Audrey Fleurot and Marie Dompnier in season 2 of Les témoins (Witnesses)
International TV

What have you been watching? Including Les témoins (Witnesses), There’s… Johnny! and Babylon Berlin

It’s “What have you been watching?”, your chance to recommend anything you’ve been watching this week

With Thanksgiving largely knocking the US schedules for six last week, I’ve had the chance to play a bit of catch up. Okay, so Netflix played sneaky and released both Godless and Spike Lee’s update of She’s Gotta Have It, but fingers crossed, I’ll be able to have watched one (or even both) of those this week in time for next week’s Boxset Monday.

Elsewhere, I passed third-episode verdicts on Frankie Drake Mysteries (Canada: CBC; UK: Alias) and No Activity (US: CBS All Access) and reviewed the first episode of The Indian Detective (Canada: CTV; UK: Netflix). Tomorrow, I’m going to either review the first episode of or pass a fourth-episode verdict on Marvel’s Runaways (US: Hulu), depending upon how tolerable it is (“Six diverse teenagers who can barely stand one another must unite against a common foe… their parents” – this could be unbearable, but word-of-mouth seems good so far).

But it’s mainly the regulars I’ve had time for. After the jump, I’ll be casting my eye over the rest of the first seasons of Babylon Berlin and There’s… Johnny!. I’ll also be looking at the latest episodes of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, Mr Robot, SEAL Team and Travelers. We also steeled ourselves and finally got round to watching the series finale of Marvel’s Inhumans. Was it worth it? You’ll find out soon enough.

All that, after the jump, as well as a gander at one new(ish) show: Les témoins (Witnesses). See you in a mo, where you can tell us all what you watched, too. Go on – you know you want to.

Continue reading “What have you been watching? Including Les témoins (Witnesses), There’s… Johnny! and Babylon Berlin”

Playwright Joe Orton
BFI events

What TV’s on at the BFI in August 2017? Including What the Butler Saw and Strike: The Cuckoo’s Calling

Every month, TMINE lets you know what TV the BFI will be presenting at the South Bank in London

August is normally a quiet time for the BFI, as it gambles that everyone’s probably on holiday. Maybe this year it’s gambling that Brexit means we’ll not be able to afford to go on holiday, because there’s actually a surprisingly full schedule. Most of this comes from a season of works by playwright Joe Orton, but there’s also a preview of BBC One’s adaptation of Robert Galbraith (JK Rowling)’s first Cormoran Strike novel, The Cuckoo’s Calling, and a showing of ITV’s seminal The Naked Civil Servant.

Purely by coincidence, The Weekly Play this week is an adaptation of Orton’s final play, What the Butler Saw, which was broadcast as part of BBC Two’s Theatre Night in 1987. The play is a farce in two acts and revolves around Dr Prentice (Dinsdale Landen), a psychiatrist attempting to seduce his attractive prospective secretary, Geraldine Barclay (Tessa Peake-Jones). Also along for the ride are Mrs Prentice (Prunella Scales), her lover/blackmailer Tyler Butterworth, government inspector Timothy West and cross-dressing police officer Bryan Pringle.

Continue reading “What TV’s on at the BFI in August 2017? Including What the Butler Saw and Strike: The Cuckoo’s Calling”

Cardinal
Canadian TV

Review: Cardinal 1×1 (Canada: CTV/Super Écran; UK: BBC Four)

In Canada: Wednesdays, 10 pm ET/PT, CTV
In Canada (en Français): Thursdays, 10pm, Super Écran
In the UK: Acquired by BBC Four for broadcast in 2017

Nordic Noir has been a staple of our airwaves for almost exactly a decade now  – ever since Forbydelsen (The Killing) hit our screens in 2007, in fact. What exactly makes something a Nordic Noir? It seems an obvious question – a Noir-esque drama made in the Nordic regions – but if you Theseus paradox the whole situation, suddenly it’s not quite as clear.

