News: The Get Down cancelled; S Korea’s Miss Marple; CBC’s 2017/8 schedule; + more

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News: more Cameron Terminator; more The Tunnel; new Witchblade; Raised by Wolves US; + more

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  • James Cameron and Tim Miller to conclude The Terminator franchise

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  • Trailer for Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur

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  • History developing: anti-heroes anthology series, Travis Fimmel to play Wyatt Earp
  • NBC developing: adaptation of Witchblade
  • green lights: pilot of mixed-race, coming-of-age 1980s comedy, with Isabella Russo
  • CBS green lights: pilot of 50-year-life comedy Me, Myself and I
  • Jaunt developing: The Lawnmower Man TV series; abandoned lunar base action-thriller Luna; politics and immortality series The Enlightened Ones; stoner comedy Bad Trip; and robot hero quest Miss Gloria
  • ABC developing: adaptation of Channel 4’s Raised by Wolves

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News: The CW renews seven shows; CBS extends three shows; William Shatner: PI; + more

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  • Trailer for Netflix’s Santa Clarita Diet

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The BarrometerA Barrometer rating of 3

Third-episode verdict: Timeless (US: NBC; UK: E4)

In the US: Mondays, 10/9c, NBC
In the UK: Acquired by E4

The biggest problem with the first episode of NBC’s new sci-fi show Timeless was that it just wasn’t fun. A time travel adventure in which a historian, an engineer and a soldier gamely head off each week into the past to stop Goran Višnjić from changing history for the better (he claims) should have been a laugh, particularly with our very own Paterson Joseph being the owner of said time machine. 

But it wasn’t. It was dreary. It had a dreary choice of destination – the Hindenburg disaster. Thanks to the presence of her dying mum, its heroine (Abigail Spencer) was more a tragic figure than a fangirl let loose in a comic shop when all the boys have been sent packing. Ex-Delta soldier (Matt Lanter) was more male model than special forces operative, and he was just as tragic as Spencer thanks to his pining for his dead wife.

The one potential comic piece of comic relief, engineer/time travel pilot Malcolm Barrett, basically had to endure being black in the American past, something he quite rightly pointed out before they went was never going to be fun whenever they ended up, but in actuality meant he wasn’t just the token black guy – he was the token black guy representing all black people ever. That’s gotta suck.

Worst of all was the fact that Team Spencer were busily trying to preserve history as recorded, right down to making sure everyone who died stays dead, even if that means burning to death horribly in a fiery balloon accident. Bit of a downer, no?

As always, though, there’s a reason why TMINE always waits for at least three episodes before passing final verdict: shows can evolve and get better as producers work out what’s wrong and fix it. And while Timeless still isn’t the new Doctor Who or even the new Quantum Leap, it’s certainly becoming a lot more entertaining. Episode two took us to see the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, episode three took us to Las Vegas in the 60s to watch atomic bomb tests and I can see from the schedule that episode four is going to involve the plucky Americans teaming up with Ian Fleming to fight the Nazis during World War Two. Now that’s a bit more fun than the Hindenburg Disaster, now isn’t it?

The producers – Eric Kripke (Supernatural) and Shawn Ryan (The Unit, The Shield), in case you were wondering – are also making the central team themselves a bit more fun, although they’ve haven’t bothered giving Barrett and Lanter any real character traits or background other than “comic black history spokesperson” and “inept soldier widower”. Time changes, Spencer’s life changes, but theirs seem to stay resolutely the same and butterfly effect-proof.

Barrett may continually get the short end of the stick for being black wherever he ends up, albeit in different ways each time, but he now sometimes manages to use his second class status for the better. Lanter seems to have trouble even holding a gun, but he’s now getting some occasionally amusing lines.

Perhaps the show’s main selling point is that just like Doctor Who when that started, Timeless is trying its level best to make history come alive – through history’s own supporting cast. You already know Lincoln, you’ve seen Daniel Day Lewis do a good performance as Lincoln, so yet another Lincoln wouldn’t have much impact. But what must it have been like to have been Lincoln’s son? Or JFK’s mistress? Or a black soldier from the North during the Civil War? While the fact Timeless actually allows its time travellers to change history, even quite significantly, means that the narrative can never be trusted to tell historical fact, it’s still fun to have Spencer sit down and essentially interview this supporting cast like a GCSE History empathy essay come to life.

After three episodes Timeless has crafted a formula for itself that’s popcorn-tastic but enjoyable nonsense. Its action scenes are weak, its historical detail weak, its story arc weak and its humour – you guessed it – weak. But it’s now getting a certain confidence up that makes it a reasonably entertaining view. It might even make the kiddies who watch it start to enjoy history. 

If you need to waste an hour a week on amiable, people-centred, historical sci-fi nonsense, Timeless is worth a try. 

