What have you been watching? Including Game of Thrones, American Odyssey, The Flash and Community

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 time for me to be all agile again and move “What have you been watching?” to Fridays – there’s now almost nothing on Thursdays to watch, other than Vikings and The Blacklist (which isn’t long for this world), and given there’s now Game of Thrones, Silicon Valley and American Odyssey (well…) in the US, and Deadline Gallipoli over in Australia on a Sunday, I think one must follow the advice of Miyamoto Musashi in the second of The Book of Five Rings and be like water, flowing round the obstacle of the TV schedules, rather than trying to oppose them.

That means there’ll be another one of these on Friday. But for now, I’ve already reviewed and previewed The Messengers and Wayward Pines elsewhere, and as I mysteriously managed to overlook The Comedians until now, won’t be able to review the first two episodes of that until later in the week. I’m also planning on doing a full season review of Daredevil at some point this week, too, having binge-watched it last week.

So that means that after the jump, it’s just the regulars: American Crime, American Odyssey, The Americans, Arrow, Community, The Flash, Game of Thrones, iZombie, Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD, Silicon Valley and Vikings. One’s for the chop, BTW. And isn’t that a lot of Americans? Reminds me of Dodgeball

Shows that I’ve been watching but not really recommending  

American Odyssey (US: NBC; UK: BBC Two, to air in May)
1×2 – Oscar Mike
Slightly more mundane and stupider than the first episode, as we descend into dramatic cliché, although thankfully we avoid an “easy to guess password” scene right at the beginning. Still manages to be quite diverse and incisive, with a considerable amount of Arabic spoken. The Greek stuff, while partially an attempt to justify the ‘Odyssey’ of the title, suggests that the original airdate for this was January. However, for all its desire to be globally cognisant, you’ll probably spend most of the episode shouting “That’s not how the Internet works!’ at the screen.
When’s it airing near me?
Review: First episode

iZombie (US: The CW)
1×4 – Live and Let Clive
I tried watching this, but despite the fact David Anders and his plot is gold, everything else wasn’t. Consider this abandoned.
When’s it airing near me?
Review: First episode, Third episode

Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD (US: ABC; UK: Channel 4)
2×17 – Melinda
How May became the cavalry turns out to be not as interesting a story as you’d think, but still more interesting than anything involving Skye.
When’s it airing near me?
Review: First episode, Third episode

The recommended list

The Americans (US: FX)
3×12 – I Am Abassin Zadran
A big, big revelation, an important meeting, including a returning character, and problems with teenagers exceeding their boundaries. Also, an interesting handling of the Mujahideen, informed by hindsight, obviously, but still a nifty way of putting us on the sides of our heroes.
When’s it airing near me?
Review: First episode; third episode

American Crime (US: ABC)
Possibly the first episode so far that’s had a moment that didn’t ring true, which given it’s seven episodes in shows just how good at verisimilitude this is. It also navigated a very difficult path involving its female characters’ sexuality that it just about managed to justify.
When’s it airing near me?
Review: First episode; third episode

Arrow (US: The CW; UK: Sky1)
3×19 – Broken Arrow
Shocks all round, with at least one departing character, a first guest appearance of Doug Jones, a crossover with The Flash and the big question of when The Atom’s suit is actually going to do anything atomic. Decently twisty, turny and plenty of game-changing moments (again). Good to see the producers can still surprise. But meta-humans really don’t work in Arrow and beta blockers? Really?
When’s it airing near me?
Reviews: First episode; third episode

Community (US: Yahoo; UK: Sony Entertainment Television)
6×6 – Basic Email Security
Tepid by normal Community standards, although a ‘bottle scene’ with the characters’ analysing each other’s emails helped the episode to transcend. Chiang’s meta comments also helped, as did Paget Brewster getting something to do. Long-time Community writer and director Jay Chandrasekhar appears as a racist comic in this.
When’s it airing near me?
Reviews: First episode; third episode  

