What have you been watching? Including Banshee, Blå Ögon (Blue Eyes), The Catch, Supergirl and The Americans

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. 

Despite the Easter break and being somewhat occupied this week, I’ve actually managed to watch quite a few of the new shows that have popped up on our screens and monitors in the past week or so. Elsewhere, you’ll find shiny reviews of:

I’ve also passed a third-episode verdict on Damien (US: A&E). Still sitting in the viewing pile, however, are the first two episodes of Hulu’s The Path – I think I’ll wait until the third episode next week and review them (or as many as I can bear, depending on how good it is) all in one go.

Last night, Dice started on Showtime, Netflix offloaded The Ranch in one go (not as an April’s Fool) and Syfy also started airing Wyonna Earp. Despite being away for a few days next week, I’ll hopefully be reviewing them all at some point – although as I’m old enough to remember Andrew Dice Clay when he was doing horrendous stand-up in the 80s, it’s possible I might not bother with that.

But I have watched one other new show:

Blå Ögon (Blue Eyes) (Sweden: SVT1; UK: More4)
Well, the plot summary and trailer are back here, so I won’t bother repeating myself. But having now watched the first two episodes, my advice would be stick with it. The show is a mix of the implausible and the very plausible, with Elin Hammar’s plotline, in which she gets plucked from a life of waitressing to return to politics, only to discover her predecessor has gone missing, is eminently daft, with all kinds of odd conspiracies going on that remind me of the silliness of Byw Celwydd (Living a Lie) crossed with 24. Similarly, everything involving the right-wing party Trygghetspartiet is embarrassingly bad.

However, where the show does do well is develop over the course of these first two episodes a frighteningly nasty, anti-immigrant, anti-everyone, racist right wing terrorist group, Veritas, with foot soldier Adam Lundgren quietly frightening and ultimately violent, like a slightly malnourished, prettier Russell Crowe in Romper Stomper. Here, the viewing gets very uncomfortable, but after the uninspiring first episode, the second episode managed to sell the show to me.

From a UK perspective, what’s also interesting is how similar the rhetoric of Trygghetspartiet is to UKIP’s, presumably without the writers borrowing directly. I guess that makes UKIP either very European or very fictional.

After the jump, I’ll be covering the return of Banshee, as well as reviewing two weeks’ worth of episodes of the regulars: 11.22.63, The Americans, Arrow, Billions, The Catch, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, The Doctor Blake Mysteries, The Flash, Limitless, Lucifer, The Magicians, Second Chance, Stan Lee’s Lucky Man, Supergirl and Vikings. Apart from the ones that are finishing anyway, two of these are getting dropped from the viewing schedule altogether, while a recommended show is going to get demoted. Can you guess which one, tigers?

Shows I’m watching but not recommending

11.22.63 (US: Hulu; UK: Fox International)
1×6 – Happy Birthday, Lee Harvey Oswald – 1×7 – Soldier Boy
The Stephen King body count starts build up, but it’s clear, given how few episodes are left, that the show is angling for a second season (or at least an open-ended finale), rather than wrap up its ‘limited series’ run. Some intriguing aspects to these two episodes, but generally something that (judging by Wikipedia’s summary) has taken all the aspects of the book then jumbled them up into something that’s now less than the sum of its parts.
Reviews: First episodethird episode

Arrow (US: The CW; UK: Sky1)
4×16 – Broken Hearts – 4×17 – Beacon of Hope
A long-time recommended, Arrow has now transformed and dropped in quality enough that I can’t really recommend it any more. Indeed, the return of Cupid in Broken Hearts and a The Flash villainess crossover in Beacon of Hope almost got the show removed from my viewing list altogether. But some terrific Mr Terrific fun in the latter redeemed it and once I adjusted my mindset to consider the show as a comedy, rather than anything smarter or more dramatic, it became easier viewing. 
Reviews: First episodethird episode

Billions (US: Showtime; UK: Sky Atlantic)
1×10 – Quality of Life
A sort of flashback episode to explain everything that we’d already worked out had been going on in the previous episode. But some decent character work with Giamatti and Lewis, as well as some dark touches, made it more palatable than that sounds. 
Reviews: First episodethird episode 

