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TV Wasteland: The White Queen
Will Starz new wseries finally give it something worth bragging about?
By Rob Vaux
August 05, 2013
Starz unveils its newest original series this week… which is actually a repackaged BBC series that they’re taking advantage of. The White Queen features the expected cocktail of historical British shenanigans, covering the War of the Roses as the Houses of Lancaster and York battle for the throne of England. This was the sort of thing that Masterpiece Theatre used to specialize in, and its “everything old is new again” vibe gives some indication of how Starz approaches its original content.
It’s also an object lesson in cable programming in general, which has rushed after HBO in an ungainly heap in the last few years. Basic and premium stations now covet high-profile original series – some of them incredible loss leaders that exist only to make the station look good. It’s spearheaded a new Golden Age in television, with the likes of Justified, Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead becoming major cultural talking points (to say nothing of HBO’s Emmy-laden schedule). Starz has struggled to make a lasting impression in that market, as it swaps through new shows with disturbing regularity. Their willingness to keep trying – even with BBC imports – indicates the new Pravda in television: you can’t get by on movies alone. The White Queen doesn’t suggest anything new or groundbreaking, but the fervor with which Starz is pushing it emphasizes the importance of having something – anything – distinctive in order to set themselves apart from the pack.
The White Queen premieres this Saturday, August 10 at 8:00 PM EDT.
Under the Dome (CBS, 10:00 PM EDT)
Big Jim tightens his grip on authority. Because he’s a jerk that way.
Teen Wolf (MTV, 10:00 PM EDT)
Scott and Derek find themselves trapped in an empty hospital while a storm rages outside.
Do No Harm Marathon (Syfy, 6:00 PM EDT)
Can’t get enough of that NBC show that no one saw? Syfy is running it all night.
Outbreak (Cinemax, 7:45 PM ED)
Steven Soderbergh did it better.
The Bourne Legacy (HBO, 6:45 PM EDT)
I’m glad Jeremy Renner got a paycheck, but this entire affair probably wasn’t necessary. Repeats on Thursday at 9:00 PM EDT.
Cloverfield (IFC, 8:00 PM EDT and 9:45 PM EDT)
As Guillermo del Toro proved, it’s better without the shakycam.
Demolition Man (AMC, 8:00 PM EDT)
This kind of bad is just so, so good.
Scream (AMC, 10:31 PM EDT)
Supposedly one of Wes Craven’s masterpieces, I’m shocked at how much it hates the very fanbase that gave it so much support.
Face Off (Syfy, 9:00 PM EDT)
Returning winners square off in a two-hour extravaganza.
Rise of the Guardians (HBO, 8:00 PM EDT)
Jack Frost joins forces with holiday figures like Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny to save the world. It’s really quite good, a fact that the pertinent marketing team failed to convey to us.
Entrapment (Cinemax, 8:00 PM EDT)
Few things in life are as creepy as watching Sean Connery watch Catherine Zeta-Jones eel her way through a series of security lasers.
Ratatouille (Disney, 8:00 PM EDT)
Brad Bird delivers another Pixar triumph about a French rat who longs to be a chef.
Van Helsing (Starz, 6:45 PM EDT)
We’re letting it go this week, Hugh. Just because The Wolverine was so darn cool.
The Odd Life of Timothy Green (Starz, 9:00 PM EDT)
A boy with vines on his ankles comes to a childless couple in a film that sounds more charming in concept than real life.
Futurama (Comedy, 10:00 PM EDT)
Leela grows tentacles. Because the Ick Factor just wasn’t high enough.
Taken (FX, 8:00 PM EDT)
Not a great first date movie, I confess, but man that Liam Neeson is awesome.
Tooth Fairy (FXM, 7:00 PM EDT and 9:00 PM EDT)
The Rock can’t hate us this much… can he?
District 9 (IFC, 8:00 PM EDT)
The South African government grapples with alien refugees in one of the sci-fi genre’s true masterpieces. Repeats on Sunday at 10:00 PM EDT on Sundance.
Elf (Starz, 6:50 PM EDT)
It’s not Christmas, but what the heck…
Burn Notice (USA, 9:00 PM EDT)
The gang has to find the antidote to save a dying diplomat.
Wilfred (FX, 10:00 PM EDT)
Wilfred turns Ryan against his family. Because he is a bad, bad dog.
Independence Day-Saster (Syfy, 7:00 PM EDT)
Yeah, I still can’t get past that title, which is pushing it even for Syfy.
Invasion Roswell (Syfy, 9:00 PM EDT)
This one shows a little more promise, about a bunch of old codgers who trained to fight an alien invasion back in 1947 and now have to team up in the 21st century and do it all again.
Twister (ABC Family, 6:00 PM EDT and 8:30 PM EDT)
It’s even dumber than you remember.
