Archive | UK TV reviews

Reviews of UK TV programmes


May 23, 2016

What have you been watching? Including Lady Dynamite, Vis a Vis (Locked Up), Banshee and DC's Legends of Tomorrow

Posted on May 23, 2016 | 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. 

It's the last WHYBW? for a little while, since I'm off on holiday next week. Fingers crossed, it'll be back on the 6th, but don't be surprised if the 10th or more likely the 11th is the actual date. You know me.

There have been a few new shows this week, although the networks oddly decided to start them on Friday and over the weekend for the most part, meaning that I haven't had a chance to watch most of them yet. Preacher (US: AMC; UK: Amazon Prime) started airing last night, but Amazon crazily got its act together and gave me access to previews of the first three episodes. However, it only gave me access on Friday, so it might be a couple of days before I get through all three of them. Also coming this week (more crossed fingers - how many hands do you have?) is a preview of Outcast (US: Cinemax; UK: Sky Atlantic).

But I have managed to watch a couple of new shows:

Lady Dynamite (Netflix)
Yet another "promises much, offers little" comedy from Netflix, with Maria Bamford the actress/comedienne playing 'Maria Bamford', the actress/comedienne, as she navigates family, life, mental illness, stand-up comedy, acting, etc. Coming from Pam Brady and Mitchell Hurwitz of Arrested Development fame, you'd expect a lot more of Lady Dynamite than you would of normal comedies. It certainly thinks it's better than normal comedies, playing with form and convention, from its 70s-style title sequence, its breaking of the fourth wall and having Patton Oswalt and John Mulaney turn up to critique the show's narrative choices, through to Bamford fight-tuning the colour balance for the video of the scene by asking the editor to adjust it.

But despite watching the show for an episode and a half, I didn't laugh once. I admired its cleverness, its time jumps and more. But I didn't laugh. I was also very irritated by Bamford, who's as close to the female equivalent of Pee Wee Herman as it's possible to get, I suspect. And following on as it does from Netflix's Flaked, perhaps I had less patience than I once did for YA show about a dysfunctional, self-involved Californian.

Then again, I never really laughed at Arrested Development, so YMMV.

Vis a Vis (Locked Up) (Spain: Antena 3; UK: Channel 4)
Young woman gets sent to prison and meets lots of other women of varying degrees of friendliness. The first 15 minutes or so are basically Orange Is the New Black again, but after that, the show becomes more of a thriller, with our friendly little office worker having to learn to survive inside. If you want to box-set it, all 11 episodes are now on All 4, but I didn't find it particularly arresting (see what I did there?).

After the jump, the regulars: 12 Monkeys, The Americans, Arrow, The Flash, Game of Thrones, Silicon Valley and The Tunnel (Tunnel), as well as the season finale of DC's Legends of Tomorrow and the series finale of Banshee

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May 16, 2016

What have you been watching? Including Wolf Creek, Banshee, The Tunnel and Game of Thrones

Posted on May 16, 2016 | 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. 

It's been another quiet week for new TV, as the various networks around the world let their older shows run their course, so they can leave the field clear for the newbies to wow us in just a week or two. That doesn't mean a few shows haven't tried to jump the gun and show us what they've got ahead of the others. I've already reviewed Raising Expectations (Canada: Family), but over in the US, there's also been Submission on Showtime (so inevitably will be coming to Sky Atlantic at some point). Why haven't I reviewed it yet? Well, here's the plot synopsis:

Beautiful but unfulfilled Ashley has her eyes opened to the tantalizing possibilities of BDSM when she discovers the popular erotic novel SLAVE by Nolan Keats. But her fascination with the mysterious Mr. Keats leads her into a sexy but dangerous love triangle, and tests the boundaries of her own sexual limitations. Part romantic drama, part mystery, this tale of seduction, obsession and sexual power from acclaimed adult writer/director Jacky St. James will leave you breathless and begging for more.

Yep, it's lady porn. You can rely on Showtime, can't you?

