What did you watch last fortnight? Including Dexter, Homeland, The Last Resort, Nashville, The Thick of It, Suburgatory and 30 Rock

It’s “What did you watch last fortnight?”, my chance to tell you what I movies and TV I watched in the past two weeks 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: 30 Rock, Dexter, Go On, Homeland, The Last Resort, The Mindy Project, Modern Family, Red Dwarf X and The Thick of It.

So here’s a few thoughts on what I have been watching – a bit of pruning with the viewing schedule this week, but also a few changes to the recommended list:

  • 30 Rock: We’ve only watched the first episode so far, and while it’s definitely as funny as always, the gamble that NBC’s entire season was going to do terribly in the ratings, which might have seemed a good bet a couple of months ago, is now looking like a complete misfire. As a result, 30 Rock‘s satire is now wildly off target, even if it’s still accurate about the actual quality of NBC’s programming.
  • 666 Park Avenue: Tried watching the second episode, but that was as dreadful as the first, so I abandoned it. Don’t watch.
  • Beauty and the Beast: See 666 Park Avenue
  • Dexter: And it’s a return to form for our old pal, Dexter, which although as ludicrous as it always has been, hasn’t been anywhere near as stupid as it was last season and now has the wonderful Ray Stevenson from Rome/Punisher: War Zone to improve everything. It’s also very tense as well. It’s also got bland woman from Chuck, but you can’t have everything. Back on the recommended list.
  • Go On: Promoted to the recommended list, because although it’s a pale shadow of Community, it now has enough going for it that it’s worth watching.
  • Homeland: After two absolutely ridiculous episodes in a row, episode four thankfully has restored sanity to the show and had some marvellously unexpected twists and turns.
  • Hunted: See Beauty and the Beast.
  • The Last Resort: Promoted to the recommended viewing list, because it’s a real cracker. Some tense fight scenes and submarine scenes and the Washington antics are starting to become less ludicrous. One to watch, particularly in the UK now Sky1 has acquired it.
  • Lie To Me: Went onto Netflix to watch the episode where Lennie James turns up. Just horrifying watching him and Tim Roth outclass the other ‘actors’ in every possible way. Practically a cruel and unusual punishment.
  • Nashville: Like having bleach poured in both ears. Couldn’t even make it through the first episode. Just dreadful.
  • The Neighbors: While the second episode was a distinct improvement on the first and there were some surprisingly decent moments from the alien side of the cast, this is still a pretty dreadful show. Don’t bother with it.
  • Red Dwarf X: Episode three wasn’t as good as the previous two, but otherwise a welcome return to season 1/2 form after a few series of complete dross.
  • Royal Pains: Finally watched the season finale, which was terrible. We’ll probably catch the Christmas movie, but I think we’ll be dropping this from the viewing schedule afterwards.
  • Suburgatory: It’s back with a surprisingly awful first episode, so awful that I’ve removed the whole show from the recommended list. Let’s be cautious embracing this season.
  • The Thick Of It: a lovely Leveson spoof to round off what has probably been the best season of the show so far. Surprising way to end it if it is the last episode, as suggested, but brilliant nevertheless.

And in movies:

  • Dark Shadows: The Tim Burton remake of the 70s soap opera. A weird mix of humour and horror, mostly relying on odd-colourings, particularly of hair, and the usual Tim Burton suspects (Johnny Depp, Helen Bonham-Carter, Michelle Pfeiffer) as well as a few newbies (Chloe Moretz, Jonny Lee Miller, Eva Green) for any real interest, since the script is largely a bore. Surprisingly okay, though, given how bad it could have been, but not exactly a movie I’d recommend to anyone.

  • Taken 2: Although not as bad as a lot of reviews would suggest, and although several elements of it are basically just retreads of the first movie, it’s actually not that bad. Not as much action or depth as the original, but it has a few good scenes and the first half hour is dedicated to characterisation rather than fist fights, which is unusual. All the same, there are some absolutely ludicrous elements, largely involved a sealed room and some hand grenades, and Liam Neeson is clearly getting too old for this shit.

