Thursday, 31 May 2012

FILM REVIEW: Moonrise Kingdom


Wes Anderson has been somewhat on a roll of late with the very fun Darjeeling Limited ("I LOVE YOU BUT I'M GOING TO MACE YOU IN THE FACE!" still comes out of my mouth occasionally, and with no context) and the utterly charming Fantastic Mr Fox (considering doing the wolf's salute as I walk down the aisle next month). A winning roll which suggests the quirky quintessential American has found his stride as a director, with the tone and humour of his films, and his ability to tell - if not an original story - a reimagination of a classic tale. So with his latest Moonrise Kingdom boasting one of his best ideas to date - let's focus away from the dysfunctional squabbling family members for a change, and pluck for 60s nostalgia adventure adolescent love story - I had super high hopes of instantly loving it. The trailer in particular was also ace, only making sense when you see "a film by Wes Anderson" pop up on your screen. But whilst Moonrise Kingdom is very Wes Anderson, he's also made a few changes here which is to its detriment: it's stylish, audibly playful and feels like it's been filmed against a perpetual sunset - but there's not enough spirit.

Newcomers Kara Hayward and Jared Gilman (who were cast after a school tour by Anderson, looking for the perfect lonesome teens) play Suzy and Sam, a pair of troublesome outcasts who meet at a school production of the Noah Ark's tale, and begin writing to one another. With both their home lives lacking - Sam is in foster care and Suzy's disruptive behaviour is driving parents Frances McDormand and Bill Murray to self help manuals - they decide to run away together, and set up their own home, armed suitably with Sam's sharp and resourceful scouting skills, and Suzy's knowledge for adventure from her many stolen library books. But, they live on the tiny island of New Penzance, so they can't go far. Soon the local cop Bruce Willis, Scout Master Edward Norton and Social Services Tilda Swinton are tracking them down, along with a tribe of Scout boys armed with axes and clubs, and a tragic dog. I'm not sure I can forgive the film for what happens to the poor dog.

Usually Anderson's films are an adult only affair - the adults behaving as children sometimes, or voicing them as in the case of stop-motion Fantastic Mr Fox - but here, they are sidelined to let the kids steal the show. Well, try to. Hayward and Gilman are very watchable as the pre-pubescent elopers, particularly Hayward who is gorgeously suited to this era in block blue eyeshadow and 60s mini dresses. She plays the bored and acting out teen spot on, with a cool aloofness that makes her seem much older than Sam, who is the same age as her. Gilman is rougher round the edges, but is a complete Anderson protégé - you can see him turning up again in the future. It's less consistant with the Scouts, where a good few of them can't act for woggle so long stretches of the film where it's just the kids can feel a little trying on your patience. The adults, a mix of old (Murray, and a shoehorned in Schwartzman) and the new (Willis, Norton, McDormand and Swinton) fair much better, but are annoyingly given less to do - unfortunately this movie isn't really about them, just how they react to the runaway situation. Willis and Norton are strongest - both playing opposite to type, with vulnerable, childish and lonely authority figures. I love the moment where Scout Master Ward comes out of his tent to have breakfast and realises that is entire troop is missing, and again when he's stripped of his leader badge by his senior, before instantly saving him in heroic style from a fire in his hut. Along with Swinton - she's just called Social Services! - they fuse into Anderson's world seemlessly, and Bill Murray is just Bill Murray. Need I say more? He gets to throw a shoe! But the McDormand-Willis affair subplot (more of a friendship, really) doesn't add anything, and it's cliched Sam ends up being taken in by Willis. I'm still not really sure what the purpose of Jason Schwartzman was. And where was Owen Wilson?

The period setting was where Anderson got it right, the exacting detail to every scene and plot point marks the card of someone absolutely devoted to making magic cinema. The framing of each shot, and the clean tracking of the camera are staples now, and turn what you're watching into this rhythm of tableaus. He captures the moment of wanting to run away when you're young supremely well - I remember when I ran away to the back garden clasping only an alarm clock and thinking how genius I was that I'd always know the time wherever I was. Similarly here Suzy's packing seems to mostly consist of books, a record player (with spare batteries) and a cat with tins of kitten food. She hasn't thought to bring any clothes! Beautifully painted, the film has an exotic soundtrack to boot with standouts Le Temps de L'Amour by Francoise Hardy, and the choir song Cuckoo. This would make a delightful double bill with the superior Damsels in Distress.

