Public Service Announcement 48 of 2014: The Flash, Arrow, Dominion

First, a confession. I had myself convinced for some reason that the 28th was a Wednesday and The Flash would therefore make its UK debut at 8pm on Sky 1 tonight. The 28th was, of course, a Tuesday, however, which means that The Flash started last night and I’m an idiot who can’t read a calendar. Episode 1 is going to be repeated at 7.30pm on Sunday, though, and it’s also on Sky Go so you can still catch the “high-speed adventures of the fastest man alive” if you so wish. Based on the comic-book character – like just about every tv show and 3/4 of the movies these days – it’s a spin-off from the Arrow stable, it’s doing great business for the CW and advance reports (and unpopculter e) suggest it’s silly but lots of fun. I’ll check out ep 1 and report back in due course.

Talking of Arrow, meanwhile, the green-clad Batman-adjacent vigilante also swings back into action himself this week as season 3 kicks off on Sky 1 tomorrow (Thursday) at 8pm. On the basis of the appalling pilot a couple of years ago, I had thought Arrow might be the worst tv show in the world, but people absolutely love it so I went back recently and tried a few season 2 eps and…. it’s not the worst show in the world. I still think the flashbacks are the pits (Oliver’s wigs – OMG) and Oliver’s secret identity is so blindingly obvious that everyone in the country, let alone everyone in Starling City, should know it by now. But Oliver’s tech whizz Felicity is charming, their relationship is UBER-shippable, and it’s developed into perfectly watchable stuff, if a little bogged down by Oliver’s endless angst and everybody trying to take over Queen Consolidated – the Meade Publications of DC TV shows – all the time. Anyway, I’m not a regular viewer so I’m unlikely to be even an occasional reviewer but if you’re at a loose end, you could do a lot worse than try an ep. Fastforward through the flashbacks, though. Life is TOO short.

And finally on the genre front (for this week, anyway), we have another tv spin-off in the form of Dominion, starting on Syfy UK at 10pm tomorrow. A sort-of-sequel to 2010 film Legion, it’s a post-apocalyptic fantasy series about humanity being under attack from angels. Yes, you read that right. In fairness, Giles from Buffy, Jim Robinson from Neighbours/Caleb from Ugly Betty/Alan Dale from every tv show ever made and, er, Louise from Hollyoaks are all in it, so that’s something. But on the other hand, it’s had some truly terrible reviews (our own e being one of the many unimpressed) and the trailer – the trailer looks really bad, you guys. Really bad. If I can bring myself to try it, I’ll let you know…

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Public Service Announcement 13 of 2014: The Smoke, Arrow

Having little interest in “serious” British drama these days, I probably wouldn’t be bothering with Sky 1’s answer to London’s Burning, firefighter drama The Smoke, were it not for the fact that Jamie “Lee Adama” Bamber’s in it. But that probably wouldn’t be entirely fair. Advance reviews have been positive, it’s made by Kudos who have been on another winning streak lately with Broadchurch and Utopia (not that I watched either – that’s Jed’s department) joining their roster of hits (let’s just not mention the execrable Hunted or the disappointing The Hour) and it already looks several thousand times better than the frankly appalling Chicago Fire. So, Bamber or not, it’s worth a go, right? Ep 1 kicks off at 9pm tonight (Thursday) on Sky 1; I’ll review it as soon as I can and see how things go from there.

Meantime, if you’re looking for another – albeit far less worthy – drama about heroes to kick off your night, season 2 of CW nonsense Arrow returns from winter hiatus tonight, also on Sky 1, at 8pm. And coming soon to PSAs near you: True Detective, The Mentalist, The Blacklist and more…

Public Service Announcement 43 of 2013: The Paradise, Monday Mornings, Arrow, The Originals

Winter is just about upon us, so obviously there are seven thousand (give or take) shows coming back or starting up. Jed will cover the second half of this week (POI! Other stuff!) in due course, but there’s a whole lot to get through before then so hold on to your remotes and here we go….

First up is season 2 of The Paradise, the shipping and shopping drama that doesn’t have Gregory Fitoussi in it. Sorry, everybody. But I suppose it’s the best we can do department-store drama-wise till Mr Selfridge comes back in the new year. And at least Miss Audrey will keep things trucking along meantime. Oh, wait… Hmmm. Er, anyway, if you want to check it out, 8pm tonight (Sunday) on BBC1 is the place. I’ll be reviewing the first ep at least and wondering what super-heroine shop assistant Denise will invent this time. The Internet? A cure for cancer? It’s Denise so I wouldn’t rule anything out.

