What have you been watching? Including Bloodline, The Good Witch, 19-2 and Fortitude

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.

So it’s Easter next week and I’m away at weddings and then taking a brief break, which means this is the last round-up for a fortnight. Somehow, though, I’m practically bang up to date. How did that happen?

I even managed to try a couple of new programmes.

Bloodline (Netflix)
A family on a Florida island is big in the local community, having run a hotel for 45 years and one of their sons (Kyle Chandler from Early Edition) being the sheriff. Then their black sheep eldest son returns to the fold, brining all manner of misery with him.

That sounds quite exciting, doesn’t it? But on the strength of the first episode, I’ll be putting this on my low priority “To watch” list, since it was quite impressively dull, despite the lovely location photography. In particular, there’s a scene that lasts about three or four minutes in which the three brothers argue over about whether or not black sheep’s girlfriend can sit at the family table for lunch. I kid you not. The only thing that managed to make watching the first episode at all was a hackneyed flash forward to more interesting times, interspersed throughout the episode.

The Good Witch (US: The Hallmark Channel)
The Hallmark Channel’s one of those channels that I pay almost no attention to, whatsoever. I bet you don’t either. Did you know that Andie MacDowell has had a show running on it for three seasons called Cedar Cove? I bet you didn’t, unless you’ve been paying a lot of attention to my News pages.

Equally, since 2008, there have on the Hallmark Channel been no fewer than seven The Good Witch movies starring JAG’s Catherine Bell as the absurdly named Cassandra Nightingale, a good witch who moves into a small town and starts helping people with herbal remedies, magic spells, etc. Over the course of those movies, she’s got married, raised kids and had a kid of her own. And now she’s got her own TV series, which started last month. But because it’s on the Hallmark Channel, I didn’t notice any of this until now – because even I don’t pay that much attention to my News pages.

Anyway, I tried watching the first episode, in which somewhat miserably her husband from the movies has now died (Chris Potter from Kung Fu: The Legend Continues, who’s too busy filming Canada’s Heartland to do more than a movie now and then). So now she has a potential new love interest in the shape of new neighbour James Denton (The Threat Matrix, Desperate Housewives) – how long will it be before he works out she’s a witch?

And that’s when I remembered why I don’t watch anything on the Hallmark Channel – it’s all twee rubbish, with the emotional depth of a Hallmark card, and as dreadfully written, too. It makes Charmed look like 24 in comparison. Avoid.

After the jump, the regulars: 12 Monkeys, 19-2, The Americans, American Crime, Arrow, The Blacklist, The Doctor Blake Mysteries, Community, The Flash, Forever, Fortitude, iZombie, Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD and Vikings.

Shows that I’ve been watching but not really recommending

I’ve already done you a third-episode verdict on Dig. However, it turns out that it wasn’t quite as mysterious a draw as I thought it was so I didn’t tune in for the fourth episode after all.

12 Monkeys (US: Syfy; UK: Syfy)
Well, all those clues they’ve been laying down over the past season to some overall structure finally pay off in a “here’s what’s been happening this season” episode that explains how it all fits together. It’s not 100% satisfying, but given there are, in turn, things that are part of an even bigger plot framework still to be explained, the finale could be something quite exciting. We’ll see…
When’s it airing near me?
Reviews: First two episodes

The Blacklist (US: NBC; UK: Sky Living)
The Longevity Initiative
Not long for my viewing queue at this rate, as once again, we twat around and not get to the point. But enough highlights in the episode for it not to be a total washout.
When’s it airing near me?
Reviews: First episode; third episode

Forever (US: ABC; UK: Sky1)
Dead Men Tell Long Tales
Cuba Gooding Jr arrives for his guest stint as a millionaire who wants to go out with Jo. Unfortunately, he left his acting talent behind – probably eating by one of the Snow Dogs. However, quite a nice little piece, with Ioan all guilty when the relics of that slaver ship he was on when he died turns up. And Burn Gorman also shows up, not quite as psychotic as usual, with an Important Plot Point. Let’s see if they’ll use it before the season renewal date comes up.
When’s it airing near me?
Reviews: First episode; Third episode

