In an exciting new feature I thought of last week, every Friday, I'll be letting you know the latest announcements concerning when new imported TV shows will finally be arriving on your screens - assuming there have been any, of course.
We've seen in our Weird Old Title Sequences section quite a few genre shows of the 60s and 70s, such as Out of the Unknownand The Tomorrow People, that had properly weird title sequences designed to do your nut in.
It was, after all, a psychedelic time, during which Delia Derbyshire and the Radiophonic Workshop were doing all manner of fun things with music and sound effects, so it shouldn't be too surprising that television was trying to do the same visually.
But this wasn't the occasional effort by a programme - such was the age, even smaller shows got in on the act.
As the name suggests, 1968's Late Night Horror was an anthology horror show, one that would have fit quite nicely into TMINE's The Wednesday Play section were it not for the fact five of the six pisodes were lost/wiped by the BBC, with only The Corpse Can't Play surviving. In part a test of the new colour capabilities of television, it was also a beneficiary of the boom in TV horror in the late 60s that also gave us Mystery and Imagination (1966-70), A Ghost Story For Christmas, The Stone Tape, The Dead of Night and more.
What else survives of it, except for that one episode? Well, its weird old title sequence, naturally - music by the Radiophonic Workshop, of course…
Last year saw the hosting of the first Radio Times festival. As I pointed out when I went, it was a slightly odd affair hosted in a park opposite Hampton Court, with plenty of illustrious speakers, book signings, pop-up food shops and regular old book shops.
Maybe it's oddness, the strange location and the difficulty booking tickets, particularly on the day, that meant that there wasn't one this year, as the Radio Times events team had a rethink. But next year, it's back on 7-9 April, this time in association with the BFI, who had a bit of a presence at the first event but wasn't the co-organiser.
Unsurprisingly, it's therefore being held at the BFI Southbank and there aren't quite as many things to see, given there are only three theatres. But the preliminary programme is out now, there's plenty to watch - not just from the UK but from overseas thanks to Walter - a few authors and a bit about the radio, too. You can buy tickets today if you're a BFI patron or champion, tomorrow if you're a BFI member and Monday if you've not already given the BFI a big lump of cash this year.
Friday Radio Times Hall of Fame: Michael Palin Join us as comedian, actor, writer and globetrotter Michael Palin takes us on a journey through his amazing life.
East of Ipswich Palin’s acclaimed, bittersweet ‘near autobiographical’ drama about a teenager’s first sexual experiences on a seaside family holiday.
Saturday TV Premiere: The Durrells Screening of the first episode of the new series, followed by an on-stage chat with members of the cast and crew.
Call the Midwife Join series creator Heidi Thomas as she shares the secrets of the show alongside executive producer Pippa Harris and cast members.
Victoria Wood: A Tribute Julie Walters and colleagues come together to share their memories of the late, great Victoria Wood and introduce some memorable clips.
Victoria Wood: Two Creatures Great and Small + Victoria Wood at the Albert Hall Two gems from Wood’s career that capture all her brilliance as an award-winning stand-up performer
Sunday Hetty Feather + Meet Jacqueline Wilson Watch two new episodes of the enchanting CBBC children’s drama, and meet author Jacqueline Wilson, creator of Hetty Feather and ex-children’s laureate, and selected cast and crew.
The Archers: The Trial of Helen Titchener Louiza Patikas (Helen), Tim Watson (Rob) and former Archers editor Sean O’Connor reveal the inside story of Rob and Helen.
Judith Kerr and Michael Morpurgo Two of our best-loved children’s authors, Judith Kerr (The Tiger Who Came To Tea) and Michael Morpurgo (War Horse) in conversation.
Mark Gatiss: From League of Gentlemen to Sherlock Writer/actor/comedian and fantasy maestro Mark Gatiss talks to Radio Times Television editor Alison Graham about his favourite TV moments, including Sherlock.
Walter presents: TV Premiere: Merciless + Meet Walter Following this bold Brazilian drama meet Walter Iuzzolino, curator of Walter Presents, the service introducing international TV dramas to the UK.
Walter presents: TV Premiere: Locked Up Season 2 opener of the Spanish prison drama + interview with actor Berta Vázquez, co-creator Iván Escobar and Walter Iuzzolino.
Radio Times Hall of Fame: Steven Moffat Steven Moffat - showrunner of two of the UK’s biggest TV shows, Doctor Who and Sherlock - in conversation with Frank Skinner.
TV Premiere: Guerrilla (Sky Atlantic) Exclusive preview of a Sky Original 1970s set thriller about a group of black power activists in London + cast and crew on-stage.
In the US: Tuesdays, 10/9c, USA In the UK: Wednesdays, Netflix
The biggest problem with Shooter - USA's adaptation of the 2007 movie of the same name, in which a retired marine (Ryan Phillipe) is falsely accused of an assassination and must find the true culprits to clear his name - is that it's educational. Yes, educational.
