Archive | US TV reviews

Reviews of US television programmes


July 24, 2015

What have you been watching? Including Impastor, Glitch, Humans and Hannibal

Posted on July 24, 2015 | 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.

It’s that time again – August. Well, almost. Either way, I’m away on holiday for a good few weeks, which means I won’t be watching much tele.

That presents me with the opportunity to unveil a new holiday blog experiment: ‘Keeper or not’.

Essentially, ‘Keeper or not' boils down to a single question: “When I get back from my holiday, am I invested enough in the show that I’ll try to catch up on the numerous weeks’ worth of episodes I’ll have missed, so that I can keep watching it?” And based on the answer to that question for each show, I’ll be keeping it or culling it from my viewing queue.

So after the jump, let’s play ‘Keeper or not’ with: Dark Matter, Glitch, Halt and Catch Fire, Humans, Impastor, The Last Ship, Mr Robot, Stitchers, Suits, True Detective, UnREAL, and The Whispers. Which shows will survive?

Continue reading "What have you been watching? Including Impastor, Glitch, Humans and Hannibal"

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July 17, 2015

What have you been watching? Including X-Men: DOFP (Rogue Cut), The Equalizer and The Last Ship

Posted on July 17, 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 had a heavy workload this week, which is why my output has slightly dwindled to a mere two TV reviews:

Sorry about that. But I have been managing to squeeze in some viewing, so after the jump, I’ll be looking at the latest episodes of: Ballers, Dark Matter, Glitch, Halt and Catch Fire, Humans, The Last Ship, Mr Robot, Stitchers, Strike Back: Legacy, Suits, True Detective, UnREAL, and The Whispers. Two of these I’ll be dropping from the viewing queue. Can you guess which ones, Tigers?

Hannibal’s been shunted to Saturdays in the US, by the way, so that’ll have to wait until next Friday now.

I’ve also watched a couple of movies.

The Equalizer (2014) (Now TV)
Denzel Washington reunites with Training Day director Antoine Fuqua for this adaptation of the famous Edward Woodward 80s TV series. Washington is Robert McCall a former CIA agent who retires after promising his deceased wife that he would stop doing the bad things. However, when a child prostitute (Chloe Grace Moretz in little more than a 10-minute cameo) is beaten up by her Russian pimp and Washington exacts revenge, everything escalates as he has to take on mob fixer Martin “I may be a Hungarian-New Zealander but I’ll play any other nationality” Csokas (Rogue, The Bourne Supremacy, Falcón).

There’s not a huge resemblance between this and the original TV series, with the whole movie essentially being the origin story that the pilot episode briefly touched on, it, too, setting up a potential franchise at the end. But surprisingly there’s not much action or even espionage work, to replace the episode-long drawn out violent politicking of the original series. Indeed, we bet the occasional shootout and fight scene and a series of incidents to which Washington presents fait accompli solutions to everyone’s problems.

Not an awful movie, though, there’s a certain degree of intelligence in the script and Washington makes for a very stoic lethal old buffer. But a disappointment for both action fans and fans of the original series. There’s not even a Rolls Royce in it.

X-Men: Days of Future Past: Rogue Cut (2014/5) (iTunes)
Not technically a new film at all, as I’ve already seen and watched the cinema release, but this new cut of the movie promised an entirely new sub-plot involving Rogue that had been excised from the original for running time. This version gives us just a few early additions in the first 90 minutes – a line here, a brief extra scene there – but is otherwise much the same as before. It’s not until towards the end that we get the big additions, and there is indeed an entire new sub-plot that gets added involving rescuing Rogue so that she can take over from Kitty. Everything makes a little more sense as a result and it’s interesting to see they must have refilmed certain scenes as some of the Rogue material conflicts with the cinema cut.

However, to be honest, it’s not that much extra, the extra plot was obviously only in it to crowbar Rogue into the movie, and its excision was no great loss as it all feels a lot slower as a result of the addition. So save your pennies, unless you’ve not seen the original but particularly if you were thinking of buying it on iTunes, as the promised two hours of additional material has so far been a no-show, thanks to an Apple cock-up.

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Review: Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll 1x1 (US: FX)

Posted on July 17, 2015 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll

In the US: Thursdays, 10pm, FX

What is the American Dream? To succeed? To be rich? To be famous? To have an enduring legacy? To do well by your family or community?

Arguably, it varies and has varied over the years and one of the main themes of FX’s lukewarm but amusingly titled Denis Leary comedy, Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll, is that not only has it changed, it can change for individuals, too.

Leary plays Johnny Rock, the lead singer of a 1990s rock band. The band never made the big time, having split up the day their first album was released, and 25 years later, Rock is penniless and still living with one of his backing singers, while his co-writer and band guitarist John Corbett (Northern Exposure, Sex and the City) is still estranged from him but playing for Lady Ga Ga.

Then into Rock’s life comes one of the band’s few fans, Gigi (Elizabeth Gillies). She’s an aspiring singer and wants to reunite the band to back her – and for Corbett and Leary to bury their differences and write her some new songs, with Leary relegated to a songwriter credit. Not only has she got plenty of money to entice them with, she’s also a pretty good performer.

The big catch? Gillies is Leary's estranged daughter – and Corbett has a thing for young women…

Much of the humour, if it can be described as such, in Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll is about how the nature of ambition and fame have changed and change with age. When the band was young, they wanted to be famous for producing good music and to get all the sex and drugs they could. Now they’d just like to have some money to buy things with and to be remembered at all. Except now, to be famous, you have to be like Kim Kardashian or Lady GaGa and that, rather than the Beatles, is something people aspire to be.

There’s also the impending competition between Gillies and Leary, with the feisty, focused, sexting- and social media-aware Gillies liable to become more famous than Leary ever was and certainly now is.

The rest of the humour is standard Leary japes: swearing, pratfalls, taboo subjects (eg trying to French kiss someone who turns out to be your own daughter), group teasing, the occasional diatribe about the state of the world and so on.

And not much of it lands on the funny bone. Some does and you can see most of it in the trailer below, but it all feels as tired as Leary’s band, like it’s going through the motions. There’s a slight element of misogyny to the show, too, although to some extent that’s because of its setting and the show does a decent enough job of undermining it. All the same, you’ll probably feel a bad taste in your mouth as you watch the episode.

There’s also the horrifying inclusion of actual singing. True, Gillies is a singer in real-life, making her Broadway debut when she was just 15 and enduring 50+ episodes of Nickleodeon’s performing arts sitcom Victorious. But if she’d sung for just 10 seconds longer, Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll would have been cast into the same bin I consigned Nashville and Empire. Tough on music, tough on the causes of music, me.

I do have a fondness for Leary from his stand-up days, but as with Rescue Me and the rest of his TV work, Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll just felt like a sitcom written by someone who knows his star is waning and is desperate to keep doing encores until he can’t do them any more.

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