What did you watch last week? Including Ambassadors, You, Me and Them, and The Tunnel

It’s “What did you watch last week?, my chance to tell you what movies and TV I watched last 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, and there’s also the Reviews A-Z, for when you want to check more or less anything I’ve reviewed ever. And if you want to know when any of these shows are on in your area, there’s Locate TV.

Elsewhere, you can find my third-episode verdict on The Tomorrow People. Still in the viewing queue are last night’s Serangoon Road and Homeland and Saturday’s Atlantis, which given I haven’t watched last week’s episode either is probably telling me something. NBC’s Dracula I hope to be reviewing either today or tomorrow – certainly before Thursday when it airs on Sky Living.

But I’ve tried some new shows:

Ambassadors (BBC2)
David Mitchell and Robert Webb of Peep Show et al are a UK ambassador and a member of his staff, working together to further UK interests by covering up Mitchell’s cock-ups and framing the French as best they can. Unfortunately, if it weren’t for the fact that Mitchell and Webb were in it, you wouldn’t know it was a comedy, it’s that unfunny. Okay, to be fair a couple of laughs were emitted while watching it, but they may have been reflex actions.

You, Me and Them (Gold)
Seemingly a contradiction in terms, UK Gold – the home of old tele – is making its first new sitcom. From the makers of (terminally unfunny show) Outnumbered, it sees Anthony Head (Buffy et al) in a relationship with the 26-years-younger and impressively English now Eve Myles (Torchwood). They’re happy together, but everyone from Myles’ extended family to Head’s ex-wife and friends has an opinion on their somewhat icky relationship. Will the relationship weather this family-based storm?

Despite the impressive cast (Lindsay Duncan, Jeff Rawle and Susie Blake are in there, too, as Head’s ex-wife and Myles’ parents respectively), this suffers the same problem as Ambassadors in not being funny, although here, everyone is doing their hardest to convince you that actually it is. A few good lines here and there, but you do have to be the kind of person who thinks even the mention of sex or simple bad parenting is comedy gold to find this remotely entertaining. And isn’t it weird when Anthony Head uses his real accent?

Shows I’m watching but not necessarily recommending
Agents of Shield (ABC/Channel 4)
Ooh, secrets are revealed! But they’re not that secret or incriminating! And no one cares! And are we going to get anything except lots of Extremis this season?

The Blacklist (NBC/Sky Living)
After last week’s stonking Manhunter tribute, this week we got a tiny Prison Break tribute, with Robert Knepper playing a man who’s good at escaping from prison, although what a shame about his limp arm. I think the plan now is to have every actor who’s ever played a famous villain face off against Spader in a series of tribute episodes, while Spader archly hams away. It’ll be fun to watch if that’s what they do. And maybe next week we’ll get some answers about what’s up with Megan Boone’s hubby?

The Tunnel (Sky Atlantic/Canal+)
The story progresses, with prostitution the apparent political motive for the villain in this version of The Bridge. Things on the English side of the story are once again far more interesting than on the French side, with the Brtis served well by Ben Richards’ ear for blokey English dialogue (“If he messes with my bitches…”, “Hey Tupac, this is South Kent not LA.”) and Stephen Dillane giving an outstanding performance as the English plod. If only the same could be said for new arrival Keeley Hawes… First episode review.

Recommended shows
 (The CW/Sky 1)
A veritable DC comics fest, with Tony Daniel’s Dollmaker arriving on the scene (you may have noticed a head nod in the name of the Dollmaker’s attorney), Black Canary getting her own non-super-powered scream and – oh my gods – the mention of none other than Ra’s Al Ghul himself. We may even have the beginnings of a Deathstroke origin story. But oh dear, everyone on the island’s been captured and locked up again! Tsk, tsk.

Elementary (CBS/Sky Living)
The A-story was more interesting as a notion – Holmes isn’t getting cases so looks for them and one seemingly minor incident becomes a full blown, major investigation – than as a crime. The B-story, however, was more interesting from the point of view of character development. The show’s really starting to need a new Moriarty, although I really liked the old one…

Modern Family (ABC/Sky 1)
Ooh, a new character, as well as the return of Nathan Lane. Finally, something to change the formula. One question: are the women and girls who aren’t Gloria going to get some storylines soon?

Serangoon Road (ABC1/HBO Asia)
A really exciting episode, pitting our hero (and heroine) against the black market, MI6 and others. Now officially on the recommended list.

“What did you watch last 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

    I liked Ambassadors more than you did. I did laugh a couple of times, which is rare for me, and parts of it did feel like it might have some grains of truth to it. It's a nice change, at least; I'll keep watching. Parts of it could be a bit less silly but I'll see how it goes.

    We're watching some Matt Smith, the season with the Silence and the impossible astronaut and whatnot, partly because we realized that toward the end of it our memories get a bit confused.

    Carrie-centric Homeland was good. I am happier now. Maybe it's okay to let it persist some more after all. Even Brody's family isn't annoying me too much; it's not usual to see such a predicament portrayed in much detail.

    We're still on season three of Spiral. It's been quite good, better than season two.

    We are persisting with Once Upon a Time, Ink Master, etc.; the latter's nearly done.

  • JustStark

    I'm not sure what Ambassadors is meant to be. It's got Mitchell & Webb in it and there are clearly attempts at jokes and digs at the French, so that all says 'comedy', but on the other hand there's also stuff that seems to be trying to make serious points about the complex realities of diplomacy.

  • Mark Carroll

    Against “An Everlasting Piece” (wig-selling comedy set among the horrors of the Troubles) everything else looks like it knows what it's meant to be. (-:

  • GYAD

    AMBASSADORS – Not funny enough to be a comedy, not intelligent enough to be a drama. Wasted potential.

    DRACULA – Stodgy, tedious and unfaithful to both the Dracula myth and Victorian realities.

    ELEMENTARY – An amusing return albeit with a fairly touristy view of London.

    PERSON OF INTEREST – Caviezel is still excellent and the action is fun but the women are pretty dreadful.

    LIFE – Never seen it before but enjoying it a lot. Good cast, good shooting, nice mix of comedy and procedural.

    SLEEPY HOLLOW – Not bad, just not too great either.

    TOAST OF LONDON – One great joke, otherwise unfunny.

    LONDON IRISH – The best new UK comedy of the year.

    GRACELAND – Walking a fine balance between fun but dumb and serious and pulling it off so far.

    UNDER THE DOME – Its says a lot about how silly the other characters are that I'm rooting for the proto-fascist.

  • Mark Carroll

    Life's well worth sticking with, enjoy it. (Wraps up nicely too.)

  • GYAD

    Thanks. Good to know.

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