- WEEKLY TV PICKS
Friday, 31 August 2012
MediaGuardian have put the entire Sherlock panel online from the Edinburgh International Television Festival, where creators Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss discuss the creation of the popular BBC series with TV critic Boyd Hilton. They're also joined by producer Sue Vertue and actor Andrew Scott (who plays Moriarty). I have nothing much to add, beyond the fact this is an enjoyable hour's watch for fans, and I'm so pleased The Guardian have put high-quality footage of this panel online.
Thursday, 30 August 2012
Howard Gordon (24, Homeland) and Josh Friedman (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles) are working together on a potential NBC series set in a near-future where human-looking robots exist. The pilot will revolve around a homicide detective investigating the first instance of a robot killing a human being, to the backdrop of a growing robotic rebellion.
Labels: Internet Of Interest
Here's a very cool demonstration of an augmented reality app, which is sure to delight fans of the Alien franchise. Simply install the free app (iOS, Google Play), print the target image (or buy an official T-shirt), and you can film a friend with a nasty chestbuster xenomorph protruding from their body. Or wherever you like! I recommend a sleeping pet. Brought to you by the talented folk at Fingerfunk.
Wednesday, 29 August 2012
British director Neil Marshall (Dog Soldiers, The Descent) has been hired by Starz to direct the pilot of their upcoming Treasure Island prequel Black Sails; which will tell the story of Captain Flint and Long John Silver two decades before Robert Louis Stevenson's classic tale.
It's that time of year again; the tantalising brink of the autumn/fall season, where the TV networks premiere their brand new shows, together with returning favourites. As always, it promises to be a very busy time of year, and I probably won't be covering as much as usual. Instead, I'll sample the majority of pilots, write about the ones I have a strong reaction to, and then watch a few more episodes to determine if they're worth persevering with. Only the most interesting shows will become regularly reviewed here, as I just don't have the time to plough through everything.
It's been three years since HBO's Flight of the Conchords finished after two seasons (scarily), so this is a nice treat for fans of the New Zealand duo. It's a 14-minute charity special, where Jermaine and Brett are given the opportunity to write a charity song for kids. It includes a brand new sketch with their clueless manager Murray (Rhys Darby), an amusing market research session with real school kids, and a performance of the resulting song itself. Great fun. I've actually warmed to FotC more since the show went off-air, and hope rumours of a feature-film come true. But, for now, let's enjoy this new material.
You can also donate to the Cure Kids charity here, and download FotC's song from NZ iTunes. It will hopefully be made available worldwide soon.
Tuesday, 28 August 2012
"You're a dick" -- Holly to Andy
Another mess, as expected. I had mild hope that True Blood would give us a satisfying finale, but it didn't even have the grace to resolve the Lilith storyline. In addition, the feeling everything's half-improvised and they have no idea what they're doing was back in force. I'd love to know if the writers sit down and map out the entire season, or if they just wing it with a Charlaine Harris book as a vague outline. It's terribly done, but I guess the ratings stay solid because it keeps delivering violence, black humour, sex and nudity. Oh for a world where character, story and dialogue were the fixed priorities for audiences.
Monday, 27 August 2012
Peep Show creators Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain return with a one-off special for Channel 4's "Funny Fortnight" season, and if there's any justice a full series will follow. Bad Sugar concerned the Cauldwell family, whose ageing patriarch Ralphfred (David Bradley) made their fortune in mining. These days the Cauldwell dynasty is mostly comprised of schemers, bitter idiots, and gold-digging bitches. In this episode we meet Lucy (Sharon Horgan), who's just joined the family after getting hitched to repressed homosexual Rolph (Peter Serafinowicz), expecting a big inheritance, until it becomes clear that cantankerous Ralphred is still alive and kicking. Shortly after, Lucy makes an immediate enemy of bitchy sister-in-law Daphne (Julia Davis), while trying to recommence her efforts to get hold of the Cauldwell fortune. Throw in naïve younger sister Joan (Olivia Colman), Daphne's bitter paraplegic husband Greg (Reece Shearsmith), and dimwit gardener Simon (Kayvan Novak), and the scene was set for a juicy Dynasty-esque melodrama played for laughs.
