US TV

Review: Perry Mason (US: HBO; UK: Sky Atlantic)

In the US: Sundays, 9pm, HBO
In the UK: Mondays, 2am, Sky Atlantic

The peak of Perry Mason’s fame has long passed. From his origination in the stories and movies of the 1930s, through the radio series of the 40s/50s and 50s/60s TV series with Raymond Burr to the 80s/90s TV movie revival of said series with Raymond Burr, the public’s familiarity with the dazzling defence lawyer is diminishing, as old age claims those who loved him when they were younger.

So to a certain extent, the makers of this prequel mini-series could do what they wanted – who remembers enough about Mason that they’ll quibble (or at least care about) the lack of faithfulness to the source material?

Even more so, the books at least are very unspecific about Mason and his background. There are a couple of references here and there, but for the most part, Mason is a cipher, an idea – he’s a lawyer on the side of good who’ll defend the innocent, investigate the truth and win all his cases, with the assistance of secretary Della Street and detective Paul Drake.

But given that those are the core ideas of Mason that those who know Mason will remember, you have to wonder why for this prequel Perry Mason mini-series, the show’s producers have opted to portray Mason as a Depression era, down-at-heel, hard-boiled, largely conscienceless private eye who exploits the weak and innocent and only shows up in a court room as a witness or defendant.

Couldn’t they just have adapted something by Dashiell Hammett instead? It’s not like they were stumped for options

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Internet TV

Third-episode verdict: Space Force (Netflix)

In the UK: Available on Netflix

It’s one of the clichés of modern times that the Trump presidency is beyond satire – it’s so inherently ridiculous that nothing satirists can do can possibly trump Trump.

That’s not quite true. Plenty of shows mock Trump every day and we’ve had the likes of the self-explanatory Our Cartoon President (US: Showtime) built entirely around sending him up. The Good Fight (US: CBS All Access; UK: More 4) has also done a decent job of mocking Trump’s input into the US’s legal and political systems:

However, most of the mockery is largely targeted at the man himself. His policies, meanwhile, are normally so horrifying that no one can think of anything funny to say in response. Maybe in that sense Trump might be beyond satire.

So you’ve got to hand it to Netflix’s new comedy, Space Force, for at least trying to satirise an actual policy position of Donald Trump – namely Space Force, for those of us who have been avoiding the news as much as possible. The question is: is this first real stab at Trumpian policy satire good or even funny?

Steve Carell and Lisa Kudrow in Space Force

A space force to be reckoned with?

Co-created by and starring Steve Carrell (The Office (US), Anchorman, The Daily Show, The Morning Show), Space Force sees Carrell playing a newly promoted 4* Air Force general at the height of his game. His predecessor and general bête noire Noah Emmerich (The Americans, The Spy) is about to retire and Carrell is set to replace him.

However, almost immediately, Carrell learns he is instead set to head up and largely create from scratch Trump’s Space Force, with the perpetual aim of ‘boots on the Moon by 2024’! That means moving to Colorado, something about which his wife, Lisa Kudrow (Friends), and teenage daughter (Diana Silvers) are not 100% jubilant.

Soon, Carrell is butting heads not just with chief scientist John Malkovich but with science itself, as he learns that reality has a liberal bias.

Continue reading “Third-episode verdict: Space Force (Netflix)”
International TV

What have you been watching? Including The Secrets She Keeps and Penny Dreadful: City of Angels

It’s “What have you been watching?”, your chance to recommend to fellow TMINE readers anything you’ve been watching this week

Previously on TMINE

Look at that. I reviewed some tele. It’s almost like this is a TV blog or something. This week, I’ve let you know all about One Lane Bridge (New Zealand: TVNZ1) and Defending Jacob (Apple TV+). But that’s not all I’ve watched…

Rashida Jones and Kenya Barris in Netflix’s #blackAF

Next on TMINE

Coming up after the jump, I’ll be reviewing The Secrets She Keeps (Australia: Ten; UK: BBC Four) and Penny Dreadful: City of Angels (US: Showtime; UK: Sky Atlantic). But there’s more TV on the way this week – as usual, though, Covid-19 rules apply to the following new shows: I have every intention of watching all of them, but might not be able to, for one reason or another.

In the US, HBO will be giving us skating show Betty but that’s about it. However, on the streaming services, Netflix will be offering us Summertime, Almost Happy, Hollywood, and Into The Night, while Apple TV+ gives us its first UK show, Trying. Meanwhile, Amazon has Upload for us.

