Monday, 20 June 2011


Doctor Who - A Good Man goes to War (Series Six, Episode Seven). Amy (Karen Gillan) has been kidnapped by Madame Kovarian (Frances Barber). The Doctor (Matt Smith) races across galaxies with Rory (Arthur Darvill), calling in long-held debts and solemnly given promises in order to raise a posse.

In August 2010, Doctor Who supremo Steven Moffat announced at the MediaGuardian Edinburgh TV Festival that the current 13-episode series would run for seven episodes "building to an Earth-shattering climax" at Episode 7, an "enormous game-changing cliffhanger that will change everything". And then would return in the autumn after a hiatus for another six. « The wrong expression would be to say we are splitting it in two. We are making it two separate series, » as he explained, referring to the second block as « what would be in fact Series Seven » (1).

« Budget cuts are tough: I don't like them, but they force you to be creative. » (Steven Moffat)

Amy wasn't the real Amy but a blob version of herself. The real Mrs Pond is held prisoner by the ultimate soap opera villain Madame Kovarian and her henchman, Colonel Manton (Danny Sapani). They have an army and sinister extras, the Headless Monks, so rescuing Amy and baby Melody will not be an easy task. Rory dresses as a centurion to gatecrash a Cybermen space station, while the Doctor destroys a whole cyber legion to show how much is p***ed off and checks a rolodex (we imagine huge) to ask old acquaintances for a favour payback.

Enter "sword-wielding Silurian Victorian detective" Madame Vastra (Neve McIntosh as another Silurian character) and her human companion Jenny (Catrin Stewart), Commander Strax (Dan Starkey) - the Sontaran Doc Martin, and black market blue trader Dorium "I'm old, I'm fat, I'm blue" Maldovar (excellent Simon Fisher Becker). River Song (Alex Kingston), back to Stalag 13, cannot attend the party due to a technicality but a Silurian squad, some Judoon forces, space Spitfires, Captain and Junior Avery (Hugh Bonneville and Oscar Lloyd) can. Those who couldn't join certainly missed the prop store call, and the Daleks have a LOA signed by the boss. Meanwhile, Human soldier Lorna Bucket (Christina Chong) tries to befriend Amy.

As far as we know Earth survived A Good Man goes to War, written by Steven Moffat himself and directed by Peter Hoar. But the faith of some of us in Doctor Who, briefly restored by The Doctor's Wife, Neil Gaiman's masterpiece, may have been shattered by the Grand Moff's timey-wimey scheme around THAT pregnancy. The rest is irrelevant: the smogarsbord character extravaganza, the notion of a Silurian detective in the 1888 London (for the spin-off series, a CBBC budget would do), or the not-so-big-baddie with a patch and her poor aide out of a 70s mercenary movie. His speech has some of the most terrible lines ever written in the series. But thankfully he's interrupted by the Doctor, truly visible only after almost 20 minutes of his "Darkest Hour" .

Stefania "Hatch" DiMera - aka Take The Baby And Run - makes Melody melt (total waste of Frances Barber's talent), Dorium loses his head and our Time Lord counts the casualties of the Star Wars Poetry moment: Potato Doc Martin (but Dan Starkey will certainly play another Sontaran someday) and Lorna, who yet looked for a nanosecond as a possible companion for the Doctor. Then this space operetta edition of Days of our Lives ends with the "enormous game-changing cliffhanger" for the Doctor, Amy and Rory. « I'm your daughter. » [Insert The Imperial March here]

Doctor Who is more popular than ever but some viewers will indeed need some time to recover from this until september, when Series Six (not Seven finally) will go on for more clues, tricks and blob decoys. In the meantime the adventure continues behind the scene with the "scheduling saga". The Doctor will be back.


Wednesday, 15 June 2011


Luther, the BBC One crime drama starring Idris Elba (The Wire), is back since yesterday night for a second "series" made of two distinctive two-part stories. In spite of last year's lacklustre ratings.

