What did you watch last week? Including Grand Hotel, The Master, The Ghosts of Crickley Hall, Dexter and Vegas

It’s “What did you watch last week?”, my chance to tell you what I movies and TV I watched in the past 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: 30 Rock, Arrow, Don’t Trust The B—– in Apartment 23, Falcón, Go On, Grand Hotel, The Last Resort, and Modern Family.

Here’s a few thoughts on what I have been watching.

  • Dexter: Meh. While the show is playing all the right notes in some senses, it’s getting hard to care. Plus it looks like they’re handing over big bad duties for the second half of the season, which makes it even harder to care. But Ray Stevenson has been remarkable and last week’s scene with him and Michael C Hall was fabulous in an otherwise dull episode.
  • Don’t Trust The B—– in Apartment 23: A delightful piece of Thanksgiving evil. The return of Michael Landes was welcome, too.
  • Falcón: Is it just me or are more and more crime dramas forgetting they need to be solved somehow? Here we have the classic cop-out of the bad guy revealing himself for no very good reason, just so he can finish the plot off quickly within the run-time. All the same, an atmospheric piece of work with a surprising bit of casting for the villain (spoiler: Alexander Siddig from Star Trek: Deep Space 9). Good to see they didn’t write Hayley Atwell out immediately the story ended, too. I’ll be tuning in this week.
  • The Ghosts of Crickley Hall: Joe Ahearne of Ultraviolet fame adapting a James Herbert novel for BBC1. Unfortunately, it’s up to Herbert’s standards rather than Ahearne’s, and everything’s a bit dull and typically BBC – period trappings, nothing too nasty. Good cast, though, even if some of the actors think they need to act spooky for things to be spooky.

  • Go On: Hang on. So John Cho and Matthew Perry are supposed to be the same age? How’s that work? Despite that niggle and the return to the somewhat duller short title sequence, this was probably the best episode so far, with Lauren Graham of Parenthood turning up as Cho and Perry’s old college friend whom they both discover they have feelings for. Getting Graham in, who’s friends with Perry now but used to date him, is a genius move, since the chemistry they have was very obvious and the whole episode worked very well. The supporting cast got further rounding out, too, although Laura Benanti could benefit with a bit more depth to her character.
  • Grand Hotel: Best described as the Spanish version of Downton Abbey and currently running on Sky Arts, it’s actually a whole lot better than that. Both a period piece and a mystery, with one young man coming to the Grand Hotel to be with his sister, only to discover that she’s disappeared, it’s wonderfully made and acted. But it’s not my thing. But if you like Downton, give this a try. More about it here.

  • Homeland: After last week’s bit of silliness, it was a welcome return to form for Homeland, with everyone acting relatively sensibly and the story picking up at last. Grown up TV, again, thank God.
  • The Mindy Project: The return of Ed Helms for a fun episode that perhaps made us like all the characters more than Mindy now. And good to see an English character amused by the US rather than vice versa for a change.
  • Vegas: Another cracker of an episode and a bit of gamechanger, too, here blending the procedural in with the main storyline. And proud deployer of the line “What do you do for a living?” “Wholesale butchery”, which was lovely.

And in movies:

  • The Master: Beautifully made, beautifully acted and a fascinating character piece, essentially about L Ron Hubbard and Scientology, with Joaquin Phoenix playing an ordinary schlub who gets sucked up into ‘The Master’s’ (Philip Seymour Hoffman) post-war craziness. But one of the most meandering, plot-free films you’re ever likely to see, it stumbles from situation to situation for no well explored reason, relying on the actors to carry the whole thing with their performances because there’s no narrative drive or coherent message beyond “Learn to love yourself so that you can love others”.

“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?

  • Whenever I see the title 'Ghosts of Crickley Hall' my brain substitutes 'Motley' for “Crickley'.

  • Toby O'Brien

    Perry was born in 1969, Cho in 1972, – a three year difference. So they could have gone to college together, shared the same dorm, but not be the same age.

  • Toby O'Brien

    Perry was born in 1969, Cho in 1972, – a three year difference. So they could have gone to college together, shared the same dorm, but not be the same age.

