September 28, 2016

News: I Love Dick, The Tick, JCVJ green lit; The Strain, Doctor Doctor renewed; + more

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  • Jeff Ward to star in Syfy's Channel Zero: The No-End House
  • Claire Cooper to recur on ABC's Still Star-Crossed

September 27, 2016

Review: Notorious 1x1 (US: ABC)

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Notorious

In the US: Thursdays, 9/8c, ABC

TV news producer - sexy job? Probably not. Mainly just people sitting down, looking at spreadsheets, working horrible hours and getting an ulcer while trying to work out where today's top story could come from.

Criminal defence attorney - sexy job? Probably not. Mainly just people sitting down, looking at abstruse papers, working horrible hours and getting an ulcer while trying to work out where an obviously guilty client's defence is going to come from.

But when you stick them together, hey? Sexy, right?

Nope. Two ulcers, that's what. Duh. But Notorious nevertheless tries to convince of the two careers' combined sexiness by using the simple tactic of removing reality from the equation altogether.

Like CBS's Bull, Notorious is 'inspired' by real people's lives - in this case, those of criminal defence attorney Mark Geragos and Larry King Live news producer Wendy Walker. Like Bull, that means it's almost certainly nothing like their lives, but a big fat development check will still be heading their way.

The lovely Piper Perabo (Covert Affairs) plays the top news producer who's also best friends with top defence attorney Daniel Sunjata (Graceland). He gives her scoops with all his most media-worthy clients, she gives him the heads up when sh*t starts heading their way - it's all win-win for them both.

Then Sunjata's top billionaire client, who coincidentally happens to be married to Sunjata's ex-girlfriend, appears to wrap his car around a person and Perabo and Sunjata are having to help each other out without ruining their friendship. Except things aren't quite as they seem and before you know it, Perabo and Sunjata are investigating the crime themselves - and each other.

Even without clients claiming they'd taken pain medication that caused them to 'sleep drive', this is nonsense of the highest order. Improbably, Perabo's assistant happens to be a former escort, a handy former career that helps her to secure all manner of scoops and is in no sense stigmatised. And maybe life on Larry King Live was a lot stranger than we imagine, but Perabo's star anchor (Kate Jennings Grant) spends most of her time in her underwear, shagging rappers before she's due to be on-screen. Oh yes, shagging rappers who organise indoor barbecues in her dressing room. That's not unlikely, is it?

Sunjata presides over a slightly more plausible firm that includes the likes of J August Richards (Angel), except he's the kind of go-to top attorney who'll go to a car impound lot at night so he can extract a great big bag of cocaine and dispose of it, rather than get someone else to do it. I wonder if that'll look a bit encriminating?

There is struggling in Notorious something interesting being said about the interplay between the media and the law when it comes to celebrities and how the truth is a rapidly diminishing aspect of cable news that the quest for ratings is obscuring. Unfortunately, said message is struggling beneath a layer of absurdity that makes Scandal look like a documentary about the Eisenhower White House years. 

I wish the cast well in their future careers, but you should try to help speed them on their way, by not watching this Notorious and watching the rather marvellous Cary Grant/Ingrid Bergman thriller instead.

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Preview: Insecure 1x1 (US: HBO; UK: Sky Atlantic)

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Insecure

In the US: Sundays, 10.30pm, HBO. Starts October 9
In the UK: Acquired by Sky Atlantic. Will air in October

Don't let my TV-set avatar fool you. I'm not actually an everyday household appliance. Let me reveal to you now that I'm actually a middle-aged, middle-class, white guy from London who doesn't get out much and who's never spent longer than a week in the US.

Now I think about it, you probably worked all that out for yourselves already.

Anyway, that 'revelation' means that it shouldn't surprise you that I have no idea what it's like to be a twentysomething, educated, single black American woman. I can guess, but you might as well be asking me the length of the Emperor of China's nose.

