What have you been watching this fortnight (w/e July 15)?

Two Guys, A Girl and A Pizza Place

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.

As you may have noticed, I skipped a week or so (hence the name change this week) because I had too much on, so this is a little bit of a catch up.

My recommendations for maximum viewing pleasure this week: Burn Notice, Come Dine With Me, Royal Pains, Penn and Teller: Fool Us, Sirens, Suits, The Daily Show, Top Gear and Wilfred. Watch them (and keep an eye on The Stage‘s TV Today Square Eyes feature as well for British TV highlights) or you’ll be missing out on the good stuff.

In my viewing pile, ready to be watched: Curb Your Enthusiasm. I hear the new series is a bit limp so far. Any thoughts?

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

  • Burn Notice: Oh, oh. They better not be doing what I think they’re doing.
  • Cleopatra: A Channel 4 documentary about the eponymous female pharaoh. Mainly just talking heads, with the occasional bit of re-creation, this was old school documentary-making in which you actually learnt something from people who know their stuff, as opposed to anything on BBC1. Definitely worth watching if you have an interest.
  • The Daily Show: some cracking stuff with John Oliver about the NotW scandal.
  • Guilty Pleasures: Another documentary, this time about the role of luxury within ancient Greek societies, particularly Athens and Sparta. Actually very good, certainly in comparison to the recent BBC4 Ancient Greece season. However, one of those documentaries where at the end, after thinking, “Wow, yes, I’ve learned quite a lot from this and I’ve seen some great and beautiful things,” there’s this feeling that maybe a little thing might have been left out. Can you guess? It was… women. Barely a mention of women in the whole thing, which was very strange.
  • Necessary Roughness: Haven’t watched episode three yet. Episode two was roughly on a par with episode 1, perhaps a bit better since we didn’t have to resort to the general psychological handwaving and instant cures of the pilot episode and we moved out of sports psychology for the A-plot. Callie Thorne is still being too comedic for the role, though.
  • Penn and Teller: Fool Us: Probably should have mentioned this was on about five weeks ago. British magicians try to fool the famous Vegas magicians – if they do, they get to go to Vegas and perform for P&T’s audience. A mix of decent acts with completely rubbish acts whose trick you can guess the secret of almost immediately. But still very entertaining.
  • Sirens: I haven’t got round to episode three (or four) yet, but episode two was pretty good. Acting’s still poor, but the scripts are still decent.
  • Suits: Still maintaining the quality in episode 4, with everyone nicely not nice. Slight dodginess around the clinical trials (does no one do double blind over there?) but that was a slight flaw, easily overlooked.
  • Torchwood: Miracle Day: Yey. Torchwood‘s back. Or something. It’s clearly trying very hard to be good, but it’s still fundamentally a bad show. It’s quite strange watching the American picture composition style being imposed on Torchwood, since it now looks like a different, American show. Nevertheless, the acting’s bad (the guy who was in ER who plays Rex Matheson actually makes Eve Myles and John Barrowman look like Derek Jacobi), the dialogue’s painful, we have the usual Russell T Davies inability to write anything close to reality whenever dealing with laws, politics et al, and Torchwood as a group are bigged up as world-saviours, despite being incompetent morons. Barrowman and Myles are obviously the most uncomfortable, untrained people in the world when it comes to using weapons. And why oh why oh why, whenever we have a massive invasion of the Earth by aliens, does everyone forget about it by the next series? Snark and Fury is your best place for a proper review, incidentally.
  • True Blood: after a lot of Alex Breckenridge in episode two, there was nothing of her in episode three, which was depressing. But wow, what a strange show. I’m not really liking it, more sort of being baffled by its intricate campness crossed with sexual oddness and dodgy accents. Fun, and it was nice to see Stephen Moyer getting to use an English accent for a bit in episode two, but I’m not sure I’d recommend it as such.
  • Two Guys, A Girl and a Pizza Place: a very old (circa Friends) show starring a very young, unbuff Ryan Reynolds that you can currently watch on 5* in the UK. Actually very bad, though, or at least the episode I saw – very forced, very unoriginal, with Reynolds obviously trying to be Chandler from Friends.
  • The TV Book Club: never have I seen such an uncomfortable group of presenters (Adrian Edmondson, Rory McGrath, Meera Syal and probably someone else, too). They all looked like they’d been stuck up against a wall and forced to talk with each other. And their choice of books? Well, I wouldn’t belong to a book club that pretentious yet simultaneously incapable of venturing a useful opinion about a book. I’m just saying. Incidentally, did you know the whole programme isn’t just sponsored by Specsavers, it’s actually made by Specsavers? Again, just saying…
  • Wilfred: Episode four was just deeply disturbing. Deeply. Funny, but deeply disturbing. Guest star, incidentally, was Ed Helms from The Daily Show and The Hangover.

And in this week’s list of movies:

  • Bad Teacher: Surprisingly not awful and actually quite enjoyable. I was unconvinced by Cameron Diaz’s ‘Road to Damascus’ but the rest of our ‘Movie Club’ found it plausible.
  • The Adjustment Bureau: Again, another surprise – a science fiction film that sucked as a science fiction film but was actually a really nice romance. Matt Damon and Emily Blunt are both really good as well.
  • Pumping Iron: Interesting to watch these days, not just because it was the first movie to feature Arnold Schwarzenegger. But it’s a documentary about body builders and tonally, the directors clearly think they’re all a bunch of mentallers. These days, you watch it and think, “Fair play, guys. Good effort. Nice work. Got any tips?”, such is the change in society’s attitude towards men’s physiques. As a result of watching the movie, lovely wife has now decided that she much prefers watching professional body building to World’s Strongest Man, which used to be her favouritest thing ever. No pressure, obviously.

