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Thandie Newton in Rogue.
Thandie Newton in Rogue.

JOHN DOYLE

Why TV's Rogue is, regrettably, a sorry waste of talent Add to ...

So a person goes away for a week and what happens? I’ll tell you what happens – a Canadian starring in a major TV show goes into rehab and a Canadian who is the mayor of a major city does not. Usual sort of thing.

Other stuff happens. The Walking Dead (not a reference to a Canadian TV star or a Canadian mayor) finishes the season with gangbuster ratings. Proving that people like nothing better on a Sunday night than watching other people stick a sharp object in a zombie’s head. Exactly who they fantasize is getting a sharp object in the head is their own business.

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Game of Thrones returned and a portion of the audience was perplexed by the dense plotting but decided to stick with it for the sex and nudity bits. And, possibly, hoping that some nogoodnik gets a sharp object stuck in his head. As people do.

A Canadian broadcaster makes a big deal of announcing the upcoming series Storage Wars Canada. It’s a show featuring people bidding to own the rubbish left in abandoned storage lockers, in the hopes the rubbish will turn out be stuff that is either a) rubbish worth more than they paid for it, or b) rubbish craved by collectors of obscure stuff, those people with more money than sense.

You know, there’s a giant complex of storage lockers a few minutes walk from the HQ of the CBC here in downtown Toronna. I look forward to the Storage Wars Canada episode in which somebody bids 50 bucks to open up a locker there and discovers that the CBC’s creativity, zest and good show ideas were accidentally left there years ago. It would solve a national mystery. Right up there with the mystery of the Franklin expedition.

Speaking of rubbish, you know what’s rubbish? I’ll tell you what’s rubbish.

Rogue (The Movie Network, Movie Central, 9 p.m.) is rubbish. A new 10-part drama starting tonight, it’s a Canada/U.K. co-production made for the U.S. satellite provider DirecTV. As such it’s a typical international mess of clichés, plodding plot and actors from various countries struggling to get a grip on what accent they are meant to employ.

Ostensibly it’s about a cop named Grace (British actress Thandie Newton) who works undercover and gets herself steeped in a chaos of loyalties. Mostly it’s a matter of Newton striding around Vancouver (which stands in for Oakland, Calif.) in skinny jeans and boots while scowling. We’re at the fashion-model level of acting here – strut and scowl, turn, strut and scowl.

When we first meet Grace she’s in her criminal role, meeting a crime boss to sell him some fake drugs made in China. We know the crime boss, Jimmy (Marton Csokas), is a crime boss because he sits behind a desk, stroking his beard and drinking wine every time we meet him. Also he talks about loyalty and stuff, and has an accountant. Turns out, what we’re seeing happened in the recent past. Things went awry and Grace’s young son was shot by somebody.

In the present, if you choose to stay with it, Grace is supposed to be on leave but some guy gets shot and Grace goes back undercover. (Against orders, so she’s going “rogue,” you see.) To solve the mystery of her son’s death or have a fling with Jimmy the crime boss. It’s not clear. What is clear is that we know Grace is under stress when Thandie Newton suddenly starts talking in what sounds like an Australian accent. Meanwhile, Grace’s nice husband and her kids get worried about her. The viewer worries that this rubbish is actually going to go on and on for 10 hours.

Several distinguished actors turn up and, if you’re so inclined, your heart melts for them. There are the two Ians. Ian Hart, the English actor whose career began memorably by playing John Lennon in Backbeat, here bustles about in a bad hat playing a cop who never met a person he didn’t snarl at. Canadian Ian Tracey, stellar in Da Vinci’s Inquest and Intelligence, here plays a cop who sits in an office and listens to Grace’s moaning with a plausible look on his face. What a waste of talent this Rogue rubbish is.

I’m back, so come back tomorrow and we’ll look for something that isn’t rubbish. What fun we’ll have.

Also airing tonight

Echoes (TVOntario, 9 p.m.) is worth your while if you get TVO. Made by Sun-Kyung (Sunny) Yi, the doc is about international adoptions from China. It dwells on “a Chinese mother who abandoned her baby; a white, middle-class North American mother who adopted a Chinese girl; and a Canadian mother preparing to pick up her baby from China.” This is not in any way a sensationalist exploration but a quiet, heartfelt look at the emotional depths plumbed by the three subjects.

All times ET. Check local listings.

Follow on Twitter: @MisterJohnDoyle

 

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