What did you watch this week (w/e December 23)?

The Bleak Old Shop of Stuff

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

Last one of these before Christmas and the New Year, so get your recommendations in now, since there are people out there with time on their hands and awkward conversations to avoid and some decent TV might be a lifesaver.

  • American Horror Story: End of the season and it’s all change. Overall, a very silly show that was never really scary, just gory when it chose to be. Right, who’s going to give Alex Breckenridge a job?
  • The Bleak Old Shop of Stuff: Essentially, Radio 4’s Bleak Expectations transposed to the small screen as a single-camera comedy and with a very famous cast (Mitchell and Webb, Stephen Fry, Katherine Parkinson). The trouble is it doesn’t work as well. The same verbal jokes are there but they flutter by quickly without an audience to laugh at them and give time for gaps in the dialogue. There’s CGI for some of the more outlandish fantasies (none of them as outlandish as radio can conjure up though) and the whole thing feels like 300 thanks to the copious amounts of green screen, but none of that was actually funny, and was again largely about verbal puns. And at an hour, the run-time of the story was far too long. All the same, it raised at least the regulation amount of laughs, which is more than you can say about Life’s Too Short and Rev these days.
  • Dexter: An episode marginally better in quality than the previous ones, but largely because of the ending, which should have been how the previous season ending. Overall, a very disappointing season that together with last season’s finale burnt up most of the goodwill and excitement surrounding the show. Fingers crossed next year will be better and at least there’s something interesting for the show to address.
  • Homeland: By turns, exactly what I expected, yet also surprising. Given the plot mechanics needed for a second season, it was obvious what was going to happen, but I was hoping for (spoiler) Brody to trigger the bomb. But beyond that, there were enough twists that I didn’t see coming and enough overall intelligent writing to satisfy me. However, the finale, together with a few of the preceding episodes, also showed the programme’s roots in 24, with many of the same tropes, just approached differently and slightly more realistically.
  • Life’s Too Short: Finally caught some of this. Pretty much exactly like every other Ricky Gervais-scripted show, particularly Extras, but without the laughs.
  • Misfits: Better than series two, with some real standout episodes, but another season that didn’t really go anywhere with the characters, even though they developed slightly. Season four really needs to start heading in a different direction and start fleshing everything out more.
  • Rev: The Christmas episode and just miserable.
  • Shameless: Yes, I’ve seen the first episode of the second season, and beyond a slightly worrying trend towards making Fiona more of a ‘winner’, this is still excellent stuff and Emmy Rossum is great. They’ve also recast Jane Levy’s part, since she’s off starring in Suburgatory now.

And in movies:

  • Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows: Not as good as the first Robert Downey Jr movie. Stephen Fry is oddly unsuited to the role of Mycroft, it turns out and the replacement of Rachel McAdams with Noomi Rapace from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo robs the movie of a vital element as well. But Kelly Reilly’s back, Jared Harris makes a fabulous Moriarty, the script is actually quite good, Jude Law is better than in the first movie and the ‘fight scene’ between Moriarty and Holmes is memorable, as is the coda at the end. Silly, but enjoyable and smarter than many a blockbuster, even if this is less detective story than action adventure movie.

"What did you watch 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. 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?


  • I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.