I’ve also just noticed that Amazon now has season 3 of Baron Noir (France: Canal+). I’d love to watch that but you can only rent or buy it, and I’m cheap. You might not be, though.

I’m going to try at least one of those, I reckon. Maybe more. How about you?

The regulars

After the jump, it’s the usual regulars: For Life, Mystery Road, What We Do In The Shadows and Westworld. See you in a mo!

Continue reading “What have you been watching? Including The Secrets She Keeps and Penny Dreadful: City of Angels”
Michelle Dockery, Jaeden Martell and Chris Evans in Defending Jacob
Internet TV

Boxset Tuesday: Defending Jacob (Apple TV+)

In the UK: Available on Apple TV+

Defending Jacob is one of those shows that you can only imagine is intended more as a statement piece than as a draw for your fledging streaming service. A ‘prestige TV’ mini-series adaptation of William Landay’s novel of the same name, with an all star cast that includes Chris Evans (Captain America), Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey, Good Behavior) and JK Simmons (Counterpart, Whiplash), it’s a solid meat-and-two-veg legal drama that provides a perfectly reasonable number of thrills without anything remarkable ever happening.

As such, it feels more like Apple saying: “This is a high-quality, but unchallenging show for what we imagine are normal people. Don’t worry, guys – it’s all going to be good stuff here, but it’s not all going to be liberal stuff like The Morning Show, challenging stuff like Servant or amazing, mind-blowing stuff like See… What do you mean See was awful?”

The clue is in the title

The first three episodes, partly told in flashback through grand jury proceedings, see Evans playing an assistant district attorney in a small town. Together with his charity worker wife (Dockery), they’re raising their perfectly normal if socially awkward son Jacob (Jaeden Martell) in reasonable harmony, going through all the same sorts of issues as anyone else raising a teenage boy in a small American town.

Then the whole community is shocked when someone in Jacob’s year is found murdered. Evans is assigned the case, and quickly hones in on a local sex criminal (Daniel Henshall) as a prime suspect.

However, soon, there are whisperings among the kids of Jacob’s year that maybe it was Evans’ son who was responsible. Before you know it, evidence is starting to mount up against Jacob, forcing Evans to have to… well, you can guess from the title.

Continue reading “Boxset Tuesday: Defending Jacob (Apple TV+)”
International TV

What have you been watching? Including #blackAF and Mrs America

It’s “What have you been watching?”, your chance to recommend to fellow TMINE readers anything you’ve been watching this week

Previously on TMINE

It’s been another busy week for TMINE, but I have managed to eke out the time needed to review The Baker and the Beauty (US: ABC). Meanwhile, temporary new film review feature Covideodrome was inaugurated with Sliding Doors (1998).

Rashida Jones and Kenya Barris in Netflix’s #blackAF

Next on TMINE

Coming up after the jump, I’ll be reviewing Mrs America (US: Hulu; UK: BBC Two) and #blackAF (Netflix). But as usual, Covid-19 rules apply to the following new shows: I have every intention of watching all of them, but might not be able to, for one reason or another.

I’ve finally managed to track down The Secrets She Keeps (Australia: Ten; UK: BBC Four), which will be getting a review later in the week. Elsewhere down under, over in New Zealand, One Lane Bridge has just started, so I’ll be giving that a watch if possible.

On the streaming services, Season two of After Life will be arriving on Netflix on Friday, while Defending Jacob is Apple TV+’s new Friday show. I’ll probably watch at least a bit of them. Monday’s Never Have I Ever (Netflix) sounds a bit YA for me, but I might give it a try, too.

Lastly, in the US, Penny Dreadful: City of Angels (US: Showtime) is arriving on Sunday, but despite the presence of Natalie Dormer in the cast, I’m not sure I can be bothered with this, given I wasn’t the greatest fan of Penny Dreadful.

But that looks like about it.

Sofia Helin and Aaron Pedersen in Mystery Road

The regulars

I haven’t watched any more Tales From The Loop, but other than that, it’s the usual regulars after the jump: For Life, Transplant, and Westworld, as well as the season/series finales of Devs and War of the Worlds.

But two previous regulars have returned this week, so I’ll also be covering What We Do In The Shadows (US: FX; UK: BBC Two) and Mystery Road (Australia: ABC; UK: BBC Four), too.

Continue reading “What have you been watching? Including #blackAF and Mrs America”