What have you been watching? Including Reckless, The Last Ship and Crossbones

It’s “What have you been watching?”, my chance to tell you what movies and TV I’ve been watching recently that I haven’t already reviewed and your chance to recommend things to everyone else (and me) in case I’ve missed them.

The usual “TMINE recommends” page features links to reviews of all the shows I’ve ever recommended, and there’s also the Reviews A-Z, for when you want to check more or less anything I’ve reviewed ever. And if you want to know when any of these shows are on in your area, there’s Locate TV – they’ll even email you a weekly schedule.

Despite the fact that a few shows have finished and I’ve decided to drop a few others from my regular viewing, I have a wee backlog of NBC’s new comedy-action show Taxi Brooklyn to get through. Fingers crossed, a review of the first two episodes of that later. I’ve already reviewed some new shows elsewhere, though:

I’ve also given another new show a try:

Reckless (US: CBS)
Absolute bobbins. As soon as you say the word ‘southern’ to an American from one of the northern states, apparently, through some form of word association, ‘sexy fun times’ is the first thing they think of, because what we have here is a desperate attempt to get in predominantly female viewers with a cop show set in the south that sees lots of cops and lawyers having sex and flirting with each other. Being CBS, though, it’s so tame and old hat that when people start sexting pictures of themselves, they still use email and no naughty bits are exposed, yet despite that, the female cop in question (Georgina Haig) gets fired. She decides to sue and hires lawyer Anna Wood to prosecute the police department; the PD hire her flirt partner Cam Gigandet (The OC, Never Back Down, Twilight), prompting muchos sparks. Except it turns out that another cop might have been raped by a bunch of other cops and things take a serious left turn.

There’s a good cast, including Adam Rodriguez (CSI: Miami), Shawn Hatosy (Southland) and Gregory Harrison (Logan’s Run). But the script is dreadful, perhaps even knowingly so at times – legal eagle Gigandet sails a motor boat to work in the morning, wearing his suit under his waders the whole time – and the gang rape of a woman by police officers after they’ve drugged her doesn’t exactly equal the sexy fun times the producers are after.

After the jump, a round-up of the regulars, with reviews of 24, Crossbones, Halt and Catch Fire, The Last Ship, Murder In The First, Old School, Penny Dreadful and Undateable.

Shows that I’ve been watching but not really recommending

Crossbones (US: NBC)
AntoinetteA return to the overall series plot, with Blackbeard hatching plans involving the Spanish and Jamaica while being decidely ruthless. Then there’s a strange arrival of some Middle Eastern ninja. Against that backdrop, we have Malkovich in a wig and Julian Sands being extremely awful. So despite the lovely ships, it’s probably time for me to give up on this.
First episode Third-episode verdict

The Last Ship (US: TNT)
Welcome to Gitmo
Despite some decided jingoism that asserts that you can’t trust anyone unless they’re American, another adrenaline-filled episode that’s essentially just a full on ground and naval war set in Guantanamo Bay. Actually thrilling, The Last Ship may not be the best show ever, but it is shaping up to be the best original TNT show in the past decade.
First episode

Murder In the First (US: TNT)
Burning Woman
The police side of the investigation fades into the background in favour of the much more interesting legal side with James Cromwell, so the police have to spend time filling up the episode count with a domestic violence case. And because they’re both single and friends and heterosexual, guess what happens – as though it wasn’t entirely predictable. So, that’s another one I’m dropping.
First episode

Old School (Australia: ABC1)
Sky The TowelDespite the presence of some kickboxing to liven things up, the show is still dull and still nothing much is happening. And Neill and Brown still don’t like each other so I’m giving up.
First episode Third episode

Penny Dreadful (US: Showtime; UK: Sky Atlantic)
Grand Guignol
The final episode of a season in which despite the massive opportunities afforded it by the source material, not a lot has actually happened. Indeed, it’s got by more because of the subject matter and cast than because of anything it’s actually done, which was very little and mostly lesser than what everyone else has done before. The revelation that Hartnett was a werewolf was so heavily signalled, it would have been a surprise if he hadn’t been. Billie Piper had nothing to do at all. The Dracula piece was largely wasted. It’s only really good quality was Rory Kinnear as Frankenstein’s Monster. The whole season feels like it was set-up for a much better second series where something happens, but I probably won’t be tuning in it for that.
First episode Third-episode verdict

Undateable (US: NBC)
Low-Hanging Fruit
A Chris D’Elia focused episode showing how his character always sabotages relationships. An interesting take but ultimately just another way to change the set-up of the show, which is getting further and further away from its original premise.

+ Let There Be Light
And time to give up. There’s no Briga Heelan any more and it seems to be reverting to the standard US sitcom approach and attitudes to dating. In fact, no one’s undateable or even looking for dates – it’s basically just a tamer It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia.
First episode Fourth-episode verdict

The recommended list

24 (US: Fox; UK: Sky 1)
Episode 10Another adrenaline hour, thankfully. Benjamin Bratt decided to get his top off for no good reason and the most obvious double-switch in history took place. But Robert Cochran was on writing duties again so something big had to be happening… and yes, there was. The big reveal was a nice touch for long-time fans of the show and spell a possible way for the whole thing to be concluded, too. And crossover explosion! Philip Winchester from Strike Back got to deliver a couple of lines in his normal American accent for a change.

Halt and Catch Fire (US: AMC)
Adventure
A slightly lower key episode, that was essentially men marking out their territories, but we did get to see ‘the hiring of the programmers’. We didn’t really need Joe’s dad or Donna’s boss hitting on her, though. The Japanese side of things was borderline dodgy, but the show just about managed to handle it, and Joe is looking more and more sociopathic.
First episode Third episode

  • Mark Carroll

    There really hasn't been much worth watching. We're all caught up now with “The Walking Dead” which has continued to be okay. But, wow, with the summer, the sports, etc., we're left with very little, even “Points of View” has now finished. We did grab some Glastonbury from iPlayer but didn't yet get around to watching any of it.

    Oh, there were a couple of films. There was an Israeli documentary called, maybe, “The Flat”, about a Jewish guy investigating his late grandparents' past; they came from Germany. It was fairly good, mildly interesting, and the people and their reactions seemed real. It moved along at a reasonable pace instead of milking everything for all it could. We watched “Valhalla Rising” which perhaps had potential but largely turned out to be utter dross in my opinion as it descended from its interesting historical setting into increasingly absurd pointlessness. We also watched “Jack Reacher” which was entirely implausible, unsurprising and clichéd while not actually being quite as bad as I had expected; my son was happy to go off to bed halfway through it.

    The highlight may well have been re-watching “Bod”.

  • I recorded Valhalla Rising, so thanks for the warning!

    Bod is aces, of course.

  • GYAD

    Valhalla Rising is mild fun provided you know that it's essentially Tarkovsky as directed by a blood-thirsty Dane, and that it bears no resemblance to history or common sense.

  • GYAD

    VIKINGS – …and I won't be back for the 2nd series. It has its moments but the characterisation and plotting are weak.

    THE 100 – Great concept but typical tweenager dross.

    FARGO – Quite dark but atmospheric and intriguing.

    KIDNAP & RANSOM S2 – Still too flashy and superficial.

  • Season 2 of Vikings isn't as good, but I still like it. I think season 1 ends on a duff episode, too, which doesn't really entice you to watch more, unfortunately.

  • Then I will merely de-prioritise it. Thanks!

  • GYAD

    Yeah, the whole episode is essentially:
    1) Next season…divorce!
    2) Next season…war!
    3) This episode…chatting!