Moonrise Kingdom's main problem comes to the surface when the main plot lags: it's just not as funny as Anderson's earlier works. A couple of genuine laughs, but the rest of it waned for me - there was no sparkle or fizzle moment that made my heart leap with joy. In fact, some pieces seemed a little much even for him, with Suzy's violence going a little too far for someone her age when it all goes a bit Lord of the Flies, to the storm at the end, and Sam getting struck by lightning. Sometimes he can pull it off, but when he can't you just wish he would rein it in a little more. This may sound like a jaded fan speaking here.. there was a lot he got right, but also a lot that fell flat.

Sweet, exceedingly conscientious and a visual treat, this will dazzle just about anybody - unless of course you're not a fan, in which case I should point out the obvious here: Moonrise Kingdom is a Wes Anderson film. But for a lovestruck fan, it doesn't scale the heights of his previous two films and Rushmore. But B+ Wes Anderson still puts a smile on your face, if not quite warming the cockles.



Sunday, 20 May 2012

Upfronts 2012: Picked Up & Passed On

So it's been a busy week of Upfronts over in the States with the five Network channels assembling their 2012/3 TV slate. I've been following closely, hoping some of the promising shows I highlighted in the Pilots season would also attract the big bosses who would duly order them up for a whole series. The shows I picked out haven't done terribly well - ABC the worst case where it only took notice of one of the six shows I wrote about! But there's more than enough to chew over during the Summer months even if sadly nothing looks "amazing". Here's what went down (and of course there's no CBS as it's shit):




Picked Up

The Following (will premiere Mondays, mid-season)


The Kevin Williamson/Kevin Bacon serial killer drama was the one shining light in an otherwise bland offering from Fox, and thank goodness they sensibly picked it up. Now under its new, and worse, title The Following (previously Mastermind), the drama will likely premiere in January, though luckily for us a full length trailer was released at the Upfront presentation last week. It's quite possibly my favourite of all the new shows - it looks like it has some real class to it, and as long as it's well written and oozing suspense, it could become very addictive indeed. One to look forward to!

Other News
  • Alcatraz officially cancelled after just one season (well, they did kill off their main character...)
  • Britney Spears has joined as new host on the revamped The X Factor
  • Fringe gets a last half season send-off
  • Touch moves to Fridays (cough) as a lead in to Fringe
  • New Girl stays put on Tuesdays
  • See all the new shows and jostlings here.



Picked Up

Next Caller (will premiere mid-season)


NBC have picked up the only interesting sounding comedy from their pilots, and whilst that's a good thing, the clips that were released for Next Caller - about an obnoxious alpha male who gets a new female co-host - both made me squee and yelp. Jeffrey Tambor will not be a cameo but a fixed star - he's playing the station manager - but it didn't make me laugh, either. Only six episodes have been ordered and it will premiere mid season, after the hierarchy of comedies 30 Rock, Parks and Recreation and (my new favourite) Community have all been packed away.

Revolution (Mondays)


Another highlight for me for the new season - the JJ Abrams/Eric Kripke drama about a world surviving without electricity was ordered to series at the Upfronts. The trailer looks eerily reminiscent of Heroes with a little bit of Flashforward thrown in, though neither of those shows come from the Revolution creators, so that gives us some hope. The central plot is a little yawnsome and it all goes full blown Lost in the end - I see more of Abrams than Kripke so far - but I am intrigued by the inspired set-pieces, and use of bow and arrows and knives rather than the slick, modern gun power we're used to seeing on other shows. And Gus is a war lord! On horseback! Could be epic, but could also be cancelled just as easy.

