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March 23, 2016

Season review: Daredevil (season two) (Netflix)

Posted on March 23, 2016 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Daredevil - season 2

In the US/UK: Netflix

While the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been going great guns for the past decade, the Marvel TV world is in a sorry old state, isn't it? Marvel's Agents of SHIELD was largely unwatchable in its first season until Captain America: Winter Soldier gave it a twist that made it really rather good… until the end of the season. Then it all went to pants in season 2 and I didn't even bother with season 3. It's about to get even worse in season 4, by the looks of it, now that the only two decent characters in the show are going to get their own spin-off series, Marvel's Most Wantedleaving the dregs behind.

Meanwhile, Marvel's Agent Carter, while having far more engaging characters than SHIELD and the delights of a post-war setting to play with, had soporific, unengaging storylines. As with SHIELD, a tie in with the MCU gave the first season a welcome twist - a glimpse at the Black Widow training programme in Russia, as well as of one of its graduates

But season two was so dull, I didn't even make it through to the end and chances of the show being renewed are slender.

I did say 'TV' but Netflix is different. It's not TV. Except in Eastern Europe.

Season 1 of Netflix's Marvel's Daredevil is one of the best shows the Internet TV provider has so far produced, while Marvel's Jessica Jones actually managed to exceed it, while simultaneously deconstructing all the assumptions of the superhero genre. Very adult, unencumbered by the restraints of network TV, they make superhero TV shows - and many other dramas - look very inadequate.

When originally announced, Daredevil and Jessica Jones were both part of an attempt to do an MCU-style team-up on Netflix, with the first seasons of those shows to be followed by Marvel's Luke Cage and Marvel's Iron Fist to introduce those superheroes, and then by Marvel's Defenders to bring them all together in one big show. However, both individually proved so popular - Jessica Jones was the top original streamed TV programme in the UK last year - that they've both been renewed for second seasons ahead of schedule.

And now, with Iron Fist himself only just getting cast, here's season two of Daredevil, with blind but superathletic New York lawyer Matt Murdock having to deal with the fall-out from his quest against Kingpin last season, as well as his attempts to escape from his old mentor, Stick. But can the second season match the quality of the first, despite losing showrunner Steven DeKnight? Has it been rushed onto our computer screens too soon? And will Daredevil himself be overshadowed by the season's two guest 'superheroes' - The Punisher and Elektra, both of whom have had their own movies?

Here's a good batch of NSFW trailers for you to enjoy. Discussion after the jump: multiple spoilers ahoy, obviously, so probably best if you watch the entire second season first - unless you don't care about being spoiled, of course.

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March 23, 2016

News: Peter Serafinowicz is the new Tick; Elijah Wood joins Dirk Gently; I Live With Models renewed; + more

Posted on March 23, 2016 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

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New US TV show casting

March 21, 2016

What have you been watching? Including Spotlight, The Americans, Second Chance, The Magicians,

Posted on March 21, 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. 

Can you feel it? It's springtime, everyone, and that can only mean a changing of the TV seasons. Some current shows are finishing their runs, while others are just starting, and there are more on the way. Others are just lounging around, eating chocolate eggs.

This week, I've reviewed Underground (US: WGN America) and Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders (US: CBS; UK: W), and if you cast your minds back to last year, I previewed Crowded (US: NBC), which has just started airing in the US. In the next couple of days, I'm going to be reviewing the entire second season of Daredevil (Netflix), which I somehow managed to binge-watch over the weekend, as well as anything else new that comes my way. Either that, or I'll be toasting my eminent good sense in not bothering to watch ABC's Of Gods And Prophets, given it was cancelled after a mere two episodes of Wicked City-bad ratings.

That means that after the jump, I'll be looking at the latest episodes of 11.22.63, Billions, Damien, The Doctor Blake Mysteries, Flaked, Limitless, Lucifer, The Magicians, Okkupert (Occupied), Second Chance, Stan Lee's Lucky Man, Supergirl and Vikings. One of those is probably not long for this world, one is getting a demotion, but surprisingly, two that had surprisingly awful beginnings are getting promoted to the recommended list. Can you guess which ones?

Oh yes. The Americans is back, too.

But first, a movie!

Spotlight (2015)
Journalism always seems exciting to outsiders, but if you actually look at what it involves, even if the results can be exciting, to be honest, the actual process is pretty monotonous. I use Excel in my day job just as much as I use Word - that should tell you something. Certainly, the most realistic movies and TV shows about journalism point out that it mostly involves endless note-taking, fact-checking, research, dead-ends and meetings, with even All The President's Men being a major snoozefest most of the time - I think only the TV version of State of Play has ever managed to be both fun to watch while depicting something that a journalist would recognise as been similar to his or her day job. 

So it is with Spotlight, a meticulously exacting recreation of how the Boston Globe's investigative journalism department revealed in 2001 that nearly 100 local Catholic priests had abused as many as 1,000 boys and girls in their charge over the years and the church had covered it up. Featuring a star-studded but unflamboyant cast (Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, Stanley Tucci), the almost pre-Internet story largely consists of Ruffalo, McAdams and Keaton setting up spreadsheets, looking in books, sifting through legal documents and trying to find evidence, all without a gunshot, car chase or even fist fight (it is Boston) along the way.

The film just about manages to keep the viewer's attention, helped in part by the sheer horror of the story, but also by the attention to location, the period details - yes, it really does feel like a period drama - and the exploration of the politics of the situation, with powerful pressure being applied to the paper and its journalists through subtle means, as the social interconnections between the paper, the church, the police and other institutions worked to try to prevent anyone rocking the boat. But there were times when even my desperate need to nitpick the movie's accuracy (I couldn't) wasn't quite enough to stop my attention from wandering.

Don't get me wrong - this is undoubtedly not only the second best journalism film ever made, but the second best film about a member of the Bradlee clan (Mad Men's John Slattery plays Ben Bradlee Jr). It's also marvellous to have a grown-up film, telling a grown-up and important story, in which journalists are the good guys for the change. It just would have be nice to have a car chase, too.

PS It's coming up to the Easter double holiday here in the UK, which means this will be the last WHYBW until 1st April. Or maybe the 2nd. Or maybe, just to be wacky, 30th March. It'll just appear at some point around then, anyway.

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