September 25, 2008

Fringe = X-Files


Watched the first episode of "Fringe", the new SF series from the US. It was just like an episode of "X-files".

No Mulder or Scully, but a pair of not dissimilar stars - nerdy genius male, emotional but resourceful female. Obviously some kind of relationship will build between this couple.

Mysterious happenings that seem to be outside normal science. Very familiar look and feel - did they use similar locations?

I'm not saying it's a bad thing to be like another successful series, but somehow this first episode, even though it reportedly cost $10M to make, didn't really grab me that much. Where did they spend that money?

Hopefully it will get better as we get used to the characters.

In 5 episodes, it probably got worse. Each episode has so much kooky 'science' it makes me want to throw stuff at the TV. I think there is an underlying story arc that has a lot of promise, to do with some bald dude observing everything, but I'm not sure I have the patience to go on.

Update 2:
Reluctantly I continued and finished the whole first series. I actually got used to seven impossible things happening before breakfast every day, and got quite interested in the story arc instead. Quite looking forward to series two.

Posted by se71 at 11:29 AM | Comments (0)

May 02, 2008

Heroes - Season Two

Heroes Season 2 512.jpg

So, we've had episode two now in the UK, and Season Two isn't turning out half as bad as we'd been led to believe. Tim Cring, the creator, even apologised to fans for it's slow buildup, which is as bad an indictment as you can get.

I have a theory about this: people in America don't like subtitles.

There is a new mexican couple - they speak Spanish most of the time. Subtitled.
Hiro is in ancient Japan, and speaks Japanese most of the time. Subtitled.
There are a few new Irish characters...oh wait, they're just talking in appalling accents. Subtitles missing.

I think the shows have been very good. Why do people die when the mexican twins are separated? Who is the spooky flying boy? When is Peter going to remember who he is? And if Clare keeps cutting off toes, could she take all the cast-off little piggies to market in a bag?

I have to say though, that I'm not a huge fan of the subtitles myself - this is science fiction after all, can't we have a character whose superpower is to make all Heroes understand each other in English. That - or a Babelfish

Posted by se71 at 10:58 AM | Comments (0)

October 02, 2007

The Riches

The Riches


A new drama from the US, a sort of cross between Desperate Housewives and The Sopranos, this one is most notable for it's interesting casting. Hugh Laurie and Ian McShane have been waving the flag for Britain recently in 'House and 'Deadwood', convincing the native population in the US apparently that they aren't upper class twits, or sleazy antiques dealers, but true born and bred yanks. So now the powers that be in TV have taken what would have been until very recently the most unlikely Eddie Izzard and given him a chance to pretend he is a gypsy from America's deep south. The accent is all over the place in my opinion, maybe he'll grow into it. Maybe no one will care as long a he keeps throwing in the funny one-liners. The beard is maybe a mistake, and he needs to get some trousers cut to the correct length as the material clumping at his ankles make him look a bit small in the long shots. He is, as always though, very watchable and you want him to be in every single scene.

As his partner in crime and on screen wife is yet another Brit, the implausably named Minnie Driver. This casting isn't quite so hard to believe, as many people think she is American already having seen her in films like "Gross Point Blank" and the massive "Good Will Hunting". Some attractive actresses seem to think their looks are a drawback, and choose roles against type to prove how talented they are. Helena Bonham Carter turned her back on costume dramas and went as far as dressing as a monkey to disguise herself. Driver hasn't gone that far here, but as she emerges from prison at the start of this episode, with her stringy hair, drawn expression, and throaty gutteral southern drawl, she does a very good job of coming over as the lowlife she is portraying. I anticipate much more make-up and expensive clothes later in the series to make the most of the contrast that is obviously being set up.

As to the plot itself, the premise actually has a lot of promise. We have a family of travellers who make their living moving from town to town in a campervan stealing and swindling. There is a big community of these people, but all is not well with inter family feuds coming to a head when they try to force Izzard's daughter into an arranged marriage. The family flee, and when fate throws an opportunity into their laps, Izzard sees it as a chance at a fresh start as a normal family living the American dream.

I can see the family's new life, pretending to be people that aren't, and under constant threat from being discovered both by their new friends, and by the gypsy families, as being one which has a huge potential for drama, and for comedy. I hope they let some of Izzard's ad-libs though; I've read that he did quite a bit and that they had to cut a lot of it out, so maybe the DVD extras will be worth watching. I think the first episode was good, but was obviously trying to pack a lot of back story in for the future and suffered a little for that. I really hope the potential it has is realised in weeks to come.

Appallingly late update, apologies. I watched another three or four episodes, but kept forgetting it was on, and eventually gave up. If you are forcing yourself to watch a program, then something is wrong. I think it was the complete unbelievability of the plot. This plot could have worked, but the writing was bad, and didn't do enough to convince us that, in particular, Izzard's character could wing it as a lawyer. Driver's character was just a whining waste of space. And those accents, terrible. How it got renewed for a second season I'll never know.

Posted by se71 at 09:50 AM | Comments (0)

September 13, 2007


I'm still watching the TV series Heroes, all about a group of people with super-human powers coming together to save the world. It has it's moments, but last night I found myself drifting off a bit.

Problem 1 : Use your powers

We really need more action, or more interesting back stories. There is a flying man, but he stayed firmly on terra firma. There is a man who paints pictures of the future, but he didn't even touch a brush. There is a man who can read people's minds, and one who can time travel - one didn't appear at all last night, and the other only got a line at the very end. I could go on - but all we got was a couple of body regenerations, and a couple of weird dreams. The bad man I guess got to kill someone weirdly, but it just wasn't enough.

