“This is how it happens,” says Charlie (Michael Shanks), as he surveys the emergency room in Toronto’s Hope-Zion Hospital. Just minutes before, he was chief of surgery, now, following a car accident in which he sustained a head injury, he’s watching from another dimension. And he’s philosophical: “You leave it all behind,” he goes on, “Everything you love, everything you know. You belong to the hospital now. All you can do is hope.” And with that, he’s named his show, Saving Hope, a Canadian-made series premieres on NBC on 7 June.
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Based on the much loved Inspector Morse series, taken from the novels by Colin Dexter, Endeavour is a prequel, but to describe it as such feels a touch unjust. With a more imaginative title than Young Morse or similar, Endeavour is free to stand on its own merit.
As played by Sean Evans (Ashes to Ashes, The Take), a relative unknown, Endeavour Morse begins the series as an introverted young detective constable, unsure of his place in the world. He’s on the verge of leaving the force, for lack of an intellectual challenge, when called to join the search for missing schoolgirl Rose Tremlett. As with the original series, Endeavour is set in an idealised Oxford of cloistered colleges and leafy suburbs. The setting, lushly filmed, together with Endeavour’s careful pacing, gives the sense of conferring a privilege to viewers, a glimpse into a rarefied world running parallel to ours.
Professional Wrestling may bristle at being marginalised in mainstream popular culture, but the benefits from being seen as a cultural irrelevance (while raking in millions of dollars and marketing all kinds of conservative values to the children – and adults – in its audience) also works in its favour as often as not. Mainstream culture’s failure to examine professional wrestling seriously lets them get away with all kinds of things that no other media organisation could, or should, get away with, and pocket a tidy profit while doing it.
Interestingly, last Monday on the WWE’s flagship show RAW there was an odd development – not the kind of outrageous, overblown sex or violence that sometimes draws the attention or ire of the mainstream media (something the WWE has worked hard to avoid of late), but a (relatively) quiet storyline development that showed something that’s rarely seen on mainstream television: a group of workers forming a small group and sitting down together to discuss workplace safety issues and getting legal advice on how best to deal with their problems.
In the space of a week, AMC’s The Killing was renewed for a second season and wrapped up its first season. And the conclusion was mightily unsatisfying. Most TV critics and discerning viewers gave this show a shot based on both its pedigree and its strong start. AMC has launched a small group of highly intelligent original series over the past few years, including Mad Men, Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, and the unjustly-ignored, now-canceled Rubicon. At first, The Killing seemed to fit right in with that lineup. It was dark and uncompromising, purporting to follow a murder investigation over the long term, with each episode covering another day in the case. But the show wasn’t just going to stay with our intrepid detectives, the dour Linden (Mireille Enos) and the twitchy Holder (Joel Kinnaman). It was also going to follow the mayoral campaign of Darren Richmond (Billy Campbell), the candidate in whose car Rosie Larson’s body was discovered. Most importantly, the show was also going to track the grief process of Rosie’s family, as they first learned of her death, through the funeral arrangements, and going forward.
This all worked beautifully for the first three or four episodes of the show. But things started to go astray in the middle of the season, as the detectives circled around Rosie’s teacher Bennet Ahmed (Malcolm David McLaren), a Muslim with a thing for pretty young students. Ahmed’s alibi for the night of Rosie’s death didn’t add up, but viewers knew that he wasn’t going to be the killer. So we spent a whole chunk of episodes as the show tried to convince us that it really was him, only to find out that of course it wasn’t. Things picked up again as the series entered its final stretch, with plot twists that seemed organic and actual headway being made in the case. An episode-long detour in the 11th episode, “Missing”, turned out to be valuable character development time as Linden and Holder spent the day searching for Linden’s truant teenage son. “Missing” was a great episode, far removed from the main premise of the show, and it would’ve fit nicely about halfway through the season to help us get to know our leads better. But coming two episodes away from the season finale, it almost felt like too little, too late.
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