4 Blocks
German TV

Boxset Monday: 4 Blocks (season 1) (Germany: TNT Series; UK: Amazon)

In Germany: Aired on TNT Serie in May 2017
In the UK: Available on Amazon

The Wire is one of those shows that casts huge shadow over TV. Arguably one of the best TV shows ever made, if not the best, it’s a novelistic, many-layered show as Charlie Brooker will happily explain to you (you’re welcome, Charlie):

Naturally, every new, vaguely similar TV show wants to be “the new The Wire” to bask in inherited glory. As soon as international distributors want to export their gritty cop show to another country, said cop show becomes the country in question’s “answer to The Wire“. So Engrenages (Spiral) was “France’s answer to The Wire“, for example, even though it’s better to think of its first season, at least, more as Law & Order meets Scandal.

However, I think it’s fair to say that the multiple award-winning 4 Blocks is the first show that you could call “somewhere’s answer to The Wire” (that somewhere being Germany) and for that genuinely to be the case, both in terms of themes and general quality of production – all without being a straight carbon copy. Even if the Süddeutsche Zeitung thinks it’s more like The Sopranos and Die Zeit thinks it’s the ‘German Gomorra‘.

Here’s a highly NSFW trailer. Slightly spoilery discussion of the whole season after the jump.

Continue reading “Boxset Monday: 4 Blocks (season 1) (Germany: TNT Series; UK: Amazon)”

Blade Runner 2049
TV reviews

What have you been watching? Including The Guest Book, SMILF and Blade Runner 2049

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. TMINE recommends has all the reviews of all the TV shows TMINE has ever recommended, but for a complete list of TMINE’s reviews of (good, bad and insipid) TV shows and movies, there’s the definitive TV Reviews A-Z and Film Reviews A-Z

It’s been a quieter week than last week, so there haven’t been as many new shows to watch as before. Mario Van Peebles’s southern BuffySuperstition (US: Syfy; UK: Netflix), I’ve already reviewed and I’ve passed a third-episode verdict on Matt Nix’s ‘The X-Men universe without The X-Men’ show The Gifted (US: Fox; UK: Fox UK).

But that doesn’t mean this week’s WHYBW is going to be an empty affair. For starters, I forgot to review Blade Runner 2049 last week. Oops.

But there’s been one new show I haven’t yet covered, The Guest Book (US: TBS), which comes from the pen of Greg Garcia (My Name is Earl), and there’s a forthcoming show, SMILF (US: Showtime; UK: Sky Atlantic), that I’ll be previewing, too.

I’ll also be running through the latest episodes of the regulars: The Brave, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, Great News, Marvel’s Inhumans, Mr Robot, My Myself and I, Professor T, SEAL Team, Star Trek: Discovery, Travelers, and Will & Grace. At least one of these is for the chop – can you guess which one?

Continue reading “What have you been watching? Including The Guest Book, SMILF and Blade Runner 2049”

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…