TMINE’s about to take its traditional Christmas and New Year break. Normal business will resume on January 2nd with the Daily News et al.
But as usual, I’ll leave you with a specific question to keep you occupied in my absence: what were your favourite new shows of the year? Let everyone know your choices and the reasons below or on your own blog – or even on the shiny new TMINE Facebook page.
Every Friday, TMINE lets you know when the latest global TV shows will air in the UK
Christmas hasn’t stopped the acquisitions staff at various UK networks from rushing through some acquisitions, and the schedulers aren’t taking a break, either.
This week, 5Spike picked up History (US)’s inferior SEAL team drama Six, for broadcast in early 2018, while Channel 4 (and Walter) have picked up TV4 (Sweden)’s Rebecka Martinsson, which will air… some time.
America Ferrera (Ugly Betty) is a supervisor in a hypermarket and Ben Feldman (A to Z) is the new employee with airs and graces who finds her attractive but makes an immediate bad impression on her, which leaves her with little patience for him. The result is that he keeps making costly mistakes, such as marking everything as costing $0.25 rather than 25% less, resulting in Black Friday levels of customer in-fighting.
Without jokes, a comedy show is for naught, and while frequently it’s smart and comes perilously close to being funny and sometimes even witty, nothing ever really lands home, bar a joke about a cubic zirconium knock-off. Still, it’s better than Sky’s Trollied.
An everyday tale of an inbred family of Southeners, sticking by their own kind, obeying a stern family figure, living by their own rules, drinking moonshine, racing all over the place, breaking whatever laws they want while the cops try and fail to catch them. About as smart a drama as you can make about a family of 200 or so cousins, only one of whose members can read.
A look at the ‘underground railroad’ that helped slaves in the US to escape to freedom, usually in British North America (aka Canada). On the one hand, the show takes great pains to be as realistic as possible. On the other, it also takes great pains to be as ‘with it’ as possible, with flashy camerawork, a modern soundtrack, time jumps, slow motion, and dialogue that’s often no more than a decade old. I lasted an episode.
Mash up of of Murdoch Mysteries and Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries that sees Lauren Lee Smith (CSI, Good Dog, This Life, The Listener) playing the only female private detective working in 1920s Toronto. Jaunty fun, with the likes of Ernest Hemingway dropping by for a bit of flirtation, interspersed with female-empowering historicity, but let down by the singularly wet Lee Smith.
Seven Seconds (Netflix)
Premiere date: Friday, February 23, 2018
In a society fraught with racial tension, sensational headlines, and an audience who would rather be entertained than informed, seven seconds can mean life or death. The new Netflix original series Seven Seconds gives viewers a glimpse into the human stories behind the headlines.
In an instant, life is forever changed for Brenton Butler and his family. After a white cop accidentally hits and critically injures a black teenager, a northeastern city explodes with racial tensions, an attempted cover up and its aftermath, and the trial of the century. From creator and executive producer, Veena Sud (The Killing) comes Seven Seconds – a thrilling new anthology crime drama that explores the human stories behind the headlines.
The series stars two-time Emmy winner Regina King (American Crime) alongside breakout British actress Clare-Hope Ashitey (Doctor Foster), Russell Hornsby (Fences), Beau Knapp (Sand Castle), Michael Mosely (Ozark), David Lyons (Safe Haven), Raul Castillo (Special Correspondents), and Zackary Momoh (A United Kingdom).
Yes, it’s Weekly Wonder Woman – keeping you up to date on pretty much anything involving DC Comics’ premier superheroine, including what she does for breakfast
It’s the last Weekly Wonder Woman of the year, thanks to the upcoming Christmas holidays, but she’ll be back in the New Year ready to bring peace to the world with the minimum of violence necessary, you’ll be glad to hear.
The past two weeks have seen a minor deluge of comics, which we can look at together after the jump, as well as a flurry of news, which we can look at now.
Meanwhile, TV Wonder Woman Lynda Carter is busily trying to help single-player gamers, who apparently are in need of… something.
