What have you been watching? Including Agents of SHIELD, Vikings, Suits, Game of Thrones, Endeavour

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.

New shows I’ve already reviewed this week:

After the jump, the regulars, with reviews of Agents of SHIELD, Crisis, Mammon, 35 Diwrnod, 19-2, The Americans, Community, Continuum, The Doctor Blake Mysteries, Elementary, Endeavour, Game of Thrones, Hannibal, House of Cards, Suits and Vikings

Shows that I’ve been watching but not really recommending

I’ve done one third-episode verdict this week:

Agents of SHIELD (US: ABC; UK: Channel 4)
Turn, Turn, Turn
Wow. After last week’s pretty good episode, this week’s episode was actually damn good, thanks to the Captain America: The Winter Soldier plot tie-in. Even the regular cast and characters were interesting for a change. Will wonders never cease?
First episode review

Crisis (US: NBC; UK: Watch)
We Were Supposed To Help Each Other
Given how dull the two central leads are and how interesting the villains are in comparison, it’s a good job that the show’s creators have effectively made Gillian Anderson the lead investigator now instead. Although there was no real action, a fun bit with infra-red compensated.
First episode review

Mammon (Norway: NRK1; UK: More4)
Episode 2
As with Salamander, another promising thriller becomes a stupid conspiracy. I had to turn off once the news editor was revealed to be involved – seriously, if you have actual power, you don’t become a news editor.
First episode review

35 Diwrnod (UK: S4C)
Episode 2
Less of a push than the first episode and more an episode intended to let the characters breath. While that meant we spent some interesting times with the trans character, it also meant some old bloke exposing himself to a webcam. Unfortunately, though, as with many a multi-character murder mystery, I wasn’t involved enough with anyone to want to watch any more than this.
First episode review

The recommended list

As usual, this week’s Community and The Doctor Blake Mysteries are still in the viewing pile.

19-2 (Canada: Bravo)
Winter
A pretty decent season finale to a pretty decent season. As well as those Southland-esque “incidents of the week”, this one giving a surprising conclusion to the “bickering gays” storyline, a lot of the personal storylines were rounded off. More importantly, as with the original French-Canadian show, we have the introduction of the SQ to give us the set up for the next season. Fingers crossed, there will be one.

The Americans (US: FX; UK: ITV)
Arpanet
A slightly silly episode that largely chugs mostly of the plots along in the expected directions, but it was fun to see someone try to explain the Internet in 1980s language.

Community (US: NBC; UK: Sony Entertainment Television)

GI Jeff
Probably would have been a whole lot funnier if I’d ever seen the cartoon series GI Joe but accurate enough about 1980s animations that I could get a lot of it. Some touching moments in the live-action sequences towards the end. Will almost certainly be regarded as a classic by viewers in the US.

Continuum (Canada: Showcase; US: SyFy; UK: SyFy)
A Minute Changes Everything
Ever wanted to know how Continuum was going to solve the problem of Alec being evil in the future and good in the past? Well now you know. The Liber8 stuff is starting to get more relevant again, too, thankfully.

The Doctor Blake Mysteries (Australia: ABC1; UK: BBC1, Alias)
The Sky Is Empty
Ooh, another murder. Apparently that’s the only kind of mystery that Doctor Blake can solve. This one was less Endeavour or Murdoch Mysteries, more Midsummer Murders, though, given the murder weapon (spoiler alert: bee sting). It was obvious again who committed the crime, but all those caveats aside, a well executed story.

Elementary (US: CBS; UK: Sky Living)
The Many Mouths of Andrew Colville
Some funny lines and a Sherlockian opening, but largely the same old same old.

No Lack of Void
A strange way to bring back Roger Rees and another story where Holmes does minimal investigating. But it gave Jonny Lee Miller a chance to show off his accent work and explain the difference between Irish and Northern Irish to American viewers, and despite the lack of any proper deduction, a pleasingly Doyle-esque conclusion to the story.

Endeavour (UK: ITV; US: PBS)
Nocture
Venturing into ghost story territory, a slightly silly piece only made tolerable by the regular cast. The lack of ‘ooh, school girls’ references by any of the male cops was probably the most historically incorrect aspect of the entire story this week (cf Operation Yewtree).

Games of Thrones (US: HBO; UK: Sky Atlantic)
Two Swords
Largely an establishing episode for the storylines that will run this season, there were nevertheless great individual moments for all the characters, more silly sex, and an expanding base of new characters to get to know then watch die. The Hound was on good form, too.

