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Reviews of US television programmes


April 17, 2014

What have you been watching? Including Fargo, Agents of SHIELD, Silicon Valley and Friends With Better Lives

Posted on April 17, 2014 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Fargo

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.

A little bit earlier than normal, thanks to the Easter bank holidays in the UK, but we'll back to the usual Friday slot next week. New shows I’ve already reviewed this week:

But I also watched:

Fargo (US: Tuesdays, 10pm, FX; UK: Sundays, 9pm, Channel 4, starting Sunday)
Despite the name and the Coen Brothers' presence in the producers' roster, rather than a straight retelling of the movie, Fargo is an anthology series, each season telling a different 'true' crime story from the Minnesota region, the movie effectively being just one of those stories. Indeed, despite the setting and there being a William H Macy-esque schmuck of an accountant (Martin Freeman) and a bright but unlikely female sheriff (Allison Tolman) to investigate the heinous crimes of a newly arrived criminal (Billy Bob Thornton), the show has far more in common with the Coen Brothers' No Country For Old Men, right down to Billy Bob's dark angel with an eccentric haircut and some nice-guy sheriffs (Shawn Doyle, Colin Hanks) who get close, sometimes too close, to a force of evil beyond their experiences.

While not a patch on the movie, Fargo is nevertheless a decent piece of work, well written, well shot, with some eye-opening scenes, and largely well acted, particularly by Doyle but especially by Thornton, who's almost as mesmerising as Javier Bardem was. But it's largely interested in issues of masculinity, what it means to be a man and what happens if you fall short of those societal demands, so the female characters get short shrift from the story. Importantly, the relatively inexperienced Tolman has yet to make anything like the impact that Frances McDormand did in the movie, although she's likely to shift in importance in later episodes (spoiler)given Doyle unfortunately gets killed towards the end of the first episode

Not truly compelling, but definitely a cut above the average and I'll be sticking around to the next episode at least.

After the jump, the regulars, with reviews of Agents of SHIELD, Arrow, Community, Continuum, CrisisEndeavour, Friends with Better Lives, Game of Thrones, Hannibal and Silicon Valley.

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April 11, 2014

What have you been watching? Including Agents of SHIELD, Vikings, Suits, Game of Thrones, Endeavour

Posted on April 11, 2014 | 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.

New shows I’ve already reviewed this week:

After the jump, the regulars, with reviews of Agents of SHIELD, Crisis, Mammon, 35 Diwrnod, 19-2, The Americans, Community, Continuum, The Doctor Blake Mysteries, Elementary, Endeavour, Game of Thrones, Hannibal, House of Cards, Suits and Vikings

Continue reading "What have you been watching? Including Agents of SHIELD, Vikings, Suits, Game of Thrones, Endeavour"

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Third-episode verdict: Surviving Jack (Fox)

Posted on April 11, 2014 | comments | Bookmark and Share

BarrometerSurvivingJack.jpgA Barrometer rating of 2

In the US: Thursdays, 9.30/8.30c, Fox

Time for a third-episode verdict on Surviving Jack, a show that attempts to do for 1991 what The Wonder Years did for the 1960s without as good a soundtrack but with more clips of American Gladiators.

On the whole, it’s been a decent enough three episodes, each filled with at least the requisite Kermodian five laughs to ensure it’s worth watching. True, the only good character is Jack himself - Christopher Meloni from L&O:SU - everyone else simply existing to create situations where he is doctor-ish/army-ish when he should be dad-ish. But that doesn’t mean those other characters are entirely worthless and while they are pretty much the straight men and women of the piece, their predicaments are handled as well as The Wonder Years handled Kevin’s.

Given that the show is based on I Suck At Girls, don’t be surprised that most of those predicaments involve teenage son Connor Buckley sucking at dealing with girls, but rather than this being the traditional ‘ugly nerd with zero social skills aiming too high’ set-up expected of sitcoms, this is more ‘cute boy makes the same relationship mistakes everyone else does when they’re young’ kind of thing. Episode one saw him have his first kiss, two revealed he was actually quite good at sports and three had him actually asking someone out and not getting the reaction you’d have expected, all of which is surprisingly refreshing and probably shows you how tired other shows are rather than necessarily how fresh this one is.

Meloni is great as Jack; the show has some good one-liners; the female characters, even Rachael Harris’s, could do with some extensive development work but are not merely plucked from a box of stereotypes; and there’s some actual sensitivity to all the male characters for a change. Probably the best new network comedy of the 2013-14 season, since it’s more consistent than Enlisted.

Barrometer rating: 2
Rob’s prediction: Will last a season and might even get picked up for a second one

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