Roush Review: Peacock’s ‘Brave New World,’ ‘Psych 2,’ ‘Intelligence’ & ‘Capture’
Brave New World
A Sexy “New World”
There’s a lot of talk about the “social body” in a lavish new limited-series adaptation of Brave New World, the Aldous Huxley dystopian sci-fi classic many of us know from high-school lit class. But it’s the many scantily clad bodies writhing in orgiastic abandon that you might remember after watching this sleek and sensual depiction of a future hive society in New London, where everyone (the upper-tier Alphas and Betas, anyway) lives in decadent and polyamorous bliss as long as they stay in their station and keep popping those mood-enhancing Soma pills.
Downton Abbey‘s Jessica Brown Findlay is sensational as the restless Lenina, a scientist in a genetic-engineering lab who rewards herself, in the company of drippy superior Bernard (Harry Lloyd), with a trip to the “Savage Lands,” where a lower caste of citizens lives in old-school squalor to the amusement of slumming and gawking tourists. A dangerous social revolution—how timely—is brewing, however, and when Lenina and Bernard barely escape a massacre, they bring back the brooding John “the Savage” (the terrific Alden Ehrenreich) to their “civilized” world. To say John is a disruptive influence is an understatement, and that’s where the fun begins.
Psych 2: Lassie Comes Home
The Jokesters Are Back
Shawn’s got a million of them. Questionable-taste nicknames, that is, for his long-suffering partner-in-crime-solving Gus. In the delightfully silly Psych 2: Lassie Comes Home, the second feature-length reunion for James Roday (Shawn), Dulé Hill (Gus) and the rest of the Psych gang, Shawn explains why some things never change: “We can’t just dump bits we’ve been doing for 10 years. We have fans. They have expectations. There’ll be a huge backlash.”
Fans of Psych will get exactly what they’re looking for in this loony and frantically gag-heavy caper, in which the guys leave their new digs in San Francisco to return to Santa Barbara after their friend and former foil, Police Chief Carlton “Lassie” Lassiter (Timothy Omundson), is ambushed and shot, his memory scattered after a stroke—reflecting the actor’s own condition as he continues to recover from a massive stroke in 2017. Lassie, they worry, is having hallucinatory visions of sinister shenanigans occurring at his recovery clinic. (Among the in-jokes: Sarah Chalke plays one of his attendants; cue the Scrubs reference.)
The real mystery, though, might be this: “How did either of you reach adulthood?” wonders an eccentric cat lady (A Million Little Things’ Allison Miller) upon first meeting Shawn and Gus. (A self-referential joke referring to how Millions, co-starring Roday and Miller, lives in the shadow of This Is Us made me laugh out loud.) Before long, the unrepentant cut-ups are aggravating the clinic’s director (The Good Doctor‘s Richard Schiff, who always looks like he’s on the verge of cracking up) and running from angry Viking bikers at an ice bar. Just like old times.
Dumb Office Fun
If The Office had been set in a hapless parody of 24‘s CTU, the result might be something like the hilarious Intelligence, an inspired import from Britain’s Sky starring David Schwimmer, a world removed from Friends‘ sweetly dorky Ross Geller, as the arrogant but essentially useless NSA transplant Jerry Bernstein. The awkward American arrives at the UK’s misfit-ridden GCHQ Centre for Cyber Security as a liaison, which we later learn was probably a damage-control demotion, but he immediately starts acting like he owns the place. (He promises, or possibly threatens, to “raise morale so high people can barely move.”) Clashing immediately with the unamused female director (Sylvestra Le Touzel), Jerry manipulates the bumbling and insecure analyst Joseph (series creator Nick Mohammed) to reluctantly do his bidding in what appears to be a one-sided power struggle.
Should this show continue, and I hope it does, I wouldn’t be surprised if David Brent (Ricky Gervais from the original UK The Office) eventually shows up, botching an illegal arms sale or the like. He’d fit right in.
You can’t believe your eyes, and sometimes even your ears, in The Capture, a terrifically twisty and intensely suspenseful six-part spy thriller, which helps get NBCUniversal’s new streaming service off to a strong start, although you’ll notice a decidedly British influence in its first slate of scripted originals.
The Capture, a BBC One co-production, refers to images caught on video, in this case damning CCTV footage of young, controversial soldier Shaun Emery (an inscrutable Callum Turner). Recently cleared of an Afghan war atrocity, he’s shown committing an assault in London that he insists, and perplexed viewers will agree, never happened. Ambitious Detective Inspector Rachel Carey (The Borgias’ sensationally crisp Holliday Grainger) isn’t buying it, though, because the camera never lies.
Or does it?
The more Rachel investigates, the more she is alarmed to learn about high-tech methods of video manipulation and deepfake subterfuge that suggest an international conspiracy way above her pay grade. Adding to the paranoid tension are the ubiquitous surveillance cameras. When everyone’s watching everyone, does a pawn like Shaun stand a chance at getting the truth out? No one’s entirely innocent in this Kafka-like nightmare.
The Capture, Brave New World, Intelligence, Series Premieres, Wednesday, July 15, Peacock
Psych 2: Lassie Comes Home, Movie Premiere, Wednesday, July 15, Peacock