IN MY VIEW

Sunday Times - - TV - Matthew Vice

OK, it looks like things have sta­bilised this week with re­gards to new shows pop­ping up, so I can cover some­thing I didn’t have space for pre­vi­ously. On M-Net, chan­nel 101, Fri­day at 19:30, we have World of Dance, a re­al­ity con­test hosted and judged by Jen­nifer Lopez. The wiki ar­ti­cle about the show con­tains quotes of Lopez gush­ing about how dance was her ticket to fame and her first form of artis­tic ex­pres­sion and blah blah blah. A $1-mil­lion prize is up for grabs and con­tes­tants can use any form of dance they want, ei­ther as solo per­form­ers or groups.

On Satur­day on M-Net 101, at 15:00, is

Ratchet and Clank, a 2016 big-bud­get, com­puter-an­i­mated movie based on the pop­u­lar sci-fi ac­tion videogame se­ries. We all knew this would come one day, the videogames have a kind of Satur­day morn­ing car­toon vibe to them and the de­vel­oper of the se­ries, In­som­niac Games, clearly en­joyed mak­ing the car­toon story se­quences as much as the ac­tual game­play bits.

The gist of the se­ries is a furry crea­ture called Ratchet (voiced by James Arnold Tay­lor) who be­friends a diminu­tive ro­bot called Clank (David Kaye) and to­gether they have all kinds of ad­ven­tures sav­ing the gal­axy from peril.

I’m a bit an­noyed about this movie. Not be­cause it’s bad (al­though it’s not great ei­ther) but be­cause it was also the im­pe­tus be­hind In­som­niac Games re­boot­ing the videogame se­ries. Yeah, you know all that nu­ance and back­story, let’s just throw that out the win­dow so we can start again with a new game to co­in­cide with the movie in hopes of gar­ner­ing a le­gion of new fans. I thought you were above all that, In­som­niac. I’m not an­gry — I’m dis­ap­pointed. Any­way, in this sub-par retelling of the story, Ratchet and Clank team up to stop an alien race called the Blarg from steal­ing pieces of plan­ets to craft a new home­world for them­selves. Time­less is a US sci­ence-fic­tion ac­tion mys­tery se­ries from last year. I’m pretty sure we didn’t get it at the time, but we have it now, M-Net Chan­nel 101, Satur­day, 18:30. The premise is that a com­pany called Ma­son In­dus­tries in­vents a time-travel ma­chine that is stolen by a crim­i­nal who wants to al­ter the course of history for some ne­far­i­ous pur­pose, so they haul out a back-up time ma­chine they had on hand and put to­gether a team of three peo­ple to chase the thief through time.

The three heroes are played by Abi­gail Spencer, Mal­colm Bar­rett and Matt Lan­ter, in the roles of Lucy Pre­ston, a history pro­fes­sor whose knowl­edge of past events should help suss out the vil­lain’s mo­tive; Ru­fus Car­lin, an en­gi­neer knowl­edge­able about the work­ing of the time ma­chine; and Mas­ter Sergeant Wy­att Lo­gan, a sol­dier to do the heavy lift­ing.

You can prob­a­bly see what’s com­ing: in each episode they hit a new his­tor­i­cal area and in­ter­act with some his­tor­i­cal fig­ures, each time thwart­ing the vil­lain and gain­ing a tiny piece of info rel­e­vant to his over­all plan.

It’s a bit like the As­sas­sin’s Creed videogames, but with much less stab­bing.

Oh, and the vil­lain Gar­cia Flynn (Go­ran Višn­jic) is guided in his mis­sion by a di­ary from the fu­ture writ­ten by Lucy Pre­ston her­self. Oooh! A juicy mys­tery. Sounds good, right?

Well, maybe. Per­haps I’ve just seen this hap­pen too many times, but it al­most seems like the big­ger and juicier the mys­tery, the more limp and dry the even­tual ex­pla­na­tion.

The se­ries cur­rently has 16 episodes and was ini­tially can­celled, but quickly picked up again for a sec­ond sea­son next year . . . al­most like some­one went back in time and changed the net­work chiefs’ minds.

It’s also a time-travel story, and those are no­to­ri­ous for be­ing more full of holes than the roads in my neigh­bour­hood. Ap­par­ently the writ­ing is tight in this one to avoid that. Alright, chal­lenge ac­cepted.

WRONG CEN­TURY: In ‘Time­less’, Mal­colm Bar­rett (left) plays Ru­fus Car­lin, Matt Lan­ter plays Wy­att Lo­gan, and Abi­gail Spencer plays Lucy Pre­ston. Be­hind them is their trusty time ma­chine in which they chase a thief

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