What did you watch last week? Including Magic City, Best Friends Forever, Tower Heist and Arrested Development

It’s “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 e’ve missed them.

First, the usual recommendations from the first-run shows: The Almighty Johnsons, The Apprentice, Awake, Being Human (US), BeTipul, Community, The Daily Show, Happy Endings, Mad Men, Ringer, Shameless (US) and 30 Rock. Hunt them down.

You’ll notice that after last week’s episode and this week’s mindbender, Awake has now been promoted to the A-Team – go and watch it.

So first a few shows I’ve tried over the past week but didn’t have the time to review separately:

  • Arrested Development: Miracle of miracles, Netflix actually has something to watch (even if its new releases section hasn’t changed in two months) so I thought I’d catch up with my list of shows that everyone loves that I’ve never found the time to watch (next up: The Sopranos). I’m now up to episode eight of AD and I’m not laughing much, but it’s promising at least. When does it get good? I’ll probably keep watching for Portia De Rossi for a while at least – she’s a lot hotter than I remember.
  • Best Friends Forever: NBC’s latest attempt to do a female-oriented comedy show does at least not insult your intelligence unlike Whitney and Are You There, Chelsea? It has a quirky line in dialogue and the central characters are fun and idiosyncratic. But it’s another of those shows that seem to have been written by women who have never met any men before, only seen them on TV, and which assumes that women want to watch shows in which other women want to talk about waxing, relationships, divorces, etc, and nothing else. Not funny enough to keep watching unfortunately.
  • Magic City: Not even a knock-off of Mad Men, this is a terrible Starz knock-off of The Playboy Club of all things. Basic set-up: mobster hotel boss in 1950s Miami. And that’s it. No other distinguishable characters and although it looks fantastic, it’s only real appeals are lots of nudity, that Ukranian woman who was in the second Daniel Craig Bond movie (I think it’s her anyway) and Christian Cooke from ITV’s Demons, putting on his Sontaran Stragem accent. Utterly forgettable.
  • The Syndicate: Well, I did try to watch some more of it, but the only scenes I could get through were the ones with Joanna Page that didn’t involve any stereotypical, overacting northerners. So not much of it.

And a few thoughts on the regulars:

  • The Almighty Johnsons – A really, really good episode, with some actual swordfighting in it. The goddesses got to do something for a change, although they’re still being treated badly by gods and scriptwriters alike, and Loki got to do more than just posture.
  • Being Human (US) – I haven’t finished yesterday’s episode yet, which has been really good so far. But last week’s was a bit wishy washy although the writing out of a certain character was unexpected and well handled.
  • Community – A decent pastiche of civil war documentaries, and the Britta photography was fabulous, as was the reference to The Cape , but not as funny as last week’s.
  • Happy Endings – Overall, a disappointing second season, lacking the bite of the first. Disappointing was the increasing flamboyance of Max, the gay character, who had been refreshing unstereotypical last season. Plenty of fun to be had, though, although the finale had a little bit of a forced cliffhanger.
  • Mad Men – More interesting than the first episode, Betty getting some intriguing nuances, likewise Don.
  • Missing – a big improvement: the fights were decent, Sean Bean, John Carradine and Gina McKee were back. The predictions I made in my first review are coming true, it seems, which means that it’s all a double-bluff, since my predictions can never be true.
  • Ringer – Even Ioan is finding it hard to keep a straight face at times, but it’s still gripping me.
  • Shameless – which I should have written about last week, but didn’t. All in all, an odd season that consisted mainly of writing out characters and returning everything to the status quo after going in several directions for the first half of the season. But the journey was still very much worth taking.
  • 30 Rock – better than the previous episode.
  • Touch – it seems like all the guest characters might actually start getting linked together, which hints at a greater story arc that should make the show that much more interesting to watch. But I showed my wife the episodes and as predicted, blood nearly came out of her ears whenever they showed a supposed health or social worker interacting with special needs boy.
  • Two and a Half Men – Sophie Winkleman’s still in it and is making it watchable, but otherwise a horrible, horrible show.

And in movies:

  • Tower Heist: Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy – with associated extras – get their own back on the 1%. Has its moments, but directed by Brett Ratner so as entirely average as you’d expect.

“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.