What have you been watching this week (w/e November 19)?

Misfits - Season 2

Back again to its regular Friday slot, it’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.

Thanks for helping out last week and stepping into the breach, everyone, as time stopped me from both watching TV and writing about it. But I’ve nearly caught up now. Sure, I’ve still got a backlog: BBC4’s marvellous ‘Glory of Greece’ season, The Trip, Boardwalk Empire and a few eps from this week such as Cougar Town, but I’m still ready to talk TV. So, after the jump, The Apprentice, Being Erica, Boardwalk Empire, Chuck, Community, Dexter, Hellcats, House, In Treatment, Life Unexpected, Misfits, Modern Family, No Ordinary Family, Smallville, Stargate Universe, The Walking Dead and 30 Rock.

  • The Apprentice: We are now entering the point of the show where the competent ones are emerging. Clearly the wrong team won this week and the loser was foolish to have (spoiler)brought those two into the boardroom with her. But nothing too disastrous happened.
  • Being Erica: Three eps in a row, the latter two of them actually pretty good, mainly because they focus on Doctor Tom, but also because they hark back to the first season. Most of the rest of the season has been like that previous model for all female-oriented Canadian programming – Sophie – the lightweight silliness of which made it instantly disposable, young adult fare. The writers haven’t done a good job of creating a story arc for the season, with most people just wandering about aimlessly, without any real plot driving them. The new characters haven’t been engrossing either. But the last few episodes have been bringing some of the old characters back and actually talking about relatively important concepts. I have to say though, the conclusion of the last episode? (spoiler) Really? You couldn’t just publish it as a work of fiction, you idiots?
  • Boardwalk Empire: I think I might ditch this. It’s obviously good, but I just can’t get into it.
  • Chuck: Rob Riggle was fine, but the Summer Glau cameo was a bit of a waste and everyone needs a brain transplant. Nice ending though.
  • Community: Wow. So I’m sitting there, thinking “Wow. They’ve run out of budget and they’ve had to write a ‘bottle’ episode,” – as in “ship in a bottle” where no one leaves the standing sets and there are few if any guest characters – and what happens? Being Community, Jeff actually says “It’s a bottle episode!” Now that’s meta. Actually, one of the best ‘bottle’ episodes I’ve seen and the ending was just so creepy.
  • Dexter: It’s just so very, very marvellous. There are a few plotholes emerging, but I’ll tell you why I’m liking this season so much. It’s the first time we’ve had been able to see a good reason for Dexter. It’s kind of been a given for the previous few seasons that a serial killers who kills bad guys is a good thing, but I’ve never entirely been persuaded. With the addition of Julia Stiles’ character, we actually get to see the victim’s point of view in all of this.
  • Hellcats: A couple of gamechangers (haven’t seen this week’s), with all kinds of relationship revelations that were implausible and unlikely. But the twist with the coach was interesting, since we’re getting back that slightly harder edge the show had when it started.
  • House: New cast member Amber Tamblyn does bring something new to the table – a relentless pursuit of doing the right thing – that we’ve not had on house before. But that’s already starting to get wearing. More interesting was this week’s medical problem, complete with historic re-enactment: smallpox on an old slaving ship! Loved it – best ep this season.
  • In Treatment: Definitely not as good as previous seasons, probably because they don’t have the Israeli original to draw on any more.
  • Life Unexpected: If it hadn’t been cancelled already so I might as well see how it ends now, I’d have given up on this show. Everyone’s dead in the head.
  • Misfits: Yey! Misfits is back. Heroes done well, it’s back and it’s as good as it was last season. The first episode was maybe a little bit under par but only slightly, while this week’s managed to be both innovative (spoiler: a drug that makes their powers work in reverse) and touching (spoiler: Nathan can see dead people now so didn’t realise his brother was dead, which is absolutely what they should have done with Claire in Heroes). Looking forward to next week’s a lot.
  • Modern Family: The flash mob was fun, but this felt almost as weak as the previous episode.
  • No Ordinary Family: Two episodes of relatively little merit. However, it looks like the series arc is finally starting in earnest.
  • Smallville: This week’s was quite moving and good to see Teri Hatcher back in the Superman universe. Not so good to see Granny Goodness, mind, and her integration with (spoiler)the Darkseid plot didn’t work at all. And Cassidy being (spoiler)Lex’s half-sister? Ugh and creepy retcon or what!
  • Stargate Universe: Last week’s and this week’s have been maintaining the unremitting nastiness, with at least two characters killed off. What can I say – we need more shows like this.
  • The Walking Dead: Weirdly for US TV, we’re now halfway through the first season after just three episodes. Not as good as the pilot episode, since it hasn’t really managed to ratchet up the tension as much, and Andrew Lincoln’s a little bit ineffectual, but there have been some good moments in what, essentially, is a show about what people are prepared to do to survive. The zombie make-up’s looking a bit ropier, too.
  • 30 Rock: Did they really employ a “jeans double” for Tina Fey?

