What have you been watching? Including You, Me and the Apocalypse, Limitless, The Muppets, Scream Queens, Doctor Who and Y Gwyll

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.

I always forget. I always go “Look how much I’ve done!” in the first week of each new Fall season, then forget that in the second week I’ve got to watch all the new programmes that start airing that week as well as the ones that began the previous week.

My, what a lot of tele I’ve watched this week.

Still, unbelievably, I’m actually up to date. This week, I reviewed the first episodes of the following new shows:

And after the jump, you’ll find reviews of the latest episodes of: 800 Words, Blindspot, Continuum, Doctor Who, Heroes Reborn, Life in Pieces, Limitless, Minority Report, The Muppets, The Player, Rosewood, Scream Queens, Y Gwyll and You’re The Worst. Some of them won’t be making it to a third-episode verdict, particularly since the Barrometer is currently in a tanning salon somewhere in the Gorbals so too busy to pass judgement on anything, but you can find out which after the jump.

On top of all that, I also managed to watch the first episode of another new show, this time from the UK.

You, Me and The Apocalypse (UK: Sky1; US: NBC)
As with most US/UK co-productions, particularly those involving Sky, this is a lukewarm affair that satisfies no-one, perhaps best evidenced by the change in the show’s title from Apocalypse Slough. It sees a comet approaching the Earth, meaning that everyone goes a bit whacky at the prospect of the coming Apocalypse that will result when it hits. However, the action of the first episode is all set in the lead-up to the lead-up to the comet, introducing us to several different groups of people from around the world who are going to all end up together at some point. These include Mathew Baynton, Joel Fry (Plebs), Pauline Quirke (Birds of a Feather), Rob Lowe (like you need to know who he is), Paterson Joseph (Peep Show), Jenna Fischer (The Office US) and an almost unrecognisable Megan Mullally (Will and Grace). Unfortunately, it’s all a bit weak and pathetic, not really knowing who its audience is, despite the occasional choice joke. The only exception to this is Rob Lowe’s bad minded Catholic priest who is the Vatican’s Devil’s Advocate. Otherwise, eminently missable.

But if you think after all that I had any time to watch any movies or go to the theatre, you have a higher opinion of me than I do.

Shows I’m watching but not recommending

800 Words (Australia: Seven)
The usual mix of mild, character-based comedy and touching musings on bereavement, with the Kiwi townsfolk yet again coming to a bad conclusion about the  Australians among them, bullying them for most of the episode, only to be put straight by our journalist in a moving speech at the end. To be fair, it all works (again), but I’m not sure how many more times the show can pull it off. All the same, despite its obvious manipulativeness, it’s still enjoyable, so I’m going to keep watching it.
Reviews: First episode

Blindspot (US: NBC; UK: Sky Living)
1×2 – A Stray Howl
A definite improvement on the incoherent first episode, with the show bravely hinting already at the secrets of Lady Sif’s tattoos (spoiler alert?) a former childhood friend of Sullivan Stapleton, she’s been trained as a secret agent by a secret group since she was abducted as a child, but now wants to have a normalish life, perhaps with Stapleton. The only way they’ll let her is to wipe her memories and to have her trainer keep an eye on her, while she continues to help them now unwittingly through all the clues left in her tattoos. It’s still all a bit joyless, with Lady Sif personality-less and memory-less and Stapleton full of angsty guilt because of his memories, but it is still finding a way to prove of interest.
Where can I watch it?
Reviews: First episode

Heroes Reborn (US: NBC)
1×3 – Under The Mask
And I think I’m out. I stuck with Heroes to the very end, but I’m quitting while the going’s good on this, even before the cameos from the original cast show up. To its credit, although lots of it is retread from the original series, it is doing some imaginative things, with some interesting super powers. All the same, narratively, it’s a mess and I just don’t care about any of the joyless, weird-arse, unrelatable characters. Someone let me know if Ali Larter makes an appearance, will you?
Where can I watch it?
Reviews: First two episodes