But I have watched one other new show:

Wolf Creek (Australia: Stan)
Based on hit Australian horror franchise of the same name and with John Jarratt reprising his role as outback serial killer Mick Taylor, Wolf Creek is a pretty effective but overly gory thriller in which the poorly accented Lucy Fry (11.22.63) plays an American teenager on holiday with her family in Australia, who are trying to help her get over her drug addiction. Unfortunately, pre-credits they bump into Jarratt, who slaughters everyone except Fry, who then goes on a quest to bring Jarratt to justice, helped and hindered along the way by cop Dustin Clare (Spartacus).

Never having watched the movies and not being a huge fan of horror, I don't know how much the series has in common with the originals. For the most part, it plays like a standard crime drama and it's nice to have the reversal of the 'last girl' becoming the one doing the chasing. But whenever Jarratt shows up, it becomes something else almost comedic at times, part mockery of the Crocodile Dundee stereotype that people hold of Australians and Outback denizens in particular, part embracing of that stereotype, almost in the style of Ronnie Johns' Chopper impression, with Jarratt hacking to death anyone who needs to harden the fuck up, particularly anyone who does yoga. 

Horror ain't my scene and the first five minutes of chainsaw and machete misery almost made me want to switch off. But when the action is focused on Fry and her quest, it's actually pretty good. Not for me, might be for you.

After the jump, the dwindling regulars: 12 Monkeys, The Americans, Arrow, Banshee, DC's Legends of Tomorrow, The Flash, Game of Thrones, Silicon Valley and The Tunnel (Tunnel). When will something new be along to join them, I wonder?

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March 4, 2016

What have you been watching? Including Ófærð (Trapped), The Shannara Chronicles, Lucifer and The X-Files

Posted on March 4, 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. 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'm back. You may have noticed at least some stirring of activity from TMINE this week, following my return, with a third-episode verdict on 11.22.63 (US: Hulu; UK: Fox), but the trouble with going away for a bit is that you have to catch up with all the things you should have been doing while you were away. 

But I have. Just about. Okay, I didn't make it more than 10 minutes through Netflix's Love, despite Gillian Jacobs being in the cast. I will try to remedy that next week, although there's a whole bunch of new shows just beginning right now, including Hap and Leonard, Damien, Slasher and The Family, that will warrant some of my time, too. I can't imagine myself trying to watch Netflix's Fuller House, though.

After the jump, the regulars, some of them getting a double helping of reviewing: American Crime, Arrow, Billions, DC's Legends of Tomorrow, The Doctor Blake Mysteries, The Flash, Limitless, Lucifer, The Magicians, Man Seeking Woman, Okkupert (Occupied), Second Chance, The Shannara Chronicles, Stan Lee's Lucky Man, Supergirl, Vikings and The X-Files. I'll admit now that I might be a bit hazy about some of them.

As well as all of those, I managed to watch the first three episodes of…

Ófærð (Trapped) (Iceland: RÚV; UK: BBC Four)
Small-town Icelandic police officer (Ólafur Darri Ólafsson) has to deal with winter and his personal problems, as well as the bigwigs of Reykjavik and a ferry full of annoyed passengers, when a chopped up body is found in the sea. Is the murderer one of the passengers, who is the victim and is it all linked to something in town?

Thematically, the show has a lot in common with Fortitude (although without the horror/sci-fi twist) and not just the location of the filming. It's all about the claustrophobia of an artic island in winter, people having to get on with one another because there's nowhere else to go, and quirky police who've never had to deal with anything except parking tickets and stolen cameras having to deal with people trafficking, gangsters and vicious murders. There's also the inevitable concern of not wanting foreign investors to be scared off by the crime.

Ólafsson is a strong, bear-like presence against the beautifully photographed and breathtaking Icelandic landscape. The characters are interesting and the show avoids the dramatic absurdities of Den Som Dræber (Those Who Kill), 100 Code, etc, in favour of a far less flashy telling of a plausible story. And there's fun Icelandic-Danish conflicts, too. So far, it's shaping up to be my favourite Nordic Noir after The Bridge.

At least for the first three episodes. I'll let you know if that changes…

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