What have you been watching? Including The Ground Floor, The Tunnel, Kick Ass 2 and Now You See Me

It’s “What have you been watching?”, my chance to tell you what movies and TV I’ve been watching recently 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.

Not much airing at the moment, this close to Christmas. However, there’s been a little at least:

Almost Human (Fox)
Shown out of order, this was the second episode filmed and the first episode since the pilot to show any real promise. You can see why they moved it to the end, since it involved a second Dorian android and without having had any time to get to know the first one, this wouldn’t have been as emotionally interesting and to compare the differences. But it does, in retrospect, show how the writers have moved away from certain ideas, such as giving Minka Kelly anything to do.

The Ground Floor (TBS)
I can’t quite be bothered to do an nth-episode verdict on this. It’s chugging along reasonably nicely, but clearly has a far better grip on rich people than blue-collar workers, which it appears to assume are a bunch of slackers compared to those hard-working rich people. On the other hand, it clearly also believes that women haven’t got what it takes to be salespeople, judging by the complete lack of them on the sales floor (maybe they should have a word with the producers of Work It?). It’s losing a lot of its veneer, its obsession with Skylar Astin’s singing is getting annoying, and Briga Heelan is clearly finding it hard operating at 150% every episode so her performance has been losing energy. But its charming enough in a low-key 90s sitcom sort of way.

The Tunnel (Sky Atlantic/Canal+)
And so it ends. Largely, I’d have to say this was the best version of The Bridge, with most of the original’s flaws polished and fixed, giving a thematic unity to ’TT’ and his actions that didn’t exist in either the original or the US remake; the stupider things were changed; the dialogue was improved; and Stephen Dillane was marvellous. Even though I’d seen the original and this largely followed its various plot twists and turns, it was genuinely thrilling, too. It wasn’t perfect, however. Compared to Sofia Helin’s Saga Norin, Clémence Poésy’s Elise Wasserman was a much duller, less charismatic character, albeit one who Asperger’s was for more useful and far more plausible than Norin’s more teenage Aspieness. The French side of things was more or less ignored in favour of the English side and when it was dealt with, the show demonstrated far less of the nuance and understanding it did with the English. But a genuinely good show that made me hope for not just a second series, but more dramas from Sky Atlantic.

And in movies:

Kick Ass 2
While not quite as good as the original, a sequel with a lot to offer. As well as doing with super team-ups what the original did for superheroes, Kick Ass 2 essentially switches from being a fantasy for geek boys – wouldn’t it be cool to dress up and be a superhero for real? – to being one for geek girls, giving us the ever-popular Hit Girl teaching mean girls a lesson, training up a geek boy and making him buff, and getting a first kiss from an older boy. It also gives us ‘Night Bitch’ and ‘Mother Russia’, who have their own female takes on superheroism (and villainy).

Now You See Me
Four hot young – and not so young – magicians unite on stage to rob a bank, and with the FBI in pursuit, continue to commit crimes. Why are they doing it? How are they doing it? It doesn’t matter, because the answer is utterly ridiculous and stupid, the dependency on special effects instead of genuine magic robs it of any real fascination, and it all boils down to a lot of chases, bad dialogue and things that wouldn’t work like that in real life. Perhaps its biggest mystery is how it got Jesse Eisenberg, Morgan Freeman, Isla Blair, Michael Caine, Woody Harrelson and Mark Ruffalo to star in it. Watch The Prestige instead

“What have you been watching?” 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?

Weekly Wonder Woman

Mini-review: Wonder Woman #26

Wonder Woman #26

Time for the usual review of Wonder Woman, except not a lot happens this issue. In fact, if you know the Brian Azzarello formula of

  1. Lots of the other gods doing things
  2. Big fights between characters who aren’t called Wonder Woman
  3. Wonder Woman being stupid and then apologising to a male character

…you can pretty much guess what the broad brushstrokes of the issue were. If you want finer details, Orion goes after Milan except Cassandra’s one step ahead. Wonder Woman and Hermes come to his rescue and have a slight rapprochement. Meanwhile, Strife gets Zola to leave for the sake of her friends and Dionysus, and Apollo keeps torturing the First Born.

So as slow as normal, too. Oh well, here’s to the never-ending hope the next issue will be slightly faster paced, Wonder Woman actually does something cool or something different happens.

Rating: 2.5/5

PS I should probably mention that if you were thinking of reading Justice League 3000 #1, because it contains Wonder Woman, don’t – she’s a clone and not a very good one at that, one largely designed to be a contrast to the real Wonder Woman. The Wonder Twins do show up though.

Justice League 3000 Wonder Woman

The Tractate Middoth

Preview: The Tractate Middoth (BBC2)

In the UK: Christmas Day, 9.30pm, BBC2

I’ve raved on many occasions about the BBC’s Christmas Ghost Stories, most of which were written by MR James. There have been various attempts over the years, mostly by BBC4, to resurrect the idea. Now BBC2 is giving it another go – mostly at the instigation of Doctor Who and Sherlock writer (and mega MR James fanboy) Mark Gatiss.

And marvellously, it’s going out on Christmas Day. Here’s a gothic BBC2 trailer:

Continue reading “Preview: The Tractate Middoth (BBC2)”


Mini-review: Mayo and Kermode in Movie Heaven

Movie HeavenSimon Mayo and Mark Kermode, Britain’s foremost film critics, have largely been confined to radio – until now. Mysteriously, though, rather than a TV show, they’ve got themselves an iTunes something. I don’t know really what to call it, but they call it Movie Heaven, anyway.

The premise is simple: get a guest on and get them to programme a day’s worth of movies, one of the morning for the kids, one for the afternoon for the family, one for the evening for adults and one for late night that’s got a slight edge to it. First up is Andy Serkis, who played Gollum in The Lord of the Rings, and there’s a pretty good selection of films, including Oliver!, in his schedule.

The show’s pretty good, largely because it’s Kermode and Mayo, and Serkis is an entertaining guest. However, it falls apart in its direction. The show is filmed on a cinema set, which works fine when it’s just Kermode and Mayo, but as soon as Serkis comes along, Kermode and Mayo are on one side of the aisle, Serkis on the other, with Kermode stuck awkwardly behind Mayo. You can imagine the whole thing working quite nicely around a table, but because of the choice of set, it feels a bit amateurish. Then again, it only costs 99p a download, so I don’t imagine they could afford much else.

Either way, if you like Kermode and Mayo or you like films, give it a try and try to ignore the production values.