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?

  • Thanks for the plug, Rob! I would also like to add that I live-Tweet during eaching episode of Torchwood and encourage others to join in and share their thoughts/jokes/pain. I usually steal the best jokes.
    I’ve started watching The Middleman this week. It’s a lot of fun but it’s very quirky and meta and I’m not really surprised it only lasted one season (despite it being a great show).
    I am also watching the Black Guardian trilogy of Peter Davison Dr Who stories with that troublesome Turlough. Oh Turlough, you are a scamp!

  • SK

    Torchwood really is rather bad. Apart from all the stupidity about calling your friend’s super-secret witness protection number (I thought they were hiding from the government anyway) from your own mobile, can someone tell me why they are so worried about the Earth running out of food given that the whole reason this will happen is that nobody can starve?

  • SK

    That said, it’s brilliant compared to the Torchwood Radio Foreplay.
    I’m sorry, I’ll read that again.

  • MediumRob

    My reviews of The Middleman, Torchwood: Lost Souls and Torchwood: Asylum for anyone who wants them. And no, no one can – or should – try to explain anything in Torchwood: there’s nothing to be gained from that.

  • SK

    I missed those three, so this morning I listened to Submission (they go on a mission. In a submarine. Oh, and ‘submission’ makes it sound like it’s a sex thing. Do you see what they did there?) and I admit it was a stupid, stupid thing to do.

  • Stu

    Torchwood: really still very, very bad. Nothing makes sense. Every shot of Barrowman is ridiculous. They seem to be trying to take it out of the Whoniverse, which makes as much sense as those episodes of Eastenders that are set in Marbella.
    Maybe it’ll improve when we get to the episodes that Rusty didn’t write? Don’t count on it.

  • SK

    You do you think it is, is under the delusion that Barrowman looks like an action hero? Davies? The directors? All the directors?

  • I think the process in Rusty’s brain is something like this
    1) John Barrowman is the handsomest man in the world
    2) Action heroes are handsome
    3) Therefore John Barrowman is the best action hero in the world

  • Have missed Torchwood, by all accounts that sounds like a good thing… Shame as I really enjoyed the last mini series. And I thought Bill Pullman looked good…
    Did watch the Night Watch, which was beautifully filmed, beautifully acted, but all felt a bit so whatish. Liked the device of starting at the end of the story, but then they rushed the ending. Think it might have worked better as a two parter. Also didn’t really care quite enough about the characters. Still Claire Foy and Anna Maxwell Martin were good.
    Have enjoyed new series of New Tricks. I know it’s cosy tv, but I love it unashamedly. Not least because it has older actors in it, and allows a woman both to look her age, and look on occasion unattractive. Plus Alun Armstrong is just so fab in it, I could hug him!
    Am losing track of weeks at the moment, but don’t think I commented here on Luther, or maybe I did? Last episode splendidly bonkers, and god alone knows how Luther keeps his job (oh, doesn’t he work for the Met?) but Idris Elba is so compelling, somehow he gets away with it. Shouldn’t, but he does.
    Have been utterly gripped by the Apprentice, and now facing a Wednesday no man’s land till the next series…

  • Mark Carroll

    Mmm, my wife mentioned the NotW coverage was good from John Oliver. I have got around to some season two of Foyle’s War. I like it, it’s interesting. Okay, it’s gentle and not amazing, but it passes the time quite agreeably. I’m still liking the season 2 repeat of Community too.
    I watched the restored recently-longer Metropolis and much liked that. The score is good and nearly all the scenes are now there, mostly in decent quality.
    My wife watched Atonement. While well done, and very well shot, I didn’t quite see the point. It was interesting but I’m not sure I wanted to know.

  • Mark Carroll

    Oh, goodness, yes, Torchwood was painfully silly. I reasonably liked it originally but they really do seem to have gone off the deep end, especially with regard to the action scenes; it’s such a shame. And there’d better be a very good explanation for why what Rose did is now breachable.

  • Torchwood – NONSENSE (still hilarious fun though as long as you don’t take it serious)
    The Night Watch – gorgeous (and not just for luverly Anna Maxwell Martin) but what a bloody awful script. Clunky dialogue all the way.
    Still watching Castle with much glee, even though it is ‘Murder she Wrote’ without Angela Lansbury (Yes, I did listen to all your radio discussion)

  • SK

    Castle is about the most formulaic thing I’ve seen in… well, since Without a Trace, actually. I must stop watching it.
    Does anyone else think Nathan Fillion is the spit of young Justin Hayward, or is that just me?

  • It’s not just you 🙂

  • SK

    Down one reason to think I’m mad. That’s good.
    Unlike Torchwood: it gets worse.

  • “Yes, I did listen to all your radio discussion”
    What did you do to deserve that?

  • Well for a start the audio kept starting up everytime I opened your front page! 🙂 Seriously though, it’s you: why WOULDN’T I listen? You’re erudite and fun on the blog page, now there’s a voice to go with it. All good I’d say. Enjoy your new radio fame!

  • SK

    I’ve also been watching The Night Shift which I recorded back during the Iceland season. One more episode to go. After a slow start, it’s turned out to be really rather good, with the characters turning out to be fascinating grotesques.
    The other thing I’ve been catching up with is Angry Boys. Slower than Summer Heights High and sadly lacking Mr G, but it really picks up when Blake and, especially, Jen arrive. Jen’s a creation of grotesque comic genius.

  • Would that the BBC, in its infinite wisdom, had an embeddable iPlayer for radio as well as for TV….

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