What have you been watching? Including Ófærð (Trapped), The Shannara Chronicles, Lucifer and The X-Files

Posted on March 4, 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.

I'm back. You may have noticed at least some stirring of activity from TMINE this week, following my return, with a third-episode verdict on 11.22.63 (US: Hulu; UK: Fox), but the trouble with going away for a bit is that you have to catch up with all the things you should have been doing while you were away. 

But I have. Just about. Okay, I didn't make it more than 10 minutes through Netflix's Love, despite Gillian Jacobs being in the cast. I will try to remedy that next week, although there's a whole bunch of new shows just beginning right now, including Hap and Leonard, Damien, Slasher and The Family, that will warrant some of my time, too. I can't imagine myself trying to watch Netflix's Fuller House, though.

After the jump, the regulars, some of them getting a double helping of reviewing: American Crime, Arrow, Billions, DC's Legends of Tomorrow, The Doctor Blake Mysteries, The Flash, Limitless, Lucifer, The Magicians, Man Seeking Woman, Okkupert (Occupied), Second Chance, The Shannara Chronicles, Stan Lee's Lucky Man, Supergirl, Vikings and The X-Files. I'll admit now that I might be a bit hazy about some of them.

As well as all of those, I managed to watch the first three episodes of…

Ófærð (Trapped) (Iceland: RÚV; UK: BBC Four)
Small-town Icelandic police officer (Ólafur Darri Ólafsson) has to deal with winter and his personal problems, as well as the bigwigs of Reykjavik and a ferry full of annoyed passengers, when a chopped up body is found in the sea. Is the murderer one of the passengers, who is the victim and is it all linked to something in town?

Thematically, the show has a lot in common with Fortitude (although without the horror/sci-fi twist) and not just the location of the filming. It's all about the claustrophobia of an artic island in winter, people having to get on with one another because there's nowhere else to go, and quirky police who've never had to deal with anything except parking tickets and stolen cameras having to deal with people trafficking, gangsters and vicious murders. There's also the inevitable concern of not wanting foreign investors to be scared off by the crime.

Ólafsson is a strong, bear-like presence against the beautifully photographed and breathtaking Icelandic landscape. The characters are interesting and the show avoids the dramatic absurdities of Den Som Dræber (Those Who Kill), 100 Code, etc, in favour of a far less flashy telling of a plausible story. And there's fun Icelandic-Danish conflicts, too. So far, it's shaping up to be my favourite Nordic Noir after The Bridge.

At least for the first three episodes. I'll let you know if that changes…

Shows I’m watching but not recommending

Billions (US: Showtime; UK: Sky Atlantic)
1x6 - The Deal
Damian Lewis and Paul Giamatti finally face off in a tense episode that harks back in quality to the first and gives its strongest indication yet that this is all about testosterone, rather than sense.
Where can I watch it?
Reviews: First episodethird episode 

DC's Legends of Tomorrow (US: The CW; UK: Sky 1)
1x6 - Star City 2046
A quick trip to the future let's us see what Oliver Queen looks like with a beard but without an arm and we meet up with various descendants of past and current Arrow characters along the way. I can't help but feel that they could have looked a little harder to find a better son for Deathstroke, or that maybe they hoped Manu Bennett could be persuaded to come back for a final outing and had to find a replacement at the very last minute.

1x7 - Marooned
Old Canadian reliable Callum Keith Rennie gets to play a space-time pirate and one of the cast of increasingly tired looking and sounding characters gets written out (possibly), while we have to endure an entire flotilla of bad English accents. So much dawdling, so little time…
Where can I watch it?
Reviews: First episodefourth episode

Lucifer (US: Fox; UK: Amazon Instant Video)
1x5 - Sweet Kicks - 1x6 - Favourite Son
The mysteries of the week are getting more forgettable with every episode, but the ongoing plot is where the fun is at, with the Adversary getting an adversary at last. Lovely reveal at the end of episode six - yes, you knew it was coming but it was so beautifully realised.
Where can I watch it?
Reviews: First episodethird episode

The Magicians (US: Syfy)
1x6 - Impractical Applications - 1x7 - The Mayakovsky Circumstances
I think it's fair to say The Magicians is all about building characters and the foundations for later plots, since at the moment all sorts of things are happening yet nothing's going anywhere. But I am starting to enjoy at least some of the characters now and even the worst of the worst are being humanised, with The Mayakovsky Circumstances actually being quite funny at times - largely due to Brían F O'Byrne's Russian (?) accent. I do wish that it would stop being quite so derivative, though. 
Where can I see it?
Reviews: First episodethird episode

Okkupert (Occupied) (Norway: TV2; UK: Sky Arts)
1x7-1x8 - October - November
And finally, just as I was about to ditch the show, it heats up with people finally realising that they're occupied and getting out a great big pile guns. It's almost thrilling again, although the PM is still about as limp as can be imagined.
Where can I watch it?
Reviews: First episode

Second Chance (US: Fox)
1x7 - That Time In The Car
Enjoyable but a generally empty episode, beyond the new story arc (spoiler alert: others have similar technology!).
Where can I watch it?
Reviews: First episode