Hannibal and Crossbones (mid-season)
These two dramas have snuck in off my radar, primarily because they were ordered straight to series from the original pitch and no pilot was needed (though Crossbones took everybody by surprise by being a last minute addition on the actual Upfronts day). Both will premiere mid-season with 13 and 10 episodes respectively, though there are plans for more if they go down well. Hannibal comes from Pushing Daisies/Dead Like Me creator Bryan Fuller, and centres on the early life of notorious killer and literary heavyweight Hannibal Lecter, back when he was a psychiatrist and just "interested" in death. The titular character has yet to be cast, but Hugh Dancy (Martha Marcy May Marlene et al) is attached as the FBI agent working with Hannibal, but yet to realise what danger he poses. Crossbones meanwhile is something I've been longing for for a while - a pirate drama! Set in the 1700s it will follow Blackbeard a plunderin' and a scavengin'. No cast details as yet. It is based on the book The Republic of Pirates by Colin Woodward, so should have some direction.


Passed On

Beautiful People - boo, this one looked great!

Friday Night Dinner - oh well, the superior UK version's Series 2 starts very soon on C4

Midnight Sun - this one had great potential too! Damn you, NBC

The Frontier - I suppose I'll take pirates over cowboys...


Other News
  • The network has picked up seven new comedies, including Ryan Murphy's The New Normal (which I'm eh about) and Go On, starring Matthew Perry.
  • This is probably because - as previously mentioned - 30 Rock, Parks and Recreation and Community will all be finishing this year with mini seasons.
  • The snoozefests Grimm and Smash were both renewed, and the latter will have a new showrunner - but unlikely to make it any more watchable, as it's Gossip Girl's Josh Safran.
  • Awake has been officially cancelled (good job I didn't get into it, then. Sorry Sky Atlantic peeps!)
  • See all the other bits and bobs here.


Picked Up

Beauty and the Beast (Thursdays)


Mi God this looks awful - I wasn't too enthusiastic writing up the pilot to begin with, but now seeing it in front of me I just want all the electricity in the world to just disappear so I don't have to watch it... (ahem). So the set up looks like Beauty (Kristen Kreuk, who annoys me already) is saved by the Beast (Jay Ryan, pretty and hairy it seems) after gun men kill off her mother but are seemingly too incompetent to knock her off also (THEY HAVE A CLEAR SHOT, DAMMIT). So who is after her, and why did he save her, and will they finally meet one another and form a connec- oh zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

The Carrie Diaries (will premiere Mondays mid-season)
Now, there was a trailer released for this yesterday, despite it not premiering until Gossip Girl finishes mid season, but Warner Bros have already removed it for copyright seasons. Not entirely sure why (unless it was rubbish, ha!) and unfortunately I didn't get to see it either before it was taken down, so can't give you any indication as to what it's like - but then again I guess we already know, don't we? This was a shoo-in to get picked up, and is perfectly placed to step into the Jimmy Choos of Gossip Girl, only it'll be set in the 1980s so hopefully it shouldn't all be same old-same old - a different style and soundtrack for a start!

Cult (will premiere mid-season)
I'm still not 100% sold on this show, and it seems like the CW aren't either, as it will premiere mid-season, either with a later time slot or on the basis something else will have been cancelled by then (Dear CW, just cancel Beauty and the Beast quickly and pair Cult with The Vampire Diaries on Thursdays). And because of this, no trailer either, but the first promo pic has emerged, and by "cult" they actually do mean a cult - a Martha Marcy May Marlene style cult complete with guitar:

she... she's just a picture (oh hai Jo!)
Hopefully this will be clever and not too "complex", falling into the death spiral ala Ringer (because apparently CW viewers just can't cope with too many twists and turns).


Passed On

The Selection* - not officially picked up, but not dead in the water either. Apparently the pilot didn't go down too well with execs, but they saw enough promise to put in some time to "re-work" it, so this could still appear mid-season, though again, I suppose it will depend on cancellations and whether the Network are satisfied with it.

Shelter - this has definitely been passed up and won't be appearing at all.

Other News
  • Ringer finally officially cancelled after months of speculation along with The Secret Circle, but Hart of Dixie and Nikita survive!
  • Gossip Girl gets a finale season, but will only run September to December 
  • Supernatural bizarrely moves to Wednesdays to partner Revenge-meets crossbow drama Arrow - that's moving from Fridays people, to a normal not flogging a dead horse timeslot. Are they trying to turn me insane?
  • America's Next Top Model takes Supernatural's place on a Friday, and after sacking the J's and Nigel Barker (but keeping the South Park caricature Kelly Cutrone) have announced two new judges: stylist Johnny Wujek and model Rob Evans. The next Cycle - the 19th - will also include new audience online voting on the CW website - unconfirmed yet whether this will be open outside the US (probs not, hu).
  • Full line up here.