Barrometer rating: 3
Would it be better with a female lead? N/A
TMINE’s prediction: Will probably last about as long as Revolution

News: Atlanta, Better Things renewed; Y Gwyll teaser; Toby Stephens gets Lost in Space; Mata Hari reimagined; + more

Internet TV

UK TV

  • Teaser for series 3 of Y Gwyll/Hinterland

New UK TV show casting

  • Michael Gambon, Jamie Bamber, John Bishop et al join ITV’s Fearless

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New US TV show casting

  • Aden Young, Logan Marshall-Green, Sarah Jones et al to star in USA’s Damnation

The CW’s upfronts 2016-7 – a rundown and clips from the new shows, including Frequency and No Tomorrow

As always, it’s The CW that finishes up each year’s Upfronts, following on from NBC, USA, CBS, Fox and ABC. Also as always, the network doesn’t have many new shows to flaunt. That’s because it’s got a great big roster of returning superhero shows, among others – gone are the days when women aged 16-30 were the network’s sole target; the median age of its viewers is now 43.

It’s also because it’s now got Supergirl, which is moving over from sister company CBS for its second season. The network is already promising mega crossovers between all the superhero shows, although whether we’ll get a single The Flash/Arrow/Supergirl/DC’s Legends of Tomorrow crossover, multiple crossovers or crossovers between different subsets of the shows remains to be seen. Also remaining to be seen, given the show’s impending relocation to Vancouver for filming and reduced budget, is whether Calista Flockheart will be along for the ride, given that the LA filming of Supergirl was one of the reasons she signed up for the show in the first place.

Anyway, no new footage for Supergirl, but The CW has put together a couple of little trailers to promote its new arrival and expanding portfolio.

There are four new shows in total, but only two new new shows to look at after the jump:

  • Frequency: Adaptation of the movie with 2016 cop Peyton List is able to use her ham radio to talk to her dead father in 1996 and change history, not always for the better.
  • No Tomorrow: Adaptation of a Brazillian show, with staid office worker meeting carefree hunk. One problem: he thinks the world will end in just a few months. But he’s hot so they decide to work through their bucket lists together.

The remaining new new show, Riverdale, is an adaptation of the Archie comic, but it’s a mid-season replacement and there’s no trailer, so there’s nothing to be done.

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Review: Wynonna Earp 1×1 (Canada: CHCH)

Wynonna Earp

In Canada: Mondays, 9pm, CHCH
In the UK: Not yet acquired

Into every generation a slayer is born: one girl in all the world, a chosen one. She alone will wield the strength and skill to fight the vampires, demons, and the forces of darkness; to stop the spread of their evil and the swell of their number. She is the Slayer.

As we discovered back when Marvel’s Jessica Jones first aired, there’s an almost automatic tendency to compare pretty much any supernatural show that

  1. Is about a young heroine…
  2. Who fights some kind of supernatural enemy of some kind…
  3. While dealing with relationship issues, particularly a single foxy man…
  4. While dealing with family issues, sisters and girlfriends…

…to Buffy The Vampire Slayer. I think that’s partly because there isn’t a large enough ‘dictionary’ of comparisons yet. Maybe soon people will be able to think of sufficient shows with female leads that Buffy won’t simply be the first one everyone can name.

All the same, watching Wynonna Earp, CHCH’s co-prod with the US Syfy channel that adapts the comic of the same name, I’m beginning to wonder if Buffy in some way almost created a Joseph Campbell-style template for ‘the heroine’s journey’ that through some form of morphic resonance has slowly become almost the only way for people to think about shows of this kind. 

Okay, Wynonna Earp is from the same producer as Lost Girl, so maybe it’s just personal taste at work – that wasn’t exactly a million miles from the Buffy template and reading back over my original review of that piece of fantasy tatt that I’d largely forgotten, pretty much all the criticisms I had are the same.

But here’s the summary of Beau Smith’s comic from which it was adapted:

Wynonna is a present-day descendant of the famous lawman Wyatt Earp, and she’s the top special agent for a special unit known within the US Marshals known as The Monster Squad. She battles such supernatural threats as Bobo Del Rey and his redneck, trailer-trash vampires that are pushing a new killer designer drug called “Hemo”, and the Egyptian Mafia’s mummy hitman, Raduk, Eater Of The Dead, who’s out to do in all the other crime bosses. In her subsequent adventures she finished some outstanding Earp family business while dealing with Hillbilly Gremlins, and Zombie Mailmen alongside her fellow Marshalls.