Idris Elba is DCI John Luther, the genius murder detective with heavy psychological issues created by writer Neil Cross (Spooks). Luther and Mark North (Paul McGann) cannot recover from the death of Zoe, John's ex-wife and Mark's girlfriend - played by Indira Varma in Series One. The detective rescues his former partner DS Justin Ripley (Warren Brown) from uniform to work with him and DS Erin Gray (Nikki Amuka-Bird) in the new Serious and Serial Unit headed by DCI Martin Schenk (Dermot Crowley).

They're dealing with their first case when a masked serial killer randomly targets young women in the streets of London and murders them in front of CCTV cameras. At the same time John Luther tries to save the daughter of Caroline Jones (Kierston Wareing) from pornography. Alice Morgan (Ruth Wilson) is back, kindly (re)introducing the main character to the viewer before the superb title sequence from Momoco - with Massive Attack's Paradise Circus.

Rightfully busy, the talented Idris Elba found some time to film two new two-hour specials of this pantocrime - instead of a full 6 X 60-minute series - under the BBC "Original British Drama" banner. Well, it's British and it's a drama.


[6.27 - French Time] Yesterday night, as BBC One viewers were awaiting the return of He Who Breaks Things (aka Luther), the "Original British Drama" was already actually happening on Twitter: Doctor Who won't return for a full series in 2012.

« But I'm just a soul whose intentions are good. Oh Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood. » (Nina Simone version)

Last week Doctor Who was renewed for a seventh series, with 14 episodes commissioned, but the Corporation didn't know how many of those episodes would be aired next year (1). Then yesterday Wayne Clarke, BBC Merseyside's Religious Editor, tweeted that BBC One boss Danny Cohen said at the Church and Media Conference that there wouldn't be "a full series of Doctor Who in 2012, but a special run for the anniversary in 2013" (2).

The news triggered a sort of shock wave on the Twittersphere and later in the evening BBC journalist Lizo Mzimba tweeted that the Beeb confirmed it. He precised there would be "no FULL 13 episode series of Doctor Who in 2012" but "some episodes will still go out in 2012. Remainder in 2013" . Lizo Mzimba also tweeted that the BBC also said that a remark of Danny Cohen "that short series was because Steven Moffat needed time to write Sherlock was meant to be light hearted." (3) This point was indeed worthy of a precision.

Of course the terms of this puzzling (to say the least) scheduling decision need to be fully developed and precised.

(2)!/WayneAClarke/status/80638004351336448 +
(3)!/lizo_mzimba/status/80731700723859456 +!/lizo_mzimba/status/80745409680650240 +!/lizo_mzimba/status/80732315118088192

Sunday, 12 June 2011


Injustice - Episodes Four and Five (ITV1). In which DI Wenborn (Charlie Creed-Miles) gets his hour of glory before falling down and Will Travers (James Purefoy) discovers he'll not receive a superinjuction because the case of his old university friend Martin Newall (Nathaniel Parker) is not State of Play.

« You can't handle the truth! » (Colonel Jessep, A Few Good Men)

ITV1 aired on Friday the last episode of Injustice, Anthony Horowitz's five-part event drama following the critical and rating success of his previous "stripped" serial Collision two years ago. Monday's premiere did the job, fulfilling its bait function for the rest, but the second episode already lost steam and the following surprisingly burnt one of the key plots. The penultimate chapter made Injustice work better as a classic crime drama than an ambitious jigsaw thriller, carried by the formidable presence of Charlie Creed-Miles as investigative officer DI Mark Wenborn. Especially in a BAFTA worthy scene where Wenborn lost his marbles while interrogating the young offender (and aspiring writer).

Maybe our expectations were exaggeratedly high because of the sublime Collision and the week was definitely uneven but at least watchable, until the finale. James Purefoy was excellent in full David Morrissey mode as the eminent citizen with a skeleton behind the suits in his cupboard. Charlie Creed-Miles delivered a stellar performance as DI Bastard, saving us from the total boredom inspired by poor Dervla Kirwan's character (to the point we prayed she signed a deal with Cybermen). Even Obi Abili as DS Taylor, Wenborn's sidekick, began to attract some attention. Then the last episode fell down the stairs as quickly as the hateful wife beater.

