Departure on Peacock TV.

ENTERTAINMENT – Peacock Plus Approves a Third Season of “Departure” as Christopher Plummer & Archie Panjabi Investigate a Mysterious Aircraft Incident in the Opening Season

Departure marks the final role for Christopher Plummer.

If ever there was a time to watch a show about a plane disappearing with 255 souls on board during a global pandemic that has stopped most air travel, this is it.

New York City. Madelyn Strong (Rebecca Liddiard, Alias Grace), a young doctor, boards Flight 716 to London. She calls her fiancé, London DJ Ali (Shazad Latif, Star Trek: Discovery) and makes small talk with her fellow passengers. In a few hours, she will be floating in the Atlantic Ocean in a half-swamped life raft, the only survivor of Flight 716.

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Archie Panjabi (Kalinda from The Good Wife) is Kendra, a lead transport investigator working under Christopher Plummer. She heads up a team that includes a policeman, an MI5 agent and some technical boffins that don’t seem to leave the office. Her job is to find out where the plane is, if there are survivors, and what happened.

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The Setup

London. Kendra Malley (Archie Panjabi, Run), a legendary aviation investigator, is pulled out of early retirement by her mentor and former boss Howard Lawson (Christopher Plummer, Inside Man). Flight 716 is missing. The families of its passengers want answers about the fate of their loved ones. The British firm that built the aircraft wants its clients not to cancel their massive pending orders. The Prime Minister wants things handled. And so Howard turns to Kendra.

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Christopher Plummer in Departure on Peacock.

He’s already assembled a team for her to lead. Former cop Dom (Kris Holden-Ried, The Umbrella Academy), empathetic analyst Levi (Peter Mensah, Spartacus), dive expert Nadia (Tamara Duarte, Wynona Earp), tech whiz Theo (Mark Rendall, The Berenstain Bears) and MI:5 agent Janet (Claire Forlani, The Rock).

Departure’s depiction of what’s being done and how it’s being done is never less than compelling. 

The clock is set. Kendra and her crew need to find Flight 716 before any survivors succumb to hypothermia. When Madelyn is rescued, the stakes change. Kendra and company now need to figure out what happened, why it happened and how it happened before the tabloids sink their grubby claws into the disappearance and whip the world into a frenzy. This would be a mighty challenge even for an investigator of Kendra’s skills under the calmest of circumstances.

Flight 716’s vanishing is far from the calmest of circumstances. Captain Donovan (Allan Hawco, Jack Ryan) was behaving erratically before and during the flight. One of the passengers (Emilio Doorgasingh, Kingdom of Heaven) was a member of the Iranian military traveling under an assumed name. A slimily amiable oligarch (Sasha Roiz, Suits) seems terribly amused by the whole thing. As Kendra and her team investigate Flight 716, the questions become a ever-more-complicated spiral. And the answers grow ever more complicated and ever more alarming.

Obviously, a lot of research was done into how and what is investigated when a plane goes down, when and by whom, and the technical aspects of aeronautical engineering.

Departure, created by Vince Shiao (Aftermath), written by him along with Stephanie Tracey, John Krizanc, Malcolm MacRury and Ellen Vanstone and directed by T.J. Scott (Star Trek: Discovery) is a solid mystery/thriller miniseries with a few significant issues that keep it from greatness. One of the key subplots is wildly out of sync with the rest of the series, and the personal lives of Kendra and her team are awkwardly integrated into the storytelling.

The initial stages of the conspiracy investigation are closer to “shaggy” than “vast,” there’s some seriously questionable design work (a conspiracy website that looks like it was designed by a veteran of pop-punk album artwork and a bizarre fake video game), and at times the writing hews far too close to hoary, fearmongering cliches from mid-2000s thrillers in places. Even when it zags away from them, the result is close enough to leave a sour aftertaste.

With that said, there is ultimately more to praise than there is to criticize. Most of Departure’s key players deliver strong performances, its depiction of the investigative process is consistently interesting, there are a number of quiet moments that play quite well, and the later stages of its conspiracy storyline are tense and exciting.

Departure is strongest when it focuses on process.

