Archive | International TV

An archive of blog entries about international TV programmes and production.

January 21, 2015

News: Rob Lowe joins Apocalypse Slough, green light for Fox's Luther and Frankenstein adaptations + more

Posted on January 21, 2015 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

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Film casting

  • Bruce Willis to star in Steven C Miller thriller Extraction


  • Trailer for Joe Lynch's Everly with Salma Hayek
International TV

New UK TV shows

New UK TV show casting
  • Rob Lowe joins Sky’s Apocalypse Slough

US TV show casting

New US TV shows

  • NBC green lights: pilots of comedies Take It From Us and People Are Talking
  • Fox green lights: pilots of dramas Luther, Frankenstein, Rosewood and comedy 48 Hours ’Til Monday
  • New trailer for E!’s The Royals, with Joan Collins and Liz Hurley

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January 12, 2015

What have you been watching? Including Empire, Togetherness, Taken 3, Engrenages (Spiral) and Banshee

Posted on January 12, 2015 | comments | 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 - they’ll even email you a weekly schedule.

Slowly, broadcasters have been emerging from the Christmas holidays and into the New Year, like so many blinking cave dwellers faced with the removal of their entrance-blocking rocks. That means not only do we have some exciting (and not so exciting) new shows to deal with, we also have the return of some old favourites.

In the past week, I’ve reviewed VH1’s Hindsight and ABC’s Marvel’s Agent Carter, but I’ve managed to give a couple of other shows a glance over as well.

Empire (US: Wednesdays, 9/8c, Fox)
Compared to the last mainstream black show about hip hop moguls – Starz's depressingly exploitative and unpleasant Power – Fox’s Empire should be a masterpiece. It could well be, in fact. It’s created by Lee Daniels (Monsters Ball, Precious, The Butler) and Danny Strong (best known as Jonathan from Buffy The Vampire Slayer but he’s also the Emmy and Golden Blobe award-winning writer of Recount, Game Change, The Butler and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay [parts one and two]). It’s based on King Lear and The Lion In Winter. And it stars Terrence Howard (Iron Man, Hustle & Flow) and Taraji P Henson (Person of Interest). Howard is a former drug dealer who’s diagnosed with ALS and has to work out how to portion out his kingdom to his three sons.

Sounds quite good, doesn’t it, apart from the drug dealer bit, and it was certainly a whole lot better than Power. Unfortunately, within about five minutes, I began to realise there was going to be a whole load of R&B and hip hop assaulting my eardrums so I bowed out. I said no to Nashville, I’m saying no to Empire. Tough on music, tough on the causes of music, me.

Togetherness (US: Sundays, 9.30pm, HBO; UK: Mondays, 10.35pm, Sky Atlantic, starting tonight)
Most HBO comedies barely warrant the title, and for about the first 15 minutes of this ‘comedy’ from Steve Zissis and Jay and Mark Duplass, you get pretty much the same old, same old HBO. Brett (Mark Duplass) and Michelle (Melanie Lynskey) are married but their relationship is struggling, with Lynskey preferring diddling herself with 50 Shades of Grey to having sex with Brett. Meanwhile, Brett’s friend from High School, Alex (Zissis) is being evicted and being fat and balding, his acting career isn’t really going anywhere, so he moves in with Brett and Michelle. At the same time, Michelle’s sister, Tina (Amanda Peet), is breaking up with her boyfriend and ends up moving in with them all, too.

For half the episode’s run, this feels like a standard #WhitePeoplesProblems affair, a somewhat introspective look at actors struggling in LA, marriages failing and the difficulties of dating when you’re older that we’ve seen innumerable times elsewhere. The idea that schlubby Zissis will eventually hit it off Peet, once named by People magazine as being one of the 50 most beautiful people in the world, prompts an almost Pavlovian eye rolling, too. However, once Peet and Zissis meet, everything becomes a lot more fun and it actually starts to become a comedy at last. It’s still a bittersweet piece about people disappointed by life and not getting what they want, even when they think they have, so doing what they can to enjoy themselves, but it’s a lot more likeable than it seemed to be at first.

Still in the viewing queue because it’s a mini-series is the first episode of the Canadian Book of Negroes. But after the jump, I’ll look at the latest episodes of Banshee, Cougar Town, Elementary, Forever, Gotham, Ground Floor, The Librarians, Scorpion, Spiral (Engrenages) and State of Affairs, as well as, for no well explored reason, Person of Interest. One or perhaps even more than one is getting dropped this week – can you guess which one?

But first, movies!

Warrior (2011) – Netflix
Tom Hardy is an ex-marine; Joel Edgerton is a high school physics teacher. They’re brothers and former wrestling champions trained by their abusive alcoholic father (Nick Nolte). However, for different reasons, they end up fighting in the same MMA competition. Will they end up facing off in the final, maybe? Hmm. Despite the somewhat inauspicious plotting, Warrior is nevertheless actually a very good sports movie, shot Friday Night Lights style and managing to resist the obvious revelations or even a pat ending. The MMA’s a little basic, but still genuinely exciting. Frank Grillo (Captain America 2, Kingdom) pops up as a trainer, but does surprisingly little fighting.

