Archive | Canadian TV

An archive of blog entries about Canadian TV programmes and production.


September 5, 2013

What did you watch this month? Including Homeland, Low Winter Sun, Chickens, Strike Back and Elysium

Posted on September 5, 2013 | comments | Bookmark and Share

It's "What did you watch this weekmonth?, my chance to tell you what I movies and TV I've watched last month while I was away on holiday that I haven't already reviewed and your chance to recommend things to everyone else (and me) in case I've missed them.

First up, the usual "TMINE recommends" page features links to reviews of all the shows I've ever recommended, and there's also the Reviews A-Z, for when you want to check more or less anything I've reviewed ever.

In my preview queue is a couple of shows, including ABC's Trophy Wife, which I hope to review for you properly on Tuesday. But I have tried a couple of new things, despite the summer TV quiet.

New shows I tried this week
Chickens
(Sky 1 HD)
Some of the cast of The InBetweeners try to write a First World War comedy about a bunch of guys left behind during the Great War, who have to deal with being accused of cowardice, etc.

Anyway, it's 10 minutes of my life I'm not getting back.

Low Winter Sun (AMC/FOX)
A remake of the Channel 4 mini-series of the same name set in Edinburgh, the show had relocated to Detroit to retell us the tale of a good cop who commits a revenge murder with the help of another cop and thinks he's got away with it. Except things start to unravel.

It sounds good and given it's remarkably managed to get the star of the original – Mark Strong – to repeat his performance but with a US accent, with fellow stalwart Brit Lennie James joining him for the ride, you'd think it would be good. But effectively, it's a season-long episode of Columbo with the guy who played Daniel Hardman on Suits as a less well written Columbo. I stuck it out for four episodes before the plot got so thin that I decided not to bother with it any more.

Shows I'm watching but not necessarily recommending
Under The Dome (CBS/Channel 5)
Just rubbish. I'm only watching because I've got this far and there's nothing else on.

Under the Dome TV Schedule

The Bridge (US) (FX)
We're nearing the end and it's definitive now that it's simply not as good as the original, despite sticking more or less to exactly the same storyline. Problematically, the show has removed a lot of the strengths from the Saga Norin/Sonja Cross character and pushed them onto the male characters, making her more of a liability and one who's stuck in the office most of the time. But the show did drop one particular, ridiculous twist, which I'm thankful for, anyway. The Annabeth Gish storyline is looking more and more pointless, though.

Strike Back (Cinemax/Sky 1)
The return of the modern day Professionals, this time with the assistance of former SAS dynamo… Robson Green (who, of course, was in Soldier Soldier but never did much fighting). Strong female characters keep cropping up to get shot and killed or go mental, which isn't very helpful, and having Brits like Martin Clunes turn up is very distracting. But the action sequences are as impressive as ever, as is the camaraderie and the cross-Atlantic strafing.

Recommended shows
The Almighty Johnsons
(TV3/SyFy UK/Space)
Really pushing ahead very strongly now, and getting some of its darker edges back, without going to season 2 extremes. Lovely use of myth, as well.

The Almighty Johnsons TV Schedule

Continuum (Showcase/SyFy)
A much better second half than first half to the season, with all the budget saved up for the end this time. Some good twists and revelations, as well. But it's in extreme danger of disappearing ourobouros style up in its own arse with the rapid development of unnecessary mythology.

Continuum TV Schedule

Homeland (Showtime/Channel 4)
Not yet back, of course, but I've had a gander at the first episode of the third season and I'm glad to report that it's remembered it's an adult show, rather than simply 24 on cable TV. Carrie's still unbalanced and there's no sign of you-know-who yet, with most of the first episode looking at the fallout from the bombing at the end of the last season and the political ramifications and changes in the US that have resulted. Impressive, but Brodie's family is really starting to irritate now.

