Archive | UK TV reviews

Reviews of UK TV programmes


April 13, 2015

What have you been watching? Including American Odyssey, Daredevil, Olympus and Silicon Valley

Posted on April 13, 2015 | comments | 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. 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.

I’ve been away for a fortnight, so that means there’s a fair bit to cover this time round, including (gasp!) some new shows. But first, movies.

The Raid 2 (2014) (Netflix)
Sequel to the brilliantly kinetic The Raid, in which the cream of Indonesian martial arts talent kicked arse in a variety of amazingly choreographed scenes, photographed beautifully by Welsh director Gareth Evans. This time, hero Rama, rather than fight his way up a building, instead has to go undercover with a crime family, first in prison, then in Indonesia at large, as the young son tries to take over the empire from his dad by stirring up trouble with his Japanese rivals.

Unfortunately, compared to the brilliant original, The Raid 2 is a somewhat dull affair for most of the first half, as Evans makes the mistake of trying to give us story and acting, rather than fists and kicks to the head. Everything starts to crank up nicely towards the end, though, with Evans giving us some beautifully shot scenes and the various martial artists do some death-defying tricks. However, everyone’s ability to survive multiple machete strikes starts to get more than a tad improbable at times.

Zero Dark Thirty (2012) (Netflix)
Kathryn Bigelow’s dramatisation of the hunt for Osama bin Laden, with Jessica Chastain the driven CIA analyst on a decade-long quest to catch the al Qaeda head. Again, a slow starter with years going by with nothing much happening. It’s only once Chastain makes the right connections that things begin to crank up, with Bigelow lending Seal Team Six her Oscar-winning action skills at the end. The movie is thankfully jingoism- and hyperbole-free, giving us a thoughtful CIA trying to do its best against near impossible odds, with no sci-fi weapons to help out. But weirdly, in retrospect, the movie feels more like a trial run for later Marvel movies, with Seal Team Six seemingly recruiting largely from SHIELD (Callan Mulvey, Frank Grillo) and Guardians of the Galaxy (Chris Pratt). There’s also the mysterious cameo by The Barrowman himself.

After the jump, tele, including first tries of American Odyssey, Olympus, Thunderbirds are Go! and Daredevil, as well as look at the regulars: 12 Monkeys, The Americans, American Crime, Arrow, The Blacklist, Community, The Doctor Blake Mysteries, The Flash, Forever, Fortitude, House of Cards, Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD, One Big Happy, The Returned and Vikings. I'm giving up on not one, not two but three of those – which do you reckon they’ll be?

And no, I haven’t watched last night’s Game of Thrones yet, so no spoilers.

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March 30, 2015

What have you been watching? Including Bloodline, The Good Witch, 19-2 and Fortitude

Posted on March 30, 2015 | comments | 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. 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.

So it’s Easter next week and I’m away at weddings and then taking a brief break, which means this is the last round-up for a fortnight. Somehow, though, I’m practically bang up to date. How did that happen?

I even managed to try a couple of new programmes.

Bloodline (Netflix)
A family on a Florida island is big in the local community, having run a hotel for 45 years and one of their sons (Kyle Chandler from Early Edition) being the sheriff. Then their black sheep eldest son returns to the fold, brining all manner of misery with him.

That sounds quite exciting, doesn’t it? But on the strength of the first episode, I’ll be putting this on my low priority “To watch” list, since it was quite impressively dull, despite the lovely location photography. In particular, there’s a scene that lasts about three or four minutes in which the three brothers argue over about whether or not black sheep’s girlfriend can sit at the family table for lunch. I kid you not. The only thing that managed to make watching the first episode at all was a hackneyed flash forward to more interesting times, interspersed throughout the episode.

The Good Witch (US: The Hallmark Channel)
The Hallmark Channel’s one of those channels that I pay almost no attention to, whatsoever. I bet you don’t either. Did you know that Andie MacDowell has had a show running on it for three seasons called Cedar Cove? I bet you didn’t, unless you’ve been paying a lot of attention to my News pages.

