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March 21, 2014

What have you been watching? Including Remedy, Spun Out, W1A and Ender's Game

Posted on March 21, 2014 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

It's "What have you been watching?", my chance to tell you what movies and TV I’ve been watching recently that I haven't already reviewed and your chance to recommend things to everyone else (and me) in case I've missed them.

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. And if you want to know when any of these shows are on in your area, there's Locate TV.

New shows I’ve already reviewed this week:

I'll be getting round to The CW's The 100 either today or early next week, but I did try a few other new shows, too: two Canadian, one British.

Remedy (Canada: Global)
Dillon Casey is a doctor who comes from a family of medics, all of whom work at the same hospital for some reason. After cocking up something chronic, he's forced to come back as a porter and we get to see hospital life from the viewpoint of everyone who works there who isn't a medic. Which might be interesting and different (at least, if you've never watched Casualty), except it's so self-consciously quirky and 'family', it's practically unwatchable, so I gave up. Only really notable for Enrico Colantoni (Flashpoint).

Spun Out (Canada: CTV)
For reasons best known only to Canada, they've decided to produce a totally unrequested response to CBS's The Crazy Ones that's even worse. Starring Dave Foley of Kids in the Hall fame, it's a multi-camera sitcom about a PR agency run by Foley, together with his daughter, and all the highjinks they get up to once newbie Billy from BSG turns up. All the same, it's possibly one of the least funny things TV has ever produced.

W1A (UK: BBC2)
A follow up to BBC4's cult comedy 2012, this reunites Hugh Bonneville and Jessica Hynes as the former Olympic organisers now recruited by the BBC to handle sensitive issues. I've not worked an awful lot for the BBC but it is recognisably accurate but exaggerated as a piece of satire. How funny it is for people who don't work in television, I'm not sure, although parallels with any large organisation no doubt abound. Most of the humour, though, comes from wordplay, mostly provided by narrator David Tennant, and in the cameos by famous people, such as one by Alan Yentob and Salman Rushdie that'll send your eyebrows through the roof. 

Bonneville is, of course, the hapless sensible everyman, dealing with a quagmire of neverending meetings with 'timewasting morons', trying to use common sense of all things to deal with problems. However, the show has a slightly dodgy edge, with Bonneville fighting against the excesses of liberal political correctness so the show also treads a slightly tricky path around things like the Countryfile age discrimination suit. Generally, a promising start, so I'll be tuning in next week.

I also watched a movie:

Ender's Game
Evil insect aliens attack the Earth and 50 years later, we're still preparing in case they come back by training kids in war planning, in the hope their brains will be flexible and fast enough that they'll make great generals. Essentially, Harry Potter in space school, right down to its own version of Quidditch, but with a pleasingly darker, smarter, nastier edge, our hero essentially someone who can outstrategise his bullies rather than who spends the whole time feeling put upon. The final battle is a big intense surprise; Ben Kingsley's awful New Zealand accent is not a surprise. 

After the jump, the regulars, with reviews of Believe, Enlisted, Resurrection, 19-2, The Americans, Arrow, Banshee, The Blacklist, Community, Continuum, The Doctor Blake Mysteries, Hannibal, Line of Duty and Suits

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March 21, 2014

News: Silk on Radio, All Creatures on stage, Cosmopolitan on Amazon + more

Posted on March 21, 2014 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Radio

Theatre

Internet TV
  • Netflix acquires: New Zealand’s TV One’s Rhys Darby/Stephen Merchant mockumentary Short Poppies
  • Shaun Evans to star in Amazon’s Cosmopolitan adaptation

UK TV

New UK TV shows

New UK TV show casting
  • Rhys Ifans to star in S4C’s Under Milk Wood adaptation Dan y Wenallt

US TV

US TV casting

New US TV shows

  • IFC green lights: Fred Armisen, Seth Meyers, Bill Hader fake documentary series
  • Trailer for TNT’s The Last Ship

New US TV show casting

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March 20, 2014

Mini-review: From Dusk Till Dawn 1x1 (El Rey/Netflix)

Posted on March 20, 2014 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

From Dusk Till Dawn

In the US: Tuesdays, 9pm, El Rey
In the UK: Available on Netflix. New episode released each week

Robert Rodriguez is best known as being a pal of Quentin Tarantino. His first big success was a Tarantino-scripted flick, From Dusk Till Dawn, which saw Tarantino and George Clooney play two brothers who rob a bank then head off to a strip joint that just happens to be run by sexy Latina vampire Salma Hayek. As a piece of grindhouse, it was fine and clearly benefited from Tarantino's ear for dialogue. But it wasn't exactly a classic.

Rodriguez went on to greater success with the Spy Kids movies, but he's produced more grindhouse over the years. Bizarrely, he's just launched his own TV network, El Rey, which is an English-language channel targeted at Latinos. The flagship drama he's using to launch the network? A TV-length adaptation of From Dusk Till Dawn, starring almost no one you've heard of and written by Rodriguez rather than Tarantino.

Hmm.

Okay, not strictly true. Don Johnson appears in the first episode and although this isn't a spoiler if you've seen the movie, gets killed before the end of it (although, you know, vampires). And Robert Patrick (Terminator 2, The Unit, The X-Files, The Last Resort) takes over Harvey Keitel's role as a vicar vampire-hunter in later episodes. 

However, largely, this is just a slower, duller, much, much cheaper version of the movie, played out over an entire series. It's not terrible and there are attempts to emulate Tarantino's style; the two leads (DJ Cotrona from Windfall and Zane Holtz from nothing much at all) do just fine as more generic versions of Clooney and Tarantino, the cool one and the psycho-crazy one respectively; the action is okay, if not especially thrilling; it's not got a great attitude towards women, but it's no that much worse than many other shows I could name on that score; and there are promises to flesh out the vampires' Mayan backstory. 

But, you know, they killed Don Johnson. Why bother watching after that?

Here's a trailer:

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