What have you been watching? Including Wayward Pines, Community, Forever and American Odyssey

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.

Summer’s approaching fast now – although judging by the weather, not in the UK – but it’s not here yet, which means the only new show I’ve had the option of reviewing has been Your Family Or Mine. I might have to start watching some UK TV again. Oh dear.

It also means that after the jump, I’ll be looking at another season finale, as well as the last few remaining episodes of a whole bunch of shows. So brace yourself for my thoughts on the latest instalments of American Crime, American Odyssey, Arrow, The Blacklist, Community, The Flash, Forever, Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD and Silicon Valley. One of those is for the chop from my viewing list, one of those has had the chop from its network’s viewing list, one of them’s still on the bubble and the rest look set to return for another season at least. I’ll leave you to work out which is which.

But I’ll also have a look over another episode of Wayward Pines. I know you’re looking forward to that, too.

Shows that I’ve been watching but not really recommending  

American Odyssey (US: NBC; UK: BBC Two, to air this month)
1×5 – Beat Feet
And I give up. Well, I gave up ten minutes into this as we continue to have Anna Friel running around between captors, rather than doing anything. The only thing that kept me going for most of those 10 minutes was Grégory Fitoussi, but even he wasn’t enough. All in all, an overstretched conspiracy theory show with a bunch of hapless, dull investigators without much agency, enlivened purely by a multinational gloss to the whole thing that makes it look better than it actually is.
When’s it airing near me?
Review: First episode; third episode

The Blacklist (US: NBC; UK: Sky Living)
2×21 – Karakurt
Abject tedium and ludicrousness for the first half followed by some surprisingly smart plotting in the second half. Worth sticking around for the season finale, I reckon, but I’m still not planning on sticking around for season three, unless they pull some epic rabbits out of hats soon.
When’s it airing near me?
Reviews: First episode; third episode

Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD (US: ABC; UK: Channel 4)
2×20 – Scars
A return to the SHIELD of old, more Avengers tie-ins plus a slight thematic set-up for Captain America: Civil War still can’t stop this from being deathly dull. The producers need to realise that in-fighting every episode + double-crosses every five minutes ≠ good drama.
When’s it airing near me?
Review: First episode, Third episode

Wayward Pines (US: Fox; UK: Fox International, to air 14 May)1×2 – Do Not Discuss Your Life Before
The second episode had far more of a The Prisoner feel, with The Village Town’s newest inhabitant trying to escape, getting more info from residents and trying his best not to be unmutual. There’s a big surprise at the end of the episode, but it’s still quite silly and it’s all too much silliness overall for me to want to stick with it for a third episode.
When’s it airing near me?
Review: First episode

The recommended list

American Crime (US: ABC)
1×10
More misery and lives falling apart, but the clear message of the episode is that you might find light at the end of the tunnel, provided you can get as far away as possible from the American legal justice system.
When’s it airing near me?
Review: First episode; third episode

Arrow (US: The CW; UK: Sky1)
3×22 – This Is Your Sword
Although there have been terrible episodes of Arrow in the past, this probably qualifies as the worst ever episode – yes, even worse than Geoff Johns’ efforts – with astonishing ineptitude in every department, from terrible direction and fight choreography to eye-wateringly bad dialogue, epic padding, ridiculous plot twists and a mind-numbing lack of either internal consistency or just plain old logic.
When’s it airing near me?
Reviews: First episode; third episode

Community (US: Yahoo; UK: Sony Entertainment Television)
6×9 – Grifting 101
An episode that felt a lot more like classic Community, with Matt Berry following fellow IT Crowder Richard Ayoade over to the US to play a professor of grifting, whom Jeff and the others must out-grift, in a tribute to The Sting. It didn’t quite have the hallmarks of the best Community episodes, but at least it didn’t feel like the show was going through the motions, as it has done of late, and Berry was entertaining at least.
When’s it airing near me?
Reviews: First episode; third episode  

The Flash (US: The CW; UK: Sky 1)
1×21 – Grodd Lives
Yes, Grodd, the giant, telepathic gorilla is here at last. Despite that, not the best of episodes with Iris being a dick a lot of the time, and all kinds of stupid filtering through (spoiler: how exactly can Grodd withstand a supersonic punch? And how exactly can Barry administer his supersonic punch underground in some twisty windy sewers?).
When’s it airing near me?
Reviews: First episode; third episode  

Forever (US: ABC; UK: Sky1)
1×22 – The Last Death of Henry Morgan
A surprisingly good ending to the season that also serves well as a series finale, with Ioan having the inevitable face-off with Burn Gorman. Turns out my theory as to who Burn was was slightly wrong but actually the revelation of his identity was probably more interesting. Surprisingly nasty and imaginative in its final conclusion to the story, it’s now been promoted to recommended for the series as a whole, even if it probably should have been a far less padded 13 episodes instead of 22.
When’s it airing near me?
Reviews: First episode; Third episode

