Author: Jim Stafford

nerdTV: Saturated with Superheroes

Arrow is back! I’m very excited. I’ve been missing my weekly dose of absolute stupidity. This show is Ridiculous. Capital ‘R’. We last saw Oliver dead at the hands of our svelte, Tv-verse, Liam Neeson-Lite Ra’s al Ghul. To the surprise of precisely nobody, he’s back in one piece, thanks to some characters last seen in the Island flashbacks (but not actually from the Island, near the Island, I think they’re near to the Island. Whatever, from the flashbacks). Who to be honest, I’ve not been paying much attention to. They’re very forgettable, they don’t have costumes, and they reek of the writers making it up as they’re going along. Or ‘pulling a Lindelof’ as we call it in the biz. Whilst Ollie’s been away, Starling City has become saturated with superheroes. Absolutely dripping in them. At last count we’ve got two Speedy’s (okay, one Speedy and one Arsenal – even the show is stopping to have characters ask if they’re pulling names out of a hat at this point), two Black Canary’s, even if one’s dead (or ‘dead’… remains to be seen), a resurrected Malcolm Merlyn, The Atom, a new villain in the guise of Vinnie Jones’ ‘Brick’ (so I guess we’ve kind of got Juggernaut and Superman in there too), Wildcat (spoilers, until half way through the latest episode, now also dead. Or ‘dead’.) and Sin is...

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NerdTV on Person of Interest: ‘Mildly embarrassed defensiveness, bordering on hostility’

Person of Interest has now strayed so far from it’s original episodic procedural formula that it’s nigh-on unrecognisable, and I couldn’t be happier about it – this show is filmic in ways other’s aren’t even coming close to. I’m not sure how much input the Nolan brothers have at this stage in production, but I wouldn’t be surprised if their fingerprints are still reasonably fresh. The latest episode (Series 4, Episode 11) is hands-down one of the best hours of television from recent years, paying off seasons of character and plot development for regular viewers, and yet accessible enough for most casual watchers to have a great time with. Part of its accessibility comes from kicking off each episode with its own version of Marvels ‘While attending a demonstration in radiology, student PETER PARKER was bitten by a spider, yadda yadda…’ in voice-over. Simple and effective, and something I’m astonished more shows don’t make use of. It’s far less obtrusive than having to drop huge swathes of exposition into the first ten minutes of each episode to bring new viewers up to date. We’re up to season 4 now and there’s plenty of story under the bridge, but recently it really feels like Person of Interest has found its rhythm. The cast has been refined, we’ve dropped the mysteries and suspicious back-stories that are de-rigueur for the first couple...

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nerdTV: What would it look like if the CW re-made Battlestar Galactica?

If that’s something you’ve ever found yourself wondering, you’ve now got your answer in The 100 (Season 1, Episode 1). This show screams CW, from the premise, its casting, through to the money you can see on the screen. It’s clearly cheap sci-fi, and doesn’t have an iota of the grimy realism of the BSG re-imagining, or even the sheen of a modern day Star Trek series. The sets are more in the Stargate/Farscape/Lexx cheaply-made-on-a-Canadian-sound-stage mold. Presumably catering to it’s intended audience’s attention span, the show does however bound along at a fair old pace; five minutes in and we’ve met the cast, had the expository voiceover, been introduced to two major locations… it’s breakneck stuff, and is done so efficiently, it actually works. It helps that we’ve seen this all before, letting the screenwriter and director rely on a fair bit of genre shorthand – if you’re familiar with any combination of The Hunger Games, The Warriors, West Side Story, The Tribe, Lord of the Flies or The OC, then you can probably connect the dots and see that we’ve got a fairly typical futuristic, teens-without-supervision, heavy on the interpersonal crises, light on the CGI monsters kind of show. The comparisons continue, the lead female protagonist clearly chosen more for the her visual blend of Jennifer Lawrence and Julia Stiles, rather than her acting chops, and Allessandro Juliani...

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nerdTV: Agent Carter – ‘Lady things’

It pains me in ways I can not even begin to describe, but I must start this weeks missive with the issuing of my own heartfelt apologies. Thanks to some fat-head at central dispatch, my preview reels didn’t make it to the parcel post in time, and this correspondent was pressed, against all sense and better judgement, to join the ranks of the great unwashed in a visit to the cinematheque to peruse the inaugural double-bill presentation of ‘The Thrilling Peggy Carter Adventure Hour’. Hence the abominably late hour of this release. But let us not dwell. This eight part serial is a follow up to the feature length adventures of ‘Captain America, Sentinel of Liberty’, and is to precede the marvellous science-fiction stylings of the Adventures of the Agents of the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division. Following a brisk two and half hours of Pathé newsreels, the lamps dimmed, the score rose from the orchestra pit, and a feeling of tense expectation fell across the murmuring masses… So here we are again, another Marvel cinematic universe TV tie-in, following a long way behind Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD which premiered back in 2013, and is now well into it’s second series. The show sees the return of characters from the first Captain America film, primarily Agent Peggy Carter herself (Hayley Atwell) and Tony Stark’s father, Howard Stark...

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nerdTV: ‘The Global Frequency is real’

Well, at least for one episode. Over the next couple of weeks I’ll be looking at some recent (and not-so-recent) series’ pilots – some successful, some less so. Kicking off with the 2005 Warner Brother’s Global Frequency pilot. This is a timely revisit, with Jerry Bruckheimer revealing his intent to get a third version off the ground only last month (a second effort only made it to the scripting stage in ’09). I’ve already tipped my hand on this, so it’s no spoiler to say that in my eyes, this is a pretty perfect adaption of the 12 issue Warren Ellis comic mini-series. It doesn’t try and reinvent the wheel; we’re drawn in to the plot via an audience surrogate, followed by a ‘here’s the premise’ info-dump introducing the rest of the main cast, and then we’re off to the races. It’s nothing new, but it’s done so slickly you don’t notice. It’s no surprise that this set-up transferred so well to TV; a situation-specific, hand picked team of expert agents drawn together by a shadowy secret organisation to save the world; it’s basically the 60s Mission Impossible TV show rewritten for the 21st Century. Sadly though, like the re-invented Mission Impossible films themselves, the show can’t fully commit to the idea of a rotating cast, and should the full series have made it to air, the Mulder-and-Scully-esque, created-especially-for-the-TV-show...

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