Tag Archive: BBC One


ghosts-cbs-

Review by C.J. Bunce

The top genre TV actress Rose McIver is back and as irresistible as ever.  The star of the wildly popular series iZombie is right back in her wheelhouse in CBS’s new series Ghosts: rapid-fire dialogue, outlandish situations where she must lead a crew of characters to decipher and inhabit myriad character types in the craziest of concocted schemes.  But unlike iZombie, which had its lighthearted moments, Ghosts is 100% pure comedy.  Sure, there are ghosts, but this is a full-on ensemble cast comedy where a brilliantly conceived haunted mansion is only the setting, the framework on which to build a comedy that will hopefully stand up to the even more dreaded ratings wonks.

For fans of Resident Alien, the show smacks of the exact same tone and humor, the latest in the trope mastered by The Munsters and The Addams Family.  It’s Beetlejuice, The Sixth Sense, and Tru Calling meets The Money Pit with a splash of Clue, with not a speck of heavy drama (or frights) but heaps of fun and pop culture references (like Sneakers, and if you pay attention you’ll find more than one iZombie reference) stuffed into each half-hour episode.

Continue reading

Review by C.J. Bunce

In an age where television shows continue to be stretched into a bloated ten episodes, it’s refreshing to to find a six-episode series without the filler.  One of those is the Scottish crime series Traces, a tightly, cleverly written story following a team of college forensic professors, scientists, and anthropologists and their work with the local Dundee, Scotland detective branch to solve crimes.  The first season is a fictional account centered on the case of a woman who went missing during the real-life Tall Ships festival in Dundee in August 2001, whose body was later found in a shallow grave.  The plot closely follows some of the more realistic and mysterious bits of any number of episodes of the true crime series Forensic Files, while working in some well-developed characters–enough to make for a compelling ongoing series.  Fans of television from Great Britain are also near guaranteed to find several familiar faces from some of your favorite genre films and TV series along the way.

Continue reading

Review by C.J. Bunce

British television series that make their way to America tend to be refreshing in that each new show is incredibly different from the last.  No matter how many times Americans catch the latest Brit/Irish/Scot police procedural, it’s nearly impossible to follow how each level of government polices, and manages the policing, of its citizenry.  That quirk doesn’t get more pronounced than in the opener to The Salisbury Poisonings, a four-part series airing Monday evenings on AMC.  The series will likely mean less to those on this side of the pond, although the real-life attempt on the lives of a Russian spy and his daughter living in Salisbury was international news in March 2018, victims of Vladimir Putin’s spy network.  But the first episode has the kind of TV writing that should bring the show to the attention of anglophiles.

Continue reading

The best of British genre fare collided New Year’s Day as the new season of Doctor Who got underway.  Merging a classic type Doctor Who adventure with James Bond tropes made for what might be the best episode of Doctor Who since Matt Smith handed over his sonic screwdriver.  But that’s only the beginning, as the two-part opener continues tonight on BBC America in the States and much earlier in the UK on BBC One.  U.S. viewers have one chance to beat the social media spoilers: Fathom Events is hosting a unique Doctor Who event nationwide today at 1 p.m. local time, a theater broadcast of Spyfall–the New Year’s Day episode and the worldwide premiere of part two–complete with a live Q&A with the cast.  Check out the Fathom Events website here for details.

Doctor Who showrunner Chris Chibnall had a full season to iron out the transition to a new Doctor, and if you didn’t watch the entire first season now is a good time to jump back in, because this adventure starts strong with high stakes, a new alien threat, non-stop action, and an echo from Doctor Who of the past.  It all plays out like an episode written by either Russell T. Davies or Stephen Moffat, but it’s Chibnall who wrote this story.  A new favorite scene can be found in the New Year’s Day Spyfall episode: It’s hard to imagine any prior Doctor could have nailed the scene where the Doctor takes on a 007-inspired role, and plays a high roller hand at cards trying to be as cool as Bond–but not quite getting there.  Jodie Whittaker has the enthusiasm of David Tennant, the innocence of Matt Smith, and the daftness of Peter Capaldi, all rolled up into one.  And she’s brilliant in this first episode, even better than last year.

This Doctor doesn’t need a companion any different from the twelve Doctors that preceded her, yet this new triumvirate companion works–it’s a family, or “fam” as she calls them and a mechanism to allow a distribution of the action.  Yasmin (Mandip Gill), Ryan (Tosin Cole), Graham (Bradley Walsh) join the Doctor on her latest travels at the request of MI 6, and a guest appearance by Stephen Fry as C (think M in the Bond stories) and Sacha Dhawan as O (another 00 agent).  It’s hard to believe it’s actually been a year since we last saw them all together in the Season 11 finale.

Continue reading

Dafne Keen tops the list of best child actors in movies, and her performance as X-23 along with co-stars Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart made Logan–and specifically the black and white version released as Logan Noir–my pick for the #1 best superhero movie of all time.  So it’s a big deal that Keen has been tapped in the lead role of Lyra Belacqua, the young protagonist of a new adaptation of Philip Pullman′s His Dark Materials–a Carnegie Medal-winning trilogy of novels and a favorite among a generation of readers, selling 18 million copies and translated into 40 languages.  It’s doubly exciting for a fan like me, as the story and character of Lyra was adapted to the big screen once already, in 2007, as the Oscar-winning The Golden Compass, my pick back in 2012 here at borg at the top position of my ten favorite fantasy films of all time (check out that and our staff writers’ lists from back then here if you missed it).  Keen is the perfecting casting decision for one of fantasy’s best-developed, and most fascinating supernatural worlds.

