Categorised | TV reviews

What have you been watching? Including Spotless, 19-2, American Gothic, Preacher and Outcast

Posted on July 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. 

Yep, Monday again. So much for those grand "Friday or over the weekend" ambitions. Still, given I'm away on Friday, and Game of Thrones, Silicon Valley and Secret City have all now finished, the task isn't so insurmountable, so maybe Monday ain't so bad.

Elsewhere, I've reviewed the first two episodes of Queen of the South (US: USA Network) and passed a third-episode verdict on BrainDead (US: CBS; UK: Amazon). I didn't get round to watching the megachurch-tastic Greenleaf (US: OWN), I'm afraid, because it looked dull, soapy and full of Oprah Winfrey. A preview of The Night Of… (US: HBO; UK: Sky Atlantic) will be coming at some point this week, I hope, although given it's an adaptation of BBC One's Criminal Justice, I'm not 100% psyched for it. I'm also halfway through "stupid teens at 80s summer camp" horror The Dead of Summer, so I'll hopefully be reviewing that this week, too. And given that Amazon released the first two episodes of Showtime's Roadies today, I might give them a stab, too.

That means that after the jump, I'll only be taking a look at the latest episodes of 19-2, American Gothic, The Last Ship, Outcast, Preacher and Silicon Valley, as well as last week's Secret City. Netflix also dumped season two of Marco Polo in our laps on Friday, but I haven't watched any of that yet, I'm afraid. Again, not 100% psyched for it and it sounds like there may be even more historical liberties taken this season than there were last.

But also on Friday, Netflix gave us…

Spotless (France: Canal+; UK: Netflix)
Frenchman Marc-André Grondin runs a crime-scene clean-up company in London, but is falling on hard times. Then his wayward brother Denis Ménochet (Inglorious Basterds) turns up with a dead drugs mule in his camper van freezer, and soon Grondin's financial luck is changing for the better, even if does mean he's working for criminals to clean up their dirty work.

It's a very curious affair - a French/British co-production with two French leads playing two French brothers who never speak a word of French to each other, even when they're alone, except in flashback to when they were kids and saving their mother from their murderous father. Seemingly a drama at first, albeit a terribly written drama with some terrible dialogue, it becomes a comedy-drama by the end of the first episode and almost enjoyable. Almost.

Nevertheless, despite being written by a Brit and clearly filmed by people who aren't content simply to show the tourist parts of London, there's a distinct lack of reality to any of it and Grondin's character is irritating and stupid. Running out of cash? Maybe you shouldn't try to send your kids to private school while living in a huge house in central London, just as all your contracts are suspended. 

It's already been renewed for a second season by Canal+ and the Esquire Network in the US, but unless episode two is significantly better, I won't be watching the rest of it.

Shows I’m watching but not recommending

American Gothic (US: CBS; UK: Amazon)
1x2 - Jack in the Pulpit
A better episode than the first, Jack In the Pulpit manages to earn its cast and composer's occasional knowing winks to the audience, but is nevertheless still a family mystery in which it's hard to care about both the family and the mystery. Daft but not interesting enough to be excusable.
Review: First episode

Preacher (US: AMC; UK: Amazon Prime)
1x5 - South Will Rise Again - 1x6 - Sundowner
Another episode in which the show treads water, followed by a welcome dose of insanity, with a gloriously memorable fight sequence and a huge plot dump to finally explain what's going on. Then everything goes back to normal, albeit with some thoughtful musings on the nature of good, free will and absolute power. Could go either way, but I have renewed faith.
Review: First three episodes

The recommended list

19-2 (Canada: Bravo; UK: Amazon Prime) 
3x2 - Rescue
Quite a hard look at alcoholism, but interestingly despite the name of the show and the focus on Nick's investigation of his cousin this season, most of the true drama and interest reside in the supporting cast's plotlines. And the bikes.
Reviews: First episodethird episode

The Last Ship (US: TNT; UK: Sky1)
3x3 - Shanzhai - 3x4 - Devil May Care
Treading its usual perilously difficult tightrope between jingoism and outright xenophobia, the show is starting to flag a little, as we spend less time on the ship, doing implausible action scenes on land instead (although top martial arts fights in Shanzhai). However, the fourth episode finally reveals where we're sailing in terms of naval warfare this season and it's exciting, and we learn what's going on with the virus, which thankfully hasn't disappeared altogether. Also, what is it with Hiroyuki Sanada and viruses?
Reviews: First episode Third episode

Outcast (US: Cinemax; UK: Fox International) 
1x5 - The Road Before Us
Back to form again, with another genuinely creepy episode that makes you despair for a loving god and that manages to fill in a bit more of the plot to generally good results. Beautiful soundtrack as usual, too. However, Brent Spiner's hat is still a significant mistake. 
Review: First episode

Secret City (Australia: Foxtel Showcase)
1x5 - Ghosts In The Machine
A bit too conspiracy theory for my liking, but it's fascinating to see how everything is coming together, and that baddies might actually be goodies and vice versa. 
Review: First two episodes

Silicon Valley (US: HBO; UK: Sky Atlantic)
3x10 - The Uptick
A happy ending for the season, but one which struggled to find its way, as well as many jokes over its season. Still enjoyable, still the best comedy on TV, but a bit of a placeholder season overall.
When’s it airing near me?
Reviews: First episodethird episode

Related entries

  • August 18, 2016: Review: Baron Noir - season 1 (France: Canal+; UK: Amazon Prime)
    A review of the first series of Canal+/Amazon Prime's Baron Noir
  • December 22, 2016: Question of the year: what were you favourite new shows of 2016? Here's my Top 12!
    What have been the 12 best shows I've seen in 2016?

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