Monday, 30 May 2011


The personal and professional lives of Detective Constable Rachel Bailey and Detective Constable Janet Scott, members of Manchester Metropolitan Police’s Major Incident Team. They investigate the apparent suicide of a young Turkish woman.

Co-created and written by Sally Wainwright (Unforgiven), Scott & Bailey is based on an idea by actresses Suranne Jones and Sally Lindsay. And this new ITV1 crime drama from Red Production Company is co-created by Diane Taylor, a retired DI from the Greater Manchester Police Force’s Major Incident Team.

The cast is an absolute dream: Jones herself, who entered TV History three weeks ago as "Sexy" in Doctor Who, plays impulsive DC Bailey. Lesley Sharp (The Shadow Line) is the more thoughtful DC Scott. There's also Amelia Bullmore, Nicholas Gleaves (Survivors) and the ubiquitous Rupert Graves (Sherlock) as Bailey's duplicitous lawyer boyfriend Nick Savage.

The premiere episode is a total waste of that amount of talents, with enough cliché material for a Comic Relief parody and an amazing lack of on-screen energy. Scott & Bailey feels like you're already watching its own US remake - except there was Cagney & Lacey before. According to the excellent TV Scoops Twitter feed, Scott & Bailey started with a huge 8.2 million viewers, the most watched first episode of any new drama in 5 years. Maybe BGT viewers couldn't find their buzzers.

P.S. Nick, you can't dump "Sexy". Period.!/tvscoops

Friday, 27 May 2011


Britt Reid (Seth Rogen) is a young playboy who exasperates his father, James Reid (Tom Wilkinson), publisher of the L.A. newspaper The Daily Sentinel. When James dies, Britt meets Kato (Jay Chou) - a genius mechanic with martial art skills who worked for his father.

As paranoid mobster
Benjamin Chudnofsky (Christoph Waltz) is taking over the town, Britt Reid and Kato become masked crimefighters posing as criminals in their rolling arsenal: The Black Beauty.

The Green Hornet was created in 1936 by George W. Trendle and Fran Striker for a radio series. In the 1940s the character was adapted for comic books and into two movie serials. A 1966-1967 television series starred Van Williams as Britt Reid/The Green Hornet and Bruce Lee as Kato. Thanks to Lee's later stardom their incarnations returned in two compilation movies, The Green Hornet (1974) and Fury of the Dragon (1976).

« Hand over the sushi.
- Yeah, hand it over. »


Now actor/producer Seth Rogen stars as Reid in this $120 million movie written by him with Evan Goldberg, and directed by someone you would not expect on such a project: French director Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind). You'd not expect Rogen as a masked crusader either but he lost weight and got more athletic for the character. After all, why couldn't he expand the scope of his roles beyond comedy? Jim Carrey did it and Seth Rogen would be talented enough to do it too. Except he doesn't even try to put a toe beyond his comfort zone.

« Kato, I want you to take my hand and want you to come with me on this adventure.
- I'll go with you but I don't wanna touch you. »

His Britt Reid is a "rich cretin" and a bumbling accidental superhero outsmarted by Kato, the martial artist and master inventor played by Taiwanese music superstar and actor Jay Chou. Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg are obviously more interested by the bromance (« Girls are such a drag, Kato. Thank God we have each other. ») than by the source material, past Kato and the customized retro car "loaded up the ass with cool shit": The Black Beauty. They even sacrifice a major character of the original Green Hornet the way Jim Phelps was mistreated in the first Mission: Impossible movie (1996).

« I should kill Kim myself, he's a friend. »

Oscar Winner Christoph Waltz is constantly fine-tuning his performance as Chudnofsky between the nazi of Inglorious Basterds (« Decapited statues. I decapitated real people. ») and the generic blockbuster villain. He delivers one of the movie's best scenes, facing James Franco in his usual stuff, before looking hardly concerned and losing it around the end in red leather and gas mask! At this pace Waltz will be the next Victor Newman in Y&R but thank God Nicolas Cage left the movie, imagine him with that line: « I'm Bloodnofsky. I killed a thousand before and I'll kill a thousand more. » The legendary Edward James Olmos is miscast as the Sentinel Managing Editor Mike Axford and Cameron Diaz (Lenore Case) is virtually nonexistent as "one of the boys".