Life In Pieces
1×2 – Interruptus Date Breast Movin’
Slightly more amusing than the first episode, this sees the show already shaking up the formula a little. Rather than having each of the groups of the family stick with their own sub-group, the four stories mix and match as they see fit. Again, it’s basically a way of coming up with funnies without having to bother with linking narrative, but this time it worked. A bit. Thomas Sadoski and Angelique Cabral (Enlisted) show the rest of the cast how to be funny in their stories, as did guest star Rhys Darby; Sadoski and Cabral’s story was also quite romantic. But the rest of the time, Life in Pieces is just too short of true depth to be anything but a poor sketch show masquerading as a sitcom.
Where can I watch it?
Reviews: First episode

Limitless (US: CBS)
1×2 – Badge! Gun!
And the reason for Jake McDorman’s casting become clear. After trying to be Intelligence, Scorpion et al in the first week, this week Limitless took it upon itself to become a comedy. Admittedly, that comedy is Chuck, but that wasn’t where it looked like it was going in the first episode. Also admittedly, it’s now a better Chuck than Chuck, which always erred for the silly and self-parodying when it shouldn’t have. Although there’s still now a lot of slackerness that’s still specifically male, I think it still would have been a better show with Jennifer Carpenter as the lead, particularly given how well she did in the opening scene. 
Where can I watch it?
Reviews: First episode

Minority Report (US: Fox)
1×2 – My Nice Guy
And I’m out. Despite a snoozy pilot episode mired in the Amblin Entertainment school of family sci-fi (it’s the future, kids, but exactly as you know it, just with better special effects), there were enough hints at imagination in there that I thought I’d stick with this for another episode at least, particularly to see if the triplets might get up to anything interesting together. They didn’t. Bored, bored, bored. 
Where can I watch it?
Reviews: First episode

The Muppets (US: ABC; UK: Sky1)
1×2 – Hostile Makeover
The more the show edges away from the edgy new mockumentary-style format, in which it tries to give the Muppets deeper, more adult motivation for everything, and returns to the traditional 70s/80s Jim Henson-style Muppets, the funnier it gets. Apart from a few cringe-worthy deviations thanks to Fozzie and Jay Leno, this was a lot funnier than the horrific first episode and at times simply felt like a single-camera version of The Muppet Show. I’ll be hanging around for the third episode, at least.
Where can I watch it?
Reviews: First episode

Rosewood (US: Fox)
1×2 – Fireflies and Fidelity
Almost unbearably bad, even without the singing. While Rosewood as a character is almost inspiring, the show is bereft of brain cells and makes you wish for Miami to be flooded and swept away, even without Rosewood’s familial assistants serenading each other. I’m out.
Where can I watch it?
Reviews: First episode

Scream Queens (US: Fox; UK: E4)
1×3 – Chainsaw
Not quite as funny as the first episode and the shock of the attitudes and language is starting to wear off, but still a very entertaining hour, particularly thanks to Glen Powell and Emma Roberts’ characters. But my problem with the show is a simple one: I don’t like horror movies, not even parodies of ones. So as enjoyable as the comedic side of the show is, I’m finding the horrific side of it is putting me off. 
Where can I watch it?
Reviews: First two episodes

The Player (US: NBC)
1×2 – Ante Up
A slightly less fun second episode, but the show’s producers are already pushing its boundaries and trying to avoid settling into a rut. Some incredibly good aerial stunts, a proper good fire fight and Wesley Snipes getting to show off his prodigious martial arts skills mean that this is also the very first NBC action show in quite some time that’s actually worthy of the name. 
Where can I watch it?
Reviews: First episode

The recommended list

Continuum (Canada: Showcase; UK: SyFy)
4×4 – Zero Hour
Wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff that’s taking us towards the end of the series’ story. I’d have hoped they were going to be more innovative in their final few episodes but although there are some good ideas floating around, largely it’s all being lost in the rush to the end of the series. I think part of the problem is that the producers really weren’t lying when they said they had seven seasons of story worked out. The problem is they now need to get four seasons of story into six episodes and it’s just not working, except to get us through the plot as efficiently as possible. But it was nice to see the (spoiler alert) two Alecs together.
Reviews: First episodethird episode

Doctor Who (UK: BBC; US: BBC America)
9×2 – The Witch’s Familiar
Probably the first decent Dalek story that Steven Moffat’s done, but that’s a low bar, with the whole two-parter existing more or less because it feels it has to, rather than because there’s any logic driving events. I also have to wonder exactly how much regeneration energy the Doctor gave away to regenerate an entire planet’s worth of Daleks, too.
Where can I watch it?

