Sunday, 26 May 2013

Summer holiday

I'm off to sunny Spain for a few weeks soon, so my absence will obviously impact updates. Don't expect much blogging until 30 May, and then there'll be no updates until 10 June. Yes, even the TV Picks will be missing for the next three weeks!

I won't apologise about this, because everyone needs a break, and it's rare enough for DMD to 'go dark'. Feel free to check out the blog archives, and discuss things I'm missing in appropriate comment areas (like here).

When I get back to the UK, I'll try to clear the backlog of Mad Men and Hannibal reviews, and there's also the start of my Buffy S4/Angel S1 catchups to look forward to. I will probably use my Netflix free trial to mainline Arrested Development in June, too, but I have a suspicion the internet will be exhausted by discussion of that show by the time I get back! Oh, True Blood's sixth season will also be days away when I arrive home... so, lots of things on the horizon... see you in a few weeks!

Saturday, 25 May 2013


I've started using Letterboxd to post short reviews of films, which will be linked to in this blog's sidebar. I'm also going to 'mirror' a selection of DMD film reviews over there, and vice versa here. So starting from now, the past two or three Letterboxd entries will be collated into an occasional blog post...

Frankenweenie (2012)
Tim Burton's best film in years is also his biggest commercial failure, despite being a "remake" of exactly the sort of thing that gave him his big break in the 1980s. It seems big audiences don't like pure Burton—or at least not in animated, monochrome form, without Johnny Depp lending his vocals. I'm glad Burton appears to have used his post-ALICE IN WONDERLAND cachet to make something as personal and non-commercial as FRANKENWEENIE, but it'll only really be loved by dyed-in-the-wool fans who don't feel it's a backwards step. Still, at this point in Burton's career, a backwards step to try and recapture former glories is perhaps better than dancing in circles with CHARLIE & THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY or DARK SHADOWS. I just wish SWEENEY TODD didn't feel like such an aberration, when it should have heralded a fresh start.

Friday, 24 May 2013

The CW's ARROW: did the first season hit the mark?

Warning: contains major spoilers. I didn't expect to watch all of Arrow's first season, but this ersatz Batman was surprisingly entertaining—although, like many US network shows, it began to test my patience with an inexcusable 23-episode run. The second-half was consequently much weaker and you could feel the writers filling time, but it helped that Arrow had built itself a large world of characters, relationships, and storylines.

There was also the clever idea of telling two distinct stories: the present-day crusade of wealthy playboy Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) cleaning up his city as vigilante 'The Hood'; and how he was reborn as said superhero after years stranded on an island. I actually preferred the island storyline most of the time--despite the fact we know where everything's headed and that Oliver's life is never in danger--although that storyline was a victim of the season's length.

The big finale, "Sacrifice", ended the show's inaugural season on a high-note; with fisticuffs and city-wide destruction. The show has borrowed many elements from Batman and Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy (in particular), so it was only right the finale involved the destruction of a suburban district—echoing the scenes of chaos from the end of Batman Begins. We even had some old clichés like a device to disarm by cutting some wires, although I appreciated it being an Ocean's Eleven-esque "earthquake device" instead of a bomb.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

MAD MEN, 6.8 – 'The Crash'

written by Jason Grote & Matthew Weiner | directed by Michael Uppendahl

It seems like Matthew Weiner so enjoyed "Far Away Places" from season 5, which featured hilarious scenes of Roger Sterling (John Slattery) getting high, that he couldn't resist co-writing an episode where almost every character was on amphetamines—prescribed by a doctor, at the behest of the firm's new partner Jim Cutler (Harry Hamlin), to inspire increased creativity and productivity in the workforce. I may be in the minority with this, but I found a great deal of this episode too self-consciously ker-azy for its own good, and consequently had a tough time really caring about some of the serious issues and sub-plots that were part of the mix.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

A&E's BATES MOTEL: was the first season worth checking in for?

Warning: spoilers for season 1, which hasn't aired in the UK (at time of writing).

