Friday, 29 October 2010


[18.25 - French Time] The Waters of Mars will be aired in France by DTT pubcaster France 4 this saturday. The Doctor Who specials starring David Tennant as the tenth Doctor marked a new era for the French-speaking dubbing dialogues with the arrival of two talented authors: Chantal Bugalski (The West Wing, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles) and François Dubuc (The State Within).

Because of the number of episodes for a regular series two other authors joined Bugalski and Dubuc for the adaptation of Doctor Who's fifth series in French: Rodolph Freytt (True Blood) and Olivier Lips (Nip/Tuck). François Dubuc could only work on The Eleventh Hour and The Beast Below, due to adjustments in his planning.

Recording of Amy's choice and The Hungry Earth started this week in the Belgian studios of Dubbing Brothers under the direction of David Macaluso. The French-speaking dubbing process of Doctor Who is closely followed by fans in France and other countries of Francophonie and even regularly attracts interest in the United Kingdom (

See also:


[9.30 - French Time] Lasko - Die Faust Gottes: Gegen die Zeit (Season 2, Episode 2).

Brother Lasko (Mathis Landwehr), Brother Gladius (Stephan Bieker) and novice Michael (Oliver Bender) meet a renegade operative from Ares who must give Lasko and Gladius information. But Ares agents are there to shut him down and he can only give a phial to Michael.

This phial breaks in Michael's hand and its content mixes with his blood. Gladius and Lasko have only a few hours to prevent an attack from Ares and save their friend from a certain death.

Lasko - Die Faust Gottes is back since last week for a second season. Aired by German private broadcaster RTL, the action/adventure series from Hermann Joha's action concept, was a pleasant surprise for the German television fiction industry last year. Ratings and market shares were amazing in a country where television viewers tend to favour US shows like House. But with a budget estimated around 1 million euros per episode for this initial season, RTL asked for a careful development process before greenlighting season two and some changes were made.

Gone are the origins of Pugnus Dei (the monastic order Lasko belongs to) before the pre-credits sequence, and gone are BKA agent Sophia von Erlen (Simone Hanselmann) and her boss played by André Hennicke. Idem for the wise Abbot Magnus (Karl Merkatz), replaced by the younger and more combative Georg (Heio von Stetten). There's also a new intro and a more urban setting.

After the Dan Brownesque season premiere and its annoying Vatican girl cop character Clarissa de Angelo (Julia Maria Köhler), yesterday night's episode gives us more reasons to worry about what was in 2009 the most interesting action concept show in years - since Der Clown (1996-2001). And besides their always enjoyable and spectacular Alarm für Cobra 11 - Die Autobahnpolizeï - aired since 1996!

Gegen die Zeit has its moments: the countryside is back (but not enough), great fights (the tunnel, the factory and the U-Bahn) and the amusing "Blue Danube" rope scene. Unfortunately the character of Michael breaks the momentum between Lasko and Gladius and sometimes provides a comic relief too many. And Ares is now more a corporate equivalent of SPECTRE than an occult Vatican lodge, with plans out of a 60s US spy-fi.

Ares is a shark tank. Did Lasko jump it?

See also:

Thursday, 28 October 2010


[7.07 - French Time] Deadline's Nellie Andreeva reports that a remake of Charlie's Angels in the pipeline since last year is headed to pilot production.

The original Charlie's Angels ran from 1976 to 1981 on ABC and was a detective show about three young women working for the secretive and invisible boss of the Charles Townsend Detective Agency. Charles "Charlie" Townsend was voiced by a pre-Dynasty John Forsythe and the show, created by Ivan Goff and Ben Roberts (producers of Mannix), made Farrah Fawcett a worldwide sex symbol. TV czars Aaron Spelling and Leonard Goldberg were executive producers.

The "reboot" project from Sony Television was originally set up at ABC with a pilot commitment last November with Josh Friedman (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles) as writer and exec producer. This new Charlie's Angels didn’t go to pilot stage and was put in redevelopment with new writers, Alfred Gough and Miles Millar (Smallville). Now we learn from Deadline that a pilot will be filmed in Miami at the beginning of 2011.