Fortitude (UK: Sky Atlantic; US: Pivot TV)
Episode 9 (10)
A slightly soporific affair with a few more revelations, as we veer back into (spoiler alert)potential zombie territory. Michael Gambon appears to be in a completely different show from everyone else as usual, too. But as always, there’s a certain wacky failure to adhere to the rules of genre or drama that’s agreeable, particularly with the Stanley Tucci plot.
When’s it airing near me?
Review: First three episodes  

iZombie (US: The CW)
Brother, Can You Spare A Brain?
Largely, the David Anders show this episode, as we learn a bit more about Rose McIver’s co-zombie/creator and his cunning plans (there’s always a reason you cast David Anders and it’s not for the jovial warm-heartedness of his characters). Still not enjoying it as much I thought I would have done, but the McIver plot involving her newfound artistry was sufficiently entertaining for me to keep watching.
When’s it airing near me?
Review: First episode

Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD (US: ABC; UK: Channel 4)
Love In the Time of Hydra
A quality upswing as we get Edward James Olmos doing his best ‘gruff leader’ routine, Ward returns all smiley and some fun is found, somewhere down the back of the SHIELD sofa. But if nothing exciting happens once The Avengers 2 is out, I’m going to be giving up, I suspect.
When’s it airing near me?
Review: First episode, Third episode

The Returned (US: A&E; UK: Netflix)
Very generic in pretty much all regards and the fact that no one at all is asking “How the f*ck is this all happening?” is really getting on my nerves (although there is a hint in one line by Jeremy Sisto that suggests there’s a reason for this lack of inquisitiveness). I might stick around for episode 4, but I might not.
When’s it airing near me?
Review: First two episodes

The recommended list

19-2 (Canada: Bravo)
A stunning conclusion to the season, and an emotionally exhausting one, too, with the fallout of the previous episode landing pretty much everywhere, as well as seemingly forgotten plot points being returned to. Although it dipped mid-season, with some episodes seemingly aimless mood pieces, the beginning and the end were exceptional bits of television. Roll on season three!
When’s it airing near me?
Review: First episode; third episode

The Americans (US: FX)
Do Mail Robots Dream of Electric Sheep?
More South African fun in something of a filler episode.
When’s it airing near me?
Review: First episode; third episode

American Crime (US: ABC)
Episode 4
Another hard, near-unwatchable episode in terms of its bleak misery, with various ideological groups all manoeuvring for position, crushing common sense and individuals under their boots. Southland’s Regina King here takes a radically different role as a Muslim convert, although the US style of Islamic worship looks very different to ours if that’s how it’s genuinely conducted.
When’s it airing near me?
Review: First episode; third episode

Arrow (US: The CW; UK: Sky1)
Suicidal Tendencies
An Atom/Arrow face-off, the League of Assassins shows up properly, and the Suicide Squad get together for some more adventures – talk about an ambitious episode.
When’s it airing near me?
Reviews: First episode; third episode

Community (US: Yahoo; UK: Sony Entertainment Television)
Lawnmower Maintenance and Postnatal Care
A cracking pastiche of virtual reality movies also introduces new cast member Keith David, fresh from Enlisted. It does feel a little like they’re run out of genres to mock, though.
+ Basic Crisis Room Decorum
Greendale tries to find its heart when an attack ad is run. Paget Brewster struggles to find the funny a little bit, in a script which in turns struggles to find the funny.
When’s it airing near me?
Reviews: First episode; third episode

The Doctor Blake Mysteries (Australia: ABC; UK: BBC One/Alibi)
Room Without A View
A locked room mystery and a somewhat implausible near-conclusion for the ‘nemesis’ storyline that somewhat devalues it by taking the easy way out. And just how many senior offices does the small town of Ballart really need, one has to wonder. Although given the number of murders…
When’s it airing near me?
Reviews: First episode; third episode  

The Flash (US: The CW; UK: Sky 1)
Rogue Time
The Prison Break brothers are back, bringing another Tomorrow People refugee (Peyton List) along for the ride, in what’s clearly a set-up for the next Arrow/The Flash spin-off series, rather than anything desperately good in an of itself. The question is: if they do get their own show, will anyone tell Dominic Purcell and Wentworth Miller that they need to start acting again?
When’s it airing near me?
Reviews: First episode; third episode

Vikings (US: History; UK: Amazon Instant Video)
Born Again
Another surprise death for a long-running character, as the leftovers from season one continue to be mopped up in preparation for the future Paris storyline, where they won’t be necessary. A bit of the Braveheart to this episode, too, as well as both genetic and chronological manipulation, if we did indeed just see the birth of (spoiler alert)King Alfred.
When’s it airing near me?
Reviews: Season one review


  • 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.

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