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Third-episode verdict: Dig (US: USA Network)

Posted on March 24, 2015 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

BarrometerDig.jpgA Barrometer rating of 4

In the US: Thursdays, 10/9c, USA

There's something weirdly fascinating about the USA Network's Dig. The creation of Tim Kring (Heroes) and Gideon Raff (Homeland), it sees FBI agent (hello to) Jason Isaacs travelling to Jerusalem to catch a criminal, only to somehow get embroiled in an Old Testament conspiracy theory that involves unblemished heffers, cloned kids whose feet must not touch the ground and a long-lost priest's breastplate that allowed him to communicate with God. Bringing in all sorts of Jewish mythology in the same way that the similar Touch did, it's nevertheless absolute bobbins in the Dan Brown vein that's only mildly less stupid. 

Since the first episode, we've had all sorts happen but very little get explained, beyond the introduction of yet more conspiracists including Richard E Grant and the pairing of Isaacs buddy-buddy stylee with a sceptical Israeli cop (Ori Pfeffer). There have been plenty of chases, plenty of deaths, plenty of 'revelations' and plenty of biblical references, but nothing yet makes much sense. 

The show has a few redeeming features: the Jersusalem filming and having half the show in Hebrew is lovely; the occasional local touch, such as having Pfeffer pick up his kid while taking a suspect to the police station, makes it feel like one of Raff's shows before he switched to US TV; a strong supporting cast, including Grant, Anne Heche and David Costabile, lift the show above the likes of Allegiance; and having a show that's firmly about Jewish rather than Christian traditions is novel. 

But that's not enough, when faced with Dig's obvious stupidity and dullness. It's just tedious to watch.

Nevertheless, there's something oddly compelling about its strangeness. Normally, with such a high Barrometer rating, I'd have dropped it like so much CSI: Cyber. But for some reason, whether it's just the absolute strangeness of the show, Isaacs or the location filming, I want to tune in for more.

I absolutely under no circumstances would recommend Dig (or anything Tim Kring is involved with) to anyone, but I might well stick with it, right until the bitter end. At which point, I'm sure I'll rue my wasted time. But I think I'll still have seem something different from the usual US TV thriller. And perhaps that's Dig last remaining redeeming feature.

Barrometer rating: 4
Rob's prediction: It's only supposed to last a season and that's all it's going to get

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Mini-review: iZombie 1x1 (US: The CW)

Posted on March 19, 2015 | comments | Bookmark and Share

iZombie

In the US: Tuesdays, 9/8c, The CW

Are you the kind of person who loves Veronica Mars? Are you the kind of person who loves brain-eating zombies? Do you think you might be the kind of person who would like it if Veronica Mars had been a brain-eating zombie?

Then listen up, because I have a show for you.

iZombie is loosely adapted by Veronica Mars-creator Rob Thomas from his comic of the same name and sees driven medical resident Rose McIver (Power Rangers, Xena, Masters of Sex, Once Upon A Time) take a rare moment to enjoy her life and go to a party. Unfortunately, at said party, David Anders (Alias, Heroes) is passing out his new experimental recreational drug, which has the rather bad side effect of turning everyone into zombies. Guess who gets caught in the flesh-eating crossfire?

Realising she has the power to infect others and that she needs to eat brains regularly if she’s going to avoid a massive IQ drop, McIver abandons her engagement to Robert Buckley* (One Tree Hill, 666 Park Avenue, Lipstick Jungle) and goes to work as a medical examiner. There, by pretending to be a psychic, her ability to acquire memories from the brains she eats starts to come in handy for homicide detective Malcolm Goodwin (Breakout Kings) in solving murders. The only person she can trust not to kill her messily for being the undead monster she is? Fellow medical examiner Rahul Kohli, who might even be able to come up with a cure for her 'condition’.

As with Veronica Mars before it, iZombie is a whip-smart show about a whip-smart woman who delivers a whip-smart voiceover while she solves crimes, all while juggling repressed passions and emotions, and trying to deal with adult issues. It’s a lot of fun, very knowing and oozes obvious subtexts from every pore, with McIver’s zombie-induced lethargy and lack of joie de vivre standing in as a viewer-determined proxy for anything from depression through to the rejection of societal and familial expectations.

Which should be exactly the kind of thing I would love. Yet for some reason, iZombie left me a whole lot colder than it should have done. Maybe it’s the glibness of it all or the lack of any real darkness; maybe it’s McIver's annoying family; maybe it’s the fact the show has latched onto the police procedural format as the best way of telling stories; maybe it’s the fact that McIver gets shot and has no apparent capacity to heal - or blood flow - yet doesn’t seem too worried about having a bullet hole in her.

Whatever it is, while the show does have plenty of merits, from the central cast through to the zombie premise itself, it’s not quite gelling for me yet. But then I found the same was true of Veronica Mars, which I appreciate is practically a diagnostic criterion of some form of mental unbalance. So give it a try at least, since it’s entirely possible this might be the best TV show ever. I don’t think it is, but maybe someone’s eating my brain already.

* No, not me

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News: BBC3's Murder In Successville, multiple US pilots, new Heroes and Game of Thrones trailers + more

Posted on February 2, 2015 | comments | Bookmark and Share

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Film casting

UK TV

New UK TV shows

New UK TV show casting

  • David Thewlis to star in BBC One’s adaptation of An Inspector Calls

US TV

US TV show casting

New US TV shows

  • Teaser trailer for USA’s Dig [US only]
  • Teaser trailer for NBC’s Odyssey [US only]
  • CBS green lights: pilot of medical drama LFE
  • and civil rights drama For Justice and crime drama Sneaky Pete
  • ABC green lights: pilots of medical-legal drama The Advocate, oil rush drama Boom, family legal drama The Adversaries and thriller Kingmakers
  • six comedies including Delories and Jermaine, The King of 7B, The 46 Percenters, and The Brainy Bunch
  • plus Uncle Buck adaptation and Family Fortune
  • Fox green lights: pilot of rock star comedy DeTour
  • HBO green lights: Lewis and Clark mini-series
  • Trailer for NBC’s Heroes Reborn – The Aurora

New US TV show casting

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Veronica Mars eats brains