SWAT (AMC, 8:00 PM EDT)
Not dumb, but not especially memorable either.
The Italian Job (AMC, 10:31 PM EDT)
A sterling example of what you can do with a good cast and not much else.
The Shawshank Redemption (IFC, 8:00 PM EDT)
Still the greatest Stephen King adaptation of all time.
Resident Evil: Retribution (Starz, 7:00 PM EDT)
Not the greatest in the series, but that Milla Jovovich sure is easy on the eyes…
Continuum (Syfy, 10:00 PM EDT)
Julien’s minions kidnap Kiera following a deadly sneak attack of some sort.
The Warriors (Sundance, 8:00 PM EDT)
“Come out to pllaaaaAAAAAYYYY…”
A Clockwork Orange (Sundance, 9:45 PM EDT)
Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece remains as confounding and hypnotic as ever.
A Knight’s Tale (BBC America, 8:00 PM EDT)
It’s definitely different, I’ll give it back.
Real Steel (Showtime, 7:50 PM EDT)
It doesn’t exactly burn up the screen, but you’ve definitely seen worse.
Men in Black (Spike, 6:00 PM EDT)
Thanks to Mr. Smith and Mr. Jones, this sci-fi goof-off never gets old.
Scary Movie (Bravo, 10:00 PM EDT)
This one was old almost before it hit theaters… and we’ve had a passel of horrific sequels to ever keep us from forgetting it.
Taken 2 (Cinemax, 8:30 PM EDT)
It’s pretty bad, but there’s something hypnotic about watching Liam Neeson hurt people. Repeats on Saturday at 10:00 PM EDT
X-Men: The Last Stand (FXM, 8:00 PM EDT an 10:30 PM EDT)
Considering that we’ve had three more movies and counting, it really wasn’t the last stand, was it?
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (TNT, 8:00 PM EDT)
Still the weakest of the Pirates franchise… at least so far.
The White Queen (Starz, 8:00 PM EDT)
Starz unveils a new series about the rise of a new ruler in England amid the War of the Roses. See the top of the article for more.
Do No Harm (NBC, 10:00 PM EDT)
Jason pushes the limits of Ruben’s new drug when a surgery runs longer than anticipated.
Being Human (BBC America, 10:00 PM EDT)
Tom appears to fall for the wrong girl when she wanders into the hotel.
Primeval: New World (Syfy, 10:00 AM EDT)
They’re running a marathon to burn off the show. Reruns start at 10:00 AM EDT, new episodes start at 5:00 PM EDT and the first season finale arrives at 10:00 PM EDT.
The Man with the Iron Fists (Cinemax, 7:15 PM EDT)
I just can’t hate it. I’m sorry.
Avatar (FX, 8:00 PM EDT)
Four hours, kids. Pack a lunch.
Cars (ABC Family, 7:20 PM EDT)
ABC Family starts out the evening with one of Pixar’s unfortunate weak links.
WALL*E (ABC Family, 9:55 PM EDT)
Nice recovery, though.
Crank 2: High Voltage (IFC, 8:00 PM EDT)
And it’s Jason Statham Night on IFC! Considering the options, they could have done worse.
The Transporter (10:00 PM EDT)
I wanted to like this movie. I really, really did. Repeats on Sunday at 6:30 PM EDT.
True Blood (HBO, 9:00 PM EDT)
They’re keeping quiet on this one. Must be something heavy.
Dexter (Showtime, 9:00 PM EDT)
Dexter takes on a protege. Be afraid. Be very afraid.
The Crow (BBC America, 7:00 PM EDT)
Brandon Lee’s tragic swan song heralds an evening of pretty good movie options out there.
28 Days Later (BBC America, 9:00 PM EDT)
Danny Boyle reinvents the zombie picture for the new millennium and gives us a good look at the wonderful Cillian Murphy in the bargain.
Blade Runner (IFC, 8:30 PM EDT)
Ridley Scott’s dystopian classic only gets better with time. No word on which version of the film this is.
Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (Syfy, 6:30 PM EDT and 9:00 PM EDT)
And if you need something a little lighter tonight, a certain swashbuckling archaeologist will be more than happy to oblige.
Despicable Me (ABC Family, 8:00 PM EDT and 10:00 PM EDT)
The sequel utterly trumps it, but it definitely carries its share of charms.
Snow White and the Huntsman (HBO, 6:45 PM EDT)
Time for this misbegotten fairy tale to shuffle along.
Dragonball: Evolution (FXM, 8:00 PM EDT)
Refresh my memory; which one with the inappropriate white boy in the lead is this one?
Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li (FXM, 10:00 PM EDT)
Maybe the worst video game adaptation ever… and that’s saying something.
Independence Day (TBS, 10:15 PM EDT)
The basic cable staple looks sillier than ever, though that’s not necessarily a bad thing.