Charlie's Angels 1976 was a conventional cop show with a difference: beautiful young women with a wardrobe specially designed to catch the eyes of male viewers. It popularized the expression "T&A TV" and it, er... "inspired" shows like Agence Acapulco (1993), The Dream Team (1999) or She Spies (2002-2004). It also spawned the two movie adaptations directed by McG in 2000 and 2003.

At least if this modern Charlie's Angels becomes a series and bombs they can always try to relocate it in Hawaii - the original tried that for its fifth season - and Grace Park from CBS's 2010 Hawaii Five-O could coach the new angels.

See also: (Archie's Angels)

Sunday, 24 October 2010


[19.27 - French Time] While The Waters of Mars is due to be aired by French DTT pubcaster France 4 on October 30th, Doctor Who's fifth series is currently dubbed for French-speaking territories since September 29 in the Belgian studios of Dubbing Brothers, under the direction of David Macaluso.

As we reported in March, Matt Smith is dubbed by experimented Belgian stage actor Marc Weiss. We're told now that Amy Pond, played by Karen Gillan, is dubbed by the excellent Audrey d'Hulstère (French-speaking voice of Liz White in Life on Mars). And "Mr Pond", aka Rory Williams - performed by Arthur Darvill, has the voice of stage and improv actor Xavier Elsen, which seems an interesting choice.

In The Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone, the very talented Scottish actor Iain Glen (Father Octavian) is dubbed by the equally talented Philippe Résimont. Résimont is one of the finest Belgian stage actors and has a long string of dubbing credits. In Doctor Who he dubbed the Chancellor in The End of Time 1 & 2 and he was the voice of Diagoras in series three's Daleks in Manhattan/Evolution of the Daleks.

The characters of Mo, Elliot and Ambrose in The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood will be dubbed by Michelangelo Marchese (Ed Gold in The Waters of Mars), Matteo Marchese and Valérie Lemaître, who are also a family in real life.

Artistic director David Macaluso explained us that Marc Weiss and Audrey d'Hulstère particularly enjoy working on the French-speaking version of this series, whose recording will end at the beginning of December. This Tuesday begins the dubbing of Amy's Choice and The Hungry Earth. (In French) (In French) (In French)

See also: (In French)

Friday, 22 October 2010


[17.19 - French Time] Deadline's Nellie Andreeva reports exclusively that Robert Cochran (24) is developing Pinkerton, a 8-10-hour limited series for Starz about the famous detective and spy, with actor Gerard Butler on board to executive produce.

American premium channel Starz has commissioned a pilot script and a "bible" for a fictionalized project centered around Allan Pinkerton (1819-1894), creator of the Pinkerton National Detective Agency - the first detective agency in the United States.

Scottish-born Pinkerton emigrated to the US at age 23. He served as head of the Union Intelligence Service, the forerunner of the US Secret Service. As such, he guarded Abraham Lincoln on his way to his inauguration and foiled an assassination attempt on him in Baltimore.

Funnily, soon after the success of Steven Moffat's Sherlock your humble servant joked on Twitter that someone in L.A. or London was asking himself if the rights of Nick Carter (the 19th century detective, not the singer) were available.


[6.39 - French Time] Lasko - Die Faust Gottes: Das 5. Evangelium (Season 2, Episode 1).

Brother Lasko (Mathis Landwehr) and Brother Gladius (Stephan Bieker) are in the Vatican to pick up their new abbot Georg (Heio von Stetten) when a valuable book is stolen and the secret archivist of the Vatican murdered. Lasko tries to catch the killer but the man drops the book to an accomplice and commits suicide.

The precious stolen book is a biography of a 16th century evangelist. Clarissa de Angelo (Julia Maria Köhler), a Vatican police detective explains that in this book and three other evangelist biographies is hidden a code leading to a fifth one. This fifth gospel countains a secret that could shake the foundations of Christianity.

