What did you watch last week? Including The Amazing Spider-Man, Arrow, The Killing 3 and Homeland

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, Last Resort, and Modern Family.

Still in the pile to watch from the weekend: Dexter, Wedding Band and The Killing. But here’s a few thoughts on what I have been watching.

  • Arrow: I’m not sure what’s more implausible: that John Barrowman could have a grown-up son or that Tahmoh Penikett could be beaten in a fight so easily. Still, this was the first effort by DC’s very own Geoff Johns, and noticeably the first clunker of the season, despite the arrival of Helena Bertinelli – Huntress, herself. FIlled with dreadfully bad dialogue and poor characterisation, it felt like a bad Geoff Johns comic rather than a TV script. Stick to what you know, Geoff. And just to reiterate, Tahmoh Penikett!

  • Elementary: A bit more procedural than the previous week’s episode, but funnier, which the show could certainly do with. Definitely starting to feel like Sherlock Holmes, too. The one caveat: kind of demeaning to suggest that (spoiler alert)a woman in need of seed funding would become a prostitute. There’s a joke in there somewhere, possibly deliberate by the writers.
  • Falcón: Just noticed it’s got that nice Santiago Cabrera from Heroes in it. It’s also getting harder not to notice that no one – apart from Cabrera – knows how to pronounce Spanish words, and even he pronounces them in a Latin American way, rather than a Castilian way. We even had Falcón himself pronouncing General Pinochet’s name in a French style to rhyme with ‘croquet’ rather than ‘jet’, which is a little silly. Those niggles aside, it’s a compelling series, albeit quite a gruesome one, although frankly Falcón is a little self-obsessed and needs to man up. Sad to see Maurice Roëves get killed off within about two minutes, mind.
  • Go On: Oh yes. There’s an old blind guy in it. They seemed to have forgotten him for a while, but now he’s back for an episode with a reasonable amount of pathos. It also had Hayes MacArthur back and Laura Benanti had something to do for a change, which was nice.
  • Homeland: 15 minutes of probably the stupidest TV since season four of 24, followed by a decent half hour and ending. Why is it fundamentally so hard for Homeland to be consistent this season?
  • The Killing 3: So I’ll confess that I gave up after episode eight of the original – not because I didn’t like it but because two hours a week was a bit of a push for me. I didn’t bother with series 2 either. But I thought I’d give it a try for series 3. And… it’s okay. The acting’s good, the production values are good. But the plot, with the cunning kidnapper, feels very The Bridge (lite) – so much so that I started watching that again immediately afterwards – and the familial problems of Sarah Lund felt very implausible and cliched: it’s the standard trope that any woman who works hard in a police show will always lose her partner and end up with estranged kids as punishment for her transgressive ways. And of course she has to bump into her son at the station and get distracted. And of course the kidnapper has to call while she’s talking to her son and she can’t just say “It’s the kidnapper! I must take this! Lives depend on it!” But I am enjoying it and I’m going to try my best to keep up with it. BTW, is Danish politics really so low budget and amateurish that it seems more like Torquay council elections? And I’m assuming the name of the ship is a red herring, too (possible spoiler): that it’s not the mother who had her daughter abducted as punishment for the husband’s failings, as with Euripides’ Medea?
  • Last Resort: Apart from my complaint about the producers seemingly not knowing there’s a difference between the Caribbean and Hawaii, a decent enough episode that highlighted the problems of rape in the US military. Daisy Betts failed to rise to the acting challenge, however. A decent enough fight scene on the action side, but the show’s just kind of chugging along at the moment.
  • The Mindy Project: Not the funniest thing ever, but the “Iron Man novelisation” moment made me laugh out loud.
  • Vegas: The procedural was slightly duller this week, although the historical background to it was interesting. The episode did have some nice insights into Dennis Quad’s military background, with his sparring with the USAF investigator working well. Carrie Anne Moss also had a little more to do, now that the separate “Women Only” storyline is up and running, plus we have an extra female character to add to the mix, too. Needs to find some more verve if it’s to survive for a second season, though.