The bliss of Breaking Bad is when the hard work pays off, and "Say My Name" saw a number of subplots come to a head; particularly regarding Mike's (Jonathan Banks) involvement with the business, Walt's (Bryan Cranston) desire to take his empire up a level, Jesse's (Aaron Paul) hope to break free of this mess, and Hank's (Dean Norris) luck trying to tie-up the stalling Fring investigation. It was, as you'd expect from this show when it's in sight of a half-season finale, absolutely magnificent.
TV Picks: 27 August– 2 September 2012 (Citizen Khan, Doctor Who, Good Cop, Hunderby, The Paralympic Games, Strike Back, Trollied, etc.)
Sunday, 26 August 2012
Never underestimate the power of a good title. 1992's Buffy the Vampire Slayer may have earned twice its $7 million budget on opening weekend, but it was hardly a success for screenwriter Joss Whedon, who felt the movie strayed far from his original vision. But the odd-sounding title lodged in audience minds, and five years later Whedon found himself making an unlikely sequel in the form of a teen-friendly TV series for The WB—albeit one specifically following the canonicity of Whedon's movie script, not what made it to multiplexes. One of the most appealing aspects of this 1997 pilot is how it forgoes preamble or an origin story, particularly as such a thing is de rigeur in its genre. Whedon either hoped you'd seen the movie or, more likely, trusted his audience weren't idiots and could catch the drift...
Friday, 24 August 2012
Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss attended the MediaGuardian's Edinburgh International Television Festival panel to discuss Sherlock. They were joined by actor Andrew Scott (Moriarty) and producer Sue Vertue, to answer various questions. The big news was the announcement that series 3 will film between January and April 2013, suggesting a late-summer/early-autumn premiere next year.
Thursday, 23 August 2012
Spartacus and Boss, British TV importer BBC America has created its own drama series—one that, wisely, mixes the BBC's reputation for esteemed period drama, with the American crime procedural obsession. The result is the ten-part Copper; a cop show set in 1864 New York City, which was vividly portrayed in Martin Scorsese's Gangs of New York. Unfortunately, BBC America doesn't have a movie-sized budget, or even a HBO-sized one, so Copper had to do one thing to make this work: give us memorable characters and a gripping story, in order to pull us through inevitable deficiencies with the production's scale and intricacies. It failed.
Wednesday, 22 August 2012
Today at MSN TV, I've reviewed the American remake of British comedy phenomenon THE INBETWEENERS, which started its first season on MTV last Monday. Will it recapture the magic of the original and echo its success Stateside? Well, probably not.
"Britain can take solace in the fact the best teenage drama and comedy of recent times has come from our shores: Skins and The Inbetweeners. MTV have now remade both for America, but the problem remains that these shows were very British reactions to a genre dominated by US pop-culture (all prom nights, liquor stores, and toga parties). In the case of The Inbetweeners, the subject matter and setup may be universal, but it was particularly refreshing from a UK perspective because the milieu and language was tailored to a home audience gorged on too much American Pie. The problem with MTV's Inbetweeners isn't that it's bad, just that it offers nothing unique for the culture that spawned what the UK show subverted." Continue reading...
Tuesday, 21 August 2012
"This business is all I have left now... and you want to take it away from me." -- Walter
Today over at MSN TV, I've reviewed Channel 4's Cutting Edge documentary IAN BRADY: ENDGAMES OF A PSYCHOPATH, which appears to have started some debate from readers.
Ian Brady, psychopathic killer of five children in the 1960s: Pauline Reade, Keith Bennett, John Kilbride, Lesley Ann Downey and Edward Evans. You know the mug shot; sleepy-eyed, downturned mouth, a tussle of teddy boy hair, wearing a tie-less white shirt and jacket. Along with his lover and abettor Myra Hindley, he instantly became one of Britain's most infamous criminals, and still haunts the victim's families after five decades of incarceration and increasing fragility at the age of 74 (13 years into a prolonged hunger strike, fed by nasogastric tube)..." Continue reading...
Monday, 20 August 2012
Comedy Showcase, before being unceremoniously dropped from the schedule, The Function Room now arrives as part of Channel 4's "Funny Fortnight" season. Like Verry Terry, one assumes this is a back-door pilot for a series if the response is favourable, and it certainly made enough of a positive impression on me.
