Review: Snowfall 1×1 (US: FX)

In the US: Wednesdays, 10pm ET/PT, FX

Boyz N The Hood was one of those great movies of the early 90s that announced a new talent and a new voice in cinema – in this case, John Singleton’s. Originally entitled Summer of 84, it’s a blistering movie about his experiences of growing up in the-then South Central LA.

So when you see that he’s making a TV series on a similar theme to his magnum opus, you’re going to want to take note, aren’t you? Snowfall is set in the summer of 1983 and is almost a “the path not taken” rebuke to Boyz n the Hood. It sees Damson Idris playing a young drug dealer. Idris is smart, smart enough to go to college, but he resents being treated as ‘a mascot’ at predominantly white colleges and can’t leave his family to go to a black college on the east coast. So minor league drug-dealing and mopping floors it is for him. But then he comes across a big-time drug dealer at his home and sees an opportunity to finally start making real money.

But Snowfall is all about the crack epidemic of early 80s LA and what it did to the city, and to tell that story, Singleton goes Crash, giving us multiple seemingly unconnected stories that are all set to converge later on. We have Carter Hudson playing a disgraced CIA agent who finally sees an opportunity to make some good money to fund his operations – by selling cocaine. There’s also a Mexican lucador (Sergio Peris-Mencheta) who takes enforcement projects on the side, but who may have burgled the wrong house at the wrong time. And there’s a Nicaraguan ‘freedom fighter’ (Juan Javier Cardenas) who needs his war funded, too.

The show has saving graces. Idris’ character is indeed smart and gets great dialogue, too. The direction (Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah’s, not Singleton’s) is lovely, too. The CIA plot is fascinating in the same way Narcos was, thanks to the air of historicity and Idris’ mission to sell drugs is tense and you do root for him. Watching how all the characters come together is going to be intriguing, too.

So I’ve sat up and taken note. But I’ve not been very intrigued. Sure, the story of what drugs did in the 80s specifically to the West Coast isn’t something that’s been explored much. But unless you’re from LA, I’m not sure how interested you are in drilling down.

The female characters are all pretty terribly handled, too, although things perk up a bit at the end. Peris-Mencheta’s doesn’t have any explanation for existing yet and with so many plots to handle, everything advances slowly.

Snowfall is good enough that I’ll tune in for another episode. But it’s not a show that captures the interest straight away and it doesn’t yet feel like something that has anything new to say. I’ll give it a chance, though.

Sky Atlantic's Riviera

Third-episode verdict: Riviera (UK: Sky Atlantic)

In the UK: Thursdays, 9pm, Sky Atlantic

When Sky Atlantic started out making drama, it seemed like little more than an advert for the virtues of HD TV. While plots have improved since then, Riviera still feels like one of those early Sky Atlantic shows – all glossy locations, famous actors and glorious colours designed to show off what an improved Sky subscription package has to offer.

Since its first episode, Riviera has at least improved from merely giving us the likes of Julia Stiles, Lena Olin, Adrian Lester and Anthony LaPaglia marching from rich, plush location full of rich, plush people to another, with Amr Waked running around a lot and the occasional bit of sexy fun time thrown in for good measure. Episode two managed to up the IQ quotient a bit while adding the slightly less glamorous Phil Davis to the cast as an Interpol officer investigating financial dodginess in the family Stiles.

However, despite having a psychotic drowned prostitute going around murdering everyone she comes across, episode three has been light on thrills, intelligence or much else, preferring instead to have Stiles walking around gibbering to everyone she comes across while pointing a gun at them, whether they’re genuine crims, slightly poncy sculptors or innocent deer, which feels a bit of a cheap way to bring in even more excitement. Most scenes involve one or both of Stiles’ step-sons (Iwan Rheon and Dimitri Leonidas – the only cast member Greek enough to be a ‘Clios’)  being mean or nice to either Stiles or the other brother, or Stiles and Lester snapping at each other. And Davis only serves to make everything seem artificial and fake, rather than highlighting the differences between the very rich and the rest of us mere mortals.