To be fair, though, judging by Insecure, twentysomething, educated, single black American women aren't quite sure what it's like to be a twentysomething, educated, single black American woman - or at least, they know what it's like but they're pretty sure it's different from what it's supposed to be like.

Based on her own web series, Awkward Black GirlInsecure is co-written by and stars Issa Rae, who plays a well meaning member of an outreach programme for inner city schools. The only black member of the programme, she finds herself seen by her white colleagues as their 'in' to the ghetto, even though the kids all mock this college graduate for 'not talking like a black girl'. Meanwhile, her boyfriend of five years is still trying to get his act together and her attorney best friend is looking for a man - perhaps any man - who doesn't respond with 'I'm not looking for a relationship at the moment' when pressed for any degree of commitment.

The show is co-written by former Daily Show correspondent Larry Wilmore, who's established himself as a guarantee of clever, insightful comedy writing about African-American life with shows such as black-ish and his own show, The Nightly Show. Together, Rae and he have created something that's not really laugh out loud funny, but which has the ring of authenticity, as well as sympathetic, recognisable characters.

Rae is herself a top performer, successfully depicting someone who's navigating through all of society's stereotypes about women, American-Americans and American-American women. One stand out scene has Rae rehearsing for a night out, running through a gamut of different 'black women', including one fairly decent English black woman ("No, you drive on the wrong side of the road"), before collapsing into a heap of self-doubt ("No, that's too aggressive").

Will I stick with it? Maybe. It's got a lot to say that's interesting, but I'm potentially too far away (continents and decades) for it to truly grab me. But I will say that not being a big BET or OWN viewer, I've not seen anything like it before and new always interests me. Give it a whirl, because it might be new for you, too.

Will, Grace, Karen and Jack reunite to discuss the US elections

Posted yesterday at 07:19 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

It's actually pretty much spot-on. Odd they're still all together, though.

News: Phantom reunion; BBC Four acquires Deep Water; Alan Cumming is Dr Death; SWAT remake + more

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September 26, 2016

Fancy seeing Supergirl's Superman in action?

Posted yesterday at 21:02 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

There is literally more fun, more beauty, more appreciation for the character in these two minutes than in all of Man of Steel and Batman v Superman. Okay, the effects are a bit rubbish and it's all a bit cheesy,  - it is Supergirl after all - but somehow it still ends up being delightful.

Review: Van Helsing 1x1 (US: Syfy)

Posted yesterday at 20:13 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Van Helsing

In the US: Fridays, 10/9c, Syfy

Syfy's new mantra may be 'fewer, bigger, better', a tactic that's already given us the likes of The Magicians and Childhood's End, but that doesn't mean it's going to stop being the home to z-grade, made-in-Canada schlock such as Killjoys, Hunters and Dark Matter. 

In particular, taking a leaf out of frequent contributor the Asylum's playbook, Syfy does love to develop non-copyright infinging shows that are still rather similar to other successful shows, but which are generally rather cheap and terrible, the most successful of these being Z Nation.

Without a huge amount of thought, Syfy now gives us Van Helsing - not to be confused with the rather similarly plotted Wynonna Earp or the identically named movie Van Helsing - in which the daughter of noted vampire hunter Abraham Van Helsing wakes up in 2019 and discovers that the western half of the US has been over-run with vampires thanks to a volcanic eruption this year. Hmm, sounds a bit like the quite popular The Strain, doesn't it? What a coincidence.

Notably, Miss Van Helsing now appears to have super powers and do martial arts and stuff. Could she be the saviour prophesied, who'll save humanity from the Feeders? You'll be asking if she's the Chosen One next.

The keenest and most astute of you will probably guess that Van Helsing bares no resemblance whatsoever to Bram Stoker's Dracula or the nice little Dutch scientist Van Helsing who appears in it. Unlike Stoker's vampires, the vampires of this piece can't roam in daylight without burning up and have a lot more in common with Walking Dead zombies than any vampires you might have come across in your media travels. 

