April 27, 2017

News: Hillary Swank joins Trust; Trevor Eve, Nina Sosanya join Strike Back; + more

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International TV

  • Trevor Eve, Nina Sosanya and Katherine Kelly join Sky 1 (UK)/Cinemax (US)'s Strike Back

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New US TV show casting

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April 26, 2017

Season review: Seven Types of Ambiguity (Australia: ABC)

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Seven Types of Ambiguity

In Australia: Thursdays, 8.30pm, ABC. Full series available on iView

What is truth? What is true for one person may be a lie to another; what one person thinks happened one way may have happened completely differently in another person's eyes.

What's also true is that this isn't a new idea, with Husserl and other phenomenologists questioning the idea of a universal truth as early as the start of the 20th century. Movies, too, have been great exponents of the concept of subjective truth, most notably with Akira Kurosawa's Rashomon.

Seven Types of Ambiguity is a really interesting exploration of similar territory to Rashomon, but set in modern day Australia. Based on the Elliot Perlman novel of the same name, it sees a young boy abducted from school, only for him to be found relatively quickly by the police. Oddly, he's unharmed and turns out to have been taken by the ex-boyfriend (Xavier Samuel) of the boy's mother (Janet King's Leeanna Walsman); in turn, his potential accomplice turns out to have a connection to the boy's father (The Slap/Secret City's Alex Dimitriades). Why did Samuel abduct the child? Was Walsman secretly having an affair with Samuel? Was Samuel stalking her for revenge? Or was there some other motivation altogether?

Over the course of the season of six episodes, the series follows the action from the points of view of various characters, each episode focusing on a different one. It starts with Dimitriades, then follows Samuel's psychiatrist (The Matrix/Lord of the Rings/V for Vendetta's Hugo Weaving), Samuel's neighbour (Crownies/Janet King's Andrea Demetriades), Dimitriades's best friend (The Slap/Secrets and Lies's Anthony Hayes), Samuel's lawyer (East West 101's Susie Porter) and ultimately Walsman, where all is finally revealed. But each episode is still really about one or more specific relationships and their ambiguities.

Tonally, each of these is different, with the first episode setting up the action and introducing us to the characters, the second giving us a portrait of a failed marriage, the third a look at Turkish-Australian cultural issues, the fourth almost an Ocean's 11-style comedy, the fifth a study in the pressures of being a working single mother, and the last a portrait in loneliness. While events in one episode lead into and sometimes overlap with events in others, Seven Types of Ambiguity makes it clear that what we see is only what each character sees: Walsman is cold and shut down from her husband's point of view in the first episode, substantially different in the final episode, while Dimitriades' perception of himself as easy going is undermined in the second episode as his simple exchange in the first episode with Weaving changes in the second episode to show he's far less generous, easy going and interested in other people than he thinks. 

The shifting nature of truth mean that although there are hints (and red herrings) in each episode as to what happened, as well as to whether Walsman was indeed having an affair with Samuel, it's not until the end that you're ever ultimately in a place to find out a version of the truth that fits the facts. And actually, while it's unexpected and initially implausible, that truth does eventually get earned; it also largely only feels implausible because it's nice. Indeed, while the conclusion is open-ended, oddly it's hopeful for all the characters, whose lives have all been changed largely for the better by the incident.

Despite Weaving being the biggest name in the cast, this is very much an ensemble piece, with Weaving only cameoing in episode one, guesting in the other episodes. Each lead gets to shine at some point, too, although Weaving is the one who's really allowed to go to town, delivering some standout moments in his piece.

On the down side, there are a couple of European characters among the supporting characters (a German wife and an East European babysitter) who are pretty much close to hate speech in their depiction. The middle episodes also feel a little superfluous to requirements, their presence dictated purely by the format. However, they're still enjoyable in their own rights and do at least have something to say, as well as ramifications. 

I really enjoyed it. I hope you will, too. No word yet on a UK acquisition, although if Cleverman, Barracuda and The Code can make it over here, this should be a shoo-in.

News: The Detour, Into The Badlands renewed; Powerless cancelled; Teen Titans TV; + more

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April 25, 2017

Weekly Wonder Woman: Justice League #19, Trinity #8

Posted yesterday at 22:48 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Wonder Woman movie art

Last week was slightly quieter for our Diana, even though the movie is now only about a month away. But some concept art of Wonder Woman's 'equivalent to Superman's helicopter scene' has been unveiled, as well as 1:1 scale bracelets, tiara and lasso that will set you back a mere US$349.95 (+ shipping)

Greg Rucka also revealed that he's only "stepping away" from Wonder Woman, not quitting forever, so he might be back at some point. Which is good news, since fans actually watched out on the panel when he announced he was leaving.

And we learned that big chunks of both Wonder Woman and Superman/Wonder Woman never happened (even though they did, unless Diana and Steve were both imagining it).