I say problem because you'll end up knowing an awful lot about guns after each episode. At some point in each hour, you'll get an awful info dump from Phillipe about some new weapon or other ("the pistol grip on that shotgun reduces your control and may cause you to spray shot into her gut") that's both impressive and yet simultaneously a bit upsetting - like a neighbour who can tell you in forensic detail exactly what you did every single moment of the day in chronological order. Even when you thought you were alone. And were at work.
But like that neighbour who might otherwise be quiet, keep to himself and always mow his lawn, if you can overlook the one problem, you might get on well. Shooter, like its antecedent, is actually a pretty fine thriller.
While the first episode was more or less identical to the first 20 minutes or so of the movie, providing almost no surprises whatsoever, episode two was an intriguing "what if he'd turned right instead of left?" embellishment to the movie that still ended up at more or less the same point by the end, but which fed in a whole new bunch of parameters, allies, enemies and situations that made the whole thing just a little bit more realistic and expansive than the movie. It also made Phillipe's wife (Shantel VanSanten from The Messengersand The Flash) a little more interesting and gave Cynthia Addai-Robinson something to do other than glower.
Episode three in turn is the beginning of Phillipe's hunt for the bad guys and their hunt for him, and it dials the tension up several notches with some smart moves on everyone's parts. It also added to the show's already pleasantly conservative tone, giving us all manner of 'brothers and sisters in arms' moments that should make you swell with patriotism, even if you aren't American.
Where the show falls down a bit, oddly enough, is its action scenes - or at least its fight scenes. Never has a marine been so incompetent at fighting. In a day and age when pretty much every action show has an ex-military advisor on hand, Phillipe appears to be at almost yellow-belt status in dealing with the enemy, barely able to muster a competent o-soto-goshi, let alone give us any proper marine corps martial arts.
If you like a decent thriller, with reasonably sensible plotting, a decent cast and decent characters, then Shooter's a good show to watch. If you love guns, you may even love it*. It's just a shame nothing about Phillipe really says 'top marine sniper', particularly his fighting.
Barrometer rating: 2 Would it be better with a female lead? If it was Gina Carano, sure TMINE's prediction: Will certainly last a season
*Although for all I know, it might be making it all up, in which case you won't
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. There's also the Reviews A-Z, for when you want to check more or less anything I've reviewed ever.
Thanks to the Thanksgiving holidays in the US last week, lots of programmes were taking a slight breather and few new ones decided to stick their heads above the parapets. That means it's been a quiet week for TMINE, with only Search Party (US: TBS) to deal with in the 'new' category and the regulars reduced to just Chance, DIrk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, The Flash, The Great Indoors, Lucifer, People of Earth, Supergirl, Timeless and Travelers - I'll be dealing with them after the jump.
On the plus side, though, that did mean I could not only play catch-up with an Internet TV box-setted into our laps a little while ago, I could also watch a couple of movies.
Goliath (Amazon) 'A legal thriller by David E Kelley! Whoopdy doo,' I thought. Like most people, I immediately think of the likes of Ally McBeal, Boston Legal and Harry's Lawwhen I hear Kelley's name; unlike most people, I also think of his reasonably poor efforts with Wonder Woman, thedismal The Crazy Onesand the putrid Wedding Bells.
However, Kelley hasn't always been king of fluffy backlash legal dramas. Back in the day, he created The Practice, a supposed antidote to the cutesy view of legal work perpetrated by LA Law; on said show, the story editor was one Jonathan Shapiro, a former Rhodes Scholar and professor of law.
Together, they're responsible for Goliath, a legal drama that stars Billy Bob Thornton as a former top lawyer who's fallen on hard times. Then Nina Arianda (Hannibal) turns up needing Thornton's help with a case involving the supposed suicide of an engineer who worked for a major arms manufacturer. Before you know it, Thornton's David is taking on the Goliath that is his old legal firm, which includes ex-best friend William Hurt, ex-wife Maria Bello (Prime Suspect) and newby lawyer Olivia Thirby (Dredd 3D), and the might of the US defence industry.
Mostly, this is a show that owes a lot more to Shapiro than Kelley tonally, being about legal clevery dickery and shady big name clients in the same way that Suits was when it started. Shapiro's legal knowledge really shines here and Goliath goes through all manner of things you've probably never seen in a legal drama before ("complex cases", using the rules of contempt to get evidence admitted, etc). It's also quite dark, with bodies being found in car boots, witnesses being run over, police abuse and more.
But Kelley's name isn't on the sign simply to drum up trade. There's a definite air of Kelleyisms to Goliath around the edges, ranging from some actual jokes through the daft names the lawyers at Hurt's firm call each other ("The Mole", "The Mouse"), Hurt's facial scarring and his use of a clicker to communicate when he wants to be annoying, Thornton almost representing the forces of the un-PC against the PC tyranny of the Goliath-like enemy (Thirby has a stammer and uses the American Disability Discrimination Act to counter Thornton's tricks; Bello is gay and has a girlfriend who also works at her law firm), to some distinctly dodgy attitudes towards women and some ethical issues to be considered, such as revenge porn and whether lawyers should break privilege to report wrongdoing by their clients. Arianda's practice even feels a lot like the one in Harry's Law.
