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What did you watch last week? Including Magic City, Best Friends Forever, Tower Heist and Arrested Development

Posted on April 10, 2012 | comments | Bookmark and Share

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

First, the usual recommendations from the first-run shows: The Almighty Johnsons, The Apprentice, Awake, Being Human (US), BeTipul, Community, The Daily Show, Happy Endings, Mad Men, Ringer, Shameless (US) and 30 Rock. Hunt them down.

You'll notice that after last week's episode and this week's mindbender, Awake has now been promoted to the A-Team – go and watch it.

So first a few shows I've tried over the past week but didn't have the time to review separately:

  • Arrested Development: Miracle of miracles, Netflix actually has something to watch (even if its new releases section hasn't changed in two months) so I thought I'd catch up with my list of shows that everyone loves that I've never found the time to watch (next up: The Sopranos). I'm now up to episode eight of AD and I'm not laughing much, but it's promising at least. When does it get good? I'll probably keep watching for Portia De Rossi for a while at least – she's a lot hotter than I remember.
  • Best Friends Forever: NBC's latest attempt to do a female-oriented comedy show does at least not insult your intelligence unlike Whitney and Are You There, Chelsea? It has a quirky line in dialogue and the central characters are fun and idiosyncratic. But it's another of those shows that seem to have been written by women who have never met any men before, only seen them on TV, and which assumes that women want to watch shows in which other women want to talk about waxing, relationships, divorces, etc, and nothing else. Not funny enough to keep watching unfortunately.
  • Magic City: Not even a knock-off of Mad Men, this is a terrible Starz knock-off of The Playboy Club of all things. Basic set-up: mobster hotel boss in 1950s Miami. And that's it. No other distinguishable characters and although it looks fantastic, it's only real appeals are lots of nudity, that Ukranian woman who was in the second Daniel Craig Bond movie (I think it's her anyway) and Christian Cooke from ITV's Demons, putting on his Sontaran Stragem accent. Utterly forgettable.
  • The Syndicate: Well, I did try to watch some more of it, but the only scenes I could get through were the ones with Joanna Page that didn't involve any stereotypical, overacting northerners. So not much of it.

And a few thoughts on the regulars:

  • The Almighty Johnsons - A really, really good episode, with some actual swordfighting in it. The goddesses got to do something for a change, although they're still being treated badly by gods and scriptwriters alike, and Loki got to do more than just posture.
  • Being Human (US) - I haven't finished yesterday's episode yet, which has been really good so far. But last week's was a bit wishy washy although the writing out of a certain character was unexpected and well handled.
  • Community - A decent pastiche of civil war documentaries, and the Britta photography was fabulous, as was the reference to The Cape , but not as funny as last week's.
  • Happy Endings - Overall, a disappointing second season, lacking the bite of the first. Disappointing was the increasing flamboyance of Max, the gay character, who had been refreshing unstereotypical last season. Plenty of fun to be had, though, although the finale had a little bit of a forced cliffhanger.
  • Mad Men - More interesting than the first episode, Betty getting some intriguing nuances, likewise Don.
  • Missing – a big improvement: the fights were decent, Sean Bean, John Carradine and Gina McKee were back. The predictions I made in my first review are coming true, it seems, which means that it's all a double-bluff, since my predictions can never be true.
  • Ringer – Even Ioan is finding it hard to keep a straight face at times, but it's still gripping me.
  • Shameless – which I should have written about last week, but didn't. All in all, an odd season that consisted mainly of writing out characters and returning everything to the status quo after going in several directions for the first half of the season. But the journey was still very much worth taking.
  • 30 Rock - better than the previous episode.
  • Touch – it seems like all the guest characters might actually start getting linked together, which hints at a greater story arc that should make the show that much more interesting to watch. But I showed my wife the episodes and as predicted, blood nearly came out of her ears whenever they showed a supposed health or social worker interacting with special needs boy.
  • Two and a Half Men – Sophie Winkleman's still in it and is making it watchable, but otherwise a horrible, horrible show.

And in movies:

  • Tower Heist: Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy – with associated extras – get their own back on the 1%. Has its moments, but directed by Brett Ratner so as entirely average as you'd expect.

