What have you been watching? Including Hiding, Winter, One Man, Two Guvnors and Agent Carter

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.

It’s February so time for some more new programmes, some of them quite awkwardly scheduled, given I actually went out and did things this weekend. So, I’ve already reviewed the first episode of Allegiance today, and I’ll be reviewing the first two episodes of Fresh Off The Boat tomorrow. Given that Better Call Saul aired its first episode yesterday and is airing its second episode tonight, I’ll hold off on that until later in the week, too.

However, I did have time to watch two new Australian shows, as well.

Hiding (Australia: ABC)
Criminal is arrested but won’t give up the rest of his gang – until he’s nearly murdered in prison and decides he wants to be safe and free. He agrees to snitch but he and his family have to be relocated to Sydney for their own protection – except naturally, the foreign-sounding gang boss wants to find him… Supposedly a ‘unique blend of humour and tension’, instead, for the first half at least, you’ll be wanting to sue under the Trade Descriptions Act, as it’s got neither humour nor tension (although the prison fights scenes aren’t bad). But things pick up once the relocation has happened, particularly in the university where our ‘hero’ is supposed to now work and when the family have to wrestle with concerns about whether they’ll become ’Sydney dickheads’ or not. I’ll give the second episode a try, at least.

Winter (Australia: Seven)
There is, apparently, one country on Earth that still uses the tried and tested “TV movie then series” method of dipping a toe in the water and then launching a new show: Australia. In this case, Winter is a spin-off series from the 2013 Seven TV movie The Killing Field, in which former Flying Doctors Rebecca Gibney and Peter O’Brien are rival police detectives investigating crimes, which for some reason usually involve teenage girls being killed. Without having seen the movie, it’s hard to say how this stacks up against the original, but as a standalone show, it was astonishingly dull and predictable, with O’Brien a happy slapper cop, Gibney a frosty (one might almost say ‘wintery’) methodical cop who looks down on his unprofessional ways. Despite the obvious nods to The Killing and Broadchurch, the show’s saving grace is that rather than ‘the maverick cop who doesn’t play by the book’ (O’Brien) being the star, it’s Gibney’s show. But that doesn’t stop it being a waste of an hour of your life. Fans of Outrageous Fortune and The Blue Rose will notice the presence of Antonia Prebble.

I’ve not had time to watch Spiral (Engrenages), either, and my wife still hasn’t been in the mood to watch Cougar Town. But after the jump, I’ll take a look at the regulars, including 12 Monkeys, 19-2, The Americans, Arrow, Banshee, Constantine, Elementary, The Flash, Gotham, Ground Floor, Hindsight, Man Seeking Woman, Marvel’s Agent Carter, Spiral (Engrenages), State of Affairs, and Suits. Of those, one of them is being promoted to recommended and two are being cast away from the viewing list forever – but which ones!?

I also went to the theatre this week!

One Man, Two Guvnors (NT touring production)
Carlo Goldoni Commedia dell’arte-esque Il servitore di due padroni is relocated by Richard Bean (Great Britain) to 1963 Brighton, with the easily confused Francis Henshall becoming employed by two gangsters, one upper class, one working class, and having to juggle his responsibilities. Despite the fact that the role of Henshall was originally taken by James Corden, for whom every single line appears to have been personally tailored, Gavin Spokes is a great replacement and the play is actually hilariously funny, respecting and both commenting on Commedia dell’arte as it goes, complete with audience interaction. Highly recommended.

Shows that I’ve been watching but not really recommending

I’ve already reviewed the third episode of Fortitude elsewhere.

