Thursday, July 13, 2006

Random media bulletins

Hugh Laurie is getting a big, fat pay rise to stay with hit US TV series, House. Variety reports that the British actor 'will pull down more than $275,000 [about £150,000] per episode next season as part of a just-renegotiated contract with producer NBC Universal Television Studio'. That's £3.3 million pounds for 22 episodes, fact-fans. Glad to see Hugh making a bob or two being snide in an American accent. Just been re-watching season one of House on DVD. Trust me, if you've never seen the show, Laurie [and the writing of his character] is the difference between House being entertaining and not.

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HBO is preparing for life after The Sopranos. David Chase's sublime mob family drama is slowing edging towards its final hit, potentially leaving a big hole in the cable network's schedules. But HBO is preparing for that future, yesterday announcing plans for two new series from the makers of Six Feet Under and Deadwood.

SFU creator Alan Ball is readying True Blood, a vampire series he's been developing for the best part of a year. Meanwhile Deadwood supremo David Milch is the person behind John From Cincinatti, a surfing drama set in Hawaii. Both are expected on screen towards the end of 2007. Alas, it was the onsert of Milch's new show that precipitated the imminent demise of Deadwood. All I can say is, John From Cincinatti better be damned good, otherwise this qualifies as a bad, bad trade.

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Last night's British TV featured two new dramas, both starting at the same time on different channels. BBC2 had a one-off, 90-minute thriller called Soundproof, while ITV launched a more whimsical series called Jane Hall. I watched Soundproof and recorded Jane Hall as my lunchtime viewing for today. Rather than waste my lunch hour surfing the net, I try to watch an hour of drama I've previously recorded or a special feature from a DVD set detailing the development process of a TV series or film. That way I feel I'm not wasting the hour I spend away from the computer.

Soundproof was an intriguing murder mystery that kept me guessing until the end. If I had to write the logline for the show, I guess it would go something like this: A sign language interpreter and a deaf man become lovers when she helps the police interview him after his flatmate dies. When the deaf man is accused of murder, the interpreter doesn't know what to believe or who to trust. The show was intelligently made, telling a gripping story while offering non-deaf people an insight into what life without hearing. [It showed me how blithely I accept my own hearing. For example, I'd never thought what a boon texting must be for deaf people, how much it must have helped their lives to be able to communicate so quickly with friends in other places.]

Joe Fisher's script was compelling, as were the performers, and the show looked more cinematic than most TV. There was a wonderful moment towards the end where the two leads are talking near the raised embankment of a railway line. As the man storms off, a dark cloud fell across the scene, subtlely underlining the moment. Serendipity, or did the crew stand outside for hours trying to capture that image?

Two of the programme's greatest strengths were its score and sound design. The music was lovely, mournful and touching - wish I knew who'd composed it, but can't find a full list of credits on line. Even better was the sound design, using noises to create the impression of what it is to be profoundly hearing impaired. I guess I should be grateful I've got good enough hearing to appreciate the music and sound design...

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Virgin Comics has signed film director John Woo and former 2000 AD comics scribe Garth Ennis to create a series called Seven Brothers. It's the story of seven siblings who leave China and settle on different continents. Half a millennia later, their descendants must unite to battle a global threat. But the bloodlien of the seven brothers has been much changed over the intervening centuries, creating an unlikely alliance. Seven Brothers is due out in October. Can a film version be far away? Congratulations on Garth for this deal, he's a huge movie buff. Now, if only he could get the rights from Peter Jackson for that Bad Taste sequel Garth's long wanted to write.

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While I was watching Soundproof on BBC2 and recording Jane Hall from ITV, Channel 5 was showing the 1995 film of Judge Dredd. Our Channel 5 reception is next to non-existent, so watching the film was never an option. Besides, I've seen it as least a dozen times by now and once more wouldn't change my opinion of it much, I suspect.

The biggest surprise has to be how it's rating in the Radio Times has improved over the years. The movie now gets four stars out of five. According to the Radio Times, that means Judge Dredd is on the same level as such films as Cool Hand Luke, Scent of a Woman, Play Misty For Me, The Thin Man and Blood Simple. I wonder what director Danny Cannon would make of that?

1 comment:

AndrewT said...

I watched Soundproof and enjoyed the start of it, then it lost me in the middle because I felt the characters became a bit stagnant. I felt as though they could have trimmed a good 10-15 mins or so in the middle. But like you, I really enjoyed the sounds, effects and music, and it really was one of those drama's that leaves you thinking. And for me, it left me thinking about all the endless writing possibilities and characterisations I'd never thought about before.