The Catch (US: ABC; UK: Sky Living)
1×2 – The Real Killer
As you may have gathered from my review of the first episode, it wasn’t exactly clear what the show’s format was going to be in subsequent episodes, so I tuned in to find out. Oddly, it seems like we’re going to have a split-team series: Team Evil led by Krause and Walger will be doing various cons to try to recover their fortunes after their losses in the first episode, while Enos tries to hunt them down; meanwhile, Enos’ Team Good will be doing private detective work and investigating a whole bunch of other crimes for their clients. And the two plots will be united through the medium of split-screen and flashbacks to Enos and Krause’s relationship pre-con. Trouble is, that’s not very interesting. Enos seems to be on tranquillisers, while Krause has all the sociopathy and bad boy edge of the average Jehovah’s Witness. So I won’t be bothering with episode three.
Reviews: First episode 

DC’s Legends of Tomorrow (US: The CW; UK: Sky 1)
1×9 – Left Behind
The first good episode since the show began has Atom and Hawkgirl marooned in small town America, while White Canary decides to hang out for a couple of years with Ra’s Al Ghul. Meanwhile, the rest of the team are having to deal with Chronos and Captain Cold finds himself in the same predicament as T-Bag did in Prison Break, and comes up with a very similar solution. There’s a couple of twists that really lift the story – and the whole of the series, in fact – but it’s the chance for the characters to breath and explore themselves that really makes the episode. That, the return of Matt Nable from Arrow as Ra’s Al Ghul, and the introduction of a young Talia Al Ghul, too.
Reviews: First episodefourth episode

The Doctor Blake Mysteries (Australia: ABC; UK: BBC One/Alibi)
4×8 – The Visible World
A decent finale for the series, with Doctor Blake himself under suspicion of murder, leaving the rest of the cast to do the investigating for a change. All the story arcs get wound up, leaving the show almost precisely where it was in terms of the main story as it was at the start of the season, albeit with roughly a 50% cast change. I think for me, this is a natural stopping point, so I doubt that I’ll be back for more next series. The show is basically a very nice, well made, period delivery system for a murder a week that has some lovely characters but doesn’t really have much ongoing story. One episode is much like any other and while that works with something like Endeavour, over an eight-to-ten episode season, with nothing much different between episodes, that’s probably more investment of my time than I’d like to make. My mother-in-law will keep watching, though, I suspect.
Reviews: First episodethird episode

Lucifer (US: Fox; UK: Amazon Instant Video)
1×9 – A Priest Walks Into A Bar
A show that’s hanging on by a thread in the viewing schedule, too, with Tom Ellis’ performance really the show’s only saving grace at the moment. Again, as with Doctor Blake, the near-identical episodes are getting boring, as is the police procedural aspect of the show, and it’s now not doing anything interesting with the supernatural aspect of the format, either. That all said, this episode was quite a nice character piece, but nothing more than that.
Reviews: First episodethird episode

Stan Lee’s Lucky Man (UK: Sky 1)
And we’re left with a cliffhanger, although for those intending to carry on with the show, there’s the good news that it’s been renewed for a second season. It is fair to say that apart from certain coproductions, this has been the best ever original Sky 1 show. I won’t be back for more, though, unless there’s a promise of more fun, since the show’s “Who is Golding?” storyline, while fascinatingly keen on proper police procedure, has been hard to endure since Golding’s identity has been obvious, and the magic bracelet has been used very little. Plot holes have been as frequent as changes in the extent of the bracelet’s power, and the finale itself gives us Golding too frightened to shoot our hero himself in case something incredibly bizarre happens yet perfectly willing to give a loaded gun to the luckiest man in the world so he’ll kill himself (apparently, he’s never heard of Clive of India). Perhaps best thought of as a superhero origin story – maybe the next series will flesh things out better.
Reviews: First episodethird episode

