In The Dark
US TV

Review: In the Dark 1×1 (US: The CW)

In the US: Thursdays, 9pm ET, The CW
In the UK: Not yet acquired

There is considerable feminist discourse around the concept of ‘likability’. Female politicians, such as Hillary Clinton, are considered ‘unlikable’ and therefore considered vote-losers, in a way male politicians rarely are. Does anyone think Rand Paul or Chuck Schumer are likeable? No, yet they still get elected and are considered (for some reason) via politicians.

In the Dark feels like an effort to push ‘the Overton Window‘ on female ‘likability’ using the ingenious aegis of disability. It sees Perry Mattfeld (Shameless US) playing Murphy, a woman whose life is a bit of a mess. She became blind at the age of 14 and was fostered by the owners of a guide dog charity (The West Wing‘s Kathleen York and The Whispers‘s Derek Webster), for which she now ‘works’. I say works, because most of the time she’s getting drunk, waking up from a one-night-stand or both. Or is off smoking with a teenage drunk-dealer who once saved her life.

Mattfield is even more self-destructive than that sounds. “You only care about yourself,” York yells at her after Mattfield has just slept with a married donor to the impoverished charity, resulting in the cancellation of his wife’s $10,000 donation.

“It’s pretty obvious I don’t care about myself. At all,” Mattfield replies.

Which isn’t entirely true, though. While most of the first episode revolves around Mattfield’s self-destruction and self-pity, there is another thread to the plot: the disappearance and possible murder of her teenage drug-dealer friend. That prompts Mattfield to try to persuade everyone that he has disappeared, even though his body goes missing soon after she finds it.

When that fails, she tries to solve the crime herself, with a little help from her friend Brooke Markham (Foursome) and the missing drug-dealer’s cousin/boss (Blood and Oil‘s Keston John).

Continue reading “Review: In the Dark 1×1 (US: The CW)”
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The OA
Internet TV

Boxset Monday: The OA – Part II (Netflix)

Available on Netflix

When The OA first came to Netflix, it was to minimal fanfare. Just as Stranger Things came to us with almost no publicity, so The OA came with a not especially informative trailer and a title and that was about it.

Then, of course, we got to watch them and marvel in projects that at times bordered on genius. The first season of The OA wasn’t exactly plain sailing or without its ups and downs, however. Indeed, it took me a little while to get through all the episodes, rather than just boxsetting them (episode reviews: 1, 2-4, 5-8).

But Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij’s story about a blind girl (Marling) who disappeared and then reappeared seven years later, her sight restored, and now claiming to be ‘The OA’ (the original angel), was nevertheless a stunningly original piece of work, unlike pretty much anything you’ll see on TV, outside David Lynch’s most auteured piece. In parts supernatural, in parts fairy tale, it was a musing on a musing on the power of storytelling – and of the need to tell stories – as well as of art, music, dance, nature, life, love, masculinity, femininity and more.

The ending, however, wasn’t so much ambiguous as diminishing, suggesting that the whole thing was just made up by The OA based on things she’d seen and read, in the style of The Usual Suspects.

Marling also suggested that she hadn’t even considered a second season and that was that for the story – until the show’s success inevitably resulted in its renewal.

Britt Marling in Netflix’s The OA

A fairytale sequel

What then for season two – or Part II as it now is? How do you create a sequel to a fairy tale? And how do you do it when you no longer have the element of surprise, as you did with your first season?

As you might expect, Marling’s answer is not whatever answer you just came up with but is something staggeringly different. Indeed, there’s one key line in Part II that sums it up: “I think logic is over-rated.”

And I mean that in a good way, because in terms of ideas, I’d say Britt Marling is the closest we now have to a young, female David Lynch. Or maybe David Lynch is just the older male version of Marling.

Continue reading “Boxset Monday: The OA – Part II (Netflix)”
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Rachelle Lefevre and Kelsey Grammer in Proven Innocent
US TV

Review: Proven Innocent 1×1 (US: Fox; UK: Universal)

In the US: Fridays, 9pm, Fox
In the UK: Acquired by Universal. Will air in March

Watching Fox’s new legal drama, Proven Innocent, reminds me of how it’s possible to feel sorry for actors even when they’ve managed to bag the lead role in a TV series. Sure, they’re the star. But in this? Oh dear, I’m so sorry.

I’ve always quite liked Rachelle Lefevre and thought she’s deserved a better career than she’s had, ever since she was bumped from the US adaptation of Life on Mars in favour of Gretchen Mol in the reshoot. She joined Off The Map, the only Shondaland series to get canned after one season. She was Victoria in the first two Twilight movies but was replaced by Bryce Dallas Howard in the third movie, Eclipse, just as the role got meaty. It’s only Under The Dome that’s really given her any success and that was a prevaricating lump of daftness at the best of times.

Kelsey Grammer, on the other hand, is a fabulous comedic actor who had huge success with two long-running comedies: Cheers and Frasier. Unfortunately, all his comedy series since Frasier – Partners, Hank, Back To You – have been truly awful. Boss and The Last Tycoon both demonstrated that he’s an amazing dramatic actor, too, but those shows got cancelled fast.

