What did you watch last week (w/e October 7)?

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: Archer, Dexter, The Daily Show, Modern Family, Happy Endings and Community.

Things you might enjoy but that I’m not necessarily recommending: Being Erica, Strike Back: Project Dawn, and Ringer.

Since last week, we’ve had a few cancellations, so I’ve delayed watching the remaining episodes of The Playboy Club and How To Be A Gentleman because there’s not much point.

We’ve also had another attack of "second episode-itis", in which a number of new TV shows with almost acceptable first episodes had second episodes too dreadful to carry on watching. The culprits were:

  • Pan Am: despite the lovingly recreated New York of the 60s, the complete absence of interesting plot or characters meant I was practically catatonic within the first 10 minutes.
  • Terra Nova: has mysteriously turned into Star Trek: The Any Series That Had Brannon Braga as a Showrunner. While better than the first episode, it was still deathly dull with a plethora of Wesley Crushers in desperate need of being eaten by dinosaurs and a great big chunk of technobabble being used to save the day. It did give us a visual nod to The Birds, but that’s as interesting as it got. If you’re a teenage boy, you’ll probably love it. Everyone else, stay clear.

Shamefully, Suburgatory, the big new comedy surprise, had a very poor second episode, totally lacking in the satirical bite and laughs of the first episode. It’s on the watch list now. Up All Night‘s fourth episode was dreadful so I’ve crossed that off the viewing list.

A few thoughts on some of the regulars:

  • Community: in the last two weeks, might actually have passed over from being funny into the realm of "too weird and too dark". Worrying.
  • Modern Family: Starting to feel a little tired, now. It needs to start being original again, rather than retreading old ground.
  • Being Erica: If you were expecting any big changes of format with the first episode of the new season, now that Erica’s become a doctor, think again. It’s gone back to the first season formula. Oh well. But let’s see if episode two perks it up.
  • Strike Back: Seriously, is there something in the contract that stipulates there should be one topless woman per episode?

Still in my viewing pile: last night’s Dexter, episode two of Being Erica, the third episode of Prime Suspect, the first episode of the very NSFW American Horror Story, and episode two of Homeland.

I didn’t watch any movies this week, I’m afraid.

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?

  • Mark Carroll

    I finished “Justified”‘s first season. It passes the time quite adequately; I’ll bother with season two. It’s not the most plausible of shows, but is more interesting than the average police procedural, and personally I miss living nearer that kind of place.
    I saw “Wild Target” which, while probably good for the people who like that kind of thing, was rather predictable and silly for me; I expect SK would hate it. Partly I’m just hoping to learn to actually recognise Emily Blunt; somehow she still looks so generic to me.
    “Intacto” was more interesting. While I found it ultimately a little unsatsifying, and also mildly silly in places, it was, at least, a little different, and has a premise I’d not before seen. I give it credit for trying, and mostly getting there.
    “Revenge of the Cybermen” felt a bit sillier, script-wise, than I’d expected it to. My son seems to think the “new” cybermen are rather better than the 1980s ones.
    “Castaway on the Moon”, my wife much liked, but, despite IMDb people liking it, honestly I found it a bit implausible and boring.
    I think I mentioned “House” seemed to start well, but I expect to like the second episode less. I also caught a “CSI” which, while adequate, wasn’t exactly gripping. It probably says something about “Community” and “The Office” that I noticed they were waiting last night on our TiVo but I figured they could wait another day.
    The surprise highlight for me was “The Thirteenth Floor”. It was actually better than I expected it to be; they did a reasonable job of it. One can see the ending coming from a little way off, and somehow it felt like it was made a decade earlier (budget?), but, for a film it had taken me over a decade to even hear of, it could have been far worse.

  • The other David

    Besides the enjoyable Downton Abbey and Doc Martin, the rest of what I watched was just noise.
    I did watch all of the the delightful The Thin Man series (six pictures made between 1934 and 1947). While the crimes-to-be-solved were unremarkable or uncompelling, the witty and fast-paced repartee between and by Powell and Loy was thoroughly enjoyable. I was taken with all of the alcohol Powell’s character, Nick Charles, apparently drank. I was thinking his character’s liver would have drop out, or he would have been perpetually inebriated. But they don’t make them like they used to.