Supergirl (US: CBS; UK: Sky1)
1×17 – Manhunter
In which we learn all about how Martian Manhunter came to become Hank, as well as about Dean Cain’s fate. A nice episode but with few surprises, bar the odd (temporary) reduction in the cast list.
+ 1×18 – Worlds Finest
The moment we’ve all been waiting for – the crossover with The CW’s The Flash. And bar the incredibly cheesy, very American conclusion to the fight with the baddies, it’s everyone we could have hoped for, being probably the best episode of the show so far. Props to the writers for the fun and also for the marvellous Cat Grant line: “You look like the attractive, non-threatening, racially diverse cast of a CW show.”
Reviews: First episodethird episode

Vikings (US: History; UK: Amazon Instant Video)
4x 6 – What Might Have Been – 4×7 – The Profit and the Loss
And I’m done. Despite a cracker of a battle scene at the start of The Profit and the Loss, it’s now so degenerated into soap opera and general daftness that have little to do with history, Viking culture and all the other things that made the first couple of seasons at least so interesting. Oh well. All good things have to end sooner or later.
Reviews: Season one review

The recommended list

Banshee (US: Cinemax; UK: Sky Atlantic)
4×1 – Like Something From The Bible
The best, most exploitative bit of pulp fiction to grace our TV screens is back with, surprisingly, a two-year gap in the narrative, during which everyone’s roles have changed, some old favourites have died, others have moved on and others are MIA. Frequently told in flashback and with as much creative camerawork as possible, the episode once again reminds us that despite copious shagging, nudity and ultraviolence, its main concerns are the heart and mind, with all the characters basically having broken down to greater or lesser extents, depending on how much evil they’ve been exposed to and how much loss they’ve suffered. But the gang’s got to get back together and with this episode, the writers also establish what new style-Banshee is going to look like in its final season, right down to an Outrageous Fortune-style haircut for Hood. No sign of Eliza Dushku yet, though.
Reviews: First two episodesthird episode

The Americans (US: FX; UK: ITV Encore)
4×2 – Pastor Tim – 4×3 – Experimental Prototype City of Tomorrow
Another show that’s starting to wobble a bit. I’m not quite sure it knows what it’s doing now – why is it here? What is its purpose? The biological warfare strand feels very ahistorical, for starters, and characters are there merely because we liked them in the first season, rather than because they’ve of any real use now. That said, the suspicions about our heroes that are growing in all quarters do add a marvellous claustrophobia to show. I just wish it was a bit more tied to both the history of the time and some proper spying.
Review: First episodethird episode

The Flash (US: The CW; UK: Sky 1)
2×16 – Trajectory
In which our heroes discover who Zoom is and, more importantly, why he is. Very well done and a suitable way to make Zoom different from Reverse Flash. 
+ 2×17 – Flash Back
A nifty excuse to get Reverse Flash back for an episode, as well as give us the return of some other old characters and a bit of retconning to mix things up a bit. Plus loads of fun, as usual. 
Reviews: First episodethird episode

Limitless (US: CBS)
1×19 – A Dog’s Breakfast
Back to the normal format for investigations, but the suspicions of Brian that everyone now has make it a slightly different show, and Bradley Cooper, sporting yet another scruffbag hairstyle as he takes 10 minutes out of filming another film to show up, also gives the show another change of direction. I’m also liking how Limitless is creating a show where the drug isn’t ‘bottled up’ at the FBI but which is potentially available around the world and could change life as we know it, in both the right and wrong hands.
Reviews: First episodethird episode

The Magicians (US: Syfy)
1×10 – Homecoming – 1×11 – Remedial Battle Magic
A show that’s really coming into its own now, both in terms of bringing the funny and giving us some genuinely chilling moments. Magic here is genuinely reality-warping and it’s fascinating to see what leeway that gives the writing. Everyone’s still a dick, but the rougher edges have now been worn off enough that they’re tolerable.
Reviews: First episodethird episode

Second Chance (US: Fox)
1×10 – Gelassenheit
Props to the show for both naming the final two episodes after Heideggerian philosophy and giving a decent send off to what started as quite a poor sci-fi procedural and ended up a bit more like what Fox’s Minority Report could have been. Not the best show ever, but pretty good as well as smarter than it should have been by the end.
Reviews: 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.