What did you watch this week? Including The Spa, The Americans, Banshee, Go On, House of Cards, Mr Selfridge and Shameless

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:

  • The Americans (FX/ITV).
  • Archer (FX, 5USA)
  • Arrow (The CW/Sky 1)
  • Banshee (Cinemax/Sky Atlantic)
  • Being Human (US) (SyFy)
  • The Daily Show (Comedy Central)
  • The Doctor Blake Mysteries (ABC1/ITV)
  • Cougar Town (TBS/Sky Living)
  • Elementary (CBS/Sky Living)
  • Go On (NBC)
  • House of Cards (Netflix)
  • Modern Family (ABC/Sky 1)
  • Mr Selfridge (ITV/PBS)
  • Shameless (US) (Showtime/More4)
  • Southland (TNT/Channel 4)
  • Spartacus (Starz/Sky 1)
  • Engrenages/Spiral (BBC4/Netflix)
  • Suits (USA/Dave)
  • Top Gear (BBC2/BBC America)
  • Vegas (CBS/Sky Atlantic).

These are all going to be on in either the UK or the US, perhaps even both, but I can’t be sure which. If I got the channels wrong, let me know and I’ll fix them

Still in the queue: plenty to go in the House of Cards queue and there’s this week’s episodes of The Doctor Blake Mysteries, Vegas, Elementary, Archer, Zero Hour and Community to watch, although I think Community‘s days as a watched programme are numbered in this house. On top of those I have new US show Cult to watch – basically The Following but on The CW and with the guy who played T-Bone on Prison Break – which I’ll try to sneak a look at over the weekend, as well as new Australian show, Mr and Mrs Murder, which sees a husband and wife team cleaning up murder scenes (literally) and then doing some detective work of their own. I’ve also got Channel 4’s one-off spy drama Complicit to give a try, but Guy says it’s a bit rubbish so I might skip it.

I did get round to watching Sky Living’s The Spa, which stars Rebecca Front. It’s as dreadful as every other Sky 1 and Sky Living comedy, I’m afraid. In particular, we had a scene based on someone being told to tell someone they were ‘clinically obese’ and mishearing and saying they were ‘clinically a beast’.

Now, some thoughts on the regulars as well as some of the shows I’m still giving a try.

  • The Americans (FX/ITV): A rather excellent episode all round, set against the backdrop of the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan and suggests how it could have resulted in World War 3. There’s excellent usage of archive news footage and intriguing to see the Soviets transferring and imagining it could be an attempted coup by General Hague. ‘Operation Christopher’ also showed just what the KGB was capable of if necessary. There’s also a humorous suggestion that Christopher Hitchens (ish) was basically a Soviet sleeper agent, pretending to be a new-wave conservative to hide his true plans to spy on the US. Very much recommended.
  • Arrow (The CW/Sky 1): A living breathing advert for Windows 8 and way too teenage and soapy. Even James Callis couldn’t keep a straight face. It was redeemed by the use of the BSG alert klaxon during the museum robbery scene.
  • Banshee (Cinemax/Sky Atlantic): Is it my imagination or is the title sequence becoming more and more animated with each episode? I could have sworn the albino didn’t move until this episode. A decent flashback episode, this one focusing on Hood’s time in jail, that paid off well if you’d been watching since the beginning. Very, very brutal, mind.
  • Being Human (US) (SyFy): Somehow feels less involving than previous seasons. Mark Pellegrino turning up in flashback was good, as was his English accent, but Sam Witwer’s needed work.
  • The Blue Rose (TV3): Still hasn’t found its feet and neither comedic nor dramatic enough to be compelling. But I’ll give it a week or so more yet.
  • Elementary (CBS/Sky Living): Not seen all of it so far, but I’ll tell you one thing: Sherlock Holmes doesn’t know how to build a molecule with benzene rings in it properly.
  • Go On (NBC): Has reached the point where ideas are now being thrown out randomly, whether they work with particular characters or not. They finally gave the blind black guy something to do with some funny retcon – he’s a former cop and has mentioned it loads of time, but because everyone’s been so self-involved they’ve ignored him – and Piper Perabo does a funny New Jersey accent.
  • House of Cards (Netflix): I’m an episode or two further along now and enjoying its twisty turniness. Not convinced Kate Mara’s character would allow herself to have pictures taken in the nude, and the latest episode had the usual American belief that unions are little more than organised crime in disguise, even teachers’ unions, but lovely stuff. The show actually used the c-word as well, which was remarkable. And if you wondered what happened Joel Schumacher, turns out he’s directing House of Cards now. Definitely still recommended.
  • Modern Family (ABC/Sky1): Yes, that was Maxwell Caufield.
  • Mr Selfridge (ITV/PBS): The show’s starting to become a little self-mocking and Jeremy Piven is starting to spiral out of control, presumably thanks to the punishing schedule. The archness (and hair bra) of his aristocratic sponsor is also starting to grate, as are the accents of some of the cast: some of the Selfridge children’s US accents are wobbly and Amy Beth Childs, who was good with a Northern accent in Sirens, is clearly struggling with a squeaky cockney. Still, we did get John Sessions as Arthur Conan Doyle and a seance, and next week, we’re going to be getting Michael Brandon (Dempsey from Dempsey and Makepeace).
  • Shameless (US) (Showtime/More4): For once, you wanted to side with Steve against Fiona in their dramas. All of a bit of a jolly jape, though, all the mean girls at the swimming pool were good, but the ending was a refreshing change to the status quo. Looking forward to seeing what happens next week.
  • Southland (TNT/Channel 4): And so the bleakness goes on. Loving it. Best moment: Cooper’s fire-fight, although his continuing self-closeting and kindness to the Downs girl were close seconds.
  • Suits (USA/Dave): A great finale marred somewhat by some of the worst English stereotypes since The Patriot or possibly Three Men and a Little Lady. It does feel though that it’s not actually doing seasons any more but is just one long continuous show that occasionally takes breaks.

