×

Roar

Filmed in Queensland, Australia, by Sea Change Prods. in association with Universal Television. Executive producers/writers, Ron Koslow, Shaun Cassidy; co-executive producer, Michael Nankin; producers, Paul Barber, Larry Barber, Howard Grigsby; co-producers, Brain Chambers, Lawrence Meyers; consulting producer, Jefery Levy; director, Ralph Hemecker; Even 1,500 years ago, it turns out that the Celtics were in need of a decent shooting guard and a big man in the middle. At least, that's what we're told in this adventure drama set in 5th century Europe that follows a ragtag band of Celtic warriors (is there another kind?) and their bloody battles with a group of nasty, oppressive Romans. Think of the Carringtons vs. the Colbys with a lot more leather ... and fewer showers.

With:
Cast: Heath Ledger, Lisa Zane, Sebastian Roche, Vera Farmiga, John Saint Ryan , Alonzo Greer, Norman Kaye, Leo Taylor, Keri Russell.

Filmed in Queensland, Australia, by Sea Change Prods. in association with Universal Television. Executive producers/writers, Ron Koslow, Shaun Cassidy; co-executive producer, Michael Nankin; producers, Paul Barber, Larry Barber, Howard Grigsby; co-producers, Brain Chambers, Lawrence Meyers; consulting producer, Jefery Levy; director, Ralph Hemecker; Even 1,500 years ago, it turns out that the Celtics were in need of a decent shooting guard and a big man in the middle. At least, that’s what we’re told in this adventure drama set in 5th century Europe that follows a ragtag band of Celtic warriors (is there another kind?) and their bloody battles with a group of nasty, oppressive Romans. Think of the Carringtons vs. the Colbys with a lot more leather … and fewer showers.

“Roar” boasts deliciously elaborate costumes (from designer Jean Turnbull) and impeccable period detail. Yet unlike the divertingly cheesy “Xena: Warrior Princess” and “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys,” this summertime spectacle takes itself relatively seriously — a mistake when your chief female evildoer has a taste for bathing in cow dung.

This also may be the most shamelessly derivative hour in recent network history. It’s “Braveheart” meets “Star Wars” meets “Bonanza” meets “Excalibur” meets “Conan the Barbarian” meets “The Lion King.” It’s the sort of heavy-breathing, irony-drenched entertainment in which someone will ask, “How did you find me?” and the reply will be, “I smelled your fear.”

Executive producers Shaun Cassidy (“American Gothic”) and Ron Koslow (“Beauty and the Beast”) — who also combined to write the pilot — lend several curious touches to their sword-wielding creation.

For starters, our blond-tressed, pinup-worthy hero, Conor (Aussie newcomer Heath Ledger), and his improbably mustachioed, swashbuckling protector, Fergus (John Saint Ryan), mope around wearing what appear to be personal-stereo headphones around their necks.

Too, makeup artist Viv Rushbrook is given a cosmetics budget that had to be the envy of every Elizabeth Hurley wannabe in the free world. The women here, and in many cases the men as well, are caked to the gills in lipstick, blush and eyeliner, leaving us all to wonder what they used back in 400 A.D. to create this stuff.

Finally, “Roar’s” resident dispenser of profound wisdom is an odd duck with hopelessly unmanageable gray hair named Galen (Norman Kaye). He pushes self-esteem to the reluctant and brooding (yet still dreamy) Conor. It’s everything he can do to keep from saying, “May the force be with you, Luke.” Somehow, he gets results.

In the pilot, Conor — whose Irish brogue tends to come and go, rather like the wind — finds his world quickly coming apart at the seams. His entire family is slaughtered by a marauding clan led by King Gar (Leo Taylor), the 400 -year-old Longinus (Sebastian Roche) and the wicked wench Queen Diana (Lisa Zane , who comes closer than anyone else to lending this show an offbeat style).

When the girl of his dreams, Claire (Keri Russell), winds up on the wrong end of a sword, Conor goes a little nuts. Vowing retribution, he is guided into a battle for freedom by his wise New Age guru, fighting alongside the barbarian babe Catlin (Vera Farmiga) and black teenager Tully (Alonzo Greer).

Inevitably, a few contemporary touches emerge in the dialogue. Diana says of her brother, “He’s never been the smartest arrow in the quiver.” We also hear the battle cry, “We’re gonna scorch their arses!” Nothing terribly mystical about that.

