Archive | US TV 2011

Reviews of new US TV programmes from 2011


April 5, 2011

Review: Chaos 1x1

Posted on April 5, 2011 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

CHAOS-CBS-3.jpg

In the US: Fridays, 8/7c, CBS

It's been 10 years since the tragedy of 9/11. Do you know how you can tell?

  1. The date. Obviously.
  2. The fact that virtually every new spy show or movie that comes out these days seems to be a comedy - or comedy-drama

In the last few years on TV certainly, instead of the hardcore likes of 24, Threat Matrix et al, we've had InSecurity, Covert Affairs, Chuck and Undercovers, to name but a few. To that list - for a brief time at least - let us add Chaos, a show which at first glance looks like a very bad spy comedy but which soon metamorphoses into a surprisingly-not-awful dramedy full of action, crossing, double-crossing and mildly humorous situations.

In it, CIA recruit Rick Martinez (Freddy Rodriguez) arrives on his first day at work to find government cutbacks have already made his job at the Clandestine Administration and Oversight Services (CHAOS) redundant. His boss (Kurtwood Smith) offers him the chance to stay with the agency provided he agrees to spy on a small department full of 'loose cannons' run by paranoid genius Eric Close (Dark SkiesWithout a Trace, and Now and Again). He does and after they play with him for a while, he soon learns that they may actually be the only members of the CIA doing proper spy work any more...

Because it's the law on US TV, there are no fewer than three Brits in the cast of seven: Carmen Ejogo, who hasn't been in much; Christine Cole (as of episode two), whom you might remember from the terrifyingly bad Sky 1 Buffy rip-off Hex; and James Murray, whom you might remember from the quite reasonable ITV1 Doctor Who rip-off Primeval - he got killed by dinosaurs. Well, you would if he weren't trying to do a (surprisingly acceptable) Scottish accent the whole time, anyway.

Here's a trailer.

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April 4, 2011

Review: The Borgias 1x1-1x2

Posted on April 4, 2011 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

The Borgias

In the US: Sundays, 10pm ET/PT, Showtime
In the UK: Acquired by Sky Atlantic for the Summer

First, a request: in one weekend, we've had two hours of Camelot, two hours of Spiral, two hours of The Killing, two hours of The Kennedys and now two hours of The Borgias - dear TV networks, please can you just show one episode at a time of your TV shows because I won't watch them again if you don't. I won't have the time. Not that there's much chance of my watching either Camelot and The Borgias again.

There, I've already ruined the ending of this review for you. Oops.

So, let me tell you for why I say that. Here's something curious. HBO is upper class. It has natural breeding. Showtime is middle class. It looks up to HBO, but it looks down on Starz. And Starz is working class. Each knows their place.

Yet for some strange reason, all of a sudden, Showtime would like to be Starz and Starz would like to be Showtime. Yet there is no social mobility here. Starz cannot be Showtime; Showtime cannot be Starz. Starz may have nicked the bloke who made The Tudors to come up with their own Arthurian version, Camelot, but it's still a tacky piece of vulgarity - much like Spartacus. But that does at least have the virtue of some cracking plotting, internecine politicking, John Hannah and Xena: Warrior Princess. Oh, and some full frontal nudity, softcore porn, language that would shock a sailor and massive bloodletting.

Starz cannot be Showtime.

Similarly, although Showtime would like to make something like Spartacus, in which there's sex, incest, murder and swordfights, it ends up hiring Neil Jordan to make something with Jeremy Irons in it that's largely about the 15th century Catholic church's papal laws of ascendency. Who'd have though sex, incest, murder and swordfights could be so boring?

Showtime cannot be Starz.

Cue the trailer.

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April 4, 2011

Review: The Killing (US) 1x1-1x2

Posted on April 4, 2011 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

The Killing

In the US: Sundays, 9pm/8c, AMC

Ha ha. Fooled you. That's obviously Sarah Lund from Danish TV's The Killing, not the US The Killing. This is Sarah Linden from US TV's The Killing.

Sarah Linden in The Killing

See? Easy mistake to make. They even have similar sweaters.

That's not all. You see, it seems a vast batch of carbon paper has been sent over to the US (and Canada) of late. You may recall my complaining that the US-Canadian remake of Being Human, in which a vampire, a werewolf and a ghost houseshare, was practically identical to the British original. Well, in comparison, this remake of the Danish version of The Killing makes the Being Human remake look like it was really about five talking rabbits in sombreros on a cycling tour of Kenya, because we have here something that, bar the fact it's in English and there have been a few, very slight name changes and alterations to dialogue, is a frame-for-frame, note-by-note remake of the original - because they even use the same music. Yet, somehow, it's not quite as good. Good, just not quite as good.

Cue the trailer that might seem a little familiar to those who have seen the original…

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