Y Gwyll/Hinterland (UK: S4C)
So much for saying goodbye to the gloom, with DCI Tom moping around even more than he was doing before. Nice to let a couple of the other cops do something for a change, but as an episode, it’s precisely what I would have imagined before watching the show if someone had said to me, “Hey, did you know S4C are doing a cop drama?”, with our heroes driving from farm to farm like the telephone had never been invented.
When’s it airing near me?
Reviews: First episodefirst series

You’re The Worst (US: FXX)
2×4 – All About That Paper
A bleak and unexpected ending to a relatively normal episode, if any episode of You’re The Worst can be called normal, the highlight being Gretchen’s band’s break-up. 
When’s it airing near me?
Review: First episode

  • benjitek

    Blindspot did get a little better…

    My favorite so far has been the 3rd season's opening episode of Bron/Broen…

  • Gareth Williams

    I watched the new Daily Show, and it's not very good.

    I like Trevor Noah, a lot, he's a funny stand up, and intelligent and witty off stage which is why I don't understand why the new show is exactly the same as the old one. The writing is the same, and of course it's the same writers, but the jokes, and structures of the segments are the identical.

    I doubt it will surprise anyone that Noah isn't as good at being Jon Stewart as Stewart himself, so why hasn't the programme been freshened up at all? I'm sure they'll say that the show needs time to evolve and find its own voice, and the host might not have enough experience to take on the network and do the show he wants to do, which perhaps Amy Schumer might've.

  • Mark Carroll

    Yeah, “Doctor Who” respects the backstory well, I think, but narratively it just didn't make a whole lot of sense to me. It's well-made and entertaining to watch, but (as too often) the plot felt more lazy than clever or real, and Clara and Missy's behavior seemed more to serve the plot than to be driven by their characters. There were some nice touches though and nothing as distractingly irritatingly stupid as sometimes appears: not anywhere near the worst story, but also not anywhere near the best.

    Overall it's been an uninspiring week. Some things I've mentioned before just don't change from week to week so I'll skip those, and some I've probably just forgotten as being really fairly unremarkable. For instance, the family watched “Once Upon a Time”, and I was pretty sure I did too, but I had to ask the children to be sure I really had, it made so little impression on me at all. My daughter even seems to remember a couple of things that happened though that do bring back memories so I suppose I must have looked at the screen at the time.

    It sounds like it's good that I gave up on “Continuum” when I did. (After even just the first season perhaps?) Though, it had potential and I'm typically happy to watch science fiction and Tony Amendola.

    “Gotham” is remaining on-form. That's another “more of the same” (though the arc does progress) but good enough to actually merit a mention. I wouldn't watch it if it were just me, but when it's on I do actually pay attention without regret; it's well-made and isn't damaged by the intrinsic corniness. That and the first season of “Daredevil” have for me been the best recent superhero shows.

    (Book-wise, I've discovered Geert Mak's tours of Europe and America, which are slow-going but agreeable and ongoingly interesting for social history.)

    We're still happy to watch “You're the Worst”, we're making good progress through the first season and both liking it. I might get fewer laughs per episode at this point, but it certainly remains worthwhile.

    I'd thought about giving up “The Blacklist” toward the end of last season as it seemed to be veering away from the fairly successful criminal of the week into what for me wasn't working as well. Similarly, I like “Grimm” less since veering away from monster of the week, and I felt that the Xindi arc killed “Enterprise” prematurely. But, this season premiere was at least as strong as the previous finale: even still some distance from criminal of the week I'll stick with it to see where it goes.

