What did you watch this month? Including The Killing 3, Arrow, The Wedding Band and The Hunger Games

It’s “What did you watch this month?”, my chance to tell you what I movies and TV I watched in the past month that I haven’t already reviewed and your chance to recommend things to everyone else (and me) in case I’ve missed them.

As you can probably tell from the temporary retitling of this feature, it’s been a busy old time for me of late, which is why I haven’t been updating you on shows and why I haven’t been watching as many. Oh, and the Sky+ box as been doing lots of “PART-REC” and “RECORDING FAILED” and even deleting things I have recorded, including Young Doctor’s Notebook. That’s helpful, huh?

But since a load of shows have had their finales, now seems a good time to give my thoughts on those, at least.

First, the usual recommendations: 30 Rock, Arrow, Don’t Trust The B—– in Apartment 23, Go On, Last Resort, Modern Family and Peep Show. I’m adding Elementary and The Wedding Band to the list as well – more on that in a moment.

And here’s a few thoughts.

  • Arrow: Slowly been declining in strength and becoming more and more comic book in its implausibility. Geoff Johns’ introduction of Huntress to the show was just dreadful, too, with bad dialogue, bad acting and a script that was actually pretty detrimental to one of DC’s best-loved female superheroines. Still, Kelly Hu got to come back for a bit at least. And then we have John Barrowman as a ‘heavy’. HA HA HA! Still, the last episode was a bit of an up-tick in quality again, so all is not lost yet.
  • Dexter – So, hang on, Dexter literally thought he had a ‘dark passenger’? It wasn’t just a metaphor? Well, that’s just bobbins. Anyway, a distinctly uninspiring finale that at least wasn’t as ridiculous as last season’s and with a big surprise (or two) to boot. And at least the first half of the season was good because of Ray Stevenson and it was good to see Dokes back, even in flashback.
  • Don’t Trust The B—-: A variable three episodes with a real clunker and a couple of very funny ones. Glad to see them remembering that Chloe is supposed to be an evil b—–, too, not just kooky and a bit of a party girl. And a head nod to The Great Gatsby – you don’t get many of those these days. As always, too, full kudos to James Van Der Beek, who is really relishing playing… himself. And Dean Cain, too.
  • Elementary: So this is more of a guilty pleasure than because it’s a great show, but I do actually look forward to it now each week. It’s still working out what exactly a Sherlock Holmes mystery should be and no matter how hard they try, Joan Watson is still incredibly dull, but it’s good fun.
  • Go On: Unlike Community, the show still hasn’t worked out how to make its individual characters gel as a group, but it’s doing some nice work with at least some of the characters by themselves.
  • Homeland: So the season finally ended with two decent episodes in a row. While it was still a little daft, the finale had the right combination of thrills, twists and developments, none of which you probably saw/will see coming. Just about redeemed itself after a season of vastly variable quality.
  • The Killing 3: So the iPlayer deleted last weeks’ episodes before I had a chance to watch them (not letting me download them didn’t help). Again, this is just one of the reasons why I’ve had a hard time watching the three seasons of The Killing. Anyway, I watched the last two and was surprised by almost nothing. Seriously, I don’t get why people love this show so much. Okay, it’s well acted, but apart from its vibe and Sarah Lund, it’s daft, stupider than an episode of season two of Homeland and is just 1001 crime drama cliches. Or at least this season has been. It would have been more of a surprise if Sarah Lund had been able to ride off into the sunset happily. In particular, the criminal’s plan four episodes ago kind of relied on the police not being able to hit him even once with 30 rounds of ammunition… as he slowly sails under a bridge they’re standing on. Just silly. Bring back The Bridge.
  • Last Resort: Talking of daft and silly, that’s Last Resort. While having a few thrilling moments each episode, it’s also had some ridiculous matte work to help some of our heroes go to ‘the Philippines’ and we have had a daft series of abduction cycles for one character that’s worse than the Perils of Penelope Pitstop. Plus the stuff with the COB has been dreadful. Shame really, but at least it looks like they’re heading towards a decent ending.
  • The Mindy Project: Interesting to see some sign of work competency from Mindy, but the Zoolander-ish attack on midwifery was just bizarre. The Christmas episode was a bit dull, but had a good final 10 minutes.
  • Peep Show: While never quite hitting the delightful depravities of previous series and while feeling a little bit like we’ve been here before, it’s still a guaranteed source of laughter each week.
  • Vegas: I’m wondering what they promised Carrie Anne Moss when they asked her to star in this, because if it was ‘a lot of screen time and a decent role’, they were lying. Ditto Jason Mara. Over the last couple of episodes, we’ve had a very clunky ‘girl power’ episode and quite a dull Christmas episode. Such a shame after the initial promise of the pilot, but it’s still a relatively absorbing weekly watch.
  • The Wedding Band: While still a bit sexist and a bit ‘male gaze’, The Wedding Band is still proving to be an interesting subversion of the ‘bro comedy’ that plays with the sexist conventions and messes around with them. It’s not outstanding, but it’s enjoyable.

