What have you been watching this week (w/e October 31)?

Gabriel Byrne in In Treatment

Boo. Happy Halloween. Bet you weren’t expecting this, it being a Sunday and all, but I was away on Friday and today’s catch-up day. So here’s “What have you been watching this week?” your chance to recommend to friends and fellow blog readers the TV that they might be missing or should avoid – and for me to do mini-reviews of everything I’ve watched this week.

This week, as well as being Fox’s traditional quiet period (so no House or Running Wilde), it’s also been Halloween week, with more or less every show giving us a special episode for the holidays. So, after the jump, random spookiness in The Apprentice, Being Erica, Boardwalk Empire, Chuck, Community, Cougar Town, Dexter, Hellcats, Life Unexpected, Modern Family, No Ordinary Family, Smallville, Stargate Universe and 30 Rock.

But I also gave Canada’s Men With Brooms a try and we also have the return of HBO’s In Treatment. Here’s a trailer for the third season, followed by a summary of the first two seasons, so you can get a better grasp of what the show’s like if you haven’t seen it, it being on HBO/Sky Arts n’all.

  • The Apprentice: The one who got fired this week was proper mental, wasn’t she? Still, at least we’ve entered the phase of the competition where people start to demonstrate that they might actually have a clue and nice to see everyone making colossal profits this week, too.
  • Being Erica: Haven’t seen this week’s lesbian-happy one, but have watched Being Adam, which was largely as dull as you’d think a show about Adam with very little Erica in it might be. But it had its moments.
  • Boardwalk Empire: After a massive catch-up spell, I’m about halfway through the last episode. It’s definitely growing on me, with Michael K Williams (Omar from The Wire) proving to be as magnificent to watch as Steve Buscemi. Although the show is an equal-opportunities violent offender, the violence against and treatment of women is quite traumatic, but Kelly MacDonald’s character is a worthy heroine and Gretchen Mol is great. Still not really feeling the love, but then The Sopranos wasn’t my cup of tea either.
  • Chuck: A Halloween episode guest starring Robert Englund (Freddie Krueger in the original A Nightmare On Elm Street) as well as Linda Hamilton as Chuck’s mum. Actually, very good, funny, with plenty of ongoing plot revelations, despite its largely Buy More centric plotline, with Jefster’s House of Horrors proving a delight (did I spent a Batman Begins visual reference or two in there as well?). Spent most of the time staring at Linda Hamilton’s botox though.
  • Community: While this zombie episode was obviously awesome in so many ways, the slow departure of Community away from near-reality to some other weird TV realm is slightly concern. Donald Glover’s surprisingly buff, too, don’t you think?
  • Cougar Town: The best episode of the season so far, with a guest appearance by Dr Kelso from Scrubs as Jules’ dad. Nice to see them playing around with Courtney Cox’s southern heritage and the Halloween costumes (and impressions) were pretty outstanding. Funny.
  • Dexter: A very good episode of Dexter, too, with Julia Stiles doing ‘damaged’ very well and Dexter actually returning to reality after a few seasons away – we’re getting more of an emphasis on the victims and what Dexter is actually saving them from. No Halloween content that I noticed, but maybe in tonight’s episode
  • Hellcats: Basically, a relationships episode. Not entirely sure I approve of the concept of a “date auction” but nice to see the Hellcats not exactly having the easiest time of things. Also good to see Savannah’s upbringing being examined again, and Marti’s legal work making a return appearance. Nevertheless, it’s definitely lost its edge.
  • In Treatment: The return of HBO’s acting extravaganza, with Gabriel Byrne the flawed therapist counseling a different person in each of the week’s three episodes, before going into therapy himself in the fourth episode, and reflecting on the previous week’s revelations. It’s early days yet, but Sunil (Irffan Khan as a widower moved from India by his son to stay with him and his wife – Sonya Walger – after his wife dies) is by far the most interesting of the three patients so far, although Frances (Debra Winger playing an aging Hollywood star) gives him a run for him money, leaving irritating gay teenager Jesse (Dane DeHaan) the weakest link. Amy Ryan (The Wire, The Office) is already proving an excellent replacement for Dianne Wiest. It’s lost a little of its theatricality, which is a shame, and most of the outstanding younger cast have escaped to Parenthood, which is also a shame, but it’s already engrossing stuff. It’s just finding the two hours per week to commit to it that’s going to be tricky.
  • Life Unexpected: Everyone goes away to a hotel, where hook-ups occur. Lots of game-changing stuff going on, but nothing outstanding.
  • Men with Brooms: For some reason, Canada is going through something of a comedy dry spell. I’ve tried 18 To Life, Hiccups and now Men With Brooms and they’ve all inspired epic hate in me. Based on the movie of the same name, Men With Brooms, despite the presence of Paul Gross, was incredibly unfunny stuff. A relationship comedy involving a bunch of losers united by their membership of a curling team, there was one joke: every time someone called it a curling team, someone else said “I think it’s called a curling rink”. I counted six usages of that joke, and it wasn’t funny the first time. Gross effortlessly livened up the five minutes in which he appeared, but beyond the setting for the comedy, there was nothing original at all about the show and it was largely a collection of stereotypes (eg no man wants to be a vegetarian really, all women want love, men are frightened of commitment, attractive women are condescending and have no real personality of their own, etc)
  • Modern Family: Another Halloween episode. Very funny, as always, especially Mitchell’s workplace antics, but the general mockery of Sofía Vergara’s character’s accent left a bitter taste in the mouth. Also good to see Julie Cowen’s character getting to do wacky things for a change.
  • No Ordinary Family: A slight hint the show might be heading in more exciting directions, but largely forgettable.
  • Smallville: Last week’s episode had a guest appearance by the goddess Isis, but was largely silly and only useful for its (spoiler)unveiling of Clark’s secret identity to Lois. This week was Witness meets The Wicker Man and made no sense at all.
  • Stargate Universe: One of the first throwaway episodes of the season, but it still had the usual SGU edge.
  • 30 Rock: Last week’s was another return to form, with a guest appearance by Kelsey Grammer. However, it was, as always, Jack and Liz who were the best things about the episode, with Jack “Regeaning” away Liz’s problems.

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.