Picked Up

666 Park Ave (Sundays)


I'm really happy this has been picked up - ABC seems to have ignored all my other picks! - but the trailer is very cheesy. I think that's the real trouble I'm having with this Network at the moment - even though it's home to some of my favourite shows, they're so skewed towards the family/mums demographic that they don't go dark enough with some enticing premises (Once Upon A Time could be so much better than it is). 666 Park Avenue is going to be horror lite, and worryingly looks like it may cross into the OTT silly subgenre of that. I hope this is just a case of early exposition, and is able to turn on the creepy.

Passed On

Americana - no room for the fashion designer soap

Beauty and the Beast - the more interesting of the two B&Bs got no interest, sadly

Gilded Lilys - probably because of John Barrowman

Gotham - probably because it's Grimm and its lead was unknown

Scruples - no Natalie on TV just yet :(

Other News
  • What we all knew already - Pan Am was shelved, along with The ghastly River.
  • Revenge moves from Wednesdays to Sundays, meaning a 3 hour block of potentially awesome television with Once Upon A Time and 666 Park Ave.
  • The hilarious Don't Trust The B--- In Apartment 23 has been given a full series order, and Season 2 will debut in September on Tuesdays
  • Suburgatory stays on Wednesdays
  • Mistresses - which I'm only mentioning here because it features the lovely Alyssa Milano RITE - will most likely run over the 2013 Summer months
  • And the rest of the goss here.

With the majority of shows not turning up until the Winter, I'll be tuning into 666 Park Avenue and Revolution come September, and possibly giving Beauty and The Beast a go if I'm feeling generous. Let me know what you guys are most looking forward to!


Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Cannes 2012: Top 10


The Cannes Film Festival begins today, and so it's another 11 days of sun and palm trees and red carpet glamour... and some film premieres of course! This year's festival has been dominated by, amongst things, a wave of Americana, a snub of female directors, R Patz and Kristen Stewart turning up - not for Twilight of course! - and Matthew McConaughey having two films In Competition - yes, TWO films!

For my picks this year I've gone for 10 films across the Cannes sections In Competition and Un Certain Regard, and also a couple of choices from the Director's Fortnight and International Critics' Week, which run alongside the main festival. Plus I've thrown in some other culturemouse recommendations, too. Keep an eye out on Facebook over the next few days for emerging reviews and reaction and the all important winners a week on Sunday.


Top 10 at Cannes 2012

Antiviral - Un Certain Regard
Canada
Dir: Brandon Cronenberg
Caleb Landry Jones, Sarah Gadon, Malcolm McDowell



 


A clinician (Landry Jones) sells viruses taken from famous celebrities to their most die-hard fans in this original sci-fi thriller from Brandon Cronenberg, son of David (who also has a film showcasing at the festival - below!)

Cosmopolis - In Competition
Canada
Dir: David Cronenberg
Robert Pattinson, Paul Giamatti, Juliette Binoche, Samantha Morton



 
Probably the hottest talked about film of the festival, Cronenberg Snr looks to be back on full blown form with Cosmopolis, an adaptation of Don DeLillo's book about a millionaire (Pattinson) who takes a somewhat unusual journey through a somewhat unusual Manhattan. Check out the trailer below.




Ernest and Celestine - Director's Fortnight
France/Belgium/Luxembourg
Dir: Stephane Aubier, Vincent Patar, Benjamin Renner
Lambert Wilson, Dominique Maurin, Anne-Marie Loop


 
Slightly hidden away in the Director's Fortnight selection I came across this cute looking film, based on the series of novels by Gabrielle Vincent about a friendship between a bear and a mouse. Mouse films are always a shoo-in. Then I saw it was directed by the team behind A Town Called Panic - automatic win!

Laurence Anyways - Un Certain Regard
Canada
Dir: Xavier Dolan
Melvil Poupaud, Nathalie Baye, Yves Jacques, Monia Chokri








IT'S THE NEW FILM FROM XAVIER DOLAN! Need I say anymore? My favourite new director is something to shout about, and two years on from Heartbeats, his new film also finds its way into the Un Certain Regard section. Laurence of the title is struggling with love after he undergoes a sex change. The trailer is just dreamy.