Obviously, a lot of research was done into how and what is investigated when a plane goes down, when and by whom, and the technical aspects of aeronautical engineering. Plane buffs will be in heaven, but if you’re not, that’s ok; anything that really matters is red-flagged very clearly. This is handy, as there are many twists and turns and possible reasons why the plane went down posited over the first five episodes.

Don’t be put off by the initial, “It’s terrorism! The pilot’s Irish! There’s Muslims onboard!”, it does get a lot better. (Apart from the son. He’s so bad you wish he had been on the plane.)

Departure is strongest when it focuses on process. Whether that’s Kendra and Dom running down a lead or Ali and Madelyn’s father Derek (Evan Buliung, Copper) trying to figure out how to best do right by her, Departure’s depiction of what’s being done and how it’s being done is never less than compelling.

Source:  IMDB, Stuff, The Spool

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ENTERTAINMENT – “Republic of Doyle,” Modern Day Dramedy of Rockford Files

The show has been sold to over 90 countries, and maintained over a million viewers a week on CBC television in Canada.

Need something fun to watch before bed or something fun to binge this weekend? Republic of Doyle is just what you’re looking for. This show ran from 2010 – 2014 and has six seasons with a total of seventy-eight episodes, so this should keep you busy for awhile.

 

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I am so impressed with Allan Hawco, who stars in Republic of Doyle. He created a very successful enterprise on the CBC (Canadian Broadcast Corporation network) that ran for six seasons. He studied business at Memorial University of Newfoundland but dropped out in favor of the National Theatre School of Canada. Hawco’s first role was in the Shakespeare by the Sea production of Macbeth, which was directed by Aiden Flynn. From there, director Danielle Irvine encouraged the young actor to audition for the National Theatre School where he was one of 13 selected from thousands of applicants that year.

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After graduation from the National Theatre School of Canada in 2000, Hawco worked in many of the major theatres in Canada. In 2005, motivated by the want for greater creative control, he started his own production company the Company Theatre with Philip Riccio. The company’s inaugural production, A Whistle in the Dark, brought Hawco critical acclaim. Their 2009 production of Festen won him three Dora Awards, including Outstanding Production of a Play.

Some of Hawco’s earlier movie roles include Canadian productions such as Making Love in Saint PierreAbove and Beyond, and Love and Savagery, the latest of which won him an ACTRA nomination for Outstanding Male Performance. His career took off with the launch of his own TV series Republic of Doyle, which premiered in 2010. Hawco is co-creator with Perry Chafe and Malcolm MacRury, executive producer, lead actor, head writer as well as the show’s showrunner. The show has been sold to over 90 countries, and maintained over a million viewers a week on CBC television in Canada.

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Hawco literally put his whole family to work on Republic of Doyle. One of his brothers is a composer, and has composed for Republic of Doyle, while his father has also worked on the show and his mother has appeared as a background performer.

This Canadian show takes place in Newfoundland and follows the story of Jake Doyle and his father who work as private investigators. The show is less crime procedural and more of a light-hearted good time. The show isn’t afraid to be a little ridiculous and wears the we-don’t-take-ourselves-seriously attitude very well. We wish there were more shows willing to be less serious.

The characters

The characters on Republic of Doyle are well rounded, and, according to native Newfoundlanders, the characters are accurate portrayals of the local citizens. Meaning they’re full of dry humor, wit, and irreverence.

The main character, Doyle, frequently ends up in difficult situations, which are usually of his own making.

Viewers also praise the relationship between Jake Doyle (Allan Hawco) and his father (Sean McGinley) for being loving, even despite their fights, and enjoyable to watch.

The plot

The plot has just enough mystery to call it one by genre, but that’s as far as it goes. It far prefers its comedy leanings with a touch of drama. Many people liken Republic of Doyle to other older shows such as Starsky and Hutch or Magnum P.I.

Jake Doyle, while dealing with his dad and solving cases, which only sometimes are related to murder, he’s also doing his best to figure out his romantic life – well okay, pretty much all of his personal life.

