Contributed by Gary Redrup
On Tuesday 18th September I was fortunate enough to see four of Sky’s new drama shows from the US at the O2, the event was named United Greats. Amongst the Hot Dogs, Pizza and Popcorn were these four new shows:
Arrow – Showing on Sky 1
Arrow is a superhero/comic book adaptation about a playboy son of a rich family, who was thought missing after an accident at sea involving his father, he then survives on a deserted island until being rescued. Upon his return he discovers his mother has married his fathers’ ex-business partner, his sister is taking drugs and his ex-girlfriend is dating his best friend. Whilst on the Island he appears to have trained in archery and just generally seems hyper fighting fit. He starts a crusade against people on a list his father gave him before appearing to drown. It’s a show full of action and seems to be cashing in on the success of the Avengers and Batman movies. There is nothing new in Arrow, but the twists of the plot and action sequences will certainly keep some viewers entertained. Sky could put this on quite early evening and gain a reasonable audience.
Vegas – Showing on Sky Atlantic
Dennis Quaid stars as a local rancher in Las Vegas in the 1960’s before it was totally consumed with Casinos. He is pressed into service as the local Sheriff whilst the current Sherriff is missing. Quaid has two brothers who he enlists to help with the gruesome death of a local girl who was working in a fledgling casino. Also involved is former Shield actor Michael Chiklis as the Casino owner, who seems to have mob connections. Vegas is very good, it mixes the charm of small town America (which Vegas is at this point) with solid characters and big name actors. Quaid seems very comfortable as a gruff Cowboy. I feel this show could do well; it was well paced and featured a number of good actors.
Elementary – Showing on Sky Living
Elementary is the US adaptation or interpretation of Sherlock Holmes starring Johnny Lee Miller in the lead role and Lucy Liu as a female Dr Watson. This show was the most anticipated of the four and the story so known I barely need to explain it. Johnny is good as a drop out Sherlock, who is said to be a recovering addict; he is more anarchic than the ordered way Benedict Cumberbatch plays Holmes. Lucy Liu is with regret not very good, she seems to have the same expression for every emotion, and I couldn’t tell if she was angry, happy or sad. They will have lots of material for stories but for some reason I don’t see this lasting more than one series. In the US it might find a limited audience but it’s inferior in every way to the British version.
The Following – Showing on Sky Atlantic
Leaving the best till last was The Following which will be on in the New Year in the US and hopefully very soon after in the UK. It’s a tense psychological thriller starring Kevin Bacon who plays a retired FBI agent whose marquee capture escapes from prison days before he was due to be executed. Brit James Purefoy stars as the serial killer, who during his time inside has gathered a group of dedicated and loyal followers who seem willing to continue his work. This is dark, scary and the best thing I’ve seen in a while; there were plenty of moments where the popcorn went all over the floor! It feels like a film and has a lot of good actors/actresses in it, full of twists and a good surprise ending which has certainly got me wanting to see more. My advice is don’t watch The Following alone, in the dark or if you jump easily!
All in all Sky have made some great choices when it comes to US acquisitions as even the worst of the bunch, Elementary will have guaranteed viewers if only to see how it compares to the BBC version. If I had to pick a favourite (and for the sake of this article I shall) it would have to be The Following which left everyone in the room talking. If Fox doesn’t axe it after the first few episodes it could be a real contender for best new show of 2014.