Stan Lee's Lucky Man (UK: Sky 1)
1x6 - A Twist of Fate
All a bit dark as usual and I'm not sure Sky's diversity quota was really intended to make sure that all the criminals were BAME. However, the story arc is really starting to pull things together. I wish it were doing it with a bit more excitement, rather than grittiness involving forced kidney donations, but it does feel like it's starting to getting its mojo.
Where can I watch it?
Reviews: First episodethird episode

Supergirl (US: CBS; UK: Sky1)
1x14 - Truth, Justice And The American Way 
In which Supergirl learns that Guantanamo-ing people is bad. But a nice little opening scene that rams home the big difference between Superman and Supergirl - Superman reveres Krypton, the home he never knew, but was raised human; Supergirl remembers Krypton and was actually raised Kryptonian.

1x15 - Solitude
Not one but two Superman-universe things appropriated for Supergirl, as the girl of steel heads off to the Fortress of Solitude and former-Supergirl Laura Vandervoort puts on her blue Mystique outfit to play Brainiac-8 aka Indigo. Mostly bobbins, though.
Where can I watch it?
Reviews: First episodethird episode

The X-Files (US: Fox; UK: Channel 5)
10x6 - My Struggle II
While not as bad as My Struggle I, part II was pretty horrendous, tapping into anti-vax conspiracies and ludicrous, near-Midichlorian levels of barbling, and giving David Duchovny not a lot to do. It also brought back Annabeth Gish just so the show could stomp all over her character and gave us a pointless cliffhanger to a generally pointless episode that was grandiose in its ambitious and ridiculousness. Also, while it's edifying that the stuntmen have been studying jiu jitsu and MMA and want to show it off, they need to remember that David Duchovny isn't as young as he used to be…
Where can I watch it?
Reviews: 10x110x1-10x3

The recommended list

American Crime (US: ABC)
2x8
An eye-opening episode in which real-life testimonials from victims of LGBT bullying and the Columbine Massacre are interspersed with the fallout from the shooting of the previous episode.

2x9
Huh. Where's this all going then?
When’s it airing near me?
Review: First episodethird episode

Arrow (US: The CW; UK: Sky1)
4x15 - Taken
An attempt to introduce DC character Vixen to the live-action Arrow universe is somewhat hindered by a pretty poor plot and Megalyn Echikunwoke forgetting she's not voicing an animated character any more so could probably do with dialling it down a notch.
When’s it airing near me?
Reviews: First episodethird episode

The Doctor Blake Mysteries (Australia: ABC; UK: BBC One/Alibi)
4x4 - Against The Odds
Poor old Jean, hey? Otherwise, a pretty bog standard murder episode livened up with some fun among the female regulars.
When’s it airing near me?
Reviews: First episodethird episode

The Flash (US: The CW; UK: Sky 1)
2x15 - King Shark
A minor Arrow crossover that also gives us the return of King Shark. Yes, he's half-man, half-shark.
When’s it airing near me?
Reviews: First episodethird episode

Limitless (US: CBS)
1x16 - Sands, Agent of Morra
A clash between over-ambitious storytelling devices, a tie-in comic and some bad 'Englishness' undermines an otherwise decent episode involving Brian's sister. Big revelations at the end, although nothing we couldn't have guessed.
Where can I watch it?
Reviews: First episodethird episode

Man Seeking Woman (US: FXX)
2x8 - Fuse - 2x9 - Eel
Almost a two-parter in which Mike and Rosa start dating and then break up. Eel, the second Woman Seeking Man is probably the better of the two episodes, featuring not only a cracking Crouching Tiger sketch but also Carrie-Anne Moss as a Mrs Wolf type. 
When’s it airing near me?
Review: First episode

The Shannara Chronicles (US: MTV; UK: 5*)
1x9 - Safehold - 1x10 - Ellcrys
All sorts of fantasy bobbins play out in these final two episodes, as well as a lot of teen angsting. Still, you can't knock something too much in which one of the heroes ends up (spoiler alert) turning into a tree to save the day, can you? Overall, a season that started off really well, if monumentally stupid, faltered a bit, before coming back for a good finish. I'll probably be back for season two, but it could have done with a bit more fun from Manu Bennett.
Where can I watch it?
Review: First three episodes

Vikings (US: History; UK: Amazon Instant Video)
4x2 - Kill The Queen - 4x3 - Mercy
Intriguingly, rather than have the vikings shuttling between venues, the action has now divided itself between three separate settings: Saxons all by themselves, fighting in Wessex and Mercia; Vikings lurking around plotting intrigue and succession in Scandinavia; and the French (and Rollo) lounging around in Paris trying to work out how to fight the vikings when they return. While the Vikings side is a bit tedious, the French side is amusing, while the Saxon side is actually the most interesting, with the Saxons finally remembering they're a warrior culture and know how to fight. Still all a bit too soapy and now clearly paving the way for the show to skip to the next generation, with Ragnar's offspring invading England and fighting Alfred, but generally thoroughly enjoyable, even if doesn't quite know what to do with the current generation any more.
When’s it airing near me?
Reviews: Season one review

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