« Well, it’s not really my movie. » (Michel Gondry)

When not pushing the limits of disbelief to the heights of ridicule, thanks to state of the art digital sfx and 3D conversion, the action sequences borrow rather happily to the 007 and Superman franchises. You'll find not even a single trace of Michel Gondry's creativity in The Green Hornet, as the movie is an extra large pop corn flick in total WTF mode (the Hornet and Kato sing Gangsta's Paradise on their trying ride of The Black Beauty). Somewhere in the middle of Iron Man and Get Smart with Steve Carell, no one involved seems to take it seriously anyway.

Region 1 DVD contains the excellent French-speaking dubbing with the talented Tristan Harvey for Britt Reid/The Green Hornet. Harvey is also the voice of Kevin James or Ricky Gervais in Quebec and belongs to the very select club of those dubbing artists who can really bring an added value to the movies they work on. The DVD special features include an interview with Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg about writing The Green Hornet, and The Black Beauty: Rebirth of Cool, a feature about the true star of the film.

« I call it The Black Beauty.
- Kato! It's beautiful! And it's black. »

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Monday, 23 May 2011


[11.18 - French Time] Yesterday night Graham Norton hosted the 2011 TV Baftas, aired on BBC One... with a one hour delay.

Rightfully celebrated both by viewers and critics last year, Downton Abbey lost Drama Series to the hip Steven Moffat & Mark Gatiss "reinvention" of Sherlock, and the YouTube Audience Award to ITV2's reality show The Only Way is Essex. Sherlock's Martin Freeman won Best Supporting Actor but his co-star Benedict Cumberbatch and Matt Smith (Doctor Who) lost Leading Actor to Daniel Rigby (Eric and Ernie).

Anyway Cumberbatch will apparently rejoin the new home of British telly stars: Peter Jackson's The Hobbit, currently filming in New Zealand. At some point ITV and the BBC will certainly need to ask Jackson's permission before commissioning a new drama or hire US actors instead. They already have Gillian Anderson, nominated in the Best Supporting Actress category for Any Human Heart.

One could argue that showing an award ceremony with a one hour delay is pointless, particularly in these Twitter days, but one could also argue that the delay should have been longer regarding the general atmosphere of the show (especially some jokes).

Full list of winners here:,1766,BA.html

See also:

Sunday, 22 May 2011


Doctor Who - The Doctor's Wife (Series Six, Episode Four). It's business "as usual" for The Doctor (Matt Smith), Amy (Karen Gillan) and Rory (Arthur Darvill), when the door of the TARDIS knocks... in deep space. The Time Lord receives a distress signal from an old friend and they follow it to a junkyard planet where lives a very strange family.

« Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high. There's a land that I heard of once in a lullaby. »

Directed by Richard Clark and written by acclaimed author Neil Gaiman (Coraline, Sandman, Neverwhere), The Doctor's Wife was originally intended for Series Five but was delayed due to budget issues and replaced by The Lodger (aka The Cheapo). Arriving now is in many respects a blessing for the episode, standing alone from the risky contrived high concept story arc Who boss Steven Moffat has chosen to embark into. No "clues", no soap subplot, no questions, no tricks. Just a self-contained tale of adventures in space and time with touches of surrealism, poetry and humour in the spirit of Douglas Adams. And an unusual and charming love story too.

Gaiman's story is a welcome reminder of what can be Doctor Who at its height. A strange world covered with junk- with a nice Caro and Jeunet feel - is inhabited by an odd dickensian patchwork couple, Auntie (Elizabeth Berrington) and Uncle (Adrian Schiller) and a green-eyed Ood called Nephew (Paul Kasey). A seemingly zany young woman named Idris (Suranne Jones, between Elsa Lanchester and Helena Bonham Carter) could be a part of a trap but who is she actually? « Biting is excellent. It's like kissing, only there's a winner. » And the voice of Michael Sheen (rehearsing for a James Earl Jones biopic?) plays a game of cat and mouse with Amy and Rory.