I reviewed the pilot of A&E's Bates Motel, which had promise but didn't 'wow' me, then recorded an audioboo after episode 4 to admit things were improving. Now the entire first season of 10 episodes has aired in the US, so I thought I'd pitch in with some cumulative thoughts. Firstly, the show does itself no favours with its association to Hitchcock's masterpiece Psycho, and I still don't quite understand why A&E couldn't have ordered an original serial killer/mystery drama that doesn't sit in this shadow. Still, considering its iconic pedigree, I don't think Bates Motel is a bad show or a lazy cash-in; occasionally it's even pretty good, at least as something unchallenging but fun to watch.

Monday, 20 May 2013

How to Watch Television Properly

Television's big business. Millions are spent creating content for people to sit down and watch. So the least you can do is watch it properly. And yes, that means not on your iPhone, while on a train, with headphones stuffed in your ears. I watch television semi-professionally, so here are my tips for how to watch it best...

TV Picks: 20-26 May 2013 (Arrested Development, Eddie Izzard's Mandela Marathons, Nina Conti: Talk to the Hand, Towns, The Vikings, etc.)

Below are my picks of the week's most notable new shows premiering/returning to UK screens; and as further proof TV's undergoing radical changes, two are online streaming exclusives...

Sunday, 19 May 2013

DOCTOR WHO, 7.13 – 'The Name of The Doctor'

written by Steven Moffat / directed by Saul Metzstein

His stories aren't perfect, but Steven Moffat has so much confidence and ostentatiousness as a storyteller I can't resist his tent-pole episodes. A few stretches of "The Name of The Doctor" even made actual sense, until Moffat wanted to wring something extra from a scene and it resulted in the usual sense of illogic.

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Letterboxd: MACGRUBER (2010)

I've signed up to Letterboxd, which is a "social network for sharing your taste in film"; which basically means it lets people review, rate, and keep track of all the films they watch.

I encourage you to follow me there, or else follow me on Twitter where I'll be posting links to future Letterboxd reviews. Alternatively, you may have noticed a widget in the left sidebar of DMD, where I'll list my five most recent Letterboxd reviews.

By means of a special preview for people too lazy to click a link (they exist), below is my inaugural Letterboxd review of 2010 spoof comedy MacGruber:
My hope for an AUSTIN POWERS-style discovery of a comedy classic everyone ignored at the cinema was short-lived, with this laborious and unfunny '80s action hero spoof. Based on a Saturday Night Live character parodying MacGyver, Will Forte plays the eponymous hero who's called back into action, RAMBO III-style (or HOT SHOTS II-style?), to stop a terrorist played by Val Kilmer—whose name, Dieter Von Cunth, is probably the cleverest thing about this lame comedy.

Forte gurns and yells his way through a storyline that runs out of good jokes after 20-minutes, before the plot gives out 10-minutes later. It was a struggle to stay awake an hour in. Ryan Phillipe gives the film's best performance as MacGruber's reluctant sidekick, but all of its best moments are in the trailer, and the writing gets little mileage out of doing for '80s action cinema what AUSTIN POWERS did for '60s spy thrillers.

It doesn't even have a firm grip on its lead character; who's introduced as an all-American hero with the medals to prove it, but spends the entire movie being inept and infuriating the boss who lauded him. It's like a PINK PANTHER movie if Commissioner Dreyfuss went looking for the retired Clouseau, and had somehow forgotten what a clutz he is.

A weak SNL movie, which I guess is upholding a tradition rarely broken.


Here's the trailer/promo for CBS spy-fi drama Intelligence, about an ex-Navy SEAL implanted with a microchip that gives him a mental link to the worldwide information grid (i.e. the internet, WiFi, telephone and satellite data.) "Six Million Dollar Man for the information age" is how it's being sold, but it also feels like a straight dramatic version of NBC's Chuck. Josh Holloway's a good pick for the lead, but his character doesn't 'pop' in this trailer like Sawyer did on Lost.

It'll also be interesting to see how this show operates, because on most spy shows the hero needs other characters to be his 'eyes and ears' from a surveillance van parked close by, but Holloway's character has less need for that type of backup. Incidentally, I much prefer these types of promos, that have cast/crew 'talking heads' simply telling us what the show's about, with clips giving us a flavour and feel of things.

Intelligence premieres early-2014 as a mid-season replacement on CBS.