Instead, the show is an ultra-low budget, "seven fighty, diverse people in rooms" kind of show in which people shout the plot at each other in between moaning about the collapse of civilisation and their dead loved ones before shooting one another. Fight scenes are simultaneously reasonable yet dreadful, with everything looking just fine and well choreographed until something terribly embarrassing takes place that makes you think they just didn't know what to do next - either that or they couldn't afford more than one piece of paper per fight to map out the moves on.

Everything about Van Helsing is derivative. Literally the only good thing about it is the surprisingly good soundtrack. Watching it is painful and, worst of all, hugely boring. It even makes me yearn for the comparatively high quality, absolutely low quality Wynonna Earp

Avoid.

What have you been watching? Including MacGyver, Lucifer, Doctor Doctor and Mr Robot

Posted yesterday at 17:06 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

It's "What have you been watching?", my chance to tell you what movies and TV I’ve been watching recently 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 "TMINE recommends" page features links to reviews of all the shows I've ever recommended, and there's also the Reviews A-Z, for when you want to check more or less anything I've reviewed ever. 

I think I did pretty well last week at keeping up with all the new TV releases. It wasn't until Thursday/Friday when a big bunch of them dropped in my lap that I fell behind. All the same, there have been a few new ones over the weekend, too, which makes my job a little harder. I'll try to catch up with them over the coming week, but my workload's a bit fierce so I might end up doing 'mini-reviews'.

Elsewhere, I've already reviewed The Good Place (US: NBC), Kevin Can Wait (US: CBS), Bull (US: CBS), This Is Us (US: NBC; UK: Channel 4), Designated Survivor (US: ABC; UK: Netflix), Lethal Weapon (US: CBS; UK: ITV) and The Exorcist (US: Fox; UK: Syfy). This week, I'm aiming to review the first episodes of Van Helsing (US: Syfy), Berlin Station (US: Epix), Insecure (US: HBO), Pitch (US: Fox) and Notorious (US: ABC), as well as pass third-episode verdicts on Quarry (US: Cinemax; UK: Sky Atlantic) and The Good Place. If I have time, I might even preview Falling Water (US: USA). I wouldn't put any money on that happening, though.

After the jump, I'll be looking at the latest episodes of Doctor Doctor, High Maintenance, Halt and Catch Fire and You're The Worst, as well as the season finale of Mr Robot and the return of Lucifer. But before that, there was one other new show I took a look at…

MacGyver (US: CBS)
A quick glance over TMINE, including the original's appearance in Nostalgia Corner and an attempt to crowdsource ideas for a female MacGyver, should show you how keen various people have been over the years to reboot the 80s action show about an engineering genius turned spy who uses his technical prowess to get himself out of scrapes, often with the help of a Swiss Army Knife.

Finally, though, someone's finally gone and done it - twice, in fact, since the first pilot was scrapped, most of the cast fired, and this exceedingly awful new episode filmed in June with a new cast to replace it. A reboot, rather than a sequel, MacGyver sees former army bomb disposal expert turned super secret spy Lucas Till (X-Men: First Class) as the new MacGyver, former CSI George Eads as the ex-Delta Jack Dalton, who together 'bro' their way around the world in an effort to stop Vinnie Jones from killing everyone with a bioweapon. 

Whereas the original series was at great pains to ensure the science of the piece was at least semi-feasible and novel, this new MacGyver thinks science is for sissies, but can't dispense with it altogether because what is MacGyver without some macgyvering? So the other head-nod to the original beside the names and the voiceover (somewhat wooden in this case) is also the worst part of the show, with Till either using a paper clip (you can tell it's a paper clip because every time he uses it, the words 'Paper Clip' appear on the screen) or something inaccurate you've seen in a movie some time (eg passing a biometric scan using a fingerprint obtained by dusting a previous fingerprint), rather than anything halfway competent.

