Oh god, Bones is doing a two-part season opener set in the UK, aka the famous bits of London. This is not something US TV is noted for doing well, and Bones is not blessed with what we like to call “subtlety”. I’m expecting this to be full of Scotland Yard officers wearing tweed and bowler hats. (I wasn’t sure what to make of the previous season finale either, which featured a major twist in which one regular cast member acted completely out of character for the sake of the plot.)
Torchwood Season 3 will be a five part miniseries, and it’ll air on BBC One, stripped across one week at 9 p.m. in the same vein as the disappointing BBC1 drama Criminal Justice. BBC1, eh? The continued success of Torchwood is as meteoric as it is inexplicable.
Ronald D. Moore has another pilot TV Movie on the go, Virtuality, which sounds a) exactly like a holodeck-goes-wrong episode of The Next Generation and b) completely uninteresting. Virtual reality almost never makes for good TV because it has no consequences, meaning that consequences have to be unconvincingly slapped on: “If you die in the game you die out here too” / “If you unplug her she’ll die”.
I do seem to remember having a sneaking fondness for the short-lived VR.5, but that’s probably because it had Anthony Head and David McCallum in it. (Alternatively it may be because it’s “without doubt the best, most entertaining and thought provoking and compelling sci fi TV series I have ever seen, or can ever envisage being made” as someone on IMDB hilariously claims.)
I’m enjoying HBO’s seven-part Generation Kill miniseries at the moment. It took a little while to get to grips with the characters, and I’m still not entirely sure I know who everyone is, but over the first few episodes the series has deepened and become more absorbing. It’s esentially a cross between Band of Brothers and Jarhead, but based on a real journalistic account of the early days of the Iraq war. The production values are impressive, and the series looks for all the world like it was shot in Iraq during the invasion. It has the same sense of verité that David Simon and Ed Burns brought to The Wire, and a lot of clear parallels in showing flawed people at the mercy of petty and incompetent leaders. What’s remarkable is the sense of complete aimlessless and confusion in what should be a co-ordinated military campaign.
The Wire star hits out at Emmys. Sergeant Ellis Carver thinks the Emmys are ignoring his show, and rightly so. I still can’t believe that The Wire has never won an Emmy. It does at least have a single nomination this year: Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series for its final episode. Maybe that means it’ll get the ‘lifetime achievement’ sympathy vote.
Fresh from last month’s Ben Folds gig, we now have tickets to see Counting Crows supported by Ben Folds in December. This is good. Counting Crows‘ latest has some strong return-to-form stuff on it but has left me a bit cold overall. Nonetheless the combination of Crows and Folds is pretty much a slam-dunk. Folds has a new album Way to Normal out on 30th September which sounds a good deal more up tempo than anything he’s done since the first couple of Ben Folds Five albums.
Hot on the heels of The Dark Knight (spoilery review here) there are preview screenings of Hellboy 2: The Golden Army on 5th August, so we have tickets to see that too. This is double plus good. My Cineworld Unlimited membership is a process by which I willingly allow Cineworld cinemas to scam £12 from me every month in return for me not going to the cinema. To add insult to injury, even though I only found out about the screenings through their Unlimited newsletter, my membership doesn’t let me book advance tickets. So I’ve paid for the tickets. I really should cancel that membership…
The trailers for Hellboy 2 look a bit mediocre but I sense there’s a good film hiding behind the crappy marketing. Plus I like the comics and really enjoyed the first flick and Janet is a sucker for dark mythological faerie types, so really the film is pandering to us shamelessly.
David Simon was interviewed about The Wire on tonight’s Culture Show. It was very much a primer for the show for UK types so there were no specific spoilers. Nothing he hasn’t said many times before, but it was still nice to see the show getting some exposure on UK television. This edition of The Culture Show is repeated at about 11.20 p.m. on Thursday on BBC2 if you’re interested.
They also premiered this highly amusing animated cat cartoon, from Simon Toefield, the man who brought you the equally amusing animated short of the cat trying to wake up its owner.
EDIT: ajr beat me to it.
EDIT EDIT: In fact, don’t wait, watch extra bits from the David Simon interview on the BBC website right now. So much extra stuff it must clock in about the same length as the actual interview.
EDIT EDIT EDIT: And here’s the aired interview to watch online too.
Will Ferrell and Sacha Baron Cohen are making a spoof Sherlock Holmes movie (as Watson and Holmes, respectively). This is almost certainly a bad idea, but as usual they failed to run it past me before greenlighting the project.
