What did you watch last week? Including Arrow, Dexter, Elementary, The Mentalist, Skyfall and Prometheus

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, Don’t Trust The B—– in Apartment 23, Go On, The Last Resort, and Modern Family.

Which, as long time readers may have noticed, means a few shows have left the list: Happy Endings, Dexter, Homeland, The Mindy Project and Suburgatory. More on why in a moment, but I will add that Arrow is now on the recommended list.

Still in the viewing pile: last night’s Misfits, Bomb Girls and Red Fern Now, which is an Australian show. But here’s a few thoughts on what I have been watching.

  • Arrow: While episode four was possibly the most Smallville-like of the series so far, episode five more than compensated with thrills galore. John Barrowman seems to be acting again, which is weird, and even Deathstroke’s mask worked well in context. Added to the recommended list.
  • Dexter: Last week’s episode had possibly the worst ending of any Dexter episode ever. And that’s up against some stiff competition. This week’s episode did slightly redeem things, but the entire Yvonne Strahovski storyline is ridiculous and it doesn’t help that she gives exactly the same performance as she gave in Chuck, just with more nudity. Ray Stevenson is great, though, but the show has lost its recommended status, all the same.
  • Don’t Trust The B—– in Apartment 23: Doing well. The Happy Endings ‘crossover’ last week was very odd, but so’s the show, so I guess that kind of worked.
  • Elementary: The episode a couple of weeks ago was probably the worst so far, but last week’s properly felt like a Sherlock Holmes story, with proper mysteries and deductions. Roger Rees did well – will we see more of him, I wonder? – and, of course, there was that name at the end, which made my day…
  • Happy Endings: Suffering from “difficult third season” syndrome. It’s just not funny any more, entirely implausible, and Elisha Cuthbert and her goofiness are the only thing worth watching.
  • Homeland: Last week’s episode had an ending made of pure 24 and this week’s episode was full of people doing stupid things in stupid, implausible ways, too. You could guess pretty much everything that was going to happen. Such a shame, because it was so good last season.
  • The Last Resort: The first downright poor episode so far, although it did have a good pay off at the end. What are they down to now? About five crew members left?
  • The Mentalist: Well, I haven’t watched it since the first season, but I thought I’d tune in for its 100th episode, which was a flashback to how all the characters first met and Simon Baker started solving crimes. Well done, as always, and Baker’s great, as always, but absolutely identical to all the other episodes of the show that I’ve seen, which is why I gave up on it in the first place.
  • The Mindy Project: Off the list. As the show accelerates rapidly away from being the anti-romcom romcom towards being just another workplace comedy, so it stops being funny. There were more than a few good moments, but I’d not say I’d actually recommend it any more.
  • Misfits: Obviously just passing time now, rather than telling any proper stories. You’d think with only one surviving character from the original cast, they’d make more of Curtis, but apparently not. Plus its attitude to women isn’t improving much, either. But not without some good qualities.
  • Modern Family: A slight reset of the show, but I liked it.
  • Red Dwarf X: Quite a decent ending, actually, albeit one that threw most continuity out of the window. Probably the best season since either two or three.
  • The Secret State: Channel 4’s remake of A Very British Coup, with Gabriel Byrne. I watched about a minute before I started laughing, which clearly can’t be good for a show that thinks it’s Very, Very Important. I’ll try watching the rest later in the week if I can.
  • Suburgatory: Off the recommended list. It’s just too silly and too many men writing episodes (as we discovered last season, Suburgatory is only funny when women write the episodes).
  • Vegas: Unmemorable.

And in movies:

  • Skyfall: Didn’t like it as much as I thought I was going to, but that might have been down to the constantly chattering teenagers next to me. It also doesn’t make the slightest bit of sense? What was Javier Bardem’s plan? Why Scotland? Why go to Skyfall? Why Bond, rather than the SAS? It’s also a tad sexist (really? Bond? The shower? And the ending). Having said that, it was almost as good as Casino Royale – it does need a proper Bond woman now to give it some romance for a change – it had some great individual moments, it’s all worth for the back story and the last five or 10 minutes, Ralph Fiennes is really good and in this 50th anniversary and Olympic year, it’s appropriate that one of the exotic locales for the film should be London.

  • Prometheus: Absolutely dreadful. While all the Alien prequel elements were a treat and the body horror stuff actually grows in retrospect, the plot and story are just dreadful and mostly just set-up for a much better planned sequel. Looks great, boring to watch. And frankly, it rips off a lot from Hangar 18, which was twice as entertaining.

“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?