« Fear me, I've killed hundred of Time Lords.
- Fear me, I've killed all of them. »

Mr and Mrs Pond running through corridors has the sweet flavour of BBC 80s sci-fi, while Neil Gaiman revisits the origins of the Doctor with a wonderfully original twist. Not only 80s BBC, funnily the "Mail box" is very Cursor in Automan. The Doctor's Wife is an instant classic and let's hope Gaiman will come back for more. Better, make him the next showrunner. Better, knight him for restoring the faith of some of us in the modern version of Doctor Who during 45 minutes - and make him the next showrunner.

The episode and the essential Doctor Who Confidential which followed are an ode to why we love our madman in a box. Once upon a time...

« Do you believe any of this stuff?
- I was there. »

Thursday, 19 May 2011

CW DRAMAS 2011-2012

The CW unveiled today its primetime schedule for the 2011-2012 television season. Here are the network's new dramas:

- HART OF DIXIE: From the creators of Gossip Girl and The O.C. Rachel Bilson stars as "a sophisticated New York City woman who finds herself practicing medicine in a small Southern town." It's the CW, you know...

- RINGER: Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy) plays a woman on the run who assumes her twin sister’s identity, only to discover that her sister’s life is just as complicated and dangerous as the one she’s trying to escape. Sounds like Deceptions (1985), the miniseries starring Stefanie Powers and Stefanie Powers.

- THE SECRET CIRCLE: Britt Robertson stars as an orphaned teenage girl who discovers the truth about her lineage – "she’s a witch who holds the key to an ancient battle between good and evil". Based on a series of novels written by L.J. Smith, author of the Vampire Diaries books, The Secret Circle will follow the series adapted from The Vampire Diaries on thursday nights. Both shows come from Kevin Williamson's company Outerbanks Entertainment.

Details here:


[6.38 - French Time] ITV1 has commissioned a second series of Vera, its crime drama based on the Vera Stanhope books written by Ann Cleeves.

Brenda Blethyn will return as DCI Vera Stanhope, a Northumberland police detective, in four new 120-minute episodes. Vera is produced by ITV Studios and co-financed by Northern Film & Media, which will change its status from regional screen agency to private company. This change is due to the demise of regional funders One North East (which supported Vera) and the UK Film Council.

The One North East development agency, along with all the English regional development agencies (RDAs), will close at the end of March 2012 because of the replacement of RDAs by local enterprise partnerships. Northern Film & Media also co-finances BBC crime drama Inspector George Gently's fourth series.

See also:!/tvscoops

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

CBS DRAMAS 2011-2012

CBS unveiled today its primetime schedule for the 2011-2012 television season. Here are the network's new dramas:

- UNFORGETTABLE: Starring Dylan Walsh and Poppy Montgomery, who plays a former detective with a photographic memory. She tries to... er, sorry I forgot.

- PERSON OF INTEREST: This new series stars Jim Caviezel (The Prisoner 2009) as an ex-CIA agent, presumed dead, who teams up with a reclusive billionaire (Lost's Michael Emerson) to prevent violent crimes in New York City. Michael Knight had KITT, The Equalizer had a Jaguar. Will Caviezel be driven by Emerson through the Big Apple in a Mini Moke?

- A GIFTED MAN: Patrick Wilson stars as a preeminent surgeon whose everyday existence changes forever when his ex-wife returns from the hereafter to teach him lessons about life [Spoiler: 42].