There are precious few thrills in this thriller, but if you want to know how pretty HD can be or if Rheon can actually be anything other than a bit slimey, then Riviera is at least a break in watching Blue Planet on continual loop.

Barrometer rating: ‘4 or about as good as John Barrowman’s appearance in Shark Attack 3

The Barrometer for Riviera

Patrick McGoohan as The Prisoner in Portmeirion

Celebrate The Prisoner’s 50th birthday at Portmeirion

Network DVD, which releases all manner of archive DVDs, is celebrating the fact it’s the 50th birthday of The Prisoner this year with a very special event in the village itself – Portmeirion.

The Prisoner, Patrick McGoohan’s visionary television series, reaches the half century of its first UK transmission in September. In celebration, Network is returning to the place where it all began – the village, aka Portmeirion, to host a one day event for the launch of our new feature-length documentary plus a brand new Blu-ray and DVD edition

This unique day will bring together surviving cast, crew and other special guests alongside screenings of key episodes from brand new 35mm prints, Q&A’s, installations and more.

The centre piece will be the world premiere of Chris Rodley’s new feature-length documentary In My Mind, followed by a very special 35mm presentation of Arrival at 7.30pm, 50 years to the minute of its UK premiere.

The new edition of our Blu-ray and DVD set is included in the ticket price for those attending the event, ahead of the official release date. All 17 episodes feature brand new detailed text commentaries and a wealth of newly produced special features, including the documentary feature In My Mind, unseen footage and much more.

This deluxe edition also includes an updated edition of Andrew Pixley’s definitive and highly-regarded book on the series, lavishly illustrated with rare and unpublished photographs and a newly remastered 6-CD soundtrack of the specially composed music scores by Albert Elms, Wilfred Josephs and Robert Farnon, Ron Grainer’s themes and the Chappell music library pieces altogether in one set for the first time.

Tickets are available to purchase from today but places at this unique event are strictly limited, and offered on a first come, first served basis. Tickets are priced at £135, which includes admission to the premiere, all episode screenings, Q&As and events around the village throughout the day plus the new deluxe BluRay or DVD box set.

A very limited amount of overnight accommodation for 28th and/or 29th September in Portmeirion itself is available to purchase separately. Please email [email protected] with your details and PRISONER50ACCOM as the title for further details.

Kim's Convenience
Canadian TV

Kim’s Convenience writer sings a rap dedicated to Hawaii Five-0’s departing stars

Kim’s Convenience is big in Canada, but nowhere else yet, so you might not have heard of its writer Ins Choi. You’ll probably have heard of Hawaii Five-0, though, although you may not have heard that stars Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park are leaving the show, allegedly because they’re not being given the same salaries as their white co-stars (CBS, of course, denies it).

Anyway, during a performance of the original stage play at New York’s Signature Theatre Center this Saturday, former actor Choi dedicated a rap to Park and Kim about the problems that face Asian actors.


ABC's Somewhere Between

Promo for ABC’s Somewhere Between – a Groundhog Day murder-mystery

Not content to leave summer completely at the mercy of CBS, ABC is also launching its own sci-fi (ish) limited series this month. Somewhere Between is based on SBS (Korea)’s TV series God’s Gift: 14 Days and sees Paula Patton playing a mom whose eight-year-old daughter is kidnapped and murdered… except Patton discovers she can roll time back 14 days and perhaps save her daughter, with the help of ex-cop PI Devon Sawa (Nikita).

Now ABC has form for limited series about Groundhog Day-style crime stories with the Taye Diggs’ starrer Daybreak – which it cancelled after about seven episodes, releasing the rest of the episodes online, so whether this will be more successful or whether ABC will be more benevolent with Somewhere Between is going to be interesting to watch. The show itself? Well, here’s a promo…