  • Toby O'Brien

    Perry was born in 1969, Cho in 1972, – a three year difference. So they could have gone to college together, shared the same dorm, but not be the same age.

  • Mark Carroll

    I'll get around to watching “Homeland” tonight.

    I didn't watch “The Butterfly Effect” this week but I remembered that I liked it, if that counts.

    I've been sucked into “The Killing” again. I'm not too sure on plausibility, but silliness isn't grating so I enjoy it anyway.

    I got around to watching some of the rugby union. The coverage was fairly good.

    I read a surprisingly good children's book, if that counts: “A Monster Calls”.

    I'm thinking about giving the Blockbuster DVDs-by-mail a try. Lovefilm don't stream to any devices I have and Netflix here don't do by-mail. What I want is wide selection, I can be patient about newer releases.

    I watched some Channel 4 documentaries about POW escapes and churches and whatnot, but nothing really striking.

  • I watched Primeval:New World. I think I've discovered the best worst program I've ever seen!
    Also The Walking Dead perhaps the worst most depressing program I've ever seen… !

  • GYAD

    FALCON – Improved but still troubled, with a rather thinly characterised protagonist, a villain who solves the crime for the hero and a wasted cast (Bernard Hill only had about four lines).

    THE KILLING III – Still absolutely brilliant; an edge of your seat thriller with wonderfully realised characters and a cracking plot.

    LASKO: DEATH TRAIN – Hilarious German TV movie about an ex-soldier turned Christian monk who has to save a train full of pilgrims from terrorists with a deadly virus. Very Teutonic, with some cringe-worthy lines but overall quite enjoyable with some great-for-the-budget action sequences.

    RICHARD E. GRANT'S HOTEL SECRETS – Thin material, with so many self-entitled and self-obsessed rich swine that I became a Bolshevik for 45 minutes.

    THE SHIELD V – Now that's how you end a cop series; with a key cast member dead and total silence, broken only by by the screams of a woman. Brilliant drama, true to the streets.

  • Julia Williams

    I'm very behind with stuff, but caught up with the first episode of Crickley Hall which I quite liked, mainly for the performances though, as I only jumped (and then a little half heartedly) twice. Have been told second ep is better? I couldn't help laughing about the nutty mum though. I mean communicating through her child's finger? Bonkers or what. And NO ONE seemed to notice…

    Have also been loving Dara O'Briain's Science Club. Perfect for ignorami like myself.

    I enjoyed the first episode of Last Tango in Halifax, but might be a bit twee for some.

    And the last episode of Hebburn! Have I extolled that here already. Could NOT believe that Vic Reeves was making me cry.
    Can't wait for Series 2. I thought it was brilliant.

    Other then that have been very downmarket & watching I'm A Celeb & trying to meet deadlines. So TV severely curtailed this week. Boo.

  • I've started watching The Killing III now, largely at your suggestion. More on that next week, though, just to avoid ruining it.

    I, too, watched Richard E Grant's Hotel Secrets. I, too, thought it might start a new class war if shown to the populace at large. Particularly with that woman from Cosmopolitan.

    RE: Lasko – never seen it, but I do know that the Germans do turn in some good action stuff for TV

  • I was tempted to watch because it was Canadian rather than an ITV effort. But it's also Primeval, so I didn't. Glad to see I made the right move

  • Yes, The Killing III is feeling a bit like The Bridge (Lite). In fact, it made me rewatch The Bridge as soon as I'd finished.

  • John Cho is 40???? That can't possibly be right. What pact did he sign with the Devil?

  • Me, too, actually� Maybe you're supposed to

  • Yes, Crickley Hall isn't exactly the scariest thing ever, is it? Meant to watch Science Club, but didn't

  • GYAD

    I look forward to seeing what you think about The Killing III. I think the one that really set me off on Hotel Secrets was the celebrity interviewee who was outraged that a hotel only gave her free rooms rather than doting on her hand and foot as she clearly thought she deserved. How ungrateful can you get? And then to boast about it on TV…it beggars belief!

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