Launched in 2009 on German private broadcaster RTL, Lasko - Die Faust Gottes came almost as a pleasant surprise for German television fiction. Ratings and market shares were more than spectacular in a country where television viewers tend to favour US shows like House.

But a second season was not guaranteed for Hermann Joha's production company action concept (Alarm für Cobra 11), regarding a budget estimated around 1 million euros per episode for this initial season. The awaited season 2, filmed from April to August in Berlin and its area, finally started yesterday on RTL for eight new episodes.

Lasko, the young monk from Pugnus Dei, an ancestral secret monastic order fighting for justice with the help of martial arts, is back with his epicurian friend Gladius but the show gets some retooling. A new intro, a more urban setting, gone are the origins of Pugnus Dei before the pre-credits sequence, and gone are BKA agent Sophia von Erlen (Simone Hanselmann) and her boss played by in-demand actor André Hennicke. Idem for the wise Abbot Magnus (Karl Merkatz).

Stunts and fights are still up to action concept's top-notch standards but one of this premiere's problems is definitely the Dan Brownesque story as last year the Ares lodge, Lasko's nemesis, evoked The Da Vinci Code less blatantly. Another problem is the annoying Vatican cop character and her forced chemistry with Lasko.

Mathis Landwehr is brilliant, Stephan Bieker steals the show as comic relief Gladius and Heio von Stetten is a great addition to the cast. The episode is visually superb - as usual - thanks to director Axel Sand (also behind the photography), who clearly enjoys his job. But we could rapidly miss the countryside and we need more of Pugnus Dei's magnificent monastery.

And let's hope there will be some improvement next week on the story front. (In German) (In German)

See also:

(C) Thierry Attard

Friday, 15 October 2010


[19.06 - French Time] British actor Simon MacCorkindale has died, aged 58.

The very popular Cambridge-born TV, movie and stage actor Simon MacCorkindale played Dr. Harry Harper in the BBC medical drama Casualty from 2002 to 2008. But of course he was known worldwide by generations of television viewers for his character of Professor Jonathan Chase in Glen A. Larson's short-lived but cult series Manimal (1983).

Between 1990 and 1993, MacCorkindale starred as Peter Sinclair in Counterstrike, a rather enjoyable adventure drama. Sinclair was a frustrated Scotland Yard investigator hired by billionaire Alexander Addington (the legendary Christopher Plummer) to lead a private anti-terrorist team. The show was a co-production between Canada and France and was filmed in Toronto and Paris. It was aired by CTV in Canada, TF1 in France and USA Network in the United States.

His other television credits include I, Claudius (1976), The Quatermass Conclusion (1979), Falcon Crest (between 1984 and 1986) or Poltergeist: The Legacy (in 1999). Simon MacCorkindale reprised his Manimal character in an episode of the syndicated Glen A. Larson superhero series Night Man (1997-1999).

His most notable film role was Simon Doyle in the 1978 Agatha Christie film Death on the Nile. Last Friday, British viewers watched the actor on BBC One in an episode of New Tricks where he guest-starred as Sir David Bryant, his last role.

Simon MacCorkindale was married to British actress Susan George.


Thursday, 14 October 2010


[10.21 - French Time] Broadcast reports that ITV has commissioned a 2 x 60-minute crime drama adapted from Sophie Hannah’s novel The Point Of Rescue.

According to Broadcast, Point Of Rescue (working title) will start filming on location in Buckinghamshire this month and stars Olivia Williams (The Ghost Writer) as DS Charlie Zailer and Darren Boyd as DC Simon Waterhouse. It will be aired on ITV1 in 2011.

This new crime drama, produced by Hat Trick Productions and distributed globally by BBC Worldwide, rejoins the recent ITV crime novel adaptations DCI Banks, Vera (starring Brenda Blethyn) and The Suspicions of Mr Whicher.

No wonder why Downton Abbey , ITV1's lavish period drama from Carnival Films, is such a hit. Maybe Carnival could do a Cluedo episode...