“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?

  • Robin Parker

    Not the last episode of The Thick of It! That'll be next Saturday. Though many seem to have assumed it was, which could backfire on the BBC…

  • Julia Williams

    Thick of it has been brilliant! I agree. Haven't seen sat's episode yet, but looking forward to it.
    Am watching Hunted, though I don't quite no why. It is very silly.

    I know most people here aren't Downton fans, but last week's episode was brilliantly moving. Wept all the way through it. And even last night Maggie Smith had me grabbing for the tissues.

    We saw Dark Shadows, which I enjoyed more then I thought I would. I do love Johnny Depp.

    Also been keeping up with Cuckoo, which is still a bit hit and miss, but Greg Davies & Andy Samford are great.

    Oh and Dead Meat. Have just discovered it. HILARIOUS.(Slightly concerned about the picture of uni life my 14yo is getting, but hey ho:-) And no, I don't watch with her…)

  • @35d5d5bd149413d150a172030feb9c67:disqus Oops! Thanks for letting me know – woo hoo! More episodes.

    @aa28e21aaa16969ce06e35d81ce55de7:disqus Still haven't watched Cuckoo. Did try Dead Meat but didn't enjoy it. Has it got better since the first episode? Has Jack Whitehall left?

    PS I should probably mention that episode 2 of Arrow, which I forgot to include, was really, really good – better than the first episode.

  • Julia Williams

    Rob, I've only watched a couple of episodes. But last week's was bloody hilarious. And Jack Whitehall is still in it…

    Cuckoo is on off irritating, but Greg Davies is so good I can forgive it for making the women look like idiots.
    Oh and also have been watching Merlin… which is mainly silly, but this week's was quite creepy and I do like the Arthur/Merlin relationship.

  • GYAD

    Hunted – Unwatchable. Bland pretty people, soap-opera dynamics and non-existent pacing. Makes “Spooks” look good and “The Professionals” look Oscar-worthy.

    The Thick of It – I wonder why this is so funny and “Veep” was so un-funny. Are British people being nasty to each other just funnier? Anyway, very good, except that the Lib Dem characters feel pretty weak.

    Arrow – Another American Glossy-Hair/Beefcake show full of mysteries, families and ghastly parties. One gaping plot hole (what happened to Diggle?). Also suffers from a bad case of bodycount syndrome – too many minions who get slaughtered too easily. Watchable but forgettable.

    Girls – This is a comedy, right? So where are the jokes? Topical but completely unfunny.

    Strike Back – Big, brash, completely stupid and lots of fun. It would be nice though if next season they tried doing things like tension, characterisation and eroticism.

  • Mark Carroll

    I liked Ian Hislop's “Stiff Upper Lip” thing, and my son much did. I thought the scouting thing was better by a hair.

    I started the Vicar Academy thing. It's okay, I'll probably persist with it, but it feels a bit too reality television to me. I was hoping for more of actual vicar training and less of the personal whatevers of the students, but it's tolerable as it is.

    I've actually been watching “The Think of It” too. I've liked it, and look forward to it, but it doesn't blow me away.

    We've passed the time a bit with QI XL. The kids like it. I'm glad to see the return of HIG(M)NFY.

    The kids have much liked “Wolfblood”. It's actually not too bad, though clearly most entertaining for its target demographic rather than, say, me.

  • Mark Carroll

    gah, “thick”

  • Mark Carroll

    I should add, I gave up on “Inspector Montalbano”. Season one had some interesting plots, but season two just didn't grab me enough to make up for the long-episode time investment and the ambient level of corniness. It was an interesting window into Italian things at first but I don't think it's now got much more to show me in that respect, and I'm not sure that the season two plots are quite as good, at least to start out with.

  • My mother in law likes it for his swimming

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