Welcome to the TV Gazette!
The TV Gazette is a concept that I’m trialling: a weekly bulletin where I’ll round up anything interesting I’ve watched this week and what I’m looking forward to next week. The length of the post will depend on what I’ve been up to and what’s coming up, but I should be able to put something down every week.
On to what has happened this week…
Netflix will produce 12 more episodes of Black Mirror! The British show has seen its profile rise outside its native shores after it was added to Netflix’s catalogue, and now the streaming giant has taken its stake in the show one step further. Creator Charlie Brooker explains the show’s title (and its premise):
“If technology is a drug – and it does feel like a drug – then what, precisely, are the side-effects?
This area – between delight and discomfort – is where Black Mirror, my new drama series, is set. The “black mirror” of the title is the one you’ll find on every wall, on every desk, in the palm of every hand: the cold, shiny screen of a TV, a monitor, a smartphone.”
Black Mirror has aired 7 episodes so far, each episode has its own self-contained plot (although the seventh episode, the Christmas special, contained several references to earlier episodes). This upcoming 12-episode run will almost double the show’s current run. Given that Brooker has written or co-written all but one episode of the show so far, I wonder if the expanded production order will force him to hand over more of the writing duties to his fellow writers. My favourite episode of Black Mirror, “Fifteen Million Merits”, was the lone episode not written by Brooker, so there’s certainly a good chance that the upcoming episodes will sustain the extraordinary quality of the current seven. Whatever Brooker or his writers come up with, I’ll be watching on my own black mirror.
A Rob Lowe invasion
We all missed Rob Lowe after Parks and Recreation ended, but a man of his talent and looks is never off our screens for long. My thoughts on two debuting shows that star Lowe after this video of his impressive body of work:
The Grinder has Lowe as Dean Sanderson, a famous actor who leverages his eight years as an on-screen lawyer to join his real-life lawyer brother’s practice. The pilot was surprisingly charming as Lowe clearly relishes playing the man-child and looks very comfortable leading the cast, which is filled with veterans like William Devane, Fred Savage and Mary Elizabeth Ellis. Look out for a Chris Traeger (from Parks and Recreation) refererence towards the end of the episode!
You, Me and the Apocalypse goes in a different direction with Lowe as he plays Father Jude, literally the Devil’s Advocate at the Vatican Church. Father Jude is perhaps the most interesting character in the pilot as he gets to chain-smoke, drink and poke fun at Sister Celine (Gaia Scodellaro). I’m looking forward to seeing this unorthodox priest investigate the second coming of Christ with Sister Celine, as well as the rest of the show — the pilot is very good.
On to more season premieres as our TV schedules get crowded again…
Arrow returns for a fourth season with more ass-kicking in mind. I’ve always admired the show for its well-executed fight choreography and entertainment, but I’ll admit that the third season was a step down from the excellent second season. The show is now firmly in the middle of its life-span, having developed its main characters and making progress in its serialised plot, and it’s now a fight to the finish to stay ahead of its sister shows The Flash and the upcoming DC’s Legends of Tomorrow.
A show that floundered in its third season can bounce back — just look at Homeland. The fourth season was generally well-received, though the third season had set a low bar for expectations. The upcoming fifth season sends Carrie to Berlin as a private security consultant, which is implausible at best given her mental fragility. Homeland has morphed into a 24 copy, and the sooner you accept it, the more you’ll like where the show is heading.
The most polarising show on television returns. The first season of The Leftovers was a draining affair that delved into a deeply spiritual subject matter; the new season shifts the action to Texas, but its focus remains on the key characters from the past season and on themes like faith, acceptance, and grief. It’s not a show for everybody, but for those who like it, the show looks set to deliver again.
The back page
Thanks for reading the Gazette!
On to some noteworthy articles I’ve read this week:
- sofianesisters published a fantastic analysis of Mr Robot, referencing German expressionism. It’s a great read.
- The Golden Age of Television published a review of The Last Man on Earth‘s second season premiere, which sums up the show so far nicely.
- Reggie takes a dim view of the recent spate of remakes and reboots, and he makes a good point.
What’s your TV-related topic of the week?