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Comic comeback

USA [TELEVISION]

The hegemony of the superhero film has extended to the small screen in this year’s US television season. The success of superhero franchises such as Iron Man, The Dark Knight and The Avengers has led to a raft of new TV shows based on comic-book capers. Marvel’s Agent Carter is a period drama set in 1946 starring Hayley Atwell as a spy and Captain America’s former love interest. The ABC show will launch early next year, while Marvel’s Daredevil adaptation will debut on Netflix in May 2015.

However, Marvel faces tough competition from a trio of DC Comics projects. The CW channel’s The Flash is a spin-off of Arrow and follows Barry Allen – a comic-book fan-turned-forensics investigator – who moves to a new town to solve unexplained robberies, while NBC has supernatural detective series Constantine, penned by The Dark Knight writer David Goyer.

Meanwhile, Batman prequel Gotham – which stars Ben McKenzie as a young Commissioner Gordon – is expected to be one of the breakout hits of the year.

This group of costume-clad dramas is joined by more than 30 other hour-long series and more than 15 half-hour comedies. The tense political situation in Benghazi is mirrored in two series: NBC’s State of Affairs starring Knocked Up’s Katherine Heigl as a CIA attaché and CBS’s Madam Secretary, which features Tea Leoni as a Hilary Clinton-esque maverick secretary of state.

There are also a number of new US shows based on foreign series: crime drama Secrets & Lies starring Ryan Phillippe and Juliette Lewis, based on an Australian show; Debra Messing’s police comedy-drama The Mysteries of Laura, an adaptation of a Spanish show; and Gracepoint, a remake of UK murder mystery Broadchurch with David Tennant reprising his role as a detective.

Ones to watch:

01.Backstrom: The Office’s Rainn Wilson plays a self-destructive police officer in an adaptation of a Swedish book series
02. Red Band Society: Comedy-drama about a group of teenager cancer patients living in hospital. Based on Spanish drama Polseres Vermelles.
03. Galavant: Musical comedy shot in the UK starring Joshua Sasse and Vinnie Jones.
04. Jane the Virgin: Ugly Betty-esque series based on Venezuelan telenovela Juana la Virgen about a young girl who is accidentally inseminated.
05. How to Get Away with Murder: The Help’s Viola Davis stars as a law professor embroiled in a murder plot in the latest series from Scandal creator Shonda Rhimes.

Q&A- Peter Uj

Founder and editor, 444.hu

Hungary

With just 15 journalists, Hungarian news website 444.hu punches well above its weight. Launched in May 2013, its guerrilla mix of sharp investigative reporting and web-savvy writers makes it essential reading for anyone wanting to understand what’s really happening in Hungary. Monocle spoke to Peter Uj, 444’s founder and editor.

Why does Hungary need 444.hu? Setting up 444 was a statement against the oligarchs who have taken over the Hungarian media in the past few years. We are much more innovative, internet-minded, free spirited and entertaining. That’s how we can compete with bigger media companies.

How would you describe the media scene in Hungary?
It is polarised and shrinking, losing money, market share and independence. More and more media companies are owned or influenced by political parties or party-related investors. The state-broadcast media is a joke. The pro-government propaganda is worse than in the 1980s. That is not a factor for young and urban people but it’s very different in rural Hungary and among older people.

How about online media?
There is much more freedom in the online scene. But there, too, are political influences and players linked to the ruling Fidesz party.

Hungary was a Communist country for more than 40 years. How important is free press?
Very, but part of the problem is there is no tradition of real journalism in Hungary. I believe in a free press, western democracy and a free market. But what can you do when most people still don’t believe these things are important? I am trying to convince them.

Which stories are you proud of?
Our investigations into the death of Andras Komaromi – an entrepreneur who had lucrative government contracts until Fidesz officials tried to buy him out – the wealth of Fidesz parliamentary faction leader Antal Rogán and the suspension of EU funds to Hungary.

What are your future plans?
We will start new blogs and look for allies in the market. I don’t worry about content or readers; we are confident we will reach 300,000 daily users by the end of the year.

Clever coverage

Berlin [NEWSPRINT]

This handsome and innovative publication is just the tip of a fascinating and fantastically well-intentioned media iceberg. The Niles is the two halves of the formerly unified Sudan and this special issue focuses on the countries’ reliance on guns as the mouthpieces and persuaders of choice. Made by non-profit organisation Media in Cooperation and Transition in Berlin, it aims to offer balanced and accurate coverage of Sudanese and South Sudanese affairs. The magazine-ish editorial on newspaper-ish paper stock is a world away from the well-meaning but dry editorial of many projects aimed at alleviating problems and educating a populace.

Strewn with smart infographics, imaginative layouts and original photography, the English-one-side, Arabic-the-other format is a pleasure to read and from which to learn that Sudan has stricter gun laws than the US and that pencils and bullets can both be propelled at the same deadly velocity.

Sweet sounds

Global [AUDIO]

Wireless has always been aesthetically OK (“Look, no cables!”) but audio buffs have been rightly wary about the sound. The tide will be turned by little masterpieces such as the Aero, fresh from the stable of thoroughbred audio specialist Mission, they of loudspeakers famed for exciting sound in eye-catching cabinets. Subtle but powerful, the Aero promises to raise the hairs on the back of the neck.

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