Reception

Viewers adore this show. It’s hard to find a review which isn’t positively glowing. People who aren’t from Newfoundland adore the sweeping landscapes, and those who are from there appreciate their little hunk of the world being showcased so well.

The humor and silliness keeps people coming back for more, whether it’s first time watchers bingewatching the show like crazy, or longtime fans re-watching. Fans do warn that if you want something serious like CSI or something realistic feeling, then don’t bother to watch the show.

The show is pure fun and meant to be entertaining. It succeeds at being both of these things.

How to watch

Lynda Boyd stars in “Republic of Doyle.”

If this show is sounding like something you want to watch, and really, how could it not? Then you’re in luck because it’s available on pretty much all of the big streaming platforms. You can watch it on Acorn TV through Amazon Prime, Netflix and Hulu (if premiering on these platforms), and even Apple TV.

So, what are you waiting for? Go grab a cup of tea, snuggle into a blanket, turn on the show, and prepare to have a lovely evening.

Source: IMDB and Film Daily

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Invasion on Apple TV Plus

ENTERTAINMENT – Here Comes “Invasion” a New Sci-fi Series on Apple TV Plus on October 22, 2021

Apple’s latest sci-fi epic comes from the people behind The Martian and Deadpool

Apple has released the official trailer for its ambitious new sci-fi series, Invasion, starring Jurassic Park‘s Sam Neill. Hold on to your humanity. Invasion launches on October 22, only on Apple TV+. It is an alien invasion through different perspectives around the world.

The series is comprised of a three-episode premiere. Invasion comes from the minds of X-Men and Deadpool producer Simon Kinberg, as well as The Twilight Zone‘s, David Weil. The series follows the events of an alien invasion through the lens of several characters spread across multiple continents.

 

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Apple is doubling down on the whole large-scale science fiction thing. After creating a reasonable amount of buzz around Foundation, the long-awaited Isaac Asimov adaptation in which Lee Pace plays a very tall galactic emperor named Brother Day, the world’s most successful cell phone maker is staying in the sci-fi section. Invasion, the company’s next foray into the worlds beyond cosmos, is bringing alien beings and Spielbergian closeups back home. Set on Earth and across multiple contents, ‌the series follows different perspectives from people around the globe as they deal with a particularly threatening and explosive alien, um, invasion. Make sure to click the link to play the Invasion trailer here in the blogpost.

See Apple TV Plus’ first trailer for sci-fi series Invasion.

Apple TV Plus is slowly racking up a stash of sci-fi TV shows, from Jason Momoa-starring See to Steven Spielberg-produced anthology Amazing Stories. Thus the next Apple TV adventure is Invasion. Joining Neill is an expansive ensemble, including Shamier Anderson (as Goliath, you’ll remember him from Netflix’s Stowaway), Golshifteh Farahani (Gen: Lock), Firas Nassar (Sirens), Shioli Kutsuna (Deadpool 2), and more. Invasion follows a wide variety of people from around the world dealing with an otherworldly presence. The moody drama, as well as the alien mystery, are strong.

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“So in the case of the X-Men movies that I spent a lot of my life working on, the mutants were a metaphor for any persecuted or oppressed people,” Kinberg said. “And in the case of Invasion, it’s really about two things for me, metaphorically. One is the fact that we’re all aliens, that there is a sense of alienation that I think all people carry with them in some form, whether they’re alienated from their families, alienated from their communities, alienated from their jobs, there is a sense of disconnect. And I think I was really trying to find storylines in our show that would explore that feeling of alienation and really sort of explode it under the intensity of the magnifying glass of an actual alien invasion.”

Nevertheless, Neill’s participation is always exciting, especially after all those fantastic Instagram videos where he plays with ducks.

The series comes from David Weil (Hunters) and Simon Kinberg, who most probably know from his run on the X-Men movies, which started pretty good and ended pretty badly. Still, it takes a real mensch to own up to a disaster like Dark Phoenix. After the film’s release, he told KCRW, “It clearly is a movie that didn’t connect with audiences that didn’t see it, it didn’t connect enough with audiences that did see it. So that’s on me.” Nevertheless, he’s got bona fides, including work on the Deadpool movies and 2015’s best comedy The Martian.

