Ryan Hansen Solves Crimes On Television
Internet TV

Review: Ryan Hansen Solves Crimes on Television* 1×1-1×2 (YouTube Red)

I feel sorry for some TV producers, you know. Sure, there are some that make television shows that are just bad. Often, as with Ghost Wars say, that’s down to all manner of obviously poor choices behind the scenes.

But with something like Ryan Hansen Solves Crimes on Television*, Rawson Marshall Thurber (Dodgeball, We’re The Millers, Central Intelligence)’s first TV show, you can tell that everyone’s really, really trying, there’s some real smartness to the writing, yet for some reason, nothing quite works.

As the name suggests, Ryan Hansen Solves Crimes on Television* is a hyper-aware, highly meta TV show in which Ryan Hansen (Veronica Mars) plays ‘Ryan Hansen (Veronica Mars)’. An unnoted actor whom everyone confuses with Ryan Phillippe, he’s just landed a pilot episode on the new YouTube Red subscription service in which he tags along with LAPD detective Samira Wiley (Orange is the New Black) as she investigates ‘real’ murders. Her no-nonsense cop skills combined with his insights into the LA social and acting movie scene enable them to solve crimes others can’t.

What’s the format?

So the format is slightly Castle, although with Wiley so focused on the Angry Black Woman persona she’s saddled with, there’s no romantic chemistry between her and Hansen whatsoever. But the show is far, far more It’s Garry Shandling’s Show than it is Castle.

For starters, it obviously knows it’s a television show that’s being filmed for a subscription TV series and so do all the characters, who can, of course, see the cameras and even talk to camera.

The asterisk at the end of the title has a different self-aware explanation each episode, too (eg “Though you’re probably watching this on your phone and that’s cool too”, “Though you’re probably watching this on stolen Chinese Internet and that’s cool too”).

There are constant digs at the network, whether it’s because no one’s ever heard of it, they have but are actually confusing it with RedTube or YouPorn (“It’s exactly like YouTube but it’s not free.” “Great business model”) or the fact it costs the same as Netflix but doesn’t have The CrownStranger Things or anything else anyone might want to watch.

There are digs at Hansen’s lack of TV success. There are digs at his cluelessness, such as when he goes for an audition in a movie version of Hamilton (“I know in the musical they’re all black actors, but the original guy was white apparently, so I guess I’m just going back to the source material”). There are cameos from other actors playing versions of themselves, with Eric Christian Olsen (NCIS: LA) recurring as Hansen’s more successful, mean arch-rival ‘Eric Christian Olsen (NCIS: LA)’.

But it goes deeper than that, as Hansen constantly gives Wiley notes on the nature of the show, such as the use of West Wing walk-and-talk scenes and whether she should have ‘a mouth prop’ and deliver lines in the style of the great David Caruso. Other characters can see the programme is being filmed, too, and can critique the show itself, including Hansen, such as when he’s attacked with a sword by a woman in her underwear (“I’m not sure whether this is misogynistic or empowering for women”).

And since the programme’s format is allegedly still in flux, the directorial style frequently changes, from cameraphone at one extreme to multi-camera studio comedy at the other – at the end of each episode, Hansen returns home to his ‘wife’ Aly Michalka (HellcatsiZombie) and their children in their ‘house’, which comes complete with live studio audience – much to Wiley’s surprise, of course. ‘Neighbour’ Jon Cryer even drops by for the end scenes, too, so that studio sitcoms can be satirised (“Great cameo, Jon. If the pilot gets picked up, we could make this a regular guest spot”).

Perhaps most amusing of the regular jokes is that the Angry Captain who chews out Hansen and Wiley has a touch of the Prisoner/Callan to them – it’s a different famous black actor each time (Barry Shabaka Henley, Steve Harris, James McDaniel, Frankie Faison, Leslie David Baker, Yvette Nicole Brown and Reginald VelJohnson) but they’re always ‘Captain Jackson’.

