What did you watch this week (w/e February 24)?

It’s "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), Cougar Town, The Daily Show, House,  Happy Endings, Modern Family, Portlandia, Ringer, Royal Pains, Shameless (US), Southland, Spartacus, Suburgatory and 30 Rock. Do watch them (if you can and they happen to be on TV this week). The Almighty Johnsons is still in my view pile and there are a couple of other things that I’m going to be reviewing in the next day or so, including Those Who Kill (aka Den Som Dræber) and Justice League: Doom

  • Caerdydd: Slowly catching up on this about a year (or two) since we recorded it. Not as good as the previous series, but still great fun.
  • Modern Family: Very sweet
  • Ringer: Nice guest cameo by Misha Collins from Supernatural, and thankfully the whole thing was as ludicruous as always.
  • Royal Pains: Ah, the never-ending slow progress of the plot. And for a finale episode, incredibly badly written – bad dialogue, obviously plotting and no real draw for the next series and that might work in a lazy summer show, but in winter, you need to be a whole lot sharper.
  • 30 Rock: Great cameos by Jim Carrey and Andie MacDowell. But very strange.
  • Southland: I could see the cliffhanger coming a mile off, but still great work. Whoever does the trailers for TNT needs to be shot, since they give away the resolution to the cliffhanger.
  • Spartacus: Back on track now, with a very well paced and plotted episode, although the crunch moment (ho, ho) was an obvious twist. Good to see the return of Gannicus, too. Pondering Spartacus, it amazes me that it’s so popular. Although there’s the obvious, nudity, swearing and massive violence, complete with bloody entrails, we’re talking about a historical story, set in a foreign country, with no Americans (obviously) in the cast, people talking in pseudo-Shakespearian language, gay men front and centre, full frontal male nudity and the whole thing largely filmed and staged like theatre. It breaks all the rules, but yet people love it. Isn’t cable great?

And in movies:

  • Real Steel: Rocky with robots and Hugh Jackman. Surprisingly fun and not awful, although Evangeline Lilly is very much lost in a somewhat tedious "deadbeat father and son work out their differences by building and training a boxing robot" story that has no room for women unless they’re dead or wearing Gucci cocktail dress with cut-outs. But some great robot boxing, including a final homage to Ali’s rope-a-dope trick against Foreman. Wonder if they’ll turn ‘Zeus’ into a lean, mean fat-reducing machine.

"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?

  • Pan Am’s finale – felt very rushed, like they were trying to do an Eldorado and cram another season’s worth of plot into 42 minutes. Nice to see it wasn’t all happy endings all round, even if everyone kind of got their wishes fulfilled. Shame really, show had been finding its feet before the hiatus.
    Smash 1.03 – Jack Davenport continues to play Miles from This Life, only this time as a greying theatre director. Still has a sense of being Studio 60 on Broadway. But I seem to be in a minority of liking it.
    Oh, and Real Steel’s fab, if only because Jackman seems to be having an absolute ball making it, and that enthusiasm spills over into the film.

  • Gareth Williams

    I thought the ending to Southland was genuinely shocking, especially as it was shown from the point of view of a passive witness who would rather film the attack rather than intervene.
    American shows always do that at the end though, and I made sure I was able to turn it off in time, but of course everyone was moaning about it online so I know anyway.
    I’m liking Homeland a lot, and am actually really enjoying The River too, despite the mixed reviews.

  • Mark Carroll

    Real Steel was okay. My wife and kids really liked it. I saw The Gladiator again; it was okay, but still nothing special. I saw Flame and Citron, which was done well, and I think it was mostly supposed to be somewhat true.
    Inspector Montalbano continues as usual: some of the characters are silly and the acting variable, but the plots and scenery tend to be interesting.
    Our usual shows continue to be mostly forgettable. It included an episode of The Mentalist which was okay, and Person of Interest seems to be drawing us in too, but honestly I’m not finding it as great as the ratings and reviews might have suggested. I guess I still quite like House, but it’s not much of a commitment any more with this season being the last.

  • Loving new series of Being Human. I think they’ve taken it in a new and different way with interesting characters. Love both Tom and Hal. And a lot of the humour has come back into it. Great stuff.
    Watched second part of Whitechapel. First time I’ve ever seen it, very creepy. Jumped alot, so I guess that means I enjoyed it.
    Also enjoyed Inside Men, though wasn’t sure about the ending. Seemed like no one really got punished much. But Steven Mackintosh’s performance was awesome.

  • bob

    Spartacus was indeed brilliant this week. What could have been a season finale with any other cable show was episode 5 here. Truly brilliant. It was still simplistic in terms of the devious machinations of previous years but still pretty clever and, well, (fire) pretty.
    It is an odd show. I have pimped out my dvds to a wide range of people (being careful not to target prudes of course) and it has been a huge hit. Once people get past the violence and sex that permeates nearly every scene, they recognise the great plotting, characters and the humour. The dialogue felt clunky at first (maybe the writers and actors needed time to get used to it) but now it reaches Shakespearean level on occasion.
    Truly a fantastic show.
    I just wish they had characters are great as the ones they killed in previous years because without them, the show does feel lacking in the brains department nowadays.