And in movies:

  • The Hunger Games: Despite being loved by the same demographic as Twilight, this is a very different, far more satisfying beast – a future dystopia heavily based on ancient Rome that sees kids take the place of gladiators in a high-tech country arena where they have to fight to the death. The always excellent Jennifer Lawrence is about 1,000,000 times better – and a better role model – than Kristen Stewart’s Bella, too. Give it a watch.

“What did you watch this month?” 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?

  • The Hunger Games is the only teen fiction adaptation I have given a go. This was due to my liking of Battle Royale, which it is shamelessly ripping off, and some good reviews.

    I enjoyed it, even if the build up to the actual 'Games' was a little long, but what was up with the quick ending [of the 'Games'], with the bad CGed lion-thingies being released? It was if they had to cut the whole thing short as the ten o'clock news was about to start.

  • Mark Carroll

    I've seen maybe three seasons of Dexter; I'm think I'm still content to leave it at that, and to not make space in my life for Vegas. I have some experimenting with satellite dishes and Internet firewalls to do next month to see what I can get hold of. I'm also tempted by LOVEFiLM but their customer service seems incapable of telling me if their app will work on our American Wii with UK IP address so, if their pre-sales is rubbish, maybe their ongoing customer support is even worse.

    I'll be watching the Homeland finale tonight on 4od. I don't think I want the next season (for I suppose there will be one) to continue in quite this vein; there's room for a reasonable ongoing story here, and recent events lend that promise, but they'll stretch too hard at plausibility otherwise, they're already pushing it.

    I did finish The Killing III. I think that the second season was my favourite, and the first would have been had it been the length of the second. Sarah did have some good insights but overall there was too much distraction from personal matters and I preferred her as a character in the first season.

    We still amble along with the longer versions of QI and HIGNFY which are passably entertaining. I also watch random documentaries but nothing notable has come by my screen of late.

    I've been watching Film 2012. I quite like that, it works well. The latest tempted me to consider watching Les Mis�rables and Django Unchained.

  • GYAD

    ARROW – Caught an episode by accident. Easy to see why it is so popular: a melodramatic family story for the girls and over edited fight sequences for the boys. Also still pretty terrible on every level: obvious script, bad acting, shallow action scenes etc.

    THE KILLING III – Yes, just like Season 2 the ending was awful (and for Lund to flee struck me as a commercially minded set-up for new series rather than something the character would do). Still beautifully shot, well acted and suspenseful. I prefer it to THE BRIDGE because of the atmosphere, the pacing and the relative lack of the political correctness that marred the latter.

    PRIVAJITH SOMETHING OR OTHER – Newish Indian historical soap opera on Sky Arts. Ludicrous costumes, terrible acting, cheap sets and a nonsensical plot. It is so terrible that it is actually quite funny.

    MAGNIFICENT CENTURY – Turkish historical soap opera that I tried because I'm interested in the period and because the Turkish government is trying to have it cancelled. It is pretty much a cheaper, longer, more family friendly and less interesting version of something like THE TUDORS.

    30 ROCK – Intermittently brilliant but always witty.

  • bob

    Not really a shameless rip-off… It's very different in its intentions. What isn't so different is that they both have children engaged in a battle to the death but it seems really unfair to say that you can't have that without it being a rip-off of Battle Royale.

    I prefer Battle Royale (an exceptionally well executed film) but would still defend Hunger Games as being something different since it has the trauma of being a child soldier at its heart and not a gratuitous slaughter-fest.

    ” So, hang on, Dexter literally thought he had a 'dark passenger'? It wasn't just a metaphor? Well, that's just bobbins. “
    I was beginning to think I was the only person that remembered he never ever considered the Dark Passenger to be a separate entity. Season 7 started great but it went nowhere I believed. I don't buy Deb's descent either.

  • Arrow: You probably caught one of the latest, bad ones. It started off a lot better. Thanks for the heads up on Pirvajith and Magnificent Century – might look at those at some point. I used to watch The Mahabharat when that was on BBC2 and that was entertaining

  • GYAD

    I think you're right. I watched the first episode and that was better, if not really my cup of tea.

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