Containment ep 6

I could try and pretend that a shippy, angsty, gory, scary CW show (a remake of a Belgian original, as it happens) about a potentially apocalyptic virus outbreak, complete with handsome, flawed but brave cop; beautiful, flawed but smart teacher love interest; bodies dropping all over the place; and sinister government shadiness/shenanigans messing up everyone’s lives, isn’t just my jam, but my marmalade, peanut butter and chocolate spread too, but nobody who’s ever read unpopcult before would or should believe me.

Never mind the walking nap that is Major Lex Carnahan, the lead outside the cordon sanitaire, or his commitment-phobe girlfriend Jana, stuck inside it. And never mind the unlikely idea that there’s only journalist – an angry, annoying, conspiracy-obsessed blogger, because are there are any other kind? – remotely suspicious of what the authorities are up to. Nobody’s saying Containment doesn’t have its flaws. But it also has an irresistible, insanely shippable, very probably doomed, romance between the aforementioned handsome, flawed but brave cop Jake and beautiful, flawed but smart teacher love interest Katie; stakes so high they’ve gone into orbit; and an unnerving but immensely watchable mix of sweetness, sadness, and unflinching horror. Which means that, this week, the same script that has Jake hopelessly but doggedly patrolling a lawless hellscape by day and burning dead bodies by night (true love and good looks notwithstanding, it kinda sucks to be Jake), also has him and Lex doing something impossibly lovely for a terrified father separated from his daughter, for no reason other than good, old-fashioned human kindness. Aww.

Fleeting moments of joy notwithstanding, though, Containment’s body count is impressively, depressingly high, society’s descent into post-apocalyptic madness impressively, depressingly swift, and, the social commentary might not be subtle – “It’s so gross they would pin it on a Middle Eastern guy”, says Katie, who’s right but can’t exactly be surprised, given that unjustifiably pinning things on Middle Eastern people is almost an event in the Olympics it’s become so mainstream over the past few years – but at least it’s there. And since the whole thing is set helpfully in the sticky, steamy heat of a southern summer, no matter how grim the death and despair gets, at least there’ll be a shot of a sweaty, muscly, frustrated Jake along soon enough to take our minds off it.

(That last line should probably have stayed in my head.)

In this week’s ep, then, the disillusioned (and soon to be dismissed, I should think) Lex teams up with Leo the blogger to investigate Katie’s entirely correct theory that the authorities are lying about the cause of the outbreak. Pregnant teen Teresa and loyal, enterprising boyfriend Xander try to escape the clutches of a group of gangsters to join Jana, her frankly annoying quarantine-mates and the thoroughly decent, unflappable maintenance manager who’s worth more than all of them combined at their some-form-of-computer-business office building. And Jake and Katie go on a plague date venture outside to try and find her lost pupil Thomas and continue to fall in love but not touch some more, since the 4-6 feet anti-infection rule prevents them from doing much more than looking adorably at each other and they haven’t used their imaginations to come up with any remotely satisfying, er, workarounds yet. The moment when Jake ties a scarf round Katie’s mouth to protect her from infection – which is odd, because she’s been wearing an actual surgical mask for weeks, so why stop now? – and I’m screaming “KISS HER OVER THE SCARF, DUDE! COME ON!” is a particularly frustrating one, but since Containment has been cancelled, there are only 7 eps to go and Lex says things are only going to get worse, I should probably be trying not to get too invested in Jatie. Sigh. Shame I’m already nuts about them, then, isn’t it?

Unpopcult’s Casting Call #4: LA Law 2017

That, uh, was a slightly longer hiatus than I was expecting. But there really hasn’t been that much on, and we probably needed the break. As for what we have been watching: we’ll have more to say about Shades of Blue, Containment, Stranger Things (maybe), and ESPN’s documentary series O.J.: Made in America, in due course. We almost certainly won’t have anything to say about Netflix’s The Get Down, because we haven’t been watching it.

