It’s “What did you watch last fortnight?”, my chance to tell you what I watched in the last fortnight 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: Continuum, The Daily Show, The Newsroom and Suits. Hunt them down.
Here’s a few thoughts on those and what else I’ve been watching:
- Burn Notice: A shocking death… that everyone predicted and almost certainly not the end of the ‘Burn Notice’ plot. Interesting to note that there was more emotion in the last minute or two as the impact of the death sank in than there has been in the last three episodes of Covert Affairs with a similar situation, which tells you a lot about that show. And as for last week’s episode, John C McGinley is now stuck being Dr Cox from Scrubs forever.
- Continuum: Actually quite a creepy and nasty episode this week, with more sci-fi twists and a very decent couple of cliffhangers. Good to see some bad guys who aren’t idiots for a change.
- Covert Affairs: Largely forgettable, except when Richard Coyle is in it. Comes across essentially as a set of stage directions for a spy show, lacking in any real passion or excitement, no matter what happens. Nice location shooting though.
- Maison close: Canal+ drama set in an early 20th century brothel. Lavishly shot, but inherently silly and exploitative, and absolutely nothing to surprise you.
- Mesrine: Vincent Cassel as the real-life crook, depicting his life from a solider in Algiers through to his death. But I gave up after about half an hour, since although it was a decent enough story and Cassel was fabulous, it was a pretty ordinary story really, and there was enough misogyny to put me off from watching too much of it.
- The Newsroom: Well, after an excellent fourth episode, we once again plummeted the depths of the Sorkin style for the fifth episode, making this the most inconsistent of his shows in terms of quality. About the only good thing about it was Olivia Munn being deadpan and snarky, as usual.
- Prisoners of War: In retrospect, this is a show I wish I’d seen before Homeland, since so many of the revelations, although in a different context from Homeland‘s, were the same. No secret terrorist to worry about, but the final frames and much of the final episode were clearly setting the show up for a second series – which is coming in October.
- Royal Pains: Reshma Shetty acted! Amazing
- Sinbad: Basically Sky doing a Merlin, but better. Great to see a show with a principally black and Asian cast that isn’t set on a sinkhole estate somewhere, as well. But fundamentally not that great unless you’re a teenager, I suspect.
- Suits: The ballet side of things in last night’s episode is pushing Louis over the edge of plausibility, but still a reasonable episode, uplifted by the final poker scene.
- Wallander: After the dreadful second episode, it was a relief to see the third and final episode of the show return to the quality of the first episode of this series. A proper crime that needed investigating, Wallander doing proper police work and occasional breaks from absolute misery, making the episode potentially a good final one for the show. Worth mentioning that it was possibly one of the most beautifully shot programmes on TV recently and Ken was of course was magnificent.
And in movies:
- Princess Diaries 2: Don’t ask. But one of those minor movies you watch 10 years after it was made and go “Oh my gods, it’s them! They’re famous now! And so are they! And them!” Here, we have Anne “Catwoman” Hathaway, Callum “Kneel before Zod” Blue from Smallville and Chris Pine from Star Trek, with a script written by Grey’s Anatomy/Private Practice/Scandal showrunner Shonda Rhimes. Probably great if you’re an 11-year-old American girl who knows nothing about Europe, royalty, etc, since it takes every stereotype about royalty you’ll ever come across and marries it with American idealism (“Everyone can be a princess and if you just care enough, you can rule a country wisely, too!”). The problem is it’s nearly two hours long and takes out about 20 minutes for a sleepover and karoake session. But okay.
- Dogtooth: Probably not a movie I would have watched, had it not been to brush up my Greek for holidays next month. Very weird film about a pair of protective parents who keep their grown-up children in an almost childlike state, confined in their home, teaching them the wrong words for things (‘sea’ means ‘chair’ and ‘zombie’ means ‘a small yellow flower’) and that planes in the sky are just toys. The only visitor is a female security guard whom the dad pays to come and have very mechanical sex with the son. And then things go pear-shaped. Some very odd acting and a very odd script and central idea, but a very interesting movie. Worth watching.
- The Hurt Locker: the movie for which Kathryn Bigelow won the best director Oscar, it’s a much-deserved win, even if the script itself is a little lacking. Jeremy Renner is a adrenaline-addicted bomb-disposal guy in Iraq who puts his comrades’ lives in danger. Interesting as much for its cameos – Ralph Fiennes (who starred in Bigelow’s Strange Days) as a British mercenary, Guy Pierce as another bomb disposal guy, David Morse as another soldier, Evangeline Lilly as Renner’s girlfriend – who disappear as quickly as they arrive. Visually magnificent and extremely tense, the film really only falters when it moves away from action and tries to deal with character and emotion.
“What did you watch last fortnight?” 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?