Rik Mayall and Ade Edmondson have been British comedy legends for 30 years, particularly with their work on The Young Ones and Bottom, but in 2003 they parted ways after the fifth Bottom stage show, "Weapons Grade Y-Fronts". However, it looks like the anarchic double-act will reunite after almost a decade working on solo projects. Fans will be delighted to hear this will involve the return of Richie and Eddie, in a TV series based on their Bottom show "Hooligan's Island"—where their alter egos found themselves marooned on a desert island.
TV Picks: 20-26 August 2012 (Parade's End, Toast of London, A Touch of Cloth, Vic & Bob's Lucky Sexy Winners, Whatever Happened to Harry Hill?, etc.)
It's my weekly look at the UK's best new TV shows, for the week beginning 20th August 2012. A week that includes plentiful comedy as part of Channel 4's "Funny Fortnight" season...
Sunday, 19 August 2012
It's the British spy-fi series that premiered in 1961, starring Patrick Macnee as urbane agent John Steed (in iconic bowler hat and umbrella), partnered by various assertive women—most famously Honor Blackman's shrewd Dr Cathy Gale, Diana Rigg's catsuit-wearing Emma Peel (so-named because she was added to give the show "man appeal"), and Linda Thorson's inscrutable Tara King. I'm talking about British cult classic The Avengers, of course, which at its mid-'60s peak was shown in over 90 countries (including ABC in the US). Even after its cancellation in 1969, the show stayed popular enough through repeats, a stage show, and radio plays, for a 1976 revival as The New Avengers, with Macnee now joined by Joanna Lumley and Gareth Hunt.
ITV1 used the Saturday night returns of gameshow Red & Black? and The X Factor to debut trailers for upcoming dramas. The most memorable of which were two teases of Emmy-winner Downton Abbey's third series. Both offered fans peeks of the Dowager Countess (Maggie Smith): one where she makes an acerbic remark about Lady Grantham's visiting mother Martha Levinson (Shirley Maclaine), and the other where Martha gets the better of her caustic English relative.
Saturday, 18 August 2012
The Angelos Epithemiou Show. This was only a back-door pilot, heralding Channel 4's "Funny Fortnight" season, but it felt deserving of a full series commitment.
Friday, 17 August 2012
Showtime have released Homeland's official second season trailer (embedded above), which is 95-seconds of bliss. I love trailers that don't assault you with imagery; spoiling things for the eagle-eyed with a pause button. This is a much classier preview of season 2, set to the enchanting "Every Breath You Take" (The Police classic, here covered by Scala and the Kolacny Brothers).
It doesn't give much away, but it teases some notable changes—not least war hero Nick Brody (Damian Lewis) stepping foot on the political ladder, and Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) working in the Middle East. After watching this play out, you're reminded of why you enjoyed the show on an emotional level, and yet remain mostly in the dark about where the story is headed. Homeland will certainly have its work cut-out trying to keep things moving forward plausibly (as it still feels like it would have worked better as a miniseries), but I hope I'm proven wrong when it returns on 30 September. Highly anticipated.
Over at MSN TV today, I've reviewed BBC Three's hour-long documentary RUSSELL BRAND - FROM ADDICTION TO RECOVERY, where the comedian investigates the country's drug addiction problem and the prospects of rehabilitation.
"My opinion of Russell Brand has always been hard to pin down because his output runs incredibly hot and cold. For every scene-stealing turn in the likes of Forgetting Sarah Marshall, there's a heinous remake of Arthur lurking round the corner. In addition, he's undoubtedly a rampant egomaniac. However, it's impossible to deny Russell Brand as the perfect choice to present a film about drugs on the BBC's youth-skewing channel. Thanks to his background as a charismatic comic and ex-junkie, From Addiction to Recovery was both insightful and entertaining." Continue reading...
The IT Crowd's Chris O'Dowd is having incredible success in the US right now, thanks to a well-received role in Bridesmaids. Next up for the Irish actor is headlining a brand new comedy from renowned mockumentary-maker Christopher Guest (Spinal Tap, Best In Show). Family Tree will follow Tom Chadwick (O'Dowd) as he researches his unusual family history with the aid of a mysterious box he inherits from a great aunt he never knew. The series has been created by Guest and regular collaborator Jim Piddock, and will air on HBO in the US and BBC2 in the UK. Unusually, Family Tree has been commissioned on the strength of the concept and talent assembled, as a pilot hasn't even been shot. The comedy is expected to share a similar tone to Guest's movies.
