What have you been watching? Including Chicago Med, Ant-Man and The Bridge

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.

All these new shows coming out at the same time is not very helpful. Even with Thanksgiving in the US knocking a whole bunch of shows out of action, I haven’t got further than the first episode of The Man In The High Castle, and the Black Friday dumping of WE TV’s South of Hell means I haven’t watched any of it. I also haven’t had a chance to watch last night’s Doctor Who and The Bridge. Oh well. 

I might discuss this phenomenon more on Monday.

But this week, I did watch the first episode of The Art of More (US: Crackle) and review the entire first season of Jessica Jones (Netflix), which ain’t bad. And after the jump, I’ll be reviewing the latest episodes of Ash vs Evil Dead, Blindspot, Grandfathered, Into The Badlands, Legends, Limitless and Supergirl, as well as last weekend’s episodes of Doctor Who and The Bridge.

I also watched the first episode of another new show.

Chicago Med (US: NBC)
A spin-off from Chicago PD which itself was a spin-off from Chicago Fire, this hospital procedural from the Dick Wolf school of entirely predictable institution-revering has already had a backdoor pilot in Chicago Fire and now it’s heading off all by itself. I barely need to describe the set-up – it’s an emergency department, in which very poor character actors turn up each week pretending to be ill, so that various medical professionals can work their hardest to defeat the system, cure whatever illnesses they have and show how damn awesome they are, without having to fill out a single form or charge a dime.

Surprisingly, every illness also presents an Important Moral Issue – here’s a surrogate mother who signed a contract giving medical attorneyship to the parents of the baby… except now she needs an operation to save her life that might kill the baby! What choice will the parents make and how will it affect the Pregnant Doctor?

As well as the cameos from Chicago Fire cast members, including David Eigenberg who’s now done all three shows, we have a regular bunch of competitive doctors, all trying to out-awesome each other. Central to all this is newbie Colin Donnell (Tommy Merlin from Arrow), who’s just so awesome, although his ‘fluent Spanish’ seems to consist mainly of speaking Spanish for two sentences with someone who only speaks Spanish before switching back into English to force them to carry on falteringly in English, too. There’s also Oliver Platt and S Epatha Merkerson, Laurie Holden having jumped ship twixt pilot and series. There’s also a bunch of young ‘uns whose job is to be rubbish so they can be told what to do by Team Awesome and some honourary members of Team Awesome, who we’re supposed to think are awesome, but who largely patronise and interrupt their patients, rather than listen to them.

Probably the best thing about it, about from a thoroughly entertaining cameo by Rahm Emmanuel to open the new ED, is that it’s thoroughly ludicrous, with Donnell rescuing everyone in a crash on The Loop and then sewing stitches into his own arm, to show how awesome he is, despite being surrounded by an entire team of trained nurses and doctors, all of whom have two working hands and aren’t in a lot of pain. It’s also reasonably likeable, unlike ‘Dick Central’, aka Code Black. Otherwise, utterly generic, which seems to be NBC new policy – to be fair, it also seems to be working for them.

I also watched a movie:

Ant-Man (2015) (iTunes)
The latest Marvel movie continues efforts to raid the B-team of characters, here with Paul Rudd playing the titular Ant-Man. He’s a social justice warrior sent to prison for burgling big companies, and comes out unable to get a job. Fortunately, former 1980s Ant-Man Michael Douglas’s slightly mental pupil is trying to create an army based on Douglas’ shrinking technology, so Douglas enlists Rudd to steal the technology back and make sure it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. This is despite having a daughter (Evangeline Lilly from Lost and The Hobbit movies) who’s so much more qualified for the job than Rudd, she has to spend the entire movie teaching him what to do.

The film is somewhat unusual in being one long heist movie, albeit involving a criminal who can shrink in size and enlist ants to do his bidding. It also eschews some of the standard Marvel tropes, in having a relatively sedate Big Battle at the end, one that’s played for laughs and which rapidly and even more unusually turns into the final act of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Most of this oddness can probably be laid at the door of the movie’s original director, Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Scott Pilgrim, Spaced), who was ejected from the project for creative differences, and while replacement director Payton Reed doesn’t do a bad job, Ant-Man is a bit too ordinary in its ordinariness, right down to removing all the references to the superhero’s dumb name that were interspersed throughout the trailers.

For Marvel fans, there’s plenty of cameos and references to both the other movies and the comics, but this feels like a somewhat ordinary addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, one that could quite easily have been a Black Widow movie to greater effect.

