Review: Made in Jersey 1×1 (CBS)

Made in Jersey

In the US: Fridays, 9/8c, CBS
In the UK: Not yet acquired. I’m assuming Sky Living had a fit of the vapours

Beware the juggernaut, my son!

The juggernaut – aka CBS – is the goliath of TV. It dominates the ratings. It had oodles of cash. It can do pretty much what it likes. And if you don’t like that, it’ll run all over you.

The newest trick CBS appears to have discovered is to take existing programmes, file the serial numbers off, bolt on a procedural and then call them its own. This season, it’s already deployed its own version of Sherlock as Elementary. Vegas – not to be confused with NBC’s Las Vegas, but easily confused with its The Playboy Club as well as A&E’s Longmire – emerged blinking into the moonlight last week and on Friday, we got Made in Jersey.

Now at first sight, you might not spot what Made in Jersey obviously rips off. After all, the lead character in this legal show, in which a street-smart Jersey girl gets her big break in a Manhattan law firm, isn’t blonde (hint, hint).

But by the end of the episode – in which her exciting knowledge of hairstyling products is used to prove that the student accused of murdering her professor is innocent and that despite everyone’s belief that she’s an airhead, she really can be a lawyer – you’ll be going, “Oh, so that’s what CBS couldn’t get the rights to cheaply! Legally Blonde!”

Because that’s what we have here: Legally Blonde with hair dye but without any humour, and with a legal procedural element bolted on. Another triumph for CBS’s assimilation department.

Are there any redeeming features to the show? Well, at a push, since it’s clearly not the dialogue, plotting, plausibility or characterisation of Made in Jersey that is going to save it, I’d have to say it’s got one thing going for it, other than Kyle MacLachlan looking very bewildered by the whole thing: for the first time in a long while, we have a US TV show that’s about class.

Here’s a trailer:

Continue reading “Review: Made in Jersey 1×1 (CBS)”

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What TV did you watch last month? Including Gates, Copper, Perception, Suits, The Newsroom and Continuum

It’s “What TV did you watch last month?”, my chance to tell you what I watched on TV in the last month that I haven’t already reviewed and your chance to recommend things to everyone else (and me) in case I’ve missed them.

Yes, that’s right, last month. Don’t worry, we’ll go back to weekly or fortnightly soon – this is a one-off because of the August break. August was mostly a month of season finales, so I’ll talk about them in a moment, but there were some new shows, a lot of which I couldn’t be bothered with because it was August. September is when things start up again and I should have some previews for you this week.

So here’s a few thoughts on what I have been watching:

  • Burn Notice: Gave up on it again, two episodes before the season finale. Just don’t care any more and nothing on it makes me want to care, unfortunately. I hear there was a good twist in the finale, but again, I don’t care.
  • Continuum: This has now been picked up SyFy in both the UK and the US (I think) so I’d recommend watching it if you haven’t been watching it already. The finale, while a little less action-packed than I would have liked, managed to be a good combination of science-fiction, plot-disentangler, cliffhanger and character work. Looking forward to the second season immensely – thankfully, that second season has been commissioned. Woo hoo!
  • Copper: BBC America’s new show set in 19th century New York, where some Irish guys get to be corrupt cops and solve crimes, because no one knows how cops should behave yet. A good deal better than AMC’s Hell on Wheels, it’s still a good deal less interesting than it should be, mainly because the characters are uninspiring, although Anastasia Griffith’s early suffragette (Trauma, Royal Pains) is a big exception. Nice to see Franka Potente (Run Lola Run and The Bourne Identity) getting work again, too.
  • Covert Affairs: Given that up again, too. Bored.
  • Gates: It’s got Joanna Page in it, it’s already being lined up for a US remake, but I’ve barely managed to get through the first episode. It’s not great, I’ll tell you that for nothing.
  • The Newsroom: So it’s all come to an end and there’s a second season to sort of look forward to. A very uneven first season that took a while to find its feet and to dump the majority of its catastrophic sexism. Saddled with some very bad characters, the show is hard to root for, although the plotting remains good throughout. Bizarrely, the only really watchable character was Sloane, who was thoroughly enjoyable, and I promise never to malign Olivia Munn again, seeing as she visibly improved throughout the series and became the show’s big redeeming feature.
  • Perception: After three episodes of pretty run of the mill formula stuff with a surprisingly small amount of Jamie Bamber to relieve the boredom, the last episode was actually rather good, a decent examination of paranoid schizophrenia and why some might not want to take their medication and why some really should. Not many episodes left, but I’ll be adding it to my recommendations list from next week.
  • Royal Pains: In a sense, I admire the clever arc they’ve come up with this season designed to widen the character base and give Hank room to do more things. In another sense, I’m bored by the lack of depth to anything. The first season of Royal Pains did a good job of dealing with some of the deeper emotions and issues facing Hank and co, but the show’s becoming far tamer, far shallower and far sillier. Needs to pull its socks up.
  • Suits: An ever-so-slightly disappointing finale to a fantastic season of the best summer show. The big revelations you could see coming a mile off, but as always with Suits, how the characters then twist and manipulate events and people is what makes it interesting. A couple of things seemed out of character and why they had to introduce a new character when Jenny was within easy plotting distance and able to achieve the same effect, I don’t know.

“What did you watch last fortnight?” is your chance to recommend to friends and fellow blog readers the TV and films that they might be missing or should avoid – and for me to do mini-reviews of everything I’ve watched. Since we live in the fabulous world of Internet catch-up services like the iPlayer and Hulu, why not tell your fellow readers what you’ve seen so they can see the good stuff they might have missed?