- THE 2-2 (formerly Rookies): Arriving mid-season, this drama from Richard Price (The Wire) and Robert De Niro's Tribeca Productions is centered on a team of six freshman cops who are sent into high-crime trouble spots. Well, it's CBS... they've got the cuffs.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011


ABC unveiled today its primetime schedule for the 2011-2012 television season. Here are the Alphabet network's new dramas:

- CHARLIE'S ANGELS: Wait a minute, didn't we say NEW dramas? From writers and exec producers Alfred Gough and Miles Millar (Smallville), comes the unnecessary remake of the 1970s hit series. The original Charlie's Angels ran from 1976 to 1981 on ABC and was about three young women working for the secretive and invisible boss of the Charles Townsend Detective Agency.

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. Annie Ilonzeh, Minka Kelly and Rachael Taylor are the 2011 "Angels" in this series filmed in Miami and produced by Millar/Gough Ink, Flower Films and Panda Productions, in association with Sony Pictures Television.

- GOOD CHRISTIAN BELLES: Adapted from Kim Gatlin's book Good Christian Bitches (no $#*?) Leslie Bibb stars as a former high school "mean girl" back home in disgrace after her marriage ends in scandal. Meanwhile, the irony is that daytime soap operas are dying. Good Christian Belles is produced by ABC Studios and exec produced by Darren Star (Sex and the City).

- MISSING: Becca Winstone (Ashley Judd), a former CIA agent, learns that her son disappeared while studying abroad, and it’s a race against time when she travels to Europe to track him down. It isn’t long before the kidnappers realize they should have watched Taken. Missing is produced by Stillking Films.

- ONCE UPON A TIME: Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison) could be from an alternate world and be Snow White and Prince Charming’s missing daughter. Circumstances brings her to Eastwick, er... Storybrooke, a strange New England town where fairytale characters are alive. Is it a sequel to The Charmings, the 1987-1988 ABC sitcom? Produced by ABC Studios.

- PAN AM: Once upon a time there were three beautiful girls... Oops, wrong show. Christina Ricci, Karine Vanasse and Kelli Garner star in this new drama centered on the pilots and flight attendants working for the world famous Pan Am airlines during the 1960s. In 1978, a short-lived CBS series called Flying High focused on a trio of flight attendants working for Sunwest Airlines (Connie Sellecca co-starred). Looking forward to the ABC 2012 remake/reboot of Lottery!

Pan Am is produced by Jack Orman Productions, Out of the Blue Entertainment and Shoe Money Productions in association with Sony Pictures Television.

- REVENGE: In this series from ABC Studios, a young girl named Emily Thorne (Emily Van Camp) arrives in a wealthy town all on her own. The neighborood doesn't know she's actually not new there and wants to avenge some wrongs done to her family. Meanwhile, the irony is that daytime soap operas...

- THE RIVER: Wildlife expert and TV personality Emmet Cole (Bruce Greenwood) goes missing deep in the Amazon, his family, friends and crew set out on a mysterious and deadly journey to find him in this ABC Studios drama. Maybe he shaved his head and became a superhero?

- SCANDAL (Formerly Damage Control): From ABC Studios and Shonda Rhimes (Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice) comes this drama revolving around the life and work of a professional crisis manager (Kerry Washington) and her dysfunctional staff. The pilot is directed by Scottish director Paul McGuigan (Monroe, Sherlock and the excellent Lucky Number Slevin) so you'll be able to read right on-screen what's on the BlackBerrys of the characters.


Monday, 16 May 2011


Fox unveiled today its primetime schedule for the 2011-2012 television season. Here are the network's new dramas:

- TERRA NOVA follows an "ordinary" family from year 2149, embarking on a journey back to prehistoric Earth as a small part of a massive experiment to save the human race. A two-hour preview of this show from execs Steven Spielberg and Peter Chernin was due to be aired this month, but in March it was announced that the producing team needed more time to work on the elaborate visual effects.

Filmed in Australia, Terra Nova stars Jason O’Mara (Life on Mars US), Shelley Conn (ITV1's Marchlands) and Stephen Lang, who - from the trailer - seems in Avatar mode. The concept furiously recalls Lost in Space, Land of the Lost or Earth II, and costly CGI dinosaurs or other prehistoric threats won't do the trick without good scripts. Remember what happened to the third series of Primeval. Outcasts, a very similar Kudos/BBC drama (minus the giant ugly beasts) bombed spectacularly this year on BBC One.