« You always believe the best in people. You are too easily taken in. Not, I would have to say, the best quality in a criminal barrister. » Being spared rather conveniently another chat with Wenborn, Will raised an eyebrow alongside viewers on a terrible line mentioning a Swiss watch brand and saved his old university pal from troubles. Before having his Dave Kujan moment (1) when he figured out Martin was not entangled in a conspiracy but just another mistake (his mute imaginary friend approved). Travers should have a therapy and retire, or find a job in an NGO.

The next time William Travers has a relapse of his very personal conception of  idealism, don't make another five-part "stripped" drama out of it. But thanks for Charlie Creed-Miles.

(1) Chazz Palminteri in The Usual Suspects (1995).

Episodes Two and Three:
Episode One:

Thursday, 9 June 2011


It certainly takes ITV a lot of confidence, the name of acclaimed screenwriter and author Anthony Horowitz and the magic memory of his Collision, to air since monday the five parts of Injustice on a whole week. Particularly with Episode Three preceded by the irritating You've Been Framed! and facing The Apprentice.

Will Travers (James Purefoy), a once successful defence barrister, recovers from a nervous breakdown far from London. Yet he takes the case of Martin Newall (Nathaniel Parker), an old university friend accused of murdering his secretary. No matter his wife Jane (Dervla Kirwan), now an English teacher in an institution for young offenders, had to give up a commissioning editor job to follow him. Meanwhile, the police finds the body of an itinerant worker shot in the head. Misanthropist DI Mark Wenborn (Charlie Creed-Miles) is assigned the case with his new colleague DS Nick Taylor (Obi Abili). He finds out the man was an animal activist and a client of Travers, whom he's not precisely a fan.

With a troubled marriage and a career under scrutiny of his hierarchy, Wenborn can and must focus on the investigation and on the lawyer. But Will's attention is all on his new case: his friend Martin, an oil trader, was having an affair with his secretary in an hotel room where she was found dead and his computer went missing. And some persons are worrying about its content and what Newall's barrister could possibly discover. Another source of problems for Will is his old adversary Jeremy Forbes-Watson (Nick Dunning), who wants to settle the score with him.

Already three episodes aired, thanks to "stripped" programming, and Injustice is definitely deprived of the originality and sensitivity of Collision, with which it shares some structural elements. The premiere cleverly gave enough to lure to the next one but Episode Two, centered on the murder of Martin's secretary, already lost steam. Episode Three surprisingly cremated one of the key plots of the serial, revealing what lead Will Travers to his personal issues. Even if Will's idealism is hard to swallow at least he's more interesting than his wife. Maybe if we could discover she has a pact with Cybermen. Other options than the book subplot will be happily considered.

As anticipated the premiere of Injustice hurt the excellent Case Histories on Monday with an average of 5.32m viewers (vs 4.46m for BBC One's new drama). But Horowitz's new serial lost 1.04m on Tuesday. However we're still curious to see what Anthony Horowitz has in store, and Charlie Creed-Miles as "DI Bastard" is fantastic. Wonder what the character could do in the Apprentice boardroom if Lord Sugar took a day off.

Episode One:

Wednesday, 8 June 2011


Computer hardware glitch (a fan is not my fan) and other life's little "pleasures".

Thank you for your patience, your fidelity, your interest and your trust.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011


Injustice - Episode One. William Travers, a successful criminal barrister, tries to recover from personal issues far from London after something went very wrong in his job. Reluctantly, he is drawn into a case that involves an old friend.

Injustice, the new five-part serial from acclaimed screenwriter and author Anthony Horowitz (Crime Traveller, Midsomer Murders, Foyle's War, the Alex Rider books) started yesterday night on ITV1. It is aired on five consecutive nights like what ITV did two years ago for Horowitz's previous stripped drama, the superb Collision - with a deserved critical and rating success.

