George Lopez in Lopez
US TV

Review: Lopez 1×1 (US: TV Land)

In the US: Wednesdays, 10/9c, TV Land

There was a time when watching stars play fake versions of themselves in comedies, particularly eponymous comedies, was almost daring. Gasp! They’re mocking themselves! Gasp! They’re doing bad things! Gasp! He’s roped in all his mates to do the same thing!

I can’t remember exactly when that time started – The Larry Sanders Show, maybe? – but if you think about how much fun Patrick Stewart was in Extras, for example, you’ll know what I mean. However, it’s pretty much definitely finished now. Thanks to the likes of Hoff The Record and Donny!, just the sight of an eponymously titled show makes we groan inwardly. Can’t they think of anything new to do? Do they think this is still daring? Can’t they think of some actual lines or funny situations that don’t rely on the star playing themselves to yield the laughs?

Certainly, that’s how I felt going into Lopez, TV Land’s new comedy series starring George Lopez. I mean, I’d not even heard of him, so how funny was this going to be?

Surprisingly, the answer is quite funny. Not hilarious, but still funny and in fact frequently incisive. As you might have gathered, the shows sees Lopez, the star of many previous eponymous shows including George Lopez and Saint George, playing a version of himself who’s rich, famous and living the celebrity lifestyle in Los Angeles. He sends his daughter to an expensive private school – so expensive, it actually has its own valet service – and he has lots of similarly rich and famous friends, including Snoop Dogg (or should that be ‘Snoop Dogg’ in this instance?). 

He’s also got problems with his white neighbours who think that everything he says is racist. He’s got problems with the esteemed former mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa (‘Antonio Villaraigosa’?). He’s also got problems with Snoop Dogg, as well as a black friend of his, who doesn’t want to bid for him in a ‘celebrity assistant for a day’ auction to raise money for the private school.

In a summary, that doesn’t quite work and that’s in part because the writing is more about details. Sometimes, it’s simply knowing what it’s talking about in detail, such as when Lopez has to deal with his young manager as they negotiate for an endorsement from a young Vine star

Manager: I’m trying to see if he can go from 6 to 15.

Lopez: I don’t understand that.

Manager: 6 seconds is how long a Vine video can be, 15 is how long an Instagram video can be – I want to see if he can still hold the audience’s attention.

Lopez: You’re kidding?

Manager: You’re right. 10 might be better – I should consider Snapchat.

It’s when Lopez’s spoilt daughter is objecting to his appearing in the auction (“Can’t you just give them a château or a private chef like all the other parents do?”). It’s the references to black and Mexican culture and the various societal rules (“I can’t bid for you in an auction: that would be like that Disney cartoon where Goofy owns a dog”). It’s the meaningless phrases that Snoop Dogg comes up with that baffle everyone, but they assume are just street slang.

To some extent, it shouldn’t be too surprising that Lopez is a lot better than you might have suspected – it’s created and written by John Altschuler and Dave Krinsky, who co-created Silicon Valley and King of the Hill. And there are sufficient laughs for me to definitely consider watching more. It’s also a lot more than yet another old guy gets angry at the world for its various perceived slights against him and is a lot warmer and nicer than those potted bits of comic misanthropy.

However, for you UK readers, the biggest problem is that watching it, if you’re like me, you’ll feel like how the average American must feel when they watch Downton Abbey – aware that there’s a lot of cultural niceties that the native audience understand instinctively but which are going over my head, yet not quite sure what they are. On top of that, Lopez himself is almost completely unknown here, so again, it’s like those episodes of Extras in which Ross Kemp or Les Dennis played themselves.

So although I’d say Lopez is actually pretty good and worth trying, I’m not sure I feel compelled to watch it in the same way I would with a more universal comedy. Give it a try, though – it might surprise you, particularly if you’re American and so might get a lot more from it.

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Review: The Catch 1×1 (US: ABC; UK: Sky Living)


In the US: Thursdays, 10/9c, ABC
In the UK: Acquired by Sky Living, for a probable May broadcast

Most art, particularly the hard-boiled kind, has been created by men. As a result, the femme fatale, that irresistibly alluring bad girl who leads the hero astray, is an established archetype throughout literature and movies. Think Lauren Bacall in The Big Sleep… if you want. I’ll be thinking of Sharon Stone in practically anything, particularly Basic Instinct where she played Catherine Tramell, whose name quite literally is a synonym for entrapment

But with women’s art increasingly recognised and women more often in a position of power, we’re seeing the increasing presence of the femme fatale’s male counterpart – the homme fatal, a term so obscure until now you have to go to the French wikipedia to even find it spelt correctly, and even then, it’s actually only the French title of Fanny By Gaslight

More commonly, you’ll find him referred to as the more manly ‘bad boy’ – you could probably write a thesis about why this should be – and such is the nature of the beast, he’s largely to be found in the fantasy and horror genre: think Angel in Buffy The Vampire Slayer or Edward in Twilight. He’s the sexy, elusive, frequently taciturn man of dubious virtue who sends the heroine off the rails and into a tail-spin. Like the femme fatale, he’s the one you f*ck, not marry; but unlike the femme fatale, he’ll probably fall in love with the heroine along the way.

Just as not every beautiful woman can be a femme fatale, not every handsome man can be an homme fatal. It takes a certain something more. A certain je ne sais quoi. Which is presumably why there’s been so much recasting on The Catch, ABC’s latest attempt to appeal to its predominantly female demographic through the all-powerful magic of Shonda Rhimes being cast on an homme fatal. I’m pretty sure it still hasn’t worked, though.

