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Screen gold is heading our way


Autumn TV schedule launches, which usually take place in late summer, are low-key affairs in Ireland and Britain, compared to what happens in the US. Over there, the major networks go into overdrive months in advance of the new shows appearing, pummelling viewers with lavish trailers – some as long as five minutes – for their upcoming product.

This kind of publicity fanfare used to be reserved for blockbuster Hollywood movies; these days, it's the television industry norm.

The internet is already awash with promos for imminent new series, most if not all of which will eventually reach these shores. Let's take a look at some of what we can expect.


"From the producers of Downton Abbey and the director of The Tudors" might not be the ideal way to sell some of us on a new series, but that's the tagline for yet another reworking of Dracula, starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers as the immortal bloodsucker, and featuring Merlin's Katie McGrath.

Drac has reinvented himself as an American businessman called Alexander Grayson, who crosses the Atlantic to bring scientific innovation to Victorian London (actually, he's really just out for revenge on his old enemies).

The trailer makes it look a lot like a rehash of Francis Ford Coppola's film of Bram Stoker's novel.

Making a more welcome return is the great Michael J Fox, whose new sitcom The Michael J Fox Show marks his first regular television work since he left Spin City in 2000. In a clever melding of fact with fiction, Fox plays a news anchor with Parkinson's disease who decides to return to his old job.

The trailer features lots of gags riffing mercilessly on Fox's condition – AND it features Wendell Pierce from The Wire and Treme. I'm backing this to be a winner.

I'm less convinced by the taster for Ironside, a tooled-up remake of the Sixties' and Seventies' cop show about a wheelchair-bound San Francisco police chief. After being paralysed by a sniper's bullet, Ironside set up his own hand-picked detective unit and was ferried around the city for eight seasons in a specially adapted van.

As played by Raymond Burr, the old Ironside was a burly, middle-aged man in a sober suit, who understandably left the rough stuff to his assistants. The new version, starring Blair Underwood, turns him into a tough, stylish, sexy, streetwise man of action who beats up so many bad guys (at one point he dangles someone from a rooftop), he's more like Shaft on Wheels.


The Blacklist is a much more promising prospect. The marvellous James Spader – whose golden locks and boyish good looks have receded enough to allow him to win the kind of parts his talent always deserved – is a criminal on the FBI's Most Wanted list.

Jaws drop when he voluntarily turns himself in. But he has a plan: he wants to team up with a rookie agent to track down bad guys even worse than he is. Hardly a startlingly original starting point, yet this looks like quality stuff.

After his dalliance with BBC3 in last year's Cuckoo, Saturday Night Live graduate Andy Samberg is back on more familiar turf in the comedy Brooklyn Nine-Nine. He's a New York detective – the best in the division, apparently – whose brilliance at the job is matched only by his inability to behave like an adult. If a trailer makes you laugh out loud, it's a good omen. This did, plenty of times.

So there you have it. Watch this space...

>THIS IS IRELAND CALLING Should we, as a nation, be taking the Eurovision a little more seriously? Mention the contest, which was won last year by Swedish singer Loreen and you'll hear the usual noises about it being a kitsch-fest.

Yet it's a kitsch festival that attracts a huge television audience and is treated with seriousness by every country in Europe apart from Ireland and Britain. I'm sure there are probably tourism benefits in winning the thing.

I've honestly no idea if Ryan Dolan's song has a chance of doing that; I've only heard a few seconds of it.

But it's worth noting the bookies are giving odds of 20-1. If Dolan were a horse, I'd have a punt at that price.

He certainly can't do any worse than Britain's Bonnie Tyler, who was naff all of 30 years ago and might struggle to better the efforts of last year's UK entrant, Engelbert Humperdinck, who was naff all of 40 years ago.

All this irony stuff is fine, but it starts to look embarrassing when you and your nearest neighbour are the only ones doing it.

>CRINGY COLMAN This column has no end of time for Olivia Colman (inset left). And yet, her carry-on at the BAFTAs, where she won an award for drama (The Accused) and another for comedy (Twenty Twelve), made me cringe.

She was nominated in two categories, so she must have known she stood a great chance of bagging something. So why the ditzy, wide-eyed, open-mouthed, I-can't-believe-this-is-happening-to-me shtick?

It reinforced the suspicion that great actors save their best performances for awards speeches.

>RETURN OF THE ROVERS Coronation Street has released pictures of how The Rovers Return will look once rebuilding has been completed. Now if only someone would do urgent refurbishments on the current storylines.

They're so creaky they're in danger of collapsing and wiping out half the cast. On second thoughts, that might not be a bad thing...