What have you been watching? Including Murder In the First, Continuum, Suits, Old School and Undateable

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 – they’ll even email you a weekly schedule.

A slightly slower week this week, with only one new show unveiled – SyFy’s Dominion. Hopefully, I’ll be reviewing that later today, but so far it looks like possibly the worst TV show ever made. Although obviously The Starlost still provides strong competition there.

After the jump,  a round-up of the regulars, with reviews of 24, Continuum, Enlisted, Game of Thrones, Murder In The First, Old School, Penny Dreadful, Suits and Undateable.

Shows that I’ve been watching but not really recommending

Enlisted (US: Fox)
Army Men
Brandon Routh returns just to take his top off in an episode just as fun as all the others. Definitely a shame that it’s been cancelled.
First episode Third-episode verdict

Murder in the First (US: TNT)
The City of Sisterly Love
Better than the first episode, but Kathleen Robertson’s storyline is still all about dating, including dating the villain in order to get his DNA. However, some of the legal side of the things with Richard Schiff (what’s up with that ponytail?) and James Cromwell were a lot better. Would the sister of Taye Diggs’ late wife really get her kit off for him just after the funeral, though?
First episode

Old School (Australia: ABC1)
Worth Her Weight
Slightly grittier than previous weeks and Bryan Brown seems to have woken up slightly. More involvement of the younger cast members was an improvement and at least the hacker storyline is going somewhere. Still not the most compelling show, unfortunately.
First episode Third episode

Penny Dreadful (US: Showtime; UK: Sky Atlantic)
What Death Can Join Together
Just for laughs, writer John Logan is now rolling in the Phantom of the Opera – like there wasn’t enough for him to juggle already. All the same, he is finally bringing together the different strands at last, which is a blessed relief. However, he needs to stop being so coy with the plot, almost everything involving Eva Green’s character is still dreadful and largely embarassing, and the Dorian Gray thread is only interesting if you’ve never read the book or seen the movie and this is all coming as a big surprise to you.
First episode Third-episode verdict

Undateable (US: NBC)
My Hero Is Me
Not that much funnier than before and it felt like it was written by a man who’d not met any women before, but it did flesh out the female characters, adding more of their POVs, as well as the supporting characters, giving them more to do. The show is also admirably still showing that being a dick is bad, being nice is good, just doing it in the right way is important.

Leader of the Pack
Losing Nicki is not a good plan but the Toy Story parallels were quite fun. The British gay guy stuff is not working and doesn’t even make sense. But at least the characters are starting to act like friends who like each other now.
First episode Fourth-episode verdict 

The recommended list

I’ve already done a third-episode verdict on AMC’s Halt and Catch Fire this week. But here’s what else I’ve been watching.

24 (US: Fox; UK: Sky 1)
Episode 9
Ha ha! They blew up Wembley Stadium! Football will never be the same again! However, that wasn’t the only implausibility this episode, which apart from Jack’s poor first aid knowledge – and inch-long incision into someone’s flesh only needs a plaster as a covering – also included the idea that pub wi-fi is going to be fast at some point in the future. Not quite sure about Jack using the phrase ‘Wake the bitch up’ – decidedly unnecessary that. But as usual, it’s 24 so it was at least fun and they’d got Robert Cochrane in to write it, so as expected, something of a game-changer.

Continuum (Canada: Showcase; UK: SyFy)
The Dying Minutes 
Oops. As always, it’s hard to predict where things are going with Continuum and after last week’s near return to form, this one went straight into beardy-weirdy territory with the Freelancers. At times, it was hard to tell what was going on – who’s that? Which timeline are they from? Why are they doing that? All the same, a surprising departure for the show and signs of its new direction made it not such a wasted effort. Simon Barry should stick to writing, incidentally, because his fight scene direction was pretty dreadful.
First episode

Game of Thrones (US: HBO; UK: Sky Atlantic)
The Children
Congratulations to the showrunners, who managed to pull everything together at the last moment and still didn’t make it look like it was rushed. Some more deaths (of course), but virtually every plotline was serviced (apart from Sanza’s), even ones you’d totally forgotten about. In retrospect though, surprisingly, Daenarys was the one who largely went nowhere this season. And horray for Stannis! A bumpy season overall, though, that dawled when it should have gone quickly, that sped up when it should have gone slowly and which ignited untold new storylines when we had just enough to be getting on with already, thank you. Then there was that scene with Jamie that’s probably best forgotten…

