Republic of Doyle PREVIEW

Wednesdays, 10pm, from 27 Oct on Alibi

Rating ★★★

It’s being plugged on its resemblance to old faves Rockford and Remington Steele, and old-fashioned  Republic of Doyle certainly is.

James Garner fans won’t have any trouble spotting the similarities with his much-loved detective, Jim Rockford. Set in St John’s City on the Canadian island of Newfoundland, the series features roguish private eye Jake Doyle, who relies on the wisdom and wisecracks of dad, ex-cop Malachy.

Sean McGinley
Newfoundland native Allan Hawco, who’s been knocking around on obscure mini-series and TV movies (Zone of Separation? The Third Eye?) is the co-creator and star, being just the right side of smug as Doyle. Far more familiar is Irishman Sean McGinley as Mal, veteran of films and TV including Inspector George Gently, The Wind that Shakes the Barley, The Street, Taggart and many others.

Jake and Mal

It’s the interplay between romantically reckless Jake and romantically sorted Mal that gives this new Canadian production on crime network Alibi its fun edge.

The opening story even feels like one we’ve all seen many times over. A man comes to Doyle asking him to help get his son off a manslaughter charge. The man’s son is an old friend of Doyle’s, so he rushes off to help.

The imprisoned friend says he doesn’t remember killing the man, or what caused their argument, and doesn’t appear to want Doyle’s help. All the while, Doyle’s getting grief from his estranged wife, Nikki (Rachel Wilson), and unwanted advice from the old man.

OK, Republic of Doyle doesn’t shatter the crime series template with originality, but for a harmless bit of entertainment that does boast a few laughs, it’s a decent way to while away an hour.

Interplay between sharp characters
Its best feature is the friction between the regular characters, with Mal’s sassy partner Rose (Lynda Boyd) and Jake’s cocky niece, Katrina (Marthe Bernard), making up the ensemble. And St John’s is certainly different for a setting, a beautiful, once sleepy seaport that’s being transformed by oil money.

Nikki, Rose and Jake

It’s done well enough to have a second series commissioned, which is being filmed right now for 2011.

Specsavers CWA Crime Thriller Awards RESULTS

A grand night at the Grosvenor House Hotel, London, and a particularly good one for Sherlock and the BBC.

In the screen categories the results were:

The TV Dagger: Sherlock, BBC

Best actress: Maxine Peake, Criminal Justice, BBC

Best actor: Benedict Cumberbatch (left, with Emilia Fox), Sherlock, BBC

Supporting actor: Matthew Macfadyen, Criminal Justice, BBC

Supporting actress: Dervla Kirwan, The Silence, BBC

People’s Detective: Foyle, ITV

International TV Dagger: Wallender (Yellow Bird Films, Sweden)

Film Dagger: Inception

In addition, George Pelecanos and Frederick Forsyth were present to be inaugurated into the Hall of Fame. There was a rapturous reception for 14 members of The Bill‘s cast in recognition of their 26 years on primetime TV, which recently came to an end.

The crime novelists who were celebrating were Belinda Bauer, taking the CWA Gold Dagger for Blacklands, her first novel. Simon Conway took the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger for A Loyal Spy, while Ryan David Jahn‘s Acts of Violence won the CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger.

The black carpet attracted citation readers including Emilia Fox, Amanda Redman, Amanda Donohoe and nominees present on the night included Benedict Cumberbatch, Hermione Norris, Philip Glenister, Julia McKenzie, Dervla Kirwin and Colin Dexter.

The event, presented by Marcus Brigstocke, is being televised on ITV3 on Tuesday, 12 October, at 9pm.

ITV blown away at Crime Thriller Awards

ITV have been well and truly tucked up, as they say in Martina Cole novels, by the BBC.

Of the 20 Dagger nominations for TV crime dramas at the Specsavers CWA Crime Thriller Awards tomorrow night, the Beeb has snatched 19 (nominations are listed below)! ITV have just the one, and it’s for the pifling nomination of Best Supporting Actor (Laurence Fox, Lewis).