It's also got a few women problems and every so often thinks to itself, "Maybe I could do that bit in the pilot of Scorpion. Or Hawaii Five-O's," since sticking to one remake is too hard. If only it had been as interesting as either of those, though, since 10 minutes before the end, I was clubbing myself in the hope that it would be ending soon. That's when they nicked a bit from Intelligence and I gave up.

Continue reading "What have you been watching? Including MacGyver, Lucifer, Doctor Doctor and Mr Robot"

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Review: The Exorcist 1x1 (US: Fox; UK: Syfy)

Posted yesterday at 16:04 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

The Exorcist

In the US: Fridays, 9/8c, Fox
In the UK: Wednesdays, 9pm, Syfy. Starts October 19

Over the past couple of years, it's become very apparent there's a big difference between two groups: people who movies and TV shows, and the people who make the trailers for them. Last year, of course, we had the horror that was the Supergirl trailer, which made us think we were getting that spoof Black Widow solo movie from Saturday Night Live. Except the pilot turned out to be a lot of jolly fun instead. 

Then, this summer, we had Suicide Squad. Now, by all accounts, that was never going to be a great movie, but such was Warner Bros's concern that it was going to tank at the box office, when a trailer for the movie got people all excited for it, the company actually got the trailer makers to edit the final movie. The result? A nonsensical disaster. 

Don't trust trailers, seems to be the lesson.

Now, one of the big US TV trends of late has been the remaking of old horror movies, with A&E's terrible sequel to The OmenDamien, already having crashed and burned this year. So I guess it's no surprise that Fox would eventually get round to a remake of perhaps the most famous of them all - the one Mark Kermode himself reckons is also the best movie of all timeThe Exorcist.

"Of course, it's Fox," we all thought. "It's bound to be rubbish." And then we saw the trailer, which basically just confirmed our worst fears: the remakers didn't understand the source and were just going to do a generic horror show.

Well, guess what - the trailer lied. Again. The Exorcist not only understands what made the original work, it's genuinely good and even scary… so far. Here's the misleading trailer - more after the jump.

Continue reading "Review: The Exorcist 1x1 (US: Fox; UK: Syfy)"

News: Victoria renewed; Channel 4 acquires This Is Us; Peter Capaldi to guest on Class; + more

Posted 2 days ago at 07:32 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

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  • ABC developing: Cagney and Lacey-esque team of female detectives drama

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September 23, 2016

Review: Lethal Weapon 1x1 (US: Fox; UK: ITV)

Posted 5 days ago at 08:49 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Lethal Weapon

In the US: Wednesdays, 8/7c, Fox
In the UK: Acquired by ITV. Will air this autumn

I love Lethal Weapon. I really do. Despite the constant repeats of Die Hard at Christmas and a general moving by society away from movies associated with Mel Gibsonsince his 'incidents', to me, it's the best and most important of the 80s action movies.

I could probably even write a thesis about it, it's so important. Written by Shane Black (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Iron Man 3), ostensibly it's a buddy-buddy cop movie in which the 'lethal weapon' of the piece - Gibson, a former special forces soldier who's now suicidal following the death of his wife - is partnered with the soon-to-retire Danny Glover, eventually becoming friends after fighting drug smugglers. In actuality, it sees aimless American men wondering what their purpose in society is, now that the Vietnam War is over, with Gibson's burn-out on one side, Mitchell Ryan and Gary Busey's amoral army of mercenaries on the other. It debates the nature of the 'new man' and whether unreconstructed men should aspire to be what society needs, and eventually crafts out a purpose for the left-behind: Gibson's trailer park trash who was 'only ever good at one thing' (killing) is able to put aside his suicidal tendencies by using those skills to help others when needed. 

Of course, that was the 80s and the debate has now evolved. So did Lethal Weapon, itself evolving from a semi-serious piece into an almost outright family comedy that could comfortably accommodate Chris Rock, Joe Pesci and Rene Russo in its ranks.

