What have you been watching? Including The Royals, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Community, The Flash and 19-2

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.

Well, it’s been another epic week in TV land (not to be confused with “I can’t believe you can still see the” TV Land – the network for older, nostalgic, probably slightly visually challenged folk), with loads of new shows, as well as some returning ones. I haven’t managed to find the time to tune into Netflix’s new thriller series, Bloodlines, which was released on Friday, but this week, I’ve managed to take a gander at:

I also had a look at the first two episodes of…

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix)
Tina Fey’s new sitcom (unfortunately not starring Fey) in which one of four female cult members holed up underground are rescued by the authorities, and while three of them are happy to return home, one of them is spunky enough to try to make a new life for herself. Her name? Kimmy Schmidt. First, Schmidt (Ellie Kemper) manages to find herself a ‘home’ (aka small cubbyhole, it being New York) to live in with failed actor Titus Andromedon (Tituss Burgess) and makes a sort of a friend in the form of Lillian Kaushtupper (Carol Kane). Then she gets a job looking after the son of the delightfully named and incredibly rich trophy wife Jaqueline Voorhees (Jane Krakowski). Will she buckle under all these pressures or will she prove unbreakable?

As with 30 Rock before it, this is a show that grows from a not especially auspicious pilot episode redeemed by one character (Jack in 30 Rock, Mrs Voorhees here) to become funnier over time. But it’s still not hilarious by the second episode and if you’ve ever seen The Nanny Diaries, you’ll find yourself noticing not only how very similar they are in a lot of ways but also that there’s:

  1. A complete lack of Scarlett Johansson in this, who was much funnier
  2. A complete lack of Chris Evans or anyone even in a similar role. He was funny in that, too
  3. Nowhere near as much intelligence in the script-writing, despite the source.

All the same, there are some laugh out loud moments involving IP licensing and the revelation of who Voorhees’ parents are, so I’m going to bear with and watch the rest of it – when I have a mo.

I also tried to watch…

The Royals (US/UK: E!)
Liz Hurley becomes queen and has to supervise the rest of her equally inappropriate, bonk-tastic family. Or something. I did manage to get through the young Harry-alike playing darts and managing to get a bullseye every time while not really looking, to impress an American girl into bed. But I gave up after 10 minutes, in part because it’s really hard to watch that much soft porn shagging on your iPad when you’re commuting on a train, without people thinking you’re a perv, and I didn’t manage to get back to it. Oh well. I don’t think I’ll be missing much. Joan Collins is in it, too, apparently. But then she was in Benidorm.

After the jump, the regulars: 12 Monkeys, 19-2, The Americans, Arrow, The Blacklist, The Doctor Blake Mysteries, The Flash, Fortitude, Man Seeking Woman, Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD and Vikings. One of these is being demoted this week. I wonder which one?

On top of that, we also have the return of Community. Woo hoo? You’ll find out the answer to that one after the break, too.

Wondering where Dig and American Crime are? The short answer is: waiting for third-episode verdicts tomorrow and maybe Wednesday. The long answer? I’ve got to watch them first…

Shows that I’ve been watching but not really recommending

12 Monkeys (US: Syfy; UK: Syfy)
Divine Move
Things are coming to a head, with things go awry in time machine in unexpected ways and all those clues that have been laid down over the season look like they are indeed all going to dovetail together in the final episode. But will Cole survive?
Whether this gets promoted to the recommend list next season is very much going to depend on the next episode, which will either make or break the show…
When’s it airing near me?
Reviews: First two episodes

The Blacklist (US: NBC; UK: Sky Living)
Tom Keen
Finally demoted after a season of ambling. It remains watchable only really for James Spader at this point, despite the best efforts of the writers in returning Tom to the plotline. His German sucks, by the way.
When’s it airing near me?
Reviews: First episode; third episode

Fortitude (UK: Sky Atlantic; US: Pivot TV)
Episode 8 (9)
Nudging the horror genre again this episode, but slightly differently from its previous efforts in that most of the horror came down to torture. Tucci got more to do this week and the show was all the better for it. But it’s proving very enigmatic. I think it’s only once everything’s been revealed in the final episode that we’ll be able to tell whether this was worth the journey or not.
When’s it airing near me?
Review: First three episodes  

Man Seeking Woman (US: FXX)
Scepter
A show that will probably get promoted to Recommended next season, thanks to a very funny final episode that went into epic sci-fi territory (Hail Trackanon!) and that suggests that the main characters are going to be somewhat less dickish next season. Fingers crossed.
When’s it airing near me?
Review: First episode

Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD (US: ABC; UK: Channel 4)
One Of Us
Oh who cares? Honestly, were it not for the tie-ins with The Avengers I would have given this up ages ago, what with Skye and her daddy issues being about as interesting as the warranty on a hoover. Kyle Maclachlan was great, of course, the show was very dark in places, there was a good cliffhanger at the end. We even had Blair Underwood turn up as someone’s ex. But I just don’t care about any of the original cast any more. More of the new cast, please!
When’s it airing near me?
Review: First episode, Third episode

The recommended list

19-2 (Canada: Bravo)
Orphans
Another stunning and moving episode from this season, with the mole finally revealed, along with her (or his) motivations. The final scene in particular was gasp-inducing and I doubt you’ll have seen anything like it on TV before. But it’s really only me and seven Canadians watching this, isn’t it?
When’s it airing near me?
Review: First episode; third episode

The Americans (US: FX)
Divestment
A slippery episode that evades the probable results of the previous episode in favour of something a little bit less dramatic, but probably more likely. We also have the return of an old character and, in keeping with the show’s main theme, a conversion of the ANC into the bad guys (nice to be reminded of the things they got up to in the 80s).
When’s it airing near me?
Review: First episode; third episode

