Tag Archive: Prodigal Son


Professor T

Review by C.J. Bunce

PBS is now airing a six-episode mystery series starring Ben Miller, best known for playing the first detective of many on the series Death in Paradise, an actor whose television work goes back to the early 1990s, including even a small role on The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles.  Miller plays Professor Jasper Tempest, the title character of Professor T, a British adaptation of a Belgian series about a quirky, obsessive, compulsive detective in the style of Adrian Monk, Prodigal Son’s Malcolm Bright, and Sherlock Holmes himself.  The series airs weekly Sundays on PBS, also available to stream in its entirety with a PBS Passport subscription.  Will this be another short-lived British police procedural, or can it survive in the ocean of similar series to find a second season?

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Whether you first met him as the sympathetic, put-upon teacher opposite Nicole Kidman and Alec Baldwin in Malice, the brother of the comatose guy in While You Were Sleeping, the President of the U.S. in an alien invasion in Independence Day, or the scruffy-looking rogue in Spaceballs, you probably love Bill Pullman.  He’s just as endearing and amiable in his gritty mystery series Sinner, with all three seasons now streaming on Netflix.  But he’s also troubled (more than the residents of Haven), a bit crotchety, and stranger than even the most odd detective you can conjure (even Adrian Monk).  Detective Harry Ambrose may be the Sinner in the title of the USA Network television series, or that might apply more to the killers he tracks down and unthinkably befriends, as he works three season-long cases in upstate New York.  Is it worth your time?  That question doesn’t have a short answer.  But a fourth season is in the works, so now is the time to find out.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Something wicked this way comes–or at least is coming by way of Tasmania, an island off the southern coast of Australia.  The stark beauty of Tasmania is the best feature of the first episode of the new Starz original series The Gloaming (which means twilight or dusk), from mountain tops to rolling weather changes to waterfalls.  But that’s where the beauty ends as a detective from Melbourne is called in to join a woman from his past who is also a cop, both to investigate a murder tied to the death of his girlfriend long ago.  It all takes place in a part of the world most Westerners will find entirely curious and new.  Written and directed by Victoria Madden (The Kettering Incident), The Gloaming begins this week with a slow-paced introduction that explains little and throws a lot at the viewer.  This isn’t a travelogue for Tasmania, as each image seems connected to some kind of evil lurking around the next corner, like a new take on The Wicker Man.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

In many ways Stephen King’s new supernatural crime novel Later is a natural follow-on to his two earlier Hard Case Crime novels, Joyland, which I loved, and The Colorado Kid, which will have me revisiting it for years to identify what I am sure is a hidden story beneath the obvious one.  Joyland follows a coming of age vibe for an older character and King pulls from a similar quiver of creepiness in Later as he did for The Colorado Kid.  Yes, Later will get the obvious comparison to the “I see dead people” kid from The Sixth Sense–a few updates and this could be its sequel, one as good or better than that great M. Night Shyamalan shocker (a character even calls out the comparison, and King doesn’t try to shy away from it).  But even more than that, this story is a perfect launch pad for a television series, a series that should be written and directed by Shawn Piller as a natural follow-up to the King-Piller partnership’s successful series Haven and The Dead Zone.  The slow-simmering pacing reflects the perfect make-ready four season series centering on a boy burdened with an ability he cannot walk away from.  Later easily could be the next Medium, Prodigal Son, or Tru Callingjust as dark, with a bit of Fallen thrown in.  It’s a highly recommended read, available for pre-order now here at Amazon, scheduled for release March 2.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

British actor Michael Sheen is one of film and TV’s best actors, and he proved that again in the first episode of a new Fox mystery series, Prodigal Son.  Don’t expect that comical chap from Good Omens, this is the kind of mix of the dramatic and the strange that might just net him an award or two.  Although the second episode teetered some, some tight writing, quick action, and witty banter plus an engaging cast is turning out to be the recipe that may get viewers to come back for more, even if this is just a spin on the villain’s story from Silence of the Lambs.

Sheen plays The Surgeon, a serial killer who murdered 23 people before being caught.  All along during his crime spree The Surgeon was being a good father to young son Malcolm.  Flash forward a few decades and Malcolm (the series lead, played by another British actor, The Walking Dead’s Tom Payne) is a troubled victim of PTSD and some other maladies prompted by his unusual father, while he’s also a genius profiler of the Sherlock Holmes and House, M.D. school of sleuths.  In the first episode Malcolm is fired by the FBI and hired by the NYPD, thanks to a long-time relationship with a police detective, played by Lou Diamond Phillips.  Malcolm’s relationship with the detective provides some of the secrets of  Malcolm’s past that unfold during the pilot episode.  Malcolm is close with his sister, a broadcast journalist played by ex-crewmember of The Orville Halston Sage, and their mother (and The Surgeon’s ex-wife), is played by Bellamy Young, who primetime audiences watched grow into playing mom roles from her beginnings guest starring on every other major crime show back to Law & Order and The X-Files.  Young never goes for the straightforward stuff, and there’s more than enough peppered in the initial two hours to suggest her character may have been more aware of what her husband was up to.  How much and how far will certainly be what is ferreted out over the first season.

The show is led by Chris Fedek (Forever, Chuck, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow), Sam Sklaver (Deception), and master comic book-to-screen adapter Greg Berlanti.  It has bits and pieces reminiscent of plenty of prior genre series:  The tone of Castle, the quirky lead in Forever, and the supporting sibling relationship of Tru Calling all come to mind.

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