Equally, since 2008, there have on the Hallmark Channel been no fewer than seven The Good Witch movies starring JAG’s Catherine Bell as the absurdly named Cassandra Nightingale, a good witch who moves into a small town and starts helping people with herbal remedies, magic spells, etc. Over the course of those movies, she’s got married, raised kids and had a kid of her own. And now she’s got her own TV series, which started last month. But because it’s on the Hallmark Channel, I didn’t notice any of this until now – because even I don’t pay that much attention to my News pages.

Anyway, I tried watching the first episode, in which somewhat miserably her husband from the movies has now died (Chris Potter from Kung Fu: The Legend Continues, who’s too busy filming Canada’s Heartland to do more than a movie now and then). So now she has a potential new love interest in the shape of new neighbour James Denton (The Threat Matrix, Desperate Housewives) – how long will it be before he works out she’s a witch?

And that’s when I remembered why I don’t watch anything on the Hallmark Channel – it’s all twee rubbish, with the emotional depth of a Hallmark card, and as dreadfully written, too. It makes Charmed look like 24 in comparison. Avoid.

After the jump, the regulars: 12 Monkeys, 19-2, The Americans, American Crime, Arrow, The Blacklist, The Doctor Blake Mysteries, Community, The Flash, Forever, Fortitude, iZombie, Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD and Vikings.

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March 23, 2015

What have you been watching? Including The Royals, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Community, The Flash and 19-2

Posted on March 23, 2015 | comments | 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. 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.

Well, it’s been another epic week in TV land (not to be confused with “I can’t believe you can still see the" TV Land - the network for older, nostalgic, probably slightly visually challenged folk), with loads of new shows, as well as some returning ones. I haven’t managed to find the time to tune into Netflix’s new thriller series, Bloodlines, which was released on Friday, but this week, I’ve managed to take a gander at:

I also had a look at the first two episodes of…

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix)
Tina Fey’s new sitcom (unfortunately not starring Fey) in which one of four female cult members holed up underground are rescued by the authorities, and while three of them are happy to return home, one of them is spunky enough to try to make a new life for herself. Her name? Kimmy Schmidt. First, Schmidt (Ellie Kemper) manages to find herself a ‘home’ (aka small cubbyhole, it being New York) to live in with failed actor Titus Andromedon (Tituss Burgess) and makes a sort of a friend in the form of Lillian Kaushtupper (Carol Kane). Then she gets a job looking after the son of the delightfully named and incredibly rich trophy wife Jaqueline Voorhees (Jane Krakowski). Will she buckle under all these pressures or will she prove unbreakable?

As with 30 Rock before it, this is a show that grows from a not especially auspicious pilot episode redeemed by one character (Jack in 30 Rock, Mrs Voorhees here) to become funnier over time. But it’s still not hilarious by the second episode and if you’ve ever seen The Nanny Diaries, you’ll find yourself noticing not only how very similar they are in a lot of ways but also that there's:

  1. A complete lack of Scarlett Johansson in this, who was much funnier
  2. A complete lack of Chris Evans or anyone even in a similar role. He was funny in that, too
  3. Nowhere near as much intelligence in the script-writing, despite the source.

All the same, there are some laugh out loud moments involving IP licensing and the revelation of who Voorhees’ parents are, so I’m going to bear with and watch the rest of it - when I have a mo.

I also tried to watch…

The Royals (US/UK: E!)
Liz Hurley becomes queen and has to supervise the rest of her equally inappropriate, bonk-tastic family. Or something. I did manage to get through the young Harry-alike playing darts and managing to get a bullseye every time while not really looking, to impress an American girl into bed. But I gave up after 10 minutes, in part because it's really hard to watch that much soft porn shagging on your iPad when you're commuting on a train, without people thinking you're a perv, and I didn't manage to get back to it. Oh well. I don't think I'll be missing much. Joan Collins is in it, too, apparently. But then she was in Benidorm.

After the jump, the regulars: 12 Monkeys, 19-2, The Americans, Arrow, The Blacklist, The Doctor Blake Mysteries, The Flash, Fortitude, Man Seeking Woman, Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD and Vikings. One of these is being demoted this week. I wonder which one?

On top of that, we also have the return of Community. Woo hoo? You’ll find out the answer to that one after the break, too.

Wondering where Dig and American Crime are? The short answer is: waiting for third-episode verdicts tomorrow and maybe Wednesday. The long answer? I've got to watch them first…

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