Arrow (US: The CW; UK: Sky1)
The Choice
The Lazarus Pit makes a surprisingly Islamic appearance in an episode that otherwise involves a lot of people gaping. The ending was a little obvious, but should spell out some fun to come in the series.
When’s it airing near me?
Reviews: First episode; third episode

Community (US: Yahoo; UK: Sony Entertainment Television)
Ladders
Six seasons now, which means that all that’s left to get is a movie. Season six is now airing on Yahoo and the otherwise unwatchable Sony Entertainment Television, of course, after having been given a reprieve following cancellation, and we’ve lost another character (Shirley) along the way, picking up Paget Brewster (yay!) as her replacement. Creator Dan Harmon’s along for the ride, too, and while it features his trademark meta references and surrealism, there’s an element of tiredness to the show, with everyone feeling like they’re going through the motions now. Plenty of funny moments and a bunch of cameos by departed characters, but while this is head and shoulders above the Harmon-free fourth season, it’s still feeling somewhat contractually obligated.
When’s it airing near me?
Reviews: First episode; third episode

The Doctor Blake Mysteries (Australia: ABC; UK: BBC One/Alibi)
Women and Children
A real stonker of an episode, with not one but two more returning characters and an ending that’ll make you fist-pump the air, as Blake’s fight with his arch-nemesis reaches an impasse. Blake’s liberalism is once again a little ahead of its time, but the episode highlights the sexism of both the show’s time and our time well.
When’s it airing near me?
Reviews: First episode; third episode  

The Flash (US: The CW; UK: Sky 1)
Out of Time
So many revelations! All kinds of plot details are finally revealed and while I suspect next episode will undo some of the big events of this episode, there some real boldness in its choices and what the producers decide to depict. Guest baddie this week was Liam McIntyre – Spartacus II – BTW.
When’s it airing near me?
Reviews: First episode; third episode

Vikings (US: History; UK: Amazon Instant Video)
The Usurper
Talking of revelations, plans are revealed as the Vikings come home and Ragnar (and someone else) reveals his true, scheming colours. And maybe it was Odin last week, not Thor. Tricky these Norse gods, aren’t they? Coming next episode: Paris – now there’s something to look forward to.
When’s it airing near me?
Reviews: Season one review

  • Gareth Williams

    I'm still way behind. I have only watched The Flash from your list. You're right everything will be undone but, 'oh, boy,' I will take a forty minute set-up for that joke. Yes, I am stuck in the 90s and have spent the weekend watching TMWRNJ videos on YouTube (I am Rod Hull!) and in the words of Abe Simpson, 'I used to be with it but then they changed what it was.)

  • Robin

    Kimmy Schmidt: pilot's a mess and it probably doesn't help that I was unaware of the 'witness testimony cut up and gone viral' meme they went for with the theme tune/title sequence. But all the leads shine from the start and it treads that fine line between funny and overly wacky and mostly lands on the right side. The Vorhees daughter is one to watch, and Titus becomes more fleshed out as it proceeds

    still takes 5 episodes to come into its own, mind

    But then again I thought the first ep of 30 Rock (which I watched long after everyone else was already into it) was hilarious…

  • Jelly!

  • It won't be on my priority list but I will stick with it. Looking at other reviews, the suggestion is that as it was originally intended for network TV before Netflix, it's not until the last few episodes that it really starts to escape that style

  • Mark Carroll

    We finished off Psychoville, which was okay but didn't really grab me.

    All three are rather silly and I'm not sure how much I still care, but my wife is liking The Blacklist more than Once Upon a Time, and Grimm. Probably we're generally preferring Gotham to those others, at least that knows it's silly.

    I'm quite liking season two of Vikings, at least for the most part.

  • GYAD

    VIKINGS 2.1 – Puerile dialogue and too much relationship drama but I still keep watching to see if anyone will ever do a proper shieldwall.

    PERSON OF INTEREST 3.1 – Comfortingly rubbish.

    HOSTAGES 1.1-10 – A great plot…for a film. As a series, stretched and full of plot holes / absurd behaviour.

    WOLF HALL 1.3-6 – Nice lighting, pity about the lack of drama.

    BANISHED 1.1 – Utterly, hilariously awful. Who in 2015 could be so sloppy as to release a series in which the light goes from pre-dawn to midday-sun in ten seconds?

    POLDARK 1.1 – Another period soap opera, with bonus objectification of men. Still, more tourism for Kernow!

    THE EICHMANN SHOW – Cartoonish, pointless and sterile.

    JULIET BRAVO 1.1 – Good, old-fashioned directing and decent working class drama. Probably generic at the time, now fascinating.

  • I think The Blacklist knows it's silly. I think it's just starting to run out of energy.

    Season 2 of Vikings isn't as good as the first, I thought, but it's not bad.

  • You might have a bit of a wait for a shieldwall, I'm afraid. There are still fight scenes and one where the Vikings are defeated by the Saxons, but no shieldwall IIRC, not even in season 3.

  • Mark Carroll

    I haven't started on Hostages yet. I wonder if I ought!

  • GYAD

    It's watchable but not much more; the best bit is just watching Israeli society.

  • GYAD

    Eeek!

  • Mark Carroll

    Well, Israeli society is a draw, I confess. But I even avoided things like Heroes due to not wanting to spend quite all my waking life watching television. Hmm.

  • GYAD

    TBH, if you haven't got all that much spare time then skip it; it's not worthy.

  • Seconded

  • Mark Carroll

    Thank you both for saving me from that investment then. A review on IMDb ends, “as a story, this one doesn't make a lot of sense”. The time can go to Banshee instead. (-: And someday I'll re-watch Prisoners of War.

  • Wise choice on Banshee. Although be prepared for a lot of ultraviolence.

  • Pingback: The Medium is Not Enough TV blog()