What did you watch last week? Including Veep, Avengers Assemble, The Bridge and The Almighty Johnsons

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 I’ve missed them.

The usual recommendations from the first-run shows are: The Almighty Johnsons, The Apprentice, Awake, BeTipul, The Bridge, Community, Cougar Town, The Daily Show, House, Mad Men, Modern Family, and 30 Rock. Hunt them down.

I’ve still got last night’s Mad Men to get through as well as episode four of The Bridge.

First, though, a look at some shows I’ve tried this week:

  • Girls: I really tried to watch the second episode of this but it just bored me silly. It’s clearly intelligently written but it doesn’t feel like it’s saying anything new that anyone remotely clued up wouldn’t know already – or that’s actually worth saying. It’s also not as clever as it thinks it is. My recommendation: don’t watch.
  • NYC 22: Episode two was so massively conventional, stupid and uninteresting, I gave up on it. My recommendation: don’t watch.
  • Divine Women: Bettany Hughes on how women have been cut out of religion over the years. Characteristically, I got bored during episodes one and two when it moved away from Ancient Greece, but I actually found her (and Edith Hall’s) arguments about Gaia, Gaia-worship being supplanted by Zeus-worship somewhat unsupported by facts and dangerously close to goddess mythology, which, of course, has been largely discredited.
  • Veep – I really want to love this and I do like some of the characters, particularly Anna Chlumsky’s (yes, her from My Girl). Yet, it’s just a bit luke-warm compared to The Thick of It, without any of the real bite. It really needs a Macolm and quickly. How quickly? Well, five minutes into episode one, lovely wife said “No”, by which she meant she bored and wanted to watch something else. And I do sympathise with her on that score. Anyway, I’m watching episode two right now and still not loving it unfortunately.

And a few thoughts on the regulars:

  • The Almighty Johnsons – Playing catch-up here, so I watched three weeks in one go. Very much back to season 1 form, happy to see the back of Loki, and good to see the goddesses getting a chance to have plots that focus on them. And it’s so good to have Anders back again. And the last episode was so packed of revelations, it makes you think that maybe they’ve been planning this all along. Recommended.
  • Awake – Tedious, unfortunately – far too focused on the police cases.
  • Community – A spot-on spoof of Law & Order with a very surprising ending.
  • Cougar Town – Some actual plot and character developments, but still not riotous stuff.
  • House – Dark, but frustrating, particularly with the open-ended “maybe it was all a ghost” bit, which kind of goes against the whole point of the show. And again, a surprising ending.
  • Missing – I’m almost ready to give up on this, since it has some of the worst cg of the decade and is full of cloying parent stuff. You know, you’d think that with Ashley Judd on board, her entire character wouldn’t essentially revolve around being a mother and might have some other facets, but apparently not.
  • 30 Rock – I pity anyone who doesn’t have an encyclopaedic knowledge not just of NBC history but also Saturday Night Live, since that would have made no sense to anyone otherwise. But great to finally see Donald Glover’s impression of Tracy Morgan, as well as cameos from Jon Hamm and Jimmy Fallon (who of course couldn’t keep a straight face). And when Fred Armisen turned up, it took me a few moments to realise this wasn’t a Portlandia crossover episode.
  • The Bridge – Episode three is more a study in Asperger’s than anything else, but I’m still loving it.
  • Touch – Less heart-warming that normal and the whole thing could do with some revelations of interest now. No, old offices do not count.

And in movies

  • Avengers Assemble: Awesome. Not not just awesome – Thorsome. Seen it twice already and probably seeing it a third time this week. Joss Whedon has miraculously managed to create an ensemble superhero movie from four separate franchises and given every character decent amounts to do and say, while also giving other characters – Black Widow most noticeably – plenty of screentime and characterisation. Funny, intelligent yet fun and full of wonderful moments. My only caveat about the whole thing – apart from the slightly rubbish CGI when Loki’s ‘flying’ – is that while it’s great collectively, it’s a different beast from each of those preceding franchises, lacking the energy, vitality (and horniness) of Iron Man; the romance, beauty and joy of Thor; or the innocence and nostalgia of Captain America. But it finally gets Hulk right and you really want them to go back and CGI Mark Ruffalo over Eric Bana and Ed Norton in the previous movies, since he’s pretty much perfect.

“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?

  • Mark Carroll

    Glad to hear the Avengers film is good.

    “Community” was quite good. Last week's was okay, too, I think. I still don't think it's at its height, but it's much better than some of the episodes I was decidedly lukewarm about.

    “Awake” didn't bore me quite as much, it's still okay. “Grimm” and “Once Upon a Time” are staying consistent, too, though I still think I'd find a further season of them missable.

    We saw “Tokyo Godfathers” which was okay and “The Darwin Awards” which, while not amazing, was rather better than I'd expected.

