John Walker's Electronic House

Television: Painkiller Jane – Sci Fi Channel

by on Apr.16, 2007, under Television

After the death of Aspirin Annie

I think people are going to somewhat miss the point of Painkiller Jane. There’s a simple trick to understanding it: Read the title.

Read it again.

One more time.

Ok, so now perhaps we can forget our worries about its not being Dostoyevsky and enjoy a bunch of nonsense that is enjoying being such? Episode 1 of anything science fiction always has a hard time – introduce the cast, then the special nature of that cast, then have them face a typical scenario, and then introduce a twist. It’s a lot to do in 43 minutes. And so while PJ has some awful moments of awkward exposition, and while it has a couple of, “Oh no, please don’t say… Oh! You said it!” scenes, it does a fine job of being daft scifi about super-elite cops fighting against the Neuros – genetically enhanced humans with paranormal abilities.

Most impressive is the use of colour. I’m sure ten thousand TV blogs are currently writing, “…looks like a music video…” and tsking loudly, as if this is inherently a bad thing. It’s the laziest of dismissals for any form of innovative filming, and, you know what? Sometimes music videos look really fantastic, and it can be a good thing to look like one. PJ’s use of colour is really very impressive, with the shades washing away subtly throughout scenes, sometimes leaving things entirely in black and white, other times letting colour bleed back in at dramatic moments. It’s a really nice technique, and makes a pleasant enough show keep your attention throughout. Plus it stars the T-X terminator.

3 Comments for this entry

  • Steve W

    Hooray, more telly reviews!

    I’m not being sarcastic either.

    In summary then: Raines imploded with a truly cack second episode. I was so disappointed I didn’t even bother with the next. The Shield has been away for far too long, and remains superb.

    Have a look at Eddie Izzard’s The Riches (FX). I’m unsure what to make of it. Izzard’s American accent is, as expected, horrible, but he is surprisingly good otherwise. I’m just not sure I like the premise. And Minnie Driver has a head shaped like a strawberry (which makes up for the lack of jam references, I suppose).

    Tim Minear’s “Drive” (starring Nathan Fillion and, among others, Amy Acker) began last night, btw. It sounds ludicrous enough as to be highly enjoyable:

    Minear describes it thus: “a secret, illegal, underground road race can be anything from Cannonball Run to The Game to North by Northwest to Magnolia-on-wheels. Ours is all those things.”

  • John

    Drive’s to come, as soon as I’ve seen the second episode.

  • Tom

    I just watched a random episode of this, because it sounded like it might be a bit like Jake 2.0, the best trashy sci-fi ever. It was great! Maybe because I was half-expecting it to be awful, but it was the time-travel one, and I did my usual annoying thing of trying to predict whether they’d have the witnessed-future come exactly true or decide that it could be changed, and it surprised me. In fact, its solution was genuinely quite clever, in exactly the kind of logical-reverse-engineering way I’m fixated with.