"What did you watch this week?" 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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What did you watch last week? Including Touch, 30 Rock, Spartacus and Missing

Posted on March 26, 2012 | comments | Bookmark and Share

Lothaire Bluteau in Missing

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

First, the usual recommendations: The Almighty Johnsons, Archer, Being Human (US), BeTipul, Community, Cougar Town, The Daily Show, Happy Endings, House, Mad Men, Modern Family, Portlandia, Ringer, Shameless (US), Southland, Spartacus, Suburgatory, 30 Rock and Top Gear. Assuming they're on where you live, of course. 

Now, some thoughts on the regulars, apart from Mad Men, which I've still to watch:

  • The Almighty Johnsons - I'm now on New Zealand time, BTW. The darkest episode yet but signs of light at the end of the tunnel. Loki's getting irritating and the goddesses are getting maltreated. Not much Axl this week either, and very little Anders, too, but he's off filming The Hobbit, so what can you do?
  • America's Next Top Model – is now being officially boycotted in this house for anti-Scottish racism
  • The Apprentice - the same old, same old, but don't you just love it?
  • Archer – the finale wasn't as funny as the first part, but it was still a pretty good episode
  • Awake - again with the dull procedural. Stop it. More fleshing out of secondary characters is needed, but it's still intelligent, moving and insightful. It needs more on why this is all happening though.
  • Being Human (US) - Good to see that Sally now effectively has an addiction like the others, putting her on an equally monstrous footing with the others
  • Community - classic Community in that it was dark and weird but not hugely funny. But some character moments of joy, including Jeff and Britta, and the return of dark Abed.
  • Cougar Town - a lovely get out for a thorny dilemma that's plagued the show for a while, plus a return of the Travis-Laurie dynamic
  • Dirk Gently - Probably the best of the bunch: funny with decent characterisation. Still not loving it, but it's now not bad
  • John Bishop's Sport Relief Hell – I only watched a minute of it and nearly cried.
  • Missing - Jesus of Montreal himself Lothaire Bluteau made an appearance to not much effort. More preposterous than the opening episode, with linguistic tricks around the phrase 'hard drive' needed for a very uninteresting reveal. The break-in was silly, the whole Netleaks thing was even more ridiculous and the narrow squeak at the end preposterous. But still a tense hour.
  • Ringer: Juliette still can't act, but last week's episode made slightly more sense than the previous week's
  • Southland - an anti-climatic ending to the season, which overall was very strong.
  • Spartacus - phenomenal: shocking, surprising and finally we get to see the Romans as something less than cannon fodder and more the most powerful fighting force in the world (cf Rome).
  • 30 Rock - quite the best season since the first, I think. Some wonderful cameo appearances, including one of the Baldwins doing a great impression of Alex, and a vast amount of almost Community-level meta-ness, particularly the part where Tracey comes off his meds and (spoiler) thinks he's in a show within a show and his real name is Tracey Morgan. Even Kristen Schaal is just about funny for once.
  • Touch - basically an episode of Highway to Heaven. Nice to have a mini-24 reunion, with Jude Ciccolella, even if the show does all it can to avoid the memory of Jack Bauer by having Kiefer Sutherland get his arse kicked in fights. Danny Glover basically did nothing, as did Guru M-R. The lack of regular characters also makes it hard to care about the show. But at the end of the day, despite all those caveats, quite heart-warming.
  • Two and a Half Men – Only watching it because Sophie Winkleman (Big Suze from Peep Show, but also Charlotte from NBC's 100 Questions) is on it. Has to be said – not a great show and the usual American TV problem of being mildly bemused and unable to cope with the existence of foreigners, but she's good.
  • The Voice – I don't normally do reality, but with Tom Jones on it, how could we refuse? Actually quite enjoyable, although Reggie Yates and Holly Willoughby were entirely superfluous. Surprised will.i.am didn't get more people, though. And Tom really did seem unimpressed to discover one of his was gay.

And in books:

  • The Go-Between by LP Hartley: bored me rigid. Sorry.

"What did you watch this week?" 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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Thursday's "no creatures, great or small" news

Posted on November 17, 2011 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

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Doctor Who

Film

Theatre

British TV US TV

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