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What have you been watching? Including The Hateful Eight, Byw Celwydd, Rebellion and Endeavour

Posted on January 15, 2016 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

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.

Well, you can't say I haven't been keeping you up to date on all the new shows around the world. Or at least trying to. This week I think I've hit a personal record for number of new shows either previewed or reviewed in a week, since I gave you the lowdown on the following:

Which ain't bad. Idiotsitter I previewed last week, so that doesn't count.

I haven't had a chance to watch last night's The Family Law (Australia: SBS) yet, but I'll get round to that over the weekend, fingers crossed, and let you know about it (and anything else that debuts or that's escaped my radar) on Monday.

After the jump, I'll be looking at the regulars, as well as those shows I thought promising enough to keep in my crowded schedule: American Crime, Byw Celwydd, Cooper Barrett's Guide To Surviving Life, Endeavour, Grandfathered, Man Seeking Woman and Rebellion. Those keeping score will notice that I couldn't be bothered with the second episodes of Shades of Blue, Beowulf: Return to the Shieldlands or Angel From Hell, but 100 Code will be getting a look in over the weekend, too. Probably.

But first, a movie!

The Hateful Eight (2016)
Quentin Tarantino's latest is a Western that assembles many of his usual tropes and uses them as a framework for him to mash up Reservoir Dogs, The Thing and 10 Little Indians, into a lovely morality tail about how adversity can help men overcome their racism so they can join together to be misogynistic.

Set just after the civil war, the film sees bounty hunter Kurt Russell is taking in fugitive Jennifer Jason Leigh when a blizzard forces them - and fellow bounty hunter Samuel L Jackson and local sheriff Walter Goggins - to take refuge in a shop on the side of a mountain in Wyoming. There they meet various other characters (Tim Roth, Demián Bichir, Michael Madsen, Bruce Dern), one or more of whom could be secretly in league with Leigh. As the snows set in, the bodies start to pile up…

It takes a good half hour for the film to reach the shop, that half hour being so dull I actually fell asleep for 10 minutes. However, the remaining two and a half hours (including interval) are considerably better. While the film owes an epic debt to The Thing, even poaching some of that film's score, it's also its own beast. But while it doers innovate, constantly surprises, plays with audience expectations, and looks fantastic in Panavision Ultra 70mm, it never does anything quite as exciting as Tarantino's previous efforts, particularly Inglorious Bastards

Funny, but mostly from its gross-out humour; tense, but mostly thanks to The Thing; a decent enough viewing, but mostly full of plot loopholes and missed opportunities. Nothing to go out of your way for.

Shows I’m watching but not recommending

Byw Celwydd
1x2
A significant improvement over the first episode, with the various political manipulations actually becoming worthy of the name and some of the worst acting dialled down a notch. However, still hampered by the casting and production values, which mean that pretty much every exterior scene is filmed somewhere along the same 250m long stretch of Cardiff Bay, just 10m further along each time (Car pulls up - next to St David's Hotel; Art Exhibition scene - other side of the flats from the completely unrelated car pulling up scene; important, completely unreleated political meeting - next dock along from the Art Exhibition; etc) and the music is reminiscent of 80s children's TV shows. Problematically, also, all the male politicians actually seem to know what they want and how to achieve it, while all the female politicians are driftless incompetents with no apparent ambition or political skills, not even the party leaders. But generally more enjoyable than the first ep.
Where can I watch it?
Reviews: First episode

Cooper Barrett’s Guide To Surviving Life
1x2 - How To Survive Insufficient Funds
You have to give the show a certain degree of credit, given that the first episode was an almost exact recreation of The Hangover, for making the second, format-rebooting episode revolve around a 'hangover cure'. Again, the show's writers' intelligence is clearly on display, with attempts to innovate in storytelling, right down to getting in a surprising Paula Abdul cameo. But the show's fundamentally flawed in having a group of three completely unlikable idiots as our guides to surviving life. Maybe it's my age, though, as I found the B-plot comedy of manners involving Meaghan Rath, Liza Lapira and Justin Bartha to be significantly more interesting than the supposed A-plot.
Where can I watch it?
Reviews: First episode

Grandfathered (US: Fox)
1x11 -  The Sat Pack
An episode that largely achieves anything meaningful only if you watched Full House, since this was the episode that gave us a full-on guest appearance by Bob Saget as a member of Stamos' former posse. Paget Brewster got to do a few things at the end, but while there was some clever writing, largely flat for non-Americans.
Where can I watch it?
Reviews: First episodethird episode

Rebellion (Ireland: RTÉ One)
1x2
The Easter uprising gets an almost Heat-like recreation, as the pro-independence rebels seize the Post Office and other important Dublin sites, before the vastly superior British army puts them down. As with the first episode, the focus is less on the big names of the rebellion, more on the female rebels who get treated as badly by their compatriots as the British have treated them, but that almost works in the show's favour, since it becomes surprisingly even-handed as a result.
Where can I watch it?
Reviews: First episode

The recommended list

American Crime (US: ABC)
2x2
The rape allegation gets an 'investigation', and men everywhere who have no idea what female rape survivors go through finally get to see it all through the eyes of a male victim, thanks to the show's ultra-realistic documentary style. In the background, the show also subtly establishes how rape culture and blame permeate society. Can I do a really recommended list?
When’s it airing near me?
Review: First episodethird episode

Endeavour (UK: ITV; US: PBS)
3x2 - Arcadia
A far better, far more plausible murder-mystery than the first episode, but one that's still easily guessable, unfortunately. But full of lovely period detail, some action moments, and a surprising send-off for a regular character that plays with dramatic expectations.
When's it airing near me?

Man Seeking Woman (US: FXX)
2x2 - Feather
Properly funny episode about sex toys that expands into areas of sexual orientation. But being Man Seeking Woman, none of that is any real clue to what the episode is on truly about.
When’s it airing near me?
Review: First episode

Related entries

  • July 21, 2016: Mini-review: Vice Principals 1x1 (US: HBO; UK: Sky Atlantic)
    A review of the first episode of HBO/Sky Atlantic's Vice Principals
  • January 20, 2017: Review: Six 1x1 (US: History)
    A review of the first episode of History's Six

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