It is a conservative truism that Hollywood has a liberal bias. The likes of Fox probably escape that accusation, with shows like Rosewood and APB even arguing that the police force would be better run by the private sector; it's also a rare action show that has a proper liberal conclusion, with everyone sitting down to a negotiated peace and holding hands with the definitely-not-Middle-Eastern-Muslim terrorists. But on the whole, this is a truism that's probably true.
This is perhaps best demonstrated through depictions of politicians. Take The West Wing, which was also nicknamed by some as The Left Wing, which gave us liberal heroes fighting all manner of problems liberally and ultimately demonstrating through the fierce application of logic and sarcasm that that's the correct and only solution at all times. And that conservatives are racist dummies who can barely string two words together unless those words are 'God' and 'guns'.
Graves, Epix's first scripted comedy, is a pretty fine demonstration of the same principle. It stars Nick Nolte as a former US president. A sort of composite character of Ronald Regan, Richard Nixon, George HW Bush and George W Bush, 25 years out of the job, he's now reduced to opening retirement homes and the like. Perhaps, that's because in part, he's a huge dick to everyone, including his family.
Then one day, having got himself a new assistant (Ground Floor's Skylar Astin) who used to idolise him as a kid, he finally does what he's avoided his entire career - he Googles himself, and discovers he's regarded as the worst president in American history. Having a crisis of self-confidence, he ends up deciding to turn over a new leaf and become a better man.
Now, if I were a Republican, Graves would confirm pretty much my every stereotype of liberals. Because Nolte doesn't decide he failed to reduce red-tape sufficiently for small businesses, cut unnecessary government departments or bolster marriage. He doesn't even advocate greater tax breaks for the private sector to help give jobs to those who need them. No, Graves becomes a better person by switching from being a right-wing dick to being a left-wing, bleeding heart. He starts advocating moving military spending into cancer research since "if we spent the $60bn for cancer research we'd cure cancer by the end of the decade" (well, maybe but that's actually only a little more than what was spent in the US in 2011). He wants to be nice to illegal immigrants and let them live in his compound. He starts smoking pot.
In other words, he wants big government, big time. Because when people have personal revelations about how to be better people, they realise the liberal way is the right way, don't they? I can't imagine Ronald Reagan would suddenly have started welcoming the man from the government who said he was here to help, but there you go - Hollywood's liberal bias. Except for Ronald Reagan, obviously.
Insulting politics to one side, there's also precious little that's funny about Graves, although it is at least funnier than 1600 Penn. Partly, that's because it's almost impossible to understand 75% of what Nick Nolte is saying, so although he might have the funniest lines in the world, we're never going to know what they are without subtitles. But the show seems to think that simply have a president behaving badly is funny enough in itself, which unfortunately is in an incorrect assumption. The show also exists in a presidential bubble, only willing to attack long-dead presidents, rather than anyone within living memory, which at least The Ex-PMhad the balls to do, meaning it has no satirical content either. And the Secret Service agents due an ex-president and his family have an odd habit of disappearing whenever they're needed, leading to all manner of implausible events taking place.
On the plus side, it does have a good cast. Astin's probably a bit too weak and ineffectual to really credit as a tiny conservative all grown up, but Sela Ward (House) is great as the former First Lady and possible future senator - indeed, it's with her the show actually shows some sign of nuance and even respect when it comes to Republican politics. Heléne Yorke is amusing as the disaster-area First Daughter who's gone from having ranges of dolls made after her younger likeness to chain smoking and divorce. Ernie Hudson has surprising gravitas as 'a fixer' who makes problems go away for the First Family, too.
Even more interesting is the celebrity guest cast of real Republican politicians, with Rudy Giuliani showing up in episode one and Michael Steele showing up in episode two as themselves, although they never do anything that requires either any self-deprecation or any acting skills.
Graves is short on laughs and political insights, long on growling mumbles. You're better off with your West Wing/Threat Matrix DVDs, depending on your political leanings.
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.
Nearly there. Not quite, but nearly. Elsewhere this week, I've reviewed Travelers(Canada: Showcase; UK: Netflix), Shoot The Messenger (Canada: CBC) and Eyewitness (US: USA) and passed third-episode verdicts on Frequency (US: The CW; UK: Netflix), No Tomorrow (US: The CW), Westworld (US: HBO; Sky Atlantic) and Timeless (US: NBC; UK: E4).
I've started watching Graves (US: Epix), so I'll be putting a review together of the first couple of episodes of that tomorrow and Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency (US: BBC; UK: Netflix), Chance (US: Hulu) and Channel Zero (US: Syfy; UK: 5*) won't be far behind it. A third-episode verdict on Insecure (US: HBO; UK: Sky Atlantic) will be in among the mix, too.
Regulars readers will realise that I still haven't watched Deep Water (Australia: SBS; UK: BBC Four), StartUp (US: Crackle) or Divorce (US: HBO; UK: Sky Atlantic). I really will watch Deep Water one day and I might still give StartUp a go, but I think I'll have to leave Divorce to you guys to discover for yourselves, since TBH, I don't like the sound of it. Just the title. No.
Crisis in Six Scenes (Amazon), Haters Back Off (Netflix) and Easy (Netflix)? Never heard of them. Don't know what you're talking about.
I've had no time to watch last night's Son of Zorn or Eyewitness, but after the jump, the regulars: Ash vs Evil Dead, DC's Legends of Tomorrow, Doctor Doctor, The Exorcist, Falling Water, The Flash, High Maintenance, Hyde and Seek, Impastor, Kim's Convenience, Lethal Weapon, Lucifer, The Secret Daughter, Supergirl, Westworld and You're The Worst. I'm pretty sure I'm not going to be able to continue watching all of those, though, so this might be the last week for some of them and it'll definitely be the last week for at least one. You'll find out which after the jump.
About the blog
A UK media blog focusing on the best scripted TV from around the world, with daily news, views, exclusive reviews and good conversation. There's a bit of a bias towards the latest and greatest US TV, but we also cover Scandinavian, Canadian, European and Antipodean TV, as well as UK TV ranging from new Doctor Who to old Z Cars, and BBC4 to S4C.
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"For most of us watching the telly of an evening is a way to wind down and relax, but for Rob Buckley it’s his blogging bread and butter. With reviews of cult classics and up and coming US and Brit television shows, The Medium is Not Enough is fast becoming essential reading for TV buffs, with over 50,000 hits a month."
"The Medium Is Not Enough is a light-hearted look at TV, often from the US, but also from the UK. With varied, well-written content, the blog features healthy engagement and features well in search engines."
"Billing itself as 'officially the fourth most popular UK TV blog', there are several whimsical regulars here that could help it climb as high as number three…"
I'm Rob Buckley, a freelance journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of, although you might have heard me on Radio 5 Live's Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I've edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for trade magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider and the equally short-lived Death Ray and Filmstar magazines; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it "web site for urban hedonists" The Tribe. I'm freelance now and have contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network and TV Scoop.