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.
Yes, a doubler - two in one week to cater for the Christmas break and mop up a few leftovers. There’s only been one new show of note this week, though, and that’s…
Ascension (US: Syfy; UK: Sky1)
A spaceship is sent out in the 1960s to colonise a planet in the Alpha Centauri system. 50 years later and the ships’ descendants experience their first murder. Except there’s a Completely Obvious Twist…
I’m only about halfway through the second of the three episodes, so I can’t comment on how this ends, only that the first episode is catastrophically dull as it tries to establish its Mad Men in space vibe while simultaneously trying to avoid giving away that twist, which even a passing acquaintanceship with science, technology, history and the release date of Elton John’s ‘Rocketman’ will reveal within the first ten minutes. However, once the twist is revealed, everything gets a lot more bearable as the writers stop contorting themselves to avoid giving the game away. It’s still not great, and the main stars - Tricia Helfer and Lauren Lee Smith - are lumbered with duller versions of their best known roles, but you might be relieved to know it does at least get better. And you can while away the time spotting references to classic SF authors and noted authors of the 1960s.
After the jump, I’ll be running through only The Fall, Ground Floor, Scorpion and State of Affairs. I’ll tell you now, though - I’m only halfway through Elementary (it’s okay so far - who is the publisher of the ornithology quotes, hmm? - but isn’t this a show that’s supposed to be about Holmes and Watson? I’m not getting that any more).
Shows that I've been watching but not really recommending
Scorpion (US: CBS; UK: ITV2)
The rare beast of a schmaltzy Christmas episode that still works, with a wittle wost boy stuck in a sinkhole on the beach and only our team (plus 1,700 other emergency workers) can save him - while learning a little something about both themselves and Christmas. Very silly and ultimately emotionally manipulative, but it all sorts of works quite well.
State of Affairs (US: NBC)
And we’re back to the standard political staples of all-powerful Islamic terrorists, journalists being unhelpful, etc. But the arc is at least proving interesting and Heigl's ties to the president are paying off as plot elements now rather than being a hindrance. Probably a keeper now I’m in this far, but still not a recommend.
The recommended list
The Fall (UK: BBC Two; US: Hulu)
Once again, Alan Cubbitt proves he can’t end a series, but a cracking extra long episode that finally gives us the confrontation we’ve been waiting for. Nevertheless, some brilliant moments in both this and the series, and whether the series returns or not, it’s easily the best modern ‘serial killer’ drama and the ending works well either way.
Ground Floor (US: TBS)
Baked and Toasted
A slightly painful episode, with few laughs. Efforts to make Briga Heelan’s character a reformed and unknowing mean girl seem strange, but almost work, but pretty much everything else flounders. Back to the romance, guys - it’s what you’re best at.