I know it’s grossly unfair to judge it on the trailer alone, but Proven Innocent looks pretty terrible. A new US drama about a law firm which fights to overturn unlawful convictions, led by a woman whose not-so-Secret Pain is that she too was wrongfully convicted, it all sounds well-meaning enough but the gleefully nasty DA/ bogeyman and very high quota of potboiler-ish posturing in the promo suggests this show is more likely to be a one-note, cheesy melodrama than a nuanced examination of the US legal system. And the unenthusiastic critical reception isn’t making it sound any better. Having said that, though, if the trailer is indeed anything to go by, there’s every possibility the show might be blandly entertaining in a pulpy, supermarket-own-brand Law and Order-kind of way, so it might be more fun if you’re in the mood for it. I’m not, but any Kelsey “Used to be Frasier, now a self-appointed authority on Brexit (WTF?)” Grammer completists interested in checking it out can find it at 9pm on Universal tonight (Monday).
It’s been a week of unspeakable horrors in the real world, and really not the most sensitive time to be showing a Blindspot episode about people trying to bring down a plane. Which means I’m now wondering whether I should be writing about it all, but I don’t suppose I’d be helping anybody by pretending it wasn’t on, and, in fairness, this Blindspot is thankfully very different from this week: love, friendship and teamwork triumph, the plane stays exactly where it’s supposed to be and everyone goes home to their loved ones at the end. Thank God. (Except Tasha, of course. “Once a lone wolf…”)
So while I might not have been in the best mood for it, this episode is pretty terrific – fast, exciting, and surprisingly sweet and moving too. Everyone works brilliantly together as well: Rich and Boston are both particularly terrific, Jane and Weller are disconcertingly cheerful and angst-free (seriously, have we ever seen them this light-hearted before?) and even Zapata is infinitely less of a sad sack and much more engaging than usual, thanks to the aforementioned Mr Arliss Crabb. Team Tat for the win! Great stuff.
Jane is in hospital, in the final stages of ZIP poisoning and uncharacteristically freaking out. (I’m not saying her fear and distress isn’t completely understandable, I’m just saying it’s not very Jane-ish.) Kurt, by her side, is doing his best to be loving and supportive, but love and support aren’t going to be enough, you guys, what we need is a quest! Yes, the only way to save Jane is to get the Stanton cells (which have gone from not really existing, to there being only one set in the world, to there now being a second…. by next week, they’ll be 3 for 2 in Tesco). And the only way to get the Stanton cells is to exchange them for the BOOK. OF. SECRETS. We’re going on a treasure hunt!
Happily, by “we”, I mean unpopcult’s favourites Patterson and Rich because, although Blindspot as a show is probably as close to done as Jane is for most of this ep, the PATDOTCOM double-act is only just getting started. So off they go to Peru to have an absolute ball finding EL LIBRO, and as Jed has commented before, the show’s commitment to location work makes a massive difference – that they really do go to Peru, and it looks amazing makes what was already going to be a delightful episode even better. Well, that and the fact that Ennis Esmer and Ashley Johnson are wonderful, and clearly having the best time together, and I love them. Yay!
And, by way of bonus, now that they’ve saved Jane, it looks like PATDOTCOM are going to try to save Zapata and her storyline too, which can only be a good thing. Not because I particularly like Zapata (I don’t), but because her storyline has been nothing but po-faced, unmitigated angst forever and I feel like I have been bored with it and her for my entire life. Even just adding Boston this week lightened things up considerably on that front. Imagine what adding PATDOTCOM could do….
Well, thank goodness for that. Blindspot’s sense of humour returns this week as everyone (except Zapata; the writers are too enraptured with her tragic heroine narrative to give it even a minute’s rest) gets to send themselves up in a true crime/ murder mystery pastiche making loving fun of them all.
Long story short: the team investigate the murder of superfan Kurt’s favourite mystery writer, and in doing so have to solve the “real-life” (in Blindspot’s universe, not ours) murders in his unfinished final manuscript. Which features Team Tat in starring roles.
To add to all the fun, there’s finally a bit of PATDOTCOM romance (or PETDOTBIZ, to be strictly accurate: everyone is very clear, to my chagrin, that the only way this particular ship will ever hit the water is in fantasy sequences like these) and the heightened versions manage the difficult trick of catching the essence of the “normal” characters and their emotions besides, while also cheerfully, charmingly acknowledging their innate ridiculousness. Lovely. Of course, it’s not all fun and games – Jane’s in dire straits, and Zapata is doing whatever she’s doing – but it’s the best episode since the mid-season hiatus by miles. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Well. There were indeed a lot of unpleasant people behaving unpleasantly, but actually this first ep of US/UK PR comedy-drama Flack wasn’t bad at all. It was very cynical, very dark and very, very keen to show off both those things from the very first second of screentime, but it was also decently written and acted, and mortifyingly believable for the most part, with the caveat that some of the characters and some of their behaviour strayed too far into the realms of caricature to wholly convince. Otherwise, it was surprisingly (to me, anyway) clever, entertaining and entirely watchable: I can see why Anna Paquin signed up now, and she fully commits as anti-hero Robyn even if it is a bit jarring to see Sookie Stackhouse striding about London in her slingbacks.
Will I watch again though? Hm. I enjoyed this as a one-off, but it feels like the show’s a little too nasty for me and I don’t really want to see Robyn’s many issues (drugs, infidelity, generally being a disaster of a human being) catching up with her, so I’m not sure I’ll be back, but I’m a lot more tempted than I thought I’d be going in. All episodes are now available on demand, if you’re similarly intrigued.
The mid-season doldrums continue. Story arc 1 – “Save Jane, save the world!” – stomps out the usual predictable beats: There’s a lead! There’s a conspiracy! Bye, cure! Hello, new lead for next time! Story arc 2, meanwhile – “WTF is Tasha doing?” – finally starts to get a move on, but since it overstayed its welcome ages ago, I don’t care. Tasha sulks, Reade sulks, the CIA stomp all over everything – zzz.
There are two very good scenes, though: Rich, in the van, talking redemption with Jane is lovely and another reminder (as if we needed one) that Rich makes everything better; and Zapata at Coma Keaton’s bedside looking distraught strikes a surprisingly genuine note of bone-deep sadness, as opposed to fear, guilt or Tasha’s default sullenness. The rest is Blindspot going through the motions.
I did not expect to see Academy Award Winner Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin, if we’re being formal) leading a new British/American tv series about the trials and tribulations of London PR people on minor tv channel W, of all places, but we live in strange times. Even stranger than I thought, it turns out – unpopcult royalty Bradley Whitford apparently guest stars in an ep or two as well. Um…. Does this mean that Flack (starting tonight at 10pm, with various repeat showings and on catch-up thereafter) might actually be good? I mean, the trailer’s not overly inspiring, reviews have been mixed and I’m more than over tv shows about unpleasant people behaving unpleasantly. But the cast (which also includes Sophie Okonedo and Marc Warren) must have seen something in it and I’m curious to find out what that is, so I might just try an episode after all.
In other “These people are in this?!” news, meanwhile, Sky 1’s new eight-part street racing drama, Curfew, set in a dystopian future where life is governed by a strict, er, curfew features Sean Bean, Miranda Richardson, Adrian Lester and Billy Zane amongst others, and looks completely ridiculous. I’m not sure even I can bring myself to watch it but you can catch it tomorrow (Friday) at 2am or 9pm if you want to see Ned Stark on wheels fighting the power.