Taken 3 (2014) - down 't cinema
Surprisingly, given the horror story that was Taken 2 and the fact Olivier “Taxi Brooklyn” Megaton is back directing, actually a much better affair than the second entry in the series was. Liam Neeson’s back but he’s in the US and no one’s been taken in this time, with Neeson framed for a murder and he having to escape from the law while protecting his family and finding out who really did the crime. The script by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen touches on all the better aspects of Taken, with Neeson using some of his special set of CIA skills that don’t involve punching. Maggie Grace gets a lot to do for a change, too, albeit forced to play someone who’s about 10 years younger than herself. That’s the good side and everyone seems to enjoy that, even Neeson, although he seems a little tired and in need of a nice sit down and a Bovril at times.

True, the casting could be better, with most of the cast composed of people you’ll recognise from minor roles on TV shows, including Banshee and The Last Ship. Forest Whitaker heads up the cops, but he spends the entire time playing with a rubber band. None of this would be insurmountable, though.

But where it all goes to epic pants – literally at one point – is the action scenes. Even if Megaton, who’s an otherwise perfectly good director, could actually shoot an action scene in a way that was engrossing rather than soporific, it’s as though neither he nor the rest of the cast could be bothered. Every action scene might as well have been replaced with <<INSERT CONTRACTUALLY AND GENRE-OBLIGATED SCENE HERE>>. Ridiculous things happen and no one can even be bothered to explain how Neeson escaped them, lots of the best bits of Taken are reused and whenever something even slightly exciting is about to happen, the camera either looks away or some very bad CGI kicks in. Decent script – shame about the direction.

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This is why we don't want more Belgian TV shows

Posted on January 12, 2015 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Salamander was okay, if a little silly. Now look what its success has caused – horrible rubbish that looks like it’s been creating through combining random Google searches, that’s what.

After evaluating the bibles and artistic and financial presentations submitted by the producers last Thursday, January 8, the selection committee of the FWB-RTBF Fund for Belgian television series has given the green light for the second stage development of the 3 projects selected within the framework of the call for projects launched April 2014.

Focusing on comedy, dramedy and crime or criminal court series, this call was primarily meant to diversify the productions which lend themselves for broadcast within the framework of a fixed weekly fiction window for Belgian series in prime time on public broadcaster La Une. Each series was to include ten 52-minute episodes.

The 3 projects selected for second stage development are:

  • Geek et Flic by Annie Carels, Julie Bertrand and Charlotte Joulia (Left Field Ventures)
  • Ouesterne by Jérémie Bidet and Jonathan Becker (El Ardilla Sprl)
  • Les pionniers by Sophie Kovess Brun, Erwan Augoyard and Christophe Beaujean (To Do Today Productions).

In order to accomplish this second stage development under RTBF’s artistic supervision, the projects will receive a 200,000€ grant, paid out each time the dialog version of the consecutive episodes is approved. A sum of 30,000€ is also provided for the making of a 10 minute pilot (teaser) which illustrates the writing and the acting.

In the long run the finalized projects will complete RTBF’s supply of Belgian series, the first of which, Esprits de famille’s first season was recently concluded.

Launched as a joint initiative by the Federation Wallonia-Brussels and RTBF television, the FWB-RTBF Fund for Belgian series combines a 15 million Euro Federation and RTBF budget spread over four years (2014-2017) intended to create new room for the creation of identifiable popular French-speaking Belgian television series.

The projects:

Geek et Flic
Writers : Annie Carels, Julie Bertrand, Charlotte Joulia
Production : Left Field Ventures (John Engel)
Pitch: An ITC genius fights cyber crime at RWACCU – the Regional Walloon Anti Cyber Crime Unit – together with his field investigation team mate. Their mission: crack an online game in which real murders are commissioned, scan Darknet, where rapists buy themselves access to the webcams of single women, and track down Slender Man, the legendary virus which triggers off sordid murders…

Writers : Jérémie Bidet, Jonathan Becker
Production : El Ardilla Sprl (Jean-Yves Dupuis)
Pitch : Elliott Peeters is a cop and a Brussels character in every vein. Following the bitter failure of an investigation, he has been transferred to the confines of the Ardennes. As a city dwellers who hates the countryside, he will soon discover the Ardennes as he has never seen them before, in all its darkness and weirdness. Assisted by his unlikely new colleagues, he’ll have to solve crazy, even surrealistic investigations involving all sorts of characters, one even crazier than the other.

Les pionniers
Writers : Sophie Kovess-Brun, Erwan Augoyard, Christophe Beaujean
Production : To Do Today Productions (Roseanne Van Haesebrouck)
The Pioneers takes us into the daily ins and outs of a small solicitor’s office, De Facto, specialized in cyber crime. Manager is Valentine, a young solicitor who has left the comforts of a large office behind to launch herself in the conquest of this new legal Far West: the internet. To succeed, she counts as much on her charms and brains as on her team: Theo, a new technology law prodigy, and Fran, hired officially as ITC manager, unofficially for her talents as former hacker.

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