It's this latter incarnation of the franchise that Fox's new TV adaptation is largely channelling, but pleasingly, there are still traces of that original darker tone to the show. Based loosely on Shane Black's original script, it sees Clay Crawford (Rectify) take on the Gibson role, Riggs now being a Texan former Navy SEAL sniper turned cop who's on the verge of becoming a father when his pregnant wife is killed in a car crash.

Relocating back to his wife's home town of Los Angeles, he's partnered with Damon Wayans (In Living Color), an older cop just returned to work after having a heart attack. Neither's keen to work with the other at first, particularly once Wayans learns that Crawford has a death wish, but through various developments and stunt scenes directed by series exec producer McG (Charlie's Angels), they slowly forge a bond together.

Although the Lethal Weapon movies eventually became one big family with a continuing ensemble, don't be too surprised that for a series, that ensemble becomes even larger. The Murtaugh family comes through the transition intact, albeit with different ages. Jordana Brewster (Dallas, Fast & Furious) takes on the late Mary Ellen Trainor's role as Crawford's psychiatrist, while Tony Plana (Ugly Betty, Madam Secretary) takes on the new role of Crawford's father-in-law. 

Given that Wayans is largely known for comedy, you might be expecting the show to be nothing but buddy-buddy laughs. However, Crawford is the main focus of the show. As well as capitalising on Riggs' sharpshooting and martial arts skills, the TV adaptation still puts his death wish high on the show's feature list. 

As you might expect, given the 30 years' time difference, there are tonal differences, particularly in the attitudes to former military. Special forces aren't as mysterious as they were and attitudes to the armed forces are different - the wounds of the Vietnam War to the American psyche are different to those from Iraq. Wayans' son wants to enlist 'for the experience', and Crawford is 'happy' to point out that's a great idea if the experience you want is seeing your best friend shot in the head.

Also new is the culture gap between California and Texas, with Crawford a more well spoken Southern gentleman than Gibson. Meanwhile, Wayans' comedy talents are instead used most when dealing with his wife (Keesha Sharp) and family, rather than with Crawford. 

All the same, despite death wishes, a dead pregnant wife in the first five minutes and the copious number of car chases and shootouts, Lethal Weapon the TV series is a decidedly lighter affair than it probably should be and is nowhere near as compelling as it should be, either. Crawford, who is still undoubtedly the show's biggest asset and does fine at both the dark and the light, doesn't have the same manic energy that Gibson had once he had a target in his sights. The script is all over the place, despite the fine template, and its reinventions of old scenes are virtually nonsense.

And despite McG's presence behind the camera, the action is mostly badly choreographed, underwhelming and empty, other than a couple of fight scenes. Indeed, among all the other damage he undergoes in the episode, one of the lead characters is shot twice and the only trace of injury at the end is his arm in a sling. This is action because it can look cool, rather than because it has any real meaning.

Crawford is good enough and the character still Riggs enough that I'll tune in for episode two, at least, in the hope the show pulls itself together in later episodes. But this feels like an adaptation that either only loosely understands its original material or doesn't feel it can fully exploit it in a primetime show. Whichever it is, it also can't create something of its own that's as good or even half as engaging.

News: Magnum PI's daughter; Odd Mom Out, Dice, El Ministerio del Tiempo renewed; + more

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September 22, 2016

Review: Designated Survivor 1x1 (US: ABC; UK: Netflix)

Posted 5 days ago at 17:00 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Designated Survivor

In the US: Wednesdays, 10/9c, ABC
In the UK: Netflix. New episode every Thursday

Like most people in Britain, I get virtually all my knowledge about how the US government works via The West Wing. Screw Newsnight - I'll tell you the first five amendments to the US Constitution and the episodes in which they featured right now, if you want.