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).

  • LOVING Misfits, frankly the best thing I’m seeing right now – admittedly TV is on a backseat at the moment attention wise, but this is so far ahead of everything else.
    AND – frankly, I would NEVER have really found it without YOU Rob. So thank you.

  • I haven’t been posting to this for awhile because my list of shows I’ve seen hasn’t changed much. ‘Luther’ and ‘Sherlock’ were the only short-runs that were added to the mix recently, and BBC-A will be showing the finale for ‘Luther’ this weekend. Both were gripping, with ‘Sherlock’ highly anticipated here at Toobworld Central.
    What I found strange was that over the summer, Rob alerted me to a crossover mention in the penultimate episode of ‘Luther’, a reference to Detective Munch and ‘L&O: SVU’. Yet I never picked up on the mention during the episode; neither did a couple friends who look for such trivia. Odd.
    Here’s the only thing I watched this week out of the ordinary: a 1973 tv movie called “Manchu Eagle Murder Case Mystery”. Bad enough that I had to stick it out to the end. And it had a lot of ‘Columbo’ connections:
    Dean Hargrove (director, co-writer)
    Dick DeBenedictis (music)
    Joyce Van Patten
    Will Geer
    Anjanette Comer
    Nita Talbot
    Sorrell Brooke
    Nicholas Colasanto
    So past credits are no guarantee.
    Also in the cast:
    Gabriel Dell (co-writer)
    Jackie Coogan
    Huntz Hall
    Dick Gautier (he had a ‘Mrs. Columbo’ link – blerg)
    Vincent Gardenia
    It was just off-beat enough that it may have been great… if Robert Altman directed it.

  • MediumRob

    @Rullsenberg: Kerching! Another happy customer! Woo hoo! Bit worried that Misfits might turn into the Nathan show at this rate, though, but let’s see what happens next week.
    @Toby: It’s definitely in there – it’s on both Luther’s IMDB page and its Wikipedia entry. Maybe BBC America has been doing some editing (again)?
    In my rush, I neglected to mention a few things:
    Dexter: Loving the fact that Jonny Lee Miller is essentially playing the evil version of Eli Stone. And is there a reason that Jordan Chase and his best pal are both played by Brits (Miller and Chris Vance), yet are American characters? Hmm.
    First Life: David Attenborough’s latest show on the evolution of life from before the single cell and beyond. Surprisingly boring, actually. I was expecting something major, but clearly the fact it’s being buried on BBC2, wasn’t on in HD and was only two parts should have given me a clue. Clearly supposed to point out to people who don’t believe in evolution how wrong they are, even I found it unpersuasive, with so many jumps in logic that it actually ended up dissuading me, which was odd. Lovely photography and CGI though, and always great to see David A on screen.
    Burn Notice: it’s back! With an ever so slightly different formula. Bit schizophrenic, with Michael at one point too injured to climb a fence, the next point able to beat up a well trained security guard. But “Ziggy” from The Wire proved an interesting adversary this week, and it’s good to see that some of the major league shooting and explosions at the end of last half-season actually got noticed. But I’m not sure how much I want to continue watching if they don’t get their arses into gear with the story arc.

  • I say drop the story arc. Michael should just accept his situation and get on with his life. I don’t know why shows always have to have arcs nowadays. ‘Burn Notice’ is perfectly set up to just be a case by case episodic series like in the old days.
    Okay, off to give that ‘Luther’ episode another go-round!

  • “Okay, off to give that ‘Luther’ episode another go-round!”
    And I’m back! Okay, I know where it should have happened – at some point before the younger cop brought Luther information on the husband & wife criminals that came in from the States.
    So for some reason, with this “director’s cut”, it was decided that the American audience shouldn’t see a mention of an American TV character in a British show. Fear of lawsuits, maybe? I think the creators of Munch’s character love having him mentioned in other shows. So I don’t know why they took it out.
    But it’ll give me something to work with in Toobworld….