We’ve entered the final phase of the trailer review process; mainstream networks have aired their pilots (at least until mid-season), and now the increasingly fractured streaming platforms begin their UNCEASING march toward conquering all our free time. Peak TV will likely destroy us, but also, please inject it directly into my veins SO THAT I MAY PROSTRATE MYSELF BEFORE THE PANTHEON OF TELEVISION GODS. “Why does it burn so good?” I ask my television as I queue up yet another episode of everything ever. I receive no response as TVs are inanimate objects. The Succession theme song autoplays; I turn to the heavens, weeping silently.
Uh, anyway, here are this week’s Trailer Reactions! (Click here to read Part I, Part II, or Part III, or to check out Tim’s first set of pilot reviews based on Part I!) Tim will be back next week with more pilot reviews, then we’ll both be back for a Disney/Apple-heavy week of trailers.
Tim: Based on the acclaimed novels “Into the Woods” and “The Likeness” by Tana French, we follow Detectives Rob Reilly (Killian Scott) and Cassie Maddox (Sarah Greene – Ransom, Penny Dreadful) as they investigate a young girl’s death. While working the case, Superintendent O’Kelly (Conleth Hill from Game of Thrones) informs them of an older, possibly-connected cold case involving three missing children – only one of whom returned.
Toward the end of the trailer, Cassie says that they could be closer to the case than they realise. I don’t know if they are personally involved in the new or old one, but the older case looks like it could involve a cult or satanic ritual. I think they will try and connect the two, because they both involve young children. Broadchurch, The Cry, and The Bay have covered similar territory, but I’m sure this show will also be a gripping drama event. I’ll be tuning in not only because I’m a big fan of BBC dramas, but because this one looks interesting. Dublin Murders airs in the UK on Oct 14th (BBC One) and the US on Nov 10th (Starz), probably for 6 to 8 episodes (like most BBC One shows).
Cadence: I really liked Broadchurch because of its narrow focus on the murder of one child and its intimate portrait of grief in a small (seemingly) tight-knit community. While Dublin Murders has the serialization and murdered children part down, I don’t know that I am interested in yet another gritty conspiracy about a serial killer child murderer. It looks competent, well-filmed, and well-acted, so if this is your cup of tea, go for it. I don’t think I need a show like this.
Tim: We are introduced to SoYun (Han Hyo Jon), who is going about her everyday life when a sound sets her off, ‘activating her’. She is a sleeper agent – and she goes after her target! The fight scene is beautifully choreographed, so I’m sure this will be a big part of the show. Over the course of the trailer, we are introduced to more sleeper agents getting activated. Next up is J. Randolph Bentley (Jeremy Irvine) who is in the army, and I’m guessing he is being tortured for information. We also see Doug McKenna, played by Brian J. Smith (Sense8), who appears to be living a normal life when he is also activated. It’s interesting because the trigger is not always the same exact sound; it could be a machine playing the song or someone singing it. We are also introduced to Ellen Becker (Michelle Forbes – Berlin Station, True Blood), who may be involved in the brainwashing itself. I really enjoyed the fight scenes and how getting activated turns ordinary people into fighting machines. I love shows with fighting is at the forefront (Banshee, Warrior, any of the Netflix Marvel TV series), it just brings an authenticity to a show that makes it more enjoyable. I’ll be tuning in, not only because of the stars, but because it will be cool to see different people get activated.
Cadence: I completely agree about the fight scenes – they look stunning! However, I was less excited by the large number of activated agents (or whatever they are). The trailer did not tell one clear story, but looked almost like an anthology series about different agents being activated one by one. Typically, trailers combine all narratives together rather than stacking them linearly, or else explore the broader implications of their premise with a bit more clarity. That they focused so heavily on the beautiful choreography has me a bit worried about the narrative coherence of the show. Still, the trailer may have been vague in order to avoid core spoilers about the premise (e.g., like Russian Doll’s trailer), so I’ll at least check out the pilot, if only for the choreography.
Tim: It’s Jessica Biel(The Sinner,7th Heaven) with short hair! Biel plays Lia Haddock, a radio journalist determined to solve the case of Limetown, where 326 people suddenly vanished. Lia also seems to be fighting some inner demons, as well as for her sanity. The show is based on the #1 podcast, but I didn’t want to look into it too much so I wouldn’t potentially spoil the show.