So when I heard about Designated Survivor, no explanation was needed: after all, not only had the Mayor from Buffy The Vampire Slayer been President Barlett's 'designated survivor' in He Shall, From Time To Time…, Laura Roslin would never have become President of the 12 Colonies in Battlestar Galactica were it not for a constitution specifying the exact list of people who would assume the position in the event of some terrible tragedy.

Designated Survivor is neither of those two shows. Instead, it's roughly half-Dave (that delightful movie in which ordinary punter Kevin Kline becomes President and behaves very nicely and decently, unlike the other politicians), half-24 (that less delightful TV series in which highly trained anti-terrorist agents have a very limited amount of time to shoot and torture lots of people to prevent terrible atrocities taking place).

It sees the lowly Secretary of Housing, who's just about to be fired by the sitting President, accepting the duty of 'designated survivor' during the State of the Union. Except then Congress gets blown up and this decent - possibly too decent - pushover family man and educator instantly propelled to the top job, where he has not only to bring the country together and keep it stable, he has to prevent all out war with other nations, find out who was responsible for the bombing and what they intend to do next, and avoid a coup d'êtat from people who think he's just not up to the job or even eligible for it, given he was unelected.

Can he do all that? Hell yeah. Because that man is Kiefer Sutherland. Yes, boys and girls, Jack Bauer is finally President.

Continue reading "Review: Designated Survivor 1x1 (US: ABC; UK: Netflix)"

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Clive Owen is back driving BMWs again

Posted 5 days ago at 16:18 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

The people of Britain first became aware of Clive Owen a long time ago - back in the 80s, in fact, when he was Chancer on ITV. That show made him very popular with the ladies in particular thanks to his starring role as the wide-boy conman 'Stephen Crane' - if you've seen the show, you'll know why I put that name in quotes - and he became indelibly stamped on the popular psyche as a result.

But it took a while for the rest of the world to wake up to Clive Owen and although the indie movie Croupier helped to establish him, it wasn't through movies or even a TV show that he became a star. Instead, it was through a series of auteured adverts for BMW called 'The Hire'. Each mini-movie advert was streamed online - one of the first ad series to take advantage of the Internet - and featured Owen driving a BMW.

Okay, that's not very informative, I know, but that was more or less the only thing the ads had in common - how could it be otherwise when you had the likes of Tony Scott, John Woo, Ang Lee, John Frankenheimer, Joe Carnahan, Wong Kar-wai, Alejandro G Iñárritu and Guy Ritchie directing them in their own unique styles, and Gary Oldman, Forest Whitaker, Don Cheadle, Marilyn Manson, Ray Liotta, Stellan Skargård et al guest starring?

Here are the John Woo and the Guy Ritchie ads so you can compare and contrast.

After the series began in 2001, BMW saw its sales go up 12% from the previous year, the ads being viewed more than 11 million times in four months. Indeed, the films were so popular that BMW produced a free DVD for customers who visited certain BMW dealerships - except BMW ran out of DVDs.

The result was that - at least in the US - Doug Liman could cast Owen in a bit part in The Bourne Identity, have him do little more than drive a BMW arround and the audience would know that a sly wink to the series was being cast in their direction. 

Owen, of course, went on to much bigger and better things, including movies and Cinemax's The Knick. But now, 15 years after the ads, he's back for old time's sake. The director chosen for 'The Escape'? None other than Neill Blomkamp, with Dakota Fanning, Jon Bernthal and Vera Farmiga along for the ride.

You'll have to wait until October 23rd before you can see the full thing on BMW Films. Until then, you can enjoy this shiny trailer with Jon Bernthal shouting and shooting a lot.

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Joss Whedon would rather you didn't vote for Donald Trump. And neither would his mates

Posted 5 days ago at 16:06 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Joss Whedon - you either love him or only like him a bit. I think it's probably impossible to hate Joss Whedon unless you're about 12 years old and have no sense of TV history.