Love - In Competition
France
Dir: Michael Haneke
Isabelle Huppert, Jean-Louis Trintignant, Emmanuelle Riva



 



Michael Haneke's latest work promises to be a slightly less uncomfortable affair than previous Cannes entries The Piano Teacher and Hidden, but still close in tone to the 2009 Palme d'Or winner The White Ribbon. Elderly couple Anne and Georges are put to the test when Anne suffers a stroke, paralysing the left side of her body.

Mud - In Competition
USA
Dir: Jeff Nichols
Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Michael Shannon, Sarah Paulson



 


Not only is this the new Jeff Nichols film (and one of the McConaughey vehicles), but it also has the Michael Shannon presence ala last year's amazing Take Shelter so this is one of the most exciting films at Cannes this year for me. Mud centres on two young boys who discover a fugitive and make a pact to help him escape his bounty hunters. Clips here.

The Paperboy - In Competition
USA
Dir: Lee Daniels
Zac Efron, Matthew McConaughey, Nicole Kidman, John Cusack







Based on the 1995 novel by Pete Dexter, the second of McConaughey's films is about two brothers who start investigating a murder case which has left a man on death row. Watch a clip below.




Rust & Bone - In Competition
France -Belgium
Dir: Jacques Audiard
Marion Cotillard, Matthias Schoenaerts, Bouli Lanners







A dark love story between a man (Schoenaerts) who falls in love with a woman (Cotillard), a killer whale trainer who suffers a horrific accident. Based on the short story collection by Craig Davidson, and from the director of A Prophet. Watch the English trailer below.



Sightseers - Director's Fortnight
UK
Dir: Ben Wheatley
Steve Oram, Alice Lowe









After the sheer WTF-ness of last year's Kill List, Ben Wheatley has soared up the industry ladder, bagging a spot in Director's Fortnight for his new - and still darkly comic - film Sightseers, about a caravanning couple whose idyllic trip in the British countryside takes a sinister turn.



The We and The I - Director's Fortnight
USA
Dir: Michel Gondry
Joe Mele, Meghan Murphy, Alex Barrios



 




If we can pretend Michel Gondry's last film The Green Hornet never happened, then his next film is back in safe territory: a group of high school students take their last bus journey home from school before the start of the Summer holidays (and quirky magic ensues). The trailer was released a few days ago in the lead up to its Cannes premiere:




A few others of note that get the seal of approval by culturemouse:

IN COMPETITION

Moonrise Kingdom (Opening Film) - Wes Anderson
Holy Motors - Leos Carax
Killing Them Softly - Andrew Dominik
Reality - Matteo Garrone
Lawless - John Hillcoat
The Taste of Money - Im Sang-Soo
You Haven't Seen Anything Yet - Alain Resnais
The Hunt -Thomas Vinterberg

UN CERTAIN REGARD 

Mystery - Lou Ye

DIRECTOR'S FORTNIGHT 

Room 237 - Rodney Ascher
La Sirga - William Vega


INTERNATIONAL CRITICS WEEK

Broken - Rufus Norris


This year's jury will be headed by Italian director Nanni Moretti (The Son's Room, We Have A Pope), who will be helped out by film royalty such as Andrea Arnold, Diane Kruger, Ewan McGregor and Alexander Payne, with British actor Tim Roth looking after the Un Certain Regard duties.

Who will win the Palme d'Or 2012? Answers on a sexy postcard!


Friday, 4 May 2012

US PILOTS 2012/3: ALL THE REST



                                                                        







Sorry about the slight delay guys, forgot I was seeing Isy Suttie yesterday so couldn't update! Onto the home stretch now - what all the other channels have on offer for the upcoming Fall season. We have picks from Fox, who despite delivering the goods with New Girl last year have been on a drought of late. We also have Showtime, new for this year but I am putting my trust in them after the excellent Homeland. F/X produced one of my favourite new shows of last year, American Horror Story - can they do the same again? And welcome to the grid Netflix, who have some exciting projects on the horizon - projects you'll be able to see in their entirety straight away. The future of television starts here!


