What did you watch last week? Including Robot Chicken, Lilyhammer and Homeland

It’s “What did you watch last week?”, my chance to tell you what I movies and TV 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.

First, the usual recommendations: Perception and Doctor Who. I’m adding The Thick Of It to the list, which I negligently forgot to mention last week, despite its being brilliantly funny and making Veep look like luke warm cup-a-soup in comparison. The new coalition characters are excellent as well.

So here’s a few thoughts on what I have been watching:

  • Perception: Fabulous episode that took the precepts of the show to their logical conclusion. You’ll spot exactly where the episode is going about 10 minutes in, but knowing actually makes it more painful and heart-breaking to watch. Worth watching a few episodes before, if you haven’t already watched any, so that it’ll have the maximum impact.
  • Hunderby: Not quite funny enough to make me watch the whole of episode 2.
  • Screenwriters – The BAFTA and BFI lectures: showing on Sky Arts, a series of half-hour interviews/lectures by famous screenwriters. A bit variable, but with some great names (William Nicholson, Moira Buffini, Charlie Kaufman), with John Logan (Gladiator, Coriolanus, et al) being a great way to finish the series.
  • Go On – episode two was actually okay, a bit more Community-ish, although less ensemble than that show. Still an odd combination of the tragic and comedic, but it’s now starting to pick up, I’d say.
  • Robot Chicken – The DC Comics special, this was actually really funny. Not as funny as it could have been, but if you know your DC Comics, it had a lot going for it, particularly the relentless kicking of Aquaman.
  • Lilyhammer – a BBC4/Netflix piece about a New York gangster relocating to Lilyhammer in Norway as part of a witness relocation scheme. Baffling, rather than funny, it essentially has every joke in Norwegian, followed by a character saying “Oh, you don’t speak much Norwegian, do you?” then repeating the joke in English. It’s therefore at least 50% less funny than it needs to be, and I suspect most of the jokes work better in Norwegian. And Norway. I switched off after about half an hour. Fargo‘s a better bet, I reckon. Some people seemed to love it though – maybe they watched the second half.

  • Homeland – the first 20 minutes of season two only, mind. After watching the original Israeli show Prisoners of War, it’s a little harder to watch the more escapist Homeland than it used to be, but this preview does a good job of re-establishing everything, showing how Carrie and Brodie’s lives have changed, and we even get to go to Beirut. If you’re worried that season two won’t be as good as season 1, your fears should be assuaged.

“What did you watch last 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?

  • Lilyhammer looked like it was aiming to be Northern Exposure with teeth, but it ended up being Let The Right One In with the Wrong One and not enough bite. Shame, I thought it looked promising. Giving it one more go.

    The Thick Of It was much, much better with Malcolm and Co than last week's Coalition episode. Was it just me, or did Malcolm come across as much more sympathetic and almost principled this week? In previous series, he's seemed motivated more by spite than by any actual belief in politics.

    Saw Dredd yesterday. On the one hand, it's a competent and fairly exciting action thriller, with some inventive camerawork, oddly beautiful druggy scenes and a couple of very good performances. On the other, it had none of the imagination, satire or black humour that the original Judge Dredd comic had � in a way, it was everything the strip was satirising. Too grim and gritty, too 'realistic', too adult in terms of graphic violence and language. Looked like a budget District Nine when it should have looked like a budget Blade Runner. And the script was very dull � Alex Garland can do much better.

  • Mark Carroll

    “Lilyhammer” was a bit unrealistic but entertaining enough in a not-great-television time to keep me through a season. It was easy to decide not to bother with the second season though.

    I assume we'll do “Doctor Who” in a different post. (-:

    We finished up season one of “Misfits”. It was quite good; I think we all liked it. I'm not sure if I want to pursue further seasons, though. Will they add as much and be as good?

    We finished up season one of “Homeland” too. It was good but it feels like we've lost a lot of the mystery now and I'm not excited about what would seem to be the coming trajectory of it, so I'll wait for reviews before making the effort to continue.

  • I agree about Malcolm, but if he's based on Alastair Campbell, then making him the (politically) principled one is about right.

    And I agree with you about Dredd, but as far as the look is concerned, I guess they had to work with the budget they had and they didn't have the budget for Blade Runner.

  • Will actually have to get round to watching Doctor Who before I do a separate entry on it…

    Seasons 2 and 3 of Misfits build an interesting story arc but are less meaningful in terms of characterisation.

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