What did you watch this week (w/e January 20)?

Ruth Jones as Stella

Time for "What did you watch this week?", my chance to tell you what I watched this week that I haven’t already reviewed and your chance to recommend things to everyone else (and me) in case we’ve missed them.

First, the usual recommendations: Archer, Being Human (US), The Daily Show, Modern Family, Happy Endings, Portlandia, Royal Pains, Shameless (US), Southland, Suburgatory and 30 Rock. Do watch them.

Still in the viewing queue from last week are Eternal Law, The L.A. Complex and Arctic Air. I get the impression I won’t watch any of them. As predicted, I deleted Borgen from the viewing queue since I’m now four episodes behind. I’ve now got the second episodes of Are You There, Chelsea? and Shameless (US) to get through, too, as well as the first episode of Smash and the first episode of the new series of Mad Dogs.

But I did manage to watch the first episodes of a few new shows:

  • Rob: Rob Schneider (yes, Deuce Bigalow himself) plays an OCD guy who marries a woman virtually on impulse and gets to meet her extensive Mexican family, including her dad, played by the 1970s’ Rob Schneider, Cheech Marin. I was expecting to absolutely hate it, but it did display at least a few signs of intelligence and originality… for all of 10 minutes, after which the ridiculous farce and extensive Mexican stereotypes kicked in and I switched off. So better than Mike and Molly but not as good as 2 Broke Girls then.
  • The Finder: A spin-off from the tepid Bones, in which a man (and two sidekicks, including Michael Clarke Duncan) who can find things… finds things. Exciting, huh? Watched the first five minutes, during which our hero was shot at with an automatic while running down a narrow corridor, yet survived to tell the tale, and figured I’d pretty much got the measure of the show. An affable enough dramedy, but in no sense remarkable at all.
  • Stella: Sky 1’s new comedy-drama starring and written by Ruth Jones of Gavin & Stacey fame. Now, we were a little divided about this one, because I didn’t think it that great, while my lovely Welsh wife said it was almost exactly like being back home: even if it wasn’t necessarily funny all the time, it was always incredibly well observed. However, we stopped after 10 minutes of episode 2, since it just started to get a bit miserable and unenjoyable. It should also be pointed out this had the worst title sequence of any UK TV show since 1985.

A few thoughts on some of the regulars:

  • Portlandia: after the fabulous first BSG sketch from this episode, expectations were high for the follow-ups. The next wasn’t as good, and neither was the final sketch, but it saw a reunion of James Callis, Edward James Olmos and Ronald D Moore so was worth it all to see them watching Doctor Who together at the end. 
  • 30 Rock: Slowly decreasing in funniness, but a couple of good moments.
  • Royal Pains: back and starting to feel a little less like it’s treading water than it did over summer. Signs of plot progression? We can only hope.
  • Being Human (US): the first episode is doing a repeat of series 1, by starting the same way the UK series did. But this time, lessons appear to have been learnt. While a little darker and less engrossing than it was towards the end of series 1, the episode picked up after the first 15 minutes or so to give us a better version of the original. Sally’s plotline was fun without the comedy overkill of Annie’s, and Nora is essentially a pleasant but still sparky version Nina, which means she’s actually watchable (ditto Josh v George and Tovey’s over-acting). We also had some great vampire moments and fights courtesy of Sam Witwer’s Aidan. On the whole, I’m looking forward to this series much more than I am to series 4 of the UK original.
  • Sherlock: The Hounds of Baskerville – dreadful, illogical and obvious; The Reichenbach Fall – much better, although dragged in the middle. Looking forward to the next series!
  • Suburgatory: Sweet, and an interesting ending.
  • Southland: As usual, cast changes aplenty. We have Lucy Liu making a surprisingly good street cop; Arija Bareikis seems to have disappeared, as has every detective who isn’t Regina King (or her new partner). It basically feels like a slight retooling to focus on the best bits of the show – the beat cop side – away from the detectives. A little bit bitty as an episode, but with a cracking firefight and some great moments. Welcome back Southland!

And in movies:

  • Paradox: An odd little movie that you can find on SyFy now and then. Based on a comic book, it stars Kevin Sorbo (Hercules, himself) as a detective who lives in a world much like our own but that uses magic the way we use science. Winston Churchill helped to defeat the Germans in World War 2 using the power of Excalibur and is still alive; wizards run the government and coroners bring people back from the dead to answer questions about their murders. Except there’s crossover between the two worlds and Sorbo has to learn how to deal with science and technology. Let down by the gimmicky addition of comic book artwork in between scenes, it’s quite fun, although never going to win any awards.

"What did you watch this week?" is your chance to recommend to friends and fellow blog readers the TV and films that they might be missing or should avoid – and for me to do mini-reviews of everything I’ve watched. Since we live in the fabulous world of Internet catch-up services like the iPlayer and Hulu, why not tell your fellow readers what you’ve seen so they can see the good stuff they might have missed?

  • Mark Carroll

    I’m still with “Grimm” and “Once Upon a Time”. I’m not sure that there’s more than a season’s worth of material in either, but they’re certainly good enough for now. “Foyle’s War” ambles along passably but not exactly compellingly; now I’m done with season five. Crime procedurals have been about the same as ever.

  • bob

    I’m watching Revenge, Chuck, Supernatural and Fringe at the moment.
    I feel like there ought to be more stuff for me to watch but I just can’t think of any. I worry that I am losing my love of tv.

  • Gareth Williams

    I watched Alcatraz, and I think it’s going to be rubbish.

  • TV-wise there seem to be a few regulars getting the on-button. Sherlock was a delight: loved all three eps in different ways and for different things. Borgen is still keeping us: it’s kinda like a Danish West Wing but oh so much more. We’ve been watching Coppers (so shoot us: it’s only because of the gratuitous local connection). Eternal Law is our current guilty pleasure. We have no idea why we like it so much, but it keeps pulling us back each week.
    Otherwise, some catch-ups: the Ken Russell documentary was great.
    Film-wise, we have belatedly watched Attack the Block which was wonderfully awkward and enjoyable (I leapt up several times, hands flailing as things made me jump).

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