US TV

What have you been watching? Including Jupiter’s Legacy, Kung Fu, Mythic Quest and Without Remorse

WHYBW is back to Mondays, so no new Debris to review this week. But I have been watching some new shows. It’s almost like old times, hey?

Kung Fu (US: The CW) isn’t so much a reboot or revival of the original 1970s show – or even Kung Fu: The Next Generation – as a complete reimagining, albeit with some similarities to the original. Set in modern times, it has a Chinese-American girl going on holiday to China, discovering it’s been organised as a marriage matchmaking by her mum, and does a Mulan – running of to join a local female-only Shaolin temple. After the temple gets burned down by an Evil Ex-Pupil and her Sifu killed, she heads off to the US and is reunited with her family. And is accompanied by the ghost/memory of her former master.

Sounds a bit familiar at least, to fans of the original, but there the similarities peter out, as our heroine firstly has to join forces with her (gay) brother, her Crazy Rich Asians computer hacker sister and the studly local youth centre T’ai Ch’i master to fight crime in San Francisco – particularly the gang boss who’s extorting her parents. Secondly, Evil Ex-Pupil is on the hunt for eight magic swords that will give her awesome magical powers, and our heroine might be the only one who can stop her – and might have magical powers herself.

It’s a slightly weird combo that actually just about works, although the kung fu is almost as bad as the original’s. The crime fighting and family relationships are more interesting than the magical side of things, which is just a bit bobbins. But the characters didn’t really engage me, so I won’t go past the first episode, I don’t think.

Jupiter’s Legacy (Netflix) is a massively more promising affair. Based on the graphic novel by Mark Millar, it’s a musing on… well, lots of things, TBH. It sees one generation of nearly immortal people given superpowers during the Great Depression having to deal with the fact in modern times that their kids have superpowers – and maybe different attitudes towards morality et al to them. Is killing always wrong, do they need a code to keep them in check, should they have intervened in World War 2 and stopped the Holocaust?

There are elements of Watchmen, The Boys and more in there, but this is very much its own beast. Its showrunner is Steven DeKnight, who was of course responsible for both season 1 of Daredevil (Netflix) and Spartacus, so you can probably tell this is a definite 18-certificate affair when it comes to the gore. As well as being pretty dark and as ‘realistic’ as something like this can be, though, it’s also pretty funny, has a great cast and has keep me interested for four episodes so far. I’ll let you know how the rest of it pans out.

Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet (Apple TV+) returned with a two-parter and was gloriously funny. The cast are the same but there has been some character movements – new pairings, some advances in relationships – but largely it’s the same show, mulling on the difficulties of creativity. It felt a bit more office comedy than before, with less on games per se, more on just general workplace difficulties. But the nastiness, smartness and general amusement were very much back in force.

Lastly, we have Amazon’s latest addition to its Tom Clancy collection, Without Remorse (2021), which is an origin story (set in modern times, nevertheless) for Clancy’s non-Jack Ryan anti-hero, John T Clark, that sees Michael B Jordan going from regular Navy SEAL-type to becoming a clandestine superman when his wife is predictably killed by Russian bad guys in retaliation for MBJ killing one of theirs, etc, etc.

Honestly, it was both dull and dark. Dark and dull. In that order. Very predictable, with everyone talking the talk and shooting the shot in a hope that all that manly super-efficiency at not having any emotions will compensate for not having any real personalities, characters or plot. This is despite again a decent cast, particularly, MBJ. You could see pretty much everything coming, right up to the creation of (spoiler alert) Rainbow Six right at the end, particularly as it was all shot like a video game.

But what did you watch?

Film

What have you been watching? Including Justice Society: World War II and Debris

It’s been a relatively quiet week or so for TMINE, with most of the regulars having departed for pastures new last week. Or something. But I did watch one TV show and a movie.

Debris was a two-parter of marvellousness. One of TMINE’s golden rules of sci-fi is that sooner or later, ever sci-fi show will do its own version of Groundhog Day and Debris tackled it in its usual surprising and sometimes nasty way – what if what you did in every version of the loop could affect the next loop, even if you couldn’t remember what happened the previous time? It was a real mind-blowing affair that almost gave us a new cast every loop, which was intriguing to see, particularly since some of the characters had been hinted at in previous episodes. Thoroughly enjoyable!

Meanwhile, I also caught another piece of alternative reality fun in the form of Justice Society: World War II, in which the Flash accidentally travels to an alternative World War II where Wonder Woman is leading the charge against the Nazis, aided by Steve Trevor, Hourman, another Flash, Black Canary and Hawkman. But no Superman. There he has to puzzle out how to get back to his own reality, help the Justice Society and maybe learn a little something that could help him in his own time. Except there’s another alternative reality super person or two who might help or hinder them all as well…

It’s actually the best of these animated DC movies I’ve seen so far. The animation is a bit less anime, a bit more Archer than normal. Wonder Woman – Stana Katic (Castle, Absentia) channelling her Israeli accent from Heroes again to do an almost perfect Gal Gadot impression – is the true heroine of the piece and more kick ass than you’ll ever have seen her, even in her own animated movies, but everyone gets their moment to shine. Black Canary’s moment is downright terrifying, in fact. You won’t be underestimating her again.

It’s also pretty gruesome, with various heroes getting killed in unpleasant ways, which was unexpected, making for a somewhat different movie from the one I was expecting. Yet there’s actually plenty of humour, too, so not a DC grim fest.

Those pluses are slightly countered, however, by the fact this feels a touch open-ended, with various moments never really explained, presumably because a sequel is planned.

If you like animated DC heroes, this is a refreshing change from the usual, but if you don’t, there’s nothing in the movie to really make you change your mind.

But what did you watch?