Politically, Whedon is, of course, a great big feminist and Democrat, and you shouldn't be surprised that with a few exceptions - cough, cough, Sarah Michelle Gellar - so are his mates. With President Trump an actual realistic possibility in the next four months, Jossy-baby has got a huge number of his more famous pals to put together a video pleading with you not to vote for the racist, misogynist, homophobic, lying sociopathic conman who could well usher in the Apocalypse. He's even got half of the cast of The West Wing along for the ride.

The video's probably preaching to the converted and won't sway many dissenters, but it's worth a gander anyway because it's pretty funny, too.

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News: ITV2 acquires The Great Indoors; Uma Thurman is a TV fixer; Ghost in the Shell teasers; + more

Posted 6 days ago at 07:28 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

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  • Jeremy Tardy to recur on Netflix's Dear White People
  • Teaser for Netflix's Haters Back Off

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September 21, 2016

Weekly Wonder Woman: Wonder Woman (Rebirth) #4 & #6; Wonder Woman '77 #21-27 (ish)

Posted 6 days ago at 22:35 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Welcome back to Weekly Wonder Woman, which this week and for one week only happens to fall on Wonder Woman Wednesday. 

It's been a while, hasn't it? Sorry about that, but holidays, work and TV have all got in the way. Fingers crossed, though, we're back on track now. We might even be weekly again. Wouldn't that be something?

In WWW's absence, things have happened, of course. She's been set to feature on four US postal stamps from October 7:

Wonder Woman stamps

The first trailer for the new Justice League cartoon, Justice League Action, has been released:

As has one for the video game sequel to 'Injustice: Gods Among Us', which features Diana as well:

A photo for the live action Justice League has also been released. Superman's in it - did you see that coming?

Live action Justice League

Wonder Woman artist Liam Sharp has signed exclusively with DC. We've learnt there's going to be a Wonder Woman crossover with The Bionic Woman in Wonder Woman '77 in December that includes art by Alex Ross…

Wonder Woman Bionic Woman crossover comic cover

…and that the forthcoming NBC show Powers (I'll review it when it airs, folks) will also involve Wonder Woman peripherally, at least. 

You could also have learnt to draw Wonder Woman the Ivan Reis way at DC Art Academy.

See what happens if you go away for a bit? Madness, that's what. Madness.

Of course, the previous two months have also seen an awful lot of comics featuring our Diana. There's literally no way I could cover all of them today without taking all of today to write WWW, so I'm going to do what I did last year and recap the missing issues of each title once the latest issue of that title is out in the forthcoming weeks.

In the case of Wonder Woman, I'm also going to break down the recaps between the two different storylines. And on top of that, despite the fact that there are new issues out today featuring Wondy, I'm only going to look at the titles that were out last week, otherwise I'll not have anything to look at next week.

Once you've done all your back-of-a-fag-packet math with that algorithm, you'll see that after the jump, I'll be looking at Wonder Woman (Rebirth) #4 and #6, as well as Wonder Woman '77 #21-27. Well, I might cheat with the latter ones.

Continue reading "Weekly Wonder Woman: Wonder Woman (Rebirth) #4 & #6; Wonder Woman '77 #21-27 (ish)"

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Review: This is Us 1x1 (US: NBC)

Posted 7 days ago at 14:47 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

This is Us

In the US: Tuesdays, 10/9c, NBC

Calling your show This is Us is a bold move. It implies a certain universality of the human experience, which in an age of identity politics is hard enough in a single city of the US, without TV producers having to think about how much of the New York City cultural experience transfers to South Africa, for example. 

Yet that's what This is Us is going for. You probably have to look back to Parenthood and before that thirtysomething to find shows that were so convinced of their universal applicability and smartness.

This is Us - or perhaps that should be This is US, given it's American focus - tries to demonstrate its pancosmic thesis through the conceit of three storylines, each involving one or more people who all have the same birthday: a married couple (Milo Ventimiglia and Mandy Moore) who are about to have triplets; an actor brother and a love-lorn sister (Justin Hartley and Chrissy Metz); and a rich trader (Sterling K Brown) whose drug-addict father (Ron Cephas Kones) abandoned him as a baby after his mother died.

