TV reviews

Review: How To Be A Gentleman 1×1

How To Be A Gentleman

In the US: Thursdays, 8.30/7.30c, CBS

And so it begins… Sigh.

You don’t know what I’m talking about, do you? Well, here’s the thing. Apparently, men don’t know how to be men any more. We just don’t know. We’re all confused. Are we supposed to be macho and manly real men or are we really just overgrown children, playing with our Playstations all day while women run the world? Are we unemployable morons? Are we uncouth and ill-mannered – and is that what a true man is and what a woman really wants?

These are not questions I’m asking by the way. These are the questions that US TV networks – particularly ABC – are asking through the medium of the sitcom. We’ve got Last Man Standing, Man Up and Work It coming our way from ABC (read more about them over here, if you’re a glutton for punishment), but CBS has fired the opening salvo in this particular gender war with How To Be A Gentleman, in which a reasonably nice, well mannered guy is forced to become friends with one of his former High School bullies (Kevin Dillon) in an effort to discover what it is to be a real man.

Sounds bad, doesn’t it? But you know what? Even though CBS is the home of the horrific Mike and Molly and Two and a Half Men, while ABC has given us Modern Family and Suburgatory, How To Be A Gentlemen is actually a lot subtler and nicer than you might have thought. Here’s a trailer.

Continue reading “Review: How To Be A Gentleman 1×1”

TV reviews

Review: Doctor Who – 6×13 – The Wedding of River Song

In the UK: Saturday 1st October, 7.15pm, BBC1/BBC1 HD. Available on the iPlayer
In the US: Saturday 1st October, 9pm/8c ET/PT, BBC America

Erm, yes. Another crazy bit of Stevieness. How does he stop himself from going mad with thoughts like that?

I largely enjoyed that one. Full of fun moments. Good to see quite a big chunk of questions answered – River’s timeline, how the Doctor avoids dying, what’s up with the eyepatches – as well as a few new ones asked, such as Doctor Who? Could have done with knowing why the TARDIS blew up at the end of last season, but maybe we’ll find out next year. The Silence were a little under-powered. Rory was a bit of a letdown. The Doctor’s escape clause felt like a bit of a cheat. But pretty enjoyable and the tribute to Nicholas Courtney was tear-jerking.

But it didn’t feel like a season finale, if you know what I mean. There was spectacle but no real sense of danger or of energy. Perhaps the supposed inevitability of it all robbed the story of that energy, since it felt like it was walking to its doom, Sydney Carton style. And putting out a message to the universe saying "Come help the Doctor" and getting a series of polite responses in return did rob the story of a potential bit of fun.

On the whole, in fact, a slightly less impressive two-part season than Stevie’s first. Amy was a shadow of her former self. A lot of the non-Stevie episodes felt like filler. Maybe a little too complicated for its own good and not as emotional or grounded as Rusty’s era, either. But Matt Smith’s very good, isn’t he?

On the whole, in fact, Doctor Who is starting to feel "interesting" in the same way as a puzzle rather than as drama. For me, it’s hard to feel enthusiasm for it, rather than waiting for another piece of the puzzle to be added to the mix. Not so much fun as homework, if you see what I mean. And a lot of the time, I’m not sure I desperately want to know the answers to the questions being asked. The Silence need to be a bit more threatening if they’re going to be a big bad. The companion(s), if they go through danger, need to change rather than be reset as a result of their adventures.

Although I won’t miss the complete absence of logic and sensible plotting from the Rusty era, he did at least know how to make you care about the companions and the Doctor and the current run is a little too distant from them at the moment.

But what do you think?

TV reviews

What did you watch last week (w/e September 28)?

Time for "What did you watch last week?", my chance to tell you what I watched last week that I haven’t already reviewed and your chance to recommend things to everyone else (and me) in case we’ve missed them.

My recommendations for maximum viewing pleasure this week: The Daily ShowDoctor Who, Modern Family, Happy Endings and Community.

Things you might enjoy but that I’m not necessarily recommending: Strike Back: Project Dawn, Ringer, Up All Night.

Now, normally, of course, after the first episodes of all the new series have aired, I stick around for the second and third episodes of all the shows that are promising. Unfortunately, this year, there’s been a whole load of second episodes that have been so unbareably painful to watch, that I turned off halfway through them. So, don’t, whatever you do, bother with:

  • Revenge: ridiculously stupid and pretentious.
  • Whitney: cutting-edge relationship observations such as "It’s hard for two people to take a shower at the same time" and "Maybe go on a date together to re-kindle the romance – except you know it’ll go wrong". Oh dear
  • 2 Broke Girls: badly written, not funny and even more racist than Sex and the City 2
  • Charlie’s Angels: The Angels go undercover as fashion models. FRO.
  • Unforgettable: even more generic than the first episode.

I also tried the first episode of Hart of Dixie with Rachel Bilson – ridiculously attractive, brilliant neurosurgeon ends up having to take a job in the Deep South – which was on a par with 2 Broke Girls for relentless stereotypes and equally relentlessly cliched dramatically. So I turned that one off pretty quickly.

But there were a few second episodes that were tolerable at least:

  • The Playboy Club: settling down into more of a soapy groove and starting to plays to its stars’ strengths while steering them away from their weaknesses. So Eddie Cibrian’s character took a turn for the slimey. Amber Heard’s character stopped being quite so wet and became a lot more assertive and sexier, allowing her to remember how to act. The supporting cast all got a lot more to do as well. However, all pretence that the show was in any way about empowering women disappeared, with the main plot revolving around the bunnies having a competition to pose for the front cover of Playboy. Oh dear.
  • Prime Suspect: A big drop-off in quality from the first episode, but at least this one was genuinely about a ‘prime suspect’. Largely by the books procedural, but a relatively good one.
  • Person of Interest: Something of an origins story, but still much less interesting than the first episode because of the reduced violence levels.

Still in my viewing pile: last night’s Dexter and Friday’s A Gifted Man. I should have a review of How To Be A Gentleman up later.

And in this week’s list of movies:

  • Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy: certainly faster paced than the TV series, it’s a brilliant evocation of the 70s that starts off a little bit fragmented and difficult to follow but really finds its feets after about the first 20 minutes or so. A must-see.

But what have you been watching?

"What did you watch last 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. 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?

Monday’s plummetting ratings news

Doctor Who

Film

British TV

  • 5* to air Alphas in October
  • Bleak Expectations remake The Bleak Old Shop of Stuff to feature Stephen Fry, Katherine Parkinson, David Mitchell and Robert Webb

US TV