Archive | US TV

An archive of articles about US television programmes and production.


October 22, 2012

What did you watch last fortnight? Including Dexter, Homeland, The Last Resort, Nashville, The Thick of It, Suburgatory and 30 Rock

Posted on October 22, 2012 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

It's "What did you watch last fortnight?", my chance to tell you what I movies and TV I watched in the past two weeks that I haven't already reviewed and your chance to recommend things to everyone else (and me) in case I've missed them.

First, the usual recommendations: 30 Rock, Dexter, Go On, Homeland, The Last Resort, The Mindy Project, Modern Family, Red Dwarf X and The Thick of It.

So here's a few thoughts on what I have been watching - a bit of pruning with the viewing schedule this week, but also a few changes to the recommended list:

  • 30 Rock: We've only watched the first episode so far, and while it's definitely as funny as always, the gamble that NBC's entire season was going to do terribly in the ratings, which might have seemed a good bet a couple of months ago, is now looking like a complete misfire. As a result, 30 Rock's satire is now wildly off target, even if it's still accurate about the actual quality of NBC's programming.
  • 666 Park Avenue: Tried watching the second episode, but that was as dreadful as the first, so I abandoned it. Don't watch.
  • Beauty and the Beast: See 666 Park Avenue
  • Dexter: And it's a return to form for our old pal, Dexter, which although as ludicrous as it always has been, hasn't been anywhere near as stupid as it was last season and now has the wonderful Ray Stevenson from Rome/Punisher: War Zone to improve everything. It's also very tense as well. It's also got bland woman from Chuck, but you can't have everything. Back on the recommended list.
  • Go On: Promoted to the recommended list, because although it's a pale shadow of Community, it now has enough going for it that it's worth watching.
  • Homeland: After two absolutely ridiculous episodes in a row, episode four thankfully has restored sanity to the show and had some marvellously unexpected twists and turns.
  • Hunted: See Beauty and the Beast.
  • The Last Resort: Promoted to the recommended viewing list, because it's a real cracker. Some tense fight scenes and submarine scenes and the Washington antics are starting to become less ludicrous. One to watch, particularly in the UK now Sky1 has acquired it.
  • Lie To Me: Went onto Netflix to watch the episode where Lennie James turns up. Just horrifying watching him and Tim Roth outclass the other 'actors' in every possible way. Practically a cruel and unusual punishment.
  • Nashville: Like having bleach poured in both ears. Couldn't even make it through the first episode. Just dreadful.
  • The Neighbors: While the second episode was a distinct improvement on the first and there were some surprisingly decent moments from the alien side of the cast, this is still a pretty dreadful show. Don't bother with it.
  • Red Dwarf X: Episode three wasn't as good as the previous two, but otherwise a welcome return to season 1/2 form after a few series of complete dross.
  • Royal Pains: Finally watched the season finale, which was terrible. We'll probably catch the Christmas movie, but I think we'll be dropping this from the viewing schedule afterwards.
  • Suburgatory: It's back with a surprisingly awful first episode, so awful that I've removed the whole show from the recommended list. Let's be cautious embracing this season.
  • The Thick Of It: a lovely Leveson spoof to round off what has probably been the best season of the show so far. Surprising way to end it if it is the last episode, as suggested, but brilliant nevertheless.

And in movies:

  • Dark Shadows: The Tim Burton remake of the 70s soap opera. A weird mix of humour and horror, mostly relying on odd-colourings, particularly of hair, and the usual Tim Burton suspects (Johnny Depp, Helen Bonham-Carter, Michelle Pfeiffer) as well as a few newbies (Chloe Moretz, Jonny Lee Miller, Eva Green) for any real interest, since the script is largely a bore. Surprisingly okay, though, given how bad it could have been, but not exactly a movie I'd recommend to anyone.

  • Taken 2: Although not as bad as a lot of reviews would suggest, and although several elements of it are basically just retreads of the first movie, it's actually not that bad. Not as much action or depth as the original, but it has a few good scenes and the first half hour is dedicated to characterisation rather than fist fights, which is unusual. All the same, there are some absolutely ludicrous elements, largely involved a sealed room and some hand grenades, and Liam Neeson is clearly getting too old for this shit.

"What did you watch last fortnight?" is your chance to recommend to friends and fellow blog readers the TV and films that they might be missing or should avoid - and for me to do mini-reviews of everything I've watched. Since we live in the fabulous world of Internet catch-up services like the iPlayer and Hulu, why not tell your fellow readers what you've seen so they can see the good stuff they might have missed?

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October 22, 2012

Third-episode verdict: Elementary (CBS/Sky Living)

Posted on October 22, 2012 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

BarrometerElementary.jpgA Barrometer rating of 3

In the US: Thursdays, 10/9c, CBS
In the UK: Tuesdays, 9pm, Sky Living. Starts tomorrow

Three episodes into CBS's Elementary and I can conclusively report that Steven Moffat has nothing to fear from CBS's modern-day Sherlock Holmes retelling. Now this isn't just because the two are so radically different that beyond the names Holmes and Watson, there's very little in common. No, it's because although Sherlock is itself flawed, Elementary just isn't as good.

The show's biggest problem, as I remarked in my first episode review, is that it's a procedural. Nothing wrong with that in itself, because in a sense, the Sherlock Holmes stories were procedurals. But problematically for Elementary, which is a crime procedural, the Holmes stories were mystery procedurals: a mystery that needs solving - strange behaviour, a secret code, etc - rather than a killer that needs to be found. A lot of the time, the perpetrator of the crime is known in the Holmes stories - it's what he wants and how he's doing the crime are what have to be revealed, and that are the unusual and interesting aspects of the story.

Elementary, however, mostly just uses Holmes' headline inductive/deductive powers to work out what happened at a crime scene so that the not-especially-interesting killer can be revealed. Not always - the second episode is more of a mystery than a crime procedural - but largely this is the same old CBS police show with a twist, in the same vein as The Mentalist.

The show is also very Holmes-lite. Apart from his deductive skills and his drug-addiction, there's very little of the man himself in this Holmes, with the writers adding a little reference or quote each episode from the original, just to reassure you that this still is Holmes, even though there's been nothing quite as brilliant as even Conan Doyle's weakest observations in the originals.

Disappointingly, just as Jonny Lee Miller isn't an especially charismatic Holmes, albeit one who takes his top off a lot to show his tattoos, Lucy Liu is a somewhat bland Watson, the producers giving her very little to do beyond talk about Holmes' drug addiction. Attempts to make them a sort of Odd Couple really just aren't working. And the supporting cast are practically non-existent, with even Aidan Quinn's Captain Gregson largely there just to say 'Yes, Holmes' and, more frequently, 'No, Holmes.'

But it's not terrible. It's no worse than any random given episode of any other CBS procedural. If all you want to do is unwind at the end of the day in front of the tele, you could do far worse. But don't expect to have your brain challenged in any way.

Barrometer rating: 3

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October 22, 2012

Community's Troy and Abed explain why October 19 isn't on October 19

Posted on October 22, 2012 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

NBC's formerly fabulous (and hopefully continuing to be fabulous, following the departure of showrunner Dan Harmon) Community was supposed to return on October 19th. That was Friday. Except it didn't.

At the last minute, NBC decided not to air it and hasn't yet come up with a new premiere date. Feeling slightly sarcastic about the whole thing, the cast and crew have put together a very special 'Troy and Abed in the morning' to explain why every day is really October 19th.

Incidentally, Chevy Chase doesn't appear to be enjoying the way the show is going at the moment, by the sounds of it.

[via]

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