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What have you been watching? Including Detroiters, Amadeus and Cardinal

Posted on February 6, 2017 | 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 and your chance to recommend anything you've been watching. 

I've been having to fix stupid email servers for most of the day, so you've been cheated out of a review of the first episode of 24: Legacy, I'm afraid. Sorry about that, but as episode two is airing tonight, it seems more appropriate to do a review of them both tomorrow.

Last week, I reviewed the first episodes of Riverdale (US: The CW; UK: Netflix) and Powerless (US: NBC), and coming later in the week are reviews of not just 24: Legacy but the first episodes of two other new US shows, Superior Donuts and Training Day, maybe Legion as well, and an Australian show that starts on Thursday - Newton's Law. Guess what that's about. No, nothing to do with changes in momentum or the like.

After the jump, a look at the latest episodes of Canada's Cardinal, the UK's Fortitude and the US's DC's Legends of Tomorrow, The Flash, Lucifer, The Magicians, Man Seeking Woman, Riverdale and Timeless. But I did watch the first episode of another show:

Detroiters (US: Comedy Central)
A couple of Detroit-based lads starting out in advertising hussle the best way they can to get work, particularly from the local car manufacturers. Trouble is, they're a bit under-motivated.

Despite being on Comedy Central, Detroiters does start off surprisingly smartly with a nice camaraderie between the two leads. The fact it was set somewhere other than the coasts or Chicago was also a plus pointing. I was thinking this could be at least the new How To Make It In America but with a few jokes.

Then they spent what felt like about five minutes throwing things at a glass door to see if it would break and I realised I was in Comedy Central stoner territory yet again.

Next!

And if you were wondering why I didn't have much to say for myself on Wednesday, it's because I was at… the theatre!

Amadeus (National Theatre, London)
Peter Schaffer's play about 18th century Italian composer Salieri's claim to have murdered Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is one of the classics of modern theatre. No mere historical retelling, it gives us a man inspired by God to do great works but upon discovering that He has instead chosen to give musical genius to the foul-mouthed man-child Mozart, dedicates himself to the undoing of both God and His instrument.

The last time I saw it staged was at the Old Vic with David Suchet over a decade ago, so I was intrigued to see what they did with it this time. Ladies and gentlemen - it's a comedy and not a very subtle one at that. Copious ham from both leads - Lucian Msamati as Salieri and Adam Gillen as Mozart - mean the play loses considerable depth in terms of the characters and it's hard to feel sympathy for either of them. With a few exceptions, the supporting cast do little to ameliorate the problem, either.

That aside, it's a very fine production, far more musical than I've seen before, with an orchestra and singers on stage and as much a part of the performance as the actors. A few minor acts of pretension (the Viennese having mobile phones) can't distract from the quality of the direction in the rest of the performance.

But it's a pale shadow - how could it be otherwise? - of 1984's Amadeus, which is comfortably in my all-time Top 3 movies, so really, you should watch that as soon as possible if you haven't already. Although not the Director's Cut: to misquote Inspector Morse's classic Masonic Mysteries episode, "I won't have it in the house."

Shows I've been watching but not recommending

Cardinal (Canada: CBC/Super Écran)
1x2 - Delorme
Nowhere near as interesting as the first episode, being rather a talky affair in which little happened. But still nicely made, with some subtle and interesting writing, particularly between the two leads.
Review: First episode

DC's Legends of Tomorrow (US: The CW; UK: Sky 1)
2x10 - The Legion of Doom
Marvellously entertaining and funny as our baddies take centre stage and try to work out who's the baddest. Each gets to shine in their own way, and I have to say the introduction of (spoiler alert) Black Flash was deeply impressive and well realised.
Reviews: First episodefourth episode

The Flash (US: The CW; UK: Sky 1)
3x11 - Dead or Alive
It turns out The Flash's biggest problem is… The Flash. Seriously, when did Barry get so whiny? When did he turn into Spider-man? Anyway, with the focus on the supporting cast, a far more fun episode that almost makes me regret demoting the show last week. But not quite, because the show really could do with being shortened to about two-thirds its current number of episodes at least, judging by how much filler and not getting on with the plot there is.
Reviews: First episodethird episode

Lucifer (US: Fox; UK: Amazon) 
2x13 - A Good Day To Die
Turns out these last three episodes have been basically a three-parter that forces Lucifer to go back to Hell in order to save Detective Dull from dying. You can see God's plan at work in it all but I'm very surprised no one else can. Silly angels. But at least Hell was fun.
Reviews: First episodethird episode

Riverdale (US: The CW; UK: Netflix)
1x2 - Chapter Two: A Touch of Evil
As with Cardinal, a considerably less impressive second episode. Here, Riverdale tries to be both a dark murder mystery and a full-on comedy and not quite working as it shifts between tones. But the bonding between Betty and Veronica was well executed and the dialogue maintained its smartness, at least.
Review: First episode

Timeless (US: NBC; UK: E4)
1x13 - Karma Chameleon
A full-on 80s nostalgia fest that wins bonus points for clips from The A-Team and Manimal, but a bit less for its present day antics. Still, at least something's happening with Lucy's plot.
Reviews: First episodethird episode

The recommended list

Fortitude (UK: Sky Atlantic)
2x2
As JustStark said last week, still finding its feet. Although Parminder Nagra has turned up as a doctor again, at least she's an evil doctor. Still waiting to see where the show decides to go, since it possibly could be turning into a full blown piece of horror.
Reviews: First three episodes

The Magicians (US: Syfy; UK: 5*)
2x2 - Hotel Spa Potions
Another good episode, particularly the parts focused on farming techniques, although the Julia story is feeling a little slow at the moment. The battle magic at the end was marvellously nasty, too.
Episode reviews: 123456-78910-1112-13

Man Seeking Woman (US: FXX)
3x5 - Shrimp
Another movie-focused episode this week, with a tribute to The Sixth Sense being the most obvious, but not the only one. Generally good, with its heart in the right place, but not quite as funny as usual.
Review: First episode

Related entries

  • February 13, 2017: Third-episode verdict: Cardinal (Canada: CTV/Super Écran; UK: BBC Four)
    A review of the first three episodes of CTV/Super Écran/BBC Four's Cardinal
  • March 24, 2017: When's that show you mentioned starting again, TMINE? Including Wicked City, MST3K and Detroiters
    The UK premiere dates for Wicked City, Mystery Science Theatre 3000 and Detroiters

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