Suits (US: USA; UK: Dave)
Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner 
I’m giving the show a reprieve, after threatening to drop it last week, since it was a marked improvement on the first episode. But there are still obvious issues with the show’s direction. Louis is now in danger of spinning the show into farce and efforts to give Jessica something to do largely revolve around the borderline sexual harassment of DB Woodside. Putting Mike and Harvey on opposite sides does restore the out-of-court intrigue of earlier seasons but only by splitting up the team, which is a daft thing to do and will take some getting used to. But despite the focus on characters and their not especially interesting dilemmas (now Mike doesn’t have to worry about his secret getting out), there’s enough plot to keep me interested. For another episode at least.
First episode Third episode 

  • Mark Carroll

    We're into season 4 of “The Walking Dead” now. It's still much as one'd expect from much earlier episodes. We have some new characters and so far they're mostly not annoying. It's still not must-see television in my opinion, but hasn't had a bad patch, it just doesn't really go anywhere I much care about. One of the characters said something interesting recently, about how past events had led him to conclude that mercy to strangers gets one's friends killed, but that's about as engaging as it gets in exploring (well, poking gently at) its recurring theme of how the situation has affected ethics and civilization.

    We've finished off “Archer Vice”, which is remaining quite good. It seemed odd toward the end to drag everybody along, I think I preferred earlier “Archer” where the situations were perhaps slightly more plausible and people's roles clearer, rather than having them all just around and expressing their personalities, but there are still plenty of good lines to keep it worthwhile. Though, it is strange these days for the world news to be full of talk of ISIS.

    We've finished “The First World War” at last, that stayed quite good. It is hard to get a coherent overall picture by tying up the themes of each episode, but it's a naturally tricky subject matter in that respect.

    I've been watching Jools Holland's show. That's remained quite good, much like we've been used to. I don't always pay full attention, which helps. His presentation's sometimes a bit awkward but that doesn't much matter.

    We're much of the way through “This Is Not My Life”. That's been better than I feared it could have, enough happens that I don't feel like each episode just returns us to the start, as similar shows from decades ago might often have, but I will want some decent payoff soon. How unfulfilling these people's 'happy' lives look to me, I wonder how misguided the whole effort is — I would like to think that some of his wife's craziness is a symptom of what's been done to her. It isn't a fantastic show, mind — there's a bit too little used so far of how the lack of outside information could be misleading, and new people conveniently wander in carrying a bunch of plot development baggage — there could perhaps be more intelligent subtlety and less heavy-handedness. But, it's still among the better shows, and may yet end the season cleverly.

  • benjitek

    Continuum: Each failed plot attempt results in a new 'timeline', of which so far there are many … 😉

    Messy writing/acting season 2 and beyond — season 1 was great.

  • We gave up on Archer during Archer Vice. Nothing wrong with the scenario but it just wasn't as funny.

  • I think I'd probably agree with that now. More on that this Friday, though…

  • JustStark

    Finished up House of Cards by watching The Final Cut. It's still good, packed with great lines. I was surprised by how fast it moves, given its age, but I suppose they are only four episodes. Certainly I remember the novel going painstakingly over every stage of the leadership procedure, which the TV series flies past.

    Saw Oculus, impressed, though I wasn't expecting much, most horror films (especially modern ones) being terrible. But this one actually is very Jamesian: an evil artefact of unknown origin and terrible but incomprehensible powers, and what happens when humans crash up against it.

    Watching Utopia, which I missed first time around, in preparation for second series. have got to end of episode 4 and I still don't know what to make of it: it's one of those things where it all depend son whether they can end it well. If they can, then I shall have to work out whether it's good or not. If it all turns out to be just brutality for brutality's sake, it's definitely terrible.

    Fargo finished. That was pretty damn good, wasn't it? Oh yeah.

    Must remember to find out when Archer Vice is on 5.

    Brooklyn Nine-Nine ended, having been consistently pretty funny. Only decent new sit-com of the last couple of years that I've seen.

    Still watching Episodes though I think that last series did the 'everybody's lives fall apart because they either are horrible people or are surrounded by horrible people' bit better and this is just really more of the same.