What did you watch this week (w/e January 27)?

(Belated) 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.

First, the usual recommendations: Archer, Being Human (US), The Daily Show, House, Modern Family, Happy Endings, Portlandia, Royal Pains, Shameless (US), Southland, Suburgatory and 30 Rock. Do watch them.

Deleted from the viewing queue from last week is Eternal Law. Life’s too short.

But here’s what I did watch:

  • Are You There, Chelsea? Episode two veered straight into utterly unfunny CBS comedy territory within five minutes so promptly got switched off.
  • Arctic Air: A Canadian show all about an airline company in a small, northerly part of Canada that expects to be up-and-coming very soon. A new pilot gets recruited, except he used to live there and it stirs up all kinds of former rivalries and problems. Starring every Canadian actor you’ve ever seen in bit parts in other shows, including Michael Hogan from Battlestar Galactica, it’s about as soporific and unremarkable as they come.
  • Archer: Burt Reynolds – awesome, that’s all I can say.
  • Borgia: Thanks to the mighty power of Netflix, which I’m sure I’ll review some time this week, I’ve managed to watch this Canal+ drama about the Borgias before a UK network acquires it. Okay, having watched it, I’d be surprised if any UK network acquired because it turns out that yes, there is a worse version of the Borgias’s story than The Borgias. While the latter is full of pasty Brits with the sex appeal of kippers and Borgia features a cast of pan-European (relative) hotties in various states of undress, this is a dreadfully written show, with every line of dialogue reeking as though it came from the hand of James Thackara. And it has John Doman from The Wire as Rodrigo Borgia. Fine he may be as a politicking Baltimore cop, but Jeremy Irons he is not and neither is he an Italian pope in waiting.
  • The LA Complex: Still relatively fun. Still quite soapy. You can slowly watch everyone’s careers plummetting into Hell. But this really isn’t for my age group, so I’m giving up.
  • Mad Dogs: Series two of this Sky show starring John Simm, Philip Glenister, Marc Warren and Max Beesley makes even less sense than the first series, is even less action-packed and riveting, and hasn’t even got the benefit of Ben Chaplin this time. But it does look gorgeous in HD.
  • Shameless: still excellent, but has lost some of the relationship detail of the previous series that gave the show a heart.
  • Spartacus: Vengeance: A pale shadow of the previous series. Andy Whitfield is much-missed but several actors have also recast so I couldn’t remember who anyone was and the new actors didn’t leave much of an impression. The absence of John Hannah’s character is leaving a huge whole in the show, too. Liam McIntyre really isn’t any good as Spartacus, unfortunately, lacking the depth and vulnerability of Whitfield, and (spoiler) Lucy Lawless’s character has gone off at the deep end so can’t do much that’s useful. The ultra-violence and nudity are still there, of course, but as of yet, the plotting has yet to take off.
  • 30 Rock: God bless Kelsey Grammer. A couple of genuinely funny episodes.

And in movies:

  • Ip Man: Donnie Yen in a lavish periodical about Bruce Lee’s wing chun instructor Ip Man. Good fight scenes, although nothing you’d call climatic, and intensely reverential to Man to the extent that no one can get a punch in at any point, even when it’s 10 against 1. Although it’s understandable given the history involved, the film also lacks the even-handedness towards the Japanese of films such as Jet Li’s Fist of Legend, leaving a nasty taste in the mouth.
  • The Change Up: Ryan Reynolds and Justin Bateman swap bodies and lives in a comedy from the writers of The Hangover. While not the funniest film ever committed to celluloid, it does have some laugh out loud moments and there is a weird almost rom-com element to it involving Olivia Wilde. It feels better overall, in fact, than the individual elements.
  • Primer: Again, I watched this courtesy of Netflix, and it’s a low-budget movie about a group of scientists who accidentally invent a time machine. However, the first 15 minutes are almost entirely wiring and soldering, by which point I lost the will to watch the rest of the movie. I will probably watch the rest of it at some point, though, since it’s supposed to be good. Just not yet:

"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?


  • Rob Buckley

    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.