But to get us back under way: my eye was caught by the news that Steven Bochco is working on a reboot of 80s/90s legal drama LA Law. In its original iteration it represented, perhaps, a high watermark for American shows on British television, as ITV broadcast it at peak time and got big audiences, at least to start with. (And I LOVED it, at least to start with.) Since then it’s been rare for one of the mass audience British broadcasters to put an American show on in that sort of slot, although interestingly ITV is claiming that it’s going to try that with Lethal Weapon this autumn; we’ll see if they do, and how long it lasts.

Meantime, though, we need a cast for LA Law 2017 (?). And, I think, a big and strong cast, as the original was a terrific ensemble show. So here’s what I’m thinking. The senior partner needs to be a woman with a bit of star power: Felicity Huffman, maybe, with Lisa Edelstein as the next-in-line to succeed her, being side-eyed by Tim DeKay: great lawyer, a bit dull perhaps, resigned to never becoming senior, wondering if his best days are behind him, and feeling under threat from the younger attorneys.

Such as Jake McDorman – for whom I’m desperate to find a vehicle – as a dissolute and disreputable associate, drinking too much, flirting with attractive female clients and ethical boundaries, but nonetheless getting the business done in court. He wants to be a partner, but how likely is that? And does anyone know what his Secret Pain is? And Columbus Short – comeback! – as the brilliant associate on the fast-track to partnership, torn between the rewards of being at a law firm and wondering whether he should be doing something more with his life.

We also need some connection to the original show. So Harry Hamlin – who showed in Mad Men that he’s still got it – as partner emeritus, and Michele Greene, Blair Underwood, and Jill Eikenberry as occasional guest judges. Throw in a couple of up-and-comers as associates, and someone with a bit of moxie as office manager, and there you go. As for possible plots: as long as someone explains the Venus Butterfly, I’m good.

We’re just gonna leave this here…















…for a couple of reasons. Unpopcult has been going now for around eight years, and for just about all of that time we’ve posted something new every single day. But now we’re taking a holiday. Actually, not only could we use a break, there isn’t too much around that we want to write about just now.

So we thought we would leave you, for now, with the best magazine cover ever, on which Unpopcult royalty (Gregory Fitoussi and Audrey Fleurot) impersonate Unpopcult royalty (Don Draper and Joan Harris). Or, put another way, two of the most beautiful human beings on the planet pretend to be two of the other most beautiful beings on the planet. (Full interview here.)

If we suddenly get an impulse to write about something, we probably will. Failing that, though, we’ll be back soon. With reviews of Shades of Blue, the rest of The Catch, Nashville, and all the usual nonsense.

The Catch s1 ep 7

‘The Ringer’ opens on an unusually domestic scene: Ben’s still there, in Alice’s bed, in the morning. She, of course, tells him that they can’t do this any more, a pill which is sugared considerably by the gorgeous dress she’s wearing. And the fact she doesn’t mean a word of it, which means that she isn’t wearing the dress for too much longer.

Anyway, she has a Case of the Week, but like last week’s it’s nothing special: the son of video games zillionaire Vincent Singh (Vik Sahay, Lester out of Chuck and, more specifically, Jeffster!) has run away from home because he doesn’t want to live with his father any more. Vincent got sole custody after divorcing from his bipolar wife Karen (Unpopcult favourite Annie Wersching), who he successfully portrayed as a danger to their son. It starts to look as if the boy was kidnapped, and it’s reasonably obvious who’s behind it; what’s less obvious is why Alice should pivot so smoothly to blackmailing her client.

The Con of the Week, though, is much more fun, and perhaps one of the best of the season. Rich young gambling addict Teddy Seavers is “a bit of an idiot”, according to Margot (Sonya Walger having her best episode so far), and a whale who needs to be landed. So she sets up a high-stakes game of poker with the intent of using Ben, Rhys, and the returning Reggie to take a chunk of Teddy’s spare change. What Margot and Ben don’t know, though, is that Rhys is now aware that Ben and Alice are still in contact, and has a much bigger agenda of his own to advance. The episode’s last twist is beautiful, and rounds off yet another smart, fast-moving episode.