12 Monkeys (US: Syfy; UK: Syfy)
A slight change of pace as the producers confine the action entirely to the future, with the time machine operators having to repel a bunch of scavengers, the twist being our hero used to work for them. There’s a little timey-wimey fun to keep people interested, and while it does advance the characters a little, the plotting won’t surprise any hardened fan of time travel stories and it feels like a distraction from the show’s main narrative thrust at this stage.
When’s it airing near me?
Reviews: First two episodes

Constantine (US: NBC; UK: Amazon Instant Video)
Angels and Ministers of Grace
Constantine suffers an attack of the Eli Stones, with Zed discovering that her visions may come from a brain tumour, while Constantine and co investigate some mysterious deaths that turn out to be a tad Eclipso-related. However, this is largely an episode designed to give Harold Perrineau something to do except stand around smirking or growling, and he seems to enjoy the chance. On a side note, good to acknowledge the Theseus and Ariadne story and the Greek gods as being presences in the Constantine universe (how long before that Wonder Woman crossover, I wonder?), bad to ignore the fact that Dionysus goes into Hades to rescue her after her death. Or maybe that’ll be a later point…
When’s it airing near me?
Reviews: First episode; Third episode

Elementary (US: CBS; UK: Sky Living)
Despite an ending that suggests a new arc is springing up, I’m just tired of Elementary and I think it’s time to give up. This was the show’s last chance and it just threw another episodic nothing at me. This feels like a show that doesn’t actually know what its point is any more. What little resemblance there was to the Sherlock Holmes stories has all but disappeared, the crime stories aren’t that interesting in and of themselves and are now very formulaic, there’s minimal interaction between Holmes and Watson. I’ll probably monitor other people’s reviews to see if there’s a change, but for now at least, it’s time to say goodbye to Elementary.
When’s it airing near me?
Reviews: First episode; third episode

Forever (US: ABC; UK: Sky1)
Hitler on the Half-Shelf
A return to gloomy form for Forever, with the return of Burn Gorman as well as Joseph Mengler and Nazi death camps. Yay! While the acting is still a bit campy, the tone is still fun enough and there was actually quite a moving scene at the end. Still, I’m not sure about the science behind Ioan’s statement about sodium bromide being found in sea water. But is my theory actually right? A 2,000 year old, immortal jew, hunting for a Roman dagger. It’s starting to sound like it might be…
When’s it airing near me?
Reviews: First episode; Third episode

Gotham (US: Fox; UK: Channel 5)
The Fearsome Doctor Crane
We have the arrival of the future Scarecrow’s dad, the (seeming) replacement of dull Barbara with Monica Baccarin, and the Penguin had all the fun stuff, as usual. But still a generally dull and lifeless affair. If this weren’t a Batman prequel, I’d be gone by now. But I expect that’s the thinking behind it all.
When’s it airing near me?
First episode

Hindsight (US: VH1)
Growing Pains
So I first decided to give up on Hindsight five minutes into this episode, when the new intern with a degree in English literature and no experience of writing journalism is given the plum tasking of covering an REM concert for the hip magazine, but without the assistance of a press pass to the concert. But with nothing else to watch at the time, I tried again and got half an hour through before i gave up again and decided enough was enough. While the show can occasionally show sparks of surprising intelligence, it’s mostly too stupid to live, so I think I’m going to have to put it out of its misery.
When’s it airing near me?
Reviews: First episode

Man Seeking Woman (US: FXX)
The first episode I’ve not laughed at at all so far, beyond a couple of sniggers at the beginning, but perhaps that’s because I’ve never had parents torturing me for information about girlfriends.
When’s it airing near me?
Review: First episode

State of Affairs (US: NBC)
The Faithful
Katherine Heigl gets to do some spy stuff again, which is nice, and the show tries to rescue itself from the previous week’s crassness. Not as exciting as it needs to be, but still holding up at this point.
When’s it airing near me?
Reviews: First episode; third episode

The recommended list

19-2 (Canada: Bravo)
Quite a subtle examination of informal and formal ‘favours’ in policing, with what cops will do for each other and their families that perhaps they shouldn’t, with Nick’s cousin being the most obvious example of ‘shouldn’t’. As the title suggests, it’s all part of a larger theme of emotional borders, with various characters having to negotiate various levels of intimacy with both loved ones and strangers. Still, after the bravura opening episode, it’s quite hard to read where the show is going now, given how tonally different it was and how little action and excitement there’s been since.
When’s it airing near me?
Review: First episode; third episode

The Americans (US: FX)
As well as the continuing presence of Frank Langella to generally make the show even better, we get our usual mix of spy fun and Russian misery, with the show looking at Russian generational differences and what the war and post-war generation expected and were willing to sacrifice. On top of that, we have some grizzly body-disposal to look away from. As with previous seasons, the need for a driving narrative is clear and the “will they recruit Paige?” question isn’t it. But there are enough irons in the fire now that you can see they might be pulled out at any moment.
When’s it airing near me?
Review: First episode; third episode

