A few mini-reviews before I go: My Life is Murder; Pandora; The Unsettling; and Pearson

My Life Is Murder

As I pointed out during this week’s WHYBW, I’ve put in a pretty poor effort in the reviews stakes over the past week. I atoned for my lack of movie reviews, but although I took in Departure during WHYBW, that’s still not good enough is it?

So here’s not one, not two, not three, but four mini-reviews to leave you with before I go away on holiday:

  • My Life is Murder (Australia: Ten; UK: Alibi)
    Lucy Lawless is a former top cop whose ex-colleagues refuse to let her talents go to waste so keep roping her into investigations
  • Pandora (US: The CW)
    A young woman is orphaned by evil aliens, so she signs up to join the fight against them. Except maybe all is not what it seems
  • The Unsettling (US: Awesomeness TV)
    A teenage girl arrives at her new remote foster home. Soon, strange things start to happen around her.
  • Pearson (US: USA)
    Suits spin-off that follows Gina Torres to Chicago where she becomes a political operative.

What do they all have in common? Well, they all involve “speaking the plot out loud”.

All that after the jump…

My Life Is Murder
Lucy Lawless in Ten (Australia)’s My Life is Murder

My Life is Murder

In Australia: Wednesdays, 8.40pm, Ten
In the UK: Acquired by Alibi. Will air in September

Lucy Lawless (Xena: Warrior Princess, Battlestar Galactica) is a former top Melbourne cop who for as-yet-unexplained reasons that may involve inheriting some money, possibly from her dead husband, no longer is a cop and is a sort of private investigator.

She spends most of her time fixing a German bread-making machine – and waiting for various of her ex-colleagues to either bring her cases (Bernard Curry) or help her (Ebony Vagulans).

The show skirts a difficult boundary between “yes, this is serious. Look how sad she is at sleeping alone!” and “can we get Lucy Lawless to show off that she can speak German quite well, even if it means we have to endure nonsense about this bread-maker’s manual only being in German and a German company only having a customer service department in Germany that only speaks in German?”

But it does that reasonably well and the first episode does manage to inject some reasonable PI smarts in-between everyone telling each other who they are and what’s going on so that viewers aren’t confused for even a nanosecond. Having the case revolve around a male escort and the female gaze is also a novel touch.

My Life is Murder

The show also functions as a slight tourism ad for Melbourne, since many scenes are there to show off the city’s highlights. Again, that said, the show is unashamedly Australian, from making Lawless put on an Australian accent to making questions about whether a character’s from Perth or Melbourne substantive, and requiring the audience to know which coast which city is on (are they on coasts? Don’t look! Just answer!)

I quite enjoyed this, but there’s nothing really substantial enough or different enough to it that I’ll be catching up with it after my holidays.

Pandora

In the US: Sundays, 9pm, The CW
In the UK: Not yet acquired.

Set in the year 2199, Pandora is a science fiction action series about a resourceful young woman who has lost everything but finds a new life at Earth’s Space Training Academy, where she and her friends learn and train to defend the galaxy from threats, both alien and human.

The first episode is pretty bad. It feels aimed at woke 12 years old, with everyone at Space Academy possessing a different back story and diversity point that they have to tell everyone every five minutes. It’s like At Last the 1948 Show Yorkshireman sketch in space (“I’m discriminated against because I’m telepathic!” “Well, that’s nothing. I used to be a slave and then I escaped!” “Ha! You think you’ve got it bad! My people are all war criminals who killed all your parents and now no one will be my friend!”)

Training largely involves cliques and turning up to class late to be sneered at by professors. But then the gang all go off on jolly japes together, commandeering faster-than-light spaceships as you do.

To its credit, there is a bucketload of sci-fi in there, from virtual reality and cloning yourself for spare parts to wormholes and AI.

Trouble is, the human-factor is unbearably bad. It’s got 3.9 on IMDb – take that as a hint.

The Unsettling

The Unsettling

In the US: AwesomenessTV. Just not yet
In the UK: Not yet acquired

Page from The Americans is now a foster child who needs a new home. So naturally she gets given a home in the most remote, most obviously supernatural location in America. Things start to go bump in the night. Could it be the fault of the scary-looking kid who stares out of windows in a clichéd horror style?

You betcha.

This gets 5.2 on IMDb. Again, that’s your clue that this is generic horror at its most generic.

Pearson

In the US: Wednesdays, USA, 10/9c
In the UK: Not yet acquired

Suits was an interesting show when it started. Originally intended to be about investment bankers, it swapped to the more conventional lawyering. But uniquely, it ended up being all about the strategies lawyers deploy out of court to avoid having a judge or jury decide their case’s merits. It was a fascinating game of real-life psychological chess

Unfortunately, it descended into soap and I gave up by the point Gina Torres’ character left. So I missed the Suits backdoor pilot for this show, in which she moves to Chicago. From what I gather from this, that pilot was a bit of lie, since she was originally going to be a lawyer here. Now it turns out that she’s going into politics.

So again, we’ve had a change of scene and just as it’s hard to imagine Suits as a show about bankers instead of lawyers, so it’s hard to imagine Suits as a show about politics, even when we have it right here in front of us.

The whole thing is hugely confusing from the beginning, since this episode assumes we’ve watched that pilot episode as well as chunks of Suits as well. The jumbled up timeline didn’t help matters, and I had no idea who knew whom, how they knew one another, whether it was all backstory or actual story from Suits.

I mean every single character was perfectly willing to spend their time telling me, rather than acting naturally, but that still didn’t help.

More to the point, it assumes that you’ll want to watch a dark show about nefarious politicking – because, hey, it’s Chicago and everything’s corrupt there, right? – that’s got almost nothing to do with Suits and has a male cast that all seem to be clones of Rahm Emanuel.

I found it largely unwatchable and uninteresting, despite the presence of both Torres and DB Woodside. Oh well. Another new show not to have to watch after holidays then.

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