Will on TNT
US TV reviews

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

E4's Crazyhead

News: Crazyhead cancelled; This Country renewed; Syfy’s book adaptations; young Meemaw found; + more

Internet TV



US TV show casting

New US TV shows

  • OWN developing: modern-day power couple light drama Love is ___
  • Syfy developing: adaptations of Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Cycle, Hugh Howey’s Sand, Kurt Vonnegut’s Sirens of Time and Roger Zelazny’s Lord of Light

New US TV show casting

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!

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

George Romero

Sadly, George Romero has died – but he’ll live on through his work… or zombification – one of the two

Yesterday wasn’t a good day for the great and the good. Martin Landau of Mission: Impossible and Space: 1999 fame passed on; Trevor Baxter – best known as Professor Litefoot from the Jago and Litefoot stories is no more, too.

But another great was lost to us, as well: George Romero, who basically invented the modern zombie drama and opened up the doors to other horror directors such as Sam Raimi and John Carpenter, too. See that Walking Dead? That’s there because of Romero. See that Ash vs the Evil Dead? Wouldn’t have happened without Romero’s Night of the Living Dead. Even subtler things, such as having women and minorities fighting back and being heroes in horror, you can trace a line back to Romero’s work to find their origins.

Night of the Living Dead started it all and it’s the one you should watch if you want to see what Romero achieved. Completed on a $114,000 budget, it grossed $12 million in the US and $18 million internationally and spawned five sequels. True, it’s basically what its own writer John Russo describes as a “rip-off” of  Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend, but does that matter? Not at all, because Night of the Living Dead is as much about look as plot, and it’s Romero’s direction that makes the movie something far more than a simple rip-off.

Oddly, the movie is now in the public domain. US copyright law used to require a copyright claim on a movie’s print for it to be copyrighted and a cock-up at the distributor meant that as the movie changed name from Night of the Flesh Eaters to Night of the Living Dead, someone forgot to include the credit. That means you can watch the whole movie guilt-free on YouTube. Although buy it if you like it , so that Romero’s estate gets something after all, hey?