Archive | US TV 2017

Reviews of new US TV programmes from 2017


April 20, 2017

Review: Famous In Love 1x1 (US: Freeform)

Posted on April 20, 2017 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Famous In Love

In the US: Available on Freeform

It's a little hard to critique the reality of fairy tales. Should an overworked maid join a union, go on strike, become an economic migrant or lobby for an increase in the minimum wage to alleviate her condition? Or she should hope that a fairy will grant her a beautiful outfit and that a handsome prince will end up wanting to marry her because she dances well? Logically, option one is the better, more realistic one, option two the anti-feminist, passive one. Yet we all know that option two pans out for Cinderella whereas option one would have consigned her to perpetual indenture.

Watching modern TV fairy tales The Arrangement and Famous In Love, it seems that "hoping to be catapaulted to fame and fortune by becoming an instantaneously successful movie superstar when another hot major movie star takes a fancy to you during an audition" is the current US equivalent to holding out for that pumpkin carriage. They're also about as realistic.

The Arrangement, it has to be said, is by far the better of the two shows, while Famous In Love is a great big slap in the face to aspiring actresses everywhere. It sees Bella Thorne (the long-time star of Shake It Up but last seen as the unsuprising 'surprise' death in the first episode of MTV's Scream) playing a slightly bored, but otherwise happy economics student who'd much rather be an actress. Despite apparently having had no acting training, she still goes with bestest gal pal Georgie Flores to an audition to star in a movie franchise guaranteed to be the 'next Harry Potter' and wows everyone, including star Carter Jenkins, with her unparallelled acting skills and highly kissable lips. Before she and the audience know it, she's hired to play the lead.

But does being rich and famous bring you happiness? Flashforwards to the future successful Thorne seem to suggest otherwise. But what makes her so miserable? Well, there's the rub. Is it just the lack of private life? Is it a doomed future real-life relationship with Jenkins? Is it a potential estrangement from her still-struggling actress pal Flores? Is it the possible loss of hottie bestest boy pal/romantic interest Charlie DePew, who can't compete with superstar Jenkins? Or is it something else to do with the machinations of Hollywood?

Time will tell, I'm sure.

Famous In Love is billed as the replacement for Pretty Little Liars, so don't be surprised that about 50% of the plot is actually about various possible pairings of the assembled characters, as well as rivalries between friends and enemies. Similarly, there's also a mystery to be solved - namely what happened that estranged Jenkins from his former best friend Keith T Powers and caused popstar Pepi Sonuga to disappear from the public eye - and a closeted lesbian (no, no clues).

However, it's not even close to the quality of PLL and The Arrangement shows how pretty much every part of the show can be done better. Thorne is likable and quirky enough for sure, but the dialogue and scripting causes it to be so forced, you start to feel sorry for her, given the acres of supposed 'nervous rambling' she has to wade through every other scene. The fact she gets to go to the top of her profession without having served her dues in dead-end waitressing jobs or even trained in her art, unlike The Arrangement's Christine Evangelista, makes pumpkin-based transportation seem like an earned plot development. Hell, she hasn't even had to sit in the audience enduring Inside The Actors Studio before she made the big time.

Perhaps the only thing of note about Famous in Love, apart from it being one of the few TV shows to actually have the female lead in the infamous 'Friend Zone' at its outset, is that there's a British showbusiness reporter in the thick of things. Literally an hour before I watched the episode this morning, I suddenly wondered to myself. "Whatever happened to Nathan Stewart-Jarrett from Misfits? He was always complaining there weren't any acting jobs for middle class black Britains, just gritty stuff set on gang-run estates. Maybe he went over to the US to seek his fortune."

Guess what, reader. Stewart-Jarrett plays that very same showbusiness reporter. How spooky.

If you have to watch one show like this, watch The Arrangement. But you probably don't have to watch either, to be honest, so maybe watch Misfits instead.

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April 20, 2017

Freeform's upfronts 2017-8 - a rundown and clips from the new shows

Posted on April 20, 2017 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

It's that time of year again. Yep, it's the 'upfronts' season, which is when all the US networks reveal to advertisers the new shows that are going to be hitting the TV screens some time from about July this year through to now-ish next year. (BTW, this isn't the same as the international screenings, which is when the buyers from UK TV networks turn up to see what they'd like to acquire, so we won't know what will be heading our way for quite some time.)

What do you mean the upfronts aren't normally until May? Well, you're quite right, as the likes of Fox, NBC, ABC, CBS and The CW will indeed by showing off all their future wares starting the week of 15th May, as per usual.

