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...a case of deja view; Can you have too much of a good thing? Are all sequels driven only by a cynical desire for easy money and doomed to disappoint? Nathan Bevan grabs his remote and gets...

LWAYS leave 'em wanting more',' or at least that's how the old showbiz adage goes.

'Money talks and b******* walks' - is another famous saying and probably far more pertinent when it comes to discussing sequels.

I mean, what other real reason, other than the fact the first one made a shed load of cash, do the folks in Hollywood or TV land have to make a second instalment of anything? Does anyone really have a burning interest to see how the character of The Hulk develops over the course of the next zillion Avengers movies? Is Harrison Ford's umming and ahhing over whether to resurrect a pensionable Indiana Jones governed by anything other than the fact he'd quite like a bigger pool in the back garden of his Bel Air pile? Indeed, would I even be typing the words 'Fast & Furious 8' had the artistically bankrupt franchise's seventh instalment not recently made one billion dollars in just under three weeks at the box office? And the same is true of the small screen.

Take the case of True Detective's sophomore season which debuted on Sky Atlantic this week to mucho "meh"-type indifference online.

Seems the huge success of the original outing and presence of bona fide A-listers like Matthew McConaughey meant plans for a follow-up were always going to be bomb proof.

However, the decision to pursue an entirely different story with entirely different characters - while a bold move - meant the risk of alienating the very audience who'd invested so much time and energy championing it in the first place.

And that's where True Detective 2 was always doomed to fail.

A simple revisit to Rust Cohle's dour determinist world view and another slice of southern gothic murder mystery would have smacked of money for old rope.

But shun it completely and you run the risk the whole of social media shrugging in response and drubbing it for 'not being as good as the first.'.

As a result this new True Detective seemed to pitch for somewhere inbetween two stools and, in overreaching, failed to impress anyone.

Los Angeles was painted as a florescent strip-lit Sodom to replace the swampy foreboding of Louisiana, with the McConaughy/Woody Harrelson dream team replaced by four - count 'em - big names - Colin Farrell, Vince Vaughn, Rachel McAdams and Taylor Kitsch.

Well, okay, three big names then. In addition, the occult-ish overtones that lent season one such macabre watchability were given a clunky rehash in the scenes where a mutilated corpse in sunglasses was shown being driven around LA by an unseen killer who keeps a stuffed crow on his dashboard. Neverthless, it was still severed head and shoulders above the majority of shows currently doing the rounds.

It's just hard to imagine why they bothered sticking to calling it True Detective at all.

Similarly, this year's much maligned resurrection of Broadchurch probably wouldn't have fared anywhere near as badly had it simply concentrated on the further investigations of David Tennant's DI Hardy under a different banner and away from the Dorset coast.

But, by insisting on calling it Broadchurch, it buckled under the weight of expectation - coupled with a weak script that tried too hard to eke the last drops from a story that had already been resolved fairly satisfactorily in the first place, thank you very much.

Some shows have been more adept at bucking this trend, though. For example, Line of Duty showed everyone how the whole sequel lark should be done early last year. It may have retained its name and its core repertoire of actors, but by focusing on a team of corruption busters in the Metropolitan Police force it meant multiple storylines could be plundered without the likes of plausibility ever feeling strained.

So much so series three is already making most critics' polls of what to watch later this year.

Fargo too is another exception to this rule. No one expected a 20-years-too-late TV update of the Coen Brothers' '96 movie classic to have ever been any good.

But fearless performances from the likes of Martin Freeman and Billy Bob Thornton, as insurance salesman and contract killer whose paths inextricably cross one fateful night, along with a darkly comic script, made it an award-winner.

And, even though it's jettisoned that successful first season's entire cast in returning to those snowy North American wilds, its status as a prequel means we'll finally get to learn exactly what unspeakably heinous crime went on in the city of Sioux Falls several decades before - an event ominously referenced several times throughout series one.

It's a shame then that, in amongst all this televisual deja vu, innovative, if little watched, homegrown gems like Channel 4's frequently shocking conspiracy drama Utopia and BBC Three's teen zombie angst-fest In The Flesh have been left on the pile marked 'do not recommission.'.

That said, even this jaded old veteran of the gogglebox couldn't help feel both a stab of excitement and trepidation at learning The Missing was to get a second series in 2016.

An absolutely gut-wrenching child kidnap drama - which ended last Christmas with one of the most unseasonably downbeat endings EVER - it looks set to make a comeback with another case for its world-weary French detective Jean Baptiste (played by the brilliant Tcheky Karyo).

You can almost hear the Twitter naysayers brushing up on how to best express their disappointment in 140 characters or less as we speak.

True Detective review - page 33


Broadchurch and, left, Indiana Jones and Fast & Furious 7
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jun 27, 2015
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