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An archive of all the blog's reviews of TV programmes, films, DVDs, plays, audio plays and gadgets. There's also an A-Z index of all reviews.


July 25, 2014

Weekly Wonder Woman: Wonder Woman #33, Batman and Robin #29-33

Posted on July 25, 2014 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Wonder Woman #33

I’m going to be off on holiday for the next three weeks or so, so before I go, I thought I’d sneek in a 'Weekly Woman Wonder' on the most important title of the month - apart from Superman/Wonder Woman that is - namely Wonder Woman. Strange that that should be the order, hey?

I’ll also be playing a little bit of time travel to cast my eye back over the past few issues of Batman and Robin which have featured a reasonably well written but spectacularly poorly drawn Diana, simply because it’s an interesting look at how she’s now viewed in the DC Universe. And because it’s quite interesting.

Continue reading "Weekly Wonder Woman: Wonder Woman #33, Batman and Robin #29-33"

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July 24, 2014

Mini-review: The Divide 1x1-1x2 (WEtv)

Posted on July 24, 2014 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

The Divide

In the US: Wednesdays, 9/8c, WEtv

I’d like to write a really long review of The Divide. After all, it’s the first scripted drama on a channel hitherto known best for reality TV – WEtv. It’s a thoughtful look at the grey areas of morality, the US legal system, the death penalty, how forensic science affects process, and how politics, race and the politics of race can warp everything. It’s got two members of the cast of The Wire in it – Chris Bauer and Clarke Peters – as well as Homeland’s ‘evil blonde female muslim terrorist’ Malin Ireland. It’s from AMC Studios, was originally developed for AMC by long-time producer David Manson (House of Cards) and is show-run by the Emmy-winning John Tinker (Judging Amy).

It all sounds good and important, right? Except my mind’s a total blank. The show’s good but utterly uninspiring. It was hard to bring myself to watch the double-length first episode; the third episode was on last night and I really couldn't be arsed to watch it.

Trying to put my finger on why I can’t be arsed isn’t easy. It’s all very good quality, just generic good quality. The characters have standard issues – Ireland is studying to join the bar but works in her spare time to reprieve the wrongly convicted because her dad is on death row. She has a slightly self-destructive relationship with a cop, but whenever there’s an issue, the cop wants to talk it through, quickly dispelling any real drama.

Equally, the show is at extreme pains not to have heroes or villains. It doesn’t want to take sides on capital punishment, essentially giving members of the audience justification for their beliefs, whatever they might be: it even claims at one point that ‘no one in the US has ever been executed for a crime that they were proven not to have committed’. Everyone’s dedicated to doing the right thing, just interpreting that differently for different reasons. The twist – (spoiler alert) Bauer was present for the crime but didn’t commit the crime and there’s been a cover-up to protect the person who was actually there – is just astonishingly obvious that you’ll spend the whole of the second half waiting for everyone on-screen to catch up with you, even though they have all the same facts you do.

It’s worthy and dull. It’s so dull that even AMC rejected it, but not so mesmerisingly dull that it could find a home on Sundance TV. It’s too smart for network TV, too stupid for basic cable. If you like a generic thriller that’s a cut above TNT’s Murder In the First but nowhere near as entertaining, here’s your boy. Otherwise, steer clear.

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Third-episode verdict: Extant (CBS/Amazon Prime)

Posted on July 24, 2014 | comments | Bookmark and Share

BarrometerExtant.jpgA Barrometer rating of 4

In the US: Wednesdays, 9/8c, CBS
In the UK: Available on Amazon Prime

Three episodes into Extant - essentially Solaris meets Rosemary's Baby mixed with just a hint of AI, Gravity and Moon, in which astronaut Halle Berry comes back to Earth after a year alone in space hallucinating her dead boyfriend and discovers she's pregnant - and it's clear that this is less science fiction, more an exercise in coming up with this year's Under The Dome. It's certainly got as much plot as Under The Dome, because after filling the first episode with every card it had it in its derivative pack, it's slowly been eeking out those few puzzles and mysteries over a somewhat dull and unexciting chase-around storyline for the following two episodes.

Every episode has been pretty much the same: Berry runs around a bit in an effort to verify everything that the audience already knows and/or suspects, while artificially holding off from jumping to any logical conclusion or entrusting anyone with any new secrets. After experiencing minimum peril, she then discovers… not much.

Meanwhile, she and scientist husband Goran Visnjic watch while their creepy robot son acts creepily and yet fail to spot anything is awry. Of course, Visnjic and robot son have secrets, too, and none of them are in a sharing mood either. If anyone talked to anyone else, this would all be over a lot quicker.

As I pointed out in my review of the first episode, the show misses out on doing anything truly interesting with its quasi-futuristic setting, too. Following the pilot, which did at least make a stab at futurology, ever since we've had a future where we can send people up into space regularly, create an artificial intelligence that can be placed into a human-looking body, yet doesn't have self-drive cars and has everyone carrying around mobile phones that do little more than what last year's iPhone could. There's definite intelligence behind the scenes in the writing staff, but it's clear that because of either the budget or a belief that the audience isn't that smart, the show would rather not push anyone too far intellectually and would rather wave its hands distractingly when 'the science bits' come up. Hell, in this episode we've just had someone talking about 'sending postcards' - does anyone even do that now, let alone in a world that should have 7G-enabled contact lenses and invisible tooth and ear implants for instant communication and information access?

So despite a pilot that did at least have a little promise, it's time for me to leave Extant. So far, it's all promise with no pay-off. Hell, I'm not even sure what it's promising, it's so frustratingly coy about letting us know what the aliens, corporate entities, et al are really interested in doing: communication, invasion, control? So many secrets and I'm not sure I really care what the answers are. So given what happened with Under The Dome, I think I'm going to bow out early rather than get strung along again. And if I ever change my mind, the whole thing will be on Amazon Prime forever so I can play catch-up.

Barrometer rating: 4
Rob's predication: Is supposed to be only one season and hopefully it'll stay that way

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