An archive of blog entries about Italian TV programmes and production
It’s “What have you been watching?”, my chance to tell you what movies and TV I’ve been watching recently that I haven’t already reviewed and your chance to recommend things to everyone else (and me) in case I’ve missed them.
The usual “TMINE recommends” page features links to reviews of all the shows I’ve ever recommended, and there’s also the Reviews A-Z, for when you want to check more or less anything I’ve reviewed ever.
Look at that – Autumn’s here. How did that happen?
Anyway, just as leaves will fall and everyone in the US is now morally obliged to stop wearing white, so TMINE returns to its usual blogging service come Autumn. More or less. Give it a week or so, anyway.
However, although I’m braced and ready for duty, the TV networks are biding their time, deploying some sophisticated form of Sicilian Defence with their schedules, which means there’s not been a lot new for me to review since the previous WHYBW?, other than the somewhat awful Four In The Morning (Canada: CBC) and a whole bunch of Amazon pilots. A few old favourites have returned, though, which means that after the jump, as well as The Last Ship and Mr Robot, I’ll be casting an eye over the first new episodes of the third seasons of Halt and Catch Fire and You’re The Worst, as well as the start of season two of Narcos.
I did manage to look over a couple of new shows, fresh off the presses, though.
En Immersion (Deep) (France: Arte; UK: Netflix)
Stylised French crime drama from Philippe Haïm (Braquo) in which Patrick Ridremont (Dead Man Talking) plays an unambitious cop and single father living in Paris. When he starts to suffer hallucinations, he discovers he is suffering from an incurable fatal neurological disease. With nothing left to lose, Ridremont joins a team of undercover narcotics agents led by Emmanuelle Meyssignac (The Avignon Prophecy), working to bring down Olivier Chantreau (Spiral) and his designer drugs.
As you can probably guess from the fact it was made for France’s arty Arte, En Immerson is more about how the story is told than what the story is, with the series shot in black and white and Haïm at times replacing dialogue with music. Visually, it’s lovely, but unfortunately, it’s also completely uncompelling, not exactly innovative in terms of plotting, and its Braquo-esque ultraviolence is as hard to palate.
The Collection (Amazon)
Set in France just after the Second World War, The Collection sees Richard Coyle (Coupling, Crossbones, Covert Affairs) playing the owner of a fashion house that is going to give France a makeover and once more associate it with fun, haute couture and femininity. Trouble is that the talented one who can design clothes is his f*ck-up brother Tom Riley (Da Vinci’s Demons). How can the ruthless Coyle get little bro with the programme, while preventing the deep, dark, possibly wartime-collaborating family secret from seeing the light of day? Well, it ain’t going to be pretty…
Echoing the latter day production arrangements of Ripper Street, it’s an odd little thing, this, with a whole host of American actors playing moustache-twirling Americans (including Mr Robot/The Newsroom‘s Mamie Gummer), a whole host of Britain’s finest (including James Cosmo, Sarah Parish and Frances De La Tour) playing the French and a soupçon of French actors in teeny tiny unnoticable parts playing god-knows-what, with virtually every exterior shot of post-war Paris apparently shot on the same repeatedly redressed backlot in Grimsby. Coyle is as well cast as when he was a pirate or KGB assassin, and everything has the authenticity of a Hong Kong market knock off.
There’s too little fashion to please fashionistas, too little charm or romance to please the period drama-lovers, too little action to please thriller-lovers and too little attention to detail to please historians. The Collection‘s not awful and is competently made, but there’s no USP, nothing it does that you won’t have seen done better elsewhere, no reason for its existence other than to keep another BBC Worldwide co-production agreement going. Try it if you like, but I doubt it’ll be your size.
But hey guys! This is ‘What have you been watching?’! Note the emphasis on you. Over the weeks and years, some of you have rather benevolently been letting the rest of us know about the good stuff we’ve been missing that I haven’t been picking up on. Just in case you were worried it’s all been falling on deaf ears, you can breathe more easily: in my quest to fill the empty gaps in my viewing schedule, I also looked through your recommendations to find some new shows to try. Here’s what I found.
Neviditelní (The Invisibles) (Czech Republic: CT1; UK: All4)
One of JustStark’s recommendations, this quirky little fantasy drama based very loosely on 1970s movie How to Drown Dr Mrácek is centred on the ‘Nixies’, a bunch of water-breathing people living amongst us – or at least in Prague – but doing their best not to be found out. Then one of their own, albeit someone who doesn’t know he’s a Nixie, goes and publicly commits suicide by drowning. When he promptly fails to die to everyone’s surprise, including his own, a crisis is provoked in the Nixie community.
I haven’t got very far into it yet and the early episodes are less concerned with dynamic storytelling and more with setting up this quaint community, its politics and its rules, from its attempts to attain power through ownership of the water and sewage system through to its attitudes to bleach and its love of fermented frogs. But it’s pleasingly off the wall and amusing, and it’s significantly better once the fallout of the suicide starts, so I’ll stick with it.
No English-language trailers available on YouTube, but you can find out more over on All4, and here’s a Czech one:
Gomorra (Gomorrah) (Italy: Sky Atlantic; UK: Sky Atlantic)
One of GYAD’s recommendations, Gommora is based on the book of the same name by Roberto Saviano. Again, one I’ve not got very far into yet – there are two seasons so far, so give me time – it’s so far been a reasonably and impressively violent but smart look at the Naples mafia, wars between gangs and mafia operations at the street level. It certainly looks fantastic and the differences between UK and Italian societies, such as the greater availability of guns through official channels, take the show in unexpected directions, too. I’m not 100% in love with it yet, but I’ve been seeing it get a lot of love on Twitter, where it’s been described as almost poetic at times and comparisons have been made to The Wire, and what I’ve seen so far has been good enough to make me want to watch more, so I’ll be sticking with it as well.