Not much cop

Tragically, all of that is for naught, however, since when it’s not being meta and sending up LA and TV in general with accurate barbs, it’s not got anything left. For far more of its still-long 30 minute runtime, each episode is a cop drama that isn’t much cop. Most exchanges of dialogue between Hansen and Wiley involve Hansen saying something and Wiley hating/swearing at him in return without any wit whatsoever. Wiley doesn’t really get to contribute much to the show beyond being the straight woman, either.

All of which makes Ryan Hansen Solves Crimes on Television* a slog, albeit one that’s peppered with a considerable number of jewels. Is it worth it? Well the first two episodes are free, but in the UK, there is no YouTube Red subscription service, so you’ll have to buy each subsequent episode for £1.89 a shot. For eight episodes in total, six paid for, that’s nearly £12, which even with guest appearances by the likes of Kristen Bell and Joel McHale (“Who are you playing?” “Ryan Hansen” “He’s playing me?”) is a bit of an ask – certainly compared to Netflix.

So watch the freebies if you like, although don’t expect to love them, but paying for the rest is probably a bad idea.

Callan - Suddenly At Home
BFI events

What TV’s on at the BFI in October-November 2017? Including Hard Sun, Inside No.9, Callan at 50 and The Prisoner at 50

Every month, TMINE lets you know what TV the BFI will be presenting at the South Bank in London

Oh, I do love October-November. All the leaves, colours. And, of course, all the lovely TV events that the BFI will be hosting. This ‘month’, in fact, there are a few doozies that I will shortly be booking, I suspect.

For most people, the appeal will be two previews with Q&As: the first of the fourth season of Inside No.9, at which Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith will be in attendance; the second of the forthcoming Hard Sun, written by Luther‘s Neil Cross and starring Jim Sturgess and Agyness Deyn.

For me, though, the big draw is Saturday 25th November’s ‘thrilling television’ day, which will include:

  • A ‘Callan at 50′ panel discussion
  • A ‘Sixties Spies and Beyond’ discussion that will include clips of The Avengers, The Man From UNCLE et al
  • ‘The Prisoner at 50′, which will include a bespoke BFI cut of Network’s documentary.

That’s me sorted for the day. How do you reckon I break it to my wife?

Or that there’s a talk on the Wednesday evening about the state of conspiracy thrillers on UK TV, comparing them to classic shows like Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Edge of Darkness? Ah, waddya gonna do?

Continue reading “What TV’s on at the BFI in October-November 2017? Including Hard Sun, Inside No.9, Callan at 50 and The Prisoner at 50”

Patrick McGoohan as The Prisoner in Portmeirion
Events

Celebrate The Prisoner’s 50th birthday at Portmeirion

Network DVD, which releases all manner of archive DVDs, is celebrating the fact it’s the 50th birthday of The Prisoner this year with a very special event in the village itself – Portmeirion.

The Prisoner, Patrick McGoohan’s visionary television series, reaches the half century of its first UK transmission in September. In celebration, Network is returning to the place where it all began – the village, aka Portmeirion, to host a one day event for the launch of our new feature-length documentary plus a brand new Blu-ray and DVD edition

This unique day will bring together surviving cast, crew and other special guests alongside screenings of key episodes from brand new 35mm prints, Q&A’s, installations and more.

The centre piece will be the world premiere of Chris Rodley’s new feature-length documentary In My Mind, followed by a very special 35mm presentation of Arrival at 7.30pm, 50 years to the minute of its UK premiere.

The new edition of our Blu-ray and DVD set is included in the ticket price for those attending the event, ahead of the official release date. All 17 episodes feature brand new detailed text commentaries and a wealth of newly produced special features, including the documentary feature In My Mind, unseen footage and much more.

This deluxe edition also includes an updated edition of Andrew Pixley’s definitive and highly-regarded book on the series, lavishly illustrated with rare and unpublished photographs and a newly remastered 6-CD soundtrack of the specially composed music scores by Albert Elms, Wilfred Josephs and Robert Farnon, Ron Grainer’s themes and the Chappell music library pieces altogether in one set for the first time.

