HD Heads-Up: January 25-31

It’s not only SoHo that’s bagged some of the year’s hottest US dramas for summer – coming soon to the networks are Agents of SHIELD on TV2, and The Blacklist and Hannibal on TV3.

Hannibal will screen 9.30 Saturdays from January 25, after the ninth and final season of CSI: NY.

It stars Mads Mikkelsen (The Hunt) as Dr Hannibal Lecter when only his victims knew him as a serial killer – to everyone else he was supposedly just a psychiatrist helping the FBI to solve tough cases.

The series co-stars ex-CSI chief Laurence Fishburne and The Big C’s Hugh Dancy, and was largely acclaimed when it went to air nearly a year ago in the US. (If the series is popular enough here, hopefully TV3 will run it back-to-back with the second season, which stars on US TV in April.)

One of its biggest fans was Entertainment Weekly, which acknowledged the last thing TV needs is another serial killer procedural.

“But who can resist Hannibal Lecter? Especially when the horror-pop icon has been reinvented in a cable-style drama so finely acted, visually scrumptious, and deliciously subversive.”

“A show this extreme won’t be to all tastes, quite obviously,” TV Guide said, “but those with a predilection for elegantly Grand Guignol are likely to eat Hannibal up.”

USA Today praised the “fevered-dream spell” cast by creator Bryan Fuller (Pushing Daisies).

“It’s no slight to a terrific cast to say that Fuller is the key here.

“In his hands, what could have been just a Criminal Minds-meets-Dexter procedural turns into an odd rumination on the limits of empathy and the isolation of genius.”

But not everyone was as entranced, with the New York Times dubbing it “fatally slow and pretentious” and the Los Angeles Times “just a big drag”.

Also premiering this week is Hostages (TV One, 8.30 Wednesday), a network drama that’s struggled in the US but may find favour here with the audience that supported the dire Missing.

It’s a conspiracy thriller about a surgeon (Toni Collette) who’s forced to try to assassinate the President of the United States after her family’s held hostage by a renegade FBI agent (Dylan McDermott).

Like Homeland, it’s based on an Israeli drama but expect it to be amped up to the max with producer Jerry Bruckheimer’s signature.

“Things get tense fast in CBS’ new Hostages,” the New York Daily News said of the premiere, “and if it can maintain that tension for 13 weeks, the network has a winner.”

But The Washington Post wondered “why this couldn’t all be handled in a mediocre two-hour action movie”.

The Carrie Diaries at last makes the transition from on-demand to free-to-air, in a 2pm Saturday slot ahead of another newcomer for younger viewers, the Jennifer Lopez-produced The Fosters.

The former stars SophieAnne Robb as Carrie Bradshaw in high school in the mid-80s.

“This is a different series,” an impressed Wall Street Journal stressed, “one whose good start has to do with its capacity to be affecting, which it is in its picture of loss and longing–a sense this young Carrie projects persuasively.”

But New York magazine dismissed it as “an inept spinoff that dishonours its source”.

The my-two-mums drama, The Fosters, also sounds risqué for Saturday afternoon but, it, too is targeted at families.

Said the New York Times: “The Fosters is a conventional family dramedy about an insistently unconventional family: lesbian mothers (a white police officer and a black charter-school administrator), the officer’s biological son, adopted Hispanic twins and a foster daughter fresh out of juvie …

“On the basis of the pilot, the show does a slightly better than average job of turning off-the-shelf ingredients into something diverting and occasionally moving.”

But Variety thought it “utterly by the numbers”.

Webcam Girls (TV3, 9.30 Thursday) is one of several controversial documentaries BBC3 commissioned last year.

It follows three women who make a living “camming” for fans online and how the pressure to perform more hardcore shows to gain a bigger following and earn more money has affected their lives and relationships.

According to the publicity, “One of the performers was once a talented classical pianist but rebelled against the strictures of that life in a bid to find fame as a self-created web-star.

“Another is enjoying the money and fame and is moving further into the sex industry as a porn performer.

“The third woman was formerly a successful porn star, but has left that behind and is now planning her final ‘cam’ performance before she sets out on a new chapter in her life – using her mind instead of her body.”

