MEADOWLANDS created by Robert Murphy and Matthew Alridge, with David Morrissey, Lucy Cohu, Felicity Jones and Harry Treadaway. Premieres Monday (June 18) at 9 pm on TMN. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
A family of four are blindfolded and dumped from a van in front of a quaint little house in a quiet suburb in merry ol' England. Home, sweet fookin' home.
From the opening scene, this Showtime series (via British TV) only gets weirder. Imagine Coronation Street written by David Lynch and you might have some idea of the level of perversity we're dealing with.
Like The Riches, about a family of con artists trying to pass themselves off as typical middle-class middle Americans, Meadowlands is about a suburban sham.
The Brogans dad Danny (David Morrissey), mom Evelyn (Lucy Cohu), twins Zoe (Felicity Jones) and Mark (Harry Treadaway) are looking to make a fresh start in a new town where nobody is supposed to know who they are.
Seems a mysterious fire, a murder and who knows what else have dropkicked them into eerily idyllic Meadowlands, which is actually a community for people in the witness protection program. Thieves, killers, rapists, embezzlers, people who tear the labels off mattresses (and their families, of course) all play dress-up as butchers, bakers and candlestick makers.
Everyone's hiding from their criminal past, from their creepy new neighbours yet they can never leave.
The result is an unsettling drama reminiscent of the classic 60s sci-fi series The Prisoner. Also British, The Prisoner was about a spy who tries to leave the secret service only to be kidnapped and taken to the mysterious Village, from which he spends the rest of the series trying to escape.
It's impossible to tell after just one episode whether Meadowlands will plumb similar allegorical depths. But the premise is sharp enough, the characters twisted enough (a mute, a sex-crazed handyman and an overweight woman with an Aphrodite complex figure prominently in the first episode) to make you want to see where this ride takes you.
Thar she blows!
PIRATE MASTER created by Mark Burnett. Airs Thursday at 8 pm on CTV and CBS. Rating: N
Fire a cannonball through the hull of Pirate Master and string creator Mark Burnett from the nearest yardarm.
Like Burnett's other series (that would be Survivor), PM pits 16 average joes, from firefighters to fashion publicists, against each other in the pursuit of booty.
But beyond the epic-looking aerial shots and pretty scenery, there's little to hold your attention. Certainly not the silly pirate costumes everyone's forced to wear, the lame and tame challenges (just how long did they milk that guy's shoe being stuck in the mud for dramatic tension?) or the climactic pirate court where someone gets set adrift.
And as for the first cast member tossed over the side a shit-disturbing scientist-slash-stripper who looks like he just stepped off the cover of a Harlequin romance novel, can anyone else match that level of ridiculousness?
What to watch this week
THURSDAY, JUNE 7
FAST CARS & SUPERSTARS (Reality) NASCAR is apparantly one of the most-watched sports on TV. So it's no surprise someone convinced bottom-tier celebs like Jewel and William Shatner to race each other in a reality showdown. Hope they remember what happened to Jason Priestley. 8 pm on ABC
MONDAY, JUNE 11
CREATURE COMFORTS (Animated) A meld of Aardman animation (Wallace & Gromit) and slice-of-life interviews, the result is a bit like Robert Smigel's Fun With Real Audio cartoons for SNL. 8 pm on CBS
WEDNEDAY, JUNE 13
LAST COMIC STANDING (Reality) A couple of Canucks make the cut in the yukfest's new season. 9 pm on NBC