The Flash (US: The CW; UK: Sky 1)
1×18 – All Star Team Up
Felicity and Ray leave Arrow for another crossover with The Flash, in a much heralded but not especially exciting episode involving killer bees. While the character stuff is as fun as always, we get the joy of a returning Amanda Pays and there’s a nice Superman gag, the main plot suffers the usual problems (how can a character who can run at the speed of sound possibly be worried about bees?) and the Atom suit is about an uninspiring and unexciting as a supersuit can be. Iris also comes out of the whole episode badly. But the advancing of the series storyline about the Reverse Flash as usual redeems an otherwise lacklustre episode.
When’s it airing near me?
Reviews: First episode; third episode  

Game of Thrones (US: HBO; UK: Sky Atlantic)
5×1-5×4 – The Wars To Come, The House of White and Black, High Sparrow, The Sons of the Harpy
Yes, I binged. Shoot me. So the big deal in the first quarter of the season are a couple of the characters from King’s Landing heading over to join Danny on the other side of the sea after four years of her being by herself. Otherwise, it’s all some reasonably standard episodes that don’t rock the boat too much but play into existing plot structures and give us new pairings, as well as some unlikely meetings from previously separated characters who just happen to bump into one another. We also get Arya going all Kung Fu as Tom Wlaschiha from Crossing Lines makes a welcome return, events in the North take an exciting turn, and Stannis Baratheon reveals he might be a pretty good king, if it weren’t for the fire lady at his side. And you know, being Game of Thrones, there are a few deaths, too (or what looks like them, anyway). The Almighty Johnsons‘ Keisha Castle-Hughes turns up as one of the daughters of Indira Varma in episode 4.
When’s it airing near me?
Reviews: First episode; first season; second and third seasons  

Silicon Valley (US: HBO; UK: Sky Atlantic)
2×2 – Runaway Devaluation
Very funny as always but equally as pointed – weirdly, this is probably the most accurate TV show about the modern computing industry around. The writers are also doing a good job of doing a tour of business, showing how aspects of financing work. But still funny, I promise.
When’s it airing near me?
Reviews: First episode; third episode

Vikings (US: History; UK: Amazon Instant Video)
3×9 – Breaking Point
The siege of Paris starts to go a bit more history remembers, but events in Wessex get a bit soapier and sillier. But overall, mostly about religious choices for different characters, with some surprising results.
When’s it airing near me?
Reviews: Season one review

  • Mark Carroll

    We're still a little behind with Vikings. It's not grabbing me, but it's okay. I'm liking The Americans, which seems to be moving well and stuff is clearly soon to happen, but I think you're an episode ahead of me.

    The family still watch Grimm, Once Upon a Time, etc. I am not much sucked into those. Archer's still fun, though.

    Partly, I watched Banshee. I'm a good way into season two and enjoying it. It's more varied than Justified and, while rather silly and quite aware of that, remains quite entertaining.

    Of course, I watched all of Daredevil. My wife actually was more sucked in than I was, but I certainly liked it. I found it more engaging than the first season of Arrow, but I don't know why. The costume development toward the end was none too soon, though, people don't heal like new from every little thing. The surprise to me (and apparently not common) was to find myself rooting more for Wilson than Matt. The only fault, perhaps, was that the plot twists were largely clearly telegraphed; I recall only one surprise for me (a shooting death).

    Matt Berry seems to have had some peculiar short wildlife documentaries on lately.

  • JustStark

    The Hard Problem, via video link. Crushingly disappointing.

    When I heard about it I thought it would be brilliant and then it wasn't. Old, standard arguments, rehashed instead of drama. I almost think I'd rather have seen a revival of Hapgood. the guy in the Telegraph was right. Just watching it left my soul bruised.

  • Andy Butcher

    Loved Arrow – I think it's really hitting its stride this season. Worth watching for Ollie's reactions to Ray alone, but that was only a tiny part of the awesome this week.

    Was willing to forgive Flash the silliness as long as it was just a breather before the situation with Wells comes to a head.

    Really enjoyed SHIELD – second best episode of the season for me, mainly because May and Coulson remain my favourite characters, and I thought it was nice to tie in her 'origin' story with the Inhumans.

