What did you watch this week? Including The Booth At The End, Orange is the New Black, The Almighty Johnsons, Satisfaction and Suits

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’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.

Ray Donovan TV Schedule

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.

Under the Dome TV Schedule

Recommended shows
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!

The Almighty Johnsons TV Schedule

Continuum (Showcase/SyFy)
A slightly unconvincing alliance at the end. But a good episode.

Continuum TV Schedule

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.

The Newsroom TV Schedule

Perception (TNT/Watch)
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.

Perception TV Schedule

Satisfaction (CTV)
Not quite as good as normal, but there’s still not many sitcoms that feature polyamory as a plot point. 

Satisfaction TV Schedule

Suits (USA/Dave)
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.

Suits TV Schedule

“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?

  • Mark Carroll

    Oh, yes, I have to get going with Suits again, thank you for the reminder. I probably have a couple of episodes in the queue now. It doesn't help that there are actually various dispersed queues (and a set top box software upgrade in the post). Yesterday I attended to the Freesat queue, which included Top Gear which was one of the better of the season, and Justified which seems to be rounding off a season fairly reasonably, though I think the first two seasons may have sufficed. I also watched the Victoria Coach Station (or whatever it's called) episode of The Route Masters which was quite good and more Polish than I had expected. There was also a Guitar Heroes episode of Jools Holland's show on recently that turned out to be rather good.

    But, honestly, mostly we've been watching Daria, as I've been in the middle of doing other things and the children like it and I quite like it too, it's certainly not annoying, and maybe in some ways better than I'd remembered.

  • bob

    Almighty Johnsons has been rather strong this year but lacking in over-arcing plot which this week's episode certainly rectified. Maybe one plot element too many? But I look forward very much to next week's.

    The goddesses have been treated very well this season with Michelle and Stacey being written as more likable and smarter for once.

  • I think they tied off enough plot threads in this episode that they shouldn't make it through to the next, which should be cleaner. But we'll see.

    I agree with your other points though.

  • JustStark

    I watched The World's End. Funny, though not so funny as the other two, I thought the plot and theme never really gelled — and indeed at times seemed to be actively opposed. Were we supposed to see Gary as admirable for embodying the spirit of individual freedom that makes humanity unique, or as a washed-up loser? Or is it supposed to be both: Humanity is a washed-up loser, and that's why we're great? I was confused.

    Out of the three I think Hot Fuzz

  • JustStark

    … is the best, being funniest, most thematically consistent, and crucially having a plot which isn't entirely linear.

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