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So if doing another Jurassic World means he can continue playing with those little guys, we support the film’s release.

Invasion sees Sam Neill’s return to the world of science fiction action movies ahead of Jurassic World: Dominion, a film much like that third Fantastic Beasts is legally obligated to come out. Nevertheless, Neill’s participation is always exciting, especially after all those fantastic Instagram videos where he plays with ducks. So if doing another Jurassic World means he can continue playing with those little guys, we support the film’s release.

The first of Invasion’s 10 episodes will drop on AppleTV+ on October 22.

Source: IMDB, IGN, AV Club, and CNET

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The Orville on Hulu

ENTERTAINMENT – Season 3 of “The Orville” Returns on Thursday, Mar 10, 2022, Episode 1 “New Horizons!”

Seth MacFarlane’s sci-fi comedy series The Orville returned for a charming, but sedate second season premiere that focused more on character moments than interstellar crisis, now we’re waiting on season 3…

Right from the word ‘engage,’ Seth MacFarlane‘s sci-fi comedy The Orville has had more than a few factors working against it. What with its arrival at the same time as the official Star Trek spinoffStar Trek: Discovery, and MacFarlane’s pedigree as the mind behind Family Guy (a show that has long since outstayed its welcome), FOX’s series had an uphill battle to climb in its first season. However, despite itself, persistent viewers found that The Orville refreshingly steered away from the obnoxious cutaway humor MacFarlane is known for and his true mission – to provide a light-hearted, earnest, casual homage to episodic ’90s space opera like Star Trek: The Next Generation. It’s basically an excuse for MacFarlane to do TNG cosplay, and given its modestly successful results, it’s hard to begrudge him that wish. With “Ja’loja”, The Orville plays to its strengths with an understated, character-driven second season premiere that functions more like a day-in-the-life starship story than anything involving aliens or galactic peril. The main premise of “Ja’loja” (which MacFarlane himself wrote and directed) admittedly sounds like something from a Family Guy cutaway gag: what if Klingons got pon farr, and instead of having sex every seven years, they had to take an annual leak on their homeworld?

 

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As the episode opens, that time is nigh for straight-faced security officer Bortus (Peter Macon), and so Captain Ed Mercer (MacFarlane) redirects the Orville to Moclus for the highly ritualized ceremony. This offers the crew a bit of downtime to deal with their own personal issues, and that they do – “Ja’loja” is primarily concerned with the dating lives and parenting skills of the Orville‘s occupants, especially as most of them look for dates to Bortus’ Ja’loja ceremony. As such, the episode’s runtime flits lazily between subplots including Ed’s lingering feelings for first officer/ex-wife Kelly Grayson (Adrienne Palicki) amidst her growing courtship with the ship’s schoolteacher (Chris Johnson); Dr. Claire Finn (Penny Johnson Jerald) recruiting the android Isaac (Marc Jackson) to help her deal with her increasingly rebellious son Marcus (BJ Tanner); navigator Gordon (Scott Grimes) asking chief engineer (and self-professed “girl guru”) John Lamarr (J Lee) for advice on asking out the ship’s attractive new cartographer (Michaela McManus); and security chief Alara Kitan (Halston Sage) awkwardly trying to date the people-pleasing, poetry-writing Dann (Mike Henry).

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There’s not a lot plot-wise to propel “Ja’loja” forward, which makes it a strange choice for a second season premiere – focusing on reintroducing the ship’s crew and the state of their varying relationships.

The Orville starship.

If the season 2 premiere of The Orville is any indication, the not-quite Star Trek spoof from series creator and star, Seth MacFarlane, has found its footing and maybe its identity in telling smaller, more character-driven stories, that better serve its sometimes confounding mix of sincerity and irreverence. The series may have been a hit with audiences when it aired on FOX last year, but it didn’t strike a similar chord with critics, who took issue with the show’s often awkward balance of broad humor and earnest dramatic storytelling in season 1. Add to that the feeling that The Orville was really just a collection of not-great Stark Trek fan fiction, and you had a series that was destined to irk someone, in some way or another.

