What have you been watching? Including The Magicians, The X-Files, Stan Lee’s Lucky Man and Okkupert

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 Monday and WHYBW is here. Something’s gone wrong, surely. Indeed, work as usual. Damn money. But I also needed a little extra time to get through the big pile of TV that’s been building up over the week. That can only mean one thing: it’s time for a cull.

Some things will be coming off my viewing thanks to natural erosion: Endeavour has just finished its third season after only four episodes. Others will be disappearing anyway, thanks to unfavourable third-episode verdicts, although you’ll have to wait until after the jump (and tomorrow, in the case of Billions and Angie Tribeca) to know which are for the chop.

But it’s time for both Rebellion (Ireland: RTÉ One) and Byw Celwydd (UK: S4C) to leave this mortal coil. Rebellion‘s a fine historical, but with very little by way of characterisation to draw you in, just dry historical facts and a bit of shooting, so I’ve decided I’ve revised my GCSE history syllabus enough now. Byw Celwydd has a peculiar draw, simply because I know Cardiff well enough to enjoy the locations and the whole thing has a slight Caerdydd vibe, but it’s pure soap with dodgy production values, and I don’t do soaps, let alone ones with dodgy production values.

I also can’t be bothered with the latest episode of Baskets (US: FX), as I hear it’s exactly the same as the first episode.

So that means after the jump, you can find reviews of the latest episodes of 100 Code, American Crime, Angie Tribeca, Arrow, Colony, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, Endeavour, The Family Law, The Flash, The Magicians, Grandfathered, Man Seeking Woman (Woman Seeking Man), Marvel’s Agent Cater, Okkupert (Occupied), Second Chance, Les hommes de l’ombre (Spin), The Shannara Chronicles, Stan Lee’s Lucky Man, Supergirl and The X-Files. Can you guess which ones will be getting the chop?

In case you missed them, this week I reviewed the first episodes of: The X-Files (US: Fox; UK: Channel 5), Stan Lee’s Lucky Man (UK: Sky 1), Baskets (US: FX) and The Outsiders (US: WGN America); and ages and ages ago, I previewed Lucifer (US: Fox; UK: Amazon Instant Video) and The Magicians (US: Syfy), which started last week, too.

Shows I’m watching but not recommending

100 Code (Sweden: Kanal 5; UK: Sky Atlantic)
1×4 – My Only Friend
It’s interesting how this has gone from an exploitative “serial killer who goes off killing attractive women” series into something a whole lot weirder (spoiler alert) a deep web serial killer support network with a different serial killer each week. The main draw remains Michael Nyqvist, however, even though Peter Eggers has arrived in earnest now, too. Otherwise a bit forgettable and might be for the chop soon. 
Where can I watch it?
Reviews: First episode

Angie Tribeca (US: TBS)
1×2 – The Wedding Pallner Did It
I know I said this was basically The Naked Gun/Police Squad, but they actually did the joke where someone says, “Say, do you…” and then everyone replies, “Do you…” But Police Squad was hilarious and so unsurprisingly, so is this.
Where can I watch it?
Reviews: First episode

Colony (US: USA Network)
1×3 – 98 Seconds
There are basically two good things about Colony: the cast, which now includes Carl Action Jackson/Predator Weathers, and the 15 seconds each episode where they talk about the aliens. Otherwise, generic alien invasion stuff at its worth. And I hereby drop it from the viewing list.
Where can I watch it?
Reviews: First episode

DC’s Legends of Tomorrow (US: The CW; UK: Sky 1)
1×2 – Pilot (part 2)
The CW did the show no favours by splitting its pilot into two, since the second half of this pilot addresses a lot of the criticisms I made about the first half, with a lot more time spent on characterisation and giving everyone something to do. Loads of fun, but even with the show’s shock event, my complaint that nothing feels like it has any consequences still holds because (spoiler alert)it’s a show about time travel and Hawkman reincarnates every decade or so.
Where can I watch it?
Reviews: First episode

The Family Law (Australia: SBS2)
1×3 – Asians Gone Wild
When this is good, it’s very very good, but largely it’s just maudlin. Would you set a comedy series during the time in a kid’s formative years when his parents are on the verge of divorce? Me, neither. There are plenty of laughs to be had here and when the show tries simply to be funny, it succeeds. It’s just that it’s far more concerned with watching everyone be miserable thanks to mum and dad’s marital problems. I don’t really want to watch that, so it’s with a little sorrow that I’m out.
Reviews: First episode

Grandfathered (US: Fox)
1×13 – Tableside Guacamole
I think it’s time to call it a day on this one, too, despite the fact we have an 80s-themed episode to really try to lure me in. But despite the best efforts of John Stamos, Paget Brewster and the writers, the show’s format is the biggest problem – everything involving the baby and the next generation is dragging the show down. If the show could have confined itself to Stamos and Brewster reviving their relationship after years apart, while revelling in 40somethings’ 80s nostalgia and pushing offspring to the supporting cast, this would have been the best comedy of the season. Unfortunately, it’s not.
Where can I watch it?
Reviews: First episodethird episode

