What have you been watching? Including Impastor, Glitch, Humans and Hannibal

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 that time again – August. Well, almost. Either way, I’m away on holiday for a good few weeks, which means I won’t be watching much tele.

That presents me with the opportunity to unveil a new holiday blog experiment: ‘Keeper or not’.

Essentially, ‘Keeper or not’ boils down to a single question: “When I get back from my holiday, am I invested enough in the show that I’ll try to catch up on the numerous weeks’ worth of episodes I’ll have missed, so that I can keep watching it?” And based on the answer to that question for each show, I’ll be keeping it or culling it from my viewing queue.

So after the jump, let’s play ‘Keeper or not’ with: Dark Matter, Glitch, Halt and Catch Fire, Humans, Impastor, The Last Ship, Mr Robot, Stitchers, Suits, True Detective, UnREAL, and The Whispers. Which shows will survive?

Shows I’m watching but not recommending

Dark Matter (Canada: Space; US: Syfy; UK: Syfy)
1×6 – Episode 6
Despite having promised to give up on Dark Matter last week, I was swayed by a précis of the episode into watching it. And actually, it was okay, as we go into the memories of some of the crew members to find out a bit about who they were before they joined the crew, with Roger Cross yet again a well intentioned revolutionary – typecast or what? Some of it was moderately interesting. It also explored a slightly subtle theme of the show that not knowing who you are gives you freedom to be whatever you want to be, although it robs you of motivation and direction, whereas the more you know, the more you’re locked into certain patterns of behaviour but at least you know what you want to do. But still more than a bit lukewarm.
Keeper or not: I’m going dark on this one
When’s it airing near me?
Reviews: First episode; third episode

Glitch (Australia: ABC)
Although Benjitek tells me that the series doesn’t really answer of the questions it’s been posing by the time episode six rolls round, I’m actually enjoying what it’s doing right now. After giving us an odd ending to episode 2, it’s clear that another point of divergence with other ‘back from the dead’ shows is that (spoiler alert) someone from either above or below wants the dead people back. That gives the series a slightly stronger narrative drive than others and the doctor’s experiments are also a novel addition to the series. I’m also interested enough by the individual back stories for all the characters that I want to find out more about them. All in all, shaping up to be the best of the Les Revenants/Returned/Resurrection et al crowd so far.
Keeper or not: It’ll keep coming back, whether I get rid of it or not
Reviews: First episode

Impastor (US: TV Land)
1×2 – On the third day
While not as funny as its first episode, episode two still managed to provoke a fair few titters and the splitting of the narrative between Buddy’s old life and new life stops the show becoming too episodic and fixated on goofs in the local community. The fact Buddy doesn’t automatically become a saint overnight also maintains a certain rigour for the show that’s the surprising, even though he’s clearly warming to it. The arrival of two more gay characters who both have the gay voice, rather than a diversity of voices, was a bit disappointing, though.
Keeper or not: The Lord verily sayeth yes.
When’s it airing near me?
Reviews: First episode

Stichers (US: ABC Family)
1×8 – Fire In The Hole
A fun episode that also filled in some background details about the characters and gave the youngsters a chance to act, even if some weren’t quite up to the challenge. Another episode, though, that demonstrated that the writers have literally no idea how clinical trials work and to be honest, although the show’s semi-fun, when I envision whether I’d actually go to the bother of playing catch-up when I get back, I can’t see me really caring enough to bother. Fine, in essence, to watch every week when nothing else is on, but not enough to inspire actual dedication to it.
Keeper or not: This once’s past stitching, I think
When’s it airing near me?
Reviews: First episode; third episode

UnREAL (US/UK: Lifetime)
1×8 – Two
Sometimes, a show where it’s hard to distinguish the meta from the text, with the show’s producers working out how they can get a second season and/or a spin-off. More soapy fun as well, but I think, like Stitchers, it’s been fun watching weekly, but I don’t really care enough to play catch-up when I get back.
Keeper or not: Cancelled
When’s it airing near me?
Reviews: First episode; fourth episode

The recommended list

Halt and Catch Fire (US: AMC; UK: Amazon Instant Video)
2×8 – Limbo
While there are very definite aspects of this that feel very 80s, parts are starting to feel quite 90s/00s, with the constant concerns about ‘online’, ‘community’, appropriation of IP, etc, feeling very much informed by the problems of now, rather than the issues of 1985. Character work is progressing apace and Skyler Astin (Ground Floor) is a nice addition as the über-Joe, but sad to see Gordon coming off the rails so much. But it still feels like the shoe has to drop thematically on the season, as everything still feels like a whole bunch of separate story threads orbiting around one another rather than integrating together.
Keeper or not: Setting the lock file bit to 1
When’s it airing near me?
Reviews: First episode; third episode

