What did you watch this week? Including Camp, Ray Donovan, Perception, Under The Dome, The Almighty Johnsons and Continuum

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.

The usual “TMINE recommends” page features links to reviews of all the shows I’ve ever recommended, although I haven’t had time to add Satisfaction to the mix, yet. I’ll hold off adding The Bridge (US) to the mix as well, since although the original was recommended and this sticks pretty close to the original’s plot, there’s always a chance it’ll go off target.

Still in my viewing queue: Being Mary Jane, which I never did get around to watching this week; Room 9, The Africa Channel’s Torchwood-esque (it’s even got a Captain Harkness in it) import from South Africa; Count Arthur Strong, BBC2’s adaptation of the Radio 4 comedy about an old music hall comedian; and Orange is the New Black, Netflix’s new comedy-drama from Weeds‘ creator, set in a women’s prison.

I did manage to try NBC’s Camp, a comedy-drama starring Rachel Griffiths that’s set in a summer camp for teenagers:

While there were a few laughs to be had, although not many, in the first 10 minutes or so, as well as a certain fascination in trying to see if Rachel Griffiths’ Australian accent would slip out in conversations with fellow Aussies (the whole show was filmed in Australia), by about the 15 minute mark it became obvious that a large portion of screen time was going to be filled with teenagers in bikini and that it was therefore utterly inappropriate for me to be watching it. So I switched off.

Here’s what I thought of this week’s regulars:

The Almighty Johnsons (TV3/SyFy UK/Space)
Quite a dramatic episode in some regards since we saw the (probable) departure of a long-running and integral character. It was quite an artful way to write them out, given how important they are, and handled very impressively. That said, with no strong series A-plot, outside of this manoeuvring, we were left with various couples trying to establish or maintain relationships. This major plot development now out of the way, this does leave the show’s ducks lined up for next week to forge forward, fingers crossed. Some fine acting by Keisha Castle-Hughes, incidentally.

Continuum (Showcase/SyFy)
After playing around with a bunch of other plots for a few weeks, Continuum returned to its main plot: Theseus, Alec, Liber8 and how much of the future is pre-determined. Interestingly, this episode saw Keira become more of a baddie, more in keeping with the evil future cop she should be in some senses, which was a fun twist in what was actually quite a dark and in some ways uncomfortable episode. More, please.

Perception (TNT/Watch)
A slightly inferior episode, with a very dodgy plot hammered onto a somewhat interesting psychological ‘trick’, familiar to anyone who’s ever seen videos like this. The eventual reveal is ridiculous, but no much more so than in any other procedural.

Ray Donovan (Showtime/Sky Atlantic)
A marked improvement over the first episode, thanks to the slower pace and fewer elements being thrown in the maelstrom of the plot. Donovan’s ‘fixing’, however, has stopped being clever and has instead turned into simple gangsterism, making that less interesting, although his treatment of the trans prostitute was a sympathetic character note. There was also more comedy, making it a slightly easier viewing experience. But it’s still not pleasant or that enjoyable.

Under the Dome (CBS/Channel 5)
More of the same. I’m really just watching for Rachelle Lefevre’s hair now.

“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?

  • Paul Dumont

    Thoroughly enjoyed watching the first part of “Howzat – Kerry Packer's War” on BBC4. Powerhouse acting from Lachy Hulme as Packer, Life-on-Mars style 70s visual aesthetics, and some lovely special effects (Hulme appearing as a guest on David Frost's TV show, a bravura attempt to recreate Lords cricket ground in 1977 using techniques just a notch above CSO). The Richie Benaud lookalike is dead on.

  • Mark Carroll

    I'll have to leave Room 9 for some other opportunity: our DVR whose software is generally both rubbish and buggy didn't seem to be able to cope with recording it (maybe due to not being on a Freesat channel). Or, I won't bother at all, if you discover that it's even worse than Torchwood.

    Caught up with Hannibal; that remains good. Watched Primer again, which is good but is insufficiently explained: I think I pretty much see what happened but will have to google it and read someone's explanation to be sure. Started this season's Top Gear; the BBC TV Centre thing was silly rubbish. I wonder if I'm falling outside the target demographic, as the car reviews are of the most interest to me. Watched The Campaign, a fairly recent American comedy, which is about as one would expect given a trailer or synposis.

    We saw Despicable Me 2, which was quite good; again, probably much as one would expect given the original.

  • GYAD

    THE WHITE QUEEN – Smug, materialistic and inaccurate.

    WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE LIKELY LADS – Now that's more like it. Solid Northern comedy.

    HAWAII 5-O – The episode about ethnic crime was hard to take, as most of the actors were white guys in make up.

    MAD DOGS – Complete nonsense but compelling, with engaging leads and wild plotting.

  • I heard good things about it from Australians. Is it accessible (and interesting) to people who don't like cricket?

  • Which Mad Dogs was it? We gave up about halfway through season 1.

    As for Hawaii 5-0, that sounds awful. I didn't think you could do that on this day and age

  • GYAD

    The most recent MAD DOGS. Season 3 I think. I saved it all up and watched in in a single blitz, which is the only way to do it as it's too random to watch episodically.

    The HAWAII 5-O was from something like 1969 — I prefer the old version with the terrible clothes and big cars to the flashy modern version. I imagine it was hard to find ethnic actors in 1969 but the make up wasn't exactly convincing.

    Although films are still messing around with race. I've always been amused that the imperialist 1939 version of THE FOUR FEATHERS got the race right, whilst the 2002 anti-imperialist version got it wrong.

    That said, without race-bending, actors like Cliff Curtis would never get any roles.

  • Paul Dumont

    I think so – the film-makers lay out the personalities very clearly, so it's just as much about the uptight Establishment versus the upstart Packer, traditional broadcasting versus radical innovation. I think Moneyball is a good analogy — I have hardly any idea about the rules of baseball, but found the film riveting.

  • Rob Buckley

    Ah, O (rather than 0). That would explain it.

  • Rob Buckley

    Cliff Curtis does quite a lot of US TV work and they never specifically state where he's from, only that he's American, so I'm not sure that's true.

  • Rob Buckley

    I'll try to give it a watch then – cheers!

  • GYAD

    It's not always true but often is.

    When race is specified, I've seen him play everything from a Hispanic to an Arab.

  • True. But it's not so much that Hollywood is colour blind as it is very bad at distinguishing between races, nationalities, etc except at a very rough level. So it's got the “swarthy” phenotype, which covers most of the Mediterranean, the Middle East and even New Zealand; “Eastern European”, which covers everyone from Germany through Eastern Europe and the Balkans through to bits of the former Soviet Union; “East Asian”, which covers Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, etc; and so on. It'll then cast an actor of that type (and only of that type) in the role and think it's being culturally sensitive.

  • GYAD

    I agree. Very well put.

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