The BBC takes the lot for the TV Dagger noms (Ashes to Ashes, Sherlock, Luther, Wallander), Best Actor (Benedict Cumberbatch, Idris Elba, Kenneth Branagh, Philip Glenister), Best Supporting Actress (Dervla Kirwan, Gina McKee, Saskia Reeves, Sophie Okonedo), and only Glenn Close for Damages spoils their clean sweep for Best Actress (Hermione Norris, Keeley Hawes, Maxine Peake and Sue Johnston).

And the show is being broadcast by ITV3 next Tuesday! Fortunately, all 12 nominees for the People’s Detective Dagger are ITV favourites, from Barnaby and Foyle to Morse and Rebus.

But for most of tomorrow night ITV executives will be staring daggers rather than receiving them during the BBC’s champagne popping at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London. If looks could kill…

Third degree: Tony Black

In the second of a new crimetimepreview series, habitual crime writers are tied to a chair and have the bright light shone in their face. Here, one of Scotland’s grittiest crime novelists, Tony Black, author of the Gus Dury series, comes clean…

Your favourite British crime series or thriller on TV?
I was really taken in by Prime Suspect, and have to say, I did like David Jason’s crumpled Frost, but I think what Life on Mars reminded me was how ballsy the 70s cop shows were… The Sweeney, The Professionals and so on, but you have to go some to beat the classic Minder. Pure klarse.

Favourite US crime series or thriller on TV?
TJ Hooker… I’m shitting you, has to be The Wire.

Top TV cop?
Of all time? Hmnnn… have to think about that. Not Frank Poncherello anyway…

Which unfilmed book/character should be made into a TV drama?
Alan Guthrie’s Two-Way Split is on the way there, can’t wait to see it.

If one of your novels were filmed, who would you cast to be the hero?
I’d love to see Dougray Scott play Gus Dury… he’s got the swagger and he’s a

What do you watch with a guilty conscience (or what’s your guilty pleasure)?
Not much … there’s so much crap out there these days that I make sure I want to
see anything I make the effort to watch.

Least favourite cop show/thriller?
The Bill… it’s a soap opera set in a polis station.

Do you prefer The Wire or The Sopranos?
Tough one… but The Wire by a nose.

Marple/Poirot or Sherlock Holmes?
Only Jeremy Brett’s Holmes. No thanks to the others.

Wallander – BBC or the original Swedish version?
I actually watched a few of the Kenneth Branagh ones – I’ve hated him in
everything else, remember Wild West (hahahaha!), but quite liked this.

Your favourite crime/thriller writers?
Peter Temple, Ken Bruen, Andrew Vachss.

Favourite non-crime/thriller author

Favourite crime movie or thriller?
Killing Zoe or Bullitt.

You’ve been framed for murder. Which fictional detective/sleuth would you want to call up?
Inspector Gadget.

• Tony Black’s latest novel, Long Time Dead, finds Gus Dury back on the skids, helping a pal who suspects dodgy goings-on in a recent murder.

Specsavers CWA Crime Thriller Awards

The suspense is getting to the suspense industry. This Friday the year’s best crime novels, films and TV shows pick up their coveted Daggers (the event, presented by Marcus Brigstocke at London’s Grosvenor House, goes out on ITV3 next Tuesday). The TV Dagger looks particularly tight.

Here are the screen nominations:

The Film Dagger:
District 9 (Sony Pictures)
Inception (Warner Bros.)
Sherlock Holmes (Warner Bros)
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Momentum Pictures)

The TV Dagger:
Ashes to Ashes, Series 3 (Kudos)
Luther (BBC)
Sherlock (BBC)
Wallander, Series 2 (Left Bank Pictures)

The International TV Dagger:
Damages, Season 3 (Sony Pictures)
The Good Wife, Season 1 (CBS)
Wallander, Series 2 (Yellow Bird Films)

The Best Actress Dagger:
Glenn Close (Damages)
Hermione Norris (Spooks)
Keeley Hawes (Ashes to Ashes and Identity)
Maxine Peake (Criminal Justice)
Sue Johnston (Waking the Dead)

The Best Actor Dagger:
Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock)
Idris Elba (Luther)
Kenneth Branagh (Wallander)
Philip Glenister (Ashes to Ashes)

The Best Supporting Actor Dagger:
Laurence Fox (Lewis)
Matthew Macfadyen (Criminal Justice)
Rupert Graves (Sherlock)
Tom Hiddleston (Wallander)

The Best Supporting Actress Dagger:
Dervla Kirwan (The Silence)
Gina McKee (The Silence)
Saskia Reeves (Luther)
Sophie Okonedo (Criminal Justice)

Thorne: Sleepyhead PREVIEW

David Morrissey as Tom Thorne (all pics: Sky)

Sundays from 10 October, 9pm Sky1

Rating ★★★½

Viewers with a soft spot for David Morrissey may be distressed by Sleepyhead, the opening story from this smart, vivid Tom Thorne series.

