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Review: Chance 1x1-1x3 (US: Hulu)

Posted on October 31, 2016 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Chance

In the US: Wednesdays, Hulu

For most people in the UK, Hugh Laurie is Hugh Laurie. He may have played Gregory House in House for umpteen seasons, but he's also the guy from Blackadder, Bertie Wooster in Jeeves and Wooster, and Stephen Fry's comedy writing partner for most of the 80s and early 90s.

For most Americans, though, he's House. He is the grumpy, misanthropic, genius American doctor from House. End of. So you can kind of understand why Laurie would take on a two-season role as an eponymous doctor again, if only to cleanse American viewers' memories by playing something similar, but crucially different in one big regard: he's nice.

Based on the novel by Ken Humm (John from Cincinnati), Chance sees Laurie playing a consultant psychologist, who tries to sort out treatment for people who have neurological problems. When Gretchen Mol (Life on Mars) is referred to him with disassociative personality disorder, which she says started after her cop husband Paul Adelstein (Prison Break) began to abuse her, he tries to help her but soon the husband is coming after him.

Meanwhile, the non-confrontational Laurie is in the middle of a no-fault divorce from his wife Diane Farr (Numb3rs) and needs money. When he takes his antique desk to Clarke Peters (The Wire) to be sold, Peters tells him he could get nearly twice as much money if it still had the metalwork on it. Fortunately, Ethan Suplee (My Name is Earl) works for him and could add the missing metalwork if Laurie doesn't mind a little deception. In turn, Suplee doesn't mind a little bit of ultra-violence and is potentially willing to help Laurie out with his other problem…

I'll play a little game now. I'll list a few things and you have to say at which word you realised what the show's biggest influence is.

San Francisco. Psychiatry. Blonde. Femme fatale. Different personalities. Hitchcockian strings.

Well, if you haven't got it already, the answer's Vertigo, one of Alfred Hitchock's finest, in which Jimmy Stewart falls for Kim Novak who plays two women who turn out to be just the one. Certainly, Chance has huge ladels of both Vertigo and film noir spread all over it. There's also lashings of Woody Allen's Crimes and Misdemeanours, with Suplee and Peters leading the normally ethical Laurie towards a life of escalating moral infractions towards possibly even murder.

But Chance is certainly a lot more than that and knows that you know what its references are. Certainly, Laurie doesn't do anything massively stupid, instead doing all manner of smart, prudent things rather than leaping in at the deep end. There's also a certain House of Cards - David Mamet's, that is - quality to it all which the show is also keen to highlight. Is maths tutor Mol really disassociative or is she faking it? Is Adelstein really doing all the things that he seems to be doing or is the surprisingly bright Suplee actually doing it all to lure Laurie into a huge con? Could they even all be in league with one another?

Chance wants you to be wondering all of these things, which is why, despite its depressing qualities, it's also compelling, very tense and claustrophobic (rather than vertiginous). The double meaning in the title, which becomes hugely important in the second episode, makes you wonder exactly how much of what's going on is genuine coincidence and what's not - or even if Laurie's character is facing a Sixth Sense discovery that he's had a brain injury himself. Even if you're not exactly sure what the trap is, you can feel the jaws slowly closing around Laurie, who's a good guy who wants to do the right thing.

It's a good, smart, well-paced thriller that's definitely worth a try.

Barrometer rating: 2
Would it be better with a female lead? No
TMINE's prediction: Commissioned for two seasons

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Fox's upfronts 2016-7 - a rundown and clips from the new shows

Posted on May 17, 2016 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

If you play the fabulous game that is 'media word association' and say 'Fox', invariably the associated word everyone comes up with is 'News'. However, it's worth remembering that '20th Century' is an equally valid response.

So that's why no one should be too surprised that Fox's Upfronts 2016 (you can see elsewhere what NBC and USA are up to this year) is chock full of 'synergy' with Fox's established 'brands'. In other words, spin-offs, adaptations and remakes of things you've already seen and have heard about.

Brace yourself then because, after the jump, on top of the almost original sounding Making History, The Mick, Son of Zorn, Shots Fired, APB and Pitch, we also have another music drama from Empire's Lee Daniels (Star), an 'event remake' of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, sequels to Prison Break and 24, and TV series adaptations of Lethal Weapon and… wait for it… The Exorcist.

The power of Christ will not compel you to watch that last one.

Continue reading "Fox's upfronts 2016-7 - a rundown and clips from the new shows"

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Dallas's theme tune had lyrics… but only in France

Posted on March 29, 2016 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

So I was listening to the World in Words podcast this morning and discovered a fascinating fact. When Dallas aired on French TV back in the 80s, French broadcasters wanted to explain the show to its audience. So along with a new theme tune, they wrote some lyrics to explain it to them. Listen to them for yourselves:

And here are the lyrics in French in all their glory [via]:

Dallas
Ton univers impitoyable
Dallas
Glorifie la loi du plus fort
Dallas
Et sous ton soleil implacable
Dallas
Tu ne redoutes que la mort

Dallas
Patrie du dollar du pétrole
Dallas
Tu ne connais pas la pitié
Dallas
Le revolver est ton idole
Dallas
Tu te raccroches à ton passé

Dallas
Malheur à celui qui n'a pas compris
Dallas
Un jour il y perdra la vie
Dallas
Ton univers impitoyable
Dallas
Glorifie la loi du plus fort

Dallas
Malheur à celui qui n'a pas compris
Dallas
Un jour il y perdra la vie
Dallas
Ton univers impitoyable
Dallas
Glorifie la loi du plus fort

Dallas
Malheur à celui qui n'a pas compris
Dallas
Un jour il y perdra la vie
Dallas
Ton univers impitoyable

Which more or less means [via, since I can't be arsed to translate it myself]:

Dallas, your ruthless world,
Dallas, where might is right,
Dallas, and under your relentless sun,
Dallas, only death is feared.

Dallas, home of the oil dollar,
Dallas, you do not know pity;
Dallas, the revolver is your idol,
Dallas, you cling to the past.

Dallas, woe to him who does not understand,
Dallas, one day he will lose his life.
Dallas, your ruthless world,
Dallas, where might is right.

Wowzers, hey? But accurate.

Incidentally, it was not alone in this. I mentioned this discovery of mine to French TV journalist Thierry Attard, hoping to find out more, as he is not only a noted expert and consultant on European dubbing, he's literally written the book on it. He reveals that this is just the tip of the iceberg:

I hate when they put a French song on a foreign series. In the 80s they were legion: Hart to Hart, Vegas, Mr Merlin… Santa Barbara, The Bold and the Beautiful, Buck Rogers, The A Team, Days of our Lives (this one didn't last long). If my memory serves and without chronology, we can add Starsky & Hutch, Knots Landing. Later, Prison Break or... Heroes.

So much fun to be had! I leave the full quest to you, gentle reader, but brace yourself - here's your starter for 10. It's Prison Break's French lyrics:

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