News and reviews of TV made by streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon and Disney+ that can be viewed in the UK
WHYBW is back to Mondays, so no new Debris to review this week. But I have been watching some new shows. It’s almost like old times, hey?
Kung Fu (US: The CW) isn’t so much a reboot or revival of the original 1970s show – or even Kung Fu: The Next Generation – as a complete reimagining, albeit with some similarities to the original. Set in modern times, it has a Chinese-American girl going on holiday to China, discovering it’s been organised as a marriage matchmaking by her mum, and does a Mulan – running of to join a local female-only Shaolin temple. After the temple gets burned down by an Evil Ex-Pupil and her Sifu killed, she heads off to the US and is reunited with her family. And is accompanied by the ghost/memory of her former master.
Sounds a bit familiar at least, to fans of the original, but there the similarities peter out, as our heroine firstly has to join forces with her (gay) brother, her Crazy Rich Asians computer hacker sister and the studly local youth centre T’ai Ch’i master to fight crime in San Francisco – particularly the gang boss who’s extorting her parents. Secondly, Evil Ex-Pupil is on the hunt for eight magic swords that will give her awesome magical powers, and our heroine might be the only one who can stop her – and might have magical powers herself.
It’s a slightly weird combo that actually just about works, although the kung fu is almost as bad as the original’s. The crime fighting and family relationships are more interesting than the magical side of things, which is just a bit bobbins. But the characters didn’t really engage me, so I won’t go past the first episode, I don’t think.
Jupiter’s Legacy (Netflix) is a massively more promising affair. Based on the graphic novel by Mark Millar, it’s a musing on… well, lots of things, TBH. It sees one generation of nearly immortal people given superpowers during the Great Depression having to deal with the fact in modern times that their kids have superpowers – and maybe different attitudes towards morality et al to them. Is killing always wrong, do they need a code to keep them in check, should they have intervened in World War 2 and stopped the Holocaust?
There are elements of Watchmen, The Boys and more in there, but this is very much its own beast. Its showrunner is Steven DeKnight, who was of course responsible for both season 1 of Daredevil (Netflix) and Spartacus, so you can probably tell this is a definite 18-certificate affair when it comes to the gore. As well as being pretty dark and as ‘realistic’ as something like this can be, though, it’s also pretty funny, has a great cast and has keep me interested for four episodes so far. I’ll let you know how the rest of it pans out.
Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet (Apple TV+) returned with a two-parter and was gloriously funny. The cast are the same but there has been some character movements – new pairings, some advances in relationships – but largely it’s the same show, mulling on the difficulties of creativity. It felt a bit more office comedy than before, with less on games per se, more on just general workplace difficulties. But the nastiness, smartness and general amusement were very much back in force.
Lastly, we have Amazon’s latest addition to its Tom Clancy collection, Without Remorse (2021), which is an origin story (set in modern times, nevertheless) for Clancy’s non-Jack Ryan anti-hero, John T Clark, that sees Michael B Jordan going from regular Navy SEAL-type to becoming a clandestine superman when his wife is predictably killed by Russian bad guys in retaliation for MBJ killing one of theirs, etc, etc.
Honestly, it was both dull and dark. Dark and dull. In that order. Very predictable, with everyone talking the talk and shooting the shot in a hope that all that manly super-efficiency at not having any emotions will compensate for not having any real personalities, characters or plot. This is despite again a decent cast, particularly, MBJ. You could see pretty much everything coming, right up to the creation of (spoiler alert) Rainbow Six right at the end, particularly as it was all shot like a video game.
But what did you watch?