Mastermind* (FOX)
Tell me now: An ex FBI agent intent on tracking down a notorious serial killer who is using technology to create a whole cult of killers.
And who's in it: Kevin Bacon is playing the FBI agent, hired to track down serial killer James Purefoy (Rome). Also starring: Maggie Grace (Lost), Natalie Zea (Justified) and Shawn Ashmore (Frozen). 
Should I care?: It's the only interesting pilot Fox have in their entire bag, so thank God it's a goodie! A brilliant cast headed by Kevin Bacon, and an always interesting (at least for me) genre as well of the mystery/horror/crime blend. Plus, this is the latest TV drama from Kevin Williamson (Scream, The Vampire Diaries) so as well as 100% chance of being picked up, it will also be utter class. *Working title


Masters of Sex (SHOWTIME)
Tell me now: Drama about the pioneers of the science of human sexuality whose research touched off the sexual revolution.
And who's in it: Our pioneers are Lizzy Caplan (New Girl, Mean Girls) and Michael Sheen (Frost/Nixon) and they are joined by Beau Bridges (The Descendants), Teddy Sears (American Horror Story) and Caitlin Fitzgerald (Damsels in Distress).
Should I care?: Fabulous cast (Sheen was brought in as a replacement for Paul Bettany) and that's the main drive behind me putting this in, as details on the plot are very vague - I'm still not completely sure what it's about other than, erm, sex. It's based on Tom Maier's book and has been described as "somewhere between House and Mad Men." Oooh!


Port Royal (F/X)
Tell me now: Chronicling the rise of Jamaica's "richest and wickedest" city in the new world set in the 17th Century.
And who's in it: None as yet, still in development.  
Should I care?: PIRATES! I can't believe none of the other Networks have taken the opportunity yet to create a pirate series, filled with adventure and swashbucklin' plunderin' on the high seas and smuggling and deadly duels in the streets. I bloody love pirates, and would watch this in a heartbeat. Scott Rosenbaum (V, Chuck) is currently writing the pilot episode. Not to be confused by the latest Michael Bay announcement for Starz! Which will be shit.


House of Cards (NETFLIX)
Tell me now: A politician grows more corrupt as his ambitions grow. 
And who's in it: Kevin Spacey (American Beauty) has been cast as the corrupt politician, alongside Robin Wright (Moneyball), Kate Mara (American Horror Story), Corey Stoll (Midnight in Paris) and Kristen Connolly (The Cabin in the Woods).
Should I care?: This is the first original scripted drama to be announced by Netflix (though based on the British series in the 90s), and boy is it a biggie! Estimated at $100 million, with 26 episodes ordered (over two seasons) and David Fincher directing, it boasts a huge pedigree and they sure must have some confidence in this one. The premise sounds a little draggy (forget Veep) but what's great about this is you'll have the whole series at your disposal to watch instantly so if it's a grower, it's no problem.


Hemlock Grove (NETFLIX)
Tell me now: After the murder of a young girl in a small town, the hunt is on to find her killer - but the suspects may not be human...
And who's in it: Famke Janssen (Nip/Tuck), Landon Liboiron (Terra Nova), Bill Skaragard, and Dougray Scott (My Week With Marilyn). 
Should I care?: Yes, I am all for a new horror series, especially one from a master such as Eli Roth (Cabin Fever, Hostel) who will be adapting the book written by Brian McGreevy for Netflix - slated for early 2013. This has the potential to go either way - cult hidden classic on a non-broadcast service, or utter shambles best hidden away. I'm definitely hoping for the former - I want all horror to succeed on the small screen and with more books due this definitely has legs. Or tentacles, or claws, whatever. And it's been compared to Twin Peaks!


So that's all my picks - in a couple of weeks we'll know what's been picked up and what didn't make the grade. Despite all my fawning, there's a very insightful article here on what's leading the pack at the moment, but when we know things for sure, I'll be writing them up here on culturemouse and on the Facebook page. Exciting times!