Does that make any sense? Possibly not, as we'll see after the jump when we'll be looking at the comics that featured Diana in the past week: Justice League #19 and Trinity #8. 

Continue reading "Weekly Wonder Woman: Justice League #19, Trinity #8"

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News: Ransom, Nit I Dia acquired; When Calls The Heart renewed; + more

Posted 2 days ago at 06:19 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

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April 24, 2017

What have you been watching? Including Girlboss, Doctor Who, The Magicians and Fortitude

Posted 2 days ago at 21:37 | 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 and your chance to recommend anything you've been watching.

You can definitely tell we're between seasons at the moment, can't you? Some new shows have started up (such as Famous In Love) and there are a lot more on the way, but this week, there have been very few of the regulars to watch, just The AmericansDoctor Who and the season finale of The Magicians, all of which I'll talk about after the jump, as well as the return last night of Silicon Valley.

The rest of the time, I've been playing catch-up on Fortitude, which I'll also talk about in a minute, as well as watching Seven Types of Ambiguity. I'm four episodes into that now, so I'll a do a full season review later in the week once I've watched the remaining two, along with National Geographic's Genius.

I did, however, take a glance at one other new show over the weekend:

Girlboss (Netflix)
Based on Sophia Amoruso's book of (almost) the same name (#GirlBoss), this is a 'loose… real loose' reimagining of Amoruso's climb from rags to riches in which Britt Robertson (Life Unexpected, Under The Dome) is a girl so down-and-out that she sleeps with men so she has somewhere to stay for the night and gets repeatedly fired from jobs because she doesn't want to work for anyone. But what does she want to do? She doesn't know, until one day she discovers she has a gift for spotting expensive second-hand clothes being given away for next to nothing. Before you know it, she's setting up her own eBay fashion business, which will go on to be worth millions.

I actually already knew about Amaruso already, because her book was the subject of some Greek translation I had to do once, Amoruso being Greek/Italian-American ("Sofia often stole from shops, which Americans call 'shoplifting', for which we don't have a specific word"). Turning Amaruso into the daughter of a rich WASP (a minor reunion for Robertson as it's Breaking Bad/Under The Dome's Dean Norris) robs the story of some potential variety, as does shifting the action from the early 90s to the mid-00s. However, it still manages to maintain the main highlights of Amaruso's career and (loose) dedication to anarchism, and be a moderately interesting story about a young woman's journey to try to discover what she wants to do with her life and then learn how to start and run an ultimatly hugely successful business.

But it's not great. Enjoyable enough, a different sort of story for young women from the standard current 'handsome prince' tales (eg Famous In Love) and Robertson is still very watchable, but neither bad nor great in its telling, just a bit average.

Continue reading "What have you been watching? Including Girlboss, Doctor Who, The Magicians and Fortitude"

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News: The Bureau (US); Mohawk Girls, The Coroner, Home Fires cancelled; Shadowhunters renewed; + more

Posted 3 days ago at 06:17 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

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  • Mark Gibbon to play General Zod on The CW's Supergirl

New US TV show casting

April 21, 2017

When's that show you mentioned starting again, TMINE? Including Kevin Can Wait, L&O: LA, Idiotsitter and Mercy Street

Posted 5 days ago at 18:21 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Every Friday, I let you know the latest announcements about when new, imported TV shows will finally be arriving on UK screens - assuming anyone's bought anything, of course.

It's been three weeks since the last WTSYMSA, TMINE?, yet oddly, no UK network seems to have acquired any new shows from anywhere in the world in my absence. How odd. I've been pointing out the good ones all year, so you'd think they'd know what to get, but apparently not.

However, there have been some premiere dates announced at least, you'll be glad to hear:

Kevin Can Wait (US: CBS; UK: E4)
Thursday, April 20, 8.30pm (erm, yesterday. Soz)
Episode reviews: 1

Law & Order: LA (US: NBC; UK: 5USA)
Friday, April 21, 9pm (erm, today. Quick!)

Idiotsitter (US: Comedy Central; UK: 5Star)
Sunday, April 30, 11.30pm
Episode reviews: 1

Mercy Street (US: PBS; UK: Drama)
Sunday, May 28, 8pm

News: new Monkey magic; The X-Files, Teachers, Younger renewed; + more

Posted 6 days ago at 06:23 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Internet TV

  • Teaser for Netflix's Disjointed

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UK TV show casting

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April 20, 2017

Review: Famous In Love 1x1 (US: Freeform)

Posted 6 days ago at 18:39 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Famous In Love

In the US: Available on Freeform

It's a little hard to critique the reality of fairy tales. Should an overworked maid join a union, go on strike, become an economic migrant or lobby for an increase in the minimum wage to alleviate her condition? Or she should hope that a fairy will grant her a beautiful outfit and that a handsome prince will end up wanting to marry her because she dances well? Logically, option one is the better, more realistic one, option two the anti-feminist, passive one. Yet we all know that option two pans out for Cinderella whereas option one would have consigned her to perpetual indenture.

