You always have to give a show that's had a revamp a little time to settle in. A little.
When Powerless was commissioned, it was a slightly different show from the one we have now. Set in the world of DC Comics, it featured a slightly dodgy insurance agency run by a supervillain that was trying to make money off the poor folks trampled by superheroes in their fight to stop the bad guys.
But twixt pilot and series, there was a bit of retooling. By the first aired episode, cynical old Vanessa Hudgens had turned into a dewy-eyed optimist wanting to make a difference in a branch of Wayne Industries run by Batman's incompetent narcissist cousin (Alan Tudyk). Trouble is she has a bunch of people rejected by Better Off Ted working for her, including Danny Pudi and Ron Funches, all of whom can do little more than copy Lexcorp's inventions. Can Hudgens turn the division round, save everyone from getting fired, help the little people and meet lots of her superhero idols, all without a single superpower to her?
Watching the first episode, the answer seemed to be "Who cares?", "Why aren't there any proper superheroes in this?" and "When do the jokes start?"
The second episode actually proved worse, since the first episode raised the occasional titter, whereas the second was practically soporific, beyond a nice joke about training videos being like The Shining.
Still, there's a reason that I do these as third-episode verdicts, not second-episode verdicts. You have to give things time. And while episode three wasn't exactly an exercise in hilarity, it was at least a reverse of the previous episode's trajectory and I was able to watch the whole thing with a slight grin on my face, at least. The show featured a superhero I'd actually heard of, although it was The Olympian, so I wouldn't describe that as a mainstream pick by the writers. There were a few in-jokes for comic book fans, with Gail Simone and Marv Wolfman getting name-checked. There was also a halfway decent attempt to tie the show a bit more into mainstream community by making Funches Atlantean ("Atlantis: home of Aquaman and character actor William H Macey"), allowing copious references to Aquaman. Corbin Bernsen's arrival as Tudyk's dad seemed to make everyone up their game. And the opening dialogue among the characters about racism ("I thought you said you were from Atlanta" "No, that's Donald Glover, but it might be racist that you heard that") almost made me laugh.
Almost. Because we're still not exactly in Silicon Valley or Man Seeking Woman territory here. But the show is at least finding its feet now. I doubt, given that we'll be at episode four next week, that the show will ever drag itself out of its z-list superhero obsession or become even laugh-out-loud funny. Not giving Danny Pudi any decent lines is a Category A disaster. But you can at least watch it and not feel like Superman near Lex Luthor's kryptonite ring any more, which is a definite improvement.
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.
Yep,Monday again. So much for those grand "Friday or over the weekend" ambitions. Still, given I'm away on Friday, and Game of Thrones, Silicon Valley and Secret City have all now finished, the task isn't so insurmountable, so maybe Monday ain't so bad.
Elsewhere, I've reviewed the first two episodes of Queen of the South (US: USA Network) and passed a third-episode verdict on BrainDead (US: CBS; UK: Amazon). I didn't get round to watching the megachurch-tastic Greenleaf (US: OWN), I'm afraid, because it looked dull, soapy and full of Oprah Winfrey. A preview of The Night Of… (US: HBO; UK: Sky Atlantic) will be coming at some point this week, I hope, although given it's an adaptation of BBC One's Criminal Justice, I'm not 100% psyched for it. I'm also halfway through "stupid teens at 80s summer camp" horror The Dead of Summer, so I'll hopefully be reviewing that this week, too. And given that Amazon released the first two episodes of Showtime's Roadies today, I might give them a stab, too.
That means that after the jump, I'll only be taking a look at the latest episodes of 19-2, American Gothic, The Last Ship, Outcast, Preacher and Silicon Valley, as well as last week's Secret City. Netflix also dumped season two of Marco Polo in our laps on Friday, but I haven't watched any of that yet, I'm afraid. Again, not 100% psyched for it and it sounds like there may be even more historical liberties taken this season than there were last.
But also on Friday, Netflix gave us…
Spotless (France: Canal+; UK: Netflix) Frenchman Marc-André Grondin runs a crime-scene clean-up company in London, but is falling on hard times. Then his wayward brother Denis Ménochet (Inglorious Basterds) turns up with a dead drugs mule in his camper van freezer, and soon Grondin's financial luck is changing for the better, even if does mean he's working for criminals to clean up their dirty work.
It's a very curious affair - a French/British co-production with two French leads playing two French brothers who never speak a word of French to each other, even when they're alone, except in flashback to when they were kids and saving their mother from their murderous father. Seemingly a drama at first, albeit a terribly written drama with some terrible dialogue, it becomes a comedy-drama by the end of the first episode and almost enjoyable. Almost.
Nevertheless, despite being written by a Brit and clearly filmed by people who aren't content simply to show the tourist parts of London, there's a distinct lack of reality to any of it and Grondin's character is irritating and stupid. Running out of cash? Maybe you shouldn't try to send your kids to private school while living in a huge house in central London, just as all your contracts are suspended.
It's already been renewed for a second season by Canal+ and the Esquire Network in the US, but unless episode two is significantly better, I won't be watching the rest of it.
About the blog
A UK media blog focusing on the best scripted TV from around the world, with daily news, views, exclusive reviews and good conversation. There's a bit of a bias towards the latest and greatest US TV, but we also cover Scandinavian, Canadian, European and Antipodean TV, as well as UK TV ranging from new Doctor Who to old Z Cars, and BBC4 to S4C.
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"For most of us watching the telly of an evening is a way to wind down and relax, but for Rob Buckley it’s his blogging bread and butter. With reviews of cult classics and up and coming US and Brit television shows, The Medium is Not Enough is fast becoming essential reading for TV buffs, with over 50,000 hits a month."
"The Medium Is Not Enough is a light-hearted look at TV, often from the US, but also from the UK. With varied, well-written content, the blog features healthy engagement and features well in search engines."
"Billing itself as 'officially the fourth most popular UK TV blog', there are several whimsical regulars here that could help it climb as high as number three…"
I'm Rob Buckley, a freelance journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of, although you might have heard me on Radio 5 Live's Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I've edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for trade magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider and the equally short-lived Death Ray and Filmstar magazines; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it "web site for urban hedonists" The Tribe. I'm freelance now and have contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network and TV Scoop.