Hannibal (US: NBC; UK: Sky Living)
3×7 – Digestivo
And finally, we’re shot of Hannibal as we the initial arc of the season is solved, allowing us to head into Red Dragon unconstrained. Fittingly, it was something of a halfway house between the first and second halves of the season – the direction was tamed and more traditional of Hannibal, rather than the film school ‘style before substance’ of the previous episodes, and the plot actually went somewhere, but it was still laden by silliness. It was also largely plain old horror rather than ‘elegant horror’, with some truly gruesome moments. All the same, this felt like the show getting itself back on its feet, giving us some foreshadowing of Silence of the Lambs, while coming up with a suitably Hannibal-esque way for Hannibal to be captured, given Red Dragon‘s original method had already been used in the first season.
+ 3×8 – The Great Red Dragon
And we’re back in the room. Thank the gods for that. The show that I adored in the first season has finally returned, as all the good things about it are restored, including a Will Graham who’s actually not falling apart for a change. And, of course, we’re remaking Manhunter/Red Dragon, one of my favouritest films. So far, Richard Armitage is shaping up to be a great Francis Dolarhyde – shaping, being the operative word, given he’s not had many lines so far – and surprisingly, Hannibal has a clear visual debt to Brett Ratner’s terrible Red Dragon now. But it’s clearly it’s own thing and is covering details of the book neither movie had time to look it, as well as bringing its own, every creepy vision to it. Loving it again.
Keeper or not: You came here to look at me, Will. To get the old scent again, didn’t you?
When’s it airing near me?
Reviews: First episode; third episode

Humans (UK: Channel 4; US: AMC)
Everything starts to blur a bit, as bad guys might be good guys, humans might be synths and synths might be human. William Hurt’s slow rehabilitation through kindness of the embittered fembot is pleasing and although the episode has been full of sci-fi plot twists and turns, rather than the usual, more interesting explorations of empathy and consciousness, it all held together very well, with some strong acting from virtually all the cast. All the same, I’d have thought synths would be wanting to charge up at soon as they hit 20% if they’re anything like my iPhone.
Keeper or not: Unlikely to be returned to the store for a new model
When’s it airing near me?
Reviews: First episode; third episode

The Last Ship (US: TNT; UK: Sky1)
2×6 – Long Day’s Journey
After all that non-stop action, I guess it was time to have a little stop. Even so, plenty of thrills and spills this episode and once again, the show goes in unexpected directions as quickly as it possibly can, presenting an interesting quandary for our patriotic heroes that’s mirrors Battlestar Galactica’s – except if Baltar had been president in season 1, not Roslin. Nice, also, that there was a little satire from our Eurotrash villains of America and American ways. Keeper or not: Aye, aye, Captain.
When’s it airing near me?
Reviews: First episode Third episode

Mr Robot (US: USA Network)
1×5 – eps1.4_3xpl0its.wmv
Hmm. The first episode that made me think that the show is definitely collapsing into the ‘it’s all true’ stupid wave function, rather than the hallucination, truly brilliant wave function. There’s still wiggle room, but it all feels like it might be heading into silly terrain, and there needs to be a bit more grounding of the characters, if that’s the case. All the same, bonus points for the use of Tangerine Dream’s ‘Love on a Real Train’ from Risky Business.
Keeper or not: Being uploaded to a data centre backup outside the local floodplain to ensure I don’t miss anything  
When’s it airing near me?
Review: First episode  

Suits (US: USA Network; UK: Dave)
5×5 – Toe To Toe
The return of Eric Close was welcome and Jessica’s politicking was great, but more of Harvey falling apart and more of Louis acting like an idiot makes me think I should use the holiday break to finally get rid of this, since I’m getting tired of it all.
Keeper or not: Case dismissed
When’s it airing near me?
Reviews: First episode; third episode

True Detective (US: HBO; UK: Sky Atlantic)
2×5 – Other Lives
As predicted, the season made a radical change of direction, leaping us forward in time and rearranging all the characters. It’s also finally giving us some answers about the crime. However, that’s not quite enough for me and I don’t care enough about the characters or the crime to see what happens next.
Keeper or not: Time to hand in my badge for the season
When’s it airing near me?
Reviews: First episode; third episode

The Whispers (US: ABC)
1×8 – A Hollow Man
More puzzles are thrown our way and we learn the aliens’ motivations. Everything’s getting a bit more implausible, with Minx turning out to be a lying Minx indeed, and the idea of the bloke hiding in his house away from the electricity for a few decades doesn’t really wash. Creepy enough, too, although I can’t help but feel this is heading towards “all will be revealed in season 2” territory. But I do still want to find out what happens.
Keeper or not: What’s that, Sooty? You’ll be tuning in for the next episodes with your magic wand?
When’s it airing near me?
Review: First episode; third episode


  • 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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