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?




  • Mark Carroll

    I forgot, the other week I watched “The Watch” as well, which was actually okay, about as good as one might hope (no better, but thankfully not much worse). Richard Ayoade was exactly as usual, and Ben Stiller wasn't at his most irritating.

    This week films included “Black Death” (mediæval action) which I am not sure was quite worth even a single viewing, and “Safety Not Guaranteed” (streaming on Netflix) which was better than I expected. The female lead's character irritated me somewhat at first, and the likelihood of the journalistic expedition having so many man-hours put into something with so little promise was wholly implausible, but overall we all found the film, while not life-changing, to be a pleasant surprise nonetheless.

    We have been watching more “Dark Angel”. It remains entertaining enough but still with execrably painful 'street' vocabulary conversations among friends.

    A few series seem to have finished, or at least have had their most recent episodes be 'larger' ones. “Blacklist”'s exciting two-parter seemed a bit silly to me, but we'll see how next year goes. “Once Upon a Time” seems to have completed the tiresomely long wandering-around-Neverland-arguing thing, but unless the next series is refreshingly different I may not bother with a whole lot more. “Grimm” has been visiting the unlikely doings of the powerful folks in Central Europe some more and is in small danger of developing Captain Renard into somebody interesting; again, I'll give it more of a chance, but goodness it's amazing what fraction of murders in Portland are caused by strange creatures. “Homeland” seem to have finally killed off various lingering annoyances but I might bother with the next season only if reviews suggest that, for instance, Carrie is getting a grip again and the whole thing is becoming less silly.

    We watched “The Escape Artist” ,with barrister David Tennant, and murders. It started okay but became increasingly silly and inexplicable. I am not sure that it was worth the effort.

    The two-part “The Silent War” was an interesting account of the undersea part of the Cold War.

    “The Matt Lucas Awards” were a bit random and tedious.