What did you watch this week? Including Django Unchained, Last Resort, The Wedding Band and Mr Selfridge

It’s “What did you watch this week?”, my chance to tell you what I movies and TV I’ve watched this 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, Archer, Arrow, Being Human (US), The Daily Show, Don’t Trust The B—– in Apartment 23, Cougar Town, Elementary, Go On, Last Resort, Modern Family, Mr Selfridge, Shameless, Suits and The Wedding Band. These are all going to be on in either the UK or the US, perhaps even both, but I can’t be sure which

More temporal casualties, with Hard, A Young Doctor’s Notebook, Utopia and Spies of Warsaw all being purged from the Sky+ box, thanks in part to Guy’s time-saving recommendations (see? There is a point to this feature). I’ve also still got to watch this week’s Carrie Diaries, Archer, Suits, Modern Family, Cougar Town, Yes Prime Minister, the penultimate episode of 30 Rock, and Bob Servant Independent, which started on Wednesday. But I think I’m getting back down to manageable levels now.

Now, some thoughts on the regulars.

  • Archer: I neglected to mention the return of this last week – foolish me. As always, thoroughly recommended as the funniest thing on TV at the moment.
  • Arrow: Another decent episode. Nothing spectacular or unpredictable in the A-plot, but the flashback B-plot continues to impress.
  • Being Human (US): A slight return to the humour of early episodes as the series continues in its unpredictable new direction. The arrival of Xander Berkeley heralds good things, I suspect, too.
  • Go On: I can watch a show with Piper Perabo in that isn’t the tedious Covert Affairs – woo hoo! Pulling a Southland, the show is also now having swearing but bleeped out and pixellated nudity, which is somewhat surprising. Not the funniest thing I’ve ever seen, though.
  • Last Resort: Both a surprising ending and an unsurprising ending for the show. Some things were a little rushed, some things didn’t make a whole load of sense but virtually all the plot strands got wrapped up, some of them unpredictably. The action scenes were there, but not as tense as in previous weeks, and the drama didn’t quite work in the ways they intended. But generally, a good way to end the show and reassuring that they didn’t try to hold out for a pick-up by another network by leaving everything open-ended. At 13 eps, too, it feels like they mined the idea probably as much as they could have sustained it, anyway.
  • Mr Selfridge: Parallel universe time. A flagship ITV show that has a French character (played by Spiral‘s Grégory Fitoussi no less) who’s becoming practically as important as the lead, he gets to meet other French characters, also played by French actors and they get to speak in French. With subtitles. How very, very weird. So much to love, but the plot is slowing down a little now, with evolution rather than revolution being the name of the game. Some characters are getting less interesting, some more. Still worth watching.
  • Shameless: A thrilling antidote to the typical US drama (cf Arrow), this week focusing on how fathers can suck completely and ruin your life, and giving the moral that if you’re poor, the only way to stop being poor isn’t following the American dream, it’s stealing or scamming. Indeed, Fiona’s storyline this week was all about the poverty trap and how when someone tries to escape their life, they can end up worse off than if they’d stayed where they were
  • The Wedding Band: And so it ends. Oh well. But the penultimate episode did feature not only James Marsters using his Spike from Buffy accent to play an aging English rock star but an actual English actor playing an English character who instantly identifies him as coming from Merseyside. When the band question how he knows, Marsters replies: “Any Englishman can instantly spot from another Englishman’s accent where he’s from to within 10 miles.” I’m assuming they were taking the piss out of Marsters there, either with or without his cooperation. The show ended with a minor emotional cliffhanger that will now never be resolved, unfortunately. Shame, it was a pretty good show that could have developed over time, but now TBS is going to focus on half-hour comedies and Big Bang Theory re-runs instead.

  • Yes, Prime Minister: Not a patch on the original, either in terms of the writing or the cast, but not without funny moments. Sir Humphrey is the biggest problem, since he comes across less as part of the establishment, more an odious selfish scheme; Bernard is now just an idiot; and Hacker is a blowhard, rather than a politician out of his depth. But I’ll be watching episode two at least – when I have the time.

And, in movies:

Django Unchained
Way too long and not quite up to the standards of previous Tarantino movies in terms of dialogue, but still a really good and very surprising movie. Surprising in terms of how unflinching it is in dealing with the incredibly insane nature of 19th century American slavery, but also in having a humorous German character as a hero (the always incredible Christoph Waltz) and having segments of the movie in German. Samuel L Jackson gives one of his best ever performances and is practically unrecognisable, while Leonardo DiCaprio gives one of his best performances in years as an evil plantation owner. Definitely worth watching, perhaps more at home than in the cinema, though.

“What did you watch this 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?

  • I like Arrow, it's full of Batman characters. Batman's rogues gallery is so good that it can afford to fill another character's TV programme with quality villains… and Huntress.

  • Mark Carroll

    I don't really have my television stuff together yet, nor much of the rest of my life. Still, the television's on occasionally. The things I'm missing now, I'll catch up with someday.

    We watched the Tim Burton “Alice in Wonderland”. My mother in law thought it unpleasantly weird, but I think we all liked it, it was done well.

    We also watched “A Simple Plan” which turned out to be okay. I have some doubts about it but it wasn't a waste of time.

    I've been watching some of the old CSI repeats, which have also been reasonable.

  • We've been catching up with skyplussed episodes of Father Brown ; episodes 2 and 3 were OK but samey (private performances in a country house lead to / are the result of buried secrets with tragic consequences). Episode 5, The Eye of Apollo, has a barnstorming guest turn by Michael Maloney and some stylish direction ; episode 6, an original, has a gloriously dotty role for Lorna Watson as Sister Boniface, the scientific-Agatha Christie addicted nun. I hope she returns in the next series, just announced.

  • I seem to be in detective mode at the moment (though have missed all of Fr Brown, which is a shame as I loved the books when I was a kid), so have watched Lewis, Death in Paradise (I know it's tosh, but enjoyable tosh) and most of all Ripper Street, which I think is getting better and better. Jerome Flynn was awesome this week. Missed second episode of Utopia, but going to watch this week. Am looking forward to Being Human being back on Sunday. OH and saw Les Mis last week. We all cried. Anne Hathaway awesome, hearts of stone if you're nor moved etc etc.

  • The Green Arrow's are a bit deficient, but the show has featured a few of them so far – China White, The Dark Archer and Count Vertigo is coming up, too – usually better than they are in the comics. It wouldn't surprise me if DC took the TV versions and made them canon for the nu52. Not sure the Huntress has been well served by the show so far, though.

  • Glad to hear it got better. The first one was too boring to make me want to continue. Good to hear Michael Maloney is getting work still, too.