Public Service Announcement 22 of 2016: Shades of Blue, Containment, Mr. Robot

A few of July’s coming attractions. First up is Shades of Blue, or #DetectiveJLo as we’re calling it, in which Jennifer Lopez plays an NYPD detective who, having been caught up in a FBI anti-corruption initiative, is obliged to become an informant. And she’s a single mother, which I’m guessing will require her to juggle family and career; also, I’m assuming there’ll be a love interest somewhere in the cast. The reviews in America were generally unenthusiastic, but it hooked enough viewers to merit renewal for a second season. And, frankly, at this time of year Unpopcult is in the mood for some inconsequential cop nonsense. We’ll review the first episode, at least, in due course (Wednesday 13 July, Sky Living, 9pm).

Another new show from America, Containment, starts on the same night. It’s a remake of Belgian drama Cordon, in which part of a city is sealed off due to a disease outbreak. The CW has moved the action to Atlanta, home of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which intrigues me just a little: I’ve become used to CDC operatives turning up in the occasional episode of other shows, and I’d sometimes wondered why it didn’t get a vehicle of its own. However, Containment is another one which the critics haven’t embraced, and this time the viewers aren’t turning up in sufficient numbers to save it. So it’s going to be a one-and-done (Wednesday 13 July, E4, 9pm).

And the second season of Mr. Robot is making its way to British viewers via Amazon Prime, starting 14 July. I reviewed most of the first season, but didn’t quite finish watching it. This may be because I was never quite convinced that it’s as good as people were telling me, or it may be because I’m still not a huge boxset fan. However, the good news is that season 1 is finally going to be on “actual” TV as well, starting on Universal at 9pm on Thursday 21 July. So I might give it another go, even if that will involve a certain amount of rewatching.

A few others: two Unpopcult favourites are going from one season straight into the next. Parks and Recreation’s seventh and final season starts on Sunday 24 July at 11pm on Dave, and although the fifth season of White Collar is available on Netflix and iTunes, it gets its first TV showing on Universal, starting at 8pm on Monday 11 July. Having just watched the fourth season I’d forgotten how much I like this show, although I don’t think CJ is in any danger of forgetting how much she likes Matt Bomer.

And a final roundup: season 2 of Zoo, a show which looks completely bonkers, starts 17 July at 9pm on Sky Living; BBC 1’s starry adaptation (Toby Jones, Vicky McClure, Joseph Gilgun, Ian Hart, Stephen Graham) of Joseph Conrad’s novel The Secret Agent starts at the same time; and Netflix’s 80s-set Winona Ryder-starring Stranger Things, in which a boy vanishes into thin air, drops on 15 July.

Public Service Announcement 17 of 2016: White Collar

imageAs with all the US shows we love that get shunted around the smaller channels only to disappear for years on end – hello Parks and Recreation, Justified, POI etc – it’s a little bit harder to get excited about season 4 of White Collar finally coming to UK tv now, than it would have been three years ago when we finished watching season 3. Especially since the show completed its six season run in the US in 2014 and there have been plenty of other ways to mainline it since then.

However, I’m still something of a Luddite when it comes to my viewing so I haven’t caught up yet and White Collar has the irresistible Matt Bomer and his thoroughly charming co-stars in one of the sunniest, most likeable shows on TV, so I’m in. Of course, Universal are screening it in double bills just to wind us all up, but never mind; tune in at/ set your DVR of choice for 8pm tomorrow (Monday) for the first two instalments.

White Collar s2 ep 2

I’m not having a great week, to be honest, so when I finally sat down to watch White Collar last night, I was in an appalling mood and not looking like I’d be cheering up any time soon.  A few minutes into the show, however, and my goodness: it was as if the sun had come out.

This week’s story of a corrupt senator may have been feather-light and wafer-thin, but it was also a joy and a tonic.  So much so it should probably be available on the NHS – I know I’ve said it before, but Bomer really does make everything better.  The sub-plot about the park was both sweet and hilarious, Diana annoyed me much less than usual and the faux-flirting was surprisingly swoonsome.  Did I mention I love this show? LOVE IT.

White Collar s2 ep 1

And…. relax.

The first couple of minutes of this threw me a little, I’ll admit.  Lengthy previouslies about a story arc I never liked in the first place, that’s managed to become even less comprehensible or interesting with the “benefit” of time.  Neal Caffrey back in prison himself instead of elegantly sending other people there.  His pal Peter under investigation by your standard suspicious higher-ups.  Hurrumph.  This type of tick-box procedural tedium wasn’t what I’d been waiting TWO LONG YEARS for, was it?

But I needn’t have worried; White Collar very quickly (and somewhat implausibly, yes, but really, I don’t give a golf ball in the Hudson about implausibility in this show as long as it gets us back to the good stuff) put all that to one side and pushed the reset button.  Yay!  Matt Bomer & Tim DeKay back together! Yay! Investigating a master bank robber! Yay! Wearing the silly hat!  Ya.. wait, what?  Sigh.

