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.
So now I have to apologise. Sorry, Australia. Sorry, UK. Sorry, Internet. I have failed you, as well as a whole bunch of other countries whose TV I ostensibly review but I never quite get round to.
Oops, I did it again. I've got behind. It doesn't matter that elsewhere in the past week, I've reviewed Aftermath (Canada: Space; UK: 5*), Timeless (US: NBC), Westworld (US: HBO; UK: Sky Atlantic), Falling Water (US: USA), Conviction (US: ABC; UK: Sky Living), Frequency (US: The CW) and No Tomorrow (US: The CW), as well as passed third- and fourth-episode verdicts on Son of Zorn (US: Fox), High Maintenance (US: HBO), The Good Place (US: NBC), Doctor Doctor (Australia: Nine), Designated Survivor (US: ABC; UK: Netflix), Lethal Weapon (US: Fox; UK: ITV), Speechless (US: ABC) and The Exorcist (US: Fox; UK: Syfy).
I have failed you.
Oh well. I'm used to failure. Readjusted schedule, then. Some time in the next week or so, I should hopefully be getting through the first few episodes of a whole bunch of Australian TV shows - Hyde & Seek, The Wrong Girl, The Secret Daughter, Deep Water and Rosehaven. As for the US, I should be previewing Epix's Graves and reviewing HBO's Divorce. Meanwhile, on the Internet, Netflix's Easy, Crackle's Start Up and Amazon's Crisis in Six Scenes might well be on indefinite hold, but maybe I'll find the time.
I've not yet caught the latest episodes of The Fall and High Maintenance, so after the jump, I'll be looking over Ash vs Evil Dead, The Good Place, Halt and Catch Fire, Impastor, Lucifer, Westworld and You're The Worst, as well as the return of Arrow and The Flash. Two of those are for the chop - can you guess which ones?
If you look over all that, you'll see I did watch an awful lot of TV last week, just not enough. I probably could have watched all of it though if I hadn't been bogged down with one thing…
Marvel's Luke Cage (Netflix)
Netflix and Marvel's latest 'Defender' is a stonking 13 episodes of… not much. Continuing where Marvel's Jessica Jones left off, it sees Luke Cage head over Harlem way to keep his head down, but when an old friend gets killed, the bulletproof black man has to wade in to help protect the neighbourhood. But then his past begins to catch up with him…
The show sticks pretty closely to the original Luke Cage comics - I've read precisely none of them, but if you watch this video, you'll be caught up on them and know pretty much the whole plot of the first season. But what do we care about plot? Atfer all, Marvel's Luke Cage doesn't, being interested mainly in discussing black culture, history and what is the true and correct course of action for the modern black man of honour. Cage, who is a walking encapsulation of every single African-American stereotype and archetype (gang member, son of a preacher, ex-military, a blue collar worker, frequent denizen of social barber shop, lover, prisoner, medical experiment, boxer et al), becomes a nexus point for modern US politics, wandering around town in a hoodie but able to withstand police bullets, he's able to demonstrate and confront all manner of arguments, while being the perfect role model at all times. Sweet Christmas, he doesn't even swear.
And when he's not doing that, we're getting a musical interlude down the club, to celebrate black music. Method Man makes a cameo and even raps live about Luke Cage and police brutality.
Unfortunately, despite a cracking soundtrack and numerous homages to blaxploitation movie, that's really all the show is, despite a grade A, almost exclusively black cast that includes multiple members of The Wire's cast (eg Sonja Sohn), Sons of Anarchy's Theo Rossi, Alfre Woodward, Banshee's Frankie Faison and House of Cards' Mahershala Ali. There's minimal superhero fun, since Cage basically just wanders into rooms, people shoot at him to zero effect and he then punches them unconscious. Even when Cage's arch-nemesis shows up, their confrontation seems to drag out across about half the season without much really happening.
If you're expecting crossovers with the other shows or the movies, I'm afraid beyond the now compulsory appearance of Rosario Dawson and numerous references to the other shows and films, you're going to be disappointed. At most, they offer only a rehabilitation of Justin Hammer.
And the dialogue. Oh gods, the dialogue.
In a sense, Marvel's Luke Cage is an important show, offering a uniquely black perspective on the superhero genre, just as Marvel's Jessica Jones was a uniquely female deconstruction of superheroes. But actually watching it, so little of any real interest happens dramatically that all you can do is admire its heart. And how it managed to slip Cage's original comic book costume in there. That was impressive.