  • stuart nathan

    I find that Skyfall makes much more sense if you assume that M gets seriously injured during the shootout at the enquiry and everything after the Aston Martin appears is happening in her head. That section is 'mythic Bond' rather than 'real Bond', where 'James Bond' is clearly the codename that goes with the agent designation 007 and Daniel Craig's character isn't the son of Andrew and Monique, isn't Scottish and never owned a tricked-out DB5.

  • Julia Williams

    I didn't think Secret State was that bad, but I was watching it half asleep, so that may explain why:-)

    I caught up with penultimate episode of Cuckoo, which I still find funny, but I am much preferring Hebburn, which has same premise: 20 something child returns home with spouse, though this time it's a boy with a wife, but couldn't be more different. Gina McKee is brilliant as the passive aggressive mother, can't remember the kids, but they're good, especially the sister. And the son who thinks he's got away from home and is better then anyone has some nice comeuppances. It feels a bit like a Geordie Gavin & Stacey, has some both funny & touching moments and much better characters then in Cuckoo. And the women aren't uniformly wet.

    And unashamedly will be glued to the screen for I'm a Celeb, if only so I can vote Nadine Dorries for a bushtucker trial every day. See, it's worked. I have never voted on I'm A Celeb before;-)

  • Mark Carroll

    We're still keeping on with QI XL and HIGMNFY, which continue to be as one might expect.

    The children finished up Wolfblood, which they liked. For what it was, it was okay, considering I'm hardly the target audience.

    I think I'm content not to add Dexter or Vegas to the list. I will bother watching Prometheus, but I've generally had the impression that I should go in with low expectations. It'll still be disappointing, though.

    I'm still fairly glued to Homeland. Yes, this season has been decidedly silly in many respects, but we still want to see what happens next. I can't see that it can be dragged out for many seasons. I am wondering if the Israeli original maintains plausibility rather better.

  • Prisoners of War has quite a bit of overlap but it's a very different show. Essentially, it's about how two Israeli hostages adjust to life back in Israel after being away and tortured for 17 years. Although there is the suspicion they might have been turned and they do have one big secret, there's no plot to blow anything up.

    At least in the first season. The second season's just started airing in Israel and since there's a big revelation at the end of the the first season, it's possible the show might be going in a different direction now.

  • That would work. Kind of original David Niven Casino Royale, too

  • I actually thought they were hinting at that with the bit about “Raoul Silva” not being Javier Bardem's character's real name. If that's a fake name, what's to say “James Bond” isn't real either?

  • It's an interesting question, albeit one where as you say, you have to ignore the tombstones, etc. There's also the obituary she has to write for him, which presumably would be a bit pointless if it were ever published and people who knew him as “Jimmy Brooke” in the real world ever read it.

  • bob

    “Red Dwarf X: … Probably the best season since either two or three.”

    You have got to be kidding. Unless you mean *out of* the last two of three, i.e. since series 6? Because no way there is anything in this series “x” that beats series 4 or 5.

  • Just to be confusing, I meant one or two� I really preferred Red Dwarf when it was just them sitting about talking, to be honest, certainly not once it became time to rip off a movie each week (was that season four?)

  • It's quite an old fan-theory and holds up quite well, what with George Lazenby saying 'This never happened to the other fellow' and Pierce Brosnan's 'You were expecting someone else?' Even the obituary might work if Craig's 007 was the first to die in service. But the end-sequence of Skyfall doesn't fit, unless it's M's confused brain mixing up all the details of prior 'James Bonds' and putting them onto the current name-holder.

    Nerd polyfilla of the highest order, as I'm sure you'll agree. Mind you, I wouldn't exactly put it past Sam Mendes.

  • GYAD

    FALCON – Takes half an episode to start telling a coherent narrative. Lots of bad but common mistakes in UK TV: flashy style but clunky writing, over-emphasis on main character to exclusion of all others, lack of confidence in finding an interesting shot and holding it. Also problematic is the sheer Northern European-ness of the actors – none of the women have the casual allure of the gals on Montalbano for instance.

    LAST RESORT – Turning into a military-themed “Lost”-style show and losing my interest because of the complete lack of characters to get my teeth into. If I don't care then it doesn't matter how fast the editing is or how shiny the graphics are.

    BRAQUO – Re-watching the first season which is ace. Enough grizzled testosterone to choke a gorilla, with cops who spend more time committing crime than preventing it. Cue the usual refrain about UK television's inability to make similarly high quality Boy's Own TV.

  • Pingback: The Medium is Not Enough TV blog()