On the Box
It's amazing to me that any television show - and especially any scripted show - could somehow manage to stay on the air for fifty years. Yet that is exactly what Doctor Who did over the weekend, celebrating its fiftieth birthday with a special episode that was simulcast around the world, though a few minutes later on Prime yesterday morning, that brought together three different iterations of The Doctor thanks to some kind of timey-wimey craziness.
(Warning: spoilers from Doctor Who's The Day Of The Doctor follow.)
As far as "event" episodes go, I reckon The Day Of The Doctor was a winner. I thought Steven Moffat's storyline - while a little confusing at times, and even though it seemed to use a fez to cover up the lack of explanation - was exciting, and one of his best in some time; like The Name Of The Doctor, the latest regular season episode of the show, the personal history of The Doctor was used to great effect, giving the story an emotional gravitas normally lacking on the show.
Matt Smith (#11) and David Tennant (#10) played off each other brilliantly; I'm not sure whether their rapport happened by design, or if it was just a happy accident that they played so well off each other, but the pair made the most of some cracking dialogue and pushed their scenes beyond what could have been a simple case of stunt casting.
The pair also formed a nice trio with John Hurt. We were promised answers when Hurt showed up at the end of the last episode, and Moffat did not disappoint - Hurt's gritty version of The Doctor contrasted nicely with the Smith/Tennant iterations, and the exploration of Gallifreyan history was exciting to watch.
News broke this week that Netflix had given Veena Sud six episodes to wrap up The Killing, her cancelled-revived-cancelled series that originally aired on AMC (and locally on SoHo) - and, as you'd expect, the internet went crazy with ideas on what Netflix should save next.
The online film and television outlet is making a habit of producing top quality drama and comedy, and it appears they're willing to expand their operations (remember, this is the second big news story about Netflix in consecutive weeks).
And since they are starting to make a habit of saving shows - The Killing, Arrested Development - I thought I'd weigh in with a few shows that I reckon they should revive for another season or two.
Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section, below. Here are six shows Netflix should save next ...
Veronica Mars (64 episodes, cancelled in 2007)
The cast is obviously too old to pick up where the show left off, and I don't know what creator Rob Thomas has in store for the movie. But given how good the show was back when it was on the air ("These guys know what they're doing on a level that intimidates me." - Joss Whedon), I have no doubt that whatever Thomas has in store would be better as a 10- or 13-part series. If you can get Veronica, Logan, Keith and the rest back in Neptune, I'm sure magic will follow.
The final new season launch of the season of new season launches (seriously, I need to figure out a better name for this) took place a couple of nights ago, with Prime revealing their plans for next year. I always enjoy finding out what Prime has in store because they don't have the same kind of expansive content deals that TVNZ and Mediaworks have (or had, as is the case); with the exception of a deal with CBS, that brought shows like Elementary and Under The Dome to Prime this year, it tends to mean their line-up skews a little more quirky than its competitors.
Here are a few thoughts on their announcement this week ...
A stronger line-up of scripted content than ever before
Prime look set to host a few quality shows next year: The Paradise, a period drama that looks to one-up Mr Selfridge by setting itself in a department store in 1875, enjoyed strong ratings and reviews when it aired, and The White Queen, a 10-part drama set at the time of the War Of The Roses, sounds like it could be pretty great too.
The CBS deal pays off with Reign, which starts tonight at 9.35pm and follows the early days of Mary Queen Of Scots; The Millers starts on December 1 and stars Will Arnett (Arrested Development) as a divorcee whose mother moves in after his father leaves her; and Star Crossed tells the love story between a girl and an alien after visitors to our planet start attending school. I have varied responses - Reign is easily the pick of the bunch, while Star Crossed sounds something like a Roswell reboot - but I'll be checking out all three.
The Golden Era of Television has officially come to a close! Behold the new era, The Zombie Age of Television - where The Walking Dead reigns as king of the small screen, and every new show is doomed to walk the earth amid the moans of viewers who lament how everything is just so similar to something that was brilliant, but which just ended.
At least, that's what Andy Greenwald would have you believe. The resident TV critic at Grantland recently blasted the state of the industry as the year comes to a close, writing that:
Rather than innovating or acknowledging risk, ratings-obsessed programmers at even the most respected channels have fallen back into a disheartening pattern of pandering, copying, and outright cannibalism ... the Zombie Age is marked by a persistent, undeniable decay. Corpses are picked over. Ideas, once devoured, are regurgitated and feasted on again. A bold, forward-looking decade of risk-taking and reward has somehow left the industry in full-on retreat.
There's an undeniable security in sameness, but only within the pleathered confines of network executive suites is a strategy of not losing the same thing as winning. Everyone wants to believe that the next great era of television is just beginning. But it's possible we came in at the end.
I should say up front that I love Greenwald's work. But I think poor Andy is a little off the mark on this one.
It might be morbid curiosity, but I've always been fascinated by the assassination of President John F Kennedy. The 35th president of the United States was killed just under fifty years ago in one of the most read about, most watched, most debated over events in the history of the world - at around 7.30am Saturday, our time, it will have been exactly fifty years since those fateful shots rang out from the Texas Schoolbook Depository ... or the grassy knoll, depending on your stance.
Its times like this that Sky TV's range of documentary channels come into their own: tune in at any stage this week, and its likely you'll run into something about the JFK assassination - or that something will be coming on soon.
In fact, tune in to National Geographic channel tonight at 7.30pm, and you'll find one of my favourite JFK-related productions to date: Killing Kennedy is based on the book by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard, and produced by Ridley Scott, and stars Rob Lowe as the ill-fated president.
The film is a good summation of the events both on and leading up to that day - we see JFK win the presidency and endure some of the challenges of his time in office (the Bay Of Pigs fiasco, the Cuba missile crisis), while frequently cutting to Lee Harvey Oswald as he turns on his home country and tries to set up a family in Russia, before heading home and letting his beliefs overtake his humanity. The story of how the assassination took place is riveting in and of itself, and Killing Kennedy does a good job of translating that to screen.
Lowe nails the mannerisms of the former president, while Ginnifer Goodwin (Once Upon A Time) does some good work as the oft-mistreated Jackie Kennedy. Jack Noseworthy is really good as Robert Kennedy, who was shot several years later. Killing Kennedy is an entertaining film - albeit a made-for-TV movie - that tells the story efficiently.
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