Streaming TV

What have you been watching? Including Mythic Quest

It’s “What have you been watching?”, your chance to recommend to fellow TMINE readers anything you’ve been watching this week

Last week, WHYBW pulled a sickie, thanks to the Covid vaccination giving me possibly the worst illness I’ve had in years. I’m better now, but not looking forward to number two in July… Thankfully, invalidity still didn’t stop me from watching TV, so I’m up to date with pretty much everything.

Debris (US: NBC) has continued to be pleasantly unpleasant. Although each episode still ends with some heartwarming proof of the delights of human nature, it’s usually accompanied by something horribly unpleasant and some Fringe cast-offs, such as (spoiler alert) a telekinetic/telepathic girl ramming a relative’s head into some metal shards to stop him using his own mind-control to get our heroes to shoot themselves . There’s also lots of distrust and backstabbing, and the effects of the miraculous space debris seem largely to be settling down on things passing through other things – with suitably biologically unpleasant results.

The Falcon and The Winter Soldier (Disney+) concluded with accompanying name change (no, no spoilers) in a slightly odd way, it has to be said. A magnificent speech and the bits in the Smithsonian were desperately moving, but the final half seemed more like an effort to set up about half a dozen spin-off shows and movies than a decent denouement. Plus for a show called The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, there really wasn’t much Winter Soldier this episode.

For All Mankind (Apple TV+) also had a very moving as well as exciting season finale. Lots of soapiness in the preceding episodes that was very draining and slowing of the plot, but how can you knock (spoiler alert) Moon War! and its own outer space version of the Cuban Missile Crisis but in the 80s? Plus props for references to Space: 1999. All in all, not as good a second season as the first and everything sort of petered out with various storylines, such as Molly’s medical condition, but I imagine season three will pick that up. All I can say is, thank God we’re into the 1990s now. I’m so sick of 80s nostalgia and period pieces.

Last up, we had the return of Mythic Quest (Apple TV+). Not 100% inspiring this one, which I think was written by one of the cast members and saw our heroes and heroines return to the office after a year of Covid for their annual pick-me-up LARP party, only for it to go disastrously wrong. Some good chuckles to be had nevertheless and some nicely cynical moments. Also surprisingly big budget, as we entered actual fantasy sequences towards with some solid effects, and with a surprise guest voiceover by Anthony Hopkins. But I’m hoping the series-proper is a little bit more focused on the bad behaviour and the niceties of game design than this ep was.

But what did you watch?

US TV

What have you been watching?

It’s “What have you been watching?”, your chance to recommend to fellow TMINE readers anything you’ve been watching this week

I’ve watched just two things, both of them regulars, since last week: Debris, and The Falcon and The Winter Soldier. I blame Easter and taking a couple of weeks off. I’ve not even watched last week’s For All Mankind.

Debris was good, but was more a spy versus spy than a fringe science thing, so possibly the show’s first ‘not that great’ episode, although it was good for what it was – I’ll watch last night’s episode later this week.

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier seems to be hitting its stride now, which given it’s only six episodes long is a bit belated but has given us some good fight scenes, as well as (spoiler alert) Wakandans. This week’s ep did have a bit of a lull in the middle, though, and we did get a ‘really? In 2021?’ moment when (spoiler alert) the Black sidekick got killed to give the anti-hero a reason to go mental . But the second half was a solidly intense bit of superheroic (and not so heroic) fighting. Plus we got the Zemo dance

Still, fingers crossed, I might actually watch something this week.

But what did you watch?

Film

What have you been watching? Including Nosferatu and Vampyr

It’s “What have you been watching?”, your chance to recommend to fellow TMINE readers anything you’ve been watching this week

It’s been a quiet week for TV, less for movies at TMINE. TV-wise, it’s just been the regulars: For All Mankind, Debris, The Falcon and The Winter Soldier and Superman and Lois. And they’ve all been fine.

The cosmonauts in FAM made the show more interesting than previous weeks, but not greatly so, and the changing attitudes to gay relationships in a little over a decade was well happened; Debris was more scary science with everyone in boiler suits, which was good; TFatWS was better than the first episode, funnier, with some interesting things to say about race, thanks to good old Carl Lumbly (Alias) and the arrival in the MCU of (spoiler alert) Isaiah Bradley; and Superman and Lois was alternately exciting and tear-jerking, thanks to the return of Airwolf‘s very own Michele Scarabelli as Martha Kent.

All good viewing, all staying on the recommended list, but nothing that made punch the air or something. It should be noted, however, that Superman & Lois isn’t back until May now, since Supergirl has now got its timeslot. How odd.

Movies-wise, I got about halfway through The Trial of the Chicago 7 (2020), but was a bit disappointed by the lack of scorching Aaron Sorkin dialogue. Good cast and I might try to watch the rest of it, but I’m not enthused.

I did manage to watch all of LA LA Land (2016), in which tedious Ryan Gosling tries to explain the joys of jazz to Emma Stone. Hated it. Lovely song and dance numbers, beautiful design, but you’ll want to kill Gosling by the end of it.

Meanwhile, a couple of classic German black and white movies were leaving MUBI so I figured I should try to watch them while they were still on: Vampyr (1932) and Nosferatu (1922). Nosferatu is the more famous but while it’s a visually stunning adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, with some truly iconic moments, it’s not a great movie. Plus the soundtrack given to this silent movie for the MUBI release was borderline comic. It would have been about a thousand times better with the soundtrack on this trailer.

Vampyr is a slightly more haunting affair based on elements from J Sheridan Le Fanu’s In a Glass Darkly. Again, visually great but with a plot that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

I think it’s worth watching them both to say you’ve watched these two foundational movies, but don’t go in thinking you’re going to be thunderstruck by how awesome they are.

All in all, not a bad week of viewing, more an uninspiring one, if you see what I mean?

But what did you watch?