The actor is battered, bruised, drugged, seen throwing-up and falling off a building. That’s all before he gets one more pasting. Even his wife, novelist Esther Freud, said he looked rough when she saw the show.

But what also grabs the attention in this screen version of novelist Mark Billingham’s popular detective series is its visual pizzazz and excellent cast of strong characters.

London’s multi-ethnic streets and its evolving wastelands round Stratford make a rich backdrop, while a smattering of vintage country music (the choice of Morrissey and Billingham) give the show a freshly different texture to that of staples such as Inspector George Gently or Poirot.

Eddie Marsan on top form

Morrissey is battered but dominant, while being assured enough as an actor (and executive producer here) to share plenty of screen time and plot with a terrific cast. Eddie Marsan stands out as Thorne’s bitter colleague, Kevin Tughan.

Natascha McElhone (Californication, The Other Boleyn Girl) as Dr Anne Coburn adds humour and a frisson in her scenes with Morrissey, while Aidan Gillen (The Wire, Identity) is spiky as pathologist Phil Hendricks, who shares a dangerous secret with Thorne.

Stephen Hopkins, the Emmy-winning director who made episodes of 24 as well as The Life and Death of Peter Sellers, injects pace and a wonderful eye for the new London.

Sky may not exactly churn out new drama, but coming after last year’s impressive version of Martina Cole’s The Take, Thorne shows ambition and grit where the Beeb and ITV sometimes seem plodding with period cops and dull procedurals.

Locked-in syndrome
Billingham’s many fans will be familiar with Thorne’s first-ever case and the author’s ingenious idea of having his serial killer inducing a state of ‘locked-in syndrome’ in his victims, in which they can think and see but not move or feel.

The psycho does this by applying pressure to points on the neck and head. He fails several times, killing his victims, before successfully inflicting a state of living paralysis on Alison (Sara Lloyd Gregory). Thorne finally realises their man wants to paralyse rather than kill his victims.

The drama echoes the book in feeding us Alison’s frantic, bitter and humorous internal thoughts, which gives the story emotional punch (Billingham doesn’t like victims to be used as mere plot points).

She holds the key to finding the killer, but as Thorne investigates he is taunted by messages that could only be emanating from a serial killer he once caught and who is now dead. 

Scaredy Cat
Here the Sky version veers away from the novel and becomes a little convoluted. But there’s no doubting that the interplay between the main characters is psychologically tense and compelling. 

Sleepyhead is to be followed immediately by another three-part story, Scaredy Cat (starring Sandra Oh, above), and the author along with Morrissey, are hoping these will clock up enough viewers for more to be commissioned.

Morrissey clearly has the multi-tasking capabilities of a Swiss Army knife, having launched his own production company (Tubedale Films), recently appeared in Red Riding, Five Days, Poirot and U Be Dead, while helping to get Thorne off the ground.

With such a punishing schedule, it’s a wonder he looks so good in Sleepyhead.

Hawaii Five-0 REVIEW

Rating ★★★

UK transmission: 2011, Channel to be confirmed

Let’s get one thing straight before the purists go all sniffy about remaking old classics – Hawaii Five-0 was no classic.

Fondly remembered for Steve McGarrett’s swaying bouffant, yes. For the opening music, for ‘Book ’em, Danno,’ certainly. But let’s not get misty-eyed about the original (1968-80) with Jack Lord, James MacArthur and Kam Fong. Check out YouTube (below) for a reminder of acting that made Crossroads look like the Royal Shakespeare Company.

McGarrett (Alex OLoughlin) and Danno (Scott Caan)

Exec producer Peter Lenkov calls this year’s CBS model a tribute, and as an hour of glam-action primetime the new show hits the mark.