And here’s the plot of the TV series, which oddly enough for a Western about a famous American lawman, is set in Alberta, Canada:

Wynonna Earp is a modern supernatural western that takes place among the foothills and badlands of Alberta. Our lead Wynonna was raised on an Alberta ranch but is indeed the great great granddaughter of famous lawman Wyatt Earp. When Wynonna returns to her hometown of Purgatory, Alberta on her 27th birthday, she learns that that she is heir to not only Wyatt’s near mythic abilities but also to a family curse that she had been taught to believe was only a myth. Unfortunately for Wynonna, the Earp Curse is real. Each generation since Wyatt’s death, the heir must battle Wyatt’s legendary old West enemies: demons who rise from hell, again and again. But with the help of a mysterious but familiar figure from the past and an agent from a covert joint task force, Wynonna is determined to end the curse once and for all.

See what I mean? They’ve actually done a lot of tinkering with the plot of the comic to make it Buffy… on a Canadian farm. Okay, it’s not identical, because while Wynonna (Melanie Scrofano from The Listener) can do all kinds of acrobatic gymnastics and martial arts like Buffy, she can only kill the demons using Earp’s gun, which is a straight lift from Supernatural.

But she’s snarky and feisty and objects to being a slayer; she’s got an annoying little sister (England’s own Dominique Provost-Chalkley); there’s a hot bloke of questionable loyalties for her to fight with/alongside (Shamier Anderson); there’s a Big Bad to fight (Tim Rozon from Schitt’s Creek); there’s various guys she was with at high school to taunt; and more.

It’s Buffy… on a Canadian farm. Except not even that good. The fight scenes are appalling – possibly the worst I’ve ever seen, and they couldn’t make the wirework more obvious if they’d covered the wires in little flags with Sarah-Michelle Gellar’s face on them. The acting is another order of awful beyond awful, particularly from Scrofano. The mythology is so derivative and uninvolving, it makes Demons look like Eraserhead. It’s sexy, sexy times are more embarrassing than Hexs. 

I know it’s supposed to be a bit of comic book fun, but only the villains seem to know this. Everyone else seems to think they’re dealing with Tolstoy… and they’re all reciting it as fluently as they would with Tolstoy in the original Russian.

Shoot the lot of them, I say.

Review: Angel from Hell 1×1 (US: CBS)

Angel From Hell

In the US: Thursdays, 9.30/8.30c, CBS
In the UK: Not yet acquired

Sometimes, it doesn’t matter how good your cast is if your script sucks. Sometimes, even if your script doesn’t totally suck, it doesn’t matter since you’ll be airing on CBS – the network that likes to make comedies that leave the viewer feeling they’ve just been licked by a random stranger on a subway train.

Angel From Hell has a good cast. A good cast. It’s got Maggie Lawson from Psych and Back In the Game, as a workaholic dematologist who lives to help everyone else but whose own life is a mess. It’s got Jane Lynch from Glee and Party Down as a crazy stalker woman who claims to be – and might actually be – Lawson’s (foul-mouthed, sinning) guardian angel, breaking the rules by directly intervening to help Lawson fix her life. It’s got Kyle Bornheimer (Worst Week, Family Tools, Perfect Couples) as Lawson’s recently divorced brother, who now lives in her garage. And it’s got Kevin Pollack (The Lost Room, Family Tree) as Lawson’s widowed dad.

So, good cast. But not a great or original concept – someone ambiguously claiming to be a guardian angel/deity and trying to do their good (or evil) works on Earth is the grist of Cupid, Mr Frost, The Muse et al, while the angel who’s no angel, sometimes comedically so, has been worked to death everywhere from The Prophecy through to Supernatural.

The show doesn’t give either Lawson or Lynch much to work with either. Everything’s incredibly predictable. Lynch, doing her normal schtick, isn’t that sinning, usually just stealing things, drinking and having to go to the toilet after a bad taco. The ambiguity about whether her character is an angel or not, which arises from her spooky knowledge about Lawson’s life, is constantly explained away by her ability to hack computers and social media, which is funny the first time, less the fifth or sixth time. Lawson, in turn, is sweet yet still surprisingly manages to hold her own against Lynch, but her character is thanklessly dull. Bornheimer’s funny when flirting with Lynch, underserved the rest of the time, while Pollak’s pretty much only there so that the cast list has ‘with Kevin Pollak’ in it.

So good cast, the occasionally funny joke and some obvious intelligence in the writing. But by contrast, there’s plenty to offend anyone moderately Christian and nothing that makes Angel From Hell anything but exceedingly average. I’m pretty sure it’s going to die a death in the ratings. Whether that’s because it’s just no good or because of God’s wrath I suspect will turn out be less than ambiguous.

News: Supergirl to recur on Supergirl, One Day At A Time Netflix reboot, Supernatural returns + more

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  • Emily Watson and Ben Chaplin to star in BBC One’s adaptation of Apple Tree Yard
  • Katherine Kelly to star in ITV’s domestic horror series HIM

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