And with Proven Innocent, all I can do is feel sorry for the both of them – as well as Vincent Kartheiser (Angel, Das Boot, Mad Men), Laurie Holden (The Walking DeadThe Americans, The X-Files) and Riley Smith (Frequency) – as they endure some really quite pitifully poor material as they head towards yet another inevitable cancellation.

Continue reading “Review: Proven Innocent 1×1 (US: Fox; UK: Universal)”

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Au service de la France
International TV

What have you been watching? Including Au service de la France, Dead Lucky, Stargate: Origins and You Are Wanted

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

I’m calling it – summer season is dead. It has ceased to be. It is an ex-season.

Before TMINE went away on its holidays, I pointed out how quiet July had been worldwide, but while I was away, the number of new shows has been small. Very small. Castle Rock (US: Hulu) and Dead Lucky (Australia: ABC) were released and Netflix gave us Insatiable, but that was basically it.

Sure, there have been returning shows, but new shows haven’t had a look-in and a lot of shows that used to air over July and August have postponed their returns until the end of the month or September. That even includes the final season of The Lost Ship, which was filmed a year ago, so production concerns clearly weren’t stopping it from being aired in its usual slot.

I’m guessing that ratings haven’t held up for any TV shows. Probably because everyone’s been on holiday. Or maybe it’s because of my fearsome “if it starts in August, I won’t review it rule.” That’s probably it, isn’t it? Still, it does make my life easier.

Thankfully, new shows have already started coming online. Netflix has this very day given us Ghoul, The Innocents and Deadwind, while Amazon has woken up again and is giving us Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan next week. I’ll try to watch some, if not all of them, and give you at least one Boxset next week. After that, I’ll be struggling to catch up with the release schedule, with new Iron Fist coming, The Last Ship back, and season two of Ozark due on 31st.

In the meantime, I’ve been continuing with the usual viewing queue, although that’s now down to just Shooter, given Condor and Marvel’s Cloak and Dagger finished their runs while I was on holiday. All of them I’ll discuss after the jump.

I also scoured around for new shows to watch, as well. Of the shows I mentioned last time, I could never quite bring myself to watch the rest of Jongo but I made a brave stab at the properly subtitled second season of You Are Wanted. I also managed to catch the movie version of Stargate: Origins, and started a new French show: Au service de la France (A Very Secret Service). But we can talk about all of those after the jump.

Continue reading “What have you been watching? Including Au service de la France, Dead Lucky, Stargate: Origins and You Are Wanted”

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The cast of The Terror
US TV

Boxset Tuesday: The Terror (season one) (US: AMC; UK: AMC UK)

In the US: Mondays, 9/8c, AMC
In the UK: Tuesdays, 9pm, AMC Global. Starts today

Some things just seem to be cursed. The British expedition in 1845 to find the fabled northwest passage didn’t really stand a chance, given the two ships sent were the HMS Terror and HMS Erebus. Sure, they were technologically advanced for their time, with hardened hulls to brace against the ice and carrying railway steam engines to power propellers. But those names? ‘Terror’ and ‘Erebus’, Greek myth’s darkness beneath the world? That was just courting disaster.

Both ships disappeared and later expeditions were unable to find them, although ultimately, it seems like the crews abandoned their vessels after they had become stuck in the ice, after which they tried to make the trek over ice and land to an outpost hundreds of miles away. Ill and running out of food, they might even have resorted to cannibalism to try to survive.

When Dan Simmons wrote his about the expedition in 2007, he must have thought he was on relatively easy territory. The ships had been missing for nearly a century and a half – surely he can write about them safely, imagining whatever he wanted. Yet oddly enough, in September 2014, the wreck of the Erebus was found, submerged in what is now known as Terror Bay in Newfoundland, Canada. The Terror itself remained unfound, however, despite further investigations.

When a TV adaptation was announced in March 2016, that must have kicked the curse back into life because just a few months later, the Terror was found on an island in the middle of Terror Bay – 100km from where historians had previously thought it had wound up. How did it get there? No one’s sure…

Who knows what will turn up, now we have the TV series itself airing.

The Terror and the Erebus
The Terror and the Erebus

The Terror

For the most part, The Terror is simple conjecture about what might have happened to the crews of both ships, based on the evidence available. It sees Ciáran Hinds (Rome) playing the lead captain of the expedition, Sir John Franklin, while Jared Harris (Mad Men) plays the captain of The Terror, Francis Crozier. Also aboard are Ian Hart and Tobias Menzies (Outlander). Initial episodes focus on the ships’ stranding in the ice, with subsequent episodes showing the events that lead to the abandoning of the ships and then the trek itself, as well as the rescue missions mounted back at home by loved ones, including Greta Scacchi.

However, seemingly just to gee things along a bit, there’s also something out there in the icy wastes of the Arctic. Stronger and bigger than a polar bear and as smart as a man, it’s invisible against the icy tundra and in the eternal night of the Arctic winter. It’s also extremely murderous. But what is it?

Two ships of sailors are about to find out…

Continue reading “Boxset Tuesday: The Terror (season one) (US: AMC; UK: AMC UK)”