Tag Archives: drama
BEIJING (Reuters) – In a dose of reality television, Beijing-style, China has ordered a ban on advertisements during broadcasts of TV dramas in a bid “to unify thinking,” the country’s top broadcasting regulator said on Monday.
The government’s latest move to clean up China’s airwaves was announced by the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) and will come into effect from January.
It followed the five-day annual meeting of the Communist Party Central Committee in October, which focused on enlivening the nation’s “cultural system” as its state-run publishers, performance troupes and broadcasters struggle to balance the pull of the marketplace with the dictates of propaganda.
“Radio and television are important mouthpieces of the (Communist) Party and the people and are important battlefields in publicity and ideology,” SARFT said on its website.
“They bear important responsibilities in the public cultural service system, they must fully play up their advantages and earnestly perform their duties,” the agency said.
Growth in advertising sales by China’s state television has softened to the slowest in at least six years, a sign of corporate caution and an indication that the pace of economic growth could slow further, too.
Still, CCTV’s total ad sales for 2012 rose by 12.5 percent to a record high of 14.26 billion yuan ($ 2.245 billion) in an auction held in early November.
Ad spending in China has increasingly flowed to more daring provincial satellite channels, whose dating shows and talent contests are wildly popular.
In September, China ordered a popular television talent show off the air for a year after it exceeded broadcasting time limits, replacing it with programmes that “promote moral ethics” such as public safety and housework tips.
The network’s track record thus far has been enviable, but ‘Hell on Wheels’ (10PM Sunday, AMC) is disappointing on any number of levels. I certainly wasn’t a fan of how ‘The Killing’ ended its debut season, but at least that show started out strong, and the rest of the network’s programs offer compelling characters, distinctive aesthetics or solid takes on conventional premises. In some cases, AMC’s dramas excel in all of those arenas and many more.
‘Hell on Wheels’ does one thing well: It’s good at being tedious.
There is a truly compelling performance in the early going, but that doesn’t come from star Anson Mount, who is glumly competent at best.
Mount plays Cullen Bohannon, a Confederate veteran with personal vengeance on his mind (if you liked the misty flashbacks to a dead wife in ‘Spartacus: Blood and Sand,’ you’ll find much to savor here). Bohannon gets a job on the transcontinental railroad, and in the second episode, the lone gunslinger tangles with a man the rest of the railroad workers call the Swede.
The Swede (Christopher Heyerdahl) works as the head of security for Thomas Durant (Colm Meaney), the blustery man who is building the railroad, and the Swede is someone you can easily picture smiling amiably as he slits a man’s throat. Heyerdahl, a savvy and skilled character actor who is well known to fans of supernatural and sci-fi fare, has such weird magnetism on screen that the instant he appeared in ‘Hell on Wheels,’ I began to hope that the narrative would turn its attention to the looming Swede.
Of course that didn’t happen. No, we’re stuck with Durand, whose bloviating quickly becomes predictable and tiresome, and Bohannon, who is probably supposed to recall the taciturn, archetypal men of classic Westerns. The problem is, while ‘Hell on Wheels’ is clearly trying to evoke Western archetypes and aesthetics, in most respects it displays a startling lack of imagination. The narrative and dialogue contain an almost fatal mixture of blandness and clumsiness, and aesthetically speaking, the drama is pedestrian and derivative.
Still, if you’re a hardcore aficionado of stories set among men on horseback, you may be willing to put up with the drama’s problematic elements, which include a diffident pace and unmemorable characters. I never was a big fan of Westerns and stupidly resisted watching the first season of ‘Deadwood’ for that reason. But part of the reason that HBO show belongs in the pantheon of great television is because it blew apart classic Western mythologizing while telling deeply felt stories about unforgettable characters and the community they created. It both reinvented and transcended the genre it came from.
‘Hell on Wheels’ doesn’t do any of that, and to be clear about my own expectations, I didn’t require it to. All I really hoped was that it would do what ‘The Walking Dead’ did for zombie dramas — tell reasonably interesting stories within a familiar framework.