Thursday, 16 August 2012
Showtime have released a two-minute trailer for the seventh season of Dexter, which I've embedded above. It certainly looks promising, if only because the writers appear to have realised they can't toy with the audience any longer. For the first time in a very long time, we have a Dexter trailer demonstrating unequivocal progress of the show's underlying tension: Deb knows, or will soon realise, that her brother's the notorious Bay Harbour Butcher. I hope. There's still an outside chance this trailer is misleading us, but I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.
Two more seasons are guaranteed right now, although there's recently been worrying rumours Showtime may push for a ninth season. That would be a colossal mistake. This show had a shelf life of five years, and they've pushed their luck to reach seven. I just hope season 7 and 8 will bring definite closure to the show (through salvation, death, or incarceration of Dexter Morgan), because witnessing The End is one of the key reasons I'm still watching. How about you?
His stand-up comedy is flavourless and mechanical, but I enjoyed Jack Whitehall's acting debut in Channel 4's Fresh Meat recently, so didn't approach BBC3's Bad Education with the trepidation I'd have had beforehand. Whitehall has written this sitcom for himself, playing posh and immature teacher Alfie, but he forgot to make anything halfway original. And why cast yourself as a posh teacher, when you're currently known for playing a posh student in another sitcom? What next, a posh caretaker?
Wednesday, 15 August 2012
Over at MSN TV, I've reviewed the series 2 premiere of Jimmy McGovern's drama anthology ACCUSED, this one starring Sean Bean as a transvestite college professor who starts an affair with Stephen Graham's affable TV repairman.
"From acclaimed writer Jimmy McGovern, Accused retains its established format: a story told in flashback from the perspective of someone standing accused of a crime. In this premiere, transvestite teacher Simon Gaskell (Sean Bean) stood in the dock, part of a story involving an unexpected love affair with satellite repairman Tony Baines (Stephen Graham)..." Continue reading...
Tuesday, 14 August 2012
Labels: State of the Blog
Dan's Media Digest underwent a revamp last Sunday evening, as you've hopefully noticed. (Unless you don't visit my blog directly and instead leech its RSS feed.) The changes don't feel too substantial in some ways, but it's still a brand new template combining aspects of the old with something new. The impetus behind this summer change was threefold:
Monday, 13 August 2012
The Olympic Games are over for another four years, with the torch literally passed to Rio de Janeiro for 2016. It's been a wonderful fortnight for a great many reasons, managing the difficult feat of making the British lose their cynicism and sarcasm. Ever since London won the Games seven years ago, the press and comedians have been filling our heads with derogatory remarks about what a London Games will look like (how could they be as lavish or well-organised as Beijing?), and the focus was on the astronomical expense and predictions of travel chaos across the capital. Even days before the spectacle of the Opening Ceremony, people were bracing themselves for a Teletubbies-esque fuckup from artistic director Danny Boyle, inclement weather, and the big story was security firm G4S failing to meet their commitments and forcing the government to send the military to Olympic venues last-minute.
TV Picks: 13-19 August 2012 (Accused, Bad Education, Celebrity Big Brother, Jonathan Ross Show, Person of Interest, Red or Black?, Verry Terry, Wilfred, X Factor, etc.)
Here are my picks of the best new television shows premiering in the UK, for the week commencing 13 August:
Friday, 10 August 2012
Thursday, 9 August 2012
Variety are reporting that Neil Cross, creator of the BBC's Golden Globe-winning cop drama Luther, would love to write a US-set spin-off for the show's popular serial killer love-interest Alice (Ruth Wilson).
Speaking to Variety, Cross confirmed that "the BBC is very interested in the project. The only real question would be how many and how often we would do it—whether it would be a one-off miniseries or a returning miniseries, a co-production or not. The truth is I absolutely adore Alice. I don't like to imagine my life without Alice in some way or other. Even if I didn't sell this thing, I would still end up writing the miniseries. It's something peculiar, but she's far more clever than me, far more witty than me, far more everything than me. I've got storylines going around in my head like trains. We're kind of thinking very loosely of a mix between The Talented Mr. Ripley and The Last Seduction. I'd love to move between the London of Luther and America."