ABC's The Mayor
US TV

Preview: The Mayor 1×1 (US: ABC)

In the US: Tuesdays, 9.30/8.30c, ABC. Starts October 3

For much of the past year, there’s been an ongoing race to see which TV show will be the undoubted first of ‘the Trump era’. Did The Good Fight get there first with its inclusion of the Trump inauguration, alt-right characters and people being discriminated against for voting Trump? Arguably not, as it wasn’t really about Trump.

How about any of the legion of forthcoming military shows due on US screens within the month? Are they going to claim the title by arguing that they speak to conservative concerns?

If they do, they’ll be too late because we now have The Mayor. On the face of it, it’s an unlikely winner, given it’s about a small-time Californian rapper (Search Party‘s Brandon Micheal Hall) hoping to hit the big time. However, Hall decides to boost his career by entering his city’s mayoral elections. His ignorance of policy shines through at debates, much to the disgust of his opponent’s totally clued in and competent manager (Glee‘s Lea Michele).

But his appeal to ‘the common man’ nevertheless means that when election day rolls round, he actually wins the contest he had no intention of winning and has to become mayor.

“Did the Russians hack the voting machines?” asks his best friend and campaign manager.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner. The Mayor is ‘Trump Show: The First’.

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The Good Doctor
US TV

Preview: The Good Doctor (US: ABC; UK: Sky Living)

In the US: Mondays, 10/9c, ABC. Starts September 25
In the UK: Acquired by Sky Living to air in Autumn

Back in 2014, I made a confident prediction:

I’m confidently predicting synesthesia as the TV Aspergers for 2015. All the shows will be doing it soon – you’ll see.

I wasn’t 100% on the money, but synesthesia did pop up in a few shows and CBS did try a synesthesia pilot back in 2016.

However, my unspoken assumption was that TV was so over Aspergers. It was done with it. It had been in everything already, so now was the time to find something newer and groovier for TV drama to work with.

Oops. My bad. Here we are, at the start of the 2017-2018 US TV season, and we have ABC(US)’s The Good Doctor, which is centred on an Aspie. Yep, following all the lovely racial and sexual diversity work ABC’s been successfully glopping out onto people’s screens for the past few years, it’s now the turn of us ‘disableds’ for a bit of special treatment. It’s nice but it does feel a bit 2013 all the same.

Freddie Highmore (Bates Motel) is the central Aspie of the piece. He’s just starting out at a prestigious hospital as a surgical resident. So far, so uncontroversial.

However, forget 2013 – it’s almost like the past 10 years haven’t happened for The Good Doctor, because even though Abed’s been making movies on NBC’s Community and Ben Affleck rolling-pinned his way into the special forces in The Accountant, ABC isn’t quite sure if Aspies can hold down a job…

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Midnight, Texas
US TV

Review: Midnight, Texas (US: NBC; UK: Syfy)

In the US: Mondays, 10/9c, NBC
In the UK: Thursdays, 9pm, Syfy. Starts tonight!

Every so often, someone has the bright idea of taking all manner of previously separated supernatural beasties and sticking them together. Universal is trying it right now at the movies with Dracula, The Mummy, et al, with almost no success, but cast your mind back just a little bit and you’ll remember Sky/Showtime’s Penny Dreadful, which brought together the likes of Frankenstein, his monster, Dr Jekyll and Dorian Grey.

Cast your mind ever further back and you’ll hit HBO’s True Blood, which gave us a world populated by vampires and subsequently fairies, et al, as the series progressed, and when you hit 2010, you’ll come across The Gates, an almost forgotten ABC show about a gated community in which vampires, werewolves and the like all tried to co-exist peacefully, but usually failing miserably in the attempt.

Now NBC is giving it a whirl, this time by following the True Blood route of adapting a series of Southern-set Charlaine Harris books. Here, the eponymous Midnight, Texas is merely an informal point where over the years, all manner of “different” people have decided to settle down. As well as having its own Hellmouth™, there’s

  • An energy- and blood-sucking, blue-eyed vampire Peter Mensah (Spartacus)
  • Local vicar Yul Vazquez (Seinfeld) is a werewolf
  • Tattooist Jason Lewis (Sex and the City) is a fallen angel, albeit one who hasn’t gone to Hell
  • Parisa Fitz-Henley (Jessica Jones, Luke Cage) is a witch with a talking cat, albeit not a teenage one
  • Arielle Kebbel (90210) is a freelance assassin with no apparent special power other than to run around in a bikini with a bow and arrow
  • Potentially all manner of other, equally odd individuals

All seems quiet, even when the Sons of Lucifer are around. But then along into town comes psychic François Arnaud (The Borgias), persuaded by his fraudulent fortune-telling dead grandmother that he’s better off hiding out in Midnight, Texas, from whomever’s after him.