I’ve been sceptical about Facebook Watch, but Sorry for Your Loss starring Elizabeth Olsen, changed my mind. I like how they sometimes do things Netflix style, dropping episodes in one go, and they sometimes air episodes week-to-week. For Limetown, they are going with the weekly model, like most network shows, which I think will add more suspense for the viewer. I’m interested, not only because of Biel, but because the subject matter is compelling and mysterious. Is it a cult or is it something more that can’t really be explained? I’ll be tuning into the pilot and beyond, so that I can see how the 326 people vanished.
Cadence: I’ve also been sceptical about various non-traditional actors moving into the scripted television space – it worked out for Amazon but failed spectacularly for Yahoo (despite how much I enjoyed Community season 6). I also worry about companies as toxic as Facebook gaining ground in an increasing number of areas of our lives – and as discussed in our previous pieces, the increasingly fractured streaming market makes consumption less fun, more costly, and far more difficult. Still, I like that Facebook Watch is accessible (i.e., not paid) and, as Tim flagged above, does have some prior critical acclaim under its belt. And, honestly, I really like Biel, and have been impressed by the strength and star power of the sudden rash of podcast IPs moving to TV (Dirty John, Homecoming), so I’m looking forward to checking this one out.
Cadence: I came into this trailer expecting a comedy - Living with Yourself focuses on two Paul Rudds Paul Rudds-ing in the Rudds-iest ways possible (i.e., a sad Paul Rudd accidentally creates a second, happy Paul Rudd). Given the trailer’s upbeat music and framing, even Rudd's sad-sack self appears built for jokes. But, underneath all that, the concept is actually pretty dark. There are two of him where there should be one - who gets to live his life, who gets to spend time with his loved ones? I think I'm reacting to this trailer in response to some episodes of Counterpart I watched literally last night, but I don't have a totally coherent grip on this show's tone (based on the trailer alone). I guess it might be a dark comedy? Rudd is, of course, everyone's favourite ageless charmer, and I really do love the premise, so I'll check it out. But I'm also going to be cautious and hope the show can make its tone clearer in its pilot.
Tim: I’m a huge fan of Rudd because he can do comedy (This Is 40, Anchorman), drama, and sometimes both at once – like in the Marvel movie Ant Man. This will be my first experience with Rudd in a TV series and I’m excited! First, we see Rudd’s world falling apart around him. His partner (perhaps soon to be ex!?) says “we need to talk”, which usually only means one thing. She is played by Aisling Bea (This Way Up). I have to agree with Cadence in that the premise seems quite dark. It’s such an interesting concept as well, it’s like Counterpart but for only one person. I think it will be fun to see Rudd and Bea bounce off each other (comedy-wise). We also get to see a snippet of Alia Shawkat (Search Party,Arrested Development), as perhaps a friend to Bea’s character. I’m intrigued enough to want to check this out, especially with Rudd and Bea on board, but I hope this show can sustain more than one season.
Cadence: Modern Love looks kind of like Netflix’s Easy, an episodic anthology series about different ways of loving others and being in relationships. It looks fun and heartwarming and heartbreaking in all the right ways, but I don’t think it treads particularly innovative ground, especially since Easy had the novelty factor of Mumblecore (an Indie film style) influences. Do I need a more mainstream repeat? Maybe? One key difference might be the number of HUGE stars involved in this project (Anne Hathaway, Tina Fey, Dev Patel), so if you love those actors, check it out! Otherwise, I’ll wait to hear the critic buzz once the show drops before deciding. And if you’re looking for a more artistically interesting project also built out of a New York Times article, check out the short musical podcast ‘36 Questions’.
Tim: Two seconds in and I’ve already seen Anne Hathaway and Catherine Keener (Kidding). I can tell that there are going to be lots of celebrity cameos (think Love Actually). I think it looks quite funny and I like the idea that they are based on real life stories, which will make it more relatable. The show looks to explore modern relationships, from fresh perspectives. I’m a huge fan of anthology shows (American Horror Story, True Detective, Black Mirror), so I’m sure this show will be no exception. I’ll be watching and if the story is intriguing enough, I’ll binge it.
