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Review: 12 Monkeys 1x1-1x2 (US/UK: Syfy)

Posted on January 20, 2015 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

12 Monkeys

In the US: Fridays, 9/8c, Syfy
In the UK: Acquired by Syfy UK. Begins 9pm, 27 February 

For quite some time now, Syfy has been coasting. Gone are the halcyon days when Battlestar Galactica was the toast of the town. Indeed, with a schedule intermittently packed with wrestling, reality shows and knowingly bad B-movies, it was possible to surmise that Syfy had changed its name from the Scifi channel not just for trademarking purposes but so it could avoid having to show sci-fi, with what little it did airbeing anaemic-to-poor knock-offs (Alphas) or imports (Continuum, Being Human, Bitten). 

However, for the past couple of years, Syfy has been trying to raise its game in original programming. Sometimes, the quality's been awful (Dominion, Z Nation), sometimes it's been okay (Defiance, Helix), but so far, nothing's been great.

12 Monkeys doesn't quite change that track record, but given what's gone before it, it's surprisingly good. The film, 12 Monkeys, was a Terry Gilliam classic, itself based on the Chris Marker's 1962 'photo-roman' La Jetée, in which a time traveller from the future comes back to the modern day to prevent armageddon. However, time paradoxes mean that the story has more than a twist or two.

Gilliam's 12 Monkeys, as well as being a movie rather than a series of photos, adds many plots and sub-plots to Marker's story, portraying a virus-devastated future from which Bruce Willis returns to find out the source of the virus and prevent the future from happening. Along the way, he meets a doctor (Madeleine Stowe), with whom he falls in love and convinces he's from the future, and a psychiatric institute inmate (Brad Pitt), who is the head of 'the Army of the 12 Monkeys', the likely cause of the virus. And again, as with La Jetée, there are plenty of timey-wimey twists.

This new TV version moves things on slightly and straightens out some of the twists. Our new hero is Aaron Stanford - best known as Pyro in X-Men 2 but also doing serviceable secret agent turns in both Nikita and Traveler - and he's come from 2043 to find out the source of a viral outbreak that's set to happen in 2017. Why him? Because in the future, the few remaining survivors of the virus find not only a time machine that can 'splinter' someone back in time but also a message from a CDC doctor, Amanda Schull (Louis' helper in Suits), saying that he is the one who must help stop the virus from getting out. Will he convince her of what's going to happen? Will he be able to find who's really behind the viral outbreak? And how many time paradoxes will he encounter along the way

Here's a trailer.

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News: Benedict Cumberbatch is Dr Strange, a US Wire In The Blood remake, full seasons for 4 CBS shows + more

Posted on October 28, 2014 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

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Film casting

  • Mark Rylance to star in Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Roald Dahl’s The BFG
  • Benedict Cumberbatch to play Dr Strange

Australian TV

Canadian TV

US TV

US TV show casting New US TV shows

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What have you been watching? Including Belle, Halt and Catch Fire, and Continuum

Posted on June 27, 2014 | 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.

The heat's back on again, both in terms of the summer weather and the arrival of new shows, so I've not been able to get round to/force myself to watch FX's Middle Eastern-yet-largely Caucasian dictator and familial rapist show, Tyrant. I'll try to get round to that by Monday, assuming that all these Dulux swatches I'm keeping my eye on have lost enough moisture that I can compare them accurately. But I have reviewed two new shows:

One was better than the other.

I also managed to watch a couple of movies. Well, one and a half.

Belle (2013)
Jane Austen but with a black woman and slavery. Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Undercovers, Bonekickers (yikes), and Touch, but best known as Martha Jones' sister Tish in Doctor Who) excels as the daughter of a slave whose aristocrat father places her with his uncle to look after - his uncle being the highest-ranked judge in England (Tom Wilkinson). Based on a true story, it's a two-threaded piece, on the one hand examining the place of black and mixed race women in 18th century society, with Belle too high-born to eat with servants yet because of her skin too low-born to formally eat with her own family. She may have a £2,000 income a year, unlike her impoverished, equally-illegitimate white cousin, but that doesn't mean anyone wants to marry her either. Contrasted with that is a case being examined by Wilkinson in which slaves are thrown overboard a ship and the ship's captain tries to claim on the insurance for loss of cargo. The two threads mirror each other, with Wilkinson's growing awareness of Belle's station informing his opinion on the case and vice versa. The cast are fabulous, with Penelope Wilton, Miranda Richardson and Emily Watson shining, too, although Tom Felton (Murder in the First, but best known as Draco Malfoy in Harry Potter) is horribly typecast as an evil racist aristo. Some tear-jerking moments and a lovely romance, but a little too gently paced and in need of trimming in places.

Monuments Men (2013)
Another film based on a true story, this sees George Clooney, Matt Damon, John Goodman and others as somewhat past-it art experts at the end of World War 2 flying out to Europe to try to rescue whatever art they can before the Nazis steal it or destroy it - or the Allies bomb the hell out of it. That's the first half-hour anyway, but we gave up after that because pretty much nothing much happens. There's no good dialogue, the direction is limp, there's no action, no scenes of note: there's more excitement in a Pathé newsreel.

After the jump, a round-up of the regulars, with reviews of 24, Continuum, Enlisted, Halt and Catch Fire, Old School, Penny Dreadful, Suits and Undateable.

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