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Burden of Truth
Canadian TV

Third-episode verdict: Burden of Truth (Canada: CBC)

In Canada: Wednesdays, 8pm, CBC

When Burden of Truth started, I did mock it a little. It sees big city lawyer Kristin Kreuk return to the small town where she grew up to deal with a claim that an HPV vaccine is making local girls sick. When she gets there, she soon finds:

  1. She’s not very popular not just because of what she’s trying to do but because her dad did something bad when he was in town
  2. The vaccine isn’t the real cause – something else is.

Soon, she’s deciding to switch sides and find out the true cause of the problem – so that she can sue the heck out of whoever’s causing it and stop people spitting at her whenever she walks past.

Anyway, I mocked it a bit, because firstly, we had ‘lawyer as epidemiologist’, with our Kristin apparently keen to do all the science herself. Secondly, we had such obvious emotional manipulation going on, together with an obvious romance being set up with small town boy turned lawyer Peter Mooney, that it felt like we were in the middle of a Hallmark Channel movie.

Oddly, though, the show has since decided it really is going to be about epidemiology. I mean really. Episode three actually had a hydrologist turn up. Not just for a couple of minutes to hand over a report, mind, but for the whole episode. He explains ground water flow and sources, he does experiments and tests. He drills holes.

Meanwhile, Kreuk seems to know – from previous cases, rather than Wikipedia – some actual law and some actual science: biology, chemistry, physics. She knows about benzene and its side effects. She’s coordinating everything, she’s looking at real-world implications for legal precedents, she’s acting like an actual professional with experience and skills.

Indeed, even by the end of episode three, the quest to find the true source of the problem afflicting everyone is still ongoing. This might take all season. This is… practical science and practical law. Gasp.

It’s like I started watching one of the Good Witch movies, only to discover that it was a guidebook to modern pagan rituals, complete with a discussion of the correct way to honour the triple goddess. It’s genuinely bewildering.

Burdened

I’d probably keep watching on the strength of the science, in fact, were it not for the writing of these small town characters. They’re dumb. To be fair, so are the obvious moustache-twirling big city characters. It’s only Kreuk, Mooney and their contractors showing signs of mental capacity. Everyone else is either sketchy or on the verge of shouting out another emotive speech that explains Very Big Things. Or both.

And dumb is what they are.

So Burden of Truth‘s title wasn’t just an obvious play on words about its plot – it was actually a description of the show’s own problems with its characters, who have so much truth that they have to share it, obviously and frequently.

Barrometer rating: 2

The Barrometer for Burden of Truth

 

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Alone Together
US TV

Third-episode verdict: Alone Together (US: Freeform)

In the US: Wednesdays, 8:30pm/7:30c, Freeform

Back when Girls first aired, I gave it a thumbs down, based on the general premise that although it was witty, well written and probably reflected a certain demographic very well, I wanted all the pampered, cosseted characters to die a fiery death. Sure, they weren’t doing much that was different from what male characters had been getting away with in other shows, but I’d usually wanted those male characters to die fiery deaths, too, so at least I was consistent.

The proof of this is Alone Together, as I want both the pampered, cosseted lead characters to die fiery deaths. I didn’t want this to happen at first: episode 1 I found surprisingly funny – so funny, I was prepared to revise my normally sacrosanct rule against friends writing and starring in TV shows together. It saw two millennial friends (Esther Povitsky, Benji Aflalo) living in LA realise that they’re not exactly 10s in the scheme of things, particularly not for LA, so do their best to help each other date, knowing they’ll probably die alone anyway. Meanwhile, although the idea makes both nauseous, everyone else thinks they’re perfect for each.

All of which worked quite very nicely. They were obviously friends but they had a lovely line in put downs and self-mockery. The show had edginess to it, and it really explored its Los Angeles location well.

Episode two, however, made me just hate these millennial dicks. They weren’t just dicks to each other, they were dicks to their friends, to the extent it was impossible to tell why anyone would be in their vicinity. They also weren’t very clever about it, even if they thought they were.

The latest episode was an improvement on that, with our ‘heroes’ a little bit better to one another and to others, and their put-downs once again self-depreciating and smart. The trouble is, I now hate them both. It’s also not about dating, which given the show is called Alone Together is something of a swizz.

All of which means that I’m firstly going to stick to my original rule and secondly come up with a new rule: stick to your show’s premise unless you’ve got a really good route map to help you. Oh, and thirdly, that I’m not going to watch Alone Together any more. They’ll have to watch it by themselves.

Barrometer rating: 3

The Barrometer for Alone Together

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Cherif and Huggy Bear
French TV

Starsky & Hutch’s Huggy Bear just appeared on French TV

The French have had something of a love affair with Starsky & Hutch, ever since it first aired on TF1 between 1978 and 1984. Slightly prosaically, TF1 retitled the show Starsky and Hutch, but as well as allowing the dubbing company and voice-over actors to add a bit more humour and joshing about to the scripts, it also gave the show its own theme song.

The French version of the show remained on air for years, albeit on other channels other than TF1, so it’s no surprise that a generation later, it’s still having an effect on French programming.

Starsky et Hutch, et Duval et Moretti

Back in 2008, France’s third channel remade the show as Duval  et Moretti, a not 100% serious, often direct pastiche of the original.

That only lasted a season, though, so perhaps the French were only really interested in the real deal…

Cherif

Airing on France 2 since 2013, Cherif stars Abdelhafid Metalsi as the eponymous head of Lyon’s Brigade criminelle, a cop who gets results… but has some fun while doing it. The show was created Lionel Olenga, Laurent Scalese and Stéphane Drouet, but Olenga at least is a big fan of Starsky and Hutch, because he went all the way to Beverly Hills to beg a certain actor to take part in the show.

He agreed and he appeared on the show in last night’s episode Quand Cherif rencontre Huggy:

Yep, Huggy Bear (Antonio Fargas) himself appeared – occasionally even speaking French. Fargas explains more (in English) here:

[via; HT Thierry Attard]