Friday, 29 July 2011


[Update January 9, 2012] The Bill may have been cancelled by ITV in 2010 after 27 years but Jack Meadows, played by Simon Rouse, is visiting Leipzig for a special of German crime drama SOKO Leipzig.

Filming of a 90-minute special of SOKO Leipzig called Die schwarze Witwe (The Black Widow) has started this week. Aired since 2001 on pubcaster ZDF, the "Krimi-Serie" SOKO Leipzig is one of the numerous spin-off series of the long-running SOKO 5113 (launched in 1978). Newly retired Jack Meadows (from The Bill) spends some time in Leipzig and pays a visit to his friend, SOKO boss Hajo Trautzschke (Andreas Schmidt-Schaller). When a face from an unsolved London case resurfaces in the German town.

In 2008-2009, ITV and ZDF joined forces for a crossover between SOKO Leipzig and The Bill called Entführung in London. Its director, Robert Del Maestro (who worked on both shows in several occasions), directs this new special due to be aired on ZDF in January 2012. From 1994 to 2006, German private channel RTL aired a local adaptation of The Bill called Die Wache. SOKO Leipzig is produced by UFA Fernsehproduktion.

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Saturday, 23 July 2011


Torchwood: Miracle Day continues on BBC One with its second episode, Rendition, aired two days ago. One week behind US cable premium channel Starz, co-producer of this fourth incarnation of Torchwood with BBC Worldwide Productions.

« Next Day... No one dies. »

In a world where people stopped dying, CIA agent Rex Matheson (Mekhi Phifer) seeks answers in Wales. Later he returns to America assisted by a colleague named Lyn (Dichen Lachman) aboard a special plane, with Gwen Cooper (Eve Myles) and Captain Jack (John Barrowman) in his custody. But he soon needs emergency phone help of Dr. Vera Juarez (Arlene Tur). At the CIA headquarters, Esther Drummond (Alexa Havins) discovers that she and Rex have been framed. Oswald Danes (Bill Pullman) becomes an overnight star thanks to a TV act of contrition and raises the interest of PR guru Jilly Kitzinger (Lauren Ambrose).

« There is only one river. There is only one sea.
And it flows through you, and it flows through me. » (Peter, Paul & Mary, River of Jordan)

In a world [voice of the late Don LaFontaine] where the failed execution of a pedophile and murderer has become a viral video joke, the only execution which could possibly succeed is the one of the originally British drama Torchwood. Gwen's husband Rhys (Kai Owen) is left in Wales with their baby as spotlights are still on the ultimate pain in the arse [sorry] Rex and Miss Congeniality 2011 Esther. Both are caught in what looks like a X-Files type-conspiracy where their boss Brian Friedkin - the legendary Wayne Knight - has a role. He apparently takes orders from a triangle (the Mysterons? SPECTRE? News International?) which wants to "remove" Jack.

Written by Doris Egan (House M.D.) and directed by Billy Gierhart, Rendition collapses on Oswald's unconvincing television remorses, meant to reverse public opinion. Then arrives Fran Drescher's PR little sister from Hell, Vera pulls a Robert Stack when Jack is poisoned by Lyn - whose family name must be Deceitful, and MacGyver Gwen rips the plane. « Welcome to Torchwood », she concludes after agent Deceitful does an embarassing head twist. This last point shall be discussed, not that the episode was deprived of good moments: Rhys "defending" Jack, Rex and the "gay" steward, or « There is no Golden Hour anymore ».

Next episode is penned by respected writer/producer Jane Espenson. At this stage she could be as well named Jane Esperanza because what the fourth series of Torchwood needs most now is indeed a Miracle Day.

Saturday, 16 July 2011


Torchwood: Miracle Day had its BBC One premiere on thursday night. One week behind US cable premium channel Starz, now co-producer of Torchwood with BBC Worldwide Productions. Miracle Day arrives two years after Torchwood: Children of Earth, the five one-hour episode masterpiece miniseries.

Sinister Oswald Danes (Bill Pullman) is about to receive a deserved death sentence curtesy of the State of Kentucky when things go not as planned. Meanwhile, a name known only in some very restricted circles gets the attention of CIA agent Esther Drummond (Alexa Havins): Torchwood. She informs her colleague Rex Matheson (Mekhi Phifer) but he has a spectacular car accident. In Wales, former Torchwood member Gwen Cooper (Eve Myles) lives with her husband Rhys (Kai Owen) and their baby - only Police Sergeant Andy Davidson (Tom Price) can contact her. Rex survives because Death took a sabbatical and everybody else in the world doesn't die anymore. Esther feels this global "miracle" could be linked to Torchwood and searches the archives where she meets Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman).

