What have you been watching? Including Kirstie, Getting On, The Tomorrow People, The Tunnel and Homeland

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.

As it’s nearly Christmas, US TV has been both slowing down and speeding up: shows are going on their holiday hiatus or even ending their seasons, leaving us with cliffhangers and plot resolutions aplenty. Nevertheless, there have been a couple of new shows, although I’ve still got BBC4’s Don’t Ever Wipe Tears Without Gloves in the viewing queue.

The first is HBO’s remake of BBC4’s Getting On, which tried to give a semi-comedic, semi-realistic examination of life as a nurse, but didn’t quite have the acting chops or writing to make it work:

TV Land’s Kirstie, aimed presumably at people who were already old in the 80s, reunited Kirstie Alley and Rhea Perlman from Cheers and added Michael D Richards from Seinfeld to the mix as an actress, her PA and her driver respectively, who have to deal with her life issues, which include a son she’d put up for adoption when younger and who now re-enters her life as a grown adult. It’s all multi-camera, shot with a studio audience and I would rather stab myself in the eye and the ear, repeatedly (in either order, I don’t mind) than have to watch another episode. Great cast, terrible, terrible scripts.

Now let’s look at the usuals.

Shows I’m watching but not recommending
Almost Human
A sudden recollection by the writers that women exist turned out to be the worst thing possible, since despite this being 40 years from now, apparently any woman in a position of power will have had to have sacrificed a personal life to do so and really just want to be told how pretty they are and to land a guy. FFS. This week’s sci-fi idea: clones.

Agents of Shield (ABC/Channel 4)
Lots of storylines dovetail and J August Richards returns, bringing back the charisma he apparently stole from the younger regular cast. But it all hinges on a woman with only one dress and the Agents of SHIELD not having any proper procedures in place for some of the most obvious situations possible. Daft as brush and not as exciting as that.

The Tomorrow People (The CW/E4)
A guest appearance by Nicholas Young of the original Tomorrow People that probably had all the young cast snivelling in despair (“yes, you lot, cameos in remakes of this show is all you can expect by way of an acting career in 40 years time”) helped to liven up the show, which while still not anything truly remarkable is now finding its feet. Perhaps too much pointless sci-fi though I hate to think what they’ll find when they go looking for (spoiler)dad’s body. Just noticed that the ‘Founder’ is Crassus from Spartacus, who up until that show was a jobbing UK soap opera actor. Shows how far you can go with an English accent as a baddie in the US, doesn’t it?

Recommended shows
(The CW/Sky 1)
Deaths galore, an epic baddie reveal, a new superhero is in town (well, left town to be exact), Ra’s Al Ghul is around and Arrow gets his mask at last, all in a subtle nod to A Christmas Carol. Top stuff.

The Blacklist (NBC/Sky Living)
A clever change in format for the show, with most of the show’s tropes now dead, burned or destroyed. Even the big question – is James Spader Megan Boone’s father – seems to have been answered. Looking forward to seeing what they come back with in January, since it’ll be a relatively different show, I suspect. Nice to see Alan Alda getting a chance to be evil for a change, too.

Elementary (CBS/Sky Living)
As well as giving producer Liz Friedman a chance to channel her years on House, the past couple of episodes have either fleshed out Bell’s role or written him out (I’m not sure which, yet. It might even be both), either of which would be a good move. Not sure about the ‘sponsor’ thing and the sheer lack of any decent deduction by Holmes is getting silly.

Homeland (Showtime/Channel 4)
A combination of the sublime and the ridiculous last week, but it was still immensely thrilling, flashing back to the ‘will he, won’t he’ of the first season. This week, however, we had the season finale, and it left me wondering what the point of the past two seasons were, other than to course-correct from what happened in the first season. Overall, though, a much better third season than second season. Where the show will go from here, though, I don’t know, since it’s going to be pretty much starting from fresh with its fourth season.

The Tunnel/Tunnel (Sky Atlantic/Canal+)
Excellent stuff that fixed most of the problems of the original Swedish/Danish scripts and gave it all a brilliant cinematic look on top. It’s a strange show for me in that it’s not a must-see since I’ve seen it before, but even though I’ve seen it before, when I watch it, it’s still intensely thrilling. People without Sky will be able to buy it on DVD and Blu-Ray in January, you’ll be thrilled to know.

“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?


  • Rob Buckley

    I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.

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