Trailers: Showtime's DEXTER (season 8) and Fox's SLEEPY HOLLOW

After yesterday's blog about an effective 'Masterpiece' promo I enjoyed, Showtime have released the official trailer for Dexter's final season. It's a little bit spoiler-y and suggests some avenues the show may ultimately take to resolve itself. There appears to be a lot of character-based content for Dex and Deb this year, following the climax of season 7 (which is both appropriate and great to see), but not a lot else to get excited about... beyond the fact this show is building towards a definite ending, which is exciting in itself.

Of all the trailers that have been released for US network Upfronts presentations, I feel like I have to write about the one for Fox's Sleepy Hollow. God, this looks insane! Adapting Washington Irving's famous ghost story for television struck me as a difficult task, but the ways in which they've "broadened" the idea are plain ludicrous...

Friday, 17 May 2013

Teaser: DEXTER - the final season

How do you want to be remembered?

The eighth and final season of Showtime's Dexter is a little over a month away, so the publicity machine is awakening. We've already had a few brilliant posters (embedded below) but here's a clever promotion selling the idea of Dexter Morgan leaving a legacy. It's also a nice reminder of how enjoyable this show's been, for the most part. Yes, it made the unfortunate error of sticking to a successful formula for too long (i.e. Debra should have been made aware of her brother's homicidal tendencies around season 5), but I was very happy with the season 7's repair job. It'll be a challenge to end Dexter in a way that's both satisfying and surprising (haven't fans guessed every possible outcome by now?*), but I just hope the last leg of this show is a thrilling one.

Dexter returns 30 June. ( * I still think it should end with Dexter on Death Row, but considered a 'folk anti-hero' by the majority of the city's population. Anyone agree?)

HANNIBAL, 1.8 - 'Fromage'

This show is already very serialised, but "Fromage" almost felt like a third part of the "Entrée"/"Sorbet" two-parter, continuing the idea that Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) is consumed by loneliness and sees a chance of real friendship with Will Graham (Hugh Dancy), who can adopt his perspective but is different enough to be of interest. The 'killer-of-the-week' storyline also got closer than ever before to Lecter's secret life, as his idolising patient Franklin (Dan Fogler) revealed his friend Tobias (Demore Barnes) recently spoke of playing someone's neck like a musical instrument, before a trombonist was found with the neck of a cello rammed down his throat in order to play his vocal chords. Yeah, icky.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Everybody loves Riddick, right? A defence.

1999's Pitch Black was an inventive sci-fi actioner that introduced us to Vin Diesel, who mostly failed to capitalise on that promising start as a Hollywood action hero. I know he's part of the Fast & The Furious movies, which have somehow become box-office dynamite, but he only rejoined that franchise after solo projects xXx and Babylon A.D flopped at the box-office. And that's a pity, because I really like Diesel as an action star. He has a gravelly voice that could give Satan the willies, and is muscular without being too much of a Schwarzenegger-style cartoon.

MAD MEN, 6.7 – 'Man with a Plan'

The merger of ad agencies Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce and Cutler, Gleason & Chaough came with all the pain and power-struggles one could reasonably expect, with the empires of Don (Jon Hamm) and Ted (Kevin Rahm) groaning under the stress. Peggy (Elisabeth Moss) isn't happy she now has a smaller office, but is more indignant by Don's sly tactics in putting Ted in his place by getting him drunk in his office and sending him out to make a fool of himself in front of his staff, both new and old. The fact this only happened because Don was irritated a scheduled meeting wasn't deferred for 40-minutes because of his own avoidable absence just made it even more frustrating for viewers.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013


Film-maker Robert Rodriguez (Desperado, Sin City) is launching his own television network later this year: the El Ray Network. It will be English-language, but target Latino audiences as a "home of kick-ass entertainment", according to Rodriguez himself. Spanish-language channel Univision will be handling the sales and distribution of the El Ray Network.

Anyway, the more interesting news is that Rodriguez already has two scripted dramas poised to launch his network: an action-adventure show by Alex Kurtzman and Robert Orci (Fringe, Star Trek), and a TV version of 1996 crime horror From Dusk Till Dawn (which Rodriguez directed from an early Quentin Tarantino script and Robert Kurtzman story).


