What have you been watching? Including Blackhat, 800 Words, Y Gwyll, Doctor Who and Continuum

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.

And relax. It’s here. The Fall 2015-16 season is here. And I’ve got covered.

Elsewhere, I’ve reviewed all of this week’s new programmes in glorious detail:

Wow. Ain’t that a lot? I’m actually impressed with myself there. I’m about to be even more impressed: after the jump, I’ll be reviewing all this week’s regulars, too: 800 Words, The Bastard Executioner, Continuum, Doctor Who, Y Gwyll and You’re The Worst.

But before I even get to those, I even found the time to watch a movie. It’s like I just fed 5,000 people with some cod in breadcrumbs, isn’t it?

Blackhat (2015) (iTunes)
Although to be honest, I wish I hadn’t. I love Michael Mann. Chris Hemsworth is great in Thor. But Michael Mann directing a movie about hacking in which Chris Hemsworth is the main hacker? Oh dear.

Still, that’s not the most oh dear thing about Blackhat – that would be the fact it’s basically a Chinese co-production in which Hemsworth and Mann are almost hitchhikers, tagging along for the ride. The plot is that the two Chinese leads (Leehom Wang, Wei Tang) who work for the benevolent Chinese police come over to the US after one of their power stations blows up to find out what they can from the man who engineered the malware that caused it: Wang’s former college roommate Hemsworth. He then has to track down criminals who may be almost anywhere in the world, with any target and any aim.

Mann does his best to both understand computer crime and make it interesting, but he’s no Sam Esmail and this is no Mr Robot. Without sufficient purchase on the material, Mann just goes through the motions. There’s a perfunctory romance between Tang and Hemsworth for no good reason. The merry band just fly from SE Asian country to country on sightseeing tours, turning up in the middle of beautiful looking locations for no genuinely good reason. And the story eventually sort of ends, not like Heat but like that episode of The Wire in which Omar gets attacked in prison. You barely know the film’s finished.

It looks beautiful, of course, given Mann’s presence. But it’s soporific, mildly propagandist, doesn’t know its material and almost never manages to excite.

Shows I’m watching but not recommending

800 Words (Australia: Seven)
In which our hero comes a cropper from the fact that the whole of the town have access to the Internet and can read his Sydney newspaper column, causing all sorts of problems for his kids at their new school, too. Mainly interesting to see how Australian-New Zealand antagonism can manifest, but the show does solidify its foundation, give our hero something to do in town, and flesh out the supporting characters, particularly his daughter.
Reviews: First episode

The Bastard Executioner (US: FX)
1×3 – Effigy/Delw
In which our hero has to torture and then execute a teenage girl. Oh dear. As this is episode three, I’d normally be giving it over to The Barrometer to review, but I can’t be bothered. It’s an incomprehensible, heinously historically inaccurate show that loves gore and can’t maintain focus for a second. Who knows what, belongs to which nationality or religion, and even sexual orientation change at the show’s whim: one moment that Stephen Moyer is having backdoor fun with a bloke in a corridor, the next he’s having a threesome with twin sisters while playing guiltily with his crucifix.

And for some reason, Katey Sagal’s Jewish witch via seemingly Russia now, judging by her accent, is being given even more to do and may be pagan. Or something. 

Such is the inaccuracy of the show that Sagal’s character even quotes chapter and verse… from the Quran.

So I’m out. Even though they actually managed to find a few people with Welsh accents this week.
Where can I watch it?
Reviews: Episodes 1 and 2

The recommended list

Continuum (Canada: Showcase; UK: SyFy)
4×3 – Power Hour
In which another regular dies. The show is now starting to become too wrapped up in its own cleverness and timelines to actually work how who’s doing what and why. Still halfway to the end now so no point giving up now!
Reviews: First episodethird episode

Doctor Who (UK: BBC; US: BBC America)
9×1 – The Magician’s Apprentice
In which another regular un-dies. The show is now starting to become too wrapped up in its own cleverness and timelines to actually work how who’s doing what and why. But as a bit of fan fiction it was quite fun and the best season opener in quite some time. My poor wife, bless her, had no idea what was going on, though, as she’d failed to memorise the entire script of Genesis of the Daleks for some reason.
Where can I watch it?

Y Gwyll/Hinterland (UK: S4C)
Turned out it was a two-parter. As an episode, felt more like a re-establishment of the show, with DI Tom being asked to shape up or ship out and deciding to shape up. Cue shiny sunshine to replace miserable Welsh gloom. It’ll be next week to see how that works out, but this week’s worked out well enough, although the cops were a right bunch of chocolate teapots in that fight scene. Some great acting all round to compensate.
When’s it airing near me?
Reviews: First episodefirst series

You’re The Worst (US: FXX)
2×3 – I was born dead
So many levels of delightful wrongness, as Gretchen organises a party to try to reconnect with her friends and discovers that they’re now at a place where copious cocaine, smoking, drinking and nights on the town aren’t quite their thing. Meanwhile, Jimmy discovers (for an evening at least) that friends aren’t quite the worst thing in the world. As always, despite the constant exaggerations, it all feels very true, and despite the constant wrongness, all feels very warm.
When’s it airing near me?
Review: First 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.