What have you been watching? Including The Night Shift, Godzilla, Penny Dreadful, Enlisted and Silicon Valley

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.

After letting things slide a bit last week, I feel a bit chuffed with myself because this week, I’ve managed to watch everything in my viewing pile except for one episode of Prisoners of War and today’s episode of Old School. I’ve even put up some proper reviews of new shows:

Yay me! I even remembered that I’d watched NBC’s Night Shift last week but forgot to review it. Because it’s so bad (as one reviewer put it, it’s for people who couldn’t cope with the intellectual rigour of Chicago Fire)

Night Shift (US: NBC)
A summer medical show, in which all bunch of tedious human beings try to outdo each other at how great they are as doctors, nurses and paramedics. Literally every scene involved a new character arriving, someone flailing at medicine, and then Johnny New Arrival showing some technique he or she had learnt in Iraq, volunteering with underprivileged children in Zimbabwe while recovering from chemotherapy and the like, and then rubbing it in the face of everyone else. Bizarrely, it features Jill Flint who gave up a decent job playing an efficient hospital administrator in the enjoyable Royal Pains to play an efficient hospital administrator in this steaming pile of offal.

Even more excitingly, I’ve watched another movie:

Godzilla (2014)
A frustrating, tantalising piece of work that sees Bryan Cranston trying to work out what destroyed the Japanese nuclear power plant he worked in with his wife (Juliette Binoche), while his body-disposal expert son Aaron Taylor-Johnson tries to get back home to his wife (Elizabeth Olsen). Except it turns out that dinosaurs still roam the Earth and they really don’t care what cities stand in their way.

In many ways, a lovely tribute to original with some of the scenes recreations of scenes from the original Toho series of movies but made to look truly realistic and devastating. Some thought’s gone into making the bad monsters, why Godzilla wants to save us from them and why some giant cockroaches would even need to be able to create electromagnetic pulses (when you spot it, you’ll kick yourself). But despite a full hour of work by director Gareth Edwards (Monsters) to make you care about the humans before the fights properly start, you still don’t give a toss about them and ultimately, you’ll just want to see Godzilla punching some big monsters – except largely Edwards cuts away to a news broadcast whenever anything gets too close to being exciting. And there are whole bits that are absolutely irrelevant. The final fight is great, though, with some truly whoop-worthy moments, and the HALO drop almost atones for the lack of action in other places.

After the jump, yet more, with a round-up of the regulars, with reviews of 24, Enlisted, Penny Dreadful, Prisoners of War and Silicon Valley

Shows that I’ve been watching but not really recommending

Penny Dreadful (US: Showtime)
After last week’s dedication to the Frankenstein story, this week we’re back to more even-handed territory, with most of the plot lines getting serviced, Dorian Gray’s particularly (ho, ho). Quite a few sexual surprises, it has to be said, my suspicions about Chandler are growing, as is my irritation at Billie Piper’s effort at a Belfast accent, and Reeve Carney feels more like a louche InBetweener than a genuinely charismatic bad boy. But David Warner did arrive as Van Helsing, which almost made up for everything else.
First episode Third-episode verdict

Enlisted (US: Fox)
Prank War
Back to burn off its final four episodes, Enlisted is still pretty funny. Overall, the episode was a series of mild chortles all the way through as the two platoons play pranks on each other as part of prank season. As always, the humour is backed by characterisation, with one touching moment towards the end, albeit subverted again, and Keith David really got to shine for a change.
First episode Third-episode verdict

The recommended list

24 (US: Fox; UK: Sky 1)
Episode 6
In which Kate becomes a Lethal Weapon, everything British is a bit silly – but only a bit – the CIA has a mole (QFS) and the Russian’s are coming. So far, I’m amused to note, there has been not one thing plausible about Michelle Fairley’s character at all. But it’s still all such good fun and one decent firefight an episode maintains the watchability.

Prisoners of War (UK: Sky Arts)
Episode 6
Is it just more or do the writers have absolutely nothing for Uri to do this season? The spy strand is interesting but not going anywhere quickly. And Nimrod is still ridiculously attractive to women.

Silicon Valley (UK: Showtime; UK: Sky Atlantic)
Optimal Tip-To-Top Efficiency
And it’s all over so quickly! A second season has been commissioned though. The series – and indeed the finale – weren’t consistently funny throughout, but there was a great final scene and the hysterically funny ‘inspiration’ scene, which puts a twist on something that should be familiar to anyone who’s ever done maths, computing or science. A good show, but Mike Judge needs to write more scripts, it needs to improve the way it treats its female characters and it’ll be hard to replace Christopher Evan Welch.


  • 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.

    View all posts