Archive | US TV 2011

Reviews of new US TV programmes from 2011


September 24, 2011

Review: Charlie's Angels 1x1

Posted on September 24, 2011 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Charlie's Angels ABC

In the US: Thursdays, 8/7c, ABC

You must remember Charlie's Angels back in the 70s. "Once upon a time there were three beautiful girls who went to the police academy, and they were each assigned very hazardous duties. But I took them away from all that and now they work for me. My name is Charlie." The irony, of course, was that "hazardous duties" meant desk jobs because they weren't treated seriously, despite their skills, because they were women. 'Charlie' and his detective agency gave these police officers a chance to properly fight crime.

The show, fondly remembered despite its descent from feminist concept to bathing suit competition in less than 60 seconds (the show "did more damage to the cause of feminism than the Susan B Anthony dollar" as someone once quipped), got remade as movies, largely at the instigation of Drew Barrymore. Now ABC have remade it as a TV show, once again with Drew Barrymore producing but aided and assisted by most of the Smallville production staff, and once again, the show has changed.

Will feminism be served this time, with over 30 years of hindsight to help us? Let's ask Charlie, now voiced by Victor Garber: "Once upon a time, there were three young women who got into very big trouble…" Yes, the "three beautiful girls" are at least now "three young women" but they're no longer former police officers, discriminated against by male superiors, but a rich girl turned cat burglar, a crooked cop and a former car thief, given a second chance in life - largely through wearing expensive dresses and swim suits and talking about boys.

That's so much better for the cause, isn't it?

Here's a trailer for the original, followed by a trailer for the new version.

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September 24, 2011

Review: Person of Interest 1x1

Posted on September 24, 2011 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Person of Interest

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

Heroes have had a tendency to be laconic for quite some time now. History buffs will of course know that the word comes from 'Lacedaemonia', the very ancient Greek name for the equally ancient Greek city-state of Sparta, whose people were famously short on words, but when they said something, it was always pithy and usually involved fighting or killing people (the most famous "Laconic phrase", "Μολὼν λαβέ" or "Come and get them", is one of the mottos of the Greek First Army Corps and the United States Special Operations Command Central).

So heroes have been largely required to be short on words for a good few thousands years now. But can a hero be too laconic, I wonder?

I ask this purely because in Person of Interest, we have Jim Cavaziel playing a former US Army Ranger recruited to help prevent crimes before they happen by a clever, rich software engineer played by Michael Emerson (Linus in Lost). And our hero hardly says anything and when he does, he mumbles. I think we actually have a hero who's way too laconic, here.

So first, if we have a lesson to take away from Person of Interest, it's that heroes really shouldn't mumble quite so much if they're going to be laconic.

And if we can be uncharacteristically verbose and unlaconic and take away two lessons from Person of Interest, it's that even if a script is pure cobblers, your entire set-up is completely implausible and you have a lead actor who's largely inaudible and inexpressive, you can still have a relatively watchable TV show purely through less talk and more action.

How Spartan.

Here's a trailer.

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September 23, 2011

Review: Prime Suspect (US) 1x1

Posted on September 23, 2011 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Maria Bello in Prime Suspect (US)

In the US: Thursdays, 10/9c, NBC

Prime Suspect is one of British TV's crown jewels. Twenty years old this year, the Granada show about a female detective's (Helen Mirren) struggles against the misogyny and sexism of her male colleagues during the investigation of a prostitute-murdering serial killer is an absolutely superb bit of television: when I rewatched it this year, I almost cried at how good it was compared to the vast, vast majority modern British television drama. 

Attempts to make a US version of Prime Suspect have been ongoing almost since the show originally aired. But finally, NBC has got its act together and made a series version of the show. Starring Maria Bello (The Mummy 3, A History of Violence) in an impressively wacky set of hats and scarves, it sees DCI Jane Tennison become New York's Detective Jane Timoney, who transfers to a new precinct dominated by men who don't like her and don't trust her, but have to learn to deal with her when she heads up a murder investigation.

And although there will be a collective protest that our crown jewels have been stolen, the show is actually mostly pretty good – when it sticks to the script.

Here's a trailer.

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