Les hommes de l’ombre (Spin) (France: France2; UK: More4)
1×5 
And another one I’m going to drop. Despite a great start for its first two episodes, subsequent episodes have dropped intrigue and plotting in favour of soap. We’re now at the first round of voting, despite having had almost no crafting of campaigns, etc, and although the show thinks Bruno Wolkowitch/Simon Kapita is its biggest asset, it’s sadly mistaken. 
Where can I watch it?
Reviews: First and second episode

Okkupert (Occupied) (Norway: TV2; UK: Sky Arts)
1×3 – June
If those Norwegians are ever going to fight back, they’re leaving it a bit late. The country’s answer to Jack Bauer has also just been put in charge of looking after the Russians, rather than ejecting them with extreme prejudice. It’s an odd and somewhat sedate show now, as a result, with people more concerned about restaurants than advancing the plot. That aside, the main plot about a former Chechyen rebel was pretty interesting. Edging towards the chopping list, but I’ll give at least another episode to be safe.
Where can I watch it?
Reviews: First episode

The Magicians (US: Syfy)
1×2 – The Source of Magic
The same problems as the first episode – when the show concentrates on magic and nastiness, it’s genuinely good and even scary, but when it does anything involving characterisation, you just want to punch the characters. It doesn’t help that a lot of the actors seem confused as to whether the show is a drama or a comedy. If we could somehow get the writers of Agent Carter to swap notes, maybe we could them to fix each other’s shows?
Where can I see it?
Reviews: First episode

Second Chance (US: Fox)
1×3 – From Darkness The Sun
Still amiably advancing its narrative while having larks and doing a bit of policing, the show nevertheless surprisingly decides to splurge its big secret to the main character, rather than eke out the mystery for episodes at a time. Not compelling viewing but enjoyable escapism. Let’s see whether it’ll settle on a format as a result.
Where can I watch it?
Reviews: First episode

Stan Lee’s Lucky Man (UK: Sky 1)
1×2 – Win Some, Lose Some
The show maintains consistency with its first episode, and rather than give us some Stan Lee Marvel fun, it again presents us with a dark look at gambling addiction and what happens if a man with no luck suddenly has a magical gift that gives him it – with consequences for others. Some good scenes, but too thinky for its own good. However, best thought of as “an origin story”, with Nesbitt learning how his new gift works and possibly discovering the best way to use it. For fans of Banshee, worth noting that ‘the albino’ has shown up as the show’s Big Bad.
Where can I watch it?
Reviews: First episode

Supergirl (US: CBS; UK: Sky1)
1×11 – Strange Visitor From Another Planet
In which the writers of the show get bored of Supergirl and decide they’d much rather be doing a Martian Manhunter show. A good Martian Manhunter show, but one where Supergirl appears to be the guest star.
Where can I watch it?
Reviews: First episodethird episode

The X-Files (US: Fox; UK: Channel 5)
10×2 – Founder’s Mutation
After the mythology heavy/nullifying, nonsensical, Chris Carter-scripted first episode, it’s a return to classic X-Files with James Wong (Millennium, Space Above and Beyond, Final Destination) returning to the fold to give us an old school, monster of the week ep, but with a bit more nastiness than was allowed a couple of decades ago. Far more enjoyable than the first episode, then may be a future for the show when Chris Carter’s not writing it. Also notable for having most of the cast of Continuum among the guest cast. Gillian Anderson needs to stop slipping into old habits, though, since she at times went 100% Zen.
Where can I watch it?
Reviews: 10×1

The recommended list

American Crime (US: ABC)
2×4
Well that’s going to complicate everything, isn’t it? It’s lovely how the show does this, taking you in the standard direction of most shows, before making everything so much more nuanced than standard drama allows.
When’s it airing near me?
Review: First episodethird episode

Arrow (US: The CW; UK: Sky1)
4×11 – AWOL
A surprising death and a Sandman tribute. What more could ask for?
When’s it airing near me?
Reviews: First episodethird episode 

Endeavour (UK: ITV; US: PBS)
3×4 – Coda
A generally good episode with one massive, coincidence-laden middle act and several other eyebrow-raising moments, culminating in a “who cares?” conclusion. Generally, this season, while lifted up by its cast, hasn’t really justified its existence as a Morse prequel, giving us little by way of insight into the character or events that are memorable for good rather than bad reasons. But solidly put together and with some very good aspects to some episodes that make it easily one of ITV’s best shows.
When’s it airing near me?