- ALCATRAZ (Mid-season): SFPD detective Rebecca Madsen (Sarah Jones) is on a hard homicide case. A fingerprint leads her to the most shocking suspect: a former Alcatraz prison inmate who died decades ago. Alcatraz expert and comic book enthusiast, Dr. Diego "Doc" Soto (Lost alumn Jorge Garcia) helps her and they team up with mysterious government agent Emerson Hauser (Sam Neill). They discover other prisoners may reappear.

Alcatraz is from executive producer J.J. Abrams and Lost producer Elizabeth Sarnoff co-wrote the pilot script. To watch just for Jorge Garcia and movie legend Robert Forster as the heroine's uncle. [Spoiler] In the end we learn Alcatraz prison is Hell and everybody is dead.

- TOUCH (pilot to be filmed next month): Written and created by Tim Kring (Heroes), this new drama starring Kiefer Sutherland centers on the relationship between a single father and his mute, severely autistic 10-year-old son. This relationship and their lives take an extraordinary turn when the gifted son begins to see things that no one else can, "the patterns that connect everything". Oh, please... Really. [Insert sad emoticon here]

And because every net wants its "franchise", there's the Bones spin-off: The Finder.


Sunday, 15 May 2011


NBC unveiled today its 2011-2012 Primetime Schedule and its new dramas.

Produced by Brian Grazer's Imagine Television and 20th Century Fox Television, THE PLAYBOY CLUB is set in 1963 around the first Playboy Club in Chicago. Preceded by the aura of fantasies attributed to the Playboy name and the cast's nudity contract clause, the show focuses on Nick Dalton (Eddie Cibrian), a high-profile attorney with ties to the mob.

Dalton helps new Playboy bunny Maureen (Amber Heard), who has accidentally killed the boss of the Bianchi crime family. Apparently NBC wants its Mad Men, but it's NBC and AMC's drama makes your humble servant sleep. Also you must buy the idea of Eddie Cibrian as Mr Lucky's brother.

PRIME SUSPECT is the stateside adaptation of the namesake Brit classic from ITV (1991-2006), which starred Helen Mirren as DCI Jane Tennison. Tennison becomes Detective Jane Timoney in America and is played by Maria Bello. It is produced by Film 44, ITV Studios and Universal Media Studios. CBS's The Good Wife is not even an excuse for that.

David Guintoli stars in GRIMM as a homicide detective whose aunt reveals to him they are descendants of an elite group of hunters, also known as "Grimms". This group fights "to keep the balance of humanity safe from the supernatural creatures of the world" because Grimm Brothers's fairy tales were real (puh-lease!) Special Unit 2 meets ITV's Demons? One of the execs is David Greenwalt (Angel) so they must be represented by Wolfram & Hart. Brr...

Arriving mid-season in 2012, THE FIRM is based on the 1993 feature film (starring Tom Cruise) and the best-selling novel by John Grisham. Remember the TV series adapted from The Client, another Grisham best-seller? We should... Oh, could someone do The Devil's Advocate instead?

AWAKE stars the talented Jason Issacs as Detective Michael Britten. Britten regains consciousness following his family's car accident and is told that his wife Hannah (Laura Allen) perished but that his teen son, Rex (Dylan Minnette), has survived. As he tries to put the pieces of his life back together, he awakens again in a parallel reality in which his wife is very much alive but his son died in the accident.

In order to keep both of his loved ones alive at one time, he starts living two dueling realities in parallel worlds while here turns to police work and solves crimes in both worlds with the help of two different partners. Then, he meets the characters from Fringe and in alternate universe where your humble servant thinks Awake is really a good idea.

Centered on a desire to create a Broadway musical Marilyn Monroe, SMASH (another mid-season show) basically looks like Glee. Which tells all, no?


