What did you watch last week? Including Prisoners of War, The Bridge and Mission: Impossible 4

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, Don’t Trust the B—- in Apt 23, House, Mad Men, Modern Family, Prisoners of War, Suburgatory and 30 Rock. Hunt them down.

So after last week’s not-too-shocking dumping of Touch, it’s time to reveal that I’m dropping Veep and (drum roll) Mad Men. Veep just feels too weak compared to The Thick Of It, which it resembles more and more with every passing week, whereas despite the huge quality of Mad Men, it doesn’t feel like a show that’s really going anywhere any more. There’s no story arc – it’s just some ad people doing their jobs and realising that maybe they’re getting too old for this sh*t.

Now here’s a few thoughts on the regulars:

  • Missing – Thank God that’s over. Despite its decent beginning, it quickly became intensely stupid and so obsessed with ‘family’ (all American TV is fundamentally about family – discuss) that I rapidly lost patience with him. The finale had precisely no surprises, beyond the ridiculous attempt to set up a second season right at the end. What a waste of time.
  • The Almighty Johnsons – pretty weak for the first half of the episode, although it was good to see Mike and Michele’s relationship evolving into something nicer. But the second half was full of yet more revelations and the surprise return of Loki. redeeming everything for the season finale. Wonder what’s going to happen with Ty now?
  • Awake – They knew their number was up by this point, didn’t they? At least the conspiracy turned out not to be too stupid. But will the final episode this week reveal what’s been going on?
  • Community – A lovely way to end the season and Digital Estate Planning was an absolute work of genius.
  • The Bridge – Slightly disappointing as a conclusion, with a few absurdities to swallow, the fact that everything came down to Rohde and the revelation of just how many red (pickled) herrings there have been along the way, in particular Stefan and his sister, and everything to do with the ‘truth terrorism’. A bit of bad green screen work at the end as well. But some gutsy moves, high-quality, intelligent writing all round and Sofia Helin’s standout performance as Saga Norén made it probably the best show of the year so far for me.
  • 30 Rock – okay as a season finale, but really just an obvious set-up to write out Elizabeth Banks, given her movie schedule being what it is. I wonder if that Tyler Perry reference will get them into trouble?
  • Happy Endings – mysteriously, we in the UK have been show this episode, Kickball 2: The Kickening, despite it not having aired on US TV. I don’t know why it didn’t air in the US or whether it will, but I suspect it’s because it wasn’t very good.
  • Suburgatory – the return of showrunner Emily Kapnek to writing duty was as welcome as always, giving us satire, humour and pathos in equal measure. A slightly odd way to end the season, given that it leaves Tessa looking a bit evil, but a good first run all the same. I wonder if Alicia Silverstone will be a regular next season?
  • Prisoners of War – has now completely diverged from Homeland, beyond the ‘tapping code’ (you know what I mean). Episode two is essentially an interrogation episode. Really very good – go watch it.

And in movies:

  • The Good Shepherd: Robert de Niro directed this story about the creation of the CIA by the likes of William Hurt and Matt Damon. Features a mysteriously unageing cast including Angelina Jolie, Alec Baldwin and Pushing Daisies‘ Lee Pace, it’s a relatively solid spy story that’s still pretty unremarkable, all the same.

  • Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol: Despite being directed by Brad Bird, this still felt like the JJ Abrams film that preceded it. Possibly the most escapist one of the lot so far, it lacked the vital wow factor of previous efforts (it may have been great in IMAX, mind), but was more humorous, largely thanks to Simon Pegg, and the addition of Jeremy Renner as the franchise’s possible Tom Cruise replacement worked well. Michael Nyqvist was absolutely wasted, though.

  • Land of the Pharaohs: A Howard Hawks movie from the 1950s with Joan Collins that tells the story (or a story) of the creation of the Great Pyramids of Egypt. A bit of tatt I accidentally recorded thinking it was something else, it’s nothing extraordinary in terms of script, which is quite dreadful to be honest, but has some amazing scenes all the same.

“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?

  • Lisa Rullsenberg

    Well the ending of the Bridge was nonsense but as you say there was enough good stuff to make this a brilliant bit of TV for the year so far.� Helin was great – best character of th year by miles.

  • Mark Carroll

    We got a batch of “Community” to finish this season which, while I thought they were more original than they were actually funny, were actually quite good by the season's standards. “Awake”'s been good too.

    I wasn't disappointed by the ending of “The Bridge”; it was a good series, and, I thought, generally well-acted. (My previous mild criticism was more a script issue.)

    I saw “Certified Copy”. It was very well executed and certainly had an odd mid-film twist, but I'm not sure it quite reached the threshold of “glad I watched it”.

    I watched more “Inspector Montalbano”. It continues to be steadily reasonably plotted and a bit silly.

    I've started on “Suits”. It's good, so far. I have the sense that I'll finish up the first season but not look awfully hard for the next. It passes the time well enough.