    We saw a BBC documentary on the aptly named “Operation Jericho” wherein a fellow recreates the WW2 flight of an RAF mission to break done some prison walls and kill some Nazis in some French town and discussed the motives for the mission. It had various interesting aspects but wasn't wholly satisfying: the recreation of the flight seemed a distraction brought in by the presenter's pilot's licence and, while the trailer was an interesting summary, the actual show added little to it for me beyond that it turns out that Mosquitos were made of balsa wood and were fast and agile. For instance, for some reason we thought it might help to understand the mission if we drove to from where the airplanes took off, which was a nice enough trip but I'm not sure was ever likely to provide many answers. It unfortunately turns out that we still know so little that the filler of the flight recreation and visiting where the airplanes were made and whatnot were probably needed to fill up the hour. Apart from the surprise that actually the mission is still as mysterious as it first seemed, the documentary was also rather predictable: for instance, at the end we find out that a major pilot we chatted plenty about was killed, but given that early on we'd intervieweed his elderly “fiancee” it wasn't hard to see that one coming.

  • JustStark

    The blurb for You, Me and the Apocalypse said it was a comedy drama but they seem to have left out most of the comedy. And all the drama. I think I chuckled once at something Rob Lowe said, and it wasn't even that funny.

    It was nice the way at the end of Doctor Who it seemed like the Doctor had fallen into Davros's trap, only for it to turn out that in fact Davros had been falling into the Doctor's trap all along. That's such a good idea it's amazing it has never been done before.

    Watched the first episode of the new Dangermouse, which was an odd experience. DM looks right, but he sounds wrong. I think this must be how those people who get brain damage so they can recognise their friends and family but don't get the emotional connection to them so they become convinced that everyone they know has been replaced with a perfect imposter who is plotting to kill them feel.

    Also I didn't think it was as funny as the old series but maybe that is the memory cheating and it was never actually that funny.

    I forgot to mention, also during August I watched Martha, Met Frank, Daniel and Lawrence. It was quite good although not quite enough to distract from the sheer stupendous ninetiesness of the male cast.

    I watched an episode of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver and really I didn't get what the fuss is about. The jokes weren't that funny, the constant mugging to the audience is just wrong (SATIRE IS SUPPOSED TO BE DEADPAN THAT IS NOT NEGOTIABLE) and the politics were horrendously oversimplified to the point of being actively misleading.

    And apart from that I spent far too much time finishing Fortitude, which I didn't think was that bad.

  • Mark Carroll

    Original Danger Mouse was indeed quite wittily written.

    It hadn't occurred to me that the Doctor planned the sewer thing, I thought he was just quick to figure out what was happening. (Thus, that was one of the pieces of luck I had in mind.)

  • JustStark

    Oh. But that means that rather than the Doctor outsmarting Davros, the Doctor was outsmarted by Davros and things only turned out okay because Davros's plan was fundamentally stupid.

    Which is not exactly how Doctor Who stories are supposed to turn out, is it? The Doctor is supposed to outsmart the baddy, not fall into their trap and only survive because they were stupid, like Maxwell Smart or something.

    Though come to think of it even Maxwell Smart tended to have a hand in foiling the baddies' plans, albeit inadvertently — so do we now have a Doctor Who who is in fact less heroic than Maxwell Smart? No, that would be silly.

    So, he must have planned to blow up the sewers. Davros thought he was out manoeuvring the Doctor but really the Doctor was outmanoeuvring him.

    It's such a good idea that I'll be surprised if they don't do it again with the Cybermen in a month's time. Possibly at Windsor Castle.

  • Andy Butcher

    Been away for work again, so am already horribly behind on the new season TV. Just popped in to say thanks for the reviews that have saved me from wasting several hours watching rubbish new shows.

    Hopefully by the end of next week I'll have actually managed to watch some of what remains in my 'to watch' list and have something interesting to say about at least one of them. But no promises. 😉

  • GYAD

    YOU, ME & THE APOCALYPSE – Tepid and derivative.