The Newsroom (HBO/Sky Atlantic)
Better than the first season and the season arc is a lot stronger and more interesting, as well. Sorkin and co have also gone to quite extreme lengths to ditch virtually every romantic storyline possible along the way. But it's now so plot-focused, it's lost all sense of character, making it less engaging. Plus Olivia Munn is being criminally under-used and where they are using her, it's entirely inappropriately. Only one appearance by Jane Fonda this entire season, too.

The Newsroom TV Schedule

Perception (TNT/Watch)
Overall, a disappointingly formulaic season that ended on a low and lost the show a lot of its unique characteristics along the way.

Perception TV Schedule

Satisfaction (CTV)
Still funny, but I'm giving up on it because, like many, I want to punch most of the cast, now.

Satisfaction TV Schedule

Suits (USA/Dave)
Same problems as The Newsroom – strong plot, less involved in the characters. The fact the show has focused on more or less a single case the entire season has also robbed it of a lot of variety. And no matter what, I still can't see Max Beesley as a Cambridge lawyer. Sorry.

Suits TV Schedule

And in movies

I Give It A Year
Another tedious attempt to capture the magic that was Four Weddings and a Funeral in another Brit rom-com, this time with Rafe Spall and Rose Byrne getting married against everyone's recommendations. Nine months later, they're having problems. Generally, despite the presence of Stephen Merchant, Minnie Driver, Anna Faris, Olivia Colman and Simon Baker, a pretty miserable movie, bereft of laughter but full of misery. So steer clear of it – all the good jokes are in the trailer.

Elysium
Neill Blomkamp tries to repeat the success of District 9 but with a much bigger budget. Set in 2154, it sees Matt Damon as a blue collar worker trapped on the over-crowded earth with all the rest of the poor, while the rich all life on a space-station called Elysium that fixes all their problems and even cures all their diseases – except the rich don't care enough to offer the same facilities to the poor. Now, in many ways it's a very clever film with lots to say. The imagination that's gone into the weaponry, set design and future tech are all superb. It's just the plot and the characterisation that are mundane, with Damon having less personality than an implanted Total Recall Arnie and everyone else painted so thinly, they'd disappear if they turned sideways. It actually makes for quite a boring movie and yet again, despite it being 2154, you'd be hard-pushed to spot even 25% of the main characters being female, let alone women with power (baddie Jodie Foster and that's it). Disappointing, despite all the imagination that went into it.

"What did you watch this week?" is your chance to recommend to friends and fellow blog readers the TV and films that they might be missing or should avoid - and for me to do mini-reviews of everything I've watched. Since we live in the fabulous world of Internet catch-up services like the iPlayer and Hulu, why not tell your fellow readers what you've seen so they can see the good stuff they might have missed?

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September 5, 2013

Thursday's "Elizabeth Hurley is a queen, Dan Stevens is a computer and Tom Hollander is Dylan Thomas" news

Posted on September 5, 2013 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

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Film casting

Trailers

Canadian TV

New UK TV show casting

  • Tom Hollander to play Dylan Thomas in BBC2's A Poet In New York
US TV
  • Cinemax to air original Strike Back as Strike Back: Origins
  • Trailer for season 4 of Eastbound and Down
  • HBO renews: The Newsroom?

US TV casting

New US TV shows

New US TV show casting

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July 26, 2013

What did you watch this week? Including The Booth At The End, Orange is the New Black, The Almighty Johnsons, Satisfaction and Suits

Posted on July 26, 2013 | comments | Bookmark and Share

It's "What did you watch this week?, my chance to tell you what I movies and TV I've watched this week that I haven't already reviewed and your chance to recommend things to everyone else (and me) in case I've missed them.

First up, the usual "TMINE recommends" page features links to reviews of all the shows I've ever recommended, and there's also the Reviews A-Z, for when you want to check more or less anything I've reviewed ever.

Still in the viewing queue: Kerry Packer…. But otherwise I'm up to speed again, just in time to disappear for a fortnight on holiday. Oops.