And in movies:

  • The Amazing Spider-man: The best Spider-man movie so far – far more Nolan-esque than the previous outings – with proper acting, some deeper moments than the first three, Emma Stone (redhead going blonde)’s Gwen Stacey being far less of a cipher than Kirsten Dunst (blonde going redhead)’s Mary-Jane, and Rhys Ifans doing a wonderful job as Dr Curt Connors aka The Lizard. Some great stunt scenes and the CGI felt solid, too, like it was actually a man doing the stunts, but the film still couldn’t avoid some cheese towards the end. Could have done with being more fun and shorter, though.

“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?

  • Mark Carroll

    I'm still passing time with things like HIGNFY and QI. I'm fairly boring. Still fairly glued to The Killing and, slightly less so, Homeland.

    We started that Sacred Music miniseries which does seem quite good if one likes that sort of thing. We also saw The Counterfeiters which … was about exactly what you'd expect, it passed the time but I wasn't blown away by it; there seems to be no shortage of Nazi things on these days.

  • aylwardreed

    Fun fact: Emma Stone is actually a natural blonde

  • Sigh. Not my week for accuracy, is it?

  • Re: Tahmoh Penikett getting beaten up.

    I've always found it implausible in any action film when a highly trained nine stone, five foot four female operative, beats up, or at at least holds her own, against a highly trained fifteen stone, six foot four male operative. The sex of the nine-stoner is not even particularly important, as a 'good bid 'un, will always beat a good littl'un'.

  • It does annoy me, too, more that they don't change the scene to take account of body sizes – they'll have the small 'un trying to out kickbox that highly trained big guy. I wouldn't mind if they had the smaller one using jiu jitsu or wing chun to compensate – breaking a knee cap works on anyone of any size – but they don't because that doesn't look as good.

  • Rullsenberg

    I like The Killing 3 – it seems more in its natural territory than did s2. i can't believe that with all the tv you watch and commit to, the first series couldn't keep you in. This is possibly the only TV am going out of my way to watch…

  • Mark Carroll

    The first season did have insanely many twists and turns from a steady stream of major revelations; it was hard to believe that any real case could be remotely like that. I'm glad that later seasons have been shorter.

  • Most of the things I watch are 40mins or 20 mins which are fine for a commute. The Killing is 60mins x2, which doesn't fit my journeys and stops me watching anything else

  • GYAD

    Bit late because I've been so busy.

    FALCON – Glossy but still feels hokey. The dialogue is clunky, the direction aimless, and we never get to know any of the characters aside from Falcon, who is frankly too pompous and one dimension to elicit much interest.

    THE TOWN – Good cast, great opening and flashes of what could be a really great programme but the whole thing is bogged down by a sense of unreality. Even the attempts at social realism feel rather tepid.

    THE FEAR – Great production values but like so many British crime dramas there is too much emphasis on gore and crude sex, whilst the characters are unpleasant without having any kind of interesting redeeming features.

    AN IDIOT ABROAD III – I watched it for Warwick Davies and turned it off because of Karl Pilkington. Why do people watch a programme about a dull Northern bloke whining whilst having a terrific, all expenses paid holiday?

    THE SHIELD VI – Every time I think the Shield has jaded me, it finds something new to shock me with. Great entertainment with a serious moral core and a brilliant exploration of social issues in America.

    I haven't actually had time to watch the most recent episodes of The Killing yet but I feel the need to defend it, as I was the one that recommended it. Interestingly, having watched series two previously, my first reaction to The Bridge was that it was The Killing-lite. There are certainly similarities between the two, although I prefer the multiple plot strands (cops, victim's family, politicians) and the atmosphere of The Killing. I also think Sarah Lund is a pretty good example of a feminist hero: she's the hero because she is the best at her job, not because she is the prettiest. Having a failed marriage is simple de rigeur in Scandinavian crime dramas; Wallander, The Bridge and Jar City all feature divorced cops as their heroes. It simply reflects the increasing divisions in the Scandinavian social model and provides dramatic materiel.

  • Divorce may be de rigeur in Norse Noire, but it's not exactly revolutionary. It's been a staple of US crime drama since the 70s for main characters to have been divorced, but invariably what you see is the cop/detective already divorced – whereas with female detectives (eg Prime Suspect, Body of Proof) there's always an explicit equation: you've been working rather than being a wife and mother and this is your punishment. And this season, at least, Sarah Lund's been pretty rubbish at her job – it's been the Special Branch guy and her young assistant who have been the better detectives for the most part. She's just the one who's put the most work in.