09 November, 2012

CC33: A look at internet TVs weaker offerings.......

If, like me, you harbour an internet TV obsession that borders on the absurd you'll be familiar with the post-binge depression that occurs when you've just burned through the latest episodes of your favorite TV shows in a day leaving you with fuck-all to watch until the following week. This is even worse should the shows you watch be American as the yanks take a liking to fucking massive gaps in the middle of their series for no apparent, logical reason other than to mess with their viewers.

For example I've run through all the new episodes of Grimm, the walking dead, being human, Big bang theory (yes it IS funny!), supernatural (Yes, they're still making new episodes) and American Horror story (yes, it's as good as people say, believe the hype, or better still, read this blog). This leaves me sitting in a sort of no-mans-land with nothing to watch for the rest of the week. And I'll be god-damned if I resort to watching normal television as it's nothing but shit "talent"-shows, bad news and Top-Gear re-runs. So I've decided to widen my net and start watching some new TV shows! Ones you've probably never fucking heard of! So without further ado, in no particular order, let the shit hit the fan:

  • Haven (or the one which references Stephen King every 15 seconds): The comment in the brackets is a little unfair because, as I'm a MASSIVE Stephen king fanboy, that doesn't bother me. In fact the entire show is based upon the novella "the Colorado Kid" giving it that air of authenticity I crave so much. Basically it's about some small town in Maine which is centre of the universe for people with a bunch of weird powers, most of whom don't have a clue that they even have the power until it's pointed out to them. Even after people start dying by the fucking truck-load. It's strange how the whole town seems clued into the "troubles" ,as the powers are called, but seem completely surprised when it happens to them.That said, the main plot arc involving the main character (who's a little too pretty for the role, more on this later) is very engaging and the supporting cast are all the right shade of kooky and creepy to keep stuff interesting. Hell they've actually got the Wrestler "Edge" on and he's actually a decent actor!
  • 666 Park Avenue (the one with that guy from Lost in it): The most recent of the shows I started watching it's mid-way through it's first season and it is shaping up pretty good. A young couple (of course, the woman is impossibly pretty) start working in an apartment building that has a dark history along with it's owners who grant peoples wishes then return to collect their souls. As the series progresses our new residents start to look into the history of the building guided by (you guessed it) dream-like visions that come to them for no reason. Firstly, it's a good show, it's well acted to some regards and the story is vague yet compelling. It's main downfall is, yet again, a main actress who is far too pretty for the role and the fact the story rips through the supernatural elements so quickly it's hard to keep track. But it's definitely one to keep on your radar. EDIT: the future of the show is in doubt given that the recent hurricane in Washington (where it's filmed) destroyed most of the sets. more info to come.......probably
  • Todd and the book of Pure Evil (the shit one that looks like it was shot by someones little brother on their iPhone): This is the second-longest running of the shows I looked at. It's past it's second series and has already been cancelled (thank fuck). The premise is a that a couple of school-kids come across a cursed book that causes all manner of shit to go down so the two guys (the dumb one and the fat one) team up with two girls (the hot one and the smart one....who's also hot). Along the way we find out the town was founded by satanists and the teachers want the book to be returned to some cult which secretly runs the town, blah blah blah. The story is just basic fodder to pave the way of some (quite) graphic violence and a lot of swearing. And I mean A LOT of swearing. I know kids curse a lot when their parents aren't around but fucking hell this takes it to new heights. It's actually almost distracting. Which is a shame because this show could've used some distractions. First off, it can be quite funny. A lot of the jokes are puerile shit but occasionally they're really funny! Bordering on hilarious. Also one of the characters is an amputee. Normally this would set up a lot of cheap gag bollocks about his fake arm but whenever it's touched on the jokes are pretty good! The supporting cast are also fairly decent with a standout mention to the school guidance Councillor who's the only one who can deliver lines in a semi-humorous fashion. All this, however,  is let down by acting that is some of THE ABSOLUTE WORST I've ever seen. Really. It's horrendous. When the stand-out actor is the guy who plays Jay form Jay and silent bob you know you've got problems.
  • Other ones you NEED to check out, most of which have already been cancelled and laid to rest:  Millennium: In essence the Firefly of supernatural drama. Lance Hendrikson stars as a law enforcement consultant (whatever the hell that is) that can see inside the minds of criminals. Sounds hokey but it's really good stuff. Cancelled after three seasons even though the ratings were still good. Brimstone: Supernatural cop drama about a cop who the devil tasks with returning souls to hell in return for a second shot at life. It stars John Glover as Satan and it was pretty fucking excellent until it was cut short mid-way through its' first season. Being Human: Has the rare distinction of being re-made for America while the British one is still running. Very funny and bleak horror series about a trio of monsters who try to blend into society. Brilliantly the horror focus isn't on the monsters but on the mundaneity of modern life. It's so fucking good it beggars belief that more people don't watch it, which just proves that most people are idiots. Yes I know I mentioned it at the top.
A quick aside rant now: The three shows above highlight one of the most pressing issues I've seen with most new shows. Now while the Americans are truly a guilty party in this, I've seen this behavior everywhere: Pretty Casting. Most shows now don't go anywhere without a cast populated by models. Even though the role doesn't call for someone who is meant to be even remotely attractive they'll still gun for the best looking person and hope they can cover up the hot in make-up with some goofy styling.

The reason I object to this is because it undermines the character credibility right off the bat. If the actor doesn't look like ,say ,a lawyer or a nurse or like someone who sits in their room all day masturbating to anime, it makes it that much harder to make the character convincing and therefore we are less likely to care about or be interested in what happens with that character.
For example take the abomination that is Todd and the book of pure evil above. The two main actresses are so stupidly pretty that it makes it impossible to take them seriously.

In 666 park avenue the lead actress is meant to be an architectural graduate but looks more like she should be walking down a catwalk in a Victoria secrets show. It also doesn't help that the show takes time to stick her in some revealing dresses and showcase her as the eye-candy.

This isn't limited to just women because guys are also the subject of some lousy casting also. TV is replete with hunks being cast as nerds and then greasing up their hair to try to make them look like nerds but they end up looking like they just woke up before the camera started shooting.

Take a look at any of the better programs and you'll see that they all truly begin with a good cast who can properly personify the characters they portray. Solid character acting is as important, if not more so, to a shows' success than good writing. Sure, if the writing is crap you can always switch writers. Switching an actor is more difficult. But given this fact many TV shows are being shot in foot by casting agents who push actors not because they're the best for the role but because they're the best looking. Even to the detriment of the show they're on.

Here's to the unsung hero of good TV, the decent casting director.....................
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