I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider and the equally short-lived Death Ray and Filmstar magazines; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.
There is a line in Netflix’s Raising Dion that more or less sums up its raison d’être: “Moms aren’t any fun – that’s why they’re not in comics.” Certainly, if you look through the vast range of superhero comics, you’d be hard pressed to find many mums who aren’t dead and who are integral to the plots, other than (of course) in Wonder Woman.
Raising Dion is an attempt to counteract that – but simultaneously proof that there’s barely a genre on Earth that hasn’t now been cross-contaminated by the superhero genre. In this case, the genre is “heartwarming family tales about single black mums who try to raise their talented sons, and have to overcome all the obstacles that society – and men – can throw in their path”. It sounds niche, but there’s actually more stories like that then you might imagine.
Raising Dion, not Arizona
Adapted by Carol Barbee from Dennis Liu’s comic book (and short movie) of the same name, Raising Dion sees Alisha Wainwright (Shadowhunters) playing the former dancer turned single mum in question. She’s recently lost her scientist husband, Michael B Jordan (Creed, Black Panther), who apparently died rescuing a drowning woman during a recent storm.
Moving back to her old neighbourhood but a new home and putting her son into a good but virtually whites-only local school, she’s soon struggling to make ends meet and juggling the demands of working life with those of her seven year old son Dion (Ja’Siah Young). She gets some help from her doctor sister (Jazmyn Simon), as well as her new neighbourhoods, but principally she starts to lean on her husband’s nerdy engineer best friend Jason Ritter (Joan of Arcadia, The Class, Parenthood, The Event, Kevin (Probably) Saves the World), who also happens to be Dion’s godfather.
Dion’s demands only seem to increase. Not only does he have a racist principal and new enemies in the form of the cliquey skateboarders in his class, he soon starts to exhibit strange powers, such as the ability to levitate things, to teleport and even to heal things. Can Wainwright protect her son, keep his powers secret while helping him to control them, keep him in school and decide whether to start dating again, all while trying to get a job that will give her medical coverage?
I guess it’s just the typical story of a single mum’s life. Apart from the man made from lightning.
Every month, TMINE lets you know what TV the RTS will be presenting around the country
RTS is taking a leaf out of BAFTA’s book in terms of sneaking out events without telling anyone. Notably, tomorrow, at 6.30pm at 30 Euston Square, London NW1 2FB, it’s organising an exclusive screening of UKTV’s new crime drama, Traces. Not much notice, hey?
Anyway, said screening will be followed by a Q&A with cast and crew, as well as “lots of food, drink and forensic science!”
Why forensic science? Well, it’s based on an original idea by best-selling crime writer Val McDermid and explores the world of the Scottish Institute of Forensic Science and Anatomy.
Who are the cast and crew? Well, it’s written by Amelia Bullmore and directed by Rebecca Gatward and Mary Nighy. It stars Molly Windsor, Laura Fraser, Jennifer Spence, and Martin Compston, as well as Laurie Brett, Vincent Regan, Michael Nardone and John Gordon Sinclair.
Date: Tuesday 29 October Timings: 6.00pm for a 6.30pm start Venue: Curzon Soho, 99 Shaftesbury Avenue, London W1D 5DY
On behalf of the RTS, Vertigo Films and Neal Street Productions, we would like to invite you to an exclusive screening of Britannia Season 2 on Wednesday 29 October, ahead of its broadcast on Thursday 7 November on Sky Atlantic.
Following the screening of the first episode, there will be a Q&A with key cast and creatives behind the series, including Jez Butterworth, Tom Butterworth, David Morrissey, James Richardson, and key cast members.
Tickets for RTS Members are complimentary but must be booked in advance. Tickets for non RTS members are £10.
In the US: Wednesdays, 9pm, The CW In the UK: Not yet acquired
When it comes to books, today’s kids never had it so good. The range of fiction for children and young adults has never been so vast. Back when I was a kid, the choices were much more narrow, meaning my generation ended up reading more or less the exact same books as each other, and to some extent, previous generations.
The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew books were old when I was young, but we still all read them. Originally devised in the 1920s and updated with new books over the generations by a succession of authors using the pseudonyms Franklin W Dixon and Carolyn Keene, they featured teenage detectives solving crimes while dealing with standard teen issues – parents, boyfriends, girlfriends, parties and kidnappings.
Such perennial favourites were they that they had a 1970s TV series dedicated to them that naturally everyone my age watched. Perhaps because it featured teen heartthrob David Cassidy of The Partridge Family fame, but perhaps also because of its spooky title sequence.
However, what worked in the 20s, 50s and even 70s might not necessarily work now, as many a TV writer adapting classic formats has discovered. That hasn’t stopped people trying to find the magic formula.
There have been many attempts of late to adapt the Nancy Drew books in particular, with movies and TV pilots all trying to take the titian-haired teen detective and bring her up to date, leave her as she is with the world around her changed, and turn her into an adult.
Now we have the latest effort, which attempts to do for the Nancy Drew books what Riverdale successfully did for the Archie comics – bring her up to date and make her relevant to a young, spoilt-for-choice, modern audience, by Twin Peaks-ingher.