The catch was, of course, that The Orville wasn’t meant to be as divisive as it was. Clearly designed to be a crowd-pleaser, the series ultimately fell short in that endeavor. But, after its first season, the show returned with a late-2018 premiere that was boosted by its post-football slot on FOX. Moreover, MacFarlane’s sci-fi series made its surprisingly quiet return with a softer, less ambitious, but more successful character-driven episode that, despite still struggling to balance its tone, feels like a template for a more worthwhile season of television.

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Captain Ed Mercer (MacFarlane) and ex-wife Kelly Grayson (Adrienne Palicki) in The Orville.

The idea of a frazzled starship captain having to work with his ex-wife feels like a very bro-ey Seth MacFarlane premise, but part of The Orville‘s charm is that it seemed to get over the groan-worthy ‘marriage bad!’ jokes in favor of treating Ed and Kelly as two professionals who were always able to put their appreciation for each other’s talents before any personal resentment.

There’s not a lot plot-wise to propel “Ja’loja” forward, which makes it a strange choice for a second season premiere – focusing on reintroducing the ship’s crew and the state of their varying relationships. Chief among those is the Ed-Kelly dynamic, which has always been The Orville‘s Achilles heel since it dropped the more overtly Family Guy-esque humor in its first few episodes. The idea of a frazzled starship captain having to work with his ex-wife feels like a very bro-ey Seth MacFarlane premise, but part of The Orville‘s charm is that it seemed to get over the groan-worthy ‘marriage bad!’ jokes in favor of treating Ed and Kelly as two professionals who were always able to put their appreciation for each other’s talents before any personal resentment. Not so here; now, Ed’s suddenly hoping that he can work things out with Kelly again, which causes her no small amount of consternation – not just for their problems with timing, but for the inevitable ethical dilemmas that come from sending officers into dangerous situations. Sure, Ed comes to his senses eventually (and even offers some helpful, if sexist, advice for her all-too-accommodating beau: “be a little stupid every day, and really stupid every once in a while”), but let’s hope the will-they-won’t-they Ed/Kelly drama is finally put to bed. They work a lot better as partners, as they already proved to each other multiple times last season.

The rest of the show’s subplots provide comparatively shallow retreads of the same character beats we’ve been hammered with these characters so far. Alara’s awkward and insecure about her fitness for the job, Gordon’s a big awkward doof who learns the wrong lessons from the still-boring Lamarr (his transfer to engineering didn’t give him any more of a personality), and Isaac doesn’t understand human social cues. However, when combined they offer an intriguing case study for MacFarlane’s stated mission for The Orville as a show: to turn Star Trek into a workplace comedy, complete with all the “excessive casualization of space travel” that entails. In a vacuum, there’s little inherently interesting about watching a parent-teacher conference in space, or see Gordon suit up in a leather jacket that’s easily 75% zippers (“You always want one more zipper than you’re comfortable with,” Lamarr tells him) for a holodeck dating simulation. But in concert, “Ja’loja” feels like the kind of day-in-the-life exploration of space travel we didn’t get much in Star Trek outside of “Data’s Day” or “Lower Decks”.

It’s a shame, then, that little of this material really sticks out beyond the casual-Fridays atmosphere of the ship itself, which is already a staple of the show. There’s only so far you can take a ship full of a crew that’s, like, really chill with each other, especially when you don’t throw them into a sci-fi scenario that clashes entertainingly against their laissez-faire attitudes. A hangout episode isn’t a bad idea, but give us more entertaining scenarios to dig into in the future. As Star Trek: Discovery‘s second season looks to borrow a little of The Orville‘s irreverence, the latter show seems prepared to take itself a bit more seriously like the former. It’s a curious tonal recalibration for both shows, and it’ll be interesting to see how they handle those changes. It’s tough to predict The Orville‘s intended course from this reserved Season 1 episode, but here’s hoping it puts a button on some of the show’s lingering character beats so its innocuously charming crew can move onto the business of exploring the universe.

Source: Screenrant, IMDB, and The Spool

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