Cadence: John Green has been one of my favourite authors for years. For that reason alone, I’ll be checking out this mini-series adaptation of his first novel. However, I don’t know that I found the trailer super compelling. Maybe I’ve just aged out of the target demographic, but I found the teen drama a tad too melodramatic – and not in the fun (The OC) or so-bad-its-good (Riverdale) kind of way. I would say more about the plot, but the core themes reveal spoilers. So, instead, I’ll just raise some concerns about how the trailer frames Alaska: She kind of comes across like a manic pixie dream girl. Green’s novels almost always flirt with the idea of such a girl, but usually reveals complexity underneath. We’ll see if the show can pull that off too.
Tim: I don’t know much about this show. Like, the title… does it mean Alaska the place or is it a person!? When I started the trailer, my first thought was ‘there are so many unknown actors’. Although I recognised Timothy Simons (creepy guy from Veep) and Sophia Vassilieva (annoying daughter from Medium). Okay, Alaska is a girl who goes missing. It looks like a typical teen drama (which I normally enjoy) but sort of a mystery element to it as well. I didn’t realise the writer was the same person who wrote “The Fault in Our Stars” and “Paper Towns” (both have been adapted into semi-decent movies). I thought that earned a look in, and the story seems decent enough as well. I’ll be checking out the pilot, but beyond that I’m not sure.
Cadence: Watchmen, the 1980s graphic novel, has often been credited as the start of a more serious, adult era of comic books. It presented a critique of power (including of super-heroic powers and masked vigilantism), and reflected real-world Soviet-US tensions. Watchmen, the 2009 movie, was a horrifying mistake that somehow managed to not deviate from the source material while also misinterpreting, and kind of glorifying, the violence of its masked ‘heroes’. Watchmen, the 2019 TV show, acts as a sequel to the original story. Like the comic, the show appears to reflect and critique present-day political tensions – with a group of far-right, white supremacist, militia types acting as our villains (while clearly thinking of themselves as heroes). The trailer doesn’t give us too much of this context, but it does showcase the incredibly talented Regina King (American Crime, Southland) most recently of The Leftovers – a show written by my favourite TV showrunner ever (Damon Lindelof), who will also be writing Watchmen. I could not be more excited to watch this, although, with such difficult and explosive political content, we’ll have to see where Lindelof winds up taking us and if he handles it with sensitivity.
Tim: I’ll pretty much watch anything on HBO (Succession, Barry, A Black Lady Sketch Show), so this show will be no exception. In the first few seconds, we already see Jean Smart (Legion, Fargo, Samantha Who) and Regina King – a great start! The rest of the cast looks impressive too, as does the graphic-novel-inspired story. It looks like ordinary people are going to become vigilantes because they are tired of sitting around and doing nothing. Roy Orbison’s Running Scared, playing in the background, just brings everything together. This is probably the show I’m most excited about out of these group of trailers. I have no doubt I’ll tune in every week.
Tim: I hadn’t heard much about this show, but the trailer had me at Kathryn Hahn (Happyish, Parks and Rec, Crossing Jordan). Hahn has been killing it in movies these days, but she started off on TV. Hahn is back in a limited series (unfortunately) as the titular character, Eve Fletcher. Eve’s son, Brendan (Jackson White), heads off to college, so she decides to adopt a sexy, funny, and sometimes awkward new persona to fill the emptiness of her nest. Meanwhile, Brendan is having girl problems of his own. His college friends include Cameron Boyce (Descendants, Jessie) in a posthumous role. The trailer ends with an extremely awkward scene between Eve and an unknown man played by Jason Jones (The Detour).The fact that it is a limited series means you can get the most out of each episode and there’s no need for filler. I’m looking forward to the humour and to how each character develops. I look forward to tuning in and am excited to see Hahn in a television show, because she is just so funny in the movies I’ve seen her in.
Cadence: I totally agree about Hahn – she’s a revelation in every role. I’m actually not super familiar with her movies, but most recently, I loved her in Transparent – which makes it odd for me to say I don’t know if this show is for me. I don’t love cringey humour. Cringe is also at the core of Transparent, but that show had something else for me: A story that meaningfully engages with modern, secular Judaism. I had never seen anything like Transparent before – and now, five years later, we have all kinds of great shows about Jewish culture like The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. All of that to say, I love Hahn, she was by far my favourite part of Transparent, but I don’t think I'll watch Mrs. Fletcher.
So!? What are all of *you* excited about this week? Hit us up in the comments.
Written by Cadence on Oct 14, 2019