    Still enjoying iZombie, although I admit that I'm a little disturbed by how quickly it's settled into the procedural elements and am finding the development of the main plot rather slow.

    Tried American Crime, but its relentless grimness and sense of self-importance started to grate rather quickly. Not sure I can bring myself to keep watching, for all its obvious quality.

    The Messengers was decidedly not terrible. Will stick around for at least the next one to see where it goes, but only because the pilot managed to avoid pushing the religious aspects. If it starts turning into Christian propaganda, I'll be gone.

    I know you seem to have given up on it, and I am only halfway through the current season (have some catching up to do), but Person of Interest just keeps getting better and better. For such a mainstream show, it's been completely unafraid to keep ramping up the genre elements, and is rapidly becoming one of the best SF shows around, imho.

  • Andy Butcher

    I was certainly just as interested in Fisk's side of the origin story coin as in Matt's, but I don't think I actually found myself rooting for him. 🙂

  • Mark Carroll

    Interesting to hear that Person of Interest is improving; thanks for alerting us to the idea of giving it another try!

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  • Season 3 of Vikings has been a bit disappointing overall. It doesn't seem to have known what to do with the characters any more, so killed half of them,

    Glad you're enjoying Banshee, too. And actually, I found the costume arrival in Daredevil a bit too soon as I didn't like the final result!

  • I keep trying to watch Person of Interest every time a new season pops up on Netflix, but it's still never quite enough to grab. And, to be honest, the sci-fi innovations detract from it for me – I did like the 'computer POV' episode, but it all feels a bit silly against the general tone of the show.

    American Crime is very hard viewing. It's superb tele. Just really hard to watch.

  • Andy Butcher

    I wasn't hugely keen on the first iteration of the cossie – my main problem is the actual facemask part – but I'm hopeful that it is just a first iteration. 🙂

  • Andy Butcher

    Fair enough – I guess part of what I like about it is that the vast majority of mainstream shows would have just left the machine as a 'procedural generation device' and never really looked at the implications, whereas PoI has actually become all about those implications. As a genre geek, that's been making me very happy. 🙂

  • Gareth Williams

    I thought the Daredevil costume didn't look very good, but then I compared it to the Affleck one, and it seemed much better.

  • Gareth Williams

    Person of Interesrt has consistently been my most looked forward to show, since it's inception. It always does a good job of evolving and not stopping still.

  • GYAD

    OLYMPUS – The Greek Myths as reheated left-overs.

    MADAM SECRETARY – A Hillary Clinton warm-up act about geopolitics which lacks any actual foreign policy knowledge.

    THE GOSPEL OF JOHN – A well-made, faithful (ha-ha), almost transcendent adaption, albeit that I prefer the KJB.

    SAFE HOUSE – Surprisingly not-terrible for an ITV thriller.

    BALLOT MONKEYS – Funny-ish.

    NEWZOIDS – Not funny.

    THE GOLDBERGS – Incredibly un-funny.

    TATAU – A staggering work of puerile mediocrity.

  • Andy Butcher

    Glad it's not just me who likes it. 🙂

  • Glad I missed Tatau. It airs on BBC America in the US, but the BBC Three airing over here made me think it might be dreadfulness incarnate.

    Agreed re: Olympus/Madam Secretary, both of which are very tepid

  • It's a very hard costume to do right, outside of comics

  • When I do tune in for it, it seems fine and doing interesting things, but I just know those episodes are going to be interspersed with generic stuff. Plus I'm getting a bit tired of shows with mysterious cabals of conspirators – 12 Monkeys, State of Affairs, American Odyssey et al. YMMV

  • GYAD

    Dreadful indeed. It's actually a pretty neat idea but quickly dissolves into idiot Brits abroad.

    As for MS, I know I shouldn't be surprised but I'm still staggered by the lack of foreign knowledge in US TV drama.

  • You can tell they have as much foreign knowledge as they needed to understand the basics of whatever real-life incident they're modelling their fiction on – but no more than that

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