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Channel hop

Mark Peters

 

A tsunami of television-show promotion materials has been filling my inbox faster than Miley Cyrus has been shedding her clothes and artistic credibility. The cause of this incessant pinging of e-mails? HBO's brand spanking new extravaganza, Serangoon Road, starts tonight at 9pm. Unfortunately, for all the bombardment, the channel's head honchos decided in their infinite wisdom not to provide any previews of "HBO Asia's first ever original drama series", and so I'm afraid I couldn't have cast a critical eye over the show for you even if I'd wanted to.

Whether they're hedging their bets or simply lacking in confidence, who knows? But until it airs all I can give you is a little of the official press bumpf. So here goes: "A co-production with Australian Broadcasting Corporation Television, this 10-episode detective noir series is set against the tumultuous backdrop of 1960s Singapore, when the global balance of power has shifted and Singapore is left at a crossroads; a time when British colonial rule is coming to an end and, with independence on the horizon, the island state can finally forge its own identity. Filmed in Singapore and Batam, Indonesia, Serangoon Road stars Australian Don Hany [Offspring] as detective Sam Callaghan and international movie star Joan Chen as Patricia Cheng.

"Sam agrees to help Patricia after her husband is killed while working on a case and, while Patricia may not be a detective, she knows the Cheng Detective Agency needs a good investigator with contacts in both the local community and among the expats, and Sam is her man. While the agency deals with the everyday cases of straying spouses and petty fraudsters, Sam's contacts from his military days prove more than useful when the events turn to international conspiracy, but they drag him back into a murky world that he would prefer to leave behind.

"Serangoon Road is the heartbeat of the nation, stemming from one main artery that runs through the island. Be it culture or crime, politics or patriotism, espionage or enterprise, all paths lead to Serangoon Road."

Sounds alright, doesn't it? Let's hope all the hoopla is justified.

What would you do if one night all the power in the world just went out, everywhere, and everything just ground to a halt? No cars or computers, no planes, lights or toasters. You couldn't even tweet about the end of the world as you'd known it. Thankfully you would also be precluded from watching Revolution (above; TVB Pearl, Thursday at 10.35pm), an implausible adventure thriller created by sci-fi supremo J.J. Abrams.

Fifteen years after "physics went insane" and all technology mysteriously blacked out, government has gone and a post-apocalyptic America is policed by local militias and freedom fighters. Our heroine, Charlie, a young survivalist with cheekbones almost as finely calibrated as the crossbow strapped to her back, tries to track down her hard-drinking, sword-swinging uncle (Billy Burke; above left, Twilight) after her brother is taken prisoner by a sinister militia captain (Giancarlo Esposito; Breaking Bad). Throw in some flashbacks and implications of grand conspiracy, a locket that may or may not hold the answer to everything and a gaggle of dystopian-chic fashion models, and you have a show that's a derivative pastiche of the past half dozen or so other things Abrams has done for TV. If you can suspend your disbelief and accept the show's premise, then you'll probably expect a little more technological progress to have been made in 15 years (couldn't someone just reinvent steam power?).

Revolution is not all that bad - it's just underwhelming, with some truly wooden acting and a script that's got more holes in it than a porcupine's bobble hat.

 

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