James Purefoy (Rome) stars as Will Travers, a triumphant defence lawyer with an eye for the detail which makes the difference. Until his life goes off tracks, making him leaving London with his family. But a friend accused of murdering his secretary needs his talents and Will feels he has a debt towards the man, no matter his wife Jane (Dervla Kirwan) left a good job to follow him. Meanwhile, the police finds an itinerant worker shot in the head and the investigative DI, Mark Wenborn (Charlie Creed-Miles), is not precisely a fan of Travers.

If it ain't broke... Injustice borrows the ingredients of Collision on a more intimate basis (i.e. a smaller cast), mixing present with flashbacks in a complex narrative structure. Anthony Horowitz builds patiently his new jigsaw thriller with fragments of lives and the picture will not resemble to the photo on the box. Episode 1 fulfils its function by giving enough to raise up interest for more (an exploding car, someone with a gun) but Injustice appears for now deprived of the originality and sensitivity of its 2009 predecessor.

Purefoy is perfect in full David Morrissey mode as an established figure with a troubled side. Dervla Kirwan looks like she's still in The Silence, the wonderful 2010 four-part BBC stripped drama, but nothing or nobody is what it or (s)he seems with Horowitz so who knows. And the absolute scene stealer of this premiere is the very impressive Charlie Creed-Miles as the cynical copper.

Injustice is directed by Colm McCarthy and produced by Injustice Films Limited. Anthony Horowitz exec produces. Jill Green and Eve Guttierez are the producers. The music is by Magnus Fiennes, Ruairi O'Brien is director of photography and the title sequence has the distinctive and classy style of Momoco (Silk, Zen, Luther).

Monday, 6 June 2011


[21.20 - French Time] Primeval - Series Five, Episode One. Philip Burton (Alexander Siddig) has doubts about Matt (Ciarán McMenamin) and introduces Connor (Andrew-Lee Potts) to Project New Dawn and to his new assistant, April (Janice Byrne). Philip is not alone to be intrigued by Matt, as Abby (Hannah Spearitt) has doubts too. But a there's no time for questions as creatures from the underground decide to visit the city the same day Lester (Ben Miller) must tour the ARC with a lady from the Cabinet office for a possible Knighthood.

When ITV axed Primeval after its third series, a 2009 deal resurrected the sci-fi/adventure drama from Impossible Pictures for 13 new episodes filmed in Dublin and split into Series four and Five. German private channel ProSieben, historic co-producer, stayed aboard and UKTV's digital channel Watch entered as a first-time investor with a first run of the fifth series. And BBC America, which airs Primeval in the US, arrived as a co-producer of the show distributed by BBC Worldwide since its start.

In the United Kingdom, ITV1 aired the fourth series (actually a 7-episode block) from January to February 2011. And Series Five is aired by Watch since a couple of weeks and ahead of ITV. In Germany the two new "series" are aired in one block by ProSieben since April 11 and the channel aired the fifth series's premiere tonight.

A spectacular return written by Chris Lang and directed by Mark Everest. Philip plots to use anomalies for his mysterious project, New Dawn, managed in the Prospero Facility. Is Connor signing a pact with the devil as the industrialist may be behind a global disaster in the future? And who is really April Leonard, Connor's new lab aide? Time will tell but for now the young man has other preoccupations, huge worries of the mean kind. Fortunately Matt will share them with him.

The really impressive giant bugs look like they didn't eat only that guy right out an ad for Primeval's ITV1 sponsor, but also a wide part of the budget as the locations seem to shout cost control. Perfect series start with a truly riveting and scary episode whose welcome comic relief is provided by Ben Miller, as the script plays delightfully with James Lester's "knighthood".


Struggling private detective Jackson Brodie meets sisters Julia and Amelia Land, who beg him to investigate the mysterious disappearance of their three-year-old sister, Olivia, more than 30 years ago. Later, lawyer Theo Wyre wants him to take the case of his murdered daughter, Laura, killed in her father's office.