Over at MSN TV today: I've reviewed the premiere of BBC1's new medical drama FRANKIE, starring Torchwood's Eve Myles as a hard-working District Nurse...
The prospect of fighting more aliens after the wretched Torchwood: Miracle Day gets less likely with each passing day, so Eve Myles has wisely moved on, taking the lead in a new medical drama that plays more to her strengths. I know Eve has passionate fans in sci-fi circles but as Torchwood's Gwen Cooper, she was always a hair's breadth away from being a total embarrassment leaping around with twin handguns. Far more believable during Torchwood's down-to-earth scenes, she was allowed to behave more like a regular human being. Frankie gives Ms Myles a great showcase for her naturalism, and she's indeed very watchable as the flawed heroine of this new BBC drama.

Continue reading at MSN TV...

Trailer: ABOUT TIME (2013)

Tuesday, 14 May 2013


Christopher Guest is famous for writing, directing and appearing in many 'mockumentaries'; most famously rock spoof This is Spinal Tap, but also Best in Show, A Mighty Wind, Waiting for Guffman, et al. His work was a sizeable influence on Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant's The Office, so in a roundabout way he's responsible for the faux-documentary style that's dominated small-screen comedy since the turn-of-the-millennium. Surprisingly, HBO's Family Tree marks his first TV project in an estimable career, working with Jim Piddock (who also appears as Mr Pfister), and it mixes many of the things you associate with Guest both personally and creatively.


Over at MSN TV today: I've reviewed the premiere of BBC2's five-part crime drama THE FALL, starring The X Files' Gillian Anderson as a London detective sent to Belfast to help catch a serial strangler...
The most notable thing about BBC2's five-part drama The Fall is how it immediately sets itself apart from whodunnits like Broadchurch, Sherlock, Endeavour and The Suspicions of Mr Whicher. We're immediately aware of who the culprit is because he stands in front of a mirror and takes a photograph of himself for posterity. This gives the show a different angle to most other crime dramas that are often propelled by a sense of mystery and audience's desire for the detectives to crack the case and unmask the villain.

Continue reading at MSN TV...

Monday, 13 May 2013

Fox greenlight 24: LIVE ANOTHER DAY

Fox have leaped at the chance to bring their long-running hit 24 back to life, after executive-producer Howard Gordon proposed a "limited event series" of 12 episodes, in the wake of the inability to get the long-awaited movie made. Kiefer Sutherland has agreed to reprise his role as Jack Bauer, in a story that takes place several years after season 8's conclusion. How old is Jack at this point? 60?

Similarly odd, the plan is to keep the show's signature "real time" format, but simply skip occasional hours to tell the usual 24-hour story in half that time. The rationale being that most seasons of 24 contained 12-hours of relevant plot and 12-hours of sub-plots and "filler". I guess this means the story can now take into consideration issues like transportation; so, for example, whenever Jack needs to take a flight somewhere they can skip an "uneventful" hour without having to create in-flight peril for him to deal with, etc.


Fans have waited seven years for Arrested Development's return (or a year, if you're a late-comer like me), after it was axed by Fox after three seasons. It's now become the flagship resurrection for online rental service Netflix, who've taken the strange decision to release all 15 episodes simultaneously around the world on 26 May.


Over at MSN TV today: I've reviewed the two-hour ITV crime drama THE SUSPICIONS OF MR WHICHER, a follow-up to their 2011 adaptation of Kate Summerscale's novel, starring Paddy Considine as the eponymous Victorian sleuth...
British drama has a tendency to produce Victorian-era dramas or murder-mysteries, so the temptation to mix the two must be hard to refuse. Just recently the BBC found success with Ripper Street, but ITV's The Suspicions of Mr Whicher actually pre-dates it by a few years. The 2011 TV adaptation of author Kate Summerscale's award-winning book (itself inspired by the real-life Constance Kent murder enquiry of 1860) was enough of a success for ITV to commission a follow-up. Only this time, the story is an original creation, as there are no literary sequels. In The Murder in Angel Lane, we catch up with Jack Whicher (Paddy Considine) after the events of The Murder at Road Hill House. He's now working as a 'private enquiry agent' after leaving the police force in disgrace.

Continue reading at MSN TV...