The location backdrop of Queensland, Australia, is lush and evocative, and tech credits on “Roar” are all first-rate. Yet one wonders what Fox is thinking in giving the greenlight to a summer series made Down Under that glorifies the original Fighting Irish.

One guess: Rupert Murdoch must be kinda homesick.

Roar

Production: Fox, Mon. July 14, 9 p.m.

Crew: Camera, Levie Isaacks; editor, Ron Binkowski; production designer, Bernard Hides; art director, Eugene Intas; costume designer, Jean Turnbull; make up/hairstylist, Viv Rushbrook; stunt coordinator, Danny Baldwin; sound, Bob Clayton casting, Megan Branman, Maura Fay , Lynne Ruthven (Australia). 60 MIN.

With: Cast: Heath Ledger, Lisa Zane, Sebastian Roche, Vera Farmiga, John Saint Ryan , Alonzo Greer, Norman Kaye, Leo Taylor, Keri Russell.

More Film

  • ‘Half-Sister’ Director Damjan Kozole on Compassion,

    ‘Half-Sister’ Director Damjan Kozole on Compassion, Learning From the Past

    Two estranged half-siblings from a small coastal town in Slovenia spend the better part of their young lives ignoring each other’s existence. But when circumstances force them to move into the same cramped apartment, they have no choice but to come to terms with the past that binds them, while trying to decide how to [...]

  • The Traitor

    MMC Studios, One of Germany's Biggest Production Facilities, Changes Hands

    Germany’s MMC Studios, which has hosted such recent international productions as Joseph Gordon-Levitt thriller “7500” and Marco Bellocchio’s Cannes competition film “The Traitor,” is changing hands. Frankfurt-based investment company Novum Capital has acquired the facility in Cologne, one of Germany’s biggest film and TV studios, from Luxembourg private equity fund Lenbach Equity Opportunities I. The [...]

  • Box Office: 'Annabelle Comes Home' Kicks

    Box Office: 'Annabelle Comes Home' Kicks Off Tuesday With Solid $3.5 Million

    Warner Bros. and New Line’s “Annabelle Comes Home” collected a strong $3.5 million in Tuesday night previews. The supernatural thriller is expected to earn $30 million over its first five days in theaters. “Annabelle Comes Home” is the third “Annabelle” movie and seventh entry in the Conjuring franchise. Preview ticket sales are in line with [...]

  • Naomi Watts Thriller 'The Wolf Hour'

    Naomi Watts Thriller 'The Wolf Hour' Picked Up for U.S. by Brainstorm Media

    “The Wolf Hour,” a psychological thriller starring Naomi Watts and Jennifer Ehle, has been picked up for North America by Brainstorm Media. HanWay Films has also closed sales for a host of European and Asian territories. Directed by Alistair Banks Griffin, “The Wolf Hour” features Oscar-nominated Watts as June, a former countercultural celebrity who lives [...]

  • A Star Is Born

    'A Star Is Born' Soundtrack Surpasses Global Sales of 6 Million

    Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s onscreen chemistry continues to be felt on the official soundtrack to “A Star is Born,” which just surpassed 6 million albums sold globally and has been certified double platinum in the U.S. Released by Interscope Records in 2018, the album debuted atop the charts and remains the highest-selling album of [...]

  • monty-python-are-fifty-in-2019

    Previously Unreleased Monty Python Audio to Get Airing for Troupe's 50th Anniversary

    Michael Palin will exec-produce series of radio specials containing never-before-released audio from Monty Python as part of the 50th anniversary celebrations for the iconic comedy troupe. They will play on the BBC in the U.K. and then go out in the U.S. Palin and his fellow Pythons – John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry [...]

  • The Eight Hundred (The 800)

    Huayi Brothers' Stock Falls 8% After 'The Eight Hundred' Cancellation

    Huayi Brothers’ stock fell by more than 8% on Wednesday, the day after the veteran Chinese studio announced that its new war epic, “The Eight Hundred,” will not hit Chinese theaters as scheduled next week. Shares dropped from RMB5.48 to RMB5.02 overnight after Huayi said Tuesday that its summer blockbuster’s theatrical debut would be indefinitely [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content