Tag Archive | Life Unexpected

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

Posted on April 24, 2017 | 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.

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Review: UnREAL 1x1 (US: Lifetime)

Posted on June 3, 2015 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

UnREAL

In the US: Mondays, 10/9c, Lifetime
In the UK: It’ll be on Lifetime or Living, you know it

It hopefully won’t have escaped the attention of regular readers of this ‘ere blog that I haven’t covered reality TV shows since its very early days, back when Big Brother was still a novelty. I just ain’t got the time… and I don’t watch it any more.

It has, however, escaped the attention of lots of PRs, who despite claiming to be ‘huge fans’ of TMINE, still want to know if I’ll cover reality show x, game show y or reality game show z.

Invariably, I tell them that I only cover ‘scripted comedy and drama’, but perhaps I should consider a different response. After all, look over the credits of even something like American’s Next Top Model and you’ll discover a host of writing credits; there’s also a genre known as ‘constructed reality’ that encompasses shows such as The Only Way is Essex in which although the responses of the participants are genuine – or as genuine as they can be on a TV show – the situations in which they’re involved are set up by the production teams.

Oftentimes, it can be hard to tell apart the true reality show from the constructed reality show and Lifetime’s new comedy-drama UnREAL hinges on just such a problem – the nature of truth and reality in supposed reality shows, as well as the symbiotic relationship between those performing for the cameras and the need of reality TV producers for them to perform in order that they can produce ‘interesting' television that fits comfortable, stereotypical conventions.

Shiri Appleby (Roswell, Life Unexpected) is Rachel, a freelance field producer for a very Bachelor-like reality show called Everlasting. After a breakdown on camera the previous season that ended up with her becoming indebted to the amoral and immoral producer of the show Constance Zimmer (Love Bites, House of Cards), she’s forced to return to the job she hates – manipulating potential and current contestants into doing what Zimmer needs them to do and fitting into their pre-determined roles, all while she pretends to be their friend.

That includes dealing with the supposedly gentlemanly but actually womanising English heir to a hotel chain (Harry Potter’s Freddie Stroma) who’s really using the show to rehabilitate his public profile; Breeda Wool (Betas), a shy Christian woman and virgin who’s intended to be the show’s ‘joke’; Ashley Scott (Birds of Prey, Jericho), the ‘desperate MILF' who’s going to be dumped by episode three; Arielle Kebbel (90210), the ‘bitch’ who’s the intended villain of the show; and Christie Lang (Arrow), the talented violinist and scholar who’s unfortunately too black to win.

Except Appleby is the kind of woman who goes around wearing a T-shirt saying ‘this is what a feminist looks like’ and faced with pumping out stereotypes that are demeaning to women and betraying her sisters, she decides to do all she can to rewrite the show’s narrative – all while trying to avoid being sent to prison if Zimmer finds out what she’s up to.

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What have you been watching? Including Backstrom, Young Drunk Punk, 19-2, Spiral and Galavant

Posted on January 26, 2015 | 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. And if you want to know when any of these shows are on in your area, there's Locate TV - they’ll even email you a weekly schedule.

Lots of new shows to deal with this past week, including 12 Monkeys. Unfortunately, it’s my busy time of the month, so I won’t be able to deal with them at length and there’s a few third-episode verdicts I’m going to have skip, too. Fortunately, though, all the new shows don’t really warrant full reviews…

Backstrom (US: Fox)
Despite having been canned by CBS straight after its pilot, this adaptation of Leif GW Persson’s Bäckström books has been resurrected over at Fox and once again demonstrates that the US really shouldn’t be adapting Nordic Noir. It stars Rainn Wilson from The Office as the eponymous Backstrom, a Portland police detective who’s best thought of as Gregory House MD but without the talent, the charm or the looks, bungling his way from crime scene to crime scene being lazy and offensive and being proved right because the script demands it, rather than because of any insight. So the producers think it very funny that Backstrom have the nearest - and indeed only - black person around arrested because he’s black so probably was involved in the crime. My, how comically racist! Except the black person is involved in the crime - how actually racist!

There’s some decent supporting characters, including an MMA-beat cop (Page Kennedy); a New Age medical examiner (Kristoffer Polaha from Ringer, Valentine, Life Unexpected), whom everyone reacts to like he’s English, even though he doesn’t even have an accent; an investigator whom everyone reacts to like she’s French, because she is (Beatrice Rosen); and Dennis Haysbert (The Unit, 24) as Backstrom’s boss. But this is as lazy as Backstrom himself, trying to fake being intelligent and gimmicky by having Backstrom ‘empathise’ (saying out loud, “I am character x, I feel y, therefore I would have done z”) and come up with insight such as “Anyone who says ‘Absolutely not’ is absolutely lying”, rather than actually being intelligent or having insight.

Weirdly, between moving from CBS to Fox, there’s been some recasting and a lot of the funnier and smarter stuff has been removed, making it worse not better than it was before.

Young Drunk Punk (Canada: City TV)
After last year’s slew of 80s nostalgia shows in the US, time for some 80s nostalgia from Canada, with Young Drunk Punk, in which two teenage nerd punk-wannabes search for their destinies after leaving high school. Despite being written by and starring Bruce McCulloch (Kids In The Hall) this is very much like the previous half dozen Canadian comedies that have come by in having a total laugh count of zero.

After the jump, 19-2, Arrow, Banshee, Constantine, Cougar Town, Elementary, The Flash, Galavant, Gotham, The Ground Floor, Hindsight, Man Seeking Woman, Marvel’s Agent Carter, State of Affairs, Spiral (Engrenages) and Togetherness. One of them’s on the verge of getting recommended, one of them’s going to be dropped, and one of them is on the borderline. But which ones? You’ll find out after the jump.

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