A title card preceding the drama says that according to Wikipedia, people who share the same birthday aren't guaranteed to have anything else in common. But how much do you want to bet that it's hinting at a "universality of the human spirit", that universality being love, predominantly for family, predominantly in an American way? And that on top of that, that there's a secret link between the three storylines that will become immediately obvious by about two-thirds of the way through? One that involves a bit of cheating involving Milo Ventimiglia's physique?

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Review: Bull 1x1 (US: CBS)

Posted 7 days ago at 09:09 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Bull

In the US: Tuesdays, 9/8c, CBS

They say 'write what you know', but if everyone in TV does that, we're going to be in a sorry state very soon. I've already lost track of the current number of shows airing, just having aired or that are in development that are based on the lives of one of the executive producers. There's even a Judge Judy drama on the way. Do we really need that? I don't think so.

I guess the idea is that it not only gives an air of verisimilitude to the show, as well as a built-in audience and ideas for stories that might otherwise never have occurred to the writers, it also insulates the writers from accusations of racism, implausibility and so on - "But that's what actually happened!" they can say.

Trouble is that with a lot of these shows, either people's lives are already remarkably similar to TV shows or somewhere in development, people's life stories get squeezed into formats that allow the shows to run for 10, 13 or 24 episode seasons, hopefully up to a syndicatable 5-7 seasons or more. The result is they all still end up looking the same as one another and what you see is probably not what actually happened?

Take Bull, CBS's new show, which is based on the life of Dr Phil McGraw. You know Dr Phil, right? Well, before being a stalwart of Oprah and then getting his own show, he was a 'trial scientist'. Here he is explaining what that is to Bull star Michael Weatherly.

I say 'based', but the show's creators say 'inspired'. That suggests that it bares very little resemblance to watch Dr Phil's life used to be like. Yep, development squeezed the real life out of it while it was shoving the story into a CBS procedural formatting box.

Nevertheless, there might be something true about it. I mean if you think Dr Phil is just a trite regurgitator of homely platitudes with little scientific basis that are designed to further his TV career rather than actually truly help people, which would be impossible anyway, Bull will just confirm your suspicions as it's just a trite regurgitator of homely platitudes with little scientific basis that are designed to further a very standard legal procedural.

All the same, real or not, seen Justice? Seen Shark? Seen Lie To Me? Then you'll have seen a whole bunch of very similar shows that were all better than Bull. There's the standard older, slightly troubled central eponymous white guy who everyone thinks is brilliant and spends most of their time admiring. There's the diverse team of slightly less brilliant, slightly more personality-free helper monkeys who are going to get significantly less time for character development over the course of the series. There's the endless stream of supposed pieces of wisdom that are actually just blunt over-simplifications. There's the never-ending series of false trails before the eventual resolution. There's blunt talking at anyone who's not 'with the programme'.

About the only thing different is the inclusion of a slightly punky computer girl (Annabelle Attanasio), which is more of a head nod to the NCIS audience Weatherly is hopefully taking with him.

If this is an advert for 'trial science', it's also a big epic failure. While it may (or may not) be an accurate representation of what goes on behind the scenes with 'mirrored juries' (seen them in Justice and Shark - soz) et al, trying to pass off "she's thinking of him as being like her son" as profound is a surefire loser. If people are paying big money for this, I've got this great wire transfer scheme they might want to hear about.

Bull's not without the occasional innovation: I quite liked the way the various members of the jury Weatherly was analysing from afar seemingly spoke their inner desires to him and his 'too long, didn't read' was a nice rejoinder to something from a millennial.

But those moments are fleeting. Unless you like watching TV shows that are just like all those other TV shows that you like - well, it is CBS - give Bull a wide berth.

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