Saturday, 14 May 2011


Doctor Who - The Curse Of The Black Spot (Series Six, Episode Three). The Doctor (Matt Smith), Amy (Karen Gillan) and Rory (Arthur Darvill) are on the 17th-century pirate ship of Captain Avery (Hugh Bonneville), as the crew is being attacked by a siren.

« I have my good days and my bad days. »

You gotta really like the modern iteration of Doctor Who these days, with its high concept story arc, the pregnancy subplot and its nods to US sci-fi cable for insomniacs. While we're looking forward to the musical episode with the Doctor and his companions vs Joan Collins as Sue Sylvester's Brit cousin, here comes the presumably inevitable pirate story. Because "pirates are cool", just ask Amy and Johnny Depp.

Written by Steve Thompson (Sherlock) and directed by Jeremy Webb, The Curse of The Black Spot runs out of steam past the first ten minutes toying with some clichés of the genre and the arrival of Lily Cole as the shining lady. Because shining folks are cool and so is Miss Cole, ask Kenny... er, Rory, but it's hard to succeed to American Dad's Roger as a threat. She'll not take you down, she'll just take you to a Space: 1999-type sick bay. And she's not as funny as Robert Picardo.

Too bad for the sick bay because production designer Michael Pickwoad does a fine job with the inside of the pirate ship, the ship itself being a real 1920 Danish ship called The Phoenix and based in Charlestown, Cornwall. We'd love to see those beautiful Doc Martin landscapes but the production didn't need them. We'd also adore to see more of the talented Lee Ross (Life on Mars/Ashes to Ashes) but his Boatswain character does a vanishing act, only to reappear at the end with the rest of Captain Avery's crew. Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey) is perfect as Long John Silver but eh, it's Hugh Bonneville, right?

Like the two-part opener of this sixth series, this episode recycles elements from previous series. Overall The Curse of The Black Spot cannot live up to its status of appetizer for tonight's episode, eagerly awaited because written by Neil Gaiman.

Friday, 13 May 2011


NBC has cancelled The Event and Law and Order: Los Angeles. And ABC has cancelled V.

« They had it coming. They had it coming. They had it coming all along. » (Cell Block Tango, Chicago)

As we wrote last year the biggest mystery in The Event, NBC's high concept serialized drama, was the reason the Peacock network commissioned it in the first place. Particularly after the predictable demise of ABC's FlashForward. Even those who celebrated FlashForward as the Second Coming (i.e. the new Lost) were cautious on this one and someone should have told Hollywood the 1990s are over. Amusingly in May 2010 we wrote about the NBC 2010 Fall schedule that Chuck looked like the only thing enjoyable, and the show will get a fifth and final season.

The cops from Law & Order: Los Angeles (aka LOLA) will investigate their own cancellation, as NBC has pulled the plug on Dick Wolf's Californian extension of the L & O franchise after a midseason retooling. Your humble servant didn’t watch when it was called L.A. Dragnet anyway... Obviously they unplugged the original Law and Order too soon.

There are television classics which should be left alone and Kenneth Johnson's miniseries V (1983) is definitely on the list. ABC cancels the 2009 struggling remake of this monument after 22 episodes. NBC just said no to David E. Kelley's Wonder Woman but don't worry, Mother Nature hates emptiness and the Alphabet network gave its green light to the Charlie's Angels remake.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011


[6.35 - French Time] It looks that Christopher Chance (Mark Valley) will have to retreat in Nepal for good this time. Fox cancels Human Target after two seasons.

Human Target was adapted from a DC comic book by Len Wein and Carmine Infantino. Its character, Christopher Chance, was a private eye/bodyguard who literally endorsed the appearance and personality of his clients to protect them. This was not the first TV adaptation of the comic, in the nineties the team behind The Flash tried for ABC with Rick Springfield as Chance.

The pilot of the 2010 version owed more to Walker Texas Ranger than to the short-lived ABC show. Nothing wrong with Walker (the CSI franchise even borrowed its formal aspect to the Chuck Norris vehicle) but the new Human Target missed the essential: Christopher Chance no longer assumed the identity of his clients. Gone where the masks, the impersonations and the cool Mission: Impossible "peel-off" thing.

