What did you watch last week? Including Common Law, Touch, Playhouse Presents and Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths

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, The Bridge, Community, Cougar Town, The Daily Show, House, Mad Men, Modern Family, Prisoners of War and 30 Rock. Hunt them down.

Being promoted to the recommendations list this week are Don’t Trust the B—- in Apt 23 – which while not the best show ever made, is sufficiently, consistently amusing, evil and full of James Van Der Beek that I’m ready to add to the list – and Prisoners of War, which I’ve just reviewed,  

It was a weekend of catch-ups and random viewings last week, so I actually managed to watch a few movies and try a few random new shows.

  • Common Law: USA Network’s trailer for this buddy-buddy cop show made it look awful. Guess what? It was awful. I couldn’t watch more than 10 minutes of this derivative, unfunny cobblers before I had to switch off. Not even Sonya Walger could save it.
  • Playhouse Presents: Sky Arts’ series of one-off plays, this one starring Olivia Williams, Martin Shaw, Lucy Punch and Rhashan Stone from Strike Back: Project Dawn (he also wrote it). A nice idea – woman who stands up to rioters beats a Boris Johnson-alike to become Mayor of London – but there was apparently nothing new to say here, judging by the inconclusive script, Williams’ Northern accent was rubbish, Shaw and Punch hammed it up, and Stone gave himself all the best lines. But you’ve got to love that Sky Arts (or someone) is doing plays.

Still playing catch-up with Sunday’s viewing though, with Veep and Mad Men still to watch.

It’s also finally time to dump Touch, which looks like it might be going somewhere but is being so boring about it, has the terrible Mohinder-esque voiceovers at the beginning and end, and is just so incredibly insulting about how it thinks special needs children are treated that blood boils whenever it broaches the subject. They’ve also introduced Kabbalah to the equation, which means they need beating.

Now here’s a few thoughts on the regulars:

  • Missing – thankfully, they’ve written out the rubbish Italian guy in favour of a better English character (although, naturally, they had to make her a Lady). Sean Bean also got to do a decent fight scene. Otherwise, it’s just plodding along really, with supposedly shock moments arriving with inevitability rather than, erm, shock.
  • Cougar Town – so they didn’t bite the bullet on Lori/Travis, but a decent episode nevertheless and funny, too.
  • Awake – A shame it’s been cancelled because that was an absolutely fabulous episode and Jason Isaacs should be nominated for an Emmy at least for his performance. Loving the suggestion now that he is genuinely off his rocker.
  • Community – Is there a word for a meta episode that’s meta about its metaness? Still not exactly funny, but had some superb twists and turns of plot.
  • The Bridge – now this is how to be a surprising show. Can’t wait for the last two episodes!
  • House – was that Peter Robocop Weller as the surgeon? Notable only as a way to move Chase’s storyline along, really.

And in movies:

  • Avatar: Yes, I know I slightly missed the boat on that one, but I thought I’d give it a try. Probably looks incredible on the big screen and might even be good in 3D, but that’s really its only saving grace. The plot is such a mish-mash of Dances With Wolves, The Word For World is Forest and Dragonriders of Pern that any originality got lost somewhere on the way to Pandora; the characters are either almost non-existent or cliches, despite all of Cameron’s attempts to inject them with personalities; the acting’s terrible, particularly Sam “Could I be any more Australian?” Worthington’s; and the whole thing goes on forever, never-ending, never stopping, never willing to give the audience release from its terrible tedium.

  • Firefox: The Clint Eastwood movie, not the browser. A really dull first half that does at least show how terrible life in the Soviet Union was, but a really cracking second-half ruined only by not having the technology to do proper aircraft effects in those days, it still is flawed, partly because of Eastwood’s direction choices: if you’re going to have thought-controlled weaponry, make it look very fast, not like you have to press two buttons and then say everything in very slow Russian to make it work. But the strange thing is that in retrospect, it just looks like a bigger budget first pilot that got recast and turned into Airwolf. Basically the same plots. The music sounds the same in places. I’m surprised there weren’t lawsuits. I mean look at the names, for heaven’s sake! It’s even got blueprints in the trailer!

  • Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths: The Justice League travel to an alternate universe where Lex Luthor is the only superhero left alive to fight the terrible tyranny of Ultraman, Superwoman and Owlman, as well as cohorts like Johnny Quick. It’s something of a curiosity since it doesn’t involve the usual voiceover artists, instead favouring mostly famous actors like William Baldwin, James Woods and Chris Noth (Vanessa Martin does Wonder Woman’s voice for a change – she also does Black Widow’s voice in the Marvel Avengers series). It also tries to do a bit of aetiology (such as “This is how Wonder Woman got her invisible plane”), since it was also intended to link the Justice League and Justice League Unlimited TV series. Although the obvious thing would be for DC to show how the parallel Earth’s superheroes illustrate something about the normal Earth’s, only Owlman really works as both a parallel and a character in his own right; Ultraman is really a thug and Superwoman isn’t even Wonder Woman’s mirror, there being another Wonder Woman-esque character for her to beat. So not one of the best efforts, although there are some surprisingly well drawn fight sequences, with Wonder Woman getting a very nifty martial arts fight at one point, and we don’t have to endure much Green Lantern for a change, thankfully.

“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?

“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

    We actually had some arc movement in “Once Upon a Time”. “House” and “Community” were okay, I guess, but honestly I barely recall them. I do more confidently recall that “Grimm” was okay.

    �We finished up “Roots”. It was much as one'd expect.

    “Awake” was indeed rather good, yes. Possibly about the best thing I saw this week.

    We saw the old alien abduction movie, “Communion”. It started off reasonably but, toward the end, got distinctly silly indeed.

    I'm liking “The Bridge”. That's one of the few things I'd not want to miss, though female-lead's condition isn't played quite plausibly for me.

  • Lisa Rullsenberg

    We're LOVING The Bridge so much we're generally watching each pair of episodes again at least once.� We sat and re-watched 7+8 last night ahead of the finale this weekend.� Woot!�

    And I've stuck with Once Upon a Time as well: didn't think it would fly with me, but have been enjoying that rather more than I should, and was very happy with this week's revelations… Very silly, but am watching it with some pleasure.

  • I think it's played plausibly – I think she's too old to play the character as written though. Not that I'm saying they should have recast her, just toned the character down a little to take account of life-learning

  • Mark Carroll

    Yes, that's exactly it. For someone who has shown herself to be observant and interested and high-functioning enough to have the career she has, she still gets some very basic social things wrong, like menstruation as a social conversation topic. By now I'd have expected her to be revealing herself more in less common situations, like over the visits from a colleague's son, or being more unsettled at breaches in procedure, or something.

    (Hmmm, my HTML tags are looking literal, hope I didn't get them wrong, let's post and see what happens …)

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