Anyway, the plot and script weren’t quite vintage White Collar, but they were cute and fun, as were Neal’s stunts.  Aw.  Obviously, he was going to be a little fragile after Kate got blown up in front of him and all, but that wasn’t allowed to get in the way of his charm, and in fact just gave everyone else – Peter, Mozzie, Elizabeth – a chance to worry about him and thus be almost as adorable too.  Does this show have the most likeable cast on tv?  Discuss.  Or just tune in again next week to see for yourself. 🙂

Public Service Announcement 47 of 2012: The Vampire Diaries, White Collar (!)

Well, hello Damon! 

Surprisingly, but pleasingly, early this year – just a few days after its US debut – ITV2 is starting season 4 of the Vampire Diaries tomorrow (Monday) at 9pm.  Season 3 had its problems – most of which started with an “O” and ended with a “riginals” – but the big Elena twist in last year’s finale should at least mean an interesting new dynamic for season 4; obviously, she’ll still be the centre of the universe but at least everyone might now be able to take a break from protecting her from every supernatural threat that ever existed, since, uh, y’know, she’s going to have her own FANGS.

She’ll still have the Salvatore boys and my favourite supernatural love triangle as well, though, thankfully.  SQUEE!  Unfortunately, however, they’ll ALL still have the appalling Klaus to contend with.  Never mind him killing characters, dude is killing the show.  If he’s not dead by the end of the season- and I mean DEAD dead, none of this half-measures business – even Ian Somerhalder’s Damon might not be enough to pull me back for season 5.  We’ll see.  Meantime, weekly reviews here as normal.

From one surprisingly early debut to one surprisingly late one, however; more than 2 years (TWO YEARS!) since the now-defunct Bravo showed the season 1 finale and long after we’d given up hope of seeing any more Neal Caffrey on UK tv, Alibi is bringing us season 2 of White Collar on Tuesday at 10pm.  Season 2!  OMG!  And WOOT!  I know this puts us years behind everyone else, but I don’t care.  I loved the completely charming first season so much, I’m really excited we finally get a chance to see the second (and third – Alibi has bought both).  And obviously Matt Bomer makes me squee like a little girl at a One Direction concert.  SQUEE!  Reviews may be sporadic, depending on how busy it gets round here, but, if it’s anything like season 1, we’ll be watching and smiling goofily nonetheless.

Public Service Announcement 31 of 2010: Thorne

I was intrigued when Jason Isaacs – hello to Jason Isaacs – disclosed that he has been cast as Jackson Brodie in a TV adaptation of Kate Atkinson’s ‘Case Histories’, which is due to be broadcast on the BBC in 2011. Intrigued because I love Atkinson’s Brodie series and Isaacs as an actor, but almost never like filmed adaptations of books I’ve enjoyed.

Anyway, I was reminded of this by the news that Sky has adapted Mark Billingham’s series of crime novels about DI Tom Thorne, with David Morrissey – hello to David Morrissey – in the role of Thorne. I like Billingham’s novels a lot – even reviewed one or two back in the days when I did book reviews on Unpopcult – and Thorne’s a very strong character and an engaging antihero. But Thorne doesn’t look like David Morrissey; at least, my Thorne doesn’t. And, of course, much of the subtlety of the books will inevitably be stripped away by the need to cram two of them into a six-part series. Billingham has entirely the correct attitude to this (“there’s no point belly-aching about a line being changed”) but I probably won’t be watching. Apparently it’s not bad, though, and if anyone does watch I’d be keen to hear what it’s like. It starts on Sunday 10 October at 9pm on Sky 1.

In other news, Living has just started re-running season 1 of Unpopcult favourite White Collar at 8pm on Fridays. We really, really, really like White Collar.

White Collar s1 ep 14

Based on the past 13 hugely enjoyable episodes, I thought I’d be writing about the White Collar season finale in similar terms to the ones I usually use to write about this show; y’know, using words like “charming”, “funny”, “sweet” and the like, and telling you how much I loved it.  But, to be honest, after falling hard for Caffrey and co over the past few months, I felt a little bit let down by the lacklustre finale.

Focusing on the long-term “Kate” story arc – Does anyone like the long-term “Kate” story arc?  Anyone? – with Neal trying to steal the music box, Peter trying to stop him, and Fowler stamping all over everybody’s good time (including mine), this just wasn’t much fun at all.  Partly because the long-term story arc is boring and makes no sense, and partly because it meant the return of the spectacularly annoying Fowler and the smug Alex, the episode didn’t have the light-hearted, likeable quality it normally does and, while I like a bit of depth to my shows sometimes, I don’t think depth was what we got either. 

It wasn’t a disaster, of course;  I mean, Neal was still adorable, Peter endearing and Moz and El fab.  But the plot frankly got in the way and I spent most of the episode wishing for the main story to end so that we could get back to the fun-of-the-week stuff.  And it didn’t help that the main bromance moment we got was totally derailed when Bravo accidentally cut the beginning of Peter and Neal’s pivotal “Please don’t go, I love you bro” (I may be paraphrasing here) scene.  Thanks for that, Bravo.

Still, the ending was jaw-dropping and the main characters may be the most likeable on tv, so I’m hoping this episode wasn’t a taste of things to come, but more a minor stumble at the end of a first season which has, by and large, been an absolute delight.  Here’s to season 2.