    BECK – Boring and stiff, even for Sweden.

    CRUSOE – Unfaithful and silly but charmingly so (for kids).

  • Glad to have helped and for you to have popped by!

  • To be fair, Caves of Androzani entirely consists of the Doctor doing stupid things. It's brilliant, but he's as dumb as a rock in it

  • Continuum rarely gets as enjoyable as in season 1, but it's a drop off over time. Season 4 has an obviously reduced budget and dedicates an episode at a time to killing off a regular character, without exhibiting many pluses in its favour or even anything from the first season that we liked (eg flashforwards to the future)

  • Only managed to watch the first ep so far. They haven't changed it much, have they, and our Trev doesn't seem very confident. Kevin Hart was an utter knob, which it didn't help.

    I have the same problem with TDS as with The John Oliver Show in that they're getting people from outside the US to comment largely on the US and the rest of the world, but from a US perspective, because the writers can only write from that perspective. You get Oliver saying the dumbest things about the UK, Australia, etc, that you know he must know better about, but he has to mouth the words the writers give him, largely because he has to keep the US audience on side. I can't imagine Trevor Noah will be doing much different at first.

    But then Jon Stewart's first shows were really different from how they were by the end, so maybe Noah has to win hearts and minds first, before he can change

  • I'll wait for the BBC4 transmission for that but glad to hear it's still good!

  • I get the feeling BBC4 has started to run out of good stuff, but aren't willing to challenge the audience into trying out anything a bit more different

  • GYAD

    It does feel like there is now a specific BBC4 EuroCrime style which they don't deviate much from.

    Then again, I was reading an interview with the people doing FROM DARKNESS on BBC1 talking about how having a psychologically damaged detective hunting a killer who preys on women was totally new and exciting…

  • benjitek

    Goosebumps 😉

    Love the way they dump all the quirky characters into the mix early on and then watching as their paths all cross…

  • JustStark

    Okay yes that is true but then he does that the initiative by single-handedly hijacking a spaceship and crashing it directly into a planet to save his companion*, which while maybe dumb is indisputably also heroic.

    The Doctor in whatever-that-last-one-was-called,if he wasn't tricking Davros, doesn't do anything heroic at all — he just falls into a trap, whihc backfires, and then he doesn't save his companion, either, she is just delivered to him by the Master (I think we're supposed to see going back and saving Davros, so that the Daleks would know about mercy, so that he could get the companion out of the Dalek shell, as heroic — ignoring the fact that if he'd just killed Davros there and then there'd have been no such thing as a Dalek casing for her to get stuck in, so she wouldn't have needed to say 'mercy' to get him to let her out.)

    (And, I'm not going to watch it again to check, but was the key to getting out of the Dalek shell really, 'command it to open by thinking'? Why the Hell hadn't she already tried that? Just how dumb is she?)

    * Okay it's Peri and not one of the good ones, but maybe that just makes it more heroic?

  • Really? Oh FFS. I do wonder sometimes if a lot of the people who work in television actually watch television. Or at least television that isn't made by mates of theirs. Luther was like that for me: “He's a bit close to thinking like a criminal himself.” Well, how original.

  • No, but

    1) Peter Davison's Doctor was almost entirely defined by his being dumb but 'heroic' (ie running around a lot to save people, getting captured and then having lots of other people die)
    2) Peter Capaldi's Doctor isn't really heroic at all, being a bit of a Hartnell throwback. The fact he's not that smart either is a bigger problem.
    3) We have a small, discreet shrine to Peri here

  • Doesn't suffer from a lack of Martin?

  • JustStark

    Peter Davison's Doctor was almost entirely defined by his being dumb but 'heroic'

    I can't really disagree (he also notably failed to kill Davros).

    Peter Capaldi's Doctor isn't really heroic at all, being a bit of a Hartnell throwback

    I'm not entirely sure Capaldi's Doctor has a consistent character at all — some weeks he seems to be heroic and determined to save everybody, some weeks he's insufferably sanctimonious, some he's just a childishly self-absorbed arse.