As if it wasn't enough, season 2 managed to drop the superb intro composed by Bear McReary for that... theme (1) and brought two new characters. One of them, Ilsa Pucci (!) was played by Brit actress Indira Varma (Luther, Torchwood).

(1) +

Saturday, 7 May 2011


Doctor Who - Day of the Moon (Series Six, Episode Two). Amy (Karen Gillan), River Song (Alex Kingston) and Rory (Arthur Darvill) are hunt down by Canton (Mark Sheppard) and his men cross America.

Meanwhile, the Doctor (Matt Smith) is under guard like an "illegal alien" somewhere in Area 51


Directed by Toby Haynes and written by Doctor Who supremo Steven Moffat, Day of the Moon is the second half of the two-part event series opener marking the first time the show is filmed stateside, thanks to BBC America. And you know what they say, when in Rome... From the pre-credits American TV sci-fi moments (The Invaders, Dark Skies, The X-Files) to Moffat's pre-watershed grindhouse horror movie in the Oswald Cobblepot orphanage and the showdown with the baddies, this is the closest idea of what'd be a Who remake on a network today.

Time can be rewritten and what time can't do, the Nixon Ex Machina will manage (Stuart Milligan with prosthetics as a running gag prez). And even heavy exposition will not prevent some viewers to feel as confused as Dr. Renfrew (Kerry Shale) in this high concept tale of the Big Why built up since the previous series. The words "high concept" should be banned by the television industry anyway. Now, the Doctor knows that the Rogers are here and he must convince a disbelieving world that the nightmare has already begun...

But there's Mark Sheppard as Canton Everett Delaware III. Canton III has the potential Captain Jack Harkness had when he appeared in The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances (back then a kid with a gas mask was enough). Shepphard deserves his own show or, if the suits can't break the piggy bank for another spin-off, at least an encore.

The little girl glows in the dark? Oh, well... whatever. As long as she can eat meat properly.

Monday, 2 May 2011


Julie Armstrong finds her son in a bath of water, murdered and covered with wild flowers. A second body is discovered soon after in water strewn with flowers. Detective Chief Inspector Vera Stanhope and her colleague Sergeant Joe Ashworth investigate.

Justifying the decision to axe the BBC One drama Zen at a Broadcasting Press Guild lunch, the channel's controller Danny Cohen suggested that there was too much crime dramas on TV (1). ITV1, home of Midsomer Murders, Lewis, DCI Banks, or The Suspicions of Mr Whicher, added yesterday another detective to its police station: Vera.

The great Brenda Blethyn (Atonement, Saving Grace, Secrets and Lies) is DCI Vera Stanhope in a 4 X 120-minute crime drama adapted from the novels by Ann Cleeves (2). With her Columbo look, her human qualities, her personal demons and her remarkable detective abilities, the lonely Vera is an interesting and likeable character. Not your average female TV detective, DCI Stanhope is reminiscent of DI Frost (David Jason in A Touch of Frost), which is a good point for this new drama series from ITV Studios.

David Leon plays Sergeant Joe Ashworth, her right hand man and sort of surrogate son. Other members of DCI Stanhope's team are DC Holly Lawson (Wunmi Mosaku) and pathologist Billy Cartwright (Paul Ritter). Yesterday's premiere is based on the book Hidden Depths, adapted by Paul Rutman, and directed by Adrian Shergold (Mad Dogs). Gina McKee, Murray Head and Juliet Aubrey are among the guest stars. One of them was not typecast as the murderer, which is another good point. If the camera work could sometimes calm down a bit that would certainly not hurt an otherwise enjoyable drama.

Filmed in Northumberland and Newcastle, Vera is co-financed by Northern Film & Media, and supported by the One North East development agency. Kate Bartlett and Kate Lewis exec produce and Elwen Rowlands is the producer.

(2) Except the fourth film, Little Lazarus, which is an original story by Paul Rutman.