Goliath is still a lot better than I was expecting, probably being the second-best original Amazon drama after The Man In The High Castle that I've seen. It's also a lot tenser - I'm six episodes through the eight episode run and each episode has managed to ratchet up the claustrophobia as Thornton's got closer to the truth and increasing danger. I'll probably watch the final two episodes tomorrow, in fact.
But it's still got enough Kelley daftness, is slow-moving enough and fails to make you care enough for the characters that I can't really recommend it. If you like John Grisham-style legal dramas, though, this is certainly worth a look-in.
Frequency (200) Since the TV adaptation is currently airing on The CW/Netflix and I'd never seen the original, I thought I'd give it a whirl just to compare and contrast, especially since it's currently free on Amazon Prime. At its heart, like the TV series, Frequency is about a father and his grown-up child cop managing to communicate by radio over several decades and using information about the future to change the past - again, to prevent the father's imminent death and to subsequently stop the change in history that is the mother being murdered by a nurse-hating serial killer.
Starring a whole bunch of people now famous from other TV shows (Jim Caviezel, Shawn Doyle, Elizabeth Mitchell, Andre Braugher, Noah Emmerich), it's pretty much the same as the first season of Frequency so far, but with a few interesting changes, such as the dad (Dennis Quaid here) being a fireman not a cop and there being a 30-year time difference, not a 20-year difference. It's a lovely idea and the film has an emotional depth that a lot of sci-fi movies lack, but I think I actually prefer the TV version, since the longer running time gives that a chance to explore a whole bunch of issues that the movie has to leave to montage moments at best, and the gender-swap to a daughter evens out the original's not inconsiderable sidelining of women.
Still, given it was set in 1999 (nearly 20 years ago now, guys), it's almost like watching time travel anyway, with its reference to Yahoo! as a good stock option.
Finding Dory (2016) The tear-jerking Pixar delight, Finding Nemo, saw a widower father searching the world for his partially disabled son, following the latter's kidnapping. The twist? They were fish.
Here, in this sequel, their mentally challenged best friend Dory (Ellen Degeneres) comes to the fore as she remembers she had a family back in the day and despite her inability to form short-term memories, goes looking for her mother and father, Nemo and co in tow.
For about the first 10 minutes, this feels like a retread of the original but after that, Finding Dory sets its own path, introducing all-new characters and species that live in or near the marine park that Dory thinks her parents might be living in. It's a lovely piece of work again, with some top moments of comedy and joy, but it never quite hits the emotional highs (or lows) of the original and the final act starts to descend into the silly. Admittedly, it is a movie about talking fish so silly is relative, I guess.
Something both parents and kids can enjoy, but not quite an absolute classic.
In an exciting new feature I've just thought of, every Friday (usual fingers crossed), I'll be letting you know about any announcements that have been made during the week about when new imported TV shows will finally be arriving on your screens, whether those screens be of the TV, a computer, a mobile device or your direct brain feed. Assuming there have been any announcements, of course.
That's probably about all the introduction you need.
This week (well, month really, since there's a bit of catching up to be done):
About the blog
A UK media blog focusing on the best scripted TV from around the world, with daily news, views, exclusive reviews and good conversation. There's a bit of a bias towards the latest and greatest US TV, but we also cover Scandinavian, Canadian, European and Antipodean TV, as well as UK TV ranging from new Doctor Who to old Z Cars, and BBC4 to S4C.
Add in film, theatre, art, books, events, competitions and even weekly reviews of Wonder Woman comics, and you've (hopefully) got officially the fourth best blog on the web for media lovers. Oh yes, and there's The Barrometer, the ultimate guide to quality TV.
Praise for the blog Cision: fourth most important UK TV blog Blogging Edge: Blogger running Britain 2013
"For most of us watching the telly of an evening is a way to wind down and relax, but for Rob Buckley it’s his blogging bread and butter. With reviews of cult classics and up and coming US and Brit television shows, The Medium is Not Enough is fast becoming essential reading for TV buffs, with over 50,000 hits a month."
"The Medium Is Not Enough is a light-hearted look at TV, often from the US, but also from the UK. With varied, well-written content, the blog features healthy engagement and features well in search engines."
"Billing itself as 'officially the fourth most popular UK TV blog', there are several whimsical regulars here that could help it climb as high as number three…"
I'm Rob Buckley, a freelance journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of, although you might have heard me on Radio 5 Live's Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I've edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for trade magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider and the equally short-lived Death Ray and Filmstar magazines; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it "web site for urban hedonists" The Tribe. I'm freelance now and have contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network and TV Scoop.