TV3 also launches Hustling America (8.30 Wednesday), in which Alexis Conran (The Real Hustle) tries to con Americans while, in the Texas-set premiere, tracing the roots America’s king of con men, the late “Titanic” Thompson.

“Nicknamed Titanic because he could sink everybody he met (in which case wouldn’t Iceberg Thompson be more fitting?), he was a murderer, a card cheat and the man who inspired Conran to become a magician,” reports The Telegraph.

While it thought the Hustling America breezily entertaining … in truth the programme was neither impressive enough with its tricks nor serious enough in its analysis to feel anything other than a missed opportunity.”

In other HD programming news of note:

  • Network movie premieres of Machine Gun Preacher (TV2, 12.15am Sunday), Cars 2 (TV2, 7.00 Sunday), Wanderlust (TV3, 9.20 Sunday) and Tower Heist (TV3, 8.390 Monday)
  • Re-runs of Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl (TV2, 7.00 Saturday), Mighty Joe Young (TV2, midday Sunday), Pocahontas (TV2, 4.20 Sunday), The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (TV3, 7.00 Sunday), Siege (TV One, 9.10), Rush Hour 3 (TV2, 8.30 Tuesday) and The Da Vinci Code (TV2, 8.30 Friday)
  • UK panel show Would I Lie to You?, re-runs of which TV3 has been using to plug holes in its summer schedule, screens for the first time in HD from January 24 at 10.05pm.
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6 Responses to “HD Heads-Up: January 25-31”

  1. I really don’t understand why Hannibal is screening on Saturday nights. Surely it deserves to be placed earlier in the week and as a lead out for the upcoming drama The Blacklist. The Saturday 9.30 slot should go to The Good Wife in my opinion. Aside from that I look forward to watching Hannibal.It seems a shame that the youth skewing dramas languish in the afternoon slots when they could of been better utilised on the now defunct TVNZ U if TVNZ hadn’t of pulled the plug.

  2. I agree with you, Leo … Saturday night is a strange night for Hannibal, wonder who does the programming for TV3? 🙂

  3. In an ideal world, where PeopleMeters were in the hands of viewers who subscribed to SoHo, it would make sense to have Hannibal as The Blacklist’s lead-out. But TV3 has been burnt too many times with dark and edgy cable dramas on weeknights — Dexter, The Killing, The Borgias, The Americans — to sacrifice Hannibal, which will be a hard watch for many, in a similar slot. At least at 9.30 Saturday Hannibal won’t be under pressure to perform as it would Sunday-Thursday and will have a chance to develop an audience on the back of CSI: NY, which has rated well on Saturdays. Too good a show for Saturday night? Absolutely! But also too good a show to see crushed in a more competitive slot.

  4. I see The Michael J Fox Show is on Four. I thought it was a TV3 show? Another show we won’t be seeing in HD 🙁

    PS: I take your point regarding Hannibal, Philip 🙂

  5. You’re quite right, Trevor, MJF Show was promoted as part of TV3’s new season. Either they need stronger product for Four or its struggles in the US has made them re-think its viability for TV3. With the latter’s new emphasis on reality “event” TV, like The Block and the upcoming Great Food Race, the channel no longer has as many 7.30-8.30 comedy slots available, hence their forgoing Modern Family when it was finally turning into a hit for them and switching Family Guy back to Four. Of course, another series you won’t be seeing again in HD any time soon is Bones, which starts its latest season in SD today week on Prime.

  6. Point taken Philip in regards to Hannibal especially with the other TV3 drama’s not firing and hopefully it finds an audience on Saturday night. I wonder if TV3 will also bring NBC’s Dracula after Hannibal’s run or could it be Four’s replacement for AHS. I see some promos for TV2’s The Tommorrow people stating coming to Sundays and the possibility that Agents is joining it which could mean a three-way fight for Sunday audiences with TV One and nowTV3 returning to Sunday night drama with the launch of The Blacklist. With MJFS moving to Four, this must mean Sean Saves the World will also screen on Four.

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