But Bohannon’s personal quest isn’t particularly compelling, and the world of the railroad camp is not populated with characters I longed to spend time with. Common gets little of interest to do as a former slave named Elam, the there’s also a subplot about a young surveyor and his wife, but that’s by far the most boring story of all. And I’ve been a longtime fan of Colm Meaney (raise your hand if you’ve also seen every episode of ‘Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’), but all he’s asked to do here is chew scenery and give monologues that sound laughable in comparison with Al Swearengen’s transfixing orations.
You’d think that a show about building a railroad would have some kind of momentum, but ‘Hell on Wheels’ barely gets up a head of steam in its first few hours, and whatever its destination, I won’t be along for the ride.
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Described as “a strange, disturbing and modern tale about drugs, stalking and darkness visible,” ‘The Mystery of Edwin Drood’ is a is a psychological thriller about a provincial choirmaster’s obsession with a young woman, and the lengths to which he’ll go to attain her.
Matthew Rhys (‘Brothers & Sisters’) has signed on to play the troubled, opium-addicted choirmaster John Jasper, with Tamzin Merchant (‘The Tudors’) playing the object of his affections, 17-year old Roza Bud.
The titular character of Edwin Drood, Jasper’s nephew, will be taken on by Freddie Fox (‘The Shadow Line’), and the cast is rounded out by actors including Rory Kinnear (‘Lennon Naked’), Julia McKenzie (‘Cranford’), David Dawson (‘Luther’) and Ian McNeice (‘Doctor Who’).
The drama has been written by Gwyneth Hughes (‘Five Days,’ ‘Miss Austen Regrets’), who said “Who could resist the challenge of inventing an ending for Charles Dickens’ unfinished last work? The great entertainer left us only the first half of a dark hearted mystery tale, its impossibly young and vulnerable heroine pitted against one of the most creepy and chilling anti-heroes in English literature.”
She added that, “The tragedy of the erotically obsessed cathedral choirmaster, John Jasper, throbs with sexual menace, murder and opium addiction. But alongside his story runs a brilliant small-town social comedy which is often laugh-out-loud funny. After all, this is Dickens, the great emotional extremist, and master of the rollercoaster ride. It’s just the most enormous fun.”
‘The Mystery of Edwin Drood’ is due to premiere in 2012 on PBS.
According to a report in Deadline, NBC has bought a pilot based on the professional wrestling boom of the 1980s, to be produced by former WWE star Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson.
For wrestling fans, the ’80s were a golden era that gave rise to some of the sports most legendary stars, like Hulk Hogan, “Macho Man” Randy Savage, Andre the Giant, and Bret “The Hitman” Heart.
The show will be written by Brent Fletcher, who has worked as a writer for NBC on the football drama ‘Friday Night Lights,’ and Seamus Kevin Fahey, writer of ‘Spartacus: Gods of the Arena.’ Jerry Bruckheimer will be one of the co-executive producers.
The Rock’s first-hand experience in wrestling could give the show a unique ability to examine behind-the-curtain culture at the then-WWF. The degree to which matches were choreographed and outcomes determined beforehand have long been matters of intrigue, and the sport’s subculture of illicit steroid and drug abuse could be rife with realistic human drama.
Tell us: Would you tune into an ’80s wrestling drama?
Here’s a little backstory: during the recent Television Critics Association (TCA) press tour, I gathered a group of my fellow critics and turned on the cameras while we talked all about the best and worst of fall TV.
I’ve split our chat into five insightful videos, and we’ll be posting a new one here on AOL TV everyday this week — best new comedy and best new drama (watch both below), worst new show (Wednesday), star we’re happiest to see on TV (Thursday) and returning show we’re most excited for (Friday) — so keep checking back for more.
Right now, join me and HitFix.com’s Alan Sepinwall, Melanie McFarland from IMDb TV, Damian Holbrook of TV Guide Magazine and AOL TV’s own Mo Ryan to get our honest take on today’s topic: Best new drama.
Tell us: Which new drama are you most excited for?