Wednesday, 2 May 2012

US PILOTS 2012/3: NBC


I seem to be having a lot of trouble with NBC shows at the moment, particularly having the patience to sustain watching any of them. I grew bored of Grimm and Smash very quickly, and probably would have gone the same way with The Playboy Club had they not yanked it off the air anyway. And with the likelihood of cancellation hanging over Awake it has made me reluctant to really commit to watching it, just in case there proves to be no point if it doesn't go beyond Season 1. So I take the following choices with a degree of scepticism, as I may not be in for the long haul...


Friday Night Dinner
Tell me now: Jewish family The Goodmans get together every Friday night for dinner with their two sons.
And who's in it: The eccentric parents will be Tony Shalhoub (Monk) and Allison Janney (The Help, Juno), with their two suitably embarrassed sons Kevin Bigley and Gil Ozeri. Also cast: David Koechner (The Office US) and Gary Anthony Williams (Malcolm in the Middle).
Should I care?: Well I LOVED Friday Night Dinner when it was shown on C4 last year, so I'm excited to see what the US remake is going to be like, and the cast is really promising. I just hope the writing talent of Greg Daniels (who created Parks and Recreations) can live up to the high standard of Robert Popper ("why do you put salt in everything?!").


Next Caller Please
Tell me now: Comedy set in a satellite radio station on a show run by an alpha male and his female co-host.
And who's in it: The radio show will be hosted by Dane Cook (Dan in Real Life) and Collette Wolfe (Young Adult) with Joy Osmanski and Ryan Devlin. Jeffrey Tambor (Arrested Development) is also set to star, but only as a cameo role in the pilot.
Should I care?: There's something about this set-up which intrigues me (set in a small radio station) and I think it could be brilliant if the writing stacks up and it's zany enough. It's created by Stephen Falk who did Weeds - which I've never watched, so I can't really comment on his humour - but I'm keeping an eye on this one.


Beautiful People
Tell me now: A drama set 10 minutes in the future where families of mechanical beings exist to serve the human population - until some of them begin to awaken.
And who's in it: James Murray (Primeval), Patrick Heusinger, Frances Conroy (American Horror Story), Megalyn Echikunwoke (Damsels in Distress), Andrea Parker, Cody Christian (both Pretty Little Liars).
Should I care?: Yes and no. As well as being one of the most exciting sounding pilots of the whole Fall season, let alone on NBC, it also has that uncomfortable familiar feeling about it...the feeling of being cancelled after 5 episodes. I hope it has the longevity to really be a success though, as it sounds like uber sci fi fun.


The Frontier
Tell me now: A group follow their dreams by travelling West from Missouri across uncharted country in the 1840s.
And who's in it: Ethan Embry (Brotherhood), Megan Ferguson, Jake McLaughlin (Warrior), Bridget Regan, Gina Bramhill (Being Human).
Should I care?: I'm not a huge fan of anything 'western', but there's something about this which reminds me of Meek's Cutoff - more to do with the relationships of characters and discovering new land than a dreary Sunday afternoon drama. I can't imagine this on NBC though - surely it would be more at home on cable? To preserve the period of the time will be a feat for a Network channel.


Midnight Sun
Tell me now: A female FBI agent begins to investigate the mysterious disappearance of a commune in Alaska, and uncovers a much larger conspiracy in the process.
And who's in it: Julia Stiles (Dexter) will be playing the lead role, along side Titus Welliver (Lost), Emma Bell (The Walking Dead), Michael Raymond-James (True Blood) and Connor O'Farrell (CSI).
Should I care?: SMALL TOWN MYSTERY ALERT! And not only that, but it's set in Alaska! Love.It. I'm hoping for the moodiness of The Killing, but more likable characters and a plot that really jogs along. Based on an Israeli format, this has been brought to the USA by Noah Stollman and Lisa Zwerling (Awake, Flash Forward).


Revolution*
Tell me now: A family struggles to reunite in a post apocalyptic world where technology no longer exists.
And who's in it: Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad), Billy Burke (24), Tracy Spiridakos (Being Human), and Graham Rogers.
Should I care?: Well, well, well - what happens when two giants of culturemouse television join up together to create their own TV show? That's what we have here. This is the new project - and sure to be picked up - from JJ Abrams (everything) and Eric Kripke (Supernatural). Completely fascinated how this is going to turn out - it's on the list! Oh, and *this was the working title but has now been scrapped, and we go into the upfronts with it still being "untitled project".


