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September 10, 2015

Third-episode verdict: Public Morals (US: TNT)

Posted on September 10, 2015 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Public Morals

In the US: Tuesdays, 10/9c, TNT

Despite the preponderance in critical theory of the idea of the ‘auteur’ since Cahiers du cinéma first originated it in the 1950s, film and TV are such collaborative media that there are precious few people whose individual vision 'stamps’ projects indelibly, making them uniquely recognisable as the work of those auteurs. David Lynch, Hal Hartley, Akira Kurosawa, Woody Allen, Wes Anderson - you can probably list a few but not as many as you might think at first.

Edward Burns is probably not a name you’d come up with for that list. His might not even be a name you’ve heard of at all. But starting with The Brothers McMullen and working his way through She’s The One and Sidewalks of New York, there can be few more distinctive directors - to the extent that if you hear a film is likely to be about working class Irish-Catholic brothers living in New York, you almost certainly know it’s going to be an Edward Burns film and as a result, that it’s going to be earthy, authentic, comedic and have a good line in dialogue.

But there's a danger with auteurship - it can go too far, crowding out everyone else’s contributions.

Take Public Morals, Burns’ latest foray, this time into the world of TV. Set in the 1960s, it’s effectively Burns’ New York take on LA Confidential, giving us corrupt, working class, largely Irish Catholic, often related cops, trying to enforce public morality laws they don’t believe in and turning them to their financial advantage.

So far, so good. It’s created by Burns. Which is fine. It’s exec produced by Burns. Which is fine. It's directed by Burns. Which is fine. It’s written by Burns. Which is… fine. And it stars… Burns.

Do you want to guess who gets all the good lines?

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September 8, 2015

Preview: Lucifer 1x1 (US: Fox)

Posted on September 8, 2015 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Lucifer

In the US: Fox. Set to air 2016
In the UK: Not yet acquired

Some ideas just sound rubbish as soon as you hear them. You take a much-loved adult comic strip, Lucifer, created by one of the world’s most esteemed fantasy writers, Neil Gaiman, in which the Devil decides he’s had enough of Hell and decides to start a new life for himself on Earth.

And then you make a TV series of it that’s also a police procedural. Yes, the Devil solving crimes every week. On Fox, the network where good procedurals go to die.

And then you get that bloke from Miranda to play the Devil.

Just total rubbish, right?

Except Lucifer somehow manages to take all those elements, mix them together and produce something that’s actually very engaging. I assume some soul-selling was involved.

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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?

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