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November 18, 2013

Review: Superman/Wonder Woman #2, Smallville #69

Posted on November 18, 2013 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Superman/Wonder Woman #2

This month in Superman/Wonder Woman, it’s a surprisingly early crux point for that usual relationship milestone: the boyfriend’s meeting with the girlfriend’s family. Although Supes has already had fun with Wondy’s nephew, Eros, over in Young Romance, with Wondy apparently needing some new weapons to deal with Doomsday, it’s time for him to meet her brother Hephaestus, weaponsmith for the gods. Except brother Apollo and sister Strife have decided they’re not that sure about Wondy’s new beau and get a bit snooty.

Also this week, we’ll be having a look at the conclusion to Smallville’s ‘Olympus’ arc, as well as a brief glance at Forever Evil #2 and Justice League of America #9. See you after the jump.

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November 12, 2013

Preview: Ground Floor 1x1 (TBS)

Posted on November 12, 2013 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

The Ground Floor

In the US: Thursday, 10/9c, TBS

Class-divide comedy isn’t the usual subject of American sitcoms. Indeed, you can probably count the number of properly working class sitcoms on US TV on just two hands, before you even get to class-divide comedy.

So on the one hand, we should be looking at the otherwise unchallenging TBS and marvelling as they prepare to premiere Ground Floor, a sitcom in which a blue collar worker on the ground floor on one business falls for a member of the high-flying elite on the top floor - and vice versa - and the two of them have to deal with all the class differences, expectations, co-worker challenges, et al that brings.

TBS has even got a top-flight team in for the job: Skylar Astin from Pitch Perfect is the somewhat How I Met Your Mother-reminiscent guy in the romantic pairing, Briga Heelan who excelled in the latest series of Cougar Town is the girl, John C McGinley (Dr Cox from Scrubs) is the boss, and it’s written by Bill Lawrence (Scrubs) and Greg Malins from Friends.

Unfortunately, despite its cutting-edge potential and top-tier cast and writers, Ground Floor is just about as conventional as you can get and not terribly funny to boot. Plus, if that's what they think maintenance departments are like, they've all really been on the top floor too long.

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October 29, 2013

Mini-review: Dracula 1x1 (NBC/Sky Living)

Posted on October 29, 2013 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Dracula

In the US: Fridays, 10/9c, NBC
In the UK: Thursdays, Sky Living. Starts October 31st

There are many TV reviewers whose style it's possible to want to emulate. Sam Wollaston of The Guardian is generally not one of those, largely because his reviews can be summarised as "I didn't understand that and I had to ask my girlfriend what it was all about."

But for once, I'm going to have to follow in his less than illustrious footsteps by saying "What? What did I just watch?" Dracula follows on from Hannibal by being an NBC/Sky Living co-production in which a European cast appear in a colourful horror story. Here, the story is a take on Bram Stoker's Victorian classic Dracula, in which lawyer Jonathan Harker comes across a certain Count Dracula, who has a thing for his wife Mina,  discovers that Dracula is a vampire, and then with the help of one Abraham Van Helsing, kills the blood-sucker.

I say 'a take' because despite the Victorian setting, as far as I can work out, the plot of this Dracula sees journalist Jonathan Harker and girlfriend Mina Murray come across an American industralist (Jonathan Rhys Meyers from The Tudors), who is actually the vampire Dracula with a dodgy US accent. Dracula has been resurrected by Abraham Van Helsing to help fight the shadowy organisation of English people (including Robert Bathhurst), the Order of the Dragon, who want to run the world using the money from their petroleum and who killed Dracula's wife, who bares an uncanny resemblance to Mina. Dracula has a nifty wireless electricity invention based on geomagnetism that will stop that ambition, he reckons.

And while that covers the bare bones of the plot, I have literally no idea what else is really happening. There's another couple (Ben Miles from Coupling and Victoria Smurfit) who might be vampire hunters and who carry around heads in bags. They also faked the whole Jack the Ripper thing to cover up vampire activity, and Smurfit spends days doing martial arts training next to a vampire in a steel cage. Katie McGrath from Merlin - half the cast are Irish doing bad English accents, by the way - is a posh girl whose motivation for anything is equally unclear.

It's all set in Victorian times, but there's wireless electricity and I've no idea how the Middle Ages Transylvanian warlord Vlad the Impaler would know how to create it. Almost all the women wear clothes that would have shocked decent society back then. There's flashbacks to shagging and I've no idea why Mina is the apparent reincarnation of Dracula's wife. And why does journalist Jonathan Harker (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) just sit there writing 'visionary' and 'egotistical' on his unlined notepad when he's supposed to be interviewing someone?

Together with Da Vinci's Demons and Atlantis, it's as if TV has now decided to start throwing aside any sense of plot coherence or historical authenticity in favour of just throwing things at our screens and hoping that something, anything will be cool and work. 

It all looks quite pretty thanks to being filmed in Hungary and there are some good fight scenes and vampire special effects. But between the bad accents, absolute incoherence of the plot, poorly defined or bizarre motivations for everyone involved, this is largely a show aimed at people who like wizzy gothic things happening at night with a hint of sex and blood, irrespective of whether it makes any sense.

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