Of accents and superhero origins

Previews of much of this fall’s harvest of new shows available online

Dave Bartlett talkingtelevision@gmail.com
Published on July 30, 2014
The cast of “Gotham” — just one of the superhero-inspired shows on TV this fall. — Submitted image

I’m hoping for several more weeks of this glorious weather, but considering I spent Sunday watching every sneak peak I could find online for this fall’s new network offerings, I know it won’t stay this nice for a whole lot longer.

The good news is there are at least a handful shows I’m excited about that will premiere in September or shortly thereafter. But before I nod to the shows I’m most looking forward to, I have to rant a bit about British accents.

For months I’ve been wondering why Fox was remaking the amazing British series “Broadchurch” from last year. Renamed “Gracepoint,” the series appears to be a shot-by-shot remake of the original show, even with scenery that looks as much like England as the U.S.

It also stars David “Doctor Who” Tennant, just like the U.K. series, except here Tennant has to hide his lovely — and easy to understand —accent behind a horse, whispery growl. I’ll likely PVR the show to compare the two at some point, but why waste the money reshooting (and my time rewatching) an already great show for the sake of an American setting, and putting an attractive blonde (Anna Gunn of “Breaking Bad”) in the lead female role.   

Likewise, former “Doctor Who” companion Karen Gillam has dropped her Scottish brogue for a valley girl accent in “Selfie,” a remake of “Pygmalion”/“My Fair Lady.” While I love Gillam and John Cho, who will play the Henry Higgins character, this show does nothing for me.

It places the classic makeover story in today’s social media obsessed world as Henry tries to convert a vain and self-absorbed young woman into a refined lady. Gillam’s voice and overuse of “oh-my God” and “like” was so grating in the preview, I could barely get through it.

Strangely, “Constantine” allows its Welsh lead (Matt Ryan) to talk like he normally would. It’s one of several new superhero/comic book based series premiering, and though I’ve noted several times I’m getting bored with the genre, this and a couple of others don’t look too bad.

“Constantine” is based on the DC/Vertigo comic “Hellblazer” by Alan Moore (“Watchmen,” “V for Vendetta”) who has famously disassociated himself with almost every remake of his comic book work in absolute disgust. “Constantine” was also the name of a 2005 movie starring Keanu Reeves based on the same material.

There’s something about Ryan’s charisma that makes me want this show to be good. It looks campy if nothing else.

I’m willing to give “Constantine,” the TV show, a shot, and I’m also going to watch both “The Flash” and “Gotham” when they air this autumn.

Like “Constantine,” “The Flash” looks surprisingly good from its clip online, and builds into the CW (CTV in Canada) drama “Arrow” which will enter its third season this year.

In the preview, Green Arrow is there to help guide The Flash as he gains and discovers how to use his powers.

A friend recently recommended “Arrow” to me, noting it got much better after some initial hiccups. I thought the few episodes I watched early in its run were OK, but if “The Flash” impresses — and it really does look decent, special effects wise — I may go back and tackle “Arrow” as well.

My biggest issue with “Arrow” was the character’s basic premise seemed way too much like Batman, and how many times do we need to see the birth of the Dark Knight reworked? That was my initial thought on “Gotham” as well. But the preview was drool-inducing.

“Gotham” takes place in a 1950s-looking past, before future heroes and villains of the Batman universe grow up.

Here they are teens and children living in a dark crime-filled world. Young cop (and future commissioner) Jim Gordon becomes friends with the recently orphaned Bruce Wayne and seems to be the protagonist.

I have to say, I really am excited for this one.

Another show that has potential is “Madam Secretary” starring Tea Leoni as a former CIA agent turned professor and mother, and now appointed Secretary of State. It’s an American flag-waver, but Leoni makes it look surprisingly good.

“Scorpion,” about teen hackers, also has promise.  

There are a number of other shows I plan to watch for at least an episode or two, like the funny and touching “Red Band Society” about kids in a long-term hospital and the interesting reality series “Utopia” where a bunch of folks are put on three acres of land for one year with only the clothes on their back with the goal to make the perfect society, starting from scratch. I’m sure I’ll be yelling at the screen and hating it before long.

I will be avoiding the ridiculous “Bad Judge” (think “Bad Teacher” but from the bench) and the very violent “Stalker.” A handful of others may get my attention if they aren’t history by Christmas.


Dave Bartlett muses about watching habits, TV shows — new and old —and anything related to whatever he may be watching at the moment. You can get in touch with him at talkingtelevsion@gmail.com.