I'll be rounding out the rest of the channels tomorrow.


Tuesday, 1 May 2012

US PILOTS 2012/3: HBO

I've just had a quick nosey at the HBO selections from last year and it's funny to think I am now watching these shows and enjoying them! Unfortunately a few of them never made it to the small screen (and ones like Luck didn't make it far out the box) but Girls, Veep, Angry Boys and More As The Story Develops (now, The Newsroom, set to premiere in June) have all succeeded. One of last year's shows will actually re-appear on this list - Mindhunter - as it's still in development. But you should definitely see a scatter of these names below in the next 12 months... Of course HBO don't have a "upfront" launch as such, but they should still get their worth!


The Corrections
Tell me now: Three generations of a Midwestern family come together for "one last Christmas" at the turn of the millennium.
And who's in it: Chris Cooper (American Beauty, The Bourne Identity) and Dianne Wiest (Edward Scissorhands, Synecdoche New York) will play the elderly couple, with their children Ewan McGregor (Big Fish, Trainspotting), Maggie Gyllenhaal (Secretary, The Dark Knight) and Rhys Ifans (Notting Hill, Anonymous). Also signed on: Greta Gerwig (Damsels in Distress)!
Should I care?: Yeeeeeeees! Hugely excited about this (even with the involvement of McGregor) - not so much the storyline, which could mean anything really, or even the cast though it reads more like a film sheet - HBO sure can attract the big names these days! The reason I'm most excited is because Noah Baumbach is involved, and having a TV series from him would just be a dream. Plus, the book by Jonathan Franzen is universally loved and I may just add it to my Summer reading list...
EDIT: HBO literally just pulled the plug on this. Ohhhh lonnnng johnson.


The Art of Fielding
Tell me now: Following the fates of five people at a Midwestern University, whose lives are all affected by a single baseball throw.
And who's in it: The film rights in the book have just been optioned, so it's still in the very early stages - no cast as yet announced.
Should I care?: I haven't read the book but it is by all accounts excellent (and has just been released over here in paperback) and this sounds like a sweet, interesting premise which will hopefully cleverly intertwine the story arcs of several different characters. The author Chad Harbach will be involved in producing as well as Scott Rudin (who is also working on The Corrections, above). As long as there's not too much baseball...


Hobgoblin
Tell me now: A group of con men and magicians use their methods of deception to defeat Hitler and the Germans during World War II.
And who's in it: Still in development, no cast attached as yet.
Should I care?: The plot sounds intriguing enough, but it's the talent behind it which surely means it's one to consider: from an idea by author Michael Chabon (Wonder Boys) and his wife Ayelet Waldman (Love and Other Impossible Pursuits) the pilot will be directed by none other than Darren Aronofsky, his first project since Black Swan and his first foray into television. Squee!


Mind Hunter
Tell me now: An FBI agent's investigations of serial killers and rapists, and the profiling techniques he uses to track them.
And who's in it: No official cast as yet - Charlize Theron is definitely producing, but may not necessarily star.
Should I care?: I wrote about Mindhunter on last year's HBO list and as far as I can tell there has been no movement on it since, with the project still in development (but not officially panned like Spring/Fall). David Fincher is still attached to direct the pilot, but with the Millennium trilogy to finish off he's going to be a busy man for the near future.


American Gods
Tell me now: In modern day America, where the old Gods have been neglected and forgotten by humans, new powers begin to emerge which seek to take over the world, prompting an epic battle between the two sides.
And who's in it: Again, too early for casting yet (but I'll be on it when we get some news!)
Should I care?: YES! I read the book last year (by Neil Gaiman) and had a lot of fun with it, though it does take its time to get going and the ending is a bit eh (apparently HBO have planned 6 series to tell the whole story). But the meat on the bones in the middle is terrific, particularly when we are following the main protagonist, Shadow, and when it delves into road movie/manhunt or mystery with the missing kids from Lakeside. It has a lot of potential, and would look to recreate the model and success Game of Thrones has forged. Gaiman is busy working on the pilot script at the moment. Cannae wait!


Tomorrow it's the turn of NBC with some - shock horror - comedies.