What have you been watching this week (w/e May 27)?

The Crimson Petal and the White

Time for “What have you been watching this week?”, my chance to tell you what I’ve been watching this week and your chance to recommend things to everyone else (and me) in case we’ve missed them.

My usual recommendations for maximum viewing pleasure this week: Cougar Town, Endgame, Happy Endings, House, Modern Family, The Shadow Line and Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle. Watch them (and keep an eye on The Stage‘s TV Today Square Eyes feature as well) or you’ll be missing out on the good stuff. Of course, it being May/June, most of them are ending, so I’ll have to come up with a new set of recommendations next week.

Now to the irregulars and new things, as well as a few thoughts on some of those regulars:

  • All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace: Adam Curtis’s latest documentary series, examining how technology has come to – quite literally – rule our lives. One of those documentaries designed more to make you think and examine broad trends rather than create a watertight argument. Well worth watching.
  • The Apprentice: Very creepy.
  • The Crimson Petal and the White: Obviously was on tele a while back now, but we put off watching it while lovely wife was still reading the original book. Very faithful to the book, says lovely wife, and quite disturbing in its visual style, like being on an acid trip for an hour while trapped in a documentary about poverty in Victorian London. I’m not sure I actually like it though, since it’s one of those ones where you can see doom spiralling down on characters right from the beginning because they behave incredibly stupidly. Also, I find it hard to imagine Chris O’Dowd as anything except Roy from The IT Crowd. He just doesn’t seem plausible as anything else.
  • Happy Endings: Not quite as funny as in previous weeks but still good. Just ambiguous enough that you know they weren’t sure they were going to get renewed or not.
  • House: Oops. Last week’s wasn’t the finale after all. Still, what a weird way to end the series. Feels almost like it should have been the last House ever, since it’ll be interesting to see how they come back from this. Not a great episode though.
  • Running Wilde: Not a great way to end the series – felt a bit like they’d given up at this point.

And since people have been mentioning movies they’ve been watching as well, which seems like a sterling idea to me, this week I saw:

  • Tangled: Animated Disney musical version of Rapunzel, with Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi (Chuck from Chuck). Actually quite nice, decent animation, nothing too offend, with a few good comedic touches. But nothing outstanding and a few major plot holes.
  • The Ward: Amnesiac Amber Heard runs around and tries to escape a lot from a mental asylum when it becomes clear that a ghost is trying to kill off everyone in her ward. A return in style by John Carpenter to Halloween/The Thing, with very little gore and a few solid shocks, but a bit loose in the middle and suffers from the usual Carpenter trope of the third and fourth acts turning into lots of running. But the ending’s really good, Heard does well, even if the other girls in the ward are beyond irritating, and Jared Harris from Mad Men excels as the psychiatrist who runs it all.

But what have you been watching?

“What have you been watching this week?” is your chance to recommend to friends and fellow blog readers the TV and films that they might be missing or should avoid – and for me to do mini-reviews of everything I’ve watched this week. Since we live in the fabulous world of Internet catch-up services like the iPlayer and Hulu, why not tell your fellow readers what you’ve seen so they can see the good stuff they might have missed?

  • Interesting that The Shadow Line is now on your ‘must watch’ list: I’d heartily agree – Stephen Rea is awesome in this…

  • MediumRob

    “Interesting that The Shadow Line is now on your ‘must watch’ list: I’d heartily agree – Stephen Rea is awesome in this…”
    It’s flawed, particularly when it comes to the dialogue (although it’s not exactly a police procedural either), but everything else about it is really good.

  • SK

    I quite like the dialogue. As long as you don’t expect it to be in the least naturalistic, and take it as a sort of game of how metaphors can be stretched past breaking point, it works.
    (Haven’t seen yesterday’s yet)

  • I can cope with the dialogue: have to say though the sound and MUSIC especially blow my mind every week. just LUSH…

  • Mark Carroll

    Ah, I think my daughter has “Tangled” coming by Netflix next week. I know she’s been wanting to see it.
    Yes, “House” was not exactly compelling. Though, it’s focusing on a thread of arc I really don’t care about. It also didn’t feel especially plausible to me. I seem to like Chase and Thirteen more than I once did.
    I finished season one of “Law & Order: UK”. It was good, I thought. We don’t have any more seasons of it over here, I don’t think.
    Caught a bit more of “Mad Men” as my wife watched it. Seemed okay. She’s into the second season now. A bit odder, maybe, but I missed more than I saw.
    Nothing very notable comes to mind.

  • Gareth Williams

    I am struggling to think of a funnier thirty minutes of television in recent memory than Stewart Lee this week.
    Sitcoms, obviously, have plotting and storylines which must be told so can not be gut-bustingly funny for almost their entirety for thirty minutes like this week’s episode of ‘The Vehicle’.
    Whilst I might think the fella at the end was a plant, I’m willing to believe he wasn’t just for the brilliance of it.

  • I’m always bemoaning the absence of those old movies of the week that ABC used to churn out, so when I saw one of the cablers over here was showing one late night I DVR’d it. “What’s the Matter with Helen?” – set in 30s Hollywood with Debbie Reynolds and Shelley Winters as the mothers of two convicted thrill killers, with Winters going slowly mad. If it had a big screen budget, it’s the type of thing you’d see Davis and Crawford do. At least in this case, for me it was a good example of “You can’t go home again.”
    As you know, this week was the end of the 2010-11 season and May Sweeps. (Although some shows – like ‘Law & Order: Los Angeles’ still have a few weeks to go. So I caught a few – ‘Modern Family’ and ‘Cougar Town’, ‘Happy Endings’…. But until my summer shows kick in, all my DVR has to look forward to is ‘The Killing’, ‘Game of Thrones’, and ‘Doc Martin’.
    Speaking of which, the episode from Tuesday night had Chris O’Dowd as the guest star, so it was weird to see him holding a knife on his co-star from “The IT Crowd”, Katherine Parkinson. And to bring it all around, I was surprised Thursday morning to see Richard Ayoade’s name as the director on that “Pulp Fiction” episode of ‘Community’ when I went back to watch that for the ‘Cougar Town’ references. (BTW – I’ll have my Ted Buckland on ‘Cougar Town’ piece up on Tuesday after my own Memorial Day O’Bservation.)
    In Netflix, I just finished off the second disc of ‘Dalziel & Pascoe’. It’s probably just me, but I’m more creeped out by Colin Buchanan’s smile than I am by Warren Clarke’s behavior.
    And online I watched an old episode of ‘The Adventures Of Sir Francis Drake’, just to watch Francesca Annis in one of her earliest roles.
    I also recorded one of those modern-styled “documentaries” you were talking about – something called “When Aliens Attack”, but not sure when I’ll get around to it. And since my new tradition of a Saturday morning marathon of ‘Rifleman’ episodes is pre-empted for Memorial Day celebrations, I can finally watch the two-hour ‘Supernatural’ season finale.
    And finally – I just ordered a bootleg complete collection of Tea Leoni’s first series ‘Flying Blind’. A little something to watch at work after I finish “Keys Of Marinus”.
    Sorry for rambling on……

  • Even with all that previous blather, I did forget something out of the ordinary that I watched – 1980’s TV movie with Peter Cushing and John Mills as Holmes and Watson called “The Masks of Death”. It ran in one piece on YouTube. Afterwards I ordered the DVD with Cushing and Nigel Stock; apparently there are only five episodes left in existance….

  • Mark Carroll

    I forgot to mention, my son has been liking InuYasha, Moribito, and Ergo Proxy. They’re quite tolerable to be in the same room as.

  • Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle is sublime – incredibly tightly constructed and incredibly funny.