WGN America brings together Elementary and Person of Interest for a face-off

Like AMC before it, WGN America might be starting to produce original content, with the likes of Salem and Manhattan, but it’s still largely a network dedicated to showing other networks’ content. Its latest acquisitions are CBS’s Elementary and Person of Interest and to publicise the news, it’s got the characters of each show to face off against one another.

It’s both funny… and awkward. Who do you think will win?


Weekly Wonder Woman

Weekly Wonder Woman: Deathstroke #7, Injustice: Gods Among Us: Year Four #8, Sensation Comics #39

Deathstroke #7

DC You’s new look for Wonder Woman launched last week, but you’d be hard pressed to notice it this week, thanks to all the Elseworlds versions in Injustice: Gods Among Us: Year Four and Sensation Comics wearing variations of her outfits from Volumes 1 and 2 instead. Indeed, the only standard continuity Wonder Woman around is in Deathstroke #7 and she’s wearing her original nu52 outfit. But we’ll talk all about that after the jump.

We’ll also be looking at what happens when you try to put the Silver Age Cheetah on trial, over in Sensation Comics, and in Injustice: Gods Among Us, we’ll finally get round to answering the question “Who would win in a fair fight between Superman and Wonder Woman?” And so far, it’s not looking good for the last son of Krypton…

Continue reading “Weekly Wonder Woman: Deathstroke #7, Injustice: Gods Among Us: Year Four #8, Sensation Comics #39”

The BarrometerA Barrometer rating of 1

Third-episode verdict: Humans (UK: Channel 4; US: AMC)

In the UK: Sundays, 9pm, Channel 4
In the US: Sundays, 9/8c, AMC

I have to admit I don’t watch much UK TV these days, of which Channel 4 represents a very small amount. All the same I’m going to go out on a limb and say Humans is one of the best science-fiction shows the network has made, perhaps since the hallowed Ultraviolet. Perhaps it’s because it’s adapted from a Swedish TV show or perhaps it’s because it’s a co-production with the US’s AMC network. Either way, it’s very, very good.

Set on a parallel, modern day Earth in which synthetic humans (basically Blade Runner-esque Replicants) have become everyday appliances that can help around the home or take on dangerous or unpleasant jobs, Humans uses that situation to explore our attitudes to technology, what it is to be human as well as what humanity is capable of. What would we do if we could create people whose feelings we didn’t have to care about? Would we still consider them human in some way and treat them with respect? Would we use them and abuse them? And what would happen to our self-identities, if we had better versions our ourselves around to look at and compare ourselves against?

While the first episode felt a little bit too much ‘made in the UK’ and the second struggled a little with pacing, the third was a real blinder, both disconcerting and moving, the audience never being too sure whether to root for the ‘synths’ that have emotional capabilities or fear them, to cheer for the humans who might be at risk or be dismayed by their lack of empathy.

The show does particularly well at using each different synth to show how we treat a particular human group, with the central Asiatic synth a representation of domestic servitude, an attractive female synth a representation of how we treat sex workers and more generally women, and so on. Each synth brings up the question “How do these groups feel? And what would happen if they took power into their own hands?”

Simultaneously, they make us question our relationships with technology, the power we give it, the benefits it bestows, and even beyond – Rebecca Front’s medical synth, for example, is as much a commentary on the power we give healthcare bureaucracies over those in their care, as she is on the need for empathy in those who perform the care.

But as well as being ‘good at issues’, Humans works well as a drama, too. Katherine Parkinson’s working mum has to work out if her new synth really can feel or not, and what position she herself can have in a family where all the traditional tasks of the mother are being provided by someone who’s not only better at them but there all the time – and is happy to tell her that to her face.

Colin Morgan’s attempts to reunite all the thinking synths while on the run from those who want to learn their secrets is just as interesting, as is his own secret, and William Hurt’s attempts to hold onto the memories of his dead wife, trapped within his failing, old synth that Front’s come to replace are somewhere between moving and comedic.

While it’s still all a bit made in the UK, married with the typical speed of an AMC show, Humans is nevertheless the kind of show that makes you realise all’s not lost for modern British television.

Barrometer rating: 1
Rob’s prediction: Should hopefully get a second season

The BarrometerA Barrometer rating of 3

Third-episode verdict: Dark Matter (Canada: Space; US/UK: Syfy)

In Canada: Fridays, 10e/7p, Space
In the US: Fridays, 10/9c, Syfy
In the UK: Mondays, 8pm, Syfy

The best that can probably be said about Dark Matter is that it’s better than you think it’s going to be and that it gets better over time. A show initially so generic in its grungy, generic sci-fi ambitions, we all had a hard time working out if it was Blakes 7 crossed with Andromeda or Farscape crossed with Firefly. Since then, its essential core – generic characters in a generic spaceship experiencing generic science-fiction plots in generic outer space Wild West – has hardly changed. The characters are the same, the situations are the same and the tropes are the same.

But whether it’s now finding its feet or its original comic source has now been exhausted and the producers (who also wrote it) are trying to work out what’s better for the small screen, episode three felt marginally better. A more generic version of Blakes 7’s Stardrive, it was basically a ‘ship in a bottle’ episode that allowed everyone to interact and reveal more about themselves and the main plot. While pretty much everything went as you’d have expected it, there were a few surprise twists and despite the ‘gritty’ setting, it managed to be amiable and fun enough to maintain attention throughout.

More importantly, the very end of the episode suggests potentially more interesting territory is about to be explored: the crew may have lost their memories but (spoiler alert) they may never have had them and may only be clones of the real crew.

All the same, the show’s put enough of its cards on the table now that we can see there’s a peak quality threshold it’s never going to exceed. Dark Matter‘s generic space opera at best and to be fair to the producers, that’s all they’re aiming for. I’m not sure if I’m going to stick with it, but unlike its equally generic, Friday-night schedule buddy Killjoys, it does at least pass the time nicely and without many dull moments, there are some decent actors in the cast and it’s not stupid. And by both Syfy and sci-fi standards, that’s pretty good.

Barrometer rating: 3
Rob’s prediction: Could well make it to a second season, but I suspect I’ll have given up before then