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December 1, 2014

Preview: Space: 1999 - The Bringers of Wonder (Special Edition)

Posted on December 1, 2014 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Space: 1999 - Bringers of Wonder

Space: 1999 - Bringers of Wonder

Starring: Barbara Bain, Martin Landau
Price: £13
Released: December 8 2014

Today is a day of firsts. Not only is it December 1st, the first day of Advent, it’s also the first time since I started this blog up way back in 2005 (gosh, nearly 10 years ago!) that I’ve published a guest post. Isn’t that amazing?

This first guest post is by noted author and critic Mr James Cooray Smith, who has bitten the bullet and done something I could never do: watch Space: 1999 again. In this case, he’s watched the forthcoming limited edition Blu-ray release of the show’s only ever two-part episode, The Bringers of Wonder, as well as the cinema version of said two-parter, Destination Moonbase Alpha - get it while it’s hot, because only 1,999 copies of this are being produced.

After the jump, Jim will let you know what he thinks and reveals that the show is officially considered a form of torture in the US. Before then, here’s a trailer, and if you’re feeling brave, I’ve also provided the two episodes in question, so you can see what you’re going to get (NB: watching the episodes may be considered illegal under Geneva conventions of all kinds):

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November 19, 2014

Review: State of Affairs 1x1 (US: NBC)

Posted on November 19, 2014 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

State of Affairs

In the US: Mondays, 10/9c, NBC

Katherine Heigl has been a movie star for so long, it’s hard to remember that she made it big on TV first. Sure, she was something of a teen movie doyenne, playing both Steven Seagal and Gerard Depardieu’s daughters in Under Siege 2 and My Father, The Hero respectively, but it was in first Roswell and then Grey’s Anatomy that she really got noticed, before eventually hitting the big time in Knocked Up.

Unlike most of the world, tired of the endless series of identikit rom-coms that have characterised her career since and aware of her ‘difficult’ reputation, I have a lot of time for Heigl. She’s done her best to change the rom-com dynamic, trying to inject some feminism and even some swearing so that women aren’t continually gentrified and oppressed by the genre. But she could certainly do better than 27 Dresses for starters.

Apparently, she thinks so, too, which is why she’s returned to TV to do something completely different: playing a gun-toting CIA analyst in State of Affairs. Something of a melange of everything from Homeland through The Threat Matrix (bet you thought no one would mention that show again), it sees Heigl advising her former mother-in-law-to-be - the US president (Alfre Woodard) - about the top threats facing the United States’ interests around the world, be it abducted doctors in Africa or Islamist terrorists… in Africa. And along the way, she’ll have to face politics, in-fighting, special forces, psychiatrists, security teams and someone who knows her dirty little secret.

And although pretty much every aspect of the show has been put through the NBC low-quality “generification machine”, if you were expecting it to be an epic disaster that would maintain Heigl’s status as a hate figure in the entertainment industry, you’d be surprised, since it’s okay. It’s not great, but compared to what it could have been, it’s a slight eye-opener.

Here’s a trailer.

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November 6, 2014

Review: The McCarthys 1x1 (US: CBS)

Posted on November 6, 2014 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

The McCarthys

In the US: Thursdays, 9.30/8.30c, CBS

With diversity being the touchstone topic of the fall season, I think it’s instructive to have a look at what CBS produces when it tries to do diversity (that’s CBS, the home of Big Bang Theory, Two Broke Girls, Two and a Half Men et al).

Let’s start with some clues: The McCarthys is set in Boston. That’s your first bit of diversity right there - it’s not New York or Los Angeles. And it’s all about a great big Irish Catholic family, who love JFK and the Celtics and all live on the same block. Can you feel the diversity yet?

Well, one of the sons - there are three sons, one daughter (how’s that for diversity?) - is gay. Ooh. Yes, on CBS. And you know he’s gay because he likes The Sound of Music, his best friend is his mum and he doesn’t like sports, unlike his straight brothers and straight sister. Yes, his sister plays basketball with her brothers but being gay means not even knowing after 20+ years in this family that the Celtics are the ones in green.

Unfortunately, gay son (he needs no name other than that) is heading off to Rhode Island (shock! horror! away from Boston) to be a counsellor at a private school and be part of the vibrant Rhode Island gay scene and maybe meet someone, since it’s kind of hard to do that with his stifling family. But his family don’t want him to leave, so they organise him a big gay party so he can meet other gay men (or men who look gay… or lesbians who look like men).

That doesn’t work. But then his dad, who is the coach of a high school basketball team, discovers a potential new recruit’s lesbian mother is only going to allow her son to sign if the school is down with the diversity thing - so the dad tells her that his gay son is actually the basketball team’s assistant coach.

Laughs? There were few and even the best of them were based on stereotypes (“Vibrant gay community? Aren’t all gay communities vibrant?”). But only a few.

There are a few points where the humour doesn’t involve stereotypes and it even tries to subvert stereotypes at times - gay son actually turns out to have a natural talent for basketball. But only a few, amidst the fighting, candle-lighting, loud-mouthed, basketball-loving Irish, flamboyant, sexless gay men, masculine lesbians - and non-existent non-white characters.

I do hope CBS gets better with practice…

A few trivia points to leave you with

  1. The show has premiered to the worst ratings of the season. It’s doomed.
  2. It was originally intended to be a single camera comedy, but that made it ‘too dark’.
  3. Gay son is played by Tyler “son of John” Ritter, Laurie Metcalf (Roseanne) plays the mother
  4. Apart from Jimmy Dunn and Joey McIntyre, who have the benefit of coming from Massachusetts, not one member of the cast, main or supporting, deemed it necessary to effect a Boston accent.

Here’s a trailer. It’s literally everything of note in the first episode, so that should save you some time.

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