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What's The CW going to be giving us in Fall 2015-16

Posted on May 14, 2015 | comments | Bookmark and Share

It’s the turn of the last of the main broadcast networks to show us what’s up its sleeves for the 2015-16 season - yes, here comes The CW! Now, if you’ve been paying attention over the past few years, you’ll have noticed three things:

  1. The CW, which was traditionally a network intent only on serving teenage girls and young women the likes of Gossip Girl and vampire things, has slowly been trying to get boys to watch as well, with shows such as Supernatural*.
  2. It’s been doing big ratings with DC superhero shows.
  3. It still does the girl-thing really well*

So you shouldn't be too surprised to see among The CW’s three new shows (yes, just three) a DC superhero show, a scary show, and a show for girls that’s also a bit for boys, too, and is pretty well done.

DC’s Legends of Tomorrow
A group of heroes and villains from The CW’s other big DC superhero shows, Arrow and The Flash, spin off and form their own group in order to save the world from the immortal Vandal Savage and his army. They know they have to because Rory from Doctor Who comes back from the future to tell them they have to.

Among the line-up are Prison Break’s Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell, who have been playing brothers again over on The Flash, albeit villainous, very camp ones; Victor Garber (Alias, Legally Blonde, Deception, Eli Stone, Justice), who’s another Flash escapee, having played one half of Firestorm, although his other half (Robbie Amell) is noticeably missing here; and Brandon Routh - Superman in Superman Returns - has of course been doing sterling work as The Atom over on Arrow for the past season and actually now has his miniaturisation abilities.

More interestingly, Caity Lotz is back (yay!) as a Canary - the White one this time - despite having been killed off quite seriously at the start of Arrow’s third season and we have the completely new addition of Golden Age Hawk Girl (Ciara Renée). Arthur Darvill’s quite fun as 'Rip Hunter', and the villain is Vandal Savage, who’s a big name in both the comic books and the DC animated movies but so far hasn’t shown up in a live action piece.

Overall, it’s clear there’s been a marked progression over the years with the three series, from quite dark with aspects of fun in Arrow to cheesy fun that’s occasionally dark in The Flash to pretty much full on high comic book camp here. I’m definitely looking forward to it.

Containment
Based on the Belgian TV series Cordon (coming to BBC4 soon), this sees a lethal virus break out in the US, resulting in a huge urban quarantine in Atlanta. Except - because it’s originally Belgian (cf Salamander) - there’s also a government conspiracy. Mostly, all a big soapy drama of not much excitement, in which everyone has to decide whether to do the right thing or not by their family, the law, little Timmy the cat, et al.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
Following on from the success of the format-busting and decidedly meta Jane The Virgin, we have Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, in which 10 years after a girl is dumped by her boyfriend, she bumps into him in New York and, deciding she had the happiest time of her life with him, follows him as he moves to Los Angeles, hoping to rekindle their romance - while ignoring a far more obvious and more suitable guy right in front of her. Except her ex really just isn't that into her and has a girlfriend anyway, but that’s not stopping her.

Coming from the director of 500 Days of Summer and with animated sequences, musical numbers and more, this is actually quite a funny, innovative-looking little piece that could go pretty much anywhere, so I’m certainly going to be giving it a try.

*Yes, I know that's stereotypes - and I did watch Gossip Girl, myself - but if you look at the demographics, that’s what was happening on average.

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What have you been watching? Including Backstrom, Young Drunk Punk, 19-2, Spiral and Galavant

Posted on January 26, 2015 | 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.

Lots of new shows to deal with this past week, including 12 Monkeys. Unfortunately, it’s my busy time of the month, so I won’t be able to deal with them at length and there’s a few third-episode verdicts I’m going to have skip, too. Fortunately, though, all the new shows don’t really warrant full reviews…

Backstrom (US: Fox)
Despite having been canned by CBS straight after its pilot, this adaptation of Leif GW Persson’s Bäckström books has been resurrected over at Fox and once again demonstrates that the US really shouldn’t be adapting Nordic Noir. It stars Rainn Wilson from The Office as the eponymous Backstrom, a Portland police detective who’s best thought of as Gregory House MD but without the talent, the charm or the looks, bungling his way from crime scene to crime scene being lazy and offensive and being proved right because the script demands it, rather than because of any insight. So the producers think it very funny that Backstrom have the nearest - and indeed only - black person around arrested because he’s black so probably was involved in the crime. My, how comically racist! Except the black person is involved in the crime - how actually racist!

There’s some decent supporting characters, including an MMA-beat cop (Page Kennedy); a New Age medical examiner (Kristoffer Polaha from Ringer, Valentine, Life Unexpected), whom everyone reacts to like he’s English, even though he doesn’t even have an accent; an investigator whom everyone reacts to like she’s French, because she is (Beatrice Rosen); and Dennis Haysbert (The Unit, 24) as Backstrom’s boss. But this is as lazy as Backstrom himself, trying to fake being intelligent and gimmicky by having Backstrom ‘empathise’ (saying out loud, “I am character x, I feel y, therefore I would have done z”) and come up with insight such as “Anyone who says ‘Absolutely not’ is absolutely lying”, rather than actually being intelligent or having insight.

Weirdly, between moving from CBS to Fox, there’s been some recasting and a lot of the funnier and smarter stuff has been removed, making it worse not better than it was before.

