What have you been watching this week (w/e July 30)

Mad Men 4x1

I’ve given up on a few shows over the last fortnight, most notably Leverage, which has been boring the pants off me of late (YMMV), and Rizzoli & Isles, which made Women’s Murder Club look like a documentary. But here’s what I have been watching

  • Burn Notice: This season is really just fantastically unmemorable at the moment. I literally can’t remember what’s happened in it within about an hour of viewing it. But while I’m watching it, it’s fun.
  • Covert Affairs: Embarrassingly for Burn Notice, despite Covert Affairs being a duller show, it is making Burn Notice look a bit daft in comparison to the far more realistic tradecraft that goes on here (not that it’s that realistic, of course). I am enjoying Covert Affairs, and the arrival of Sendhil Ramamurthy (who despite having a US accent normally, still sounds like he’s putting one on) is excellent news. But despite the awesome Piper Perabo, it doesn’t quite have that magic it needs to make it must-see TV.
  • The Gates: Glad they’ve finally pushed a couple of revelations, but we’re going to need a few more answers soon, IMHO, to avoid this becoming dull.
  • The IT Crowd: Last week’s wasn’t quite as funny as previous weeks’ episodes, but it still had some great moments.
  • Mad Men: Season four’s here and it’s a little dull, I have to confess. A few nice moments and obviously the first ep was largely dedicated to establishing where everybody is a year on from season 3, but it didn’t really come alive until its last few moments. Oh, and the Advertising Age guy’s shorthand? All good teeline, but together, didn’t mean a thing. Absolute gibberish.
  • Persons Unknown: Massive outbreak of silliness in the last two episodes. Sigh. I knew it couldn’t last.
  • Rev: The first episode not written by the series creator and the first I didn’t enjoy. It just felt a bit nasty, to be honest.
  • Royal Pains: Doesn’t quite have the edge of last season, the demotion of Jill to an occasional walk-on is a real body-blow to the show, as is the absence of Boris at the moment. But Anastasia Griffith is fine and the Pretty Woman reference last week was fun.
  • Scoundrels: Now, I’ve never been to a strip club (I just haven’t. Honest), but even I know that the one they have in Scoundrels is pretty tame – much like the show. It’s chugging along though, has some fun moments, and some fun characters. It just flounders as soon as anything too much like drama hits it. Also had the first Terminator in-joke of the season this week, which only took five episodes. Well done on the restraint guys.
  • Southland: Onto episode four and it’s just become a slightly soapy mush, which is very disappointing given its first couple of episodes. I’m going to stick with it, particularly since I hear season two focuses on the two interesting characters from the first two eps, but that was a real plummet in quality.
  • Top Gear: Rubbish interview of Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz, but nice to see them both do so well in the circuit. The Ayrton Sena piece was a surprisingly lovely tribute as well. Generally, though, this season has lacked a certain pizazz.

But what have you been watching? Anyone catch The Pillars of the Earth?

As always, no spoilers unless you’re going to use the <spoiler> </spoiler> tags, please. If you’ve reviewed something on your blog, you can put a link to it here rather than repeat yourself (although too many links and you might get killed by the spam filter).

Classic TV

Weird old title sequences: Man From Atlantis (1977)

The Man From Atlantis

Back in the 70s, Doctor Who was a ratings juggernaut. If you were ITV, you aired a show opposite it at your own risk, knowing it probably wouldn’t survive the ordeal. But some shows did survive and even beat Who in the ratings. Ask many a Whoer, and they’ll know that Buck Rogers in the 25th Century was one of those victors, but few realise that Man From Atlantis, a short-lived show that did badly in its native US, actually beat Doctor Who on several occasions.

Could it be a fit man without many clothes on was the reason? If Doctor Who was for the dads, then what were mums watching…?

Man From Atlantis saw Patrick Duffy – best known now as Bobby Ewing in Dallas, in which his character cheated death by revealing an entire season of the show was just a dream – as “Mark Harris”, an amnesiac who is possibly the last survivor of the lost continent of Atlantis. In the first of four TV movies that launched the series, “Mark” is washed ashore near a naval research base, where he’s nursed back to health by Doctor Elizabeth Merrill (Belinda J. Montgomery – best known now as the mom of Dougie Howser in Dougie Howser MD). “Mark” turns out to be able to breathe underwater, withstand extreme depths and has superhuman strength.

Despite the fact Mark’s hands and feet are webbed, Merrill isn’t put off and recruits him to join the Foundation For Oceanic Research, a government agency that explores the depths of the ocean in a sophisticated submarine called the Cetacean, doing spy work and fighting aliens – yes, it was that kind of show. There was even some time travel, with Mark going back to the Wild West and Romeo and Juliet’s Italy. However, his main enemy is “Mr. Schubert”, who in typical Bond villain stylee, has a secret underwater base and plans to take over the world with nuclear missiles, giant jellyfish, melting the polar ice caps – that kind of thing.

Despite the success of the four TV movies, Man From Atlantis only lasted 13 episodes as a TV series – largely because it was pretty dreadful, even by the standards of mid to late 70s US sci-fi. Only the pilot movie has been released on DVD and only in the US. Nevertheless, it was iconic enough that it proved the making of Duffy’s career.

Here, though, for your enjoyment is its weird old title sequence, featuring Patrick Duffy without many clothes on, as well as a few clips that show just what a big old pile of pants it was.

Sitting Tennant

Friday’s Sitting Tennant (week 30, 2010)

Erin C's Sitting Tennant

Rullsenberg's Sitting Tennant

Sister Chastity's Sitting Tennant

Toby's Sitting Tennant

This Friday, Sitting Tennant is coming towards you so quickly, you might perceive some motion blur. Have a nice Tennanty weekend.

  1. Erin C, Rullsenberg, Sister Chastity: 195
  2. Toby: 140
  3. Rachel: 90
  4. Sabine: 65
  5. Karen: 35
  6. dreamer-easy: 25
  7. Dawn: 10
  8. kellyann06: 5

Don’t forget Tuesday’s caption competition!

Got a picture of David Tennant sitting, lying down or in some indeterminate state in between? Then leave a link to it below or email me and if it’s judged suitable, it will appear in the “Sitting Tennant” gallery. Don’t forget to include your name in the filename so I don’t get mixed up about who sent it to me.

The best pic in the stash each week will appear on Monday and get ten points; the runners up will appear on Friday (one per person who sends one in) and get five points.

You can also enter the witty and amusing captions league table by commenting on Monday’s Sitting Tennant photo, the best caption getting 10 points, everyone who contributes getting five points.

Friday’s “god of thunder” news


British TV