What have you been watching? Including X-Men: Days of Future Past, Game of Thrones and Old School

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.

You take a day off and blimey, even in summer, it’s suddenly all systems go at the networks. As a result, still in the viewing queue are the first episodes of NBC’s Undateable and Crossbones as well as AMC’s Halt and Catch Fire. Fingers crossed, I’ll have reviews of them up tomorrow and Thursday – and not such a backlog for my next round-up, which should be on Friday.

I did watch a movie, though:

X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)
Probably the most famous of all the X-Men comic storylines – if any X-men comic can truly be said to have famous storylines – with the cast of the first three movies facing an apocalyptic future thanks to some killer robots called Sentinels. So they get Kitty PrydeWolverine to travel back in time to 1973 where he has to meet the cast of X-Men: First Class and guide them on a different path that doesn’t involve them all dying.

With an amalgam of X-Men writers and directors to match the on-screen melange, this feels like X-Men: First Class crossed with X-Men: the more fun, action-packed storyline and period setting of the former but with the coldness and coolness of the latter. Largely a Mystique/Professor X piece, with a lot of added Wolverine, it still manages to feature cameos from pretty much everyone who was in X-Men and X-Men: First Class, as well a few new ones, even if it’s only for a few moments, and with its time travel element, don’t be surprised by the fact it effectively wipes out X-Men 3 from the canon so that they can have more fun in the next movie, X-Men: Apocalypse, based on the second most-famous X-Men/X-Men: Evolution storyline.

None of it makes a lick of sense, mind, and no more fits into continuity than X-Men: Origins: Wolverine. All the same, the second best of the X-Men movies, thanks to Jennifer Lawrence, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender (with a consistent accent for a chance) and Hugh Jackman. In fact, I’m going to see it again later this week.

After the jump, a round-up of the regulars, with reviews of 24, Continuum, Game of Thrones and Old School.

Shows that I’ve been watching but not really recommending

Last night’s Penny Dreadful and Enlisted are still in the viewing queue. But I did manage to watch:

Old School (Australia: ABC1)
Smash Repairs
Continuing the show’s hybrid ambling 70s dramedy-hardcore modern crime story approach, the show continues with both the overall series storyline and a one-off car crime episode. Neill and Brown are vaguely antagonistic towards each other but that doesn’t really excuse the complete lack of chemistry between them, beyond the fact Brown hardly seems engaged with the story at all. It doesn’t help that his character has little to do but be stupid, while Neill yells at him a lot. At the moment, the bank hacking seems more like an attempt to modernise the story and to give Neill’s wife something to snip at him about, than anything too relevant to the main story. Strangely, it’s actually the storyline involving Brown’s granddaughter and pal’s son (Mark Coles Smith) that actually felt the most involving. Despite a general amiability, the show urgently needs to get Brown and Neill on the same page, for the sake of the series as a whole.
First episode

The recommended list

I didn’t quite have time to watch Prisoners of War or Silicon Valley this week, unfortunately. But here’s what I did watch.

24 (US: Fox; UK: Sky 1)
Episode 5
Jack sits in a chair for an episode, so Yvonne Strahovski has to do all the work instead. But some isolated moments of excellence, in between the general silliness.

Continuum (Canada: Showcase; UK: SyFy)
Minute of Silence
Some tedious parkour (because it now is tedious) but otherwise forgettable, beyond the addition of an unnecessary character.
+ Revolutions Per Minute
A cameo from someone unexpected and a sudden recall of what the programme was about once upon the time shows that Continuum is very much headed in the right direction but is very much taking its time about it. Episode 10 and I reckon they could have done everything they’ve done this season in half the time.

Games of Thrones (US: HBO; UK: Sky Atlantic)
The Mountain and the Viper
Another great episode, thanks to Sanza Stark surprisingly, but also thanks to Arya and the Hound, and of course the fight between the Red Viper and the Mountain (I predicted how some of that would turn out, but not all). But we’re only a couple of episodes away from the end, so it looks like, once again, everything that was pressing and urgent at the end of the last season (i.e. the White Walkers) is pretty much forgotten about now, as per usual.

  • Mark Carroll

    We have “X-Men: Days of Future Past” on the list, at least. We saw Joss Whedon's “Much Ado About Nothing” (with Simon and Mal from “Firefly”) and it was quite a good adaptation, I thought.

    We finished the “Life in Cold Blood” documentary series and that stayed generally good too.

    I rewatched “Jerry Springer: The Opera” and largely liked it.

    We are nearly done with season two of “Rake”. I wasn't too sure for a while but it does seem to be developing so I still like it. We are also mostly through season two of “The Walking Dead” which still my wife likes more than I do; it is okay, but rather overfull of regular characters who are so annoying I would prefer them to die.

    We finished season two of “Dark Angel”. I had forgotten that it was actually quite good. Moreover, listening to the commentary audio for the last episode was rather revealing in terms of what on Earth had been going on and how season three would have developed various characters and explanatorily tied the threads up with some irony. It is good to know that they actually had the arc in mind and weren't just making crazy mysterious stuff up (as I suspected has happened with various other shows at times).

  • JustStark

    I watched the X-Men prequel on TV, having become supremely uninterested in X-Men movies after the second one was so awful and they mainly seemed to be making them to provide Hugh Jackman with holiday money, but I was curious what with the marketing blitz for this new one, and it was absolutely awful. Terrible dialogue, terrible plot, nothing to say, absolutely and completely vapid and a complete and utter waste of the times and talents of everyone involved.

    But it made shedloads of money because audiences are stupid so they're going to do at all again at least twice more. Sigh.

    Been watching the second series of Continuum: Disk 2 picks up as the baddies' in-fighting gets forgotten about and the focus shifts back to Zuckerberg's brother (one of the more interesting bits of the first series), but there are just too many 'mysterious agendas' floating around (every new character introduced has something to hide, and they've started grafting them onto the old characters, like the mole in the department) to the extent that one character after being shot at the end of an episode to provide a 'shocking' twist, has now been lying dead for two weeks and nobody has noticed!

    Just piling on mysterious hints does not work: there needs to be some kind of focus, some kind of sense that these all add up to a bigger picture. At the moment it just seems confused.

    Finished second series of The Americans: thought it worked okay, the only really disappointing bit was the way they couldn't find any better way to reveal the central mystery of the series than to have a character shot in such a way that the bullet must have clipped their brain's exposition centre, causing them to vomit up the solution utterly unprompted just before expiring. Also there were times when the FBI agent / Soviet triple plot was more interesting than the main couple, which isn't great. All the good moments I can think of were in the first series; the second series was less than the sum of its parts, but the parts still work.

    Watching Fargo. Find it impressive, though the tone wavers from very Coen-y to more conventional, which is a problem when characters have to act in implausible ways: things that would be accepted in the hightened-reality stylisation of a Coen movie, but that sit uneasily alongside the more naturalistic bits of the TV series.

    First episode of Jonah from Tonga, interesting set-up, need to get around to the rest.

  • Re: X-Men. I liked it. I don't feel stupid for liking it. It was fine.

    Re: Continuum: they come up with a wrinkle on the dead body thing in the third season. For no good reason.

    I agree about The Americans, but think it'll work better as a box set.

    I hear Fargo's Sunday UK episode is a good un. Little sad I gave up on it, but don't think it'll be a huge loss.

  • I rather liked MAAN

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