    (His level of competence seems to vary as well, but if he really wasn't trapping Davros, that is a new low).

    We have a small, discreet shrine to Peri here

    'Adjectives not normally applied to Peri include…'

  • benjitek

    I thought the same thing — until his 'replacement' becomes entangled in the plot… very twisted 😉 I do think it would've been better with him, their dynamic was amazing in seasons 1 & 2. The difference between an 'A' vs. an 'A+'

    Don't want to spoil anything, as what happens is a bit of a shocker, totally unexpected.

    I'd recommend anyone planning to watch the show avoid reviews about it until they've seen the first episode, as I can't see a review being done without spoilers.

  • GYAD

    TV rules:
    1. Everyone says they want something new, until you do it.
    2. Everything you make is fresh and exciting, especially when it isn't.
    3. Novelty means copying the last thing that did well, with one change.

    That's how we end up with three dramas about damaged detectives hunting killers (RIVER, FROM DARKNESS and UNFORGOTTEN) being released at the same time.

    In fairness to the writers, a lot of the blame lies with unimaginative commissioners, poor career structure, and the inbred nature of the industry.

  • Mark Carroll

    Ah, yes, I did like the flashforwards.

  • Mark Carroll

    Eh, he took a good risk that the android would let him past! Though, it's hard to remember that story without one's memories being dominated by the BBC Micro computer displays (progress through the tunnels, etc.).

  • Mark Carroll

    Well, he also seemed rather surprised that the “mercy” thing from her was possible. (Another instance of luck!)

  • That was pretty stupid, to be fair

  • It was one of the things that made the show what it was. They've practically all disappeared in the fourth season. One almost flash forward and one actual one, but that's about it. It's a shame really, but if you ain't got the budget, you ain't got the budget

  • JustStark

    Yes, I was disappointed that they went too: it seemed, in the first and second series, that there was a real plot going on in the future to do with Cigarette Smoking Man (presumably now Nicotine Patch Man) & what his relationship to Kara was & why he sent her back & so on, that was being revealed slowly and out of order but that, presumably, was leading somewhere (perhaps to a meeting/confrontation between him and his younger self?)…

    And then the future changed and all that was annoyingly dropped in favour of space marines with big guns.

  • There is a meeting between young and old Alec in season 4, but in… odd circumstances

  • JustStark

    There is a meeting between young and old Alec in season 4, but in… odd circumstances

    Well, I'm not entirely sure how any circumstances in which they could meet would be entirely normal…

    I look forward to seeing this final series, if only to round it off, though as apparently its UK broadcast is on a channel which seems to be going out of its way to actively evade viewers, I will probably have to wait for the discs.

  • Well, there's the normal timey-wimey kind of meeting. And then there's… this.

    Netflix has the first three seasons, so I imagine it'll get the fourth when it's good and ready

  • JustStark

    Well, there's the normal timey-wimey kind of meeting. And then there's… this

    You intrigue me.

    From http://uk.newonnetflix.info/in… it looks like Netflix gets it about the same time as the disks come out, so I'll do that.

    Are there really people who pay for Netflix and Amazon and Sky and blah de blah? It must really mount up.

  • “Are there really people who pay for Netflix and Amazon and Sky and blah de blah? It must really mount up.”

    Yes. Yes, it does

  • Mark Carroll

    In occupying awkward ground of using VPNs but still wanting to pay people their due, we've also had some duplication: for instance, we paid for both Netflix US and Netflix UK for a time. We still pay for Hulu, etc. — that brings shows like Hannibal and Ink Master and The Daily Show — but we have certainly been dropping subscriptions after periods of low usage. At least as US citizens we can use USTVnow. But, I'm saved from Sky at least, through hatred of Murdoch. Waiting for DVDs from Cinema Paradiso is always an acceptable fallback when necessary.

  • Mark Carroll

    (It's not as if the US-targeted advertising is inappropriate either: I'm in Maryland for much of next week and expect overall to spend most of my adult life in the US.)

  • Mark Carroll

    Let us know what you (eventually) think!

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