If CBS’ Bad Teacher proved the axiom that bad movies make even worse TV shows, then NBC’s Taxi Brooklyn perhaps proves the exception: bad movies can in fact make, if not good, at least watchable TV shows.
Taxi Brooklyn is based on Luc Besson’s film Taxi, which starred Jimmy Fallon as a somewhat bumbling New York City cop who teams up with a street wise cab driver played by Queen Latifah. The film was squarely an action comedy in the style of 48 Hours although sadly lacking that picture’s quality or laugh quotient.
Taxi Brooklyn, by contrast, is a buddy cop action drama, and probably a lot more in line with what Besson (The Fifth Element, The Professional) originally envisioned. Fallon is replaced by Chyler Leigh as Detective Caitlyn Sullivan, who is not bumbling, but who is written as far too angry in the pilot. Queen Latifah morphs into Jackie Ido as Leo Romba, a French immigrant who is still a street wise cab driver.
The casting of Leigh, known more for comedy, suggests that Taxi Brooklyn intended to emulate its source material more closely. I’m giving the show the benefit of the doubt that it decided NOT to be funny instead of simply NOT being funny. As an action show, like I said, it’s at least watchable, so far. The one thing it does inherit from its predecessor is the total incredulity of its premise, which has a police officer requisitioning a civilian to be her designated driver.
For a summer replacement show, Taxi Brooklyn really isn’t bad, especially when compared to pure crap like The Night Shift. I won’t mind if NBC keeps this one around for a while.
IF BAD MOVIES can make worse or better TV shows, what can mildly entertaining but definitely not “good” movies make? Part of the answer lies in Syfy Channel’s Dominion, which is not a remake so much as a sequel or continuation the 2010 film Legion.
You don’t need to have seen the film to understand the show, which is to say, even if you’ve seen the film, don’t expect to necessarily understand the show, which is convoluted and unnecessarily confusing for what ought to be a fairly straightforward presentation. Besides, if you saw Legion, there’s a good chance you only really remember the cool visuals and not the silly plot and that won’t help you here.
Dominion takes place 25 years after the events in Legion. Angels have come down to earth and waged a war on humanity. Lower angels assume human form through possession, and once so possessed develop Matrix-y talents like jumping really high or climbing on ceilings before attacking. One angel, Michael (Tom Wisdom) has chosen to fight for humanity against the angel armies, led by Gabriel (Carl Beukes).
Michael also looks over Alex Lannen (Christopher Egan), the Chosen One (there’s always a Chosen One, right?), who is at the bottom of a brutal caste system (after the apocalypse, there’s always a brutal caste system, right?). At the top of humanity’s food chain is David Whele (Anthony Head), and rival of nobel but therefore naive (so basically Ned Stark) military leader Edward Riesen (Alan Dale). As leader of House Whele, David’s wheelhouse includes lying and manipulation, including to his idealistic son. I’d continue running down the other 15 characters who appear to be regulars but you get the idea. The show is a bloody mess, and it just doesn’t seem to be worth the effort to try to figure it out when there’s a much better post-apocalyptic drama on Syfy in Defiance, which happens to be Dominion’s lead in. Watch the earlier show, skip the later one.
WHEN I WAS a kid, children’s programming consisted of The Brady Bunch and Loony Tunes reruns. When my kids were kids, the fare had matured into Nickelodeon and Disney channels. Now there’s a plethora of channels aimed younger audiences, and the teen and tween girl crowd is where ABC Family aims to gather viewers. The network has shown some ability to do so with scandalous soap operas (Pretty Little Liars) and socially conscious soap operas (The Fosters), but its two latest sitcom efforts fall short of the mark set by its earlier successes.
Young & Hungry focuses on a down and out young woman (Emily Osment) who winds up catching the eye of and working for a tech millionaire (that’s how she became The Nanny…) as his personal chef. The level of humor here is sex and foodie jokes, and naturally there’s a sassy black woman assistant (Kym Whitley). There’s a serious lack of originality here, although I suppose the target audience may not have seen The Nanny, so the premise might seem fresh to them.
More interesting (in the way that seeing a car wreck when you’re driving home from work is interesting) is Mystery Girls, which reunites Beverly Hills 90210’s Tori Spelling and Jennie Garth as former stars of a TV detective show who now team up to solve mysteries for real (Murder, They Blogged!).
While there may not have been a strong demand for Tori Spelling to act on TV again, I would much prefer to watch that than to continue to watch her bare embarrassing details of her personal life on her reality show, and this harmless bit of fluff is certainly less harmful to children who might otherwise be watching Tori or the Kardashians or whoever the latest member of the Jerry Springer celebrity nation is.
Is it too late to bring back The Brady Bunch?
There was little chance I was going to want to watch Rising Star, yet another singing competition, and one whose biggest novelty (you vote from home in real time!) has been done by The Voice via twitter for the last two seasons. That chance became that much less when ABC put the show on Sunday, when the big cable guns are on, and put Kesha on the panel. It’s bad enough listening to Kesha sing, why would I want to listen to her talk too?
Reality Check: As modest competition for Last Comic Standing, TBS offers a bit of an alternative with Funniest Wins, which features both stand up and digital short comics, and pits them against one another in various aspects of humor competition. The result is a show with more variety, but probably fewer laughs, than Last Comic, but the humor competition genre is hardly overcrowded and there’s certainly room for two shows like this, especially when they offer something a little different.
If you’re looking to get your Borat on, you can try BBC America’s Almost Royal, a show which features a pair of actors (Ed Gamble, Amy Hoggart) traveling around America pretending to be 50th and 51st in line for the British throne. The Borat style deception is greatly tempered by the TV format and the very reserved British style of humor. If that sounds like Borat without the outrageousness, you’ve got the idea. It doesn’t work for me, but feel free to partake.
Educational TV. Things we learned from watching TV this week: 1) When in Yorkshire, visit the instant mashed potato highway (At Midnight); 2) Love is – being willing to die for someone that you, yourself want to kill (Conan); 3) Hog meat is the official state currency of Mississippi (The Colbert Report).
If, like me, you went ahead and watched the catch up primer Under The Dome Inside Chester’s Mill, don’t feel bad. I’m pretty sure this confirms that they don’t know what the last two episodes of Season 1 meant either.
The BET Awards air on June 29 on (where else) BET.
The series premiere of The Leftovers airs on HBO on June 29.
Reckless debuts on June 29 on CBS.
The series premiere of Vicious airs on June 29 on PBS.
Under The Dome returns to CBS on June 30.
The season premiere of Drunk History airs on Comedy Central on July 1.
AMC airs a Walking Dead marathon on July 4.
Syfy Channel airs a Twilight Zone marathon on July 4.
BBC America airs a Star Trek The Next Generation marathon on July 4.
TV’s a big place and I haven’t been to all of it yet. Got a favorite show you’d like me to comment on? Post a comment below, contact me on twitter @RobLazlo. or shoot me an email: [email protected]. I welcome your input!