TV Picks: 13-19 May 2013 (Case Histories, The Dales, Eurovision Song Contest, The Fall, Frankie, Ice Age Giants, etc.)

Below are my weekly picks of the most notable TV shows premiering/returning to UK screens...

Sunday, 12 May 2013

State of the Blog: 4 million hits!

I've been forgetting to chime in with these situation updates, although I doubt they're anyone's favourite thing to read. But they do serve a purpose and let regular readers know what's going on with the blog.

Anyway, the big news is DMD has achieved 4,000,000 page hits since I started it back in March 2006. There's been a reduction in visitors over the past year, no doubt because there's generally less content because I've altered my reviewing habits. The days of 4-5 new posts every single day are sadly over, so it will probably take me much longer than 7-years to achieve 8 million hits. But hey, that's still a lot of people and I can't complain. I continue to be amazed we're talking in terms of millions here, as I still remember the days when cracking 100 hits in a day was cause for private celebration.

DOCTOR WHO, 7.12 – 'A Nightmare in Silver'

After his superb Doctor Who debut "The Doctor's Wife" (one of the best episodes of Steven Moffat's era), expectations were unreasonably high for the sophomore effort of renowned author Neil Gaiman (American Gods, Neverwhere). Sadly, "A Nightmare in Silver" was an episode overburdened with nonsense and whimsy; quickly becoming both repetitive and tiring. The only thing it did well was improve the design and logic of the Cybermen as callous villains; even if most of its improvements came from Star Trek's own cybernetic nemesis The Borg.

Twitter'd: TAKEN 2 (2012)

My live-tweets of bad movies continued on Saturday afternoon with action sequel TAKEN 2, starring Liam Neeson, Famke Janssen and Maggie Grace. (Also, a reminder that you can read previous live-tweets here.)

Saturday, 11 May 2013


The History Channel's first serialised drama The Vikings has found a home in the UK. Unexpectedly, it's landed at the feet of Europe's biggest film rental company LOVEFiLM. After so much Stateside buzz about Netflix and Amazon getting into the "original programming" business, it looks like LOVEFiLM would like an online exclusive too. Who knows, they might make a few dramas of their own one day.

Should 24 restart its clock?

In the wake of Fox axing Touch after two seasons (the sci-fi drama starring Kiefer Sutherland as the father of an autistic boy who can predict the future), it appears the network's offering Sutherland the opportunity to reprise his role of super-agent Jack Bauer in a ninth season of 24, which was cancelled in 2010.

Original executive producer Howard Gordon is apparently on-board (having posited the idea of a return to Fox), along with fellow exec/writer David Fury. Talks are very early, but it appears to hinge on Sutherland agreeing to return to his most famous role, in light of 24 failing to make the hoped-for transfer to cinema. The reasons for that have been a mix of unsuccessful scripts, together with difficulty working around Sutherland's work schedule. Well, the latter isn't a problem now, but maybe those script issues were bigger than we thought. Did the writers struggle to create something that would work as a satisfying two-hour movie, bearing in mind the unique aspect of 24 was its "real time" format?

Friday, 10 May 2013

COMMUNITY, season 4 finale – 'Advanced Introduction to Finality'

This is the probable end for Community, unless the producers agree a deal with NBC to keep it on-air for another half-season*. But I'm not sure where you go now Jeff (Joel McHale) has graduated from college, unless they awkwardly backtrack in some unconvincing way, and I think I'd prefer to see Community disappear forever... safe in the knowledge we got two excellent seasons, one good season, and one well-intentioned misfire.

HANNIBAL, 1.7 – 'Sorbet'

There's a memorable shot in "Sorbet" when a disgusting and unrecognisable arrangement of flesh is gradually revealed to be the throat of a beautiful opera singer, as the view pulls out of her gullet. It encapsulated Hannibal for me; a show that's ultimately about the ugliness that inhabits seemingly normal and even beautiful people. The show is asking us to believe a character like Dr Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) wouldn't arouse any suspicion by now, but that's ultimately the fun of the show. It helps that we know Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) will expose and catch him one of these days, too, so until then it's just a fascinating game of cat-and-mouse—where the mouse is unaware he's befriended the cat.


