February 19, 2010

News: Cra$h & Burn partners with BBC Worldwide for international distribution

Cra$h & Burn, Showcase’s first stab at an hourlong drama series, will partner with BBC Worldwide for international distribution of the show.

Cra$h & Burn will feature at the 2010 BBC Showcase, where potential broadcast and cable suitors will eye its nine-and-a-half hours.  Creator Malcolm MacRury and star Luke Kirby will attend the event.

Cra$h & Burn has just completed its first season on Showcase.  I wasn’t too high on the show when it debuted, but Cra$h & Burn has become very good in recent weeks.

The show has become more-or-less straight drama with comedic flourishes.  The writing is gutsy enough to (mild spoiler, kids) write off Dan Duran’s character near the end of Cra$h & Burn‘s first season.  It’s become a good fit for Showcase.

The deal with BBC Worldwide strengthens the show’s chances for renewal.  I hope Showcase isn’t stupid enough to cancel Cra$h & Burn, or put it up on blocks like it has Testees.  Speaking of which, whatever happened to Shattered?


November 20, 2009

TV Review | Cra$h & Burn 1.1 – “God Protect Us”

Cra$h & Burn (Showcase: premiered November 18, 9:00 PM ET/PT) bases itself around insurance claims adjuster Jimmy Burn (Luke Kirby), as he patrols Hamilton, Ontario‘s city streets.  The show is sold as The Office meets The Sopranos,” according to show creator Malcolm MacRury.

I appreciate that Cra$h & Burn is set in the Hammer, but its high concept shouldn’t work.  Insurance isn’t normally seen as a sexy profession.  This is Showcase’s first hour-long drama, so Showcase’s reputation in this genre will be defined by how well C&B does.  It’s not a good start so far.

Cra$h & Burn‘s first episode is rather paint-by-numbers.  Luke Kirby is okay as Burn, a guy from the streets trying to make it in the world of insurance claims adjusting.  He’s about to be married, giving girlfriend Lucia Silva (Leela Savasta) a $2,000 diamond ring.

Burn might also lose his job at Protected Insurance in a round of cutbacks.  Yeah, like that’s going to happen in the first episode.  Burn’s chief antagonist is insurance fraud, personified in Cra$h & Burn by former Russian mobster Pavel Korkov (Steve Bacic).  Burn is the lone “good guy” in a cutthroat business, though Burn has help from mentor Walker Hearn (Clark Johnson).

Dan Duran is the Man From Protected, appearing in a fake commercial segment at the beginning of the show.  Duran doesn’t appear on the show very long, but he’s the best part of Cra$h & Burn.  C&B could be his most lucrative dramatic television gig since RoboCop.

The main problem with Cra$h & Burn is that, despite ganking from The Sopranos and The Office, the show is relatively tame.  This is Showcase, the home of Kenny vs. Spenny, Trailer Park Boys, Paradise Falls and other near-the-knuckle fare.  Cra$h & Burn should be pushing harder than it is, considering the channel.

Cra$h & Burn has a bit of simulated sex, some swearing, and even projectile vomiting, but it’s farfetched.  The show’s a throwback to 1990s lightweight Canadian dramas, Due South with more peeing.  Shit, pair Burn with a straight-laced Mountie and his wolf-husky hybrid, and you’d have Due South.

Cra$h & Burn has the potential to rise above a mediocre pilot.  The show’s not going to last if it’s constant Burn Against Corruption.  Not every drama in this country needs to be Intelligence, but Cra$h & Burn could be a little less cartoonish.  At least it’s not The Listener, which is hardly an endorsement.


March 25, 2009

Shows I Also Watch: Canadian TV Part One – Rabbit Fall

Originally this feature was going to be in two parts, one for Canadian shows and the other for “foreign” content.  I then read this article, realized how right it was, and will take the article’s advice in order to alleviate the lull between URBMN posts.  It doesn’t make for a nice segue into Rabbit Fall discussion, but I’m not a fan of segues.

I’m also not fond of the promotion Space has given Rabbit Fall.  It reran the entire twelve-episode run of the show earlier this year, not doing much to advertise that fact.  Space did promote the second season when in first run, but I thought Space would big up the first-season episodes for the newbies.  Not everyone is in love with Battlestar Galactica, so say we few.

Andrea Menard is Constable Tara Wheaton, a Métis cop transferred from Toronto to Rabbit Fall via “professional indiscretion.”  She’s a fairly decent actor in a straightforward supernatural crime drama.  Rabbit Fall is decidedly generic, which doesn’t surprise me as four networks (SCN, VisionTV, Space and APTN) have had their hands on it over two seasons.  Still, the quality of this show is better than I expected.

I don’t understand the show’s comparison to Twin Peaks*Rabbit Fall does not have Killer BOB, log ladies or backwards-speaking gnomes.  The X-Files is a good reference point, since Rabbit Fall shares the same conspiratorial MO.

While Rabbit Fall‘s second season is much better than the first production-wise – Rabbit Fall looked badly lighted its first year – the show does have its problems.  Some of the acting is atrocious, while the supernatural element can be a bit cartoonish at times.

For instance, main antagonist Simon Blackhorse turns into a crow while in a police car.  Sure, his distraction of Sergeant Stanton Martinsky leads to a crucial plot development in Rabbit Fall‘s second season premiere, but it looks silly in execution.

Another thing I don’t understand is why the show’s being a half-hour drama is sold as unique.  The half-hour drama is a concept dating back to The Twilight Zone, early Gunsmoke and Dragnet, and these are just obvious examples.  Hour-long dramas are the norm for modern episodic television, so Rabbit Fall is just bucking the trend.  I can’t see how Rabbit Fall would benefit from expanding to an hour, as that would just force padding on its meat-and-potatoes story structure.

In the end, Rabbit Fall‘s positives outweigh its negatives.  If nothing else, it shows that Saskatchewan can produce decent television.  I’d like to see more Saskatchewan-based television shows in the near future.  Toronto moonlighting as Generican/Genadian City can get a bit tiring after a while.

*As an aside, Twin Peaks wasn’t the weirdest David Lynch television show.  It’s amazing how many people have forgotten or suppressed On the Air, which the YouTube link will soon rectify.  If you watched it, you can’t unwatch it!