Silicon Valley (US: HBO; UK: Sky Atlantic)
2×4 – The Lady
And the show adds a female programmer to its cast in just about the best way possible, while still managing to satirise its own lack of women as well as Silicon Valley’s problem in this department. Not quite as funny as previous episodes, however, although the Huli plot thread is spot on.
When’s it airing near me?
Reviews: First episode; third episode




  • Andy Butcher

    Fortunately it looks like I'm going to be saved from having to watch any UK TV by how much stuff I still have to catch up on. Did manage to watch a few of my regulars, though:
    * The Flash – Definitely had the best week of the three superhero shows. When there was the shot of Grodd's cage in the pilot, I assumed it was just an easter egg for fans. There's no way, I thought, that they'd even try to deal with a giant hyper-intelligent telepathic gorilla on a TV show, and one set in the same universe as Arrow to boot. That would be crazy, I thought.

    But damn, they actually pulled it off pretty well.

    Have to disagree with you about Iris, just this once – for perhaps the first time in the whole season, I not only liked her for most of this episode, but they actually found a way for her to be useful.

    As I mentioned last week, I am happily willing to suspend my disbelief while watching The Flash, so questions like the very fair and valid ones you mention don't really bother me at all. It wouldn't occur to me to question it if I was reading a Flash comic, so it doesn't really occur to me to question it when watching the show. Barry can do what he does because he is the Flash, and literally laughs in the face of physics, and Grodd can do what he does because he's a 5,000lb hyper-intelligent telepathic gorilla. 🙂

    Not a perfect episode by any means, and the whole thing did feel too much like what it actually was – a distraction from the showdown between Barry and Wells. Didn't do itself any favours by having characters point that out to the audience, either. But overall, I still thoroughly enjoyed it, and am already searching the internet for somewhere selling a GRODD HATE BANANA T-shirt… 🙂

    * Arrow – Was definitely weak. Like the previous episode, it was a mix of good and bad, but the good bits were fewer and further between, and the bad bits were, well, badder.

    The whole structure of the episode, in terms of when the audience and various characters learn about various things, seemed fundamentally dumb, sucking tension and drama out rather than building it up, which was a real shame after what I felt was a fairly decent effort last episode to make you worry about the actual state of mind of certain characters. Also rather annoyed that the overall plotting is forcing Nyssa to remain uncharacteristically passive.

    What can I say, though? This is still the season that's made me realise that I am an Arrow fanboy, so I still enjoyed bits of it (the Tatsu/Maseo confrontation – and its resolution – in particular) and I'm still really looking forward to the finale next week.

    * Agents of SHIELD – Similar story, in that I agree that it wasn't great, but enjoyed it more than you apparently did. I think it was mainly Cal that saved it for me, as MacLachlan was having a whale of a time and got some great lines, plus the strong indication that we might finally get to see his alter ego in the finale was exciting for my inner teenage comic geek. 🙂

    * Person of Interest – Just wanted to mention it again because the episode I just saw really stood out. Twisted the usual format of the show and made a pretty effective stab at trying to take the audience into the mind of the machine and see how it thinks. It was kind of a logical extension of the 'seeing through the eyes of the machine' thing that the show has always used as a framing device, and I really enjoyed it, despite it also seeing the departure of one of my favourite characters.

    (I'm behind on PoI as I watch it with some friends – this was 'If-Then-Else', the 11th episode of the current season.)

    * The Messengers – Came very close to watching something else when I saw the main credit sequence for the first time, and by the end of the episode I was kinda annoyed I didn't. Don't think I'll be returning.

  • Mark Carroll

    Ah, another Blacklist to watch, I'll have to find that. And, with Matt Berry and Richard Ayoade, you may well tempt me back for another episode of Community.

    I finally caught up with Banshee. I rather liked the third season. It holds my attention and keeps tempting me into watching the next. It's generally well- and thoughtfully-made. While deeply silly, it manages it in a way that isn't grating. It is also amusing to see the horrific indignities that characters may suffer.

    We started In Treatment. I worried that at least some of us would prefer watching paint dry, but it turns out that the whole family loves it, even my son who if he's tired when Gotham's on wanders off to bed instead. My daughter's off at scouts at the moment, and wants us to wait to watch it until she's back home.

    There hasn't been much to watch domestically. Jools' Holland's show's been more hit than miss for me than usual, which is nice, though at one point I looked up when The Charlatans were playing and for a moment thought the lead guy was Robert Webb doing a parody. (Mind you, it's hard to forget his Flashdance.)

  • Mark Carroll

    Ha, yes, I concede that was a fairly good episode of Community.

  • Gareth Williams

    Community -I must be the only person who was disappointed with that episode. It was great to see Matt Berry, but apart from the Sting artwork there was very little else I liked.