New shows I tried this week
Orange is the New Black
(Netflix) 
Netflix's comedy-drama from the creator, based on a true story about a woman sent to a correctional institute. I only watched half an episode, but it was pretty good albeit with a little too much female nudity, so I reckon I'll be jumping back in at some point.

The Booth At The End (Netflix/Hulu)
At Mark's suggestion, I decided to give this one a bit of a whirl. And actually, it's quite good, if a little frustrating. Essentially, each episode sees an unnamed man (Xander Berkeley) sitting in a both at the end of a diner. People come to him who want things, sometimes trivial, sometimes seemingly impossible. And the Man looks in his book and tells them what they need to do to make that thing happen: it can as simple as making a phone call; or it could be to murder a child or set off a bomb, although he's at pains to state that he doesn't actually make these things happen and they may happen anyway. In In Treatment style, a lot of the plots of the characters mingle and part of the fun is guessing how they'll all mesh together, and it's also pleasantly theatrical, since nothing is ever shown, just described by the Man's various supplicants, so it relies a lot on your imagination.

The frustration is two-fold. The first is that there are very few answers and if you hang out to the end of the first season of five, 22-minute episodes, you still won't really get any gratification on that score. The second is that Netflix in the UK only has the first season, the second season being available exclusively to Hulu in the US - although since this aired on FX in the UK at one point, too, it might come round again.

But I asked a man with a book how to overcome that problem, and I'm currently in the middle of the first new episode, which has new characters and a new diner, so far. I'll report back once I've watched the rest.

Shows I'm watching but not necessarily recommending
Ray Donovan (Showtime/Sky Atlantic)
Actually, I'm not watching this, since I gave up midway through the latest episode. Just not something in which I'm interested.

Ray Donovan TV Schedule

Under The Dome (CBS/Channel 5)
Still no explanations for anything, and it's now starting to look like a 1980s Stephen King adaptation. Too many plot convulsions required to get the particular moments we saw by the end. But it's oddly compelling, despite being massively ordinary.

Under the Dome TV Schedule

Recommended shows
The Almighty Johnsons
 (TV3/SyFy UK/Space)
Hooray! What looks like the final episode for tying up all the loose second season plot threads, this was also half about setting up new plot threads. Looks like we're getting more storylines that are goddess-oriented, too. Yay!

The Almighty Johnsons TV Schedule

Continuum (Showcase/SyFy)
A slightly unconvincing alliance at the end. But a good episode.

Continuum TV Schedule

The Newsroom (HBO/Sky Atlantic)
I spoke too soon. While this episode was definitely less chaotic than the first episode, we had a return to the same weaknesses as season one, particularly the sexism, with pretty much every scene failing the Bechdel Test. Still, at least Aaron Sorkin is trying to engage with and understand the Internet now, even if he hasn't quite got the hang of it.

The Newsroom TV Schedule

Perception (TNT/Watch)
Perception catches up with Second Life how many years after it was trendy? Oh dear. And certainly on a TNT budget, it's not going to be able to recreate The Cell, despite its best efforts. The procedural was also completely loopy and implausible. But it did have some fun moments about the problems for our hero in distinguishing between reality and fantasy.

Perception TV Schedule

Satisfaction (CTV)
Not quite as good as normal, but there's still not many sitcoms that feature polyamory as a plot point. 

Satisfaction TV Schedule

Suits (USA/Dave)
A slightly unconvincing ending - and indeed main story. But it would take a hard-hearted viewer not to be moved by Louis's fate at the end of this.

Suits TV Schedule

"What did you watch this week?" is your chance to recommend to friends and fellow blog readers the TV and films that they might be missing or should avoid - and for me to do mini-reviews of everything I've watched. Since we live in the fabulous world of Internet catch-up services like the iPlayer and Hulu, why not tell your fellow readers what you've seen so they can see the good stuff they might have missed?

Read other posts about: , , ,

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