Over at MSN TV today: I've reviewed the new documentary series BRITAIN'S BIGGEST HOARDERS, which is rather self-explanatory.
It isn't most people's idea of entertainment, but there's a curious fascination with hoarding right now. It started with How Clean Is Your House?, which would occasionally stumble upon someone with stacks of stinking rubbish touching their ceilings. Those discoveries have since become their sub-genre, and the latest is three-part documentary Britain's Biggest Hoarders. In each episode, Jasmine Harman (daughter of a mother she helped conquer a hoarding habit) tries to use her personal experiences and insight to help others suffering the same psychological condition.

Continue reading at MSN TV...

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Teaser: THE WORLD'S END (2013)

... it even has another 'fence gag', which means this is definitely a trilogy after Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

MSN TV: BBC1's THE APPRENTICE (series 9) and Sky Living's HANNIBAL

Today over at MSN TV: I've reviewed the series 9 premiere of BBC1's business reality show THE APPRENTICE; then cast my eye over Sky Living's US crime drama HANNIBAL, which brings Hannibal 'The Cannibal' Lecter to the small-screen. (The latter review is an abridged version of my original review when the show made its US debut.)
I was a dyed-in-the-wool fan of The Apprentice for years, but I must confess I gave up on it last year. Its durable format suddenly felt worn; with similar "personalities" among the entrepreneurs and tasks that didn't feel fresh or interesting. It's been recycling its various tics and tropes for ages, but the producers usually find ways to make you either forgive or forget this repetitiveness.

Continue reading 'The Apprentice' at MSN TV...

Hannibal Rising, the atrocious 2007 prequel, appeared to kill off everyone's favourite anti-hero. However, the franchise has found an unlikely champion in Bryan Fuller - a writer best-known over here for quirky flop Pushing Daisies and now the man behind Hannibal, one of the most anticipated Sky Living acquisitions.

Continue reading 'Hannibal' at MSN TV...

MAD MEN, 6.6 – 'For Immediate Release'

My favourite Mad Men episodes are often the ones where seismic events hit the workplace, and "For Immediate Release" delivered one of the best in the merger of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce and its competitor Cutler, Gleason & Chaough—in a deal intended to win a lucrative deal with Chevy, while simultaneously taking it to the big time as one of the country's top 25 ad agencies. There's still time for this dream to come crashing down around Don (Jon Hamm) and Ted Chaough's (Kevin Rahm) ears, as I somehow don't expect Mad Men to end on a happy note when it finally comes to an end, but for now it's cause for celebration.

THE IT CROWD finale being filmed

It all went quiet with Channel 4's geek-friendly sitcom The IT Crowd after series 4 ended in 2010, mainly because the showbiz careers of Chris O'Dowd and Richard Ayoade skyrocketed and their schedules became difficult to work around.

(No, most UK shows don't get their talent under watertight years-long contracts to stop that sort of thing from happening.)

However, while an intended fifth series has been ruled out (which was to be co-written by writers who 'auditioned' online), the promise of a series finale is being realised. The show's creator Graham Linehan told the audience at a German re:publica conference that The IT Crowd will film a 40-minute farewell episode later this month, for probable broadcast later this year. Linehan wrote the script over a year ago, but only now is there a window of opportunity with the actors.

The special will once again star O'Dowd and Ayoade as IT tech support geeks Roy and Moss, working for their line manager Jen (Katherine Parkinson) and her boss Douglas Reynholm (Matt Berry).

Are you excited to see The IT Crowd return one final time, three years after the last episode aired?

Tuesday, 7 May 2013


CBS have released a full trailer for their summer series Under the Dome, and it looks pretty good. I have serious doubts about its longevity, even over a self-contained 13-episodes, but it's hard to argue with the talent here: Neal Baer (ER, Law & Order) is the showrunner, comic-book maven Brian K. Vaughan (Y: The Last Man) is an executive-producer, and the pilot's directed by Niels Arden Oplev (the original Girl with the Dragon Tattoo). I don't doubt Under the Dome will have a fun pilot, when the small town of Chester's Mill finds itself inexplicably cut off from the rest of the world by a gigantic dome-shaped invisible barrier, but how long can you make that interesting for? Even if the characters are well-written and engaging, once the initial intrigue has faded... will you be quite so taken with this miniseries by episode 5 or 6? That will be the real challenge here, but I have a soft spot for US miniseries based on Stephen King books, even if most don't achieve the gold standard of It. I just hope this isn't another Tommyknockers.