Young Drunk Punk (Canada: City TV)
After last year’s slew of 80s nostalgia shows in the US, time for some 80s nostalgia from Canada, with Young Drunk Punk, in which two teenage nerd punk-wannabes search for their destinies after leaving high school. Despite being written by and starring Bruce McCulloch (Kids In The Hall) this is very much like the previous half dozen Canadian comedies that have come by in having a total laugh count of zero.

After the jump, 19-2, Arrow, Banshee, Constantine, Cougar Town, Elementary, The Flash, Galavant, Gotham, The Ground Floor, Hindsight, Man Seeking Woman, Marvel’s Agent Carter, State of Affairs, Spiral (Engrenages) and Togetherness. One of them’s on the verge of getting recommended, one of them’s going to be dropped, and one of them is on the borderline. But which ones? You’ll find out after the jump.

Continue reading "What have you been watching? Including Backstrom, Young Drunk Punk, 19-2, Spiral and Galavant"

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What did you watch last week? Including Ambassadors, You, Me and Them, and The Tunnel

Posted on October 28, 2013 | comments | Bookmark and Share

It's "What did you watch last week?, my chance to tell you what movies and TV I watched last week 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.

Elsewhere, you can find my third-episode verdict on The Tomorrow People. Still in the viewing queue are last night's Serangoon Road and Homeland and Saturday's Atlantis, which given I haven't watched last week's episode either is probably telling me something. NBC's Dracula I hope to be reviewing either today or tomorrow - certainly before Thursday when it airs on Sky Living.

But I've tried some new shows:

Ambassadors (BBC2)
David Mitchell and Robert Webb of Peep Show et al are a UK ambassador and a member of his staff, working together to further UK interests by covering up Mitchell's cock-ups and framing the French as best they can. Unfortunately, if it weren't for the fact that Mitchell and Webb were in it, you wouldn't know it was a comedy, it's that unfunny. Okay, to be fair a couple of laughs were emitted while watching it, but they may have been reflex actions.

You, Me and Them (Gold)
Seemingly a contradiction in terms, UK Gold - the home of old tele - is making its first new sitcom. From the makers of (terminally unfunny show) Outnumbered, it sees Anthony Head (Buffy et al) in a relationship with the 26-years-younger and impressively English now Eve Myles (Torchwood). They're happy together, but everyone from Myles' extended family to Head's ex-wife and friends has an opinion on their somewhat icky relationship. Will the relationship weather this family-based storm?

Despite the impressive cast (Lindsay Duncan, Jeff Rawle and Susie Blake are in there, too, as Head's ex-wife and Myles' parents respectively), this suffers the same problem as Ambassadors in not being funny, although here, everyone is doing their hardest to convince you that actually it is. A few good lines here and there, but you do have to be the kind of person who thinks even the mention of sex or simple bad parenting is comedy gold to find this remotely entertaining. And isn't it weird when Anthony Head uses his real accent?

Shows I'm watching but not necessarily recommending
Agents of Shield (ABC/Channel 4)
Ooh, secrets are revealed! But they're not that secret or incriminating! And no one cares! And are we going to get anything except lots of Extremis this season?

The Blacklist (NBC/Sky Living)
After last week's stonking Manhunter tribute, this week we got a tiny Prison Break tribute, with Robert Knepper playing a man who's good at escaping from prison, although what a shame about his limp arm. I think the plan now is to have every actor who's ever played a famous villain face off against Spader in a series of tribute episodes, while Spader archly hams away. It'll be fun to watch if that's what they do. And maybe next week we'll get some answers about what's up with Megan Boone's hubby?

The Tunnel (Sky Atlantic/Canal+)
The story progresses, with prostitution the apparent political motive for the villain in this version of The Bridge. Things on the English side of the story are once again far more interesting than on the French side, with the Brtis served well by Ben Richards' ear for blokey English dialogue ("If he messes with my bitches…", "Hey Tupac, this is South Kent not LA.") and Stephen Dillane giving an outstanding performance as the English plod. If only the same could be said for new arrival Keeley Hawes… First episode review.

Recommended shows
Arrow
 (The CW/Sky 1)
A veritable DC comics fest, with Tony Daniel's Dollmaker arriving on the scene (you may have noticed a head nod in the name of the Dollmaker's attorney), Black Canary getting her own non-super-powered scream and - oh my gods - the mention of none other than Ra's Al Ghul himself. We may even have the beginnings of a Deathstroke origin story. But oh dear, everyone on the island's been captured and locked up again! Tsk, tsk.

Elementary (CBS/Sky Living)
The A-story was more interesting as a notion - Holmes isn't getting cases so looks for them and one seemingly minor incident becomes a full blown, major investigation - than as a crime. The B-story, however, was more interesting from the point of view of character development. The show's really starting to need a new Moriarty, although I really liked the old one…

Modern Family (ABC/Sky 1)
Ooh, a new character, as well as the return of Nathan Lane. Finally, something to change the formula. One question: are the women and girls who aren't Gloria going to get some storylines soon?

Serangoon Road (ABC1/HBO Asia)
A really exciting episode, pitting our hero (and heroine) against the black market, MI6 and others. Now officially on the recommended list.

"What did you watch last 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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