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Mini-review: Rake (US) 1x1 (Fox)

Posted on January 27, 2014 | comments | Bookmark and Share

Rake, with Greg Kinnear

In the US: Thursdays, 9/8c, Fox
In the UK: The Universal Channel

Normally, TV producers try to do something clever with their shows' titles. Even if they just name their show after the lead character, there's normally a double meaning to it: think Hunter, House (a pun on Holmes), Ironside or Magnum.

Certainly, the producers of Australia's Rake had that in mind when they named their show after the lead character, lawyer Rake Cleaver Greene, who's also something of a rake. Not especially clever, but there was a point to it.

But it shows just how much in two minds the producers of the US adaptation are about the programme that it's still called Rake, even though the lead character is now called Keegan Deane. Indeed, they reshot the pilot after it showed Deane as a bit 'sadder' than they'd wanted, that's how much they're not sure what to do with this.

The US version sees Greg Kinnear return to TV to play Deane, a narcissistic disaster area of a lawyer who womanises, gambles, treats everyone appallingly and generally ruins other people's lives as well. Even his clients are mostly guilty of their crimes, something that Deane doesn't really care much about, provided they can pay him, either in cash or giant tuna fish (don't ask).

Deane lurches from one situation to another in a way that's supposed to be lovable (and definitely not 'sad') and Houseian, but is largely just unpleasant, somewhat like watching a very small series of car crashes. He doesn't have the genius of House and he doesn't really have any redeeming qualities to make you want to forgive him or like him. And Kinnear, kind of like one of those spooky, almost-human Japanese robots, is close enough to Rob Lowe that he's almost likeable, but far enough off that you just want Rob Lowe to be starring instead.

With the wrong lead, wrong scripts and even wrong character names, this is very much a missable show. But here's a trailer so you can decide for yourselves if you at least want to give it a try.

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What did you watch this week? Including Crossing Lines, Perception, Satisfaction, Under The Dome and Much Ado About Nothing

Posted on July 5, 2013 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

It's "What did you watch this week?, my chance to tell you what I movies and TV I've watched this week that I haven't already reviewed and your chance to recommend things to everyone else (and me) in case I've missed them.

Normally, at this point, I'd list my usual recommendations. But what with international viewing schedules, etc, that's started to get awkward. Instead, as I revealed on Tuesday, I've put together a "TMINE recommends" page, featuring links to reviews of all the shows I've ever recommended. I'll improve it in all sorts of ways over time, since it's a bit rough and ready at the moment, but it should mean that you'll be able to find some good TV viewing if you need to.

Anyway, here's what I've been watching this week. Still in my viewing queue, though, is Being Mary Jane, BET's new comedy-drama with Gabrielle Union, about "one black woman who is not representative of all black women" and her struggles with life and love. I'm not in a big rush to review this since the series itself doesn't start until January 2014. But after a slightly shaky, very ordinary first five minutes, it started to improve post titles, so I'll probably have a review up on (checks work schedule) Thursday next week.

The Almighty Johnsons (TV3/SyFy UK/Space)
Yes, it's the return of New Zealand's best drama show, with Norse gods (weakly) reincarnated in the bodies of ordinary mortals, all hoping that they'll return to full strength once Odin and Frigg get married. It feels like the show's trying to right itself after a somewhat erratic second season, with more of a focus on relationships. Some great individual dramatic and comedic moments, but no sign yet of a strong season-long narrative drive to push the plot. UK viewers will be relieved to hear season three has been acquired by SyFy UK, for broadcast soon.

Crossing Lines (NBC/TF1)
The first episode, of course, was a tiresome mixture of dramatic cliché and serial killer topes from cop shows, all set against a European backdrop. Episode two was a vastly chattier affair, less cliched but incredibly boring to watch. There doesn't appear to be a good reason at all for Donald Sutherland to be in this, but they keep trying to find things for him to do, and the poor old German character may be the best of the actors not performing in their native languages, but he's got almost nothing to do in terms of character development, sadly. It's also becoming readily apparent that the writers have no real understanding of the difference between Northern Ireland and Eire, with yet another Irish character popping but having a Northern Irish accent. Some vague hints at a season arc involving a shady Russian, though, so maybe it'll get better in the next few episodes.

Graceland (USA)
Too boring and not unique enough for me to keep watching, so it's been dropped from my viewing schedule.

Perception (TNT/Watch)
A slightly stronger episode this week than last week's, with our hero and heroine investigating a woman who thinks her husband has been abducted by aliens – it's all because of a rare brain syndrome of course. The season arc stuff was quite well handled, alternately funny and moving, but the procedural side of things once again easily the worst aspect of the show, which would be great as a simple "weird condition of the week" psychological House.

Satisfaction (CTV)
A funny second episode that went a little way towards rectifying the problems that the first episode had with Leah Renee's character. It could do with steering away from the supporting characters, though, since they're bordering on the offensive (particularly the one with a cleft palate). Fake TV show The Horse Doctor was inspired though.

Under the Dome (CBS/Channel 5)
Exactly the same as any other Stephen King story set in a small town in Maine, and this week, of course, the casualties began to mount up. Absolutely unremarkable but reasonably diverting.

And in movies:

Much Ado About Nothing
Leagues better than the self-congratulatory Kenneth Branagh version, this sees virtually everyone who's been in a Joss Whedon-directed TV show or film all together in one place for the first time outside of the convention circuit to do a modern-day but linguistically intact retelling of Shakespeare's classic comedy – all shot in black and white in what's probably Whedon's house during his lunch breaks. Fine performances from everyone, particularly Nathan Fillion and Amy Acker, and excellent direction from Whedon, too, who manages to make a Shakespeare comedy genuinely funny. Still, it always weird to hear Alexis Denisof with an American accent.

"What did you watch this week?" is your chance to recommend to friends and fellow blog readers the TV and films that they might be missing or should avoid - and for me to do mini-reviews of everything I've watched. Since we live in the fabulous world of Internet catch-up services like the iPlayer and Hulu, why not tell your fellow readers what you've seen so they can see the good stuff they might have missed?

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Preview: Ray Donovan 1x1 (Showtime/Sky Atlantic)

Posted on June 25, 2013 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Ray Donovan

In the US: Sundays, 10pm, Showtime. Starts June 30
In the UK: Tuesdays, 10pm, Sky Atlantic. Starts July 16th

There's presumably rather a lot of sh*t going down in LA, thanks to a combination of huge amounts of money and the number of famous people with personality issues, addictions and secrets they'd rather people didn't know about them. So equally presumably there's a group of people whose life it is to help cover up the inevitable colossal cock-ups that result from the collision of these things.

Ray Donovan, created by Southland's Ann Biderman, looks at one such man, the eponymous Ray Donovan (Live Schreiber, last seen doing TV work on CSI) - the Mr Wolf of the entertainment business…

…for whom no clean-up job, whether it be a stalker, a dead woman or a 'straight' actor who likes to pick up gay, transvestite hookers, is too hard and who'll stop at nothing, even murder, if he has, too. The only thing he can't fix? His relationships, particularly when his father (Jon Voight) comes out of prison and starts to put his nose into his family's affairs. Here's a trailer, and if you're in the US, the entire first episode for you to enjoy.

Continue reading "Preview: Ray Donovan 1x1 (Showtime/Sky Atlantic)"

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