It stars Mireille Enos (The Killing (US), World War Z) as one of LA’s top private investigators, looking after the security for numerous big firms. She seems to have it all – a great business, great friends, great clothes, great house, a great taste in everything and a great fiancé (Peter Krause from The Lost Room, Dirty Sexy Money and Parenthood). Unfortunately, one of those turns out to be significantly less great than previously suspected. Have a guess which one?

Yes, it’s Krause. He’s actually a conman who’s trying to liberate all manner of things from Enos, except her spinsterhood, before he legs it with his real love (Sonya Walger from Lost, FlashForward, and Common Law). Will Enos discover what he’s up to before it’s too late and he breaks her business and her heart? No. Obviously not. Short show if she does. Instead, Enos has to do all she can recover her losses, save her business and catch Krause before FBI investigator Jacky Ido (Taxi Brooklyn) discovers everything.

As I said, there’s been a lot of recasting. Here’s the original cast picture:

Original The Catch cast

You’ll notice that Walger was originally Bethany Joy Lenz and Krause was Damon Dayoub. You can see them in action in the original pilot episode.

Since then, the show’s been retooled quite substantially. Gone is the noirish tale of angsty fraud investigator having doubts about her marriage who’s duped by a bad boy; now we’re getting some Shondaland kick ass fun – and a whole new man:

Harking back to that thesis I mentioned earlier, there was apparently either too little homme fatal to Dayoub and he wasn’t considered ‘substantial’ enough to be irresistible to Enos or there was too much to him and he was considered too sexy for prime time. Alternatively, it might be he was even thought too young for her – femmes fatales are almost always younger, hommes fatals are almost always older, of course.

Whatever the reason, in this all-new The Catch, Krause and Enos’s relationship is now a bit more Thomas Crown Affair, right down to the split-screen storytelling. Krause is ambivalent about the con against Enos and might well have fallen in love with her, having reservations about Walger who’s now the driving force in both their relationship and their con.

What’s surprising about the retooling is that the new first episode pretty much wraps everything up. You wonder where the show’s going to go next. By the looks of it, it’s going to be The Thomas Crowne Affair every week, with Krause, Walger and their partner in crime Alimi Ballard (Numb3rs) pulling another light-hearted con against one of Enos’ clients that Enos has to then stop, making Krause wonder if he’s actually in love with her and Enos having to resist his pull. 

Stapled onto that in a way that makes Women’s Murder Club‘s ‘corridor of truth’ look like seamless story-telling is all the sitting around, talking about boys.

The question is will you have a fatal attraction to The Catch? Probably not. While there is a lightness and simplicity to it that’s welcome after the likes of How To Get Away With Murder, it’s not in the slightest bit convincing. Krause is a lot of things, after all, and was great in The Lost Room. He’s also fun to watch and good at comedy. But an homme fatal? No. Sorry.

Enos is sparky and her job is thankfully a bit more dynamic than the usual mousey librarian with imposter syndrome that the genre requires. But she’s taking everything a bit too seriously for us to really enjoy watching her and, like much of the show, the idea of a super-rich security firm that has access to all its clients’ bank accounts is as crazy as a wardrobe full of screaming gibbons – the writers have to add dialogue at every point to patch up each blindingly obvious loophole they’ve just created.

The Catch is not the worst thing you’ll ever see, but unfortunately, despite some interesting ambitions, it’s unlikely to ever steal your attention, let alone your heart.

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Dallas’s theme tune had lyrics… but only in France

So I was listening to the World in Words podcast this morning and discovered a fascinating fact. When Dallas aired on French TV back in the 80s, French broadcasters wanted to explain the show to its audience. So along with a new theme tune, they wrote some lyrics to explain it to them. Listen to them for yourselves:

And here are the lyrics in French in all their glory [via]:

Dallas
Ton univers impitoyable
Dallas
Glorifie la loi du plus fort
Dallas
Et sous ton soleil implacable
Dallas
Tu ne redoutes que la mort

Dallas
Patrie du dollar du pétrole
Dallas
Tu ne connais pas la pitié
Dallas
Le revolver est ton idole
Dallas
Tu te raccroches à ton passé

Dallas
Malheur à celui qui n’a pas compris
Dallas
Un jour il y perdra la vie
Dallas
Ton univers impitoyable
Dallas
Glorifie la loi du plus fort

Dallas
Malheur à celui qui n’a pas compris
Dallas
Un jour il y perdra la vie
Dallas
Ton univers impitoyable
Dallas
Glorifie la loi du plus fort

Dallas
Malheur à celui qui n’a pas compris
Dallas
Un jour il y perdra la vie
Dallas
Ton univers impitoyable

Which more or less means [via, since I can’t be arsed to translate it myself]:

Dallas, your ruthless world,
Dallas, where might is right,
Dallas, and under your relentless sun,
Dallas, only death is feared.

Dallas, home of the oil dollar,
Dallas, you do not know pity;
Dallas, the revolver is your idol,
Dallas, you cling to the past.

Dallas, woe to him who does not understand,
Dallas, one day he will lose his life.
Dallas, your ruthless world,
Dallas, where might is right.

Wowzers, hey? But accurate.

Incidentally, it was not alone in this. I mentioned this discovery of mine to French TV journalist Thierry Attard, hoping to find out more, as he is not only a noted expert and consultant on European dubbing, he’s literally written the book on it. He reveals that this is just the tip of the iceberg:

I hate when they put a French song on a foreign series. In the 80s they were legion: Hart to Hart, Vegas, Mr Merlin… Santa Barbara, The Bold and the Beautiful, Buck Rogers, The A Team, Days of our Lives (this one didn’t last long). If my memory serves and without chronology, we can add Starsky & Hutch, Knots Landing. Later, Prison Break or… Heroes.

So much fun to be had! I leave the full quest to you, gentle reader, but brace yourself – here’s your starter for 10. It’s Prison Break‘s French lyrics: