A screen-cap from Twin Peaks
TV reviews

What have you been watching? Including GLOW, Riviera, Logan, Twin Peaks and Ronny Chieng

It’s “What have you been watching?”, my chance to tell you what movies and TV I’ve been watching recently and your chance to recommend anything you’ve been watching.

Redesigning and migrating TMINE took up quite a bit of my time this week, so I didn’t cast my net as wide as I’d hoped in watching new TV. All the same, you’ll be excited to hear that I’ve managed to give two other new shows at try, as well as a movie, and I’ll be reviewing The Mist (US: Spike) in the next couple of days, too.

After the jump, a look at the latest episodes of Doctor Who, Ronny Chieng: International Student and Twin Peaks, as well as the season finale of Silicon Valley. One of those could offer some of the finest visuals TV has ever seen.

But first…

GLOW (Netflix)
Slightly weird half-hour comedy based on the genuinely real 80s phenomenon of GLOW (Gorgeous Ladies Of Wrestling), which has already been the subject of movies and TV shows but here sees aspiring but really rather terrible actress Alison Brie (Community) almost as the point of doing porn to make ends meet before her agent gives her one last potential gig – a new cable TV sports show in which she would be a wrestler. Together with several other oddball women, she auditions to take part, but it’s not until she ends up in a catfight with best friend Betty Gilpin (Masters of Sex, Nurse Jackie) that she gets her chance to appear in the ring.

I got through the first episode without laughing much, except at the over-the-top attempts at 80s LA fashions, which all seemed to be takes on Jane Fonda aerobics videos. But it was amiable enough and silly enough that I’ll at least try episode two.

Riviera (UK: Sky Atlantic)
Glossy French-set, French-filmed thriller in which Julia Stiles (the Jason Bourne movies, Dexter) is apparently happily married to super-rich Anthony LaPaglia (Murder One, Without A Trace) when his yacht gets blown up off the coast of Monaco. The result is… revelations! Maybe LaPaglia got his money through dodgy means. Maybe he was having an affair and slept with ‘party girls’.

All the episodes have been released but I’ve only managed the first, rather insipid one so far. Stiles is fine, but spends most of her time having passive aggressive sit-downs with LaPaglia’s ex-wife Lena Olin or one of Olin’s kids (Misfits‘ Iwan Rheon and Les témoins (Witnesses)’ Roxane Duran). Attempts to inject excitement into all the iciness come from having Amr Waked (Lucy, Engrenages (Spiral), Marco Polo) run around a bit or by promising some excitement soon but never actually producing anything.

Basically, the usual glossy Sky fare with a good cast list (and Neil Jordan in the writing credits) but only two big names who actually stick around for the main action.

Logan (2017)
The X-Men meet gritty reality and the cowboy genre, as we flashforward to 2029. Most of the world’s mutants are dead, with Wolverine and Professor X the only big names left alive thanks to a highly successful stamping out campaign. Even so, Wolverine’s dying from adamantine poisoning and Professor X has dementia over which he’s losing control, causing all manner of problems for anyone and any towns that happen to be in his vicinity. Into the mix comes a woman with a girl who has Wolverine-like abilities, asking our hero to protect her from evil Richard E Grant and the cybernetic Reavers.

It’s basically Shane with superheroes, but a clever piece of work that is sparing with the action but nevertheless has an awful lot of bloody stabbing. It pokes fun at its predecessors as being (literally) comic book fun, divorced from the real world in which people suffer and die, but manages to still enjoy the trappings of the superhero genre.

It’s all a bit bleak though and beyond a couple of cool scenes, nothing to really unique.

Continue reading “What have you been watching? Including GLOW, Riviera, Logan, Twin Peaks and Ronny Chieng”

Happy 12th birthday to TMINE!

A birthday cake

Crikey, as I always say. How did that happen?

Time has flown again, since The Medium Is Not Enough emerged blinking into the world a stupifying 12 years ago, primed to make sarcastic comments about foreign TV, mainly from the US, mainly in languages I can speak, with reviews of Prison Break, Supernatural, and Global Frequency

Normally, I recall at this point what I’ve learnt in the past year. However, I’ve reached the age where I’ve both achieved true wisdom, so have apparently learnt nothing new, and have started to lose my memory, so I probably did learn something but have now forgotten it.

Oh yes. That was it. My learning is that French TV has more than one good TV programme, now that Canal+ has added Baron Noir and Le bureau des Légendes to its portfolio of Engrenages (Spiral). 

One thing I would say, though, is that I think Peak TV has peaked. There are more and more networks on more and more media, it’s true. But judging by the number of networks who dipped their toes in the water of scripted content a few years ago, shivered a bit, and have now retreated back in the warm, embracing confines of unscripted in the past few months, I’m thinking we’re starting to see some obvious winners emerging from the melée and that there’ll be fewer new dramas as a result. 

As always, a great big thank you to all the regular commenters: Mark Carroll, JustStark, bob and GYAD (who might have been picked off at the back by hyenas in the past few months). Another big thank you and welcome to new arrivals Eagled and Ian Miller for giving me hope in the darkness. But a thanks to absolutely everyone who even left a single comment in passing, particularly Craig Grannell, Toby, idleworm, Robin Parker and Adam Bowie. 

Same time next year everyone? I say that every year, don’t I?

Canal+’s campaign for season 3 of Le Bureau des Légendes (The Bureau) is a bit like watching paint drying

I love Le Bureau des Légendes (The Bureau). It is almost certainly the best French-language TV show I’ve ever seen and that includes all of Engrenages (Spiral). Good news! Season 3 is just starting on Canal+ in France, which means that fingers crossed, it’ll be on Amazon in the UK within the next few months.

However, in its native land, it has to be said, the ad campaign to promote it isn’t exactly going all out to sell its virtues. True, it’s not the most action-packed of shows, despite being a spy drama, although it does have its moments. But all the same, Canal+ is very much preaching to the converted with its latest campaign…

To be fair, they do have one cool one. Spoilers ahoy, obviously…

Events

Totally Serialized: Le Repenti (Reborn) and Annette Andre – Randall and Hopkirk and Me

A couple of intriguing events for TV lovers have popped up on my radar recently.

Long-time readers will remember that for five years, the Institut Français organised an annual French/UK TV festival called ‘Totally Serialized‘. Some of you might even have won tickets to it on this ‘ere blog. However, there wasn’t one this year, since Totally Serialized is going to become a series of ongoing events throughout the year. 

The first of these is a showing on 26 April at 6.30pm at Ciné Lumière in London of France 2’s Le Repenti (Reborn), which is being made available on Walter Presents (US readers can get it through Amazon). It stars Engrenages (Spiral)’s Bruno Debrandt as Alexis, who six years after he was left for dead, burned and wounded by his best friend Victor whom he betrayed, returns to Le Havre to work undercover at Victor’s docks. After significant reconstructive surgery and a changed identity, he is unrecognizable but struggles to stay away from his ex-family.

As you do.

Debrandt will be there on stage in conversation with Walter himself, preceding the showing of episode one. It’s worth noting that it’s actually a two-part telemovie, originally broadcast in 2010, so you’ll only be getting half the story and given that episode one is 90 minutes long and the event’s supposed to finish at 8.15pm, that sounds like about 15 minutes of chat.

Unembeddable trailer is at the Walter Presents web site. Bookings here, with tickets £12 for adults.

Annette AndreElsewhere, for fans of old UK TV, on 22 April at 7pm at the Museum of Comedy, also in London, Annette Andre will be reminiscing about her career, particularly Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), but also A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum and The Benny Hill Show. There’ll also be a chance to meet her afterwards. Tickets are £17 each.

Audrey Fleurot in Les Témoins
French TV

A trailer for season 2 of Les Témoins (Witnesses)

Audrey Fleurot in Les Témoins

I’ve been a bit occupied with a broken phone today – grrr, argh – so WHYBW is going to have to wait for another time. But I’ve not forgotten you. Today – hat-tip to Thierry Attard – we have a trailer or two for season 2 of Les Témoins (Witnesses). Despite its being one of the very few French shows to make it to network TV in the UK, I missed the first season because it started airing just before my August holidays. So I can’t tell you what that was about, although the suggestions from Wikipedia are that it was quite conventional.

Witnesses is set in the small coastal town of Le Tréport in northern France, where the bodies of murder victims are being unearthed and left for discovery. The former chief-of-police, Paul Maisonneuve (Thierry Lhermitte), is implicated in the murders. Detectives Justin (Jan Hammenecker) and Sandra (Marie Dompnier) investigate the case

Sounds very vanilla.

However, season 2 looks a bit different. Marie Dompnier returns but one of my favourite actresses – Audrey Fleurot of Engrenages (Spiral) fame – is this season’s guest star and here are the trailers I promised you.

If your French is a bit duff, that’s “15 men found dead, frozen on a bus. All loved the same woman.” And here’s a write-up which I genuinely did translate myself this time:

A country road along the North Sea, the first day in Spring. 15 dead men, frozen, found sitting quietly in a bus.

Catherine Keemer: a mysterious woman, an amnesiac, discovered the next day in her car, 100km away. The 15 victims in the bus: all the men shared her love, for one night or a year. Sandra Winckler, a determined and obsessed cop who won’t tolerate an unsolved mystery. Sandra Winckler (Marie Dompnier) and Catherine Keemer (Audrey Fleurot): two woman who are going to need to unite for the better and against the worst.

Now that’s a bit more interesting. The show’s back on France 2 in March but no word yet if either Netflix or Channel 4/Walter Presents is going to pick it up. You’d hope, wouldn’t you?

PS No, I don’t know why the names are above the wrong people in the poster (the tag line: “Love is the biggest danger”)