Mark Addy

Oasis E1 “Pilot” (Amazon Prime), and The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber

Posted on Updated on

Last week I wrote about Sneaky Pete, an Amazon Prime original show that had gone through the ‘pilot season’ of being selected for a full ten-part series commission based on viewers’ comments and ratings. Another previously reviewed series, Bosch, also made it to series based on positive fan response compared with tepid critical reaction, and thank goodness it did.

This year, science fiction drama Oasis is one of five new pilots up for consideration. Set in a dystopian 2032, the story centres on Christian chaplain Peter Leigh who receives a request to travel to Oasis, Earth’s first off-world colony. Said to be located on the far side of the galaxy, the method of travel is not explained. When Peter arrives he finds that the person who asked for him to come – the colony’s founder, billionaire David Morgan – is missing, and no one knows why he wanted Peter there in the first place. Meanwhile the workforce is starting to experience hallucinations and an escalating number of serious and even fatal accidents that suggest the new world is rejecting their presence. Eventually Peter discovers a clue as to Morgan’s whereabouts and travels deep into the wilderness, where he makes a bewildering discovery in a cave… Read the rest of this entry »

New Blood S1 E1-3 (BBC One)

Posted on Updated on

From his Alex Ryder and Sherlock Holmes novels through to Foyle’s War, I’ve long been a fan of writer Anthony Horowitz’s work so I was very keen what he was going to come up with next after concluding his long-running wartime detective series.

new-bloodIt turns out that what’s next is New Blood, a crime thriller set in contemporary London starring two twenty-something investigators still struggling to find their feet in the big city at the start of their respective careers, beset by everything from condescending superiors to making the rent while investigating some dodgy dealings by global pharmaceutical companies.

Horowitz has said that after so many years working on Foyle, he wanted to do something modern and contemporary and fast moving, featuring the sort of characters what you don’t see in conventional cop shows: Ben Tavassoli plays British-Iranian police officer Arrash Sayyad who yearns to be a detective, while Mark Strepan is Stefan Kowolski, a British-Polish junior investigator with the Serious Fraud Office. Read the rest of this entry »

Atlantis S1 E1 “The Earth Bull” (BBC)

Posted on Updated on

If you drew a straight line through BBC1’s recent family drama entertainment for Saturday nights, you’d start with Merlin and Robin Hood and then eventually – Sinbad having been snapped up by Sky One in the meantime – you’d arrive at some sort of Greek myth pastiche comprising the likes of Jason and the Argonauts, Hercules and the Minotaur.

atlantis-logoSomeone in the BBC commissioning department did exactly that exercise and lo! and behold we arrive at Atlantis, which made its first appearance on the schedules on Saturday night. And in line with how obvious and unsurprising the basic concept of the new show is, the actual set-up of characters and initial plot lines is also uncompromisingly uninspired: there’s the dashing action hero with a mysterious past (Jack Donnelly as Jason), his earnest geeky friend (Robert Emms as Pythagoras) and the love interest (Aiysha Hart as Ariadne). Supporting this capable, young and photogenic cast is a strong line-up of stalwarts such as Juliet Stevenson as the Oracle, with Alexander Siddig and Sarah Parish stealing all the best moments as the King and Queen of Atlantis and Mark Addy providing the comic relief as a different type of Hercules – one who is no hero but rather a fat, drunk coward nonetheless quick to take credit where it’s due to others.

Addy’s Hercules is at least one slight break from the conventional line (although still very much in accordance with the ironic post-modern twists of so many TV shows of the moment), which is a relief as everything else plays exactly to type. That’s not to say that the show isn’t well-made, because it is: the production department do an impressive job of making it feel as though it were all shot in location in the Mediterranean (rather than in Wales with day release to Morocco for some exteriors) and the CGI has really come on in leaps and bounds whether it’s used to augment the sets and limited cast to provide a population of thousands on display, or for the trickier task of animating a credible Minotaur for Jason to slay (in a strangely brief and perfunctory scene in the first episode.) The writing is also perfectly sound and the direction, while nothing flashy, keeps things moving along at a fair clip and doesn’t get in the way. Read the rest of this entry »