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?
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…
Canal+ is my favourite (and the best by a country mile) of all the French TV channels and although it’s having a bit of a problem at the moment with subscriber numbers and is cutting back quite severely, it is at least still producing a fair old number of top notch shows. Evidencing that is the channel’s trailer for its upcoming TV schedule, which has something of the Beeb’s “Original Drama” vibe to it.
Most of the shows will be familiar to British viewers or at least visitors to this ‘ere blog, since it features season 6 of Engrenages (Spiral) (BBC Four) and season 3 of Le Bureau Des Légendes (The Bureau) (Amazon), as well as season 2 of Versailles (BBC Two) and season 3 of Kaboul Kitchen (Kabul Kitchen) (Channel 4).
But new to the pack is Guyane (Guyana), an eight-part “modern Western” lavishly filmed in the country of the title and which started a couple of days ago. Here’s a synopsis:
Twenty-year-old Vincent Ogier (Mathieu Spinosi) is a Parisian geology student who has come to Guyana for an internship at a gold mining company: Cayenor.
A thirst for danger and a foolish mistake will push the young engineer to team-up with the “godfather of gold” Antoine Serra (Olivier Rabourdin from Spin and The Last Panthers), who reigns over the lost village of Saint Elias. Vincent believes he has found a mythical gold mine: a mine abandoned for 120 years, named “Sarah Bernhardt”. Serra has the skills to operate it. Seemingly paternal and friendly, Serra embarks with Vincent into the depths of the Guyanese jungle…
In a few weeks, Vincent will pass from trainee to adventurer…
No, I’m not quite sure about the Sarah Bernhardt thing, either. Here’s the trailer and you can have a much longer Guyane trailer, too, you lucky people:
Every Friday, I let you know the latest announcements about when new, imported TV shows will finally be arriving on your screens – assuming anyone’s bought any, of course.
It’s another quiet week for acquisitions, so I can offer you but one new show premiere time and date:
Twin Peaks (US: Showtime) Sky Atlantic: May 22, 2am (regular time: Tuesdays, 9pm, starting May 23) Episode reviews: simulcast, so I ain’t seen nothing yet
However, I’ll just point out that in case you don’t have Amazon Prime, the truly marvellous Le Bureau Des Légendes (The Bureau) (France: Canal+) will be available to own on DVD from Monday (you can already get it on iTunes, if you prefer digital).
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.
Well hello. How are you today? Have a nice break away from it all? That’s what I like to hear.
Right, that’s the small talk done. Let’s talk telly.
So, I didn’t watch an awful lot over the Christmas break, since I was actually in Germany and if you’ve ever watched German TV, you’ll remember what a mistake that was (more about that tomorrow). But after the jump I’ll be talking about the regulars I did watch, including the return of Doctor Who (briefly) and Sherlock (less briefly):
Global Internet The OA
UK Doctor Who, Sherlock
France Le Bureau des Légendes (The Bureau)
However, New Year’s Day was on Sunday and Americans being quite efficient, there have already been two new shows to grace the screens. I’ve already reviewed Ransom (US: CBS) but on top of that there was:
The Mick (US: Fox) A gender-swapped, race-swapped Uncle Buck that sees It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia‘s Kaitlin Olson playing the white trash grifter sister to a billionaire’s wife who gets lumbered with looking after the kids when the rich couple go on the run following fraud investigations. If she sticks around, she gets to enjoy the lifestyles of the rich and famous. But she’ll also have to deal with the bitchy neighbours, the bitchy daughter and the entitled son.
The show’s created by John Chernin and Dave Chernin, the creators of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, so you shouldn’t be too surprised to hear that it’s funnier than you might think, more accurate about being poor than you might think and also based around people being mean too one another verbally and physically in order to get one up on everyone else. Olson’s very good as the Mick(ey) of the title and everyone is marvellously bitchy, too.
Except that’s not my idea of fun, so I probably won’t stick with it.
I also watched a movie.
Mechanic: Resurrection (2016) Sequel in name only to the actually not that bad 2011 Jason Statham remake of the Charles Bronson/Jan-Michael Vincent actioner, The Mechanic. Here, Mechanic: Resurrection throws pretty much all the first movie’s nuance aside in favour of a sort of melange of The Transporter, The Transporter 2 and The Internecine Project. No longer the meticulous hit-man planner of yore, Statham is retired in Brazil until fellow East End child army survivor (don’t ask) turned billionaire bad guy Sam Hazeldine (Peaky Blinders, Resurrection) blackmails him into returning to his old life by abducting new girlfriend Jessica Alba. Only if Statham kills three of Hazeldine’s impossible-to-reach rivals in ways that look like accidents will Hazeldine release Alba. He says.
Foresaking The Mechanic (2011)’s character building and steely professionalism, Mechanic: Resurrection is an insultingly stupid piece of work that tries to give us glossy backdrops, non-stop Statham fight scenes, a bit of ultraviolence and a bit of casual racism as a substitute, hoping we’ll like it better. Certainly, the stars seemed to have liked it, because Alba’s former Afghanistan soldier turned teacher of Cambodian children is an insult to women, but she does get to go to lots of tropical islands; Tommy Lee Jones gets more of the same travel action, but perhaps was also swayed by the chance to play a socialist arms dealer with a James Bond-style underwater base and submarine using all the subtlety he deployed in Under Siege; Michelle Yeoh was purely there for the tropical islands and not to have to do anything athletic for a change, as far as I could tell.
To be fair, most Statham movies take the piss a little bit and Statham is as aware of that as anyone. Certainly, the fact he takes his shirt off in almost every other scene can’t be accidental and I refuse to believe that the FX shots were anything other than deliberate tributes to Derek Meddings’ model work in 1970s James Bond movies. There’s a certain amount of tongue going into cheek here.
But the writing is still terrible and worst of all, almost none of the murders Statham is supposedly hired to make look like accidents would pass as such for more than a minute. Terrible.