Thursday’s “Caitlin Moran’s Raised by Wolves, more S4C cuts, Veep and Rectify news

Film

Film casting

Trailers

  • Trailer for Eli Roth’s Aftershock [NSFW]
  • Trailer for The Wolverine

UK TV

US TV

New US TV show casting

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The BarrometerA Barrometer rating of 4

Third-episode verdict: Defiance (SyFy/SyFy UK)

In the US: Mondays, 9/8c, SyFy
In the UK: Tuesdays, 9pm, SyFy UK

Sigh. What a waste. Of all the things SyFy could have been pouring its money into, this is the one it chose: Defiance, a sci-fi cash-in on Game of Thrones that’s big on world-building but poor on characters.

Now, it wasn’t unreasonable of them. The first, feature-length episode wasn’t half bad, showing signs of imagination and proper science-fiction concepts at the heart of it all. True, in terms of people’s relationships, gender politics et al, it was extraordinarily conventional, but at least there was some promise and Game of Thrones isn’t exactly going to give The Left Hand of Darkness a run for its money in the feminist stakes either.

Since then, though, things have progressed to beyond ordinary, dropping all that expensive world-building and fun in exactly the same way that Terra Nova did, in an effort to build up the characters. Unfortunately, as a result, the show has become a simple tale of a conventional, slightly roguish sheriff having to solve mysteries against a backdrop of people with weird foreign customs who need to be shown the wisdom of truth, justice and, above all, The American Way. Particularly that bit of The American Way about husbands/men being in charge and the few women around needing men’s support if they’re going to make any decisions.

It still looks good and it’s got Julie Benz in it so it can never be entirely terrible, but everything in it has been done to death and done better elsewhere, and while it has a whole lot of imagination, it’s an imagination that doesn’t know much about people.

Barrometer rating: 4
Rob’s prediction: With so much money sunk into it, it’s a cert for a second season, but it’ll need a major revamp if it’s to do anything but erode viewers over time.

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The Weekly Play

The Wednesday Play: Armchair Cinema – Regan (1974)

In the annals of British TV police series, few shows have been as influential or as important as The Sweeney. Starring John Thaw – the future Inspector Morse – as DI Jack Regan and Dennis Waterman – the future Minder – as DS George Carter of the Metropolitan Police’s ‘Flying Squad’, the show spawned imitators (Special Branch), homages (Life on Mars) and movies (The Sweeney), and even influenced the then-new Flying Squad themselves, showing them how to be the Flying Squad.

What’s not as well known is that The Sweeney actually started as one of Thames TV’s Armchair Cinema season, the continuation of ITV’s Armchair Theatre play series. It was written by Ian Kennedy Martin – the brother of Z-Cars (and The Italian Job and Edge of Darkness) writer Troy Kennedy Martin – with John Thaw in mind, Kennedy Martin having been script editor on 60s show Redcap, of which Thaw was the star.

Most of the essential elements of The Sweeney are here, so see below how the show started, in today’s Wednesday Play.

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Wednesday’s “More Perception, Dallas and Major Crimes, less Great Night Out” news

Doctor Who

Film casting

Trailers

  • Trailer for Violet & Daisy, with Saoirse Ronan and Alexis Beldel

UK TV

US TV

US TV casting

  • Danny Pudi, Clair Coffee to guest, Stephen Spinella to recur on Royal Pains

New US TV shows

New US TV show casting