What have you been watching this week (w/e September 3)

Royal Pains season two

Well, it’s been a month so you’d have thought I’d have caught up with everything. And I did catch up a bit. But two weeks away means that there’s a whole slew of things I’m still working my way through: I’ve got a load of episodes of The Gates, Mad Men, Scoundrels and Persons Unknown to get through for starters. Wonder Woman season 1 is turning out to be better, more subversive, more feminist – and weirder – than I remember though: Steve Trevor’s still a complete dick, mind.

But I have managed to see the following:

  • Burn Notice: Notably picking up in the final few episodes, but still hampered by that formula. And who could have seen that ending coming? Oh yes – everyone.
  • Dark Blue: Which should now more properly be called ‘Light Blue’, since the addition of Tricia Helfer to the mix has really messed the show up (although it’s not her fault). There were two things that made the show dark – it was about undercover cops doing things that might seem a little questionable and not especially enjoying it; and it was all shot in the dark. But now we have Helfer, suddenly it’s going all jokey and flirting with comedy. Fluffy haired Dermot M is off gardening and has a girlfriend, secondary characters that complicated storylines emotionally have been removed, Dermot no longer is his own boss so what they’re doing isn’t as dark any more. It’s all just a little bit less interesting now. There have been some good moments though and the secondary stars are all quite interesting in their own way. It’s just too far from reality to really make it a decent show any more. I wonder if that’s why TNT haven’t exactly been pushing themselves to promote it?
  • Covert Affairs: Has continued to be decent but not outstanding. Piper Perabo is great, but all attempts to make ‘Auggie’ interesting have been flawed. Sendhil Ramamurthy is getting more to do though which is good. I’m also liking the fact that while Annie can kick arse, she’s not as kick arse as most of the people she’s up against. Arrival of (spoiler) old boyfriend was anti-climactic though and Anne Dudek is largely being wasted. But it’s remaining an okay stab at action-spy realism.
  • Persons Unknown: Very much a chore, this has gone from excellent to awful. I’m hoping it picks up in the final three eps, when all will be revealed, but I don’t hold out too much hope.
  • Royal Pains: So a disappointing season overall, mainly because the first season was so good, rather than because this one was bad. It wasn’t bad, in fact, merely lacking in the edge the first season had. It was all a little too easygoing, too routine. The Jill/Hank relationship was sorely missing and much as I love Anastasia Griffith, her character wasn’t much of a replacement. I’m not that interested in Divya, and making her a mini-Hank didn’t make me love her more. Evan was at least less irritating this season, but the lack of Boris has been a problem, too. What the show really needed was the depth the first season had – the questions about Hank’s business, whether he would stay in the Hamptons, whether Jill was a holiday fling or not, Boris’s scarier qualities and so on. Fingers crossed for next season (or half-season) since there were hints in the final episode that it was all coming back.
  • Sherlock: So after an impressive first episode, written by Steven Moffat, we get a truly dreadful episode written by someone no one had heard of (he writes for the theatre, apparently). Should we be surprised that something written by someone other than Steven Moffat isn’t as good as something that is written by Steven Moffat? No, of course not. But this was bland and barely Sherlock Holmes at all. Then we get the third episode, this time by Mark Gattiss. Now this did at least recapture some of the fun qualities of the first ep – it does make me wonder about SM as a showrunner though. For Sherlock did he really only bother talking to Mark Gattiss and forget to talk to second guy at all, beyond “it’s Sherlock Holmes. You work it out,” or what? Because ep 2 just ignored all the series set-up that ep 1 incorporated (Watson’s blog-writing, his service revolver, etc) leaving almost all of it other than Moriarty for ep 3. Now ep 3 still wasn’t SM quality but it was pretty good. If you’re a Sherlock-lover, you’d have spotted the references to the five orange pips, the Bruce-Partington Plans, etc; the (spoiler)cliffhanger ending by the pool with Moriarty was of course an obvious reference to The Final Problem as well. Moriarty was a surprise and well handled, if a little OTT. But I do worry they’ve gone too far along the line of making Holmes almost sociopathic and uncaring. Watson’s lost his edge since the first ep too. But fingers crossed, with a second season, they’ll iron out the bugs.

But what have you been watching?

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).


  • Rob Buckley

    I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.

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