For example, can a country outside the Nordic regions make a Nordic Noir? It seems so. After all, UK made its own version of the Wallander stories, and we’ve gone on to make Fortitude, The Tunnel (Tunnel) and Y Gwyll (Hinterland), all of which seem to be as close to Nordic Noir as you can get without everyone speaking a Scandinavian language – at least before Fortitude went a bit bonkers and sci-fi.

However, The Killing (US), Those Who Kill and The Bridge (US) were almost identikit versions of the originals yet still didn’t have the feel of Nordic Noir, so clearly there’s something in the country of origin and the US doesn’t seem to have it. But how about Canada, which like the UK and the Scandinavian countries seems so lovely and calm and dull on the exterior but is possibly a seething mass of darkness underneath all the bad weather? 

Enter Cardinal to help us test the paradox further.

Based on the first of Giles Blunt’s six ‘John Cardinal Mysteries’, Forty Words For Sorrow, the series stars Billy Campbell (Helix, The Killing (US), The Rocketeer) as the eponymous Cardinal, a Canadian police detective in the fictional Algonquin Bay, who investigates the disappearance of a young girl. Unable to find her, he goes off the rails and is demoted, but a year later, the body of the girl turns up and he is reassigned to what is now a murder case, working alongside new recruit Karine Vanasse (Pan Am, Revenge).

It would be tempting to think of this as a Canadian version of Forbydelsen (The Killing) and the rest of its ilk, since many of the hallmarks of the genre are all present and correct: troubled investigator; cunning serial killer; general sadness, isolation, coldness and gloominess; and a thorough mining of the emotions of death, particularly the death of a child, and its effects on a community.

But I think comparisons would be misleading since although it is still a Nordic Noir, this is very much a show creating its own sub-genre: Canadian Noir. Beautifully shot in the Ontario winter, this is clearly a Canadian show with Canadian concerns. The police are obviously Canadians, not Americans in disguise, right down to the RCMPs. The Québécoise Vanasse not only is allowed to keep her accent, she is actually playing a Québécoise rather than a French woman for a change. The missing girl is a First Nation child and some of the first episode is dedicated to whether she receive a traditional First Nation or a Christian funeral or not.

The show’s attempts at accurate depiction of Canadian police work also place it in the same court as the outstanding 19-2, which might now perhaps be considered a prototype of Canadian Noir. As well as being directed by Podz, who directed both the French version of the show, as well as the outstanding single-take tracking shot in the English-language version…

…19-2 has a similar, major theme: (spoiler) an internal investigation of the lead character by the partner. Whether that’ll become a defining feature of Canadian Noir remains to be seen.

The show’s high production values, general timbre, decent acting, beautiful direction and beautiful location filming do go a long way to cover up the fact that the plot itself is a bit hackneyed. Sure, there are variations from the standard clichés, with Cardinal’s deep dark secret involving his wife turning out to be unique for a detective show. But it’s a serial killer being chased by an obsessed, unhappy cop, rather than a content family man tracking down a white-collar fraudster between the hours of nine to five on weekdays. It’s not that innovative.

All the same, Cardinal is the best new drama out of Canada since 19-2 and a worthy addition to the Nordic Noir catalogue. Fingers crossed for a UK airing.

News: more Cameron Terminator; more The Tunnel; new Witchblade; Raised by Wolves US; + more

Film

  • James Cameron and Tim Miller to conclude The Terminator franchise

Film trailers

  • Trailer for Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur

UK TV shows

New UK TV shows

US TV

US TV show casting

New US TV shows

  • History developing: anti-heroes anthology series, Travis Fimmel to play Wyatt Earp
  • NBC developing: adaptation of Witchblade
  • green lights: pilot of mixed-race, coming-of-age 1980s comedy, with Isabella Russo
  • CBS green lights: pilot of 50-year-life comedy Me, Myself and I
  • Jaunt developing: The Lawnmower Man TV series; abandoned lunar base action-thriller Luna; politics and immortality series The Enlightened Ones; stoner comedy Bad Trip; and robot hero quest Miss Gloria
  • ABC developing: adaptation of Channel 4’s Raised by Wolves

New US TV show casting