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June 25, 2014

Review: The Last Ship 1x1 (TNT)

Posted on June 25, 2014 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

The Last Ship

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

In the Venn diagram of TV genres, TNT’s The Last Ship would appear to be in an almost unique intersection that’s targeted at me.

I love things to do with ships, period or modern day, surface or sub-surface. I loves me a Master and Commander, A Hunt for Red October, a Warship, Making Waves or a Hornblower. Although Last Resort wasn’t great on land, as soon as it put to CGI sea, I couldn't take my eyes off it. The Final Countdown might not have been the best time travel movie ever made but I am so geared up to write an article about how you definitely must watch it because of its naval accuracy. I so am.

Provided you give me enough proper naval content per episode - I’m staring at you here, Black Sails - I’ll watch you, no matter how bad the rest of the show is.

As I remarked when I reviewed Helix, another thing I love is the killer virus genre: The Andromeda Strain - (both versions) - Outbreak, The Burning Zone, The Satan Bug. All aces, provided there’s a real threat of a wide-scale outbreak of a potential lethal virus.

So imagine my nerdy joy, given those facts, when I heard about The Last Ship. An adaptation of the 1988 post-nuclear apocalypse novel set on a US naval vessel that was at sea when the nukes went off, this TNT update instead gives us a guided missile destroyer that happens to be at the Arctic when a global pandemic breaks out, wiping out half the world’s population and leaving the remaining half on the verge of death, too. With the world falling apart, its crew has to survive and fight off enemies while scientists on board have humanity's best - and perhaps only chance - to create a cure for the disease.

Brilliant, hey? Hell, it’s even got Adam Baldwin as the XO. Nothing could tarnish this, surely?

Not even the fact that Michael Bay is the executive producer?

Well…

Here’s a trailer.

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June 24, 2014

Review: Dominion 1x1 (SyFy)

Posted on June 24, 2014 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Dominion

In the US: Thursdays, 9/8c, SyFy

It used to be that there was a reason for adapting movies into TV series. Not necessarily a good one, but there was a reason: people liked the movie so why not cash in on that? It always helped if it was a good movie, because that tricky difficult bit - coming up with a proven good idea and a source material that people would enjoy - was already out the way.

So I'm at an absolute loss to understand Dominion. SyFy might as well have beamed onto our screens a picture of a six-legged cat attacking Luke Goss from Bros with a packet of instant custard and a small porcelain statue of the Ayatollah Khomeini and that still would have made more sense than Dominion.

Remember the 2010 movie Legion, in which Paul Bettany was involved in a war on Earth among the angels after God absconds? Liar. Of course you don't. Even if you had seen it, your brain would have tried to purge the whole unpleasant experience from your memory. You're probably just thinking of season five of Supernatural. Easy mistake to make.

Fact: There are literally no fans of Legion. None whatsoever. Science has proven this.

But supposing you were bitten by a rabid bat and in your fevered state, your memory became clear, you suddenly remembered Legion and you decided to make a TV version of it. Wouldn't you want to at least call it Legion or maybe have something in common with the original movie?

Not so with SyFy. Dominion it is and the whole show is set decades after that war between the angels. Humanity is now living in semi-feudal socities sealed off inside gated cities, while humans possessed by lower angels, particularly those in league with the evil archangel Gabriel (cough, cough, The Prophecy, cough, cough), try to assail those cities and infiltrate them. 

Meanwhile, there's a prophecy of a saviour child who will come to end the stalemate and the war (cough, cough… oh, done this already). Except no one's quite sure where the good archangel Michael hid him.

Throw in something about nuclear reactors, Anthony Head from Buffy and Alan Dale from Neighbours as human leaders pairing their offspring off with each other, missing dads with angelic script on their bodies, a bit of Battlestar Galactica, a bit of Mad Max, an angelic orgy, some sword fights, some gun fights, some anti-aircraft batteries, some Las Vegas cage-fighting and a cast of British, Australian and South African actors faking US accents for no good reason and without much success and you have just the first two episodes of Dominion - a candidate for the title of 'worst TV programme ever made'.

Here's a trailer.

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June 13, 2014

Review: Murder In The First 1x1 (TNT)

Posted on June 13, 2014 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Murder In The First

In the US: Mondays, 10pm (ET/PT), TNT

TNT’s an odd network, a sort of in-between house on basic cable between regular old vanilla, commercial, network TV and the no-holds-barred, challenging world of premium cable. With no real identity of its own, it churns out shows that would largely sit very happily on any broadcast network were it not for the occasional swear word: Falling Skies, King & Maxwell, Perception, Memphis Beat, Dark Blue, Leverage, Saving Grace, Trust Me, Rizzoli & Isles, Franklin and Bash, The Closer, Major Crimes - the list goes on and assuming you hadn’t forgotten that pretty much all of those shows ever existed, you’d have been hard-pushed to remember they were on TNT and perhaps even cable. The network’s one truly good show was Southland… which it picked up from NBC then slashed its budget.

At most, you might think of TNT as 'The Crime Channel', because of the 13 shows listed above, 11 involve cops, lawyers and/or robbers, and the rest of the time, it’s broadcasting reruns of Law & Order. But you don’t. It’s just TNT. It’s just… there.

I don’t think it’s escaped TNT’s notice that it’s not very noticeable, either. It’s got an ambitious summer schedule of dramas lined up that includes spy thriller Legends, for example. But it’s starting us off gently with another crime drama, except to make it a bit more memorable, it’s gone once again to Steve Bochco, who previously gave the network Raising the Bar (make that 12 out of 14 shows).

Young people might not have heard of Steve Bochco (and let’s face it, they're probably not going to be watching TNT, since it leans towards a much older demographic, anyway), but together with Mary Tyler Moore’s MTM Enterprises, he was pretty much responsible for launching the second wave of great American television that began in the 80s. He started it off with the innovative Hill Street Blues before giving us LA Law, Doogie Howser MD, Hooperman, NYPD Blue and (oh horror) Cop Rock, which I guess was innovative, too, given it was as the name suggests, a musical drama about cops:

Possibly Bochco's greatest creative achievement, even if it wasn’t a ratings success, was the almost-theatrical Murder One. As with Hill Street Blues, Murder One was unusual for its time in having story arcs - a season-long high-profile criminal case in Murder One’s case. It was filled with a fantastic cast that included Patricia Clarkson, Mary McCormack and the magnificent Stanley Tucci and Daniel Benzali, who presided like a Renaissance Pope over his cadre of lawyers:

So perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that for his latest show, Murder In The First, Bochco has pitched at that older demographic who liked his previous shows. Giving Murder One a slight Law & Order twist, Murder In The First follows a criminal investigation by San Francisco police into two murders linked to a celebrity all the way through to the trial and (presumably) conviction of the killer. It also adds in a dash of Hill Street Blues, with its focus on the domestic lives and working relationships of the cops.

Starring Taye Diggs (Day Break), Kathleen Robertson (Boss), Richard Schiff (The West Wing), Steven Weber (Studio 60), Nicole Ari Parker (The Deep End) and Draco Malfoy himself - Tom Felton from the Harry Potter movies - it’s not exactly what you’d call ground-breaking, but is probably going to be a passable piece of summer viewing. Well, better than everything else on TNT, anyway.

Here’s a trailer:

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