Hannibal (NBC US/Sky Living UK)
Futamono
Another piece of consistently excellent television, with intellectual discussion largely replacing the emotional roller coaster of last week, as well as more fun watching Hannibal architect one of his schemes. Nevertheless, body horror joys aplenty, beautiful visual tableaux, incidental music to surpass all others and a great conclusion.

House of Cards (Netflix)
I finally reached the end of season two. A decent enough ending with some good insights into politics, but you could see it coming a mile off and it required pretty much everyone to be stupid.

Suits (US: USA Network; UK: Dave)
No Way Out
Clearly architecting the way for the next season, it was nevertheless a subdued finale following a somewhat disappointing season, too involved with a single storyline and getting itself too far off the base line of clever out-of-court legal chess games. Hopefully, it’ll be able to focus more next season while simultaneously heading into pastures new (or perhaps even old, given the original pitch for the show was that it would be about (spoiler alert) investment banking)

Vikings (USA: History; UK: Amazon Prime)
Blood Eagle
A slightly weaker episode than normal, although you can probably guess from the episode title what the focus was. Basically, an ep repositioning characters and alliances in preparation for the end half of the season, but again, giving a good contrast between Anglo-Saxon beliefs and practices and Viking customs.

“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

    We watched “Ender's Game”. After having read reviews, I was actually pleasantly surprised. It wasn't a classic I'm about to buy on DVD, but it was truer to the book than I expected, and generally a better-than-average adaptation. I liked it.

    “Hannibal”'s been returning close to season-one form for me. I am liking it more again. It's about one of the best things on. I am still liking “Community” too.

    Yes, “Suits” for me really does need to return more to the clever out-of-court legal chess games. If it carries on as it has been, I'll stop watching.

    We finished the “Secrets of Bones” and “Shipwrecks” series. Both were good. “The Greatest Knight”, about William Marshal, was good too.

    Our usual American dramas like “Once Upon a Time” still amble forth adequately.

    We've been trying “Les Revenants”. It's quite good, sometimes creepy, but it had better mostly make sense by the end of the season, or I shan't bother with the second.

    Did I mention we'd finished “Jonathan Creek”. I heard that the reviews weren't great, but I thought it was okay, it seemed mostly entertaining and varied.

    “W1A” has continued to be mostly fairly good. Parts are irritating, but it can be quite witty, and probably quite well observed. I probably wouldn't watch were it just me, but the wife mostly likes it. For me it helps that it's only a half-hour at a time.

    Oh, we watched Michael Mosley infecting himself with parasites. That was fairly good.

    And, we've noticed the return of “Have I Got News For You”, which is about as always.

    Still in the queue is the Ian Hislop thing about the olden days.

  • Mark Carroll

    I forgot, we've still been watching the Australian “Rake” too. I am enjoying it, not a bad episode yet. I am curious to see how it continues.

  • bob

    Very glad to hear it!

  • GYAD

    LONGMIRE – Cowboys, real estate…and archaeology.

    STAR CROSSED – Generic high school dramatics w/ outdated SF civil rights metaphor.

    INTELLIGENCE – Unintelligent. Also dull and ridiculous. Why is making a non-stupid spy series so hard?

    REV – Funny and intelligent about religion.

    SALAMANDER – Fast, thrilling nonsense.

    UNDENIABLE – Typical ITV crime drama.

  • I think The Americans has been largely non-stupid. But, TBH, I don't think anything's ever going to touch The Sandbaggers in terms of quality, so I never have many expectations of spy shows these days.

  • JustStark

    After last week’s pretty good episode, this week’s episode was actually damn good, thanks to the Captain America: The Winter Soldier plot tie-in.

    Oh dear. Does that mean one has to have seen the aforementioned film in order to understand the episode? Or do they explain the important bits for those of us who weren't going to see such shallow, juvenile film-making as a superhero flick when cinema-going time is limited and Muppets Most Wanted was out at the same time?

    (You want a kangaroo? I'll give it to you.)

  • Cap 2's actually surprisingly good. Still a superhero movie, but actually tries to be clever.

    But you don't need to watch it first to see AoS. The ending of the movie will be massively ruined for you if you don't, since AoS spoils epic chunks of it, and you will gain additional but not necessary insight into what everyone's talking about if you see Cap 2 first, but you can certainly watch AoS without having seen Cap 2 and not be completely lost.