The telly update
Recently, we had Leagues writing about TV on OTR (he caught a premiere of the so-hot-right-now Girls at SXSW) so, on the back of some nights spent channel-hopping with the Yanks and catching up on some DVDs, here are some …
Recently, we had Leagues writing about TV on OTR (he caught a premiere of the so-hot-right-now Girls at SXSW) so, on the back of some nights spent channel-hopping with the Yanks and catching up on some DVDs, here are some shows currently screening and a few on the way which caught our eye. Some are highly recommended and some… well, you can make your own mind up.
We have mentioned Storage Wars here before as a strange though downrightly compelling piece of reality TV. No doubt, your groans are as loud and fevered as mine at the idea of more “reality TV” but stick around. Storage Wars follows a bunch of men and women who make their living buying and selling the contents of repossessed storage units. So far, so what? The best thing about these treasure hunts, though, are the characters. A bunch of raw, colourful, surreal, over-the-top professional scavengers who make their living trumping the other chancers and then hoping that their hunch about what’s inside the storage units come off. Sometimes, it does and their $100 investment produces winners. Sometimes – and it’s even better when this happens – they’re left with a trip to the dump with the rubbish they’ve just bought. Like I said, strangely compelling.
One one hand, the racecourse drama from the HBO stable comes with a top-notch cast (including Dustin Hoffman, Nick Nolte, a superb Dennis Farina and Thurles-born Kerry Condon) and some aces in the pack behind the scenes (including David Milch and Michael Mann). On the other hand, many viewers seem to have found the dense dialogue and storylines hard to follow and Luck hasn’t received quite the same critical and viewer love which HBO dramas of this ilk seem to regard as their natural right. Add in a lot of on-set woes – three racehorses died during production, which led HBO to nix the series, a decision which occured before the New York Times ran its report on conditions at US racecourses – and you’ve a series which sort of fell between the cracks. However, it’s well worth sticking with it because it does produce some winning scenes, especially the ones involving the four deadbeats whose lucky betting streak sees them owning a horse of their own.
More reality TV with a twist and we like this twist. Duck Dynasty tracks the comings and goings at a family business in Louisiana which is involved in the making of duck calls. Yep, the yokes hunters use to lure ducks out of the wild is what has made the Robertson family and their Duck Commander company their fortune. You might not think there’s TV gold to be had in this, but you may change your mind when you come across such hairy dudes as Phil (the da), Willie (the go-get-’em CEO), Jase (the feckless brother) and other members of the family who could well be related to the Kings Of Leon. Like Storage Wars, it’s an A&E joint, who seem to be making their bones from this sort of fare (others are trying to muscle in on their patch, though – see the not-so-good South Beach Tow).
Danish TV is hot right now. After the huge success of The Killing (the second season of the US version kicked off at the weekend), the Danish broadcaster DR’s next hit appears to be Borgen, a drama based around Birgitte Nyborg who becomes Denmark’s first female prime minister. West Wing fans will love this, as Borgen follows Nyborg at home and in the office dealing with the issues, scandals, political infighting, media mischief-making, domestic dramas and unintentional messes (no septic tanks or household charges, though) which a politician has to face. And yes, there are plans in the pipeline to do an US remake.
But perhaps there’s no need to do a Borgen remake when you have Veep in the “coming soon” ledger. There was a really good profile of Veep creator Armando Iannucci in a recent New Yorker which looked at how a foul-mouthed Brit and his crew could write a satirical show about US politics. Veep stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus as the US vice-president and appears, at first glance, to be The Thick Of It Goes to DC. Iannucci has already had a go at this sort of thing with In the Loop and it remains to be seen if Veep will have the Malcom Tucker effect. The New Yorker notes, though, that “although “Veep” doesn’t have the swearing intensity of Iannucci’s British work, the show’s scripts still use ‘fuck’ and its variants, nearly 250 times in the first eight episodes”.
Speaking of The West Wing, the man behind that show and The Social Network, Aaron Sorkin, is back in the TV game with The Newsroom, a show about the people behind a nightly news show. It’s not Sorkin’s first TV-related TV show – see Sports Night and the excellent Studio 60 On the Sunset Strip – so much can expected from the drama set at the studios of the fictional Atlantis Cable News network.