The Flash (US: The CW; UK: Sky 1)
2×11 – The Reverse-Flash Returns
The name is in the title really. But an episode that’s thoroughly enjoyable despite that and with some character-building iron in there for everyone.
When’s it airing near me?
Reviews: First episodethird episode  

Man Seeking Woman (Woman Seeking Man) (US: FXX)
2×4 – Tinsel
In which Liz has an affair with Santa Claus. This season’s Woman Seeking Man, complete with different titles, is a much better effort than its predecessor, in part thanks to having a woman writing it and so actually feeling like it had something new to say. Lots of clever Christmas jokes, too – more, please.
When’s it airing near me?
Review: First episode

Marvel’s Agent Carter (US: ABC; UK: FOX)
2×3 – Better Angels
As always, the opposite of The Magicians in having some great characters who are wonderful to watch, lumbered with some terrible plotting, clumsy dialogue and sledgehammer subtext. Even the arrival of Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper) couldn’t save the plot itself, but simply watching the characters together is enjoyable enough.
When’s it airing near me?
Reviews: First two episodes

The Shannara Chronicles (US: MTV)
1×5 – Reaper
The usual epic silliness and throbdy-bob of the nogdy-gogging that comes with the territory, but twists and fun galore, as well as unexpected chemical warfare.
Where can I watch it?
Review: First three episodes




  • Mark Carroll

    Ha, yes, the albino was quite memorable.

    I liked “X-Files”. Mulder went a bit off the deep end there near the end of the first episode, but overall the two episodes were okay. Not great, but less disappointing than recent seasons of Doctor Who; I enjoyed them. I'm trying to adjust for that the episodes I remember the most are probably mostly the better ones, so on average I ought to manage my expectations.

    On a rather different note, we started “Burnistoun”. I think it's often clever but often short of actually funny. The family certainly like it though.

    “Grimm” is back, and back to the international conspiracies, sigh. It's all rather silly and I don't much care about the weighty matters of the arc. It really is at its best with monster of the week.

    “The Blacklist” got a little more silly than usual, I thought, but my wife thought the latest a great episode, so on average it's probably still quite good. Generally it has been a rather better season. We now have a change of pace again though, so we'll see how it settles for the rest. I'm fearing that we're now launching an arc of unending silliness but with luck it won't dominate.

    We caught some “Insert Name Here”, yet another BBC comedy quiz panel thing largely with the same people who do the other such shows, though one did have Robert Webb on and he was quite funny and is not typically on these things. It's okay, but I still think “Would I Lie To You?” the best of that genre.

    There were a couple of documentaries. “The Viking Sagas” was sort of good. I'm sure I've seen the presenter lady before on this kind of thing. There was some actual interesting information and background, but also an awful lot of filler that made it all exciting and dramatic for us, and quite a lot of meta-talk about how great and special these sagas are. Less dramatic (but less still would have been okay) was “The Making of King Arthur”, about the development of the Arthurian legend, by some poet guy who took us round and about. The family liked that one but I confess my attention wandered a bit.

  • Andy Butcher

    I've finally finished Season 8 of the X-Files, which was significantly better than I was expecting, but I'm really not sure whether I can be bothered with all of Season 9. I may just watch the half-dozen or so 'mythology' episodes and call it done, as I want to get started on the new ones before I get too far behind.

    It was a closer race than the previous week, but I think Arrow just pipped The Flash to the post again. Both were strong episodes, though, and managed to squeeze a lot in.

    Legends continued in much the same 'enjoyable nonsense' vein as the first episode, which was largely fine with me. However, the 'shock event' fell rather flat, and everyone seemed remarkably chipper about it in the aftermath, even given that they know the spoiler stuff. Both Arrow and The Flash have handled similar things much, much better in the past, so I was a little disappointed.

    I've found myself warming to Supergirl slightly, but if anything the tonal shifts between her 'civilian' and 'costumed' lives are getting more and more jarring. I'm sticking with it for now, but it's a long way from a recommendation still.

    I found the second episode of Billions a lot less interesting than the first, seeming to be primarily concerned with painting Axelrod in a much less flattering light. I'll see where the third episode takes us.

    Am an episode or two behind on most other stuff, so am hoping to catch up a bit this week.

    I did see a couple of movies:

    The Revenant is pretty much what you'd expect from the trailer – beautifully made with some amazing cinematography but a very grim and brutal story. Am glad I got to see it on a big screen, but doubt I'll watch it again.

    The Big Short is awesome. 🙂

  • Mark Carroll

    Yeah, I'd say that X-Files season 9 is somewhat skippable.

  • MIL wants to see The Big Short, so I might still see it, but I'd angling for Spotlight this weekend. Agreed re: Billions and Legends

  • Andy Butcher

    Yeah, Spotlight is on my list as well, along with Trumbo, which opens on Friday, and Deadpool next week. 🙂

  • Deadpool's a cert. I'm interested to see Trumbo, if only because it's got Dean O'Gorman from The Almighty Johnsons as Kirk Douglas, which is an amusing casting choice and I want to see if it works 😉

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