Problem 2 : Learn to Act

There is a father and son on the run from the police and the boy's mother. We had to listen to some really awful dialog from these two having heart-to-hearts about their situation. It sounded like they were reading it from cuecards. Also, our main hero, Peter, is just not convincing enough - and please, would someone tell him to get his hair cut to stop him continually brushing it out of his eyes. How can he fight evil if he can't even see it. Mr Horn Rimmed Glasses has a pixie-like assistant, she also can't act.

Problem 3 : Special Effects

The special effects really are not very good. Mr Flying Man landed in the desert, and we saw him skidding across the sand, but it looked a bit like Master Chief in the computer game Halo when he jumps off tall places - very false with poor physics. When the cheerleader regenerates from some appalling injury, the gradual fades from bloody face to clean face just look a bit odd - and where does the blood go anyway.

Conclusion: Rushed

It's all starting to look as if they are trying to fit 10 episodes of material into 24, and rushing out the scripts without enough care and attention, and keeping the first take, when a few more tries at a scene are required. I also watched the 'making of' show - these people come across as very arrogantly proud of their work, work which really doesn't deserve it. It's as if they think that by keeping saying how brilliant they all are we will believe it, in some kind of global hypnotism - hmm, the show's success so far maybe means it's working.

I will keep watching though, it's not as if it's actually a bad show, it is enjoyablewhat, and what else is there on TV? ,

PS - and why are all these Americans still using payphones, it's 2007 guys, got mobile.

Posted by se71 at 09:36 AM | Comments (0)

February 08, 2007

The Doomsday Machine

They've made some new special effects, and will be releasing a special edition of the Star Trek episode "The Doomsday Machine"

Of all the Star Trek stories, this one actually scared me when I was a kid. The thought of a huge, planet eating monster, possibly coming towards us, made a big impression on an imaginative child.

I'm looking forward to seeing the new one, though I'm much less impressionable now, which is a shame really.

Posted by se71 at 08:56 AM | Comments (0)

October 09, 2006

CSI - Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

A fairly standard CSI episode. Grissome is a bit entranced and overwhelmed by the attentions of a glamorous woman who turns out to be a suspect in a murder. He lets her get away with a lot less questioning than he should do.

But this episode is interesting to me for two reasons - one good, one really bad.

1. I noticed the name Louise Lombard in the titles and it rang bells. I also sort of recognised her when she appeared as Sophia Curtis. Had to search online and then it clicked - she was Evangeline Eliot, the younger sister of Beatrice in the TV series "The House Of Eliot". This show aired in the early 1990s, and Louise is English, and is faking an American accent now as a regular in CSI.

I like it when we have British people masquerading as Americans - Tracey Ullman was one of the earliest I remember with her own show and then in Ally McBeal. Now we have Hugh Laurie as House and Ian McShane in Deadwood, both huge series. Go UK!

2. The second thing is CSI totally misrepresenting the power of technology. A grainy surveillance camera image is part of the crim vidence. A man reaches a card to another man in a car, at night, about 50 metres from the camera. It is actually difficult to see the man's face.

"Can we zoom in on the card"?

Of course we can. And let's just clean that image up a bit. Ah, it's a 2D barcode card. This is already stretching credibility, but, we now zoom in again, and resolve the image to see clearly the barcode on the card.

We're not living in Bladerunner times just yet, with holographic photographs and infinite zooms. This kind of thing is just plain dumb, and demeans the whole premise of the rest of the series.

Posted by se71 at 05:03 PM | Comments (0)

April 07, 2006

Grey's Anatomy

Grey's Anatomy

I wonder what came first? The idea to do yet another medical drama, or the rather poor pun that is the name of this series.

The main star is of course called Grey - Meredith Grey. In the opening episode she starts her first day along with another selection of newly qualified doctors in a busy hospital. They is the usual cultural and personality mix required by US serials; token black, asian and female characters. If we need a poor sap who is a bit useless, well let's make it a white male, wouldn't want to antagonise anyone would we? Grey is of course pretty, vulnerable but strong willed, and intelligent. When a patient is misdiagnosed, she is the only one around who has read the manual properly on that illness.

One of the bosses is a tyrant, though with a heart of gold obviously. Amusingly Grey has had a drunken one night stand with another of the senior doctors there. It's all a bit Scrubbs really, but twice the length with slightly fewer laughs. Everyone is good looking, and the cases are tragic, but it's not about the patients, it's about the doctor's relationships.

I've never seen E.R. which means I cannot do much of a comparison, but I think it will be a bit lighter in tone, with less blood.

Channel 5 are showing it directly after House which is an altogether more serious program. I found myself laughing more however at Hugh Laurie's anti-hero, he is just so fantastic in that role. The laughter is the cynical kind though, Grey's anatomy is much jollier.

Apart from all this falseness and predictability, or maybe even because of it, I found myself liking 'Grey's Anatomy' quite a lot. I like it's PG rating, I feel comfortable wasting an hour being entertained, but not challenged too much. It's not essential viewing, but I have a feeling I'll end up watching it quite a lot, especially if it's always on after 'House'.

Update: Just found out that there is a new TV show viral marketing technique - blogging. So while this show was first going out in the U.S., someone pretending to be a nurse at the hospital wrote a blog about what was going on. Clever. Here it is, it's called seattlegracegossip.

Now all we need is someone with better programming skills and more time than me to grab that data, and repost it to a new blog at the right stage in the show for us watching in the UK.

(see also the blog from the barman across the street, and also a blog by the writers of the show. They have more blogs than I do! )

Posted by se71 at 02:14 PM | Comments (0)