Tag Archive | misfits

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Review: Famous In Love 1x1 (US: Freeform)

Posted on April 20, 2017 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Famous In Love

In the US: Available on Freeform

It's a little hard to critique the reality of fairy tales. Should an overworked maid join a union, go on strike, become an economic migrant or lobby for an increase in the minimum wage to alleviate her condition? Or she should hope that a fairy will grant her a beautiful outfit and that a handsome prince will end up wanting to marry her because she dances well? Logically, option one is the better, more realistic one, option two the anti-feminist, passive one. Yet we all know that option two pans out for Cinderella whereas option one would have consigned her to perpetual indenture.

Watching modern TV fairy tales The Arrangement and Famous In Love, it seems that "hoping to be catapaulted to fame and fortune by becoming an instantaneously successful movie superstar when another hot major movie star takes a fancy to you during an audition" is the current US equivalent to holding out for that pumpkin carriage. They're also about as realistic.

The Arrangement, it has to be said, is by far the better of the two shows, while Famous In Love is a great big slap in the face to aspiring actresses everywhere. It sees Bella Thorne (the long-time star of Shake It Up but last seen as the unsuprising 'surprise' death in the first episode of MTV's Scream) playing a slightly bored, but otherwise happy economics student who'd much rather be an actress. Despite apparently having had no acting training, she still goes with bestest gal pal Georgie Flores to an audition to star in a movie franchise guaranteed to be the 'next Harry Potter' and wows everyone, including star Carter Jenkins, with her unparallelled acting skills and highly kissable lips. Before she and the audience know it, she's hired to play the lead.

But does being rich and famous bring you happiness? Flashforwards to the future successful Thorne seem to suggest otherwise. But what makes her so miserable? Well, there's the rub. Is it just the lack of private life? Is it a doomed future real-life relationship with Jenkins? Is it a potential estrangement from her still-struggling actress pal Flores? Is it the possible loss of hottie bestest boy pal/romantic interest Charlie DePew, who can't compete with superstar Jenkins? Or is it something else to do with the machinations of Hollywood?

Time will tell, I'm sure.

Famous In Love is billed as the replacement for Pretty Little Liars, so don't be surprised that about 50% of the plot is actually about various possible pairings of the assembled characters, as well as rivalries between friends and enemies. Similarly, there's also a mystery to be solved - namely what happened that estranged Jenkins from his former best friend Keith T Powers and caused popstar Pepi Sonuga to disappear from the public eye - and a closeted lesbian (no, no clues).

However, it's not even close to the quality of PLL and The Arrangement shows how pretty much every part of the show can be done better. Thorne is likable and quirky enough for sure, but the dialogue and scripting causes it to be so forced, you start to feel sorry for her, given the acres of supposed 'nervous rambling' she has to wade through every other scene. The fact she gets to go to the top of her profession without having served her dues in dead-end waitressing jobs or even trained in her art, unlike The Arrangement's Christine Evangelista, makes pumpkin-based transportation seem like an earned plot development. Hell, she hasn't even had to sit in the audience enduring Inside The Actors Studio before she made the big time.

Perhaps the only thing of note about Famous in Love, apart from it being one of the few TV shows to actually have the female lead in the infamous 'Friend Zone' at its outset, is that there's a British showbusiness reporter in the thick of things. Literally an hour before I watched the episode this morning, I suddenly wondered to myself. "Whatever happened to Nathan Stewart-Jarrett from Misfits? He was always complaining there weren't any acting jobs for middle class black Britains, just gritty stuff set on gang-run estates. Maybe he went over to the US to seek his fortune."

Guess what, reader. Stewart-Jarrett plays that very same showbusiness reporter. How spooky.

If you have to watch one show like this, watch The Arrangement. But you probably don't have to watch either, to be honest, so maybe watch Misfits instead.

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Review: Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency 1x1 (US: BBC America; UK: Netflix)

Posted on October 27, 2016 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Dirk Gently (BBC America/Netflix)

In the US: Saturdays, 9/8c, BBC America
In the UK: Will air on Netflix in December

Adaptations are a funny old thing, aren't they? Sometimes you find out more about the person - or country - doing the adaptation than about the original material.

Take Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, a Douglas Adams book written in the 1980s based on scripts he wrote for Doctor Who. It sees the eponymous chubby detective investigating Cambridge colleges, time machines, Electric Monks, the creation of human life and impossible sofas, all in the belief that everything is interconnected and that if he investigates one thing, no matter how seemingly unrelated, he'll end up solving the original mystery.

The story was adapted for BBC Four six years ago by Misfits' Howard Overton, spawning a TV series two years later. How much was it like the book? Not much, despite strip-mining all the good stuff from it, but it was very BBC Four, with bumbling English people and a budget of 50p.

