Coroner
Canadian TV

Review: Coroner 1×1 (Canada: CBC; UK: Universal)

In Canada: Mondays, 9PM/9:30NT, CBC
In the UK: Mondays, 9pm, Universal. Starts January 21

By rights, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) should be the Canadian equivalent of our BBC. It does, after all, have a similar remit from its government. But without a licence fee, it has instead decided to become ITV, as far as I can see. Look at the vast bulk of its original programming and once you’ve pushed all the ITV-esque reality shows and competition shows out of your way, you’ll see:

  • Period dramas
  • Crime dramas
  • Period crime dramas

And most of those are female-led, too. Basically ITV.

Now we have CBC’s latest female-led crime drama, Coroner, based on the series of books by MR Hall, and if only it weren’t airing on Universal here, it would be a shoo-in for ITV.

Serinda Swan in Coroner
Serinda Swan in Coroner

Coroner Jenny Cooper

Serinda Swan (Breakout Kings, Tron: Legacy, Marvel’s Inhumans) plays former ER doctor Jenny Cooper, who decides after her husband dies that being a coroner is a better job option. As you do. Immediately heading up the entire department for some reason, she finds sloppy work and crotchety old men judging – yes, judging, I tell you – the deceased and so not doing proper autopsies. She decides to champion them, not only by doing great work, but solving all the murders in town instead of the police. Clearly, she’s been watching too much CSI.

Fortunately, to help her in her entirely off-job-description work, Canada’s “Roger Cross Full Employment Act” has ensured that detective Roger Cross (24, Continuum, Arrow, Dark Matter, The Strain, Motive, The Returned) is on hand and can offer some friendship/sexual frisson, too. In that latter role, he has a rival in the shape of hunky, former soldier, working class, French-Canadian Éric Bruneau (Tu m’aimes-tu?, Prémonitions, Mensonges), who seems to have nothing better to do all day than to do odd, heavy-lifting jobs for dead old women who can’t pay him and to smoulder.

Serinda Swan

Old and new

As you may have gathered from that, there’s nothing that new in the rundown for that and if it weren’t for its Canadian locale, I could have repeated that description and you’d have thought this was an adaptation of Patricia Cornwell’s Kay Scarpetta books. Indeed, there’s lots about Coroner that’s predictable.

Rather than the doting type, Swan’s husband was naturally a gambler who double-mortgaged the house, leaving Swan and son (Ehren Kassam) in dire financial straits, so that the audience can root for the underdog single mum. Crotchety old white men are only there so they can be fired by Swan to show how kick ass she is and so she can diversity-promote the hideously underqualified young black coroner (Slasher‘s Lovell Adams-Gray) she’s just met, without consideration of the staff’s workload with her off doing one autopsy a week at best.

Cross and the rest of the police naturally come round to appreciating how kick ass Swan is, too, and actively help her in doing their jobs for them. And Bruneau could have wandered in from any Nicholas Sparks book you came to mention, in between all his moody glowering and thinking about his dark past killing people as a soldier.

However, this is Canada and Coroner is consequently a bit quirkier and nicer than its US counterpart would have been – it’s nowhere near nudging Harrow‘s level of quirkiness but it does know how to crack jokes at least. The fact it’s based on some books means there’s a heightened level of dialogue compared to the average procedural, and there are amusing characters, too. Plus being Canada, even the bad guys give up without a fight or a curse word.

As with Motive, the plot is all about layered appreciation of victims and criminals. Episode one sees two kids seemingly kill themselves in a correctional facility in a recreation of Romeo and Juliet‘s suicide pact. As you might expect, there’s more to it than that and it’s definitely murder, so the kids are blameless. But along the way, we discover just how nice and smart young offenders are, even ones arrested for gang offences. All you need to do is let them perform a bit of Shakespeare and they’re sorted.

Éric Bruneau in Coroner

Éric Bruneau in Coroner

Conclusion

If you’re a fan of the genre, then Coroner is decent enough. Swan isn’t the most versatile or charismatic of actresses, but at least she’s better and has more fire than Frankie Drake‘s Lauren Lee Smith. The rest of the cast either do their given plot roles sufficiently well or inject some welcome humour into things. And the story of the first episode, at least, has a few twists and turns you might not be expecting.

Otherwise, this is interchangeable female-led procedural fare that won’t convert anyone to the genre.

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Elseworlds Flash
International TV

What have you been watching? Including Arrowverse crossover, Counterpart and Fortitude

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

Oops. Friday was busier than expected, which means last week lost out on having a WHYBW altogether. Sorry about that.

Still, here it is. As promised last time, I did manage to watch the first three episodes of Netflix’s Plan Cœur (The Hookup Plan), but I’ve yet to tuck into Dogs of Berlin.