UNDER THE DOME premieres 24 June on CBS.


My occasional live-tweeting of bad movies continued last Sunday night with 'found footage' sequel PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4, starring a bunch of nobodies with some cameras...

Monday, 6 May 2013

TV Pilots I Want to See - 2013-14

It's become a blog tradition (sort of) that I compile a list of the most promising or interesting TV pilots that are being made for 2013-14. This tends to favour US shows (where the whole idea of a 'pilot episode' is purer and drives the industry), but it does include one UK show. Some of these pilots will never see the light of day (although a few may leak online), while others will become full-blown TV shows over the next year.

TV Picks: 6-12 May 2013 (The Apprentice, British Academy Television Awards, Hannibal, Justified, A Life of Crime, Suspicions of Mr Whicher, etc.)

Below are my picks of the week's most notable TV shows, returning/premiering on UK screens...

Sunday, 5 May 2013

DOCTOR WHO, 7.11 – 'The Crimson Horror'

This has been a good year for Mark Gatiss, with "The Crimson Horror" now surpassing his very enjoyable "Cold War" to become his best Doctor Who offering since "The Unquiet Dead" seven years ago. As a lover of Victoriana, Gatiss is on surer ground when dealing with this era; which lends itself so well to retro fantasy, horror, and science fiction.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Trailer: HBO's TRUE BLOOD - season 6

HBO know how to put together a good trailer, and this has certainly benefited True Blood in the past. Every season of the show always looks amazing when you condense the best bits from a half-dozen episodes into a minute or so. The official trailer for season 6 is no exception, although it's noticeable this season doesn't seem be offering anything new. Season 3 had its werewolves, the fourth had witches, the fifth gave us vampire overlords and a goddess, but now it's just 'humans versus vampires' (which has been bubbling along in earnest from the days of the pilot, really). Still, there's Alexander Skarsgård's bare chest and Deborah Ann Woll in a schoolgirl uniform, so on that shallow level it's still bringing the goods...

TRUE BLOOD returns 16 June on HBO.

This summer: ANGEL and BUFFY catch-ups

We're approaching the so-called 'summer season' where many US TV network shows go off-air, but this rarely means we're entering an entertainment wasteland. UK TV still rolls on unhindered, and even US TV tends to fill June, July and August with new shows these days (especially on cable).

However, it's perhaps a good time to resume my popular Buffy the Vampire Slayer catch-ups, by moving into the show's fourth season. And I've decided to mix them with Angel catchups from its inaugural year, because the narrative of those shows intermingle. I'll be using this as my guide for covering each show, so you can refer to that if you wish, and even follow along.

Competition Result: PLEBS DVD

Thanks to everyone who entered my competition to win one of three copies of ITV2's sitcom Plebs on DVD. I asked the question '... what is the name of the [show's] gormless slave character?' and everyone correctly answered 'Grumio'.

The three randomly-chosen winners are:

Kim Plant, Shropshire
Pete Aighton, Cullompton
Dean Gerstel, Barnsley

Congratulations! You will each receive your DVD shortly. Many thanks to all who entered!

Thursday, 2 May 2013

HANNIBAL, 1.6 - 'Entrée'

We're just over halfway through Hannibal's first season and, as you've no doubt realised, I'm a massive fan. This show's writing, its sinister tone, dingy atmosphere, slick visuals, and great performances play directly to my darker tastes. I can see why it's struggled to find a big audiences on a mainstream network like NBC, but I'm hoping it's financially viable for them to continue with it. And if not, hopefully another channel will pick it up, because it doesn't deserve a one-season lifespan.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013


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MAD MEN, 6.5 - 'The Flood'

To its credit, Mad Men has always kept a focus on its own characters and has rarely used 1960s history in an easy and lazy way to create some drama. Quite a few events of the decade have been allowed to pass by, often without much comment. But there are obviously going to be exceptions (like season 3's JFK assassination episode "The Grown Ups"), and now this season's handling of another public figure's murder: pacifist civil rights campaigner Dr Martin Luther King.