Now we have Max Landis and BBC America's efforts, which are even less like the book, but do at least have a character of their own. A continuation of sorts to both Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency and its follow-up, The Long Dark Teatime of the Soul (judging by the references to both sofas and Thor), it sees Dirk (Samuel Barnett) relocated to Seattle where he's hired to investigate the death of reclusive millionaire Julian McMahon (Charmed, Fantastic Four, Nip/Tuck, Hunters, Childhood's End)… by McMahon, six weeks before he's murdered.

One of the few witnesses to the murder is bellboy Elijah Wood (Wilfred, Lord of the Rings), who has his own problems with his drug dealer landlord, his hallucinating ill sister Hannah Marks (Necessary Roughness), a corgi, and the police who are following him, including Richard Schiff (The West Wing). But when Barnett breaks into Wood's apartment because it looks interesting, Barnett decides Wood is prime 'assistant' material and the two end up holistically intertwined.

It has to be said that the show is odd. Very odd. Very odd at odd moments. Just as everything looks like it's settled into one form of odd, a time traveller will appear, a holistic assassin will start macheting people at random, four guys in a van will start sucking someone's soul or bullets will richochet off a pipe and kill the kidnapper in the flat above. New odd is here - get used to it for the next five minutes because there'll be another one along in a minute. Ooh look, it's a musical number!

Which is both in keeping with Adams' writing yet simultaneously quite Landis (cf American Ultra). On top of that, there's an American quality to it all - Barnett is less a schlubby ne'er do well in a silly leather hat, more an American's idea of an eccentric Brit via Harry Potter. There's also a distinct air of 'improving one's self', with Wood's embracing of Barnett's holistic philosophy leading to his life becoming significantly better, and the familial side of things with Marks and Wood is almost heartwarming in an American stylee.

I'm not sure whether this Dirk Gently is a huge improvement over the previous one, though. Barnett's too young to really work as Gently - Schiff would have been perfect - and Wood is basically just doing the bamboozled sidekick routine he perfected in Wilfred. There was also never a point where I felt myself relax into the show enough to genuinely enjoy.

But it does at least feel a lot more like Dirk Gently, despite having nothing at all in common with the books beyond themes, it's full of what look like potentially interesting ideas and there's enough life in the supporting cast at least that it's worth watching for them.

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Preview: Preacher 1x1-1x3 (US: AMC; UK: Amazon Prime)

Posted on May 25, 2016 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Preacher

In the US: Sundays, 9pm (8c), AMC
In the UK: Episodes available on Amazon Prime the day after US airing

Maybe I just found Garth Ennis at the wrong time. Hellblazer had been one of my favourite comics at university, thanks to Jamie Delano's unique blend of horror, politics and a UK setting. When he left the title, I expected more of the same. Instead, I got Garth Ennis.

For many, Ennis was the best writer of John Constantine, combining horror with a knowing playfulness that undercut the action. For me, I was losing amoral tussles with hunger demons as a metaphor for Western consumption and Ethiopia in favour of tricks on the Devil involving transmuted holy water. Horses for courses, but Ennis was definitely not my 3.15 from Aintree.

That's probably why I never read Preacher, Ennis' magnum opus. Even to tell you what it was about, I'd have to look at Wikipedia. To a lot of comics fans, that's tantamount to not being able to explain the plot of Hamlet, but I don't care - Garth Ennis stole my student Constantine, wah, wah, it's not fair.

So is AMC's Preacherwritten and exec-produced by (of all people) Seth Rogen and his childhood pal Evan Goldberg, a faithful adaptation of this esteemed comic? Don't know and don't care, either. Ennis - pphhtt. Wah.

What I can tell you is that it stars Dominic Cooper (Captain America, Fleming) as the improbably named Texan, Jessie Custer, a bad-as-they-come criminal who returns to become the preacher in his home town when his father dies. Trouble is he's a very bad preacher who's not really convinced there is a God. Then one day, just as he's planning to give it all up and return to his bad, bad ways, he asks one last time for a sign from God of His existence… and, surprisingly, he receives it. And now, whenever he tells someone to do something, they do it - often more literally than Jessie intended. It's almost like the Preacher now speaks the very word of God.

And that's basically episode one, which you might have already seen. I've left out Tulip (Ruth Negga from Marvel's Agents of SHIELD), Jessie's former partner-in-crime, who's got 'one last job for him' and isn't going to take no for an answer. I've also left out Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun from This is England and Misfits), the century-old Irish vampire who's being chased by a group of religious fanatics. 

We can talk about them and the next two episodes after the jump.

Continue reading "Preview: Preacher 1x1-1x3 (US: AMC; UK: Amazon Prime)"

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