Coming from the BBC and to be released via HBO in the States, His Dark Materials will feature eight episodes the first season.  Take a look at the first trailers below.  Along with Keen as Lyra (who was played by Dakota Blue Richards in the film), the series stars X-Men and Glass’s James McAvoy as Lord Asrael (played by Daniel Craig in the film), Lin-Manuel Miranda as Lee Scoresby (Sam Elliott in the film), John Wick and Jessica Jones’ Clarke Peters as Dr. Carne (Jack Shepherd in the film), The Strain and The Borgias’ Ruta Gedmintas as Serafina (Eva Green in the film), Shetland and Outlaw King’s James Cosmo as Farder Coram (Tom Courtenay in the film) and Luther, The Prisoner, and Jane Eyre’s Ruth Wilson as Mrs. Coulter (Nicole Kidman in the film).  No voice cast has been announced for the several animal characters.  The series is directed by Oscar-winning director Tom Hooper.  Production for season one wrapped in late 2018 and a second season has already been green-lighted.

  

It’s a good time to catch up on the novels, beginning with Northern Lights (released as The Golden Compass in the U.S.), The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass, along with two sequels, Lyra’s Oxford, and Once Upon a Time in the North, and a book set in the same universe, The Book of Dust.

Here are the first trailers for His Dark Materials:

Continue reading

Review by C.J. Bunce

For fans of BBC’s four seasons of Shetland, while a fifth is in the works, a 2010 series available via Amazon and BritBox may fill in as a bit of a prequel to the Scottish crime drama.  Doctor Who fans may quirk a brow at the words The Silence, but the series villains are no relation to the tense crime drama co-starring Shetland’s Douglas Henshall and deaf actress Genevieve Barr.  The Silence is a four-episode series following Barr as 18-year-old Amelia.  Recently fitted with a cochlear implant, she is adjusting to the device during her “gap year,” the year between high school and college.  It’s a series notable for Shetland and Henshall fans because swap out the character’s DCI Jim Edwards for DI Jimmy Perez and you have basically the same British cop before he went off to Scotland.

DCI Edwards is Amelia’s uncle, and Amelia is staying with him, his wife Maggie (Doctor Who and Law & Order: UK’s Dervla Kirwan), and cousins Tom (Young Dracula’s Harry Ferrier), Joel (Doctors’ Tom Kane), and Sophie (Doctor Who’s Rebecca Oldfield), all while Amelia is attending appointments to practice use of her new hearing device.  Amelia hates it, a concept nobody quite grasps.  She sees being deaf as somewhat defining, a thing everyone else should accept, but her badgering parents, played by Gina McKee (MirrorMask, Emerald City) and Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey, Doctor Who), are the ones who don’t hear.  While staying with her cousins Amelia witnesses a murder, and soon DCI Edwards realizes the likely murderers are within his own police department.

Amelia becomes more than a tangent player to the plot when she tells her uncle she can read the lips of two cops on CCTV footage, implicating several people, and putting Amelia’s life and her uncle’s family and danger, and worse for her uncle, subjecting him to threat of imprisonment per police regulations for not disclosing his niece as an eyewitness.  All of this happens in the series’ four hours, in a story probably better suited edited down into a movie-length production.  And yet it’s all fresh and new–a police procedural unlike any you’ve seen before.

Continue reading

The pop culture event of 2018 is finally here!

BBC America is airing its new season, the premiere episode for Jodie Whittaker‘s 13th Doctor earlier today than normal episodes will air on Sunday evenings going forward, at 12:45 p.m. Central Time (simulcast in the UK on BBC One at 5:45 p.m. GMT).  So if you want to be among the first to see it–and avoid any spoilers online, don’t miss out.

For those who like pre-shows, BBC America is also airing a 30-minute lead-in at 12:15 p.m. Central.

Season 11 episode 1 will be re-broadcast at 2:30 p.m., 5 p.m., 9 p.m., and 11 p.m.

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

Great British Baking Show judges

It is really hard to rival the greatest foodie show of all time–Iron Chef.  A palpable battle to the death of sorts, or at least that’s the way it made us all feel.  International theme and haute cuisine met flying five-finger, one-armed shaolin exploding death touch style, with expert chef Alton Brown at the helm of the American version of the show, teaching us how to make our own meals better with a shuffling cast of interesting judges including Jeffrey Steingarten, Ted Allen, Mo Rocca, and even Jeri Ryan.  And it gave Bobby Flay, Mario Batali, and Masaharu Morimotu the status of food royalty.

Other shows are watchable in their own right, inspired by Julia Child’s original idea they expand what we think about food, how we serve it and what ingredients we use.  These include Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, a show that allows us to go local or travel to test the best food around (I eat at one of the featured dives at least twice per week), No Reservations with Anthony Bordain takes us on a tour with a not particularly pleasant foodie to see what’s good around the planet, and no show since Julia Child educates us more than Alton Brown’s Good Eats.  The most fun seems to follow dessert shows, with Chef Duff’s merry band of friends who ran Ace of Cakes making for a great, almost utopian fantasy workplace show and then there was the great Mark Sommers’ run on Unwrapped, where he showed the business of scrumptious candymaking.  My strawberry rhubarb pie is all the better because of these shows.

British baking Show tent

When you bring the “reality show” or cooking competition show into the mix, you get some of the fun of Iron Chef, but at a different level of entertainment.  Top Chef and The Next Food Network Star featured rival food channels showing the ugly side of competition as most reality shows offer these days, with competitors becoming more of caricatures than anything tolerable in real life circumstances.  All but one, that is.  And that show is the gem of a cooking show in its second season in the States on public television, The Great British Baking Show.

Continue reading