  • Of the new series (“new” being relative to me being over here in the States as you’ll see), I’ve whittled it all down to just three – ‘Person of Interest’, ‘Suburgatory’ (I don’t think I’ll ever come to like that name), and ‘Bedlam’ over on BBC-A.
    I dropped ‘New Girl’ with the second episode, once she broke the TV with the basketball. I thought the first episode was great and was basically self-contained. But it looks like they’re going to be treading water with her as this loveable klutzy doofus and I don’t think I can watch that week after week.
    ‘Terra Nova’ was the only other series that intrigued me pre-launch besides ‘Person of Interest’, but that appears to be a show I can drop in on any time without making a commitment. As for ‘Person of Interest’, I’m hoping some of that unique JJ Abrams influence will eventually kick in. Otherwise, it’s just something to watch on Friday afternoon after nappies. (Once I get home from work in the morning, that time period would be tied up with ‘Community’, “P&R’, and ‘The Big Bang Theory’ plus ‘The Mentalist’ if I’m not nodding off by then.)
    ‘Fringe’ is slowly gettng back up to speed after a “Meh” season premiere.
    Out of the ordinary, I watched a PBS show “Invitation to World Literature” and the episode focused on the Epic of Gilgamesh. Being a big mythology buff, that appealed to me anyway, so having Jim Starlin talk about the comic book and having a pertinent clip from ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’ was bonus.
    My usual suspects – ‘How I Met Your Mother’, ‘Castle’, ‘Body of Proof’, ‘Raising Hope’, ‘Modern Family’, ‘Happy Endings’, ‘Law & Order: UK’, ‘Luther’, the aforementioned Thursday line-up, ‘Saturday Night Live’, ‘Boardwalk Empire’, and ‘Inspector Lewis’ – all enjoyable.
    And I’m still working my way through the complete series of ‘The Dick Van Dyke Show’ on my lunch hour, even though my projects for its 50th anniversary have been published. I’m still thinking I can put together not only a timeline for the series (quite a few challenges – where was their continuity girl?) as well as an annotated episode guide……

  • Bassy Galore

    ‘Community’ has been rather strange this season, like it’s lost its identity. Fewer laughs and it just feels…awkward. Though I will say Chang’s voiceover head thoughts in last week’s episode were awesome. Hopefully the show will find its footing again.
    ‘Supernatural’ has started out strong this season, which is a relief since last season was so weak in the beginning.
    ‘The Office’ was just terrible. The writing was awful, stilted and just not funny. I know it’s the last season, but if it doesn’t get better in the next few episodes, I’ll probably drop it. :/

  • Mark Carroll

    I got around to watching them last night; at least, I was in the room when others did. “The Office” wasn’t too great, no; though I didn’t find it awful, it was missable, though I thought there was a good moment toward the end when Andy told Darryl how things were. I completely agree about “Community”: Chang’s voiceover head thoughts were by far the best thing in the episode, and thereby saved it. It’s like the rest has become too self-conscious or something. Did anything change behind the scenes this season? Somehow “Modern Family”‘s lost its lustre for me too. I’m not yet sure if it’s them, or if it’s me who’s harder to entertain this year.

  • Bassy Galore

    You know, I haven’t heard that anything has changed behind the scenes at ‘Community’, but it could have. Feels like the writers are having a hard time coming up with ideas. I mean, the first season was stellar and last season was great, but certainly wasn’t as memorable as the first (for me anyway). And the paintball episode from season one was completely brilliant, while the one last year just didn’t compare (IMO).
    You’ve got a point though, could be that I am also harder to entertain this year. :/

  • bob

    Community: I don’t think the show has changed at all since last year… I loved the last episode (Chang was indeed the highlight but the rest had me laughing too). I didn’t think much of the first two but then again, I didn’t think much of all the “normal” episodes in season 2 either.
    The change came between seasons 1 and 2. They stopped developing the relationships between the characters and indeed arcing the characters in a believable way in favour for group shenanigans. I don’t mind really- though I don’t feel as involved in their lives, I really do adore the imagination that goes into the special episodes.

  • Mark Carroll

    Ah, I’ve been a bit random in seeing season 2, and indeed still have some of it coming, so I could have easily missed an earlier change at first.