    I watched some more “Inspector Montalbano”, which does seem to continue to have reasonable enough plots to more than outweigh the silliness (especially in characterization).

  • Julia Williams

    We saw Avengers too. AWESOME. Loved it.

    Also catching up on Game of Thrones, and totally enthralled.

    Otherwise, I enjoyed the Apprentice as ever, and also liked Mary Beard's Rome programme.

  • I've never warmed to Mary Beard – disagreed with her interpretation of the Europa myth plus she's always gassing on about Romans. But I'm glad she's on tele all the same

  • I've never warmed to Mary Beard – disagreed with her interpretation of the Europa myth plus she's always gassing on about Romans. But I'm glad she's on tele all the same

  • A professor of classics, talking about Romans, in a series about Rome? HOW DARE SHE?

  • A professor of classics, talking about Romans, in a series about Rome? HOW DARE SHE?

  • Like I said, I'm not interested in Romans so I've never been motivated to watch many of her programmes. But I'm glad she's there for people who do like Romans.

    The annoying thing is that a good proportion of classics professors do talk and know more about Romans than about matters Greek and tend to make assumptions and extrapolations from their Roman knowledge that don't hold true for the Greeks.

  • Like I said, I'm not interested in Romans so I've never been motivated to watch many of her programmes. But I'm glad she's there for people who do like Romans.

    The annoying thing is that a good proportion of classics professors do talk and know more about Romans than about matters Greek and tend to make assumptions and extrapolations from their Roman knowledge that don't hold true for the Greeks.

  • Lisa Rullsenberg

    I can understand how the Rome to Greek extrapolations would seriously hack off a Greek fan like your good self.

    Not seen Avengers yet: thinking how I can persuade my bloke to watch it given we'd have to chance it at a weekend/evening due to work (and therefore the youngsters who'll clutter the event).� Maybe wait a couple of weeks in hope?� I'm sure I could use the Joss Whedon bait…

  • Seeing it again tonight in IMAX 3D. Hopefully we'll be able to stay awake, it being a Friday and all. It does begin at all of 8.30 in the evening and everything. Sigh.

  • Lisa Rullsenberg

    Seen it.� LOOOOVED it.� Wish I could go immediately again.� Envious of your multiple viewings!

  • Lisa Rullsenberg

    Seen it.� LOOOOVED it.� Wish I could go immediately again.� Envious of your multiple viewings!

  • SK

    Should introduce you to my classicist friend. 'Oh, that's only (rolls eyes) Latin.'

    Marvel Avengers Assemble (they really didn't want anyone thinking it was about John and Emma (or Tara) tangling with a billy bookcase, did they?) I thought was well done for what it was, but I am tiring of this fad these days of making a film, and then making a whole other film, only the second film is all a battle, and then sticking the second film on the end of the first film to make one double-length film.

    At the point where after they've defeated the Big Nasty Thing and then they look up in the sky and see… three Big Nasty Things… I'm sure I was supposed to go, 'oh no, what will they do now!' but actually given that they managed to defeat the first one without suffering any significant loss, it was more like, 'oh no, this'll drag the fight out without making any material difference to the outcome.'

    Admittedly it wasn't as bad as Transformers: Dark of the Moon where they spend half an hour climbing up a building, which then collapses, sending them tumbling through various stages, only to eventually end up right back on the ground in exactly the same position they were; but still. It could have been shorter.

    Up to the battle, though, it was doing quite well, well, again, mostly by taking a fundamentally misconceived idea (there is no reason for that lot ever to team up!) and actually making it make some sort of sense, provided you didn't think about it too long.

  • SK

    Should introduce you to my classicist friend. 'Oh, that's only (rolls eyes) Latin.'

    Marvel Avengers Assemble (they really didn't want anyone thinking it was about John and Emma (or Tara) tangling with a billy bookcase, did they?) I thought was well done for what it was, but I am tiring of this fad these days of making a film, and then making a whole other film, only the second film is all a battle, and then sticking the second film on the end of the first film to make one double-length film.

    At the point where after they've defeated the Big Nasty Thing and then they look up in the sky and see… three Big Nasty Things… I'm sure I was supposed to go, 'oh no, what will they do now!' but actually given that they managed to defeat the first one without suffering any significant loss, it was more like, 'oh no, this'll drag the fight out without making any material difference to the outcome.'

    Admittedly it wasn't as bad as Transformers: Dark of the Moon where they spend half an hour climbing up a building, which then collapses, sending them tumbling through various stages, only to eventually end up right back on the ground in exactly the same position they were; but still. It could have been shorter.

    Up to the battle, though, it was doing quite well, well, again, mostly by taking a fundamentally misconceived idea (there is no reason for that lot ever to team up!) and actually making it make some sort of sense, provided you didn't think about it too long.

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