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Reviews of UK TV programmes

February 11, 2016

Third-episode verdict: Stan Lee's Lucky Man (UK: Sky1)

Posted on February 11, 2016 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

BarrometerLuckyMan.jpgA Barrometer rating of 2

In the UK: Fridays, 9pm, Sky1

Stan Lee's Lucky Man's biggest asset is also its biggest problem - Stan Lee. He came up with the idea for the show, it's his name that probably got the show made and it's that name that will get most viewers tuning in.

Trouble is, as soon as you stick the name Stan Lee in the title, there's a certain expectation there'll be superheroics and super-fun. Unfortunately, in the hands of series writer Neil Biswas (The Take), there's neither.

The show sees James Nesbitt play a cop with a gambling problem who suddenly gets a mystical lucky bracelet that helps him both to win big at the casino and to solve crimes, but at a price to others. There's the occasional bit of supernaturalness thanks to said bracelet, but we're largely talking about things falling on the floor at opportune moments so that Nesbitt can spot there's something under a table, rather than Final Destination-style domino effects resulting in bags of money to fall into Nesbitt's lap. Not at all the time - there's a speedboat chase in episode one and an impressive sprint across a busy motorway in episode two, for example, but that's as superheroic as the show has managed to get.

Rather than superheroics, what we've had in spades instead is Nesbitt moping around, getting upset by his good luck's flipside effects on others, and investigating murders, all while leather-clad motorcylist Sienna Guillory drops by to provide the occasional hint about the bracelet's powers and various members of the police grouch about Nesbitt's supposed corrupt tendencies. An interesting character study mixed with a bit of fantasy and a police procedural? Yes. Something to rival Daredevil? Not in the slightest.

If you keep that in mind, chances are you might enjoy the show. There's a decent enough supporting cast, even if Nesbitt is miscast; the story's not bad and is even a bit edgy; and what supernatural qualities the show does have it does well. It's even got Banshee's 'Albino' (Londoner Joseph Gatt) as the big bad who's after Nesbitt's jewellery. 

It's just not the new superhero show you might have been looking for.

Barrometer rating: 2
Would the show be better with a female lead? Yes
TMINE's prediction: Unlikely to get a second series unless it gets any overseas sales

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February 1, 2016

What have you been watching? Including The Magicians, The X-Files, Stan Lee's Lucky Man and Okkupert

Posted on February 1, 2016 | comments | Bookmark and Share

It's "What have you been watching?", my chance to tell you what movies and TV I’ve been watching recently that I haven't already reviewed and your chance to recommend things to everyone else (and me) in case I've missed them.

The usual "TMINE recommends" page features links to reviews of all the shows I've ever recommended, and there's also the Reviews A-Z, for when you want to check more or less anything I've reviewed ever. And if you want to know when any of these shows are on in your area, there’s Locate TV - they’ll even email you a weekly schedule.

It's Monday and WHYBW is here. Something's gone wrong, surely. Indeed, work as usual. Damn money. But I also needed a little extra time to get through the big pile of TV that's been building up over the week. That can only mean one thing: it's time for a cull.

Some things will be coming off my viewing thanks to natural erosion: Endeavour has just finished its third season after only four episodes. Others will be disappearing anyway, thanks to unfavourable third-episode verdicts, although you'll have to wait until after the jump (and tomorrow, in the case of Billions and Angie Tribeca) to know which are for the chop.

But it's time for both Rebellion (Ireland: RTÉ One) and Byw Celwydd (UK: S4C) to leave this mortal coil. Rebellion's a fine historical, but with very little by way of characterisation to draw you in, just dry historical facts and a bit of shooting, so I've decided I've revised my GCSE history syllabus enough now. Byw Celwydd has a peculiar draw, simply because I know Cardiff well enough to enjoy the locations and the whole thing has a slight Caerdydd vibe, but it's pure soap with dodgy production values, and I don't do soaps, let alone ones with dodgy production values.

I also can't be bothered with the latest episode of Baskets (US: FX), as I hear it's exactly the same as the first episode.

So that means after the jump, you can find reviews of the latest episodes of 100 Code, American Crime, Angie Tribeca, Arrow, Colony, DC's Legends of Tomorrow, Endeavour, The Family Law, The Flash, The Magicians, Grandfathered, Man Seeking Woman (Woman Seeking Man), Marvel's Agent Cater, Okkupert (Occupied), Second Chance, Les hommes de l'ombre (Spin), The Shannara Chronicles, Stan Lee's Lucky Man, Supergirl and The X-Files. Can you guess which ones will be getting the chop?

In case you missed them, this week I reviewed the first episodes of: The X-Files (US: Fox; UK: Channel 5), Stan Lee's Lucky Man (UK: Sky 1), Baskets (US: FX) and The Outsiders (US: WGN America); and ages and ages ago, I previewed Lucifer (US: Fox; UK: Amazon Instant Video) and The Magicians (US: Syfy), which started last week, too.

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January 26, 2016

Review: Stan Lee's Lucky Man 1x1 (UK: Sky 1)

Posted on January 26, 2016 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Stan Lee's Lucky Man

In the UK: Fridays, 9pm, Sky 1
In the US: Not yet acquired

Stan Lee's the kind of guy who gets to have his name in the title of things. While opinion is divided about exactly how responsible he, rather than say Jack Kirby et al, is for creating Spider-Man, The Avengers, The Fantastic Four, the Hulk, Thor, Iron Man, the X-Men, Daredevil and Doctor Strange, he did enough that he gets to have movies and TV shows called Stan Lee's Mighty 7, Stan Lee's Superhumans, With Great Power: The Stan Lee Story, Stan Lee's Mutants, Monsters & Marvels, Stan Lee's Academy of Heroes and Stan Lee's Oscar Campaign, and to cameo in pretty much all the Marvel universe movies.

By now, he has both name and face check familiarity with the general populace. At least in the US. In the UK? Maybe.

Anyway, that's what Sky 1's probably gambling with Stan Lee's Lucky Man, in which James Nesbitt is a London police detective with a gambling problem who gets possibly the worst thing in the world for a man with his addiction - a magic bracelet that gives him incredibly good luck.

Lee contributed a one-page synopsis for the show, so by normal naming rights, this should probably be called Neil Biswas's Lucky Man, given Biswas (The Take) developed the synopsis into the series and has written most, if not all of the first season's 10 episodes. However, Sky 1 almost certainly figures the show could do with a boost in the ratings/overseas exports sales through Lee's presence in the show's name since in the scheme of things, Lucky Man is probably on a par with Crime Traveller and other mildly science-fictiony/fantasy TV series without a huge amount of oomph.

Here's a trailer.

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