    Blacklist -a very disappointing second series. I'd have bailed on it if this was what the first series was like but I'll give the first couple of episodes of the next a chance to reprieve itself.

    Game of Thrones -I'm giving serious consideration to ditching this. I am willing to concede that this might be a failing on my part, rather than the series, but I have no bloody idea what is going on. I never rewatch drama series and of course there are no recaps…

  • Mark Carroll

    Huh, that's interesting, Game of Thrones is one of the shows I do remember reasonably. I do concede that Community wasn't so good that I plan to watch the next.

  • aylwardreed

    One comment for me:
    Agents of SHIELD is getting ditched. I tried harder than I have with any show ever to stick with it. Mostly it was my hope for some good Avengers inspired plot that kept me going but this episode was tedium and didn't have a spike in quality like last year after Winter Soldier.
    Going to watch the last two this season but after that is bye bye. And to be honest, good riddance. A waste of good potential.

  • Andy Butcher

    Sounds like it might be worth me digging into Banshee, especially if the summer is slow. 🙂

  • Good choice, Sir! If you've managed to get through the ultra-violence of Daredevil, you should be able to deal with Banshee. I'd say the first and third seasons are the best, with season 2 a sort of retread of season 1 that only comes together thematically at the end, but still worth digging into, too.

    The Banshee tag has all the coverage: http://www.the-medium-is-not-e

    Review of the first two episodes here: http://www.the-medium-is-not-e

  • Yes, pulling off Grodd (ooh, er) was a pretty impressive feat. However, Iris spent the whole time saying everything was Barry's fault (someone kidnapped by a time traveller from the future: Barry's fault; someone doing his job: Barry's fault…). As for what Barry can do, I don't mind it being nonsensical – I just would like it to be internally consistent. If they say Barry needs to have a straight run in order to get up to supersonic speed, don't have him running down some twisty sewers the next moment. And don't then have a gorilla be able to spot him coming and block the punch!

    Re Arrow: forgot to mention it, but that episode was at least good because we finally saw Tatsuo turn into Katana (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K…. No word yet if her sword is haunted, though.

    POI: If-Then-Else was actually pretty good: http://www.the-medium-is-not-e

    Agreed re: Messengers

  • Good luck with In Treatment – I think the third season was the only one I managed to find the time to watch all the way through, even though it's brilliant, obviously. Just too many episodes to commit to once I got behind.

  • Andy Butcher

    I'm pretty certain I watched the first couple when it started, enjoyed them, but had too much else to watch at the time. Will let you know how I get on with it. 🙂

  • No recaps on GoT? There are when I watch it… All the same, I take your point, and it does feel like there's been a whole extra season in there of getting to the point that wasn't needed. Still, I'm sticking with to the end now, I think.

    I probably won't be with Blacklist, though.

  • Yep. Pretty much my thoughts.

  • I think the third episode, Meet The New Boss, is the first one where it's obvious that the show is going to be a keeper. http://www.the-medium-is-not-e

  • Andy Butcher

    Ah, sorry, I must have missed that mini-review of PoI. The start of the year was a bit frantic on the work side.

  • Mark Carroll

    Yes, the show might become a non-trivial fraction of the DVDs we rent this year!

  • GYAD

    BUGSPLAT! – Not only unfunny but practically propaganda for our enemies (although too decadent to realise it).

    WILD BOYS – Tepid Aussie Western with heroes who try too hard to be nice blokes to be convincing as outlaws.

    FLIGHT OF THE CONCHORDS – Never seen it before; gently amusing.

    THE GAME – Posturing drama school queens and man-children cosplaying “Tinker, Tailer, Soldier, Spy” for morons.

  • Gareth Williams

    You have recaps?! I don't think any HBO shows do.

  • Mark Carroll

    I liked Flight of the Conchords. I am actually minded to re-watch it someday. The songs can be quite something.

  • Mark Carroll

    Huh, this latest GoT had a recap of past scenes for me right before it launched into the excellent title sequence.

  • Well…

  • Glad I skipped The Game then

  • Gareth Williams

    What are you watching it on? There's definitely no recaps on Sky Atlantic. I don't remember recaps on any HBO show, on any channel. Not on Broadwalk on Sky, Not on The Wire on BBC and not on The Sopranos on Channel 4.

  • I watch them using my usual methods. HBO has always had the “previously on”, but Sky Atlantic has been variable in its usage of them. It certainly did once upon a time:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/cul

    And last week's episode had them, too, according to the Metro

    http://metro.co.uk/2015/05/05/

    So I don't know what's going on there.

  • Gareth Williams

    This thread https://m.reddit.com/r/asoiaf/… seems to suggest that HBO does, but HBO GO does not. I can only presume that Sky are sent the 'box set edits.'

    I think Sky made their own 'previously ons' at one point (and I think they only did it for two weeks) as they had some disclaimer about the pictures being owned by HBO on the screen.

  • GYAD

    You dodged a bullet.