Arrow (US: The CW; UK: Sky1)
How cruel! So close, yet in the end, we were deprived of an all out fight between John Barrowman and Vinny Jones. This episode also sees the return of Oliver to Starling City and the beginning of what looks like the redemption of Malcolm Merlin, as well as an Oliver/Felicity schism. All high quality stuff, basically, apart from the Barrowman flashback wig.
When’s it airing near me?
Reviews: First episode; third episode

Banshee (US: Cinemax; UK: Sky Atlantic)
A contender for the best Banshee episode so far with an homage to Assault on Precinct 13 that doubles up as a character piece, all the way to the shocking conclusion. Some great character moments, too, particularly in that final hostage scene. Shame to see this particular regular character go, although this is Banshee, since it sends the show in a more cliched “nothing good will ever happen to the bad” direction, rather than the less predictable “act good and eventually you will be good and good things will happen to you” that the show was seemingly offering.
When’s it airing near me?
Reviews: First two episodes; third episode

The Blacklist (US: NBC; UK: Sky Living)
Luther Braxton: Conclusion (1)
Lots of silly, inconclusive memory searches, and Ron Perlman turns out to be significantly less interesting than we were made out to be believe. Not bad, but could have been better.
When’s it airing near me?
Reviews: First episode; third episode

The Flash (US: The CW; UK: Sky 1)
Crazy For You
So the Pied Piper returns – remind me, why is he at Star Labs anyway? – and Victor Garber continues to get paid and credits, despite spending about five seconds on screen with no lines. But we have the Caitlyn and Barry Karaoke scene, seemingly the possible beginning of a Caitlyn-Barry romance, the old and new TV Flashs finally get to meet and more.
When’s it airing near me?
Reviews: First episode; third episode

Ground Floor (US: TBS)
The Proposal – Part 1
Anna Camp makes her return and everyone’s off to Mansfield’s daughter’s wedding in Las Vegas. It’s not the most realistic Las Vegas ever, even though they filmed there, with Caesar’s Palace described as the classiest hotel in Vegas (try The Venetian. Or the Bellagio. Or Wynn Las Vegas. Or one of those new ones they built recently. All of them are classier than Caesars). But the bit about the sad dolphins is accurate. One also has to question how long our hero and heroine have been together, because suddenly it’s being written like it’s a couple of years. Where’d the missing time go?!
When’s it airing near me?
Reviews: First episode

Marvel’s Agent Carter (US: ABC)
The Blitzkrieg Button + The Iron Ceiling
The first promotion to regular in a while, with the show finally finding a point to its existence beyond giving Hayley Atwell something to do (a reason enough, some might argue) – to be the prequel to The Avengers it always should have been. And finally it looks like it is, except even better: it looks like it’s an origins story as well. As well as a rather splendid revelation in The Blitzkrieg Button and the appearance of the (largely recast) Howling Commandos in The Iron Ceiling, the presence of a certain something in a glass vial is now suggesting that Marvel’s Agent Carter is (spoiler alert) that Black Widow spin-off we’ve all been dying for, which tied in with the Age of Ultron trailer suggests that as per the comics, a certain character might be a lot older than he or she looks…
When’s it airing near me?
Reviews: First two episodes

Spiral (Engrenages) (France: Canal+; UK: BBC Four; US: Hulu)
Season 5, episodes nine and ten
Karlsson’s back in action (surprising how quick she got over Pierre…) and helping Gilou, Gilou’s implausibly helping himself to his informant’s girlfriend, Laure’s helping Tin Tin to watch his marriage go down the tubes, Roban’s helping his probable replacement to stop the Libyans, Laure’s boss is finally helping his troops, and everyone reckons that bending the law is the only way to enforce the law. Because it’s France. Generally, a good couple of episodes, but the rape scene in episode nine was both horrifying and unnecessary. And is it all going to come down to the black, maybe lesbian dunnit? Still, no one ever accused Spiral of being politically correct…
When’s it airing near me?