Unfortunately, just as Arnaud turns up, someone is murdered and before you know it, the police are investigating, sometimes with the help of Arnaud and his ability to speak to and raise the dead. Will they discover the town’s great big secret? And if they do, what will the denizens do to ensure their secret is kept safe?

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Will on TNT
US TV

Third-episode verdict: Will (US: TNT)

In the US: Mondays, 9pm (ET/PT), TNT
In the UK: Not yet acquired

It’s no coincidence that the best moment in the third episode of Will was a straight lift of the famous opening scene of Trainspotting, complete with Iggy Pop’s ‘Lust for Life’ playing in the background, since it’s a show that very much excels when it remembers to have a lust for life. Unfortunately, when it forgets that zest, it becomes just an ordinary, turgid period drama.

It’s a retelling of William Shakespeare’s ‘lost years’ when he first came to London, all given a punk make-over by Baz Luhrmann’s long-time writing partner Craig Pearce and Elizabeth‘s director Shekhar Kapur. Will‘s first episode is a truly exciting piece of work giving us a contemporary Elizabethan London, full of fire and joys and a Clash soundtrack, yet still clearly anchored in the history of the time. We get to see Shakespeare’s first (possible) play performed, while he does his best to hide his secret catholicism from the authorities, who include spy and writing rival Christopher Marlowe. There’s also a love interest to inspire him, although given he’s married to Anne Hathaway and has a whole bunch of kids, he’s torn between his new love and his catholic beliefs.

And it was all marvellously exciting in the same way A Knight’s Tale and Moulin Rouge were. Episode two (Cowards Die Many Times), however, was a far duller, joyless piece more interested in Marlowe’s pouting and Shakespeare’s potential as the leader of a Catholic uprising than life and theatre in all its glories. 16th century theatre as the punk rock of its time? Who cares when there’s torturing of the innocent to be had?

For about half of episode three (The Two Gentlemen), the show looked like it had lost its way and was continuing on the path set by episode two. But along came Iggy Pop (unfortunately without show co-star Ewen Bremner around to join in) and once again, all was right in the world, as Shakespeare learns that good artists borrow, great artists steal – in this case, literally – and before you know it, he’s crossing out the names from a Spanish book to give us The Two Gentlemen of Verona, all while Marlowe is having rampant gay orgies to try to inspire a Doctor Faustus out of himself.

Provided Will confines itself mainly to the man and his work while maintaining its fabulous punk aesthetic and appreciation for time, place and language, it’ll be must-see TV. It throws away dusty, tedious period dramas to give us something far more compelling and joyful that still manages to give us some actual history. But when it gets lured back into the ordinary and the conventional, it’s as unremarkable as John Ford.

Barrometer rating: ‘2 or about as good as John Barrowman’s appearance in Doctor Who

The Barrometer for Will

I'm Sorry
TV reviews

What have you been watching? Including I’m Sorry, Friends From College, GLOW and Game of Thrones

It’s “What have you been watching?”, my chance to tell you each week what movies and TV I’ve been watching recently and your chance to recommend anything you’ve been watching.

First up, it’s a warm welcome to the returning “TMINE recommends“, which went missing in action during the recent TMINE redesign while I worked out how to reproduce it in WordPress. To be honest, though, I hadn’t updated it in a couple of years, so it wasn’t quite as useful as it was before. But I spent a little bit of my weekend recommending things in the system, so it should now be as complete a list as it was in its glory days.

I’ve also been working on some variably useful A-Z indexes of reviews, including ones for all the TV reviews, audio play reviews and Internet TV reviews. More to come when I’m not exhausted. With all of these, though, I’ve yet to work out a good way of including the weekly mini-reviews from WHYBW, so they’re not 100% complete, but they’re the best they’ve ever been all the same.

Trawling through them reminded me of all manner of shows that I’d completely forgotten about, too. Remember Mr Sunshine and Pepper Dennis? Of course you don’t.

Right, now the admin’s out the way, let’s talk TV.

Things are starting to hot up again in TV around the world so expect some actual reviews later in the week and the start of next week. You’ll certainly be getting a third-episode verdict of Will tomorrow and I’ll probably be doing you a third-episode verdict of Snowfall next week, since I haven’t got round to watching last night’s episode yet. After the jump, I’ll be looking at the latest episodes of the now very short list of regulars: Ronny Chieng – International Student, Twin Peaks and the returning Game of Thrones. I’ve also managed to work my way through the whole of GLOW and I’ve tried two new shows: I’m Sorry (US: TruTV) and Friends From College (Netflix). See you on the other side!

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