What did you watch last week? Including Isabel, Mysteries of Lisbon, Agents of SHIELD and Atlantis

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. 

With the US fall season upon us, naturally there’s a lot of new shows for me to review. Last week’s bonanza includes:

I also started watching the second episodes of several shows. Unfortunately for them, they were less than engrossing or funny, so I also stopped watching the second episodes of Trophy Wife and Back In The Game.

The first episode of Betrayal – ABC’s tale of rich professionals feeling unsatisfied with their lives so cheating on/murdering their partners – was just dreadful so not even worth a review. Hello Ladies, in which Stephen Merchant chats up lots of American women badly, was very well written but was distilled essence of Merchant’s brand of cringe comedy so I just found it unpleasantly unwatchable. 

Still in the viewing queue are: the third episode of the rather good Serangoon Road and Witches of East End, both of which I should be reviewing in full tomorrow. 

Other shows I tried
Mysteries of Lisbon (Sky Arts)
Acclaimed Portugese period drama, involving a school, a locked-up noblewoman and a lot of people describing things in flashback and then other people saying how interesting that was and then describing some other things in flashback. Very melodramatic in the truest sense of the world, so more for those with greater patience than I have.

Isabel (Sky Arts)
Game of Thrones but in Spanish and based on the real-life Queen Isabel I of Castile, one of the most important women in Spanish history. A lot more fun than I was expecting, although the subtitlers seem to get a bit confused by gender (“Isabel and Alfonso are his brothers” and when discussing a chess game, “If the queen is so important, why can she only move one square at a time?”, being some of the most amusing). Definitely one to try.

Shows I’m watching but not necessarily recommending
Agents of SHIELD (ABC/Channel 4)
Not even a cameo by Samuel L Jackson could enliven this extremely dull affair, which lacked Joss Whedon’s gift for dialogue and was basically an episode of Torchwood. In fact, worryingly, this is now almost exactly Torchwood and I’m not sure the world is ready for another one. Channel’s 4 re-editing of the episode to shift Jackson’s cameo to before the end credits was enjoyable hilarious, though. First episode review.

Atlantis (BBC1/BBC America)
Even more like Merlin than the first episode, right down to some distinctly British forest scenes. Even more liberties taken with myth. Jemima Rooper’s turned up, but even she – and some surprisingly good fight scenes – can’t lift this into the level of decently good. First episode review.

The Blacklist (NBC/Sky Living)
A good second episode for NBC’s most promising new drama. A bit of back-pedalling from the pilot and some fun duplicity from Spader’s character. Megan Boone’s character could do with some more personality, but enjoyable disposable tatt. First episode review

The Bridge (US)
Essentially, an episode designed not to wrap up ends but to ensure the series gets a second season. Not much that was good about the episode, though, and to be honest, it’s a minor echo of the original, so I’ll probably drop out for season two. Looking forward to seeing how Sky and Canal+ handle things when The Tunnel starts this month.

Strike Back (Cinemax/Sky 1)
Lots of soft-corn porn, some involving Stuart Sullivan shagging a Russian woman, the rest involving Philip Winchester running around naked in a medical experimentation unit, which I’m pretty sure happened two seasons ago, too. Some fun fire fights, although baddies can’t appear to shoot straight, but overall, this is turning into a distinctly less impressive season, buoyed up only by constant deaths.

Recommended shows
Elementary (CBS/Sky Living)
Back to the regular routine for Elementary, which was a somewhat mundane tale, enlivened only by having its entire plot ripped off from Sneakers and making mathematical problem P vs NP the centre of the action.

Modern Family (ABC/Sky 1)
A decent enough set of three episodes to start the season with, the gay marriage episode being particularly good. But it’s basically business as usual here, without much innovation.

And in movies….

Agent Carter
Not technically a movie, being a bonus 15-movie Marvel One-Shot on the Iron Man 3 Blu-ray, but an enjoyable enough period romp with Haley Atwell reprising her role from Captain America, Carter now a spy for the US in post-war America. Unfortunately, her boss (Bradley Whitford) thinks that women shouldn’t be doing men’s work, now the men are back from war, so Carter has to prove her worth. 

I really do hope this becomes a TV series, as rumours are suggesting, since it shows more promise than both episodes of Agents of Shield and has as many fun cameos (keep watching until after the titles…).

“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

    We are making progress on “The Colour of Magic”, which is okay and the kids are liking it enough.

    We finished off “Kino's Journey”. I'm not sure that my wife was all that thrilled, but the kids liked it, and I rather did too. It was diverse and interesting and pleasantly engaging.

    We saw the first of Michael Mosely's “Pain, Pus and something else” which was quite good, and reminded my wife of “The Victorian Pharmacy” or somesuch.

    We have been watching quite a few of these comedy panel celebrity quiz shows — just now we had Never Mind the Buzzcocks, QI, and HIGNFY, and I was just thinking that I can't think of any American equivalent of such. They are quite good anyway.

    “Homeland” started off quite well. I'll keep watching and see how it goes. (I think “Prisoners of War” far better.)

    We're about to move house and I'll lose my access to Eutelsat 9A so no more TF1, M6, W9, etc. for me (i.e. American crime dramas in French, it certainly puts a different complexion on “Justified”).

  • I'd agree with you about Prisoners of War and Homeland. Episode 2 of the newest season, which I neglected to mention last night, was a bit dull and Carrie's bi-polarness is being over-used and incredible amount. Plus she's always manic.

  • Mark Carroll

    Yes: it's hard to buy that one can act like that and be permitted to hold down a job like that. They are way more cautious than that as employers. It makes Criminal Minds look plausible.

    Whereas, not only did Prisoners of War's plot hold together well overall, but, perhaps I'm naive, but I thought it was far easier to believe, and all the more engaging for that.

  • GYAD

    YOUNG MONTALBANO – Approaching the sometimes sublime levels of the parent show.

    GRACELAND – They're rather overt for undercover cops and there's a strange food obsession but this is settling into a fun, semi-serious SoCal cop show with a twist.

    UNDER THE DOME – Practically a parody of itself. Efficient storytelling but the characters are idiots.

    THE BLACKLIST – One great firefight but otherwise fairly silly 'Silence of the Lambs' meets Moriarty (meets hammy over-acting) with a risibly thin lead & cliche villains.

    PEAKY BLINDERS – Like 'Ripper Street', it wants to make period drama cool but only makes it stodgy, silly and unbelievable. And why is Benjamin Zephaniah in it?

    LONDON IRISH – They're utterly despicable human beings but they do make me laugh.

    MYSTERIES OF LISBON – 18th century in every way.

  • Prisoners of War was less 'big idea' than Homeland (returning marine may or may not be an Islamic terrorist) so easier to be plausible. But Carrie's episodes are heading towards paranoid schizophrenia territory now. All she needs to do is start hallucinating…

  • Mark Carroll

    Admittedly, I could buy that guilt at being hoodwinked might cause her to stop her meds. Hallucinating reminds me of Ally McBeal going downhill; let's hope it doesn't happen in Suits given that it's already firmly skirting silly territory!

  • Mark Carroll

    Well, that was a failure at spoiler protection, sorry. ):

  • Rullsenberg

    Rob – why/ in what way did C4 change the edit of Agents of SHIELD? Where was the SLJ scene originally?

  • Like with the movies, it should be post-credits, rather than pre-credits

  • Old habits die hard!

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