There are shows that despite essentially having an incredibly stupid premise actually turn out to be quite smart. Consider Prison Break, created by Paul Scheuring, in which an architect gets himself arrested so he can be incarcerated in the same prison as his death-row brother. Because he's also the architect who designed the prison and has developed an intricate plan to get them both out of jail together - which he's had tattooed onto his entire body.
Incredibly stupid premise, yet at times, it was actually quite smart, with intricate plotting, fun characters and tension aplenty.
Yet there are also shows that despite essentially having an incredibly stupid premise actually turn out to be absolutely stark staring bonkers insane.
Consider Zero Hour, created by - oh look - Paul Scheuring, in which Anthony Edwards' wife gets abducted after she buys the wrong clock in a market. It turns out that it's all part of a sinister conspiracy, involving the Rosicrucians, possibly the second coming or is it the anti-Christ, Nazis, reincarnation, 12 clocks, one for each of the apostles, and an unintelligible international terrorist. Only Edwards, together with a noble band of sceptical journalists, can save her and the world.
Yes, if you thought Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code wasn't far reaching enough in its implications and Angels and Demons was just too plausible, have I got a show for you... and it's possibly the stupidest, worst written show since the dawn of time.
In Canada: Fridays, 9pm ET/MT, HBO Canada/Super Ecran 1 In the US: Acquired to air on HBO Cinemax, possibly in June In Germany: Already aired on RTL In France: Already aired on M6
Co-productions are the future. Allegedly. Ask the BBC, which regularly works with BBC America and also HBO on productions. Sky also does plenty of international shows in collaboration with US, Spanish, French and South African broadcasters.
The idea is that you unlock more money that can result in either better shows or shows that couldn't otherwise have been made at all, or you can have overseas filming and exotic locations courtesy of the people who know the areas best and can give you firm advice on the cultures that can be incorporated into the scripts.
Sometimes this works: the Swedish/Danish The Bridge was excellent; Sky's Falcón and Strike Back are good; Canada's Flashpoint, originally produced in association with CBS, wasn't half bad, despite its desperate attempts to appear as un-Canadian as possible.
Sometimes it doesn't: BBC/Cinemax's Hunted was dreadful.
Quite often, the problem is in making a programme that will appeal to audiences in all the countries involved. Anyone can import another country's television, quite cheaply, but once big production money is involved, you often want actors from both countries, filming in both countries, writers from both countries and so on. And of course each country's producers and network executives will want input into the show. As a result, more or less anything interesting gets filed off by the process.
It's basically 'death by committee'.
In particular, there is one unholy alliance of producing countries, familiar to anyone who watched TV in the 90s, that can be pretty much be guaranteed to co-produce rubbish: Canada, France and Germany. Forget how good each individual country's television can be - united in co-production they are only a force for evil.
Remember Highlander? Remember its arbitrary location changes from Canada to Paris and back each season? Remember the contractually obligated French and German actors struggling to speak English each episode? Remember the guest Englishperson in any episode shot in Paris, since they needed someone who could act in English, who was cheap and who could be there quickly?
If not, let's pretend 20-odd years haven't happened and tune into Transporter: The Series. It's based on the 2002 Luc Besson French-US movie that starred Jason Statham as Frank Martin, an ex-special forces, samurai-like car driver who would drive anything you wanted, anywhere you wanted for a price and would kick the crap out of anyone who tried to stop him - provided you stuck with his supposedly rigid rules. The series sees Chris Vance (ex of Prison Break and Mental but no action background whatsoever) take over the role of Martin, who's still working in the South of France - and Germany - but now has the help of a comedic German car engineer and an East European female boss, and is being chased by both the French and Belgian police.
Creative compromises? I don't know what you mean. Here's a trailer for the movie, followed by a trailer for the series itself.
Now, stop me if you've heard this one before, too. "Into each generation a Slayer is born. One in all the world, a Chosen One. One born with the strength and skill to fight the vampires, to stop the spread of their evil and the swell of their numbers."
Yes, that's Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Except if you cross out 'Slayer' and replace it with 'Grimm' and cross out vampires and replace it with 'fairy tale monsters', you've got Grimm on NBC.
So already, Grimm is not looking too hot on the old originality front. Add in the fact that the cop gets all his arcane knowledge from books given to him by a librarian, that he has help from a reformed creature of the night and that it doesn't take itself too seriously, and you'd wonder when the first of the copyright suits would arrive - if it weren't for the fact that Jim Kouf (Angel) and David Greenwalt (Buffy and Angel) are the exec producers.
Yet, despite all these inauspicious omens, Grimm isn't half bad - and it's certainly better than Once Upon A Time. Here's an incredibly spoilery trailer - with the wrong music. The Eurythmics' 'Sweet Dreams' was used in the actual episode.
About the blog
This is a UK media blog with daily news, views, exclusive reviews and good conversation. There's a bit of a bias towards the latest and greatest US TV, but we also cover UK TV ranging from new Doctor Who to old Z Cars, and BBC4 to S4C.
Add in film, theatre, art, books, events and competitions and you've (hopefully) got officially the fourth best blog on the web for media lovers. Oh yes, and there's The Carusometer, the ultimate guide to quality TV.
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"For most of us watching the telly of an evening is a way to wind down and relax, but for Rob Buckley it’s his blogging bread and butter. With reviews of cult classics and up and coming US and Brit television shows, The Medium is Not Enough is fast becoming essential reading for TV buffs, with over 50,000 hits a month."
"The Medium Is Not Enough is a light-hearted look at TV, often from the US, but also from the UK. With varied, well-written content, the blog features healthy engagement and features well in search engines."
"Billing itself as 'officially the fourth most popular UK TV blog', there are several whimsical regulars here that could help it climb as high as number three…"
I'm Rob Buckley, a freelance journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of, although you might have heard me on Radio 5 Live's Saturday Edition. I've edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for trade magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider and the equally short-lived Death Ray and Filmstar magazines; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it "web site for urban hedonists" The Tribe. I'm freelance now and have contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network and TV Scoop.