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 up, the usual “TMINE recommends” page features links to reviews of all the shows I’ve ever recommended, and there’s also the Reviews A-Z, for when you want to check more or less anything I’ve reviewed ever.
Still in the viewing queue: Kerry Packer…. But otherwise I’m up to speed again, just in time to disappear for a fortnight on holiday. Oops.
New shows I tried this week
Orange is the New Black (Netflix)
Netflix’s comedy-drama from the creator, based on a true story about a woman sent to a correctional institute. I only watched half an episode, but it was pretty good albeit with a little too much female nudity, so I reckon I’ll be jumping back in at some point.
The Booth At The End (Netflix/Hulu)
At Mark’s suggestion, I decided to give this one a bit of a whirl. And actually, it’s quite good, if a little frustrating. Essentially, each episode sees an unnamed man (Xander Berkeley) sitting in a both at the end of a diner. People come to him who want things, sometimes trivial, sometimes seemingly impossible. And the Man looks in his book and tells them what they need to do to make that thing happen: it can as simple as making a phone call; or it could be to murder a child or set off a bomb, although he’s at pains to state that he doesn’t actually make these things happen and they may happen anyway. In In Treatment style, a lot of the plots of the characters mingle and part of the fun is guessing how they’ll all mesh together, and it’s also pleasantly theatrical, since nothing is ever shown, just described by the Man’s various supplicants, so it relies a lot on your imagination.
The frustration is two-fold. The first is that there are very few answers and if you hang out to the end of the first season of five, 22-minute episodes, you still won’t really get any gratification on that score. The second is that Netflix in the UK only has the first season, the second season being available exclusively to Hulu in the US – although since this aired on FX in the UK at one point, too, it might come round again.
But I asked a man with a book how to overcome that problem, and I’m currently in the middle of the first new episode, which has new characters and a new diner, so far. I’ll report back once I’ve watched the rest.
Shows I’m watching but not necessarily recommending
Ray Donovan (Showtime/Sky Atlantic)
Actually, I’m not watching this, since I gave up midway through the latest episode. Just not something in which I’m interested.
Under The Dome (CBS/Channel 5)
Still no explanations for anything, and it’s now starting to look like a 1980s Stephen King adaptation. Too many plot convulsions required to get the particular moments we saw by the end. But it’s oddly compelling, despite being massively ordinary.
The Almighty Johnsons (TV3/SyFy UK/Space)
Hooray! What looks like the final episode for tying up all the loose second season plot threads, this was also half about setting up new plot threads. Looks like we’re getting more storylines that are goddess-oriented, too. Yay!
A slightly unconvincing alliance at the end. But a good episode.
The Newsroom (HBO/Sky Atlantic)
I spoke too soon. While this episode was definitely less chaotic than the first episode, we had a return to the same weaknesses as season one, particularly the sexism, with pretty much every scene failing the Bechdel Test. Still, at least Aaron Sorkin is trying to engage with and understand the Internet now, even if he hasn’t quite got the hang of it.
Perception catches up with Second Life how many years after it was trendy? Oh dear. And certainly on a TNT budget, it’s not going to be able to recreate The Cell, despite its best efforts. The procedural was also completely loopy and implausible. But it did have some fun moments about the problems for our hero in distinguishing between reality and fantasy.
Not quite as good as normal, but there’s still not many sitcoms that feature polyamory as a plot point.
A slightly unconvincing ending – and indeed main story. But it would take a hard-hearted viewer not to be moved by Louis’s fate at the end of this.
“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?