Tag Archive | Life on Mars

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Preview: Outcast 1x1 (US: Cinemax; UK: Fox UK)

Posted on May 26, 2016 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share


In the US: Fridays, Cinemax. Starts June 3
In the UK: Tuesdays, 10pm, Fox UK. Starts June 7

The Exorcist was justifiably proclaimed as one of the best movies of the 70s and perhaps the scariest movie of all time. Despite being about demonic possession of a young girl, its horror comes from the crisis of faith of a young priest who at first tries to explain the possession rationally, before the slow accumulation of facts and his partnership with an older, self-assured priest (Max Von Sydow) on an exorcism force him to acknowledge that the Devil - and God - exists.

This year, we're facing not one but two TV versions of The Exorcist, both of them airing on a Fox of one kind or another. The first, airing on Fox in the US, is explicitly a remake of the movie:

The second, airing on Cinemax in the US but Fox UK in the UK, is Outcast. Although based on Robert Kirkman (The Walking Dead)'s comic of the same name, it's basically a remake of The Exorcist, with a young man (Patrick Fugit) gradually coming to accept the truth of demonic possession thanks to the sights he beholds while working with an older priest on an exorcism of a child.

Surprisingly, of the two shows, Outcast looks like it's by far the better remake. Even more surprisingly, Outcast is also a partial remake of 2008 ITV Buffy knock-off shitfest Demons. Because who should be playing the older American demon-hunter of the piece? Why it's none other than Life on Mars' Philip Glenister again.

Here's a trailer.

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Yes, American TV has improved since the 1990s

Posted on June 15, 2015 | comments | Bookmark and Share

It’s always tempting to think that either

  1. We’re living in a golden age or
  2. Things are just getting worse as time goes on

Nevertheless, US TV has arguably had three great eras: the ‘Westinghouse era’, the Steve Bochco era and the HBO/post-HBO cable renaissance, and I do genuinely think we are almost certainly living in a golden age of US TV.

Do I have proof? Well, I think if we look at the following collection of title sequences for US TV shows that debuted as part of the 1995 season, we can see that things have definitely improved. Apart from the fact that you almost certainly remember none of them, they’re just plain shoddy. Particularly Burke’s Law, which was a revival of a show you’ve almost certainly forgotten from the 1960s but which nevertheless still had a better title sequence than the revival did.

There are a couple of outliers: there's Due South, of course. No one say anything bad about Due South. Party of Five many people rated, although I never watched it.

But you’ll almost certainly remember Diagnosis Murder and Touched By An Angel not because they were good but because they're either perpetually repeated on daytime TV or/and they were memorably awful and cheesy.

Of course, we need to compare and contrast with more recent times to prove our general hypothesis that TV is getting better. So let’s pick a relatively recent season at random: the 2008 season. That was a mere seven years ago now but 13 years after the 1995 season. Sigh.

So how many of these shows do you remember and turned out to be timeless classics?

Actually, quite a few were classics of varying degrees when they debuted, including Generation Kill, Sons of Anarchy, Leverage, Fringe, True Blood and The Mentalist, as well as arguably Dollhouse - although that doesn’t mean they didn’t get worse as time went on. There were also several memorable shows, although not always for the right reasons: Life on Mars (US), My Own Worst Enemy and Knight Rider - I’m looking at you here. Indeed, although it’s no excuse, many of the duffest shows can be laid at the door of NBC, which was then notoriously going through one of its worst ever creative periods thanks to a change in management.

So, yes, I think we can conclude that US TV is getting better. Thanks science!

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Review: Westside 1x1 (New Zealand: TV3)

Posted on June 4, 2015 | comments | Bookmark and Share


In New Zealand: Sundays, 8.30pm, TV3

As we saw recently with AMC's Better Call Saul, prequels can be tricky things. You typically only get a prequel to a show if it’s been popular and has a strong fan base, and those fans are going to want everything to line up nicely with whatever’s already been established in the original story. However, unless you want ever-reducing audience numbers, you have to ensure that the prequel is of interest to a wider circle than just the fans.

The show formerly and cleverly known as Westside Story, but which is now presumably for copyright reasons simply Westside, has these two issues to juggle. Now, I’ve already gone into the history of its progenitor Outrageous Fortune elsewhere, so I won’t bother here but suffice it to say, as esteemed New Zealand shows with a huge fan base go, you couldn’t find a bigger one than Outrageous Fortune. All the same, that finished five years ago and wasn’t widely known in its original form overseas - indeed, these days it’s perhaps better known as the show that the creators of The Almighty Johnsons ran before venturing into matters more fantastical and theological. As a result, there’s a potential new audience for Westside that never saw the original and who might be looking forward to Rachel Lang and James Griffin’s latest production.

So will the story of safecracker Ted West, his wife Rita and their son Wolf, the future prison-bound patriarch of Outrageous Fortune's West family, stand on its own two feet or will it simply be a piece of fan service from a creatively bankrupt team that have run out of ideas?

I’ll tell you after the jump.

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