Two U.S. cable gems premiere tonight–one you can see now in Canada, and one being held off Canadian screens until the very end of the month.
The first is George Harrison: Living in the Material World. The Beatles biopic is by director Martin Scorsese and Part One premieres tonight at 9 p.m. on HBO and HBO Canada.
Getting an advance peek at this hotly anticipated documentary has been impossible. It wasn’t paneled at press tour, it didn’t play at TIFF. HBO Canada did not send out any screeners.
The “Quiet Beatle,” who passed away (can it be already?) 10 years ago next month, retains a great deal of fascination, in no small part due to the fact that, unlike fellow Fabs John Lennon or Paul McCartney, he managed to stay comfortably under the radar for much of his post-Beatles life.
Word from critics who have screened the film is that Scorsese, who pried under Bob Dylan’s skin for his 2005 PBS documentary No Direction Home, has fashioned a compelling look at a complex man, “a portrait of character more than of ‘a character'” writes Robert Lloyd in the Los Angeles Times.
The stand out quote from the trailer is Eric Idle’s remark about how Harrison mortgaged his house to help finance Monty Python’s Life of Brian. Says Idle, “still the most anybody has ever paid for a cinema ticket.”
The other big TV ticket tonight is American Horror Story, the new FX drama from Glee executive producer Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk. The advance screening of this scared the pants off of me and others at press tour (as I related in an earlier post) but there seems to be some push back as the series premieres in the States (tonight at 10 p.m. on FX). Blogger Curt Wagner at the Chicago Tribune feels the series is haunted by cliches and inconsistency. He’s quick to dismiss what he sees as “one-dimensional characters, pat story lines cribbed from myriad haunted house and slasher movies, some awful dialogue and a lot of naked Dylan McDermott.”
It is a haunted house tale, albeit a kinky one, with McDermott and Connie Britton the teetering couple at the core of the story, but I found that there is a well executed creepiness to the entire pilot right down to the jarring and noisy credits. Worth watching, too, just to see how far Jessica Lange will take her crazy next-door-neighbour character.
Canadians will have to wait until Oct. 31 to judge for themselves. That’s when Rogers will roll out their new specialty channel FX Canada, where American Horror Story will be a cornerstone along with earlier seasons of Sons of Anarchy and Justified. (Current seasons of those two series can still only be seen in Canada on Super Channel).