Trapped

February 26, 2016

Against another unusual backdrop- this time an Icelandic port besieged by a blizzard, a murder mystery unravels. A limbless and headless torso has been pulled from the sea by some local fishermen, at the exact moment an ocean liner, a snowstorm and the ex-wife of our hero, Andri, the chief of police, descend on Seyðisfjörður.

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Happy Valley

February 26, 2016

Sarah Lancashire is so phenomenal as Sgt Catherine Cawood in Happy Valley that you manage to get almost the whole way through the first season before you realise that it’s her performance- and not the storytelling, which makes it such an absorbing watch.

For there’s nothing new to see here, really.

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Mom

February 26, 2016

As the man behind Two and a Half Men, The Big Bang Theory and Mike & Molly, Chuck Lorre should, by all rights, be dismembered, his decapitated head hung like a logo in the corner of all future CBS comedies to warn of what will happen to creators of such mass appeal muck.

But I’m willing to order a stay of execution. Lorre is also the man who oversaw the best seasons of Roseanne , and created one of the finest, most nuanced sitcoms of all time – Grace Under Fire.

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Vinyl

February 25, 2016

Vinyl is a Valentine to 70s New York- and the music subcultures that still define it, at least in our imaginations. Embracing the mess over the muse, the period over the particular and emotional extremes over heartfelt persuasion, creators Martin Scorsese and Mick Jagger- whose own work defined that era, wear coke-tinted glasses to spawn a series that comes on like a skaggy sequel to Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous. The excess of success has bloated out the passion for music which has resulted in a top heavy industry that needs to be ripped up and rebooted.
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11-22-63

February 25, 2016

Since 11/22/63 sounds like the type of TV show dreamt up while stoned off ones ass, you can perhaps guess where James Franco drew inspiration for his acting style in this eight part mini-series that he adapted (and occasionally directs), from a Stephen King novel.

Beautiful, but distracted, he drifts from one scene to the next, barely flinching as some whacked out shit goes down in a dystopian, alternate history, where a high school teacher in the present day inherits a diner which contains a wardrobe leading back to a specific date in 1960.

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Hannibal

February 25, 2016

Perhaps the greatest ‘will they, wont they’ couple to appear on television in the teenaged years of this century, are Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) and Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen), the murder sets’ Ross & Rachel, whose loaded and lethal repartee play out against a glorious canvas of ripped flesh, contorted cadavers and epicurean entrails.

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Quantico

February 25, 2016

Quantico is a Franken-show compromised of the most appealing bits of other hit series.

A group of attractive recruits sign up to be brutalised and demoralised at a top training facility so as to climb to the top of their chosen profession.

So far, so Grey’s Anatomy.

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American Crime Story

February 25, 2016

For a show that is based on the most televised murder trial of all time, American Crime Story: The People Vrs OJ Simpson manages to rivet and prick its audience, successfully circumventing the fact that we know what’s going to happen by unleashing two different styles of narrative.

Goosing us in with its trashy veneer, then bludgeoning us with the horrifying, unvarnished details of the case, it shows how the overwhelming evidence against OJ was deflected by a politically warped defence to highlight society’s racist ills.

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Madam Secretary

February 25, 2016

Is anyone else tired of how quickly show runners are burning through story lines these days? I mean how many law firms can Alecia Florick open, close and get fired from in the space of a season of The Good Wife? How many political offices can her and her husband Peter run for? And just how many times can a character be put under investigation, locked up or smeared, while still maintaining any clients.

Don’t get me wrong. The Good Wife is still one of the best shows on TV, certainly network TV. But I am tired of engaging with a storyline only for it to be wrapped up, improbably, when there is so much more juice that could be squeezed from it.

The more times they do it, the harder it is to give my time and my thoughts.

Madam Secretary is a show that excels at setting up engaging arcs, only to dump out of them too soon, so as to appeal to baser instincts of episodic viewers. After the death of her predecessor in a plane crash, Elizabeth McCord (Tea Leoni), rides in on her high horse from a farm in Connecticut, to serve at the pleasure of the President(Keith Carradine), who also happens to be her former mentor at the CIA.

She quickly deduces that the former secretary of state was not as loyal to the current administration as they may have liked… and that her new colleagues- and old friends, may have been involved in his assassination.

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X-Files Reboot

February 1, 2016

Two episodes in and The X-File’s revival is lumbering about like it’s just been ejected from the Pet Cemetery. It looks and acts like what was once beloved. But for a show that had already clung on long after it’s creative heyday, something at the core of the show hasn’t made it back after Chris Carter applied the paddles, ignoring the DNR notice attached to all classic TV shows. The memory of what made them so legendary should be left alone unless the creators have a very good artistic vision for why they should be brought back to life.

What’s left gorked before us, here,  is a mongrel of the later seasons feral mythology, and a nose wrinkling stench that all involved are back for the bucks and not out of any true love for the project.
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