Some slightly more modern fare makes it debut tomorrow (Monday) night, meanwhile, with David E Kelley’s recent medical drama Monday Mornings kicking off its first and only season at 9pm on Fox UK. Based on a novel (by real-life doctor Sanjay Gupta) about the weekly morbidity and mortality meetings at a busy US Hospital, it looks pretty earnest from the trailer, but Jamie “Apollo from BSG” Bamber’s in it, so I’ll be watching. While also trying not to get too attached, since it was cancelled way back in May.

Also on Monday night, the bafflingly successful Arrow returns to Sky 1 for a second season, starting at 8pm. I gave up on it after the first episode of the first season but if you’re one of its many fans, feel free to tell me what I’m missing, since I presume the answer isn’t just Stephen Amell’s abs. (Although they probably don’t hurt.)

And finally, Tuesday night at 10 pm on sees the UK debut of Vampire Diaries spin-off The Originals on Syfy UK. Yes, now Klaus has finished destroying the show I used to love, he’s been rewarded with his own shiny new series. Argh. There’s no way I could stand to watch a second of this abomination, since even the promo photos for the thing make me murderous, but, on the upside, now that the Mikkaelson menace has moved to New Orleans, Diaries (coming next week!) might have a hope in hell of not being wretched this year. We shall see.

Public Service Announcement 48 of 2012: Elementary, Girls, Arrow

When the making of Elementary – a contemporary American take on the Sherlock Holmes story – was announced, it seemed as if the British media had turned into a group of appropriately Victorian maiden aunts, clutching their pearls in horror. Didn’t the Americans realise that we were already doing it? With Sir Stephen Moffat and Lord Cumberbatch? How dare they? And when the news came out that Watson, in this incarnation, would be played by a woman (Lucy Liu)… faint, smelling salts, etc. Even the casting of the English Jonny Lee Miller (who was, of course, Eli Stone, and Jordan Chase in season 5 of Dexter)  as an English Sherlock didn’t help.

All of this ignored the truth that for the last 20 years or so American TV drama has, on an almost monotonous basis, been taking its British counterpart to school. Elementary has now started US transmission, and – guess what? – it’s supposed to be rather good and, at the standard 40-45 minutes per episode, I’m guessing that it will slip down a treat. Weekly reviews here, unless it’s a stinker, which it probably won’t be (Tuesday 23 October, 9pm, Sky Living).

Almost as many column inches have been hoovered up by Lena Dunham’s Girls, which also starts this week. Originally touted as a sort of Great Depression-era Sex and the City for younger women, it’s somewhat different. Season 1 has finished in America (a second season has been commissioned by HBO) but, of course, Unpopcult hasn’t seen any of it, as our position on downloading is well established.

If I had seen it – ahem – I imagine that it would be a funny yet strikingly empathic show. There are of course similarities to SATC – and a conscious and respectful homage in the first episode – but Girls isn’t about overpaid yet oddly work-free women having great sex; it’s about over-educated, literate, underemployed young women having bad sex. And Dunham, who is creator, showrunner, executive producer, director, writer, and actor, confirms that she is extravagantly, almost preposterously talented. (It also stars Allison Williams, who sang the Nature Boy/Mad Men mashup a couple of years ago.) It isn’t for everyone, but it’s very, very good (Monday 22 October, 10pm, Sky Atlantic).

And this week sees the British debut of the CW’s superhero drama Arrow. Now, superhero dramas aren’t really my thing, but it should be noted that Arrow has had a rather good critical reception in America, where it started no more than a couple of weeks ago. It’s apparently based on a DC Comics character, and it’s about a billionaire who returns from a desert island to fight the usual things that superheroes fight.  The backroom team includes exec producers Gregg Berlanti and Marc Guggenheim (both of whom were involved with Eli Stone and No Ordinary Family), and the overall impression is that this is worth catching, even though I probably won’t (Monday 22 October, 8pm, Sky 1).

Also starting in the next couple of days: season 2 of Grimm (Monday 22 October, 9pm, Watch). CJ will be along shortly to fill you in on the rest of the week’s news.