Another entry for ‘spooky corner’, here’s Prime 1 Studio’s Justice LeagueWonder Woman statue, which clocks in at 85.5cm tall. Eek. Double eek for the price tag: $1,249.
Nothing new, per se, but here’s former Wonder Woman artist Cliff Chiang talking about, among other things, going to watch Wonder Woman with Brian Azzarello.
Two weeks have passed since the previous WWW (sorry, everyone) so there’s quite a few titles to look at. We’ve the latest issue of Wonder Woman itself, as well as the continuing travails – and habits – of Diana with the Justice League in Justice League #35. Trinity #16 sees our Diana musing on immortality, while the Amazon princess helps to save all the men of Gotham from being killed in Batgirl and the Birds of Prey #17. Lastly, Conan the Barbarian talks a surprisingly large amount about Diana, who is revealed as a bit of a lightweight in Wonder Woman/Conan #4. All that after the jump.
In the US: Wednesdays, 10/9c, Syfy
In the UK: Netflix. Starts April 26
Dadaism only goes so far. Sure, it’s all very fun to stick something incongruous into a new setting to expose its conventions and absurdities. But then what? Sooner or later either everyone will stop looking because they’ve got the idea and decided it’s silly or they’ll get inured to it and accept it.
Which is a bit of a problem for arch-Dadaist Grant Morrison, whose new show Happy! gives us an alcoholic, ex-cop, elite hitman played by Christopher Meloni (Law & Order: SVU) being helped to find a missing child by her imaginary friend – a tiny, talking, flying blue unicorn called Happy.
(I should, incidentally, point out here that Happy is quite clearly one of the fabled unidonkeys, not a unicorn. He’s the same colour as Eeyore, he acts like a donkey and just look at those ears, look at those teeth, look at those hooves – he’s a donkey, who just happens to have a horn and wings. Which is cool, since donkeys are much better than stupid old horses.)
The trouble with the show’s first episode was that when you’d accepted that incongruity and that there was a not completely imaginary unidonkey paired up with an indestructible, ultraviolent hitman dishing out pithy self-deprecating, self-hating one-liners, there wasn’t much more to it. Okay, you’ve made your point, Mr Morrison – what now? Ah, just a load of clichés and two-dimensional characters. Gotcha.
A Dadaist universe
Since then, though, the writing’s been in the hands of those with a different ontological perspective of the world to Morrison, one in which character and plotting are of greater interest than simple subversion of genre. Episodes two and three have filled in the backstory of Meloni’s character, as well as those of supporting characters such as Meloni’s ex-wives, while also turning Happy from just a CGI idea of a character into one you can actually care about. Indeed, he’s now just so cute, funny and adorable, so kind and caring of his young best friend, that I’m still traumatised by the ending of the third episode, a good three hours after having watched it.
I hope that poor little unidonkey is okay. Please let him be okay.
Meloni? Not so much. Well, at all, in fact. But at least it’s clear that Meloni is the way he is because he stared too long into the abyss of human depravity and it looked back at him, and that Happy and his quest offer him the chance at redemption and a walk back from the edge to the point where we might like him.
The show is also slowly pivoting from a show with one Dadaist idea into one with a Dadaist universe, episode three giving us a lapdancing club frequented only by department store Santas for example (“No one knows where they came from – they just started turning up one day”). That obviously has the downside of turning Happy’s presence from the show’s sole incongruity to just one of many, but having a whole weird universe to play is far more appealing than simply watching a unidonkey fly around over the top of an old episode of Law & Order, which is what Happy! would have been otherwise.
Happy! is also playing a little with storytelling. Episode three is replete with flashbacks, and the show finds a relatively novel way of showing them that also enables it to comment on the story. It’s not exactly the middle episodes of Limitless, but it’s a sign the show hasn’t shot its entire load of imagination with Happy.
Despite my initial reservations about Happy!, I’m going to stick with it. Although the cop stories that form the b-stories of the episode are tedious and Meloni’s constant nihilism grates, Happy at least is worth watching, as is the expanding universe around him. It’s also a gutsy show to be telling a story about an implied mentally ill paedophile Santa abducting children and dosing them up on drugs this close to Christmas. It needs our support.