Tuesday, 12 October 2010


[22.33 - French Time] THR's James Hibberd reports exclusively that Robert De Niro and writer Richard Price (The Wire) have sold a script for a cop drama project to CBS.

Rookies is centered on a team of six freshman cops who are sent into high-crime trouble spots. Robert De Niro's Tribeca Productions and CBS Television Studios would produce the crime procedural with De Niro and Price as executive producers. They previously worked together on the film Mad Dog and Glory (1992).

ABC aired this summer a Canadian police drama called Rookie Blue, about five ambitious rookie cops who have just graduated from the Academy. And CBS is already the home of many crime procedurals (the CSI and Criminal Minds franchises, The Mentalist, etc.) But according to James Hibberd, Richard Price's distinctive style would make the difference.


[21.12 - French Time] EW's Michael Ausiello reports exclusively that The CW's version of Nikita, which debuted last month, will soon get a retooling.

Ausiello explains that the network is looking to "lighten the show’s somber mood and jack up its title character’s love life" in order to boost the young female demo.

Several new characters would be introduced, including a confidant and potential love interest for Nikita.

See also:


[11.04 - French Time] ITV1 has commissioned a second series of Downton Abbey, its lavish period drama, after it proved a spectacular hit with both viewers and critics.

Oscar-winning writer Julian Fellowes (Gosford Park) will return to pen a new seven-part series, which will air in 2011. Downton Abbey, produced by Carnival Films, is set in an Edwardian country house in April 1912 and portrays the lives of the Crawley family and the servants who work for them.

The big-budget costume drama debuted on September 26 with a consolidated audience of 9.2m viewers, making it the most successful new drama on British television since the launch of ITV’s Whitechapel in February last year. Whitechapel, also produced by Carnival, was the most-watched new drama series of 2009 and its second series started last night on ITV1.

Downton Abbey averaged more than 8m viewers across the opening three episodes of its initial seven-part run (1 x 90-minute and 6 x 60-minute).

See also:


[4.56 - French Time] Since September, we note the TV show casualties of the US Network 2010-2011 season (this list will be updated when necessary):

- Lone Star (Fox)
- My Generation (ABC)

- Outlaw (NBC) - Jimmy Smits as a Supreme Court Justice who gives up his lifetime appointment to open a private practice after being frustrated with flaws in the legal system. He shouldn't.

Outlaw was put on production hiatus last week by NBC after three weeks of lacklustre ratings.

See also:

Monday, 11 October 2010


[6.52 - French Time] Single Father, David Tennant's post-Doctor Who new drama, premiered yesterday on BBC One.

Every now and then someone risks a comparison between UK television dramas and what is done in the US, generally chanting the glory of HBO's The Wire as a mantra. After ITV's Collision and The Silence (aired this summer on BBC One), Single Father proves one more time - if needed - those who affirm that the British television industry should only kneel before David Simon's creation are dead wrong.

It seems like an ordinary day for Dave (David Tennant), a photographer and the loving husband of Rita (Laura Fraser). He is also a good dad to their three kids and an excellent stepfather to Lucy (Natasha Watson), Rita's 15-year-old daughter from a previous relationship. But things will never be ordinary again for Dave and his family: Rita dies in a tragic traffic accident. Everybody tries to cope the best he/she can and things get even more complicated when Dave falls in love with his wife's best friend, Sarah (Suranne Jones).

« I love you too! » (Dave)

You need a good deal of courage and a whole container of paper tissues to enter into Dave's emotional journey through the tragedy. But the first hour of this single father's new life worths the effort and writer Mick Ford's four-part relationship drama is both moving and refreshing. The perfect return in a TV drama for David Tennant's tremendous talent and extraordinary versatility.

Everybody plays Ford's words in the right tone, from the adults to the kids, under the inspired direction of Sam Miller and with the music of Murray Gold. It's rather fortunate that Rex is Not your Lawyer, the legal drama pilot shot by Tennant in the US, failed to be picked up by NBC. Apparently the far-fetched premise of a top Chicago attorney who suffers panic attacks and coaches clients to represent themselves in court was poorly executed (1).