“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?

  • Arrow: The Microsoft placements have been irking me for a few weeks. It's not just Windows 8, they always use Bing and Surfaces!

    The Following: This really annoyed me this week, as it was just 'stupid'.
    Firstly I hate it when shows use non-existant technology, especially when it's the old photo-enchancement nonsense. I'll let it slide in obviously unrealistic programmes like '24', but this was unnecessary. Usually this is used as a plot device to move along a story, by a lazy, or bad writer, but the only reason I can think of to have used this on this episode was to make the Doogie Hoswer character look 'cool'. Seriously, why couldn't they have just have the connivence store use a better quality camera?
    Secondly, it was obvious that Hardy's actions (raiding the farmhouse) were going to get that policeman killed. Why would he have felt the need to go in, without back-up, in the situation? WHY?! The boy's obviously not in immediate danger, and he wouldn't have known the girl was in the basement. It's mind-numbingly stupid. I fear that this series is going to continue in this manner.

    House of Cards: (Only small spoiler) I really enjoyed this, but the ending just felt like the end of any of the previous episodes' 'cliffhangers'

  • Site note: Is the spoiler code appearing as 'strike-out' for everyone?

  • Oops. Disqus stopped me from being able to override stylesheets so that function doesn't work any more, unfortunately. Equally unfortunately, its blog plug-in over-rules the bit of the code that says to not publish the spoiler instructions.

    I'll fix it�

  • Mark Carroll

    I haven't watched as much as I might because I've discovered that what I'm paying Blockbuster for is, instead of sending me DVDs, to tell me that they're still trying to “allocate stock”. Apparently they're mostly running it from someone's basement and whatever they happen to have on the shelves at the time. It wouldn't grate if they'd reduce the monthly fee pro-rated by days that DVDs are neither in my hand nor in the mail, but maybe going down to a much more limited one-at-a-time plan makes more sense than I'd expected so I'm paying less for absence of service. Netflix US was way better than this.

    I also would have watched more had the PSU for the DVR / satellite box not died. Kudos to Manhattan's customer service for swift and painless resolution of that matter, though, and for handling another issue well too. I note that the replacement PSU isn't the previous' twin.

    I did finish “The Shadow Line” which remained consistent throughout: if the first episode is what you like then, well, there's more of that afterward. It was worth watching no more than once. The story did get tied up and explained reasonably, but not quite enough to make me think it had been worth a miniseries to tell.

    I watched “Rounders”, which was good, very much what it said on the tin.

    “Top Gear” was okay. It was nice to see some time given to reviews of more normal cars. “Charlie Brooker” was about as normal too.

    We've been watching old “Black Mirror”. The second episode of the first season was worthy, and well-made, but I'm not so sure it was worth the investment in time. Still, given that each episode is quite different, I give it credit for, so far with me, not having had a stinker yet.

  • By a bizarre coincidence, I also watch just watched 'Rounders'. I'm not so sure about the Ronseal guarantee though, as I didn't see any teenage girls in plimsoles… Er? Not that the was what I was expecting. It was interesting to note that Gretchen Mol has actually improved with age.

  • GYAD

    30 ROCK – Clever but crazy.

    HUMAN TARGET – Charismatic actors having great fun with a new action packed 'Die Hard' type plot every week.

    VEGAS – Great leads & production values but the excess of plot means hurried stories, truncated scenes & weak characters.

    PERSON OF INTEREST – Brilliantly slick, high concept and well cast, even if it takes place in an alternate universe where rich white trustafarians bully black gangbangers.

    CARNIVALE – Bored of the lack of resolution and development. Feels like it has barely moved on from episode #2.

    Re: COMPLICIT – It's better than 90% of TV spy dramas; it's just that it has a glacial opening & doesn't really emotionally engage.