« No one dies these days.
- You wanna bet? »

Torchwood: Miracle Day is the fourth incarnation of the Doctor Who spin-off launched in 2006 and initially developed and produced by BBC Wales. The American co-production and the filming stateside (majoritarily) raised some apprehension but fans expected exec producers Russell T. Davies (creator of Torchwood), Julie Gardner and Jane Tranter to be a guarantee of the programme's integrity. Davies himself writes this first episode, aptly titled The New World, directed by Bharat Nalluri - also executive producer. At his best Nalluri is more than a director, he's a genius stylist. He directed the premiere episodes of Spooks, Hustle (of which he got the idea), and Life on Mars. He's the man behind the stylistic identity of those three hits which established the reputation of Kudos, their prodco. Unfortunately his name is also associated to that mess called Outcasts.

The New World has the double duty to reinstall Torchwood after a two-year absence and transplant it in an American setting without betraying its DNA. However Torchwood: Miracle Day is mainly designed for Starz's viewers and is submerged with US television fiction tropes right from the totally uninspired and short title sequence, out of a net med drama. Without "Tarantino Gwen", Rhys and unsung Torchwood hero Andy, Captain Jack would almost be a special guest star in his own show (with a predictable twist) arriving only after 20 minutes. And would-be team members Esther and Rex are not a solace, as the former is the generic American TV government agent and the latter is one of the most irritating characters in the History of television. Among newbies only Dr. Vera Juarez (Arlene Tur) is of some real interest for now.

Nevertheless an overall watchable 50-minute US sci-fi fare (think The X-Files or Warehouse 13) with uneven humour, action sequences tailor-made for the North American market, and the brilliant presence of Bill Pullman. The next episode of this Malthus meets 24 dystopia will tell what is left of the identity of an originally British drama, definitely fading away behind the economic necessities.

Thursday, 14 July 2011


The fourth series of Torchwood premieres tonight on BBC One. Entitled Torchwood: Miracle Day, the new series of what was originally developed and produced by BBC Wales, is co-produced by BBC Worldwide Productions and US cable premium channel Starz. Starz actually airs Miracle Day in America since last week.

Torchwood was launched in 2006 as a spin-off of Doctor Who and its fourth incarnation arrives two years after Torchwood: Children of Earth, the five one-hour episode ambitious miniseries. While the tough budget climate inevitably impacts BBC dramas in general, Doctor Who seems ratings-wise satisfying enough and is commercially at the top (1) under showrunner Steven Moffat's tenure. Although a handful of old fans may discuss the quality of the first batch of episodes from its sixth series, and others worry about the 2012 "scheduling saga" controversy and two exec producers leaving for other jobs.

But Torchwood fans have their share of worries too, proportionally to the amount of American money in Miracle Day and the fact that it was shot mainly stateside. The precedents of US financial involvement in British dramas like Hustle or the 2009 remake of The Prisoner don't help at all. Fans expect the presence of exec producers Russell T. Davies (creator of Torchwood), Julie Gardner and Jane Tranter on board to be the guarantee of the programme's integrity. No wonder why loyal Doctor Who enthusiasts have fears about the possibility of a US backing in the future.

Russell T. Davies recently denied this could happen (2). In 2010, Jane Tranter (former BBC drama boss and now BBCW exec vp of programming and production) reassured fans that a US version of the adventures of their favourite Time Lord was not on the agenda (3). But the Doctor Who Series Six two-parter opener (filmed in the United States) was a "BBC America and BBC Wales co-production", and money is too tight these days to quickly rule out the idea that the new Torchwood business model could fit Who's production necessities.

For now tonight's THE night. But is Captain Jack back or has John Barrowan helped a US premium channel to make a dream come true by having some Torchwood actors guest-starring in a new American sci-fi show?


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Monday, 11 July 2011


[20.54 - French Time] Our friends of Beans On Toast, the first French-speaking information source about the Whoniverse, have just put online an interview with Steven Moffat.

The Doctor Who supremo and Sherlock co-conspirator (with Mark Gatiss) was the Guest of Honour of Comic Con' Paris 2011. (In French)