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

Posted on May 20, 2016 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

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 1x1 (Canada: CHCH)

Posted on April 7, 2016 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

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 Hex's. 

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.

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Review: Angel from Hell 1x1 (US: CBS)

Posted on January 12, 2016 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

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.

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