What did you watch last fortnight? Including Maison close, Wallander, Dogtooth and The Hurt Locker

It’s “What did you watch last fortnight?”, my chance to tell you what I watched in the last fortnight that I haven’t already reviewed and your chance to recommend things to everyone else (and me) in case I’ve missed them.

The usual recommendations from the first-run shows are: Continuum, The Daily Show, The Newsroom and Suits. Hunt them down.

Here’s a few thoughts on those and what else I’ve been watching:

  • Burn Notice: A shocking death… that everyone predicted and almost certainly not the end of the ‘Burn Notice’ plot. Interesting to note that there was more emotion in the last minute or two as the impact of the death sank in than there has been in the last three episodes of Covert Affairs with a similar situation, which tells you a lot about that show. And as for last week’s episode, John C McGinley is now stuck being Dr Cox from Scrubs forever.
  • Continuum: Actually quite a creepy and nasty episode this week, with more sci-fi twists and a very decent couple of cliffhangers. Good to see some bad guys who aren’t idiots for a change.
  • Covert Affairs: Largely forgettable, except when Richard Coyle is in it. Comes across essentially as a set of stage directions for a spy show, lacking in any real passion or excitement, no matter what happens. Nice location shooting though.
  • Maison close: Canal+ drama set in an early 20th century brothel. Lavishly shot, but inherently silly and exploitative, and absolutely nothing to surprise you.
  • Mesrine: Vincent Cassel as the real-life crook, depicting his life from a solider in Algiers through to his death. But I gave up after about half an hour, since although it was a decent enough story and Cassel was fabulous, it was a pretty ordinary story really, and there was enough misogyny to put me off from watching too much of it.
  • The Newsroom: Well, after an excellent fourth episode, we once again plummeted the depths of the Sorkin style for the fifth episode, making this the most inconsistent of his shows in terms of quality. About the only good thing about it was Olivia Munn being deadpan and snarky, as usual.
  • Prisoners of War: In retrospect, this is a show I wish I’d seen before Homeland, since so many of the revelations, although in a different context from Homeland‘s, were the same. No secret terrorist to worry about, but the final frames and much of the final episode were clearly setting the show up for a second series – which is coming in October.
  • Royal Pains: Reshma Shetty acted! Amazing
  • Sinbad: Basically Sky doing a Merlin, but better. Great to see a show with a principally black and Asian cast that isn’t set on a sinkhole estate somewhere, as well. But fundamentally not that great unless you’re a teenager, I suspect.
  • Suits: The ballet side of things in last night’s episode is pushing Louis over the edge of plausibility, but still a reasonable episode, uplifted by the final poker scene.
  • Wallander: After the dreadful second episode, it was a relief to see the third and final episode of the show return to the quality of the first episode of this series. A proper crime that needed investigating, Wallander doing proper police work and occasional breaks from absolute misery, making the episode potentially a good final one for the show. Worth mentioning that it was possibly one of the most beautifully shot programmes on TV recently and Ken was of course was magnificent.

And in movies:

  • Princess Diaries 2: Don’t ask. But one of those minor movies you watch 10 years after it was made and go “Oh my gods, it’s them! They’re famous now! And so are they! And them!” Here, we have Anne “Catwoman” Hathaway, Callum “Kneel before Zod” Blue from Smallville and Chris Pine from Star Trek, with a script written by Grey’s Anatomy/Private Practice/Scandal showrunner Shonda Rhimes. Probably great if you’re an 11-year-old American girl who knows nothing about Europe, royalty, etc, since it takes every stereotype about royalty you’ll ever come across and marries it with American idealism (“Everyone can be a princess and if you just care enough, you can rule a country wisely, too!”). The problem is it’s nearly two hours long and takes out about 20 minutes for a sleepover and karoake session. But okay.

  • Dogtooth: Probably not a movie I would have watched, had it not been to brush up my Greek for holidays next month. Very weird film about a pair of protective parents who keep their grown-up children in an almost childlike state, confined in their home, teaching them the wrong words for things (‘sea’ means ‘chair’ and ‘zombie’ means ‘a small yellow flower’) and that planes in the sky are just toys. The only visitor is a female security guard whom the dad pays to come and have very mechanical sex with the son. And then things go pear-shaped. Some very odd acting and a very odd script and central idea, but a very interesting movie. Worth watching.

  • The Hurt Locker: the movie for which Kathryn Bigelow won the best director Oscar, it’s a much-deserved win, even if the script itself is a little lacking. Jeremy Renner is a adrenaline-addicted bomb-disposal guy in Iraq who puts his comrades’ lives in danger. Interesting as much for its cameos – Ralph Fiennes (who starred in Bigelow’s Strange Days) as a British mercenary, Guy Pierce as another bomb disposal guy, David Morse as another soldier, Evangeline Lilly as Renner’s girlfriend – who disappear as quickly as they arrive. Visually magnificent and extremely tense, the film really only falters when it moves away from action and tries to deal with character and emotion.

“What did you watch last fortnight?” is your chance to recommend to friends and fellow blog readers the TV and films that they might be missing or should avoid – and for me to do mini-reviews of everything I’ve watched. Since we live in the fabulous world of Internet catch-up services like the iPlayer and Hulu, why not tell your fellow readers what you’ve seen so they can see the good stuff they might have missed?

Wednesday’s “Jonathan Rhys Meyers is Dracula, Polly Walker is a Mentalist, and Modern Family cast strike” news



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