Tickets are available to purchase from today but places at this unique event are strictly limited, and offered on a first come, first served basis. Tickets are priced at £135, which includes admission to the premiere, all episode screenings, Q&As and events around the village throughout the day plus the new deluxe BluRay or DVD box set.

A very limited amount of overnight accommodation for 28th and/or 29th September in Portmeirion itself is available to purchase separately. Please email [email protected] with your details and PRISONER50ACCOM as the title for further details.

US TV

Review: Six 1×1 (US: History)


In the US: Wednesdays, 10/9c, History
In the UK: Not yet acquired

Why is it that dramas about Special Forces aren’t that special? On the face of it, making an exciting show about the Special Forces shouldn’t be that difficult. As A Bit of Fry and Laurie once pointed out, the SAS (and presumably other Special Forces) exist purely to be masturbatory fantasies for backbench MPs, so putting together a TV show involving Special Forces should inevitably result in something very exciting and, erm, climactic.

Yet, whether it’s Ultimate Force, The Unit, Strike Back or now Six, somehow the resulting shows never quite hit the spot – they’re close, but they’re never really as satisfying as you think they’ll be.

Six is interesting in this regard. Ten years ago, if you’d made a show called Six, the most anyone would guess you were doing was remaking The Prisoner. But thanks to their sterling work in dealing with Osama Bin Laden, the US Navy’s SEAL Team 6 is the latest pin-up of the Special Forces world. That means you can call a TV show Six and it’ll induce as much Pavlovian tumescence as if you’d called it Scarlett.

Trouble is, despite this launchpad, Six is all tease, no pay-off. The first episode follows a SEAL Team 6 team to a mission in Afghanistan where there’s plenty of shooting and leader Walton Goggins (Justified, Vice Principals, The Hateful Eight) starts to blur a few boundaries by shooting prisoners. Two years later, Goggins is out of the SEALs and in Africa, working for a private contractor, while the rest of the team are thinking about doing something similar and/or having problems with their wives and/or the bottle and/or money.

Then Boko Haram come along and kidnap a group of school girls, as well as Goggins, and the team are pulling themselves back together to rescue him. 

Six takes all the worst bits of The Unit and few of the best bits. It tries to mix up the personal and the military, but without having any idea how to create distinguishable characters, particularly not women, who are a never-ending parade of “why aren’t you here for me and your children?”

Which might almost be excusable if it could do action, except it can’t. Shoot-outs and action scenes are surprisingly few and far between, and when they turn up, they’re nothing special. Name an action TV show, any action TV show – you’ll have seen better and something probably more realistic. 

But even little details let the show down. Maybe it’s me, but giving your SEAL team the radio sign of “Delta 1” is only going to lead to confusion in the audience. And sure, kudos for managing to go with Boko Haram as your main bad guys, rather than ISIS (although a reveal at the end of the first episode shows Six is trying to have its cake and eat it), but having to have an officer explain to one of the world’s premier anti-terrorist units who Boko Haram are is not a way to create verisimilitude.

More importantly, Goggins is just wrong as the leader of the team. Not for a second can you picture him as either a morally ambivalent hero or a SEAL. Now to a certain extent, that’s not his fault – he was brought in not merely at the last moment but two episodes of filming after the last moment, which is when Joe Manganiello walked off the show with health problems. You can imagine Manganiello as “Rip Taggart”:

Joe Manganiello

Goggins?

Walton Goggins

Not so much.

It’s like casting Vinny Jones as a wedding cake designer – it’s simply not believable. So even though the rest of the cast of SEALs are (indistinguishable) butch manly types who look the part, little seems plausible as a result of Goggins’ presence.

If you have to watch a Special Forces show, there were at least a few good episodes of The Unit (Dark of the Moon is excellent) and Strike Back, so stick with them rather than Six, since Six won’t have yours. Six that is.

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