Suits (US: USA Network; UK: Dave)
Another strong central story, reminiscent of season one, but Louis has regressed to implausibility again, making mistakes with new clients that no one with any experience would conceivably do.
When’s it airing near me?
Reviews: First episode; third episode

  • Mark Carroll

    This “The Blacklist” story lately has been rather disappointingly silly. “Grimm” has actually not been too bad, one character change rather improving them, though it's still nothing special. I've yet to even get started on this season of “Spiral”.

    I caught an episode of Griff Rhys-Jones doing mountain things on the BBC. It was fairly good. I nearly watched something else on the BBC about a lost Egyptian city or somesuch but the presentation was so awful I quickly changed my mind.

    I finished Bondarchuk's “War and Peace”. I liked it, overall. I thought it a pretty good adaptation, and major events were well- and extensively filmed, especially given the lack of CGI; it must have been an expensive production.

    I've been watching a fair bit of “The Americans”. I am still way behind, but the disguises have been good, Keri Russell is always nice to watch, and she still has entertainingly strong ideological convictions. I do find their kids somewhat tedious though.

    I've been watching even more “Falling Skies”; I'm now into the current season. Which, unfortunately, has got somewhat disappointingly silly in some aspects, but is still fairly entertaining.

  • Gareth Williams

    The Americans -I'm surprised this hasn't been picked up by one of the streaming services. I have often heard/read about bodies being found in suitcases on/in the news/newspapers without really thinking about whether one should actually fit; ignorance was bliss, I'm never going to forget that scene.

  • Egypt's Lost Cities was nearly unwatchable: http://www.the-medium-is-not-e

  • I wouldn't put it past Netflix or Amazon Prime to pick it up. I often link and find an odd show has sprung up without anyone mentioning it.

    The suitcase scene is unforgettable and not for good reasons

  • JustStark

    I shall be quite annoyed if no one shows The Americans in the UK (or at the very least, releases the DVDs); I think it's rather good and I want to watch the rest of it.

  • I suspect Amazon Instant Video will take it. They have season 1 to stream for free, season 2 to buy:



  • JustStark

    Well, it's annoyingly more hassle than if ITV would just beam it out over the air, but it'd be better than nothing. Here's hoping.

  • GYAD

    ASYLUM – Good idea but naive politics and unfunny.

    THE WALKING DEAD – I still don't get this show. It's kinda…talky.

    FREDERICK FORSYTH'S ICON – Good locations and one action scene don't make up for haphazard plotting, cliche and bad geopolitics.

  • The Walking Dead – it's AMC, so slow is its middle name. But it's part of that “quiet, quiet, quiet, AARGH! Quiet, quiet, quiet, ARGH!” school of horror. Basically, it's all a big tease during which you have to guess who's going to be the next one to peg it horribly.

  • JustStark

    Asylum was so incredibly, disappointingly unfunny, wasn't it? Premise sounded good, Ben Miller… and then that? I don't think I laughed once, and the room-mate is such a terrible actor… Such wasted promise.

  • GYAD

    I don't mind the slow so much as the talk-talk-get-eaten model. I always end up thinking I'd be much more interested if it was about the technicalities of how to actually survive and not so much about whether black ninja lady will die (nope, not unless it's a season finale).

  • GYAD

    It was. Mind you, the whole 'Taking Liberties' season has been pretty dull so far.

  • JustStark

    Yes, but it was a season about politics, 'boring' was pretty much a given. Whereas Asylum looked like it could be funny. Until thirty seconds in, obviously.

    You know what would have been better? More Ambassadors.

  • GYAD

    Well, you can make politics interesting (says sad politics nerd). It just requires more than commissioning the odd doco about Magna Carta and a duff sitcom about Suffragettes.

    The thing about Asylum – aside from it not being funny – is that the stuff it's based on is infinitely more interesting than the way it's used. A serious doco about what really happened with Snowden and Wikileaks (*cough* Russian intel ligence*cough*) would be dynamite…instead of which we get the Secret World of Pets or a series about magic tricks.

  • Mark Carroll

    Absolutely. The premise raises a lot of interesting questions, but the show goes in entirely different directions.

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