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. And if you want to know when any of these shows are on in your area, there's Locate TV - they’ll even email you a weekly schedule.
Lots of new shows this week, and since I’m off in Germany on Monday – maybe I’ll report back to you on the tele, assuming I have the time to watch any – I’m not going to have time to do full reviews next week. So I’ll squeeze a few quick mini-reviews of them in today. Elsewhere, I’ve reviewed Manhattan Love Story, but I’ve also watched the following
Bad Judge (US: NBC)
You don’t have to go on an epic mental journey to work out where this show, exec produced by Anne Heche, Will Ferrell and Adam McKay, got its inspiration. Worryingly, it’s not even as good as either that TV show or the original movie, being a largely flat affair with Kate Walsh (Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice) playing a pill-popping, hungover, casual sex-having judge who doesn’t really have a lot of respect for the law, but ends up helping criminals and kids who have appeared before her in court. Walsh is fun, the character herself is fun and it’s nice to have a heroine who’s permitted to be a pretty negative role model, but the jokes are lifeless and seemingly so in awe of how transgressive they think they’re being that they forget to be funny. In the show’s defence, it’s considerably less misogynistic than Bad Teacher was and the characters do seem to like one another and are engaging. But this is comfortably the worst show of the fall season so far.
Gracepoint (US: Fox; UK: ITV)
Ironically, I’m probably the one person in Britain who hasn’t watched Broadchurch, given that I knew Chris Chibnall was writing it, so in a sense I’m also the person in Britain best prepared to watch Gracepoint, its US remake, which even features David Tennant reprising his role as a police detective who moves to a small coastal town and finds himself having to investigate the death of child. On the other hand, I have seen both the Danish The Killing as well as The Killing (US), which is basically what Broadchurch was, so maybe I’m not.
All the same, I actually really enjoyed this intelligent, thoughtful, slightly slow-paced drama, more concerned with how the death affects its family and the town than necessarily who killed the boy. David Tennant’s American accent is moderately better compared to his Rex Is Not Your Lawyer efforts, although initially I thought he was going full Scottish and not bothering with an accent at all, so it needs a bit of work, and he also seems a bit out of place among the American (and occasionally Australian) actors. But with the exception of the dreadfully hammy Nick Nolte, the cast (which includes Anna Gunn from Breaking Bad and Michael Peña from End of Watch) is uniformly good, there’s emotion and it's genuinely moving. Whether those who’ve seen the original will feel the same, I couldn’t say, but the producers have said the ending will be different – which as with The Killing I hear can only be a good thing, given how Broadchurch ended.
Stalker (US: CBS; UK: Sky Living – starts in November)
I do worry about that Kevin Williamson. He’s a good writer, but The Following isn’t exactly the loveliest thing on TV and it has some very dodgy attitudes towards women. But now we have another Williamson show entirely dedicated to exploiting women’s fears, with Maggie Q (Nikita, Mission Impossible III) leading a special LAPD unit that investigates and tries to prevent stalkers from doing unpleasant things to women. While there is an attempt to even the balance out with a secondary plot about a male stalker who stalks another man and with various comments about how bad men are, that’s largely a beard for the current Williamson antics of women screaming a lot while men do bad things to them. It doesn’t help, either, that the unit’s latest recruit, fluffy haired Dylan McDermott (Big Shots, Dark Blue, American Horror Story, Hostages), is actually stalking Elisabeth Rohm (Angel, Law & Order, Heroes) or that by the end of the first episode, thanks to some obviously stupid tactics by Q, she ends up getting her own (possibly second) stalker.
Unpleasant. Please don’t watch. Encourage Kevin Williamson to go back to making things like Dawson’s Creek again.
I’ve also been to the theatre to see Bring Up The Bodies, the sequel to Wolf Hall. Not quite as good as the first, largely thanks to history, rather than the writing, it covers how Thomas Cromwell helps Henry VIII to depose Anne Boleyn as queen so that he can marry Jane Seymour. An RSC production, it also suffers a little from having actors noticeably and confusingly playing multiple parts, as well as from having less of Nathaniel Parker and Lydia Leonard, who made Wolf Hall such as success, and from there being less of Cromwell’s personal life, too. As with Wolf Hall, it also clearly ends on a cliffhanger, which given there’s no part three, is a somewhat odd choice. But who knows what Mantel will do next?
Don’t bother watching if you haven’t seen the first one, since there’s no help beyond some awkward dialogue where Ben Miles’ Cromwell has to go around telling everyone their names for the audience’s benefit; and if you’ve seen Wolf Hall don’t feel compelled to see Bring Up The Bodies too. But if you go in with slightly diminished expectations, you should expect to see a reasonable amount of all the same qualities that made Wolf Hall such an enjoyable experience.
PS I say all this, even though it ends tonight. But just in case you’re planning on seeing it on Broadway…
After the jump, the regulars: black-ish, The Blacklist, The Code, Gotham, How To Get Away With Murder, Legends, Madam Secretary, Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD, Plebs and Scorpion.