Watching modern TV fairy tales The Arrangement and Famous In Love, it seems that "hoping to be catapaulted to fame and fortune by becoming an instantaneously successful movie superstar when another hot major movie star takes a fancy to you during an audition" is the current US equivalent to holding out for that pumpkin carriage. They're also about as realistic.

The Arrangement, it has to be said, is by far the better of the two shows, while Famous In Love is a great big slap in the face to aspiring actresses everywhere. It sees Bella Thorne (the long-time star of Shake It Up but last seen as the unsuprising 'surprise' death in the first episode of MTV's Scream) playing a slightly bored, but otherwise happy economics student who'd much rather be an actress. Despite apparently having had no acting training, she still goes with bestest gal pal Georgie Flores to an audition to star in a movie franchise guaranteed to be the 'next Harry Potter' and wows everyone, including star Carter Jenkins, with her unparallelled acting skills and highly kissable lips. Before she and the audience know it, she's hired to play the lead.

But does being rich and famous bring you happiness? Flashforwards to the future successful Thorne seem to suggest otherwise. But what makes her so miserable? Well, there's the rub. Is it just the lack of private life? Is it a doomed future real-life relationship with Jenkins? Is it a potential estrangement from her still-struggling actress pal Flores? Is it the possible loss of hottie bestest boy pal/romantic interest Charlie DePew, who can't compete with superstar Jenkins? Or is it something else to do with the machinations of Hollywood?

Time will tell, I'm sure.

Famous In Love is billed as the replacement for Pretty Little Liars, so don't be surprised that about 50% of the plot is actually about various possible pairings of the assembled characters, as well as rivalries between friends and enemies. Similarly, there's also a mystery to be solved - namely what happened that estranged Jenkins from his former best friend Keith T Powers and caused popstar Pepi Sonuga to disappear from the public eye - and a closeted lesbian (no, no clues).

However, it's not even close to the quality of PLL and The Arrangement shows how pretty much every part of the show can be done better. Thorne is likable and quirky enough for sure, but the dialogue and scripting causes it to be so forced, you start to feel sorry for her, given the acres of supposed 'nervous rambling' she has to wade through every other scene. The fact she gets to go to the top of her profession without having served her dues in dead-end waitressing jobs or even trained in her art, unlike The Arrangement's Christine Evangelista, makes pumpkin-based transportation seem like an earned plot development. Hell, she hasn't even had to sit in the audience enduring Inside The Actors Studio before she made the big time.

Perhaps the only thing of note about Famous in Love, apart from it being one of the few TV shows to actually have the female lead in the infamous 'Friend Zone' at its outset, is that there's a British showbusiness reporter in the thick of things. Literally an hour before I watched the episode this morning, I suddenly wondered to myself. "Whatever happened to Nathan Stewart-Jarrett from Misfits? He was always complaining there weren't any acting jobs for middle class black Britains, just gritty stuff set on gang-run estates. Maybe he went over to the US to seek his fortune."

Guess what, reader. Stewart-Jarrett plays that very same showbusiness reporter. How spooky.

If you have to watch one show like this, watch The Arrangement. But you probably don't have to watch either, to be honest, so maybe watch Misfits instead.

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Freeform's upfronts 2017-8 - a rundown and clips from the new shows

Posted 6 days ago at 13:00 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

It's that time of year again. Yep, it's the 'upfronts' season, which is when all the US networks reveal to advertisers the new shows that are going to be hitting the TV screens some time from about July this year through to now-ish next year. (BTW, this isn't the same as the international screenings, which is when the buyers from UK TV networks turn up to see what they'd like to acquire, so we won't know what will be heading our way for quite some time.)

What do you mean the upfronts aren't normally until May? Well, you're quite right, as the likes of Fox, NBC, ABC, CBS and The CW will indeed by showing off all their future wares starting the week of 15th May, as per usual.

However, in the age of Peak TV, there are literally now so many channels producing content that there's actually one or more upfront presentations by a cable or internet network virtually every day from now until then, with the likes of BET next week, Hulu, YouTube and Vice the week after, and so on. Most of these aren't producing the kinds of shows that TMINE covers, so don't be expecting to be inundated by daily treats, I'm afraid, but it's a still a pretty large spread.

Yesterday, it was Crackle's turn, but since they don't actually have any clips to show off, I could comfortably cover it in today's news. But it was also young adult channel Freeform's turn, and there's clips and shows aplenty for you to regard. So after the jump, brace yourself for the excitement of:

  • Killer mermaid drama Siren (no, really)
  • Superhero drama Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger 
  • Platonic best friends comedy Alone Together
  • Global women's magazine drama The Bold Type

Continue reading "Freeform's upfronts 2017-8 - a rundown and clips from the new shows"

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