Miles away from a tenth Doctor in a lawyer suit, the Scottish actor delivers one of his best performances ever as this father of an ordinary family whose only superpower (shared by its members) is the force to try to live one day at a time. Single Father is produced by Red Production Company (Casanova) for BBC Scotland. Nicola Shindler exec produces for Red and Anne Mensah and Gaynor Holmes for BBC Scotland. Peter Gallagher is the producer.


See also:

Sunday, 10 October 2010


[16.41 - French Time] BBC America reports via Twitter that two episodes of Doctor Who will be filmed in the US "next season".

After last August's announcement by the BBC and Steven Moffat that the transmission of the next series of Doctor Who, in 2011, would be split into two blocks of episodes aired in spring and autumn, here comes another (semi) surprise:

"Doctor Who to film in the U.S. for the first time. First 2 episodes to be set in the U.S. next season. #DoctorWho #DWUS" (

This happens after some months after Torchwood's fourth series got its greenlight thanks to a partnership between BBC Cymru Wales, BBC Worldwide and US premium entertainment network Starz Entertainment (Spartacus: Blood and Sand). Does this mean that a US co-producer will be involved in Doctor Who's next series?


See also:


[13.43 - French Time] Single Father, David Tennant's post-Doctor Who new drama, premieres tonight on BBC One. And the competition is tough: Downton Abbey on ITV1 and Thorne, Sky1's new crime drama starring David Morrissey.

In Single Father, written by Mick Ford, Dave (David Tennant) is a photographer facing the seemingly impossible task of bringing up four kids alone after the sudden death of his wife, Rita (Laura Fraser). And things get even more complicated when Dave falls in love with his wife's best friend, Sarah (Suranne Jones). The four-part relationship drama is directed by Sam Miller and produced by Red Production Company (Casanova) for BBC One through BBC Scotland.

Single Father marks the return of ex-Doctor Who star David Tennant in a TV series after Rex is Not your Lawyer, the legal drama pilot he shot in the US, failed to be picked up by NBC. The Beeb must really be confident in Tennant's rating magnet magic as poor Dave (the character, we mean) will not only face the death of his wife but also ITV1's new jewel in the crown Downton Abbey.

Episode 2 of the commercial broadcaster's sublime return in the period drama territory (thanks to producer Carnival Films) was watched last week by an average of 8.782 million viewers and attracted a 33.2% audience share across ITV1 and ITV1 HD from 9pm. And Downton Abbey is preceded by ITV's juggernaut The X Factor.

As if it was not enough this sunday night premieres Thorne, Sky 1’s new big-budget crime drama adapted from Mark Billingham’s novels. Actor and director David Morrissey stars as DCI Tom Thorne and produces this adaptation with the affirmed ambition to emulate the best US dramas. He's supported by Sky, which wants to be a major player on the British drama front with shows like Chris Ryan's Strike Back or commissions like Mad Dogs, The Runaway, or Sinbad - a multimillion-pound modern take on Sinbad the Sailor from Impossible Pictures (Primeval).

But Thorne comes one week after the second part of DCI Banks: Aftermath, another adaptation of a literary detective. Based on the novels by Peter Robinson, DCI Banks stars Stephen Tompkinson (Wild at Heart) in the title role and attracted 5.8 million viewers for ITV1. BBC One's Single Father shares one essential quality with Downton Abbey: it's not one more gloomy crime drama.

Update - See also:

Thursday, 7 October 2010


[Advisory: Sorry for the no posting, your humble servant is having his annual autumn conference with a cold. Thank you for your comprehension, your patience and your fidelity.]

NBC is putting Outlaw, its Friday night legal drama, on production hiatus after three weeks of lacklustre ratings. The Peacock is suspending production on future episodes but will run the remaining five episodes of this show.