The pilot is a mega-bucks affair with helicopter ambushes and explosions, but it actually takes the trouble to set up the characters too.

Aussie actor Alex O’Loughlin, star of such TV backwaters as Moonlight and Three Rivers, gets the lead as McGarrett, an all-round hardman from special military outfits, given the job of running Hawaii’s new law-enforcement task force. His agenda is to get the villain (Buffy‘s James Marsters) who killed his father in the prologue.

Where Jack Lord was po-faced and by-the-book, O’Loughlin cracks a smile occasionally and is a bit more gung-ho.

James Caan’s son, Scott, is a personable Danno – so-called because that was how his three-year-old daughter pronounced his name, we learn. The Hawaiian characters – Daniel Dae Kim as Chin and Grace Park as a butt-kicking Kona (replacing the lumbering Kono in the original) – are more feisty and interesting than their prototypes.

The McGarrett-Danno deal is more of a buddy/odd couple routine here, some of which is cheesy and some of which raises a smile (Danno’s ringtone for his ex-wife is the screeching violins from Psycho).

The opening story, something to do with Chinese gangsters and people trafficking, is ludicrous, but for a glossy procedural with adorable scenery and explosions, the Hawaii Five-0 re-boot does the job.

It even has a revamp of the original music and McGarrett says, ‘Book him, Danno.’ Only the quiff is sadly gone.

The show was due to go out in the UK on Bravo next month, but the programming powers have pushed it back to next year somewhere ‘on the Sky platform’.

Whitechapel ITV1 PREVIEW

Rating ★★★

ITV1, 9pm Monday 11th October

A man’s been pinned to a snooker table with a bayonet. Another’s had his buttocks slashed. The cops are on the take, and victims are afraid

(Pics: ©ITV)

to talk…

It’s just like the old days when the Krays cruised East London dishing out backhanders and beatings.

In Whitechapel 2, no sooner has a copycat Jack the Ripper been dispatched by Rupert Penry-Jones and Philip Davis, then – gawd help us – but a Kray twins novelty act turns up on the manor.

Whitechapel’s first outing, last year, was fresh and spiky enough to be an engrossing yarn about the East End’s notorious serial killer.

The announcement that ITV was going to attempt the formula again – this time regurgitating the Kray killings – suggested they were flogging a horse now floating lifeless in the Thames.

But while some of the gloss has inevitably gone from the premise, Whitechapel 2 still cherishes the folklore and ‘geezer aesthetic’ enough to make this an atmospheric jaunt into the past.

Chelsea smile
Writers Ben Court and Caroline Ip showed with their original an appreciation of East End history and atmosphere, and that comes out well in the detail of Whitechapel 2. Identifying a corpse by the ‘last’ (or the wooden mould) of his handmade shoe, or recounting the gang punishment known as a Chelsea smile (a cutlass is used to slice a victim’s mouth wide open) are throwbacks that give this drama its vintage, violent texture.

Once again the major part of Whitechapel’s good points are the characters. In the original, Penry-Jones as uptight DI Chandler struggled to prove himself worthy of fronting the Ripper investigation. This time, it is his sergeant, the streetwise and sour Miles (Phil Davis), who appears out of his depth and rattled as some strangely reminiscent slashings and a murder suggests the Krays stalk the East End once again.

Steve Pemberton returns as the oddball amateur sleuth Buchan, breathlessly reliving every juicy detail of every lengendary murder. It is he who predicts the next killing will echo that of Jack The Hat McVitie in 1969, much to Miles’s annoyance.

‘Rock stars of murder’
‘The Krays were the original British gangsters,’ Buchan says, almost salivating. ‘They invented the firm. They were the rock stars of murder.’

It’s all complete tosh, and not as good as the first series. But the three leads still spark off each other, and the whole production captures a strange duality between past and present, using period footage and sound eerily.

One scene has Miles taking Chandler to an East End pub. He asks his boss to look round and tell him what he sees. In the gloom sit old lags with busted noses and facial scars, looking like ghosts from forgotten gang fights.

And you can just imagine two stocky blokes in Italian suits marching into the pub and freezing every conversation.

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