Every Friday, TMINE lets you know when the latest global TV shows will air in the UK
Two premiere dates, including one new acquisition, to start the New Year, you’ll be glad to hear.
Six (US: History; UK: 5Spike)
Premiere date: Friday, January 19, 9pm
Former SEAL Team Six troop leader Richard ‘Rip’ Taggart (Walton Goggins) is captured by Boko Haram and it’s up to his former SEAL Team Six comrades to put their differences aside to locate and rescue their former troop leader.
Not even half as good as SEAL Team or even the less SEAL-ish The Brave, it’s a show that gets by on the kudos of its subject matter, rather than any real aptitude at drama or characterisation. ISIS terrorists recruiting online from plush apartments in Dubai and communicating using video games? In English? Hmm.
The Disappearance (Canada: CTV; UK: Universal Channel)
Premiere date: Tuesday, February 27, 9pm
I didn’t watch this one because it’s a mini-series and started while I was on holiday (IIRC). So here’s the rubric:
The Disappearance follows the Sullivan family in the wake of a terrifying family drama. As the fractured family bands together to solve the mystery that has uprooted their lives, long-held secrets are uncovered. Driven by hope and a relentless determination to do whatever necessary to uncover the mystery, the same hidden truths that threaten to shatter this family may also be the very key to reuniting them.
The six episode drama series was created by Normand Daneau and Geneviève Simard and stars Peter Coyote (ET), Aden Young (Rectify), Camille Sullivan (The Man In The High Castle), Joanne Kelly (Warehouse 13), Micheline Lanctôt (Unité 9) and Kevin Parent (Café de Flore).
Yes, it’s Weekly Wonder Woman – keeping you up to date on pretty much anything involving DC Comics’ premier superheroine, including how naff her dad is
Happy New Year, True Believers! Yes, I know Stan Lee’s a Marvel man, but I doubt he’s trademarked it. So, True Believers, I hope you had a great time; Diana was off lighting a bonfire with Batman, apparently, so whatever you did, it was probably better than her Christmas/New Year celebrations.
Everyone else in the real world was off celebrating, too, so not a lot of news came out over the festive period. But here’s what did happen, for what it’s worth.
Justice League looks set to close its run in cinemas with just $700m in takings, which is apparently enough to break even – just. It’s still not great though.
JUSTICE LEAGUE dropped over 1,500+ theaters this weekend and fell -76%, topping out w/ $222M domestic. Folks, that's $190M less than WONDER WOMAN and $5M less than Will Smith's HANCOCK–that's gonna sting for a bit.
Looking more to the future, though, Patty Jenkins says Wonder Woman 2 will be totally different from Wonder Woman:
“We’re actually making a totally different film with a lot of the same, similar like things that we love, but it’s its own movie completely, so it’s not ‘two’ to us,” the director told ET. “It’s an entirely new adventure together that we couldn’t be luckier [to do].”
Liam Sharp revealed some more art from his forthcoming Brave and the Bold:
Meanwhile, Jill Thompson was at the DC Comics Art Academy to explain how she draws Diana:
Just the usual titles featured Diana Prime this fortnight, although Superman #38 might contain a visit from a future Wonder Woman (I can’t even), if you want to give that a whirl. So after the jump, we’ll see who won in that fight between Zeus and teenage Darkseid (the cover contains a bit of a spoiler, mind) in Wonder Woman #37 and in Justice League #36, she’s still agonising about her mission. And whether Germany is in the EU. Maybe not so much the second one, but it’s a concern.
Science-fiction and espionage seem at first glance to be a perfect combination. Think of how many successful spy shows and movies over the years have also been science-fiction greats: Total Recall, The Champions, Alias, Airwolf and more. Indeed, there’s even a name for the genre: spy-fi.
Look a little harder, though, and you’ll notice that the greater the emphasis on the science-fiction, the worse the show is. The more SF a James Bond movie contains, the worse it gets (invisible cars, anyone?). That’s because – to generalise broadly – the spy genre is fundamentally about people, whereas science-fiction is more about ideas. Those spy-fi classics? They were the ones that remembered to concentrate on both the people and the ideas.
Now we have Counterpart, a show that does its best to give us both big ideas and little people, while also invoking the magic blessing for any spy show: a Berlin location and obvious Cold War parallels. JK Simmons (Law & Order, Whiplash, The Closer, Oz) plays a very little person at a UN spy agency based in Berlin. For 29 years, he’s worked uncomplainingly in the ‘Interface’ department, where he goes up every morning in the same suit to read out sentences to another man from ‘the Other Side’ in a small room, before returning to his desk. His requests for promotion go unheard and he can’t even get an interview.
Meanwhile, his wife Olivia Williams (Dollhouse) is in hospital after being run over six weeks previously, and her brother Jamie Bamber (Battlestar Galactica, Perception) is trying to get her returned to the UK and her ‘true family’. Simmons is passively nice and unable to say or do much in response to all these injustices.
Then one day, he’s dragged by boss Harry Lloyd (Robin Hood, Game of Thrones) to meet chief of security Ulrich Thomsen (Banshee). A top spy from the Other Side wants to defect. The Cold War that’s been going on is thawing and assassin Sara Serraiocco has come over to start killing people on this side – including Simmons’ wife.
Thing is, the Other Side is a parallel universe with which Simmons’ universe has been in contact with for decades but which has diverged over time, and the would-be defector is… JK Simmons.
Now the two Simmons, spy and Mitty, must work together to stop the assassin and whatever’s caused this thaw in the Cold War, while simultaneously looking at each other to see how their lives turned out so differently.
Regrets, I’ve had a few
Although similarities with Fringe are obvious, this is far more a well worn story of male wish fulfilment: the little man, over the hill, wishing for a more exciting life than he ever had, suddenly getting a chance to lead that life. It was the substance of many of the early Man from UNCLEepisodes and it’s the essence of Total Recall.
Here, the difference is that firstly, Simmons is a much better, more plausible little man/spy than Arnold Schwarzenegger. Secondly, while there is action and excitement to be had, the show works far better as an examination of roads not taken, what choices you can make in your life that will take it in completely different directions and how much of who you are as a person is caused by external rather than internal factors. Great efforts are made against the overly-stylised sci-fi background to make Simmons and all the other characters seem like real people, albeit with variable success. It’s certainly helped by the supporting cast, with a range of Brits giving great, understated performances, particularly Lloyd, but Thomsen is as good as always and there are also some fine German actors in minor roles, too. More good actors are on the way, too, with the near ubiquitous Richard Schiff and Stephen Rea set to do a turn soon, too.
It works less well as a spy show than you might hope, though, and that’s because of the sci-fi throwing everything out of whack. The Interface department looks cool, for example, but seems ludicrous – why are they doing this? What possible reason could they have for it? Whatever it is, it’ll be nonsense when revealed, I bet you. There’s also far less of Berlin to be seen than you might hope and while the show avoids the tourism of Berlin Station, there’s the obligatory ‘exotic’ club scene.
All the same, Counterpart offers more or less the best of both genres. It’s not exactly Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy; neither is it Blade Runner. But as a moderately entertaining piece of metaphysical musing – with guns, parallel universes and a surprisingly kick-ass JK Simmons – Counterpart has a lot to offer.