Set in Edinburgh, Case Histories is adapted from the first three Jackson Brodie novels by Kate Atkinson. It stars much on demand English actor Jason Isaacs as private eye Brodie, a former soldier and policeman haunted by a personal tragedy. He left the Lothian and Borders police on bad terms and his only contact in the force is DI Louise Munroe (Amanda Abbington). Jackson adores his eight-year old daughter Marlee (Millie Innes), who often de facto follows her dad on field, but his ex-wife Josie (Kirsty Mitchell) has accepted a job in New Zealand.

« I think fate brought you to us, Mr. Brodie. Don't you think?
- Er... not really, no. I don't believe in fate. »

Jackson Brodie learns French (Est-ce que Angelica est dans sa maison?) while investigating infidelity, when he's not searching for free one of the cats of an old lady named Binky Rain (Sylvia Syms) - much to the annoyance of his secretary Deborah (Zawe Ashton). He's a faux tough guy whose natural sense of empathy and a personal trauma lead him to use his intelligence and his investigative talents on cases hiding deep human dramas.

Each of the three novels adapted for this new 6x60-minute drama series, devised by Ashley Pharoah (Ashes To Ashes, Life on Mars, Wild at Heart), is transposed in two parts. Of course Kate Atkinson's readers will rightfully feel the need to compare the books and their adaptations, but Case Histories is an enjoyable surprise as a P.I. genre drama with an empathetic twist and a pleasant eccentric humour. Jackson Brodie is not the classic private investigator, he's an emotional companion to the shattered souls. And Edinburgh never looked so magnificent.

Case Histories Parts 1 & 2 is directed by Marc Jobst, adapted by Ashley Pharoah, and guest star Fenella Woolgar (Jekyll) and Phil Davis (Whitechapel) - particularly brilliant as Theo Wyre. Ian Moss is director of photography and the so nicely Doc Martin theme intro is by John Keane. The excellent title sequence is from Huge Designs. Alison Owen, Jenny Frain and Nicole Finnan are executive producers and Helen Gregory is the producer.

Part 2 is scheduled versus Episode 1 of the highly anticipated ITV1 event drama Injustice, which is highly regrettable to say the least. Case Histories is produced by Ruby Film and Television and Monastic Productions for BBC Scotland. Original British Drama indeed...

Saturday, 4 June 2011


Doctor Who - The Rebel Flesh & The Almost People (Series Six, Episode Five & Episode Six). The Doctor (Matt Smith), Amy (Karen Gillan) and Rory (Arthur Darvill) arrive on an island where the personnel of a futuristic factory, established in a monastery, use a self-replicating fluid called the Flesh to create exact "Gangers" of themselves who deal with a highly corrosive acid.

Directed by Julian Simpson, this two-parter is written by Matthew Graham (Ashes to Ashes). It was a matter of common sense to have moderate expectations about any episode following The Doctor's Wife, Neil Gaiman's instant classic, and Graham's previous stint on Doctor Who - Series Two's Fear Her - wasn't precisely an invitation to enthusiasm.

The Rebel Flesh/The Almost People is a variation on the traditional base under siege plot, with its post-industrial premise and its Hammerian medieval setting. There are shades of 42 or The Waters of Mars in this workplace nightmare whose make-up effectiveness is almost ruined by unnecessary SFX (Sarah Smart as Stretch Armstrong, Spidey and Hangover Lazarus).

« This is insane. We're fighting ourselves. »

They are called "Gangers" but basically the besieging creatures are clones. And clones have become the narrative device equivalent in genre television of "the dog ate my homework" excuse. Clones are a trick, that blob on the floor of the TARDIS (ex machina), they are "un-cool". Otherwise the cast is solid, particularly Raquel Cassidy as Miranda Cleaves. But too bad Marshall Lancaster is so underused as Buzzer.

Anyway we know it's all about Steven Moffat's big scheme and THAT pregnancy. Ask the raniesque Stefano DiMera played by Frances Barber. So are the days of their lives, and in the end you can't reverse the polarity of the neutron flow.