Meanwhile Guy Ritchie is making a not-spoof Sherlock Holmes movie. Or not intentionally spoof, anyway, since this is the previously reported “sexed up” version emphasising Holmes’s bare-knuckle boxing skills. Insert “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Jackets” joke here. On the other hand Robert Downey Jr. is playing Holmes, which makes me all intrigued. And afraid. And intrigued. And afraid.
Meanwhile David Simon will be following the incomparable The Wire and the upcoming Generation Kill miniseries with Treme, an HBO pilot for a series set in post-Katrina New Orleans; details of which can be found in this excellent and detailed article about Simon in the New Yorker (which contains some spoilers for the fifth season of The Wire).
Joss Whedon has an online webisode supervillain-musical thing called “Dr Horrible’s Sing-along Blog” starring Neil Patrick Harris, Nathan Fillion and Felicia Day. Trailer, article and review. It looks strangely awesome.
Ed Burns and David Simon of The Wire have adapted the book Generation Kill into a seven part HBO mini-series. There’s a review on AICN here which is full of the usual typos, spelling and grammatical errors you’d expect from an AICN review but is generally very positive about it. The mini-series is a matter-of-fact account of the lives of an elite group of U.S. marines in the early days of the Iraq War. May or may not be interesting, but with Burns and Simon behind it and being based on true events at least it won’t be sensationalist.
I’m not normally one for fan-made videos setting TV clips to music but this one of Firefly/Serenity to the music of Wicked has Joss Whedonian and Tim Minearian endorsement, so I went to look. It’s extremely well done.
< insert obligatory *sob* for Firefly here >
While I’m here, the 2007 in Review piece in Strange Horizons has a very small contribution by yours truly, in which I inexplicably can’t find anything better on TV last year than Doctor Who. Three times in a row. It’s just wrong. Fortunately everyone else is very erudite and reads books and stuff. Also pikelet is insane but you knew that.
Of course The Wire is far better than any SF-related TV currently airing but that doesn’t count for Strange Horizons. My Season 4 DVD arrived today, and Season 5 has just started in the US. It’s just so very satisfying, layered and intelligent and you should all be watching it but will you lot listen? *Will you*?
In lieu of any other good TV and with anyone who could potentially write some being on strike, we’ve resorted to DVDs. We’ve been hugely enjoying Cracker on DVD, a series we missed in its entirety when it was on TV. Robbie Coltrane is fantastic, and the writing is incredibly sharp, with a real interest in psychology and themes rather than just the surface process of investigation. This definitely puts it a notch above most other ostensibly ‘crime’ related television which seems more formulaic with each passing year. We’ve only the final one-off special and the more recent Cracker reunion TV movie to go.
We’ve also been bingeing on old Doctor Who. The Time Warrior is splendid, and gives me my fix of Sontarans in a way that The Sontaran Experiment just didn’t accomplish. The Claws of Axos is, sadly, complete rubbish despite featuring some iconic images that have stuck with me since childhood. In contrast, Tom Baker’s debut story Robot is great. Yes, even the rubbish FX are great. All of this has made me so nostalgic that I’ve rashly ordered the Beneath the Surface box set, despite it having the really terrible Warriors of the Deep in it.
Speaking of The Wire: here’s Season 5!
The fifth and final season of HBO’s “The Wire” begins in January, this time focusing on layoffs at The Sun — where Simon once worked — and how newspapers fail to capture certain complex truths. Previous seasons of the acclaimed drama have featured drug dealers, struggling longshoremen, city politicians and inner-city students.
The drama is actually about “the decline of the American empire” and the failure of postmodern institutions, Simon said.
Meanwhile David Simon’s next HBO show will be about “musicians reconstituting their lives in New Orleans”, which sounds suitably unusual and interesting.
We’ve spent a lot of time recently sipping wine and watching TV and films, so time for a brief roundup:
Deadwood looks like it’ll get a pair of two hour TV Movies to wrap up the story after Season 3. It’s such a good series that I’d hate to see it trail off into cancellation without a proper ending, so that’s a relief.
The article also mentions The Wire, another obsure-but-excellent show that’s been salvaged from limbo for a fourth season. Nominally it’s yet another crime drama (from journalist David Simon whose book inspired the TV show Homicide) but in execution it’s about as far from Law & Order or CSI as you’re ever likely to get. It’s a believable, sprawling take on crime and urban living; totally unglamorised and paced like a slow-burning novel. Like Deadwood it’s stuffed full of thematic material but so naturalistic that it seems like pure unfiltered reality unfolding in front of you. If you get a chance to watch it from the start of Season 1 I highly recommend it.