Shows I’m watching but not recommending

Ash vs Evil Dead (US: Starz)
1×4 – Brujo – 1×5 – The Host
While there’s a lot to be said for the 30-minute format, as these two eps shows, the series can feel like a collection of two-parters, and just as soon as you want to find out more about someone or something the episode ends. Problematically, Lucy Lawless also gets to be in each episode very little. Where’s the fun in that? All the same, some great laughs to be had, Campbell doing brilliantly at just about everything, and now he has not just two but three hands. Which is nice.
Where can I watch it?
Reviews: First episode; third episode

Blindspot (US: NBC; UK: Sky Living)
1×10 – Evil Handmade Instrument
In which the person who gave Jane Doe all her tattoos is revealed and surprises no-one, not even me. I’m thinking that when this returns next year, I probably won’t bother, but you never know.
Where can I watch it?
Reviews: First episodethird episode

Grandfathered (US: Fox)
1×8 – Gerald’s Two Dads
It’s becoming clear what Grandfathered is. It’s a sitcom for people of a certain age, who are possibly grandparents themselves, but don’t think of themselves as old. They’ve also seen a lot of sitcoms, quite like those sitcoms but would like something they haven’t seen before. The result is Grandfathered, a show in which tired old situations are cracked out time and time again, but which gives relatively intelligent new answers and dialogue. As well as John Stamos being thoroughly lovely towards babies. It’s great fun. 
Where can I watch it?
Reviews: First episodethird episode

Into The Badlands (US: AMC; UK: Amazon Instant Video)
1×2 – Fist Like A Bullet
An improvement over the first episode, with a fight scene that was interesting (oddly, not the one with Daniel Wu in it), some attempt at sensible characterisation and a sudden dawning realisation that women will probably still exist in the future and not just to be used as a slave population of prostitutes. All the same, yawning expanses of yawns for most of the episode. Incidentally, this is supposed to be loosely based on the Chinese classic Journey To The West. Want to know how to adapt Journey To The West in an exciting way, guys? Watch Monkey
Where can I watch it?
Reviews: First episode 

Legends (US: TNT; UK: Sky1)
2×3 – The Legend of Curtis Ballard
Having had to take a week off because of an unfortunate bit of plot-timing, Legends returns with a radicalised young Muslim killing lots of people in Paris. Oops. Slightly less staggering than the first two episodes of the season, deciding mostly to give us some oddly Mormony background to our new FBI protagonist, it managed to remember to give us some excitement, but hasn’t yet given us Sean Bean doing much more than act a bit homeless. But still a smart spy show that’s worth watching.
Where can I watch it?
Reviews: 2×1-2×2

Supergirl (US: CBS; UK: Sky1)
1×4 – How Does She Do It?
The second of the two shows that had to alter its schedule because of the Paris attacks, Supergirl decided to flip round its fourth and fifth episodes. That means that all the events of last week’s episode now make sense in terms of the ongoing plot. Hooray. Weirdly, though, it made a whole lot more sense for this to have been the fifth episode, since it’s the first episode since the pilot that was any good, and the first where the effects were any good – until now, they’ve all felt a bit flimsy, insubstantial and unrealistic. So odd. Maybe the show’s found its feet. It’s still not great, but it’s at least arrested its nose-dive.
Where can I watch it?
Reviews: First episodethird episode

The recommended list

The Bridge (Bron/Broen) (Sweden: SVT1; Denmark: DK1; UK: BBC4)
Nordic Noir’s finest returns, sans Martin who’s in the nick following the events of the second season. But given how much this was very much about the female character (Saga Noren), unlike the subsequent UK and US adaptations, it’s not a huge loss, particularly given how well the replacements have been shaping up. Gripping and surprisingly funny stuff, taking the tension between Christianity and liberalism as the centre of its discussion, it’s as recommended as always and since it’s striking out on its own, this third season is much better so far than the slight retread that was season two. And Sofia Helin’s just great, isn’t she?
Where can I watch it?
Reviews: First episode

Doctor Who (UK: BBC; US: BBC America)
9×10 – Face The Raven
So Clara’s dead. Boo hoo. Or something. As arbitrary deaths go, this was so arbitrary, it feels entirely like she’s coming back again towards the end of the season and this was a complete bluff. Maybe I’m in denial. All the same, for those of you who thought David Tennant’s final send-off, with a 10-minute trek around the known universe to say goodbye was pushing it, here we had everyone standing around waiting for Clara to die, eulogising her while she was still alive, for what felt like a decade. Except because Clara’s been such a nebulous, poorly defined character, everyone struggled to say much more than “She was jolly nice, wasn’t she?”
Where can I watch it?

Limitless (US: CBS)
1×10 – Arm-ageddon
Limitless flips over to almost an Elementary story, with various people with artificial arms losing control of them and doing all manners of crime, including killing people. But it being Limitless, everything is done for laughs, including a marvellous section on just how tedious hacking is and why you only ever got montages in TV shows when it happens. 
Where can I watch it?
Reviews: First episodethird 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.