Outlaw stars Jimmy Smits as a Supreme Court Justice who gives up his lifetime appointment to open a private practice after being frustrated with flaws in the legal system. Several new NBC series have performed lower than expected and rating experts pay a particular attention to J.J. Abrams's Undercovers and to NBC's high concept serialized drama The Event.

In may we wrote about The Event : « The pick-up of another "high concept show" after the announced demise of ABC's FlashForward is a mystery stronger than the pitch of this new drama. » Actually most of the networks's picks for this season are a mystery.

Saturday, 2 October 2010


[7.54 - French Time] Since this week, we note the TV show casualties of the US Network 2010-2011 season (this list will be updated when necessary):

- Lone Star (Fox)

- My Generation (ABC) - A docu-style drama tracking former high-school classmates. ABC cancels it after two low-rated airings.

Yesterday it was announced that David E. Kelley (Ally McBeal, The Practice) will write and produce a new Wonder Woman TV series. Seriously, folks...

See also:

Friday, 1 October 2010

STEPHEN J. CANNELL (1941-2010)

American television producer, screenwriter, and novelist Stephen J. Cannell has died, aged 69. He was a master storyteller behind hours of entertaining crime dramas or action/adventure shows.

Stephen J. Cannell started his long and highly successful career at the end of the sixties as a writer for Universal Television on shows like It takes a Thief, Ironside or Adam-12. In 1973 he wrote the screenplay for Double Exposure, one of the most famous episode of Columbo, where the murderer played by Robert Culp used a subliminal image to trap his victim. One year later TV producer, writer and creator Roy Huggins (Maverick, The Fugitive) teamed up with Cannell to create The Rockford Files, starring James Garner as Jim Rockford.

Rockford, a private eye, wrongfully served time in prison before being pardoned. He lived in a mobile home (doubling as his office) in a parking lot on a beach of Malibu. The show, which lasted six seasons, contained everything that made the style of Stephen J. Cannell as a creator/producer: likeable outcast characters, a cocktail of comedy and drama, modern and witty dialogues, and the music of Mike Post and Pete Carpenter.

Cannell went on writing History of US television with Baretta (1975-1978), Baa Baa Black Sheep (1976-1978), or The Greatest American Hero (1981-1983). In 1979 he formed Stephen J. Cannell Productions, which became a powerful production company with the success of with The A-Team (1983-1987), co-created with Frank Lupo. In the eighties, his creations/productions epitomized this sense of popular entertainment which gave US dramas a global appeal. With his shows, atypical cops (Hunter) or private investigators (Hardcastle & McCormick, Riptide, Stingray) then rivaled Aaron Spelling's productions for the domination of network primetime schedules.

Always anticipating evolutions in his business, Stephen J. Cannell opened a studio facility in Vancouver, British Columbia, toward the end of the 1980s in order to reduce production costs. There he produced shows like 21 Jump Street (1987-1991), the innovative and critically acclaimed Wiseguy (1987-1990), or The Commish (1991-1996). New World Communications acquired his company in 1995, then Cannell founded The Cannell Studios.

Sometimes Stephen J. Cannell appeared as an actor in his own shows or in series produced by others: he played corrupt cop "Dutch" Dixon in Renegade (1992-1997), his own creation, or TV producer Jackson Burley in the hilarious 1997 episode of Diagnosis Murder called Must Kill TV. Since the nineties Cannell was also a best-seller novelist and he appeared as himself in the pilot and two episodes of Castle (2009), playing cards with the main character and fellow novelists James Patterson and Michael Connelly. The most extraordinary is that Cannell lived with dyslexia his whole life and was even a spokesperson on the subject.

During three decades Stephen J. Cannell entertained millions of TV viewers around the world with his stories, his characters and his productions. Some were not rating hits but left imprints in a way or another: City of Angels (1976, co-created with Roy Huggins) and Tenspeed and Brown Shoe (1980) are revered as masterpieces, the short-lived Unsub (1989) is widely considered as the protype of CSI and Profit (1996) is a cult classic.

With the death of Cannell, it's an entire era of the US television industry which is ripped from his typewriter and flies away.