Fortitude Season 3

Fortitude

I also made a start on the third, final season of Sky Atlantic’s Fortitude. However, since that’s gone both full-on horror and also become quite silly, with vampiric Californians doing live trepanning to achieve eternal youth, I decided to give up on it about three-quarters through the first episode – at the point when Detective Dan starts hugging and chatting to dead bodies, in fact.

I know it’s only four episodes long, so I might tune in for the final episode at some point, but The Killing Times is doing episodic reviews and since I’d rather not actually watch wasps stinging people’s eyeballs and ‘stabby shamanic sex’, I might just read those instead of watching it.

The Shape of Things To Come

With Christmas nearly upon us, most shows are winding up for the holidays, but last Thursday and Friday saw the unleashing of the third season of Travelers on Netflix, the second season of 4 Blocks on Amazon and the Christmas special of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, so I’m sure there’ll be plenty for me to chat about this week – perhaps for another WHYBW. I’m already up to the third episode of Travelers, so that’s promising at least. Boxset Thursday, anyone?

Counterpart also made its return last Sunday, so I’ll be chatting about the first two episodes of that after the jump, as well.

Counterpart season 2

And the regulars…

Also after the jump are my thoughts on the latest episodes of the few remaining regulars: Black Lightning, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, Happy Together, Magnum P.I. and Titans. I watched the second half of the first season of Nightflyers, so I’ll chat about that, too. And since the schedules were a little light last week, I thought I’d tune in for the annual crossover of a few of TMINE’s old regulars – Arrow, The Flash and Supergirl, which took a trip to some Elseworlds. More about that after the jump, too.

But no, I’ve still not watched Doctor Who. Maybe over Christmas.

Continue reading “What have you been watching? Including Arrowverse crossover, Counterpart and Fortitude”

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Sandrine Holt, Steve Zahn and Natalie Martinez in The Crossing
US TV

Third-episode verdict: The Crossing (US: ABC; UK: Amazon)

In the US: Mondays, 10/9c, ABC
In the UK: Tuesdays, Amazon

The Crossing started as a really quite basic allegory about modern day politics, in which a whole bunch of refugees are literally washed ashore in the US, only to reveal themselves as Americans travelling back in time to escape from a war they’re losing quite badly.

Come on, audience, feel some empathy for Syrians – there but for the grace of God go you.

For the most part, that was all it was, with small town sheriff Steve Zahn (Treme, Mind Games) and Department of Homeland Security agent Sandrine Holt (Hostages, House of Cards, MacgyverThe ReturnedThe Art of More) having to deal with the new Americans. Holt has to deal with the mystery of the refugees’ arrival, while Zahn has to deal with one particular refugee (APB‘s Natalie Martinez) who it turns out has superpowers – the war was actually between Homo Sapiens and a newly engineered master-race of Apex predators, of whom she is one.

Come on, white audience, feel some empathy for oppressed minorities – there but for the grace of God go you.

And it wasn’t very good. It was okay, but it wasn’t great sci-fi, Zahn was less than plausible as a sheriff and Holt just sat behind a desk answering phones for the most part. A hint that another bunch of time travellers had already come through a good deal earlier gave the ending a nice twist, but beyond Martinez and her super-leaping, that was about it.

A mild improvement

Since then, things have got a bit better, as we’ve moved away from the allegory into telling more of a story. Episode two gave us some glimpses at the Continuum-like future and revealed Martinez’s mission in the past. We also got a super-virus that the world needs to watch out for.

While Zahn and Holt have had the same duties as before, Martinez has had some really quite whizzy super-fights and it rapidly became clear that she was the one good thing about the show. We also got some nice greying of the waters, with the previous travellers turning out to be regular humans coming back in time to try to prevent their terrible future from occurring, but not being especially concerned about what they have to do to prevent it.

However, while episode three at least maintained Martinez’s fighty fun, Zahn spent most of his time with his kid at a funfair, while Holt spent it typing into a computer or calling other people to get them to type into a computer. I do wonder if she’s only been hired for a couple of days, so they had to film all her scenes back-to-back on the same set.

The Crossing: Conclusion

Like The Whispers before it, The Crossing is probably going to turn out to be one of those sci-fi shows that ABC periodically produces that has a semi-decent core and just enough promise and decent production values that you imagine it might not be too bad – but which ultimately is likely to disappoint and never lead anywhere really satisfying.

That’s how I ended my review of the first episode and I stand by it. The Crossing is all of that and if you’re after decent sci-fi with pretty much all the same themes as The Crossing, try Continuum instead since it’s a lot better.

That said, The Crossing‘s meat and two veg sci-fi will serve you just fine as one of your regular servings a week, even if it doesn’t really contain much that’s nourishing. I might just keep watching to see what Martinez gets up to and if the plot will advance at all and become about more than looking for lost children and endless capture/release cycles, but as that would be my only draw, I imagine that if anything else pops up in the schedules, The Crossing would fall out of my watch-list very quickly.

