics who can predict the future and stop crimes before they actually happen. Set a decade after the original, the series sees one of those ‘precogs’ trying to prevent crimes by himself but failing - until he teams up with a cop tired of turning up after crimes have been committed and wanting to make a different kind of difference.

And this new series is as uninspiringly bland as all those previous movie spin-offs.

Happy days! Jumpers for goalposts, hmm?

Continue reading "Preview: Minority Report 1x1 (US: Fox)"

September 2, 2015

Preview: Blindspot 1x1 (US: NBC; UK: Sky Living)

Posted on September 2, 2015 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Blindspot

In the US: Mondays, 10/9c, NBC. Starts September 21st
in the UK: Acquired by Sky Living

It’s often said that there are no such things as original ideas any more. All that can be done is to take a whole bunch of existing ideas and come up with a novel combination of them.

However, some shows are just so derivative, you can’t imagine for a second that they’re actually trying to do something new, rather than simply showing you something so familiar and comfortable, you’ll just watch them out of habit, assuming that you’ve missed an episode or something and the cast all have new haircuts.

And so we have Blindspot, a show so familiar you’re probably picking out chinaware together.

On the face of it, this shouldn’t be the case. It has a whole bunch of qualities that it probably thinks are unique. Except they’re not. Perhaps Blindspot’s blindspot is its massive derivativeness.

After all, how many shows do you know that see people with full body tattoos that give mysterious clues to plot revelations? Apart from Prison Break, of course.

And how many shows do you know where a mysterious stranger wakes up with no memory of who they are or what their name is, but who wants to find out - and they have a very special set of skills that will help them with that? Apart from John Doe, of course.

And how many shows do you know where it’s Jaimie Alexander (Sif from Thor, Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD) who’s the mysterious stranger waking up naked? Apart from (seasons 2-3) of Kyle XY, of course?

And how many NBC shows can you name where every week the heroes chase after some mysterious, diabolical criminal with just a few clues handed down ex nihilo to them by some even more mysterious man? Apart from The Blacklist, of course.

In fact, each seemingly unique aspect of Blindspot you’ll have seen already somewhere else, probably done better, and Blindspot adds nothing to them. Alexander’s fine now she doesn’t have to do a cod English accent and she gets to kick ass, speak Chinese and do all kinds of things implausible for someone who has amnesia but that look cool.

Sullivan Stapleton plays her FBI handler, recruited to look after this amazing new asset because she has his name tattooed on her back. He's a lot of fun as the kick ass dick Damien Scott in Strike Back.

He would be fine in this, too, if he actually had a character rather than a plot function. Unfortunately, all he has to do is growl, pull faces and wave guns, since it's pretty hard to have chemistry with someone who has no memories.

But that’s basically it. You already know how it’s going to play out. Each week, they’ll find a new tattoo that’s a clue to a crime they have to stop. Alexander will kick some ass and maybe reveal a new talent. Stapleton will probably shoot someone or do something that will enable Alexander to look good. And there’ll be a gradual drip, drip, drip of clues as to who Alexander really is that will make ultimately make even less sense than the idea that someone would wipe Alexander’s memories then tattoo her with clues to future crimes, rather than simply tell the FBI all he knows.

I like both Alexander and Stapleton, but unfortunately this is just generic NBC action at its very dullest. The action's generic, the story's generic, the ensemble set up is generic. Get your DVDs out and you'll almost certainly find something better.

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July 21, 2015

Kneale Before Nigel: Quatermass/The Quatermass Conclusion (1979)

Posted on July 21, 2015 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

The Quatermass Conclusion

QuatermassStarring: John Mills, Simon MacCorkindale, Barbara Kellerman
Writer: Nigel Kneale
Director: Piers Haggard
Price: Blu-ray £29.99 (Amazon price: £21.75), DVD £19.99 (Amazon price: £14.75)
Released: 27 July 2015

In the last quarter of the 20th century, the whole world seemed to sicken. Civilised institutions, whether old or new, fell… as if some primal disorder was reasserting itself. And men asked themselves, "Why should this be?"

Professor Bernard Quatermass is one of the most important characters in TV history. Created by blog god Nigel Kneale back in 1953 for the BBC, Quatermass was the hero of The Quatermass Experiment, a ground-breaking piece of adult science-fiction television, created at a time when all the US had to offer the world was Captain Video.

The Quatermass Experiment saw Quatermass, the head of the 'British Rocket Group’, sending into space a rocket containing three astronauts, only for it to come back down again with two of them missing and the survivor strangely changed. What happened to the missing astronauts is for the coldly scientific Quatermass to find out and his investigations are set to change the way we think about ourselves.

The six-part serial was so popular that despite being broadcast at a time when very few people actually owned a TV, it was able to empty the streets. The result was not only a movie adaptation by Hammer Films, but a 1955 sequel appropriately called Quatermass II. If The Quatermass Experiment was “we go to them”, Quatermass II was “they come to us”, with Quatermass discovering that his plans for a base on the moon have already been put into practice… in England. But what’s inside these domes and how is it that no one’s noticed them until now?

The popularity of this new serial was again sufficient for both a movie adaptation and another lavish sequel, Quatermass and the Pit, to be approved, the latter being broadcast in 1958. This saw a WWII bomb discovered during building works in London. However, subsequent examination reveals that the discovery is a lot, lot older than anyone could have guessed.

“We go to them”, “They come to us” but now it turns out that they have always been here - and that we are the Martians.

However, that was the last of Quatermass for a while. Although Kneale was asked in 1965 to write a new Quatermass story for the BBC2 anthology series Out of the Unknown, he declined the offer, which meant that the first new Quatermass the 1960s got to see was a Hammer adaptation of Quatermass and the Pit in 1967.

The success of this movie prompted Hammer to ask Kneale to write a new Quatermass movie for them, but that got no further than initial negotiations, meaning Quatermass and the Pit was also the only new Quatermass story of the 1960s. But following the success of The Stone Tape in 1972, the BBC asked Kneale for a new Quatermass serial… and he agreed.

Kneale completed the script in February 1973, after which preliminary filming work began. However, for various reasons, the BBC got cold feet, and the serial was cancelled in the summer of that year.

The BBC's rights to the serial expired in 1975, by which time Kneale was working for ITV on projects such as Murrain and Beasts. Then, in 1977, Star Wars arrived on the scene and suddenly everyone was interested in science-fiction again. In particular, Euston Films, an ITV film subsidiary, became interested - perhaps, in part, because it was overseen by blog goddess and famous Doctor Who producer Verity Lambert. And Euston wanted both a four-part TV series and a movie.

Guess what’s going to be released on Blu-Ray next week. Yes, after the jump, we’re going to be looking at the forthcoming release of Quatermass and The Quatermass Conclusion - the final adventures of Professor Bernard Quatermass (almost)

Here’s a trailer or three.

Continue reading "Kneale Before Nigel: Quatermass/The Quatermass Conclusion (1979)"

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