However, in the age of Peak TV, there are literally now so many channels producing content that there's actually one or more upfront presentations by a cable or internet network virtually every day from now until then, with the likes of BET next week, Hulu, YouTube and Vice the week after, and so on. Most of these aren't producing the kinds of shows that TMINE covers, so don't be expecting to be inundated by daily treats, I'm afraid, but it's a still a pretty large spread.

Yesterday, it was Crackle's turn, but since they don't actually have any clips to show off, I could comfortably cover it in today's news. But it was also young adult channel Freeform's turn, and there's clips and shows aplenty for you to regard. So after the jump, brace yourself for the excitement of:

  • Killer mermaid drama Siren (no, really)
  • Superhero drama Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger 
  • Platonic best friends comedy Alone Together
  • Global women's magazine drama The Bold Type

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April 18, 2017

What have you been watching? Including Return of the Mac, The Good Fight, Imposters and Doctor Who

Posted on April 18, 2017 | 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 and your chance to recommend anything you've been watching.

I'm back. <INSERT PERTINENT DOCTOR WHO QUOTE HERE>. 

Oddly, I haven't missed much in my absence, since not many new shows have started, while plenty have wound up or have taken an Easter break. In fact, I've had the time to rewatch all of Marvel's Iron Fist, as well as an episode of The Champions

Iron Fist actually held up quite well on a second viewing, although it turns out not to have any hidden depths at all that I missed and the fight scenes do often look quite bad on a bigger screen. But it's still hugely enjoyable, the soundtrack's truly marvellous, and it and season 1 of Daredevil are so far the only Netflix Marvel shows that I've even been inclined to rewatch.

Next up, of course, is Marvel's The Defenders, which will be arriving in August during TMINE's annual break. I presume it's because they don't want me to comment on the fact that Daredevil is wearing Iron Fist's costume in the teaser trailer. Too late, boys. Too late.

As well as the regulars, I've also had time to play catch up on a few shows that I'd got behind on. That means that after the jump, I'll be looking at the final episodes of DC's Legends of Tomorrow, The Good Fight and Imposters, as well as the latest episodes of The Americans and The Magicians, the return of Doctor Who and the back end of the second season of The Man in the High Castle.

Fortitude I'm now working on so I should have a round-up of the final episodes next week. I'll also be a lot further along in Midnight Sun, which I'd probably have watched already if the upgrade to the Sky Go iOS app hadn't resulted in the download rights on the whole series being revoked for some odd reason, meaning I couldn't watch any of my previously downloaded episodes while I was away.

The Prison Break revival started while I was away, I know, but frankly, I suspect the show's time has gone and I've had enough Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell of late on DC's Legends of Tomorrow, anyway.

Some time in the next few days, I'll be taking a look at ABC (Australia)'s Hugo Weaving-starrer Seven Types of Ambiguity, which rather than being a documentary about literary criticism is a sort of Rashomon-ish look at a child abduction from the different points of view of all involved. However, awkwardly, as well as being only six rather than seven episodes long, each episode is from a different character's perspective (I think), so I'm unsure whether I have to watch the whole thing or not.

I did try to watch The Son, AMC (US)'s mini-series Western that stars Pierce Brosnan. Potentially, it sounded quite interesting, with Brosnan playing an old Texan cattle baron during the First World War, while we get flashbacks to his life growing up among the Comanches as a boy after they kill his family. However, it's AMC, so amazingly slow and boring, so I didn't even make it through the first episode.

I also gave one other show a try:

Return of the Mac (US: Pop)
Yet another one of those TV shows in which celebrities play 'themselves' with hilarious results (cf Lopez, Donny!, et al), this sees former New Kid on the Block Joey McIntyre playing a version of himself who wants to do serious acting. Unfortunately, no one else wants him to do serious acting, so when he pitches with his agent to a female-led network, apart from the drooling by the 30- and 40-somethings who used to worship him when they were young, he has to endure the fact they only want to offer him a late night talk show. Can you imagine?

Produced by fellow New Kidder Donnie "Not Mark" Wahlberg and Jenny "Vaccines are Evil" McCarthy, who also cameo as "themselves", the show struggles to do much beyond set up very easy jokes about reality TV, celebrities, McIntyre and his career, without coming close to even Donny!'s low bar in finding a remotely interesting gimmick to supplement these low balls.

About the only thing it does well doesn't even involve McIntyre, as it's all about his wife's work with a gloriously over the top stylist. January Jones cameos for all of a minute and is better than everyone else in the cast, despite being January Jones. That should tell you something.

Continue reading "What have you been watching? Including Return of the Mac, The Good Fight, Imposters and Doctor Who"

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