Barrometer rating: 4

The Barrometer for The Crossing

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Legion season 2
International TV

What have you been watching? Including The Americans and Legion

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

TMINE was on holiday last week but fortunately, I’ve now managed to review pretty much all the new shows that have started airing in that time:

I’ll be reviewing Killing Eve (US: BBC America; UK: BBC One/BBC Three) in the next couple of days and seeing as Channel Five have gone and bought CTV (Canada)’s The Detail, I’ll be giving that a whirl, too, with next week’s Boxset Monday set to be Netflix’s Lost in Space.

Regular readers will notice that I’ve not yet reviewed Trust (US: FX; UK: Sky Atlantic) or The Terror (US: AMC; UK: AMC Global). They’re a bit of a ‘work in progress’, with Trust being a bit of a slog so far, but I will get round to them at some point, particularly The Terror since I do love a naval story.

I also gave Amazon’s Dangerous Book for Boys a go, but didn’t even make it through the first episode, since it was a bit too ‘US family comedy’ for me, so I can’t really give it a real review.

Spring is officially here, however, which means that as well as in with the new, it’s out with the old. That means that this week’s WHYBW? is not only chock full of new and returning shows, including The Americans and Legion, it’s also waving goodbye to a few shows that have aired their season finales, namely Counterpart, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, The Magicians and Will & Grace.

I haven’t had the time (or really the inclination) to watch the new season of Plebs, but after the jump, double-helpings (mostly) for the rest of the regulars: Black Lightning, The Crossing, The Good Fight, Harrow, Krypton, The Looming Tower, SEAL Team, Silicon Valley and Timeless. See you in mo – can you guess which show will be getting a promotion?

Continue reading “What have you been watching? Including The Americans and Legion”

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Kelly Reilly in Sky Atlantic's Britannia
Airdates

When’s that show you mentioned starting, TMINE? Including Ghost Wars, Lost in Space and The Dangerous Book for Boys

Every Friday, TMINE lets you know when the latest TV shows from around the world will air in the UK

Only one new acquisition this week, with Walter Presents picking up ZDF/Arte (Germany)’s Bad Banks. No word even about what year that will go out in, though, which is fairly typical for Walter.

But we do have a quiet a few premiere dates. Don’t be too surprised that they’re all on streaming services.

Premiere dates

Ghost Wars

Ghost Wars (US: Syfy; UK: Netflix)
Premiere date: Friday, March 2

Set in a remote Alaskan town that has been overrun by paranormal forces, Ghost Wars sees local outcast Avan Jogia having to overcome the town’s prejudices and his own personal demons to harness his repressed psychic powers in order to save everyone from the mass haunting threatening to destroy them all. Also stars Vincent D’Onofrio and Meatloaf.

Despite coming from the Final Draft® of Simon Barry (Continuum), Ghost Wars is a really rather laughable affair that’s almost simultaneously boring. Best avoided.

Episode reviews: 1

The Dangerous Book For Boys

The Dangerous Book For Boys (Amazon)
Premiere date: Friday, March 30

Created by Bryan Cranston (yes, that one) and Greg Mottola (Superbad) and based on the book by Conn and Hal Iggulden, The Dangerous Book For Boys follows the McKenna family as they cope with the untimely passing of Patrick (Let’s Get Physical and Silicon Valley‘s Chris Diamantopoulos), their patriarch and a whimsical inventor who touched the lives of everyone who knew him. His death has left the family reeling, but hope appears in the form of a book called The Dangerous Book for Boys that Patrick created as a handbook to help his three sons.

The book is a how-to guide for childhood that inspires fantasies for his youngest son, Wyatt (Gabriel Bateman). While in his fantasy world, Wyatt reconnects with his father and learns life skills that help him navigate the real world. The series also stars Erinn Hayes (Kevin Can Wait, Guys with Kids, Worst Week, The Winner) as Beth, the matriarch of the family who is trying to raise her boys as a single parent. Diamantopoulos also plays the role of Terry, Patrick’s twin brother.

Lost in Space

Lost in Space (Netflix)
Premiere date: Friday, April 13

Adaptation of the 60s TV series. Set 30 years in the future, the Robinson clan finds itself among those first selected to colonize space. They are forced to come together and forge new alliances after crash-landing on a lost planet, which is light years from their intended destination.

Toby Stephens (Black Sails) and Molly Parker (Deadwood) play parents/scientists John and Maureen Robinson, while Taylor Russell (Falling Skies), Ignacio Serricchio (General Hospital) and Parker Posey (Louie) round out the cast as daughter Judy Robinson, blue-collar contractor Don West and the manipulative Dr Smith.

DVD releases

Bet you’d forgotten I did these, hadn’t you? Tell the truth, so had I. But I’ll just point out that Britannia (UK: Sky Atlantic) is coming out on DVD and Blu-Ray on March 26.