What have you been watching? Including The Night Manager, Outcast, The Americans and Cleverman

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. 

Sunday’s got a bit busy all of a sudden. As well as Game of Thrones and Silicon Valley, we now have Secret City and the returning The Last Ship, as well as Preacher once it catches up with me. So unless I take every Monday off work or forgo sleep, I’m thinking I’m not going to be able to watch all of those in time for WHYBW. So this week, WHYBW will be returning to Fridays (or more probably Saturdays. Sob), given Thursday’s worldwide TV schedule currently consists of Cleverman. Hold your thoughts on Silicon Valley, Secret City and The Last Ship until then, so we can share.

Anyway, thanks to the world unleashing a huge swathe of new shows for us all to try out, this week I reviewed/previewed elsewhere:

I’ll be previewing/reviewing Uncle Buck (US: ABC) and Still The King (US: CMT) in the next couple of days, and after the jump, I’ll be reviewing the latest episodes of Cleverman, Game of Thrones and Outcast, as well as the season finale of The Americans. But first, over the weekend, I finally got round to boxsetting a show you’ve almost all probably seen and forgotten already!

The Night Manager (UK: BBC One)
The first John Le Carré TV adaptation in 20 years, Tom Hiddleston’s audition tape for the role of James Bond sees him playing a former soldier turned hotel night manager sign up with SIS (in the form of Olivia Colman) to defeat international, improbably accented gun runner Hugh Laurie as he tours all manner of shiny places in HD. It all looks lovely and it’s got a great supporting cast (Tom Hollander and David Harewood), but the UK production aesthetics (music, title sequence) make it seem a lot cheaper than it is, and to be honest, Le Carré’s plotting stretches into the clunky, simplistic and improbable at times, with few surprises. The ending is also a disappointment, essentially relying on Laurie giving an almost total stranger who’s a thief and a murderer exclusive control over $300m – after the set-up, I was expecting something a lot smarter. But the low-fi spying, Hiddleston and the locations make it more memorable.

Shows I’m watching but not recommending

Cleverman (Australia: ABC; UK: BBC Three)
1×2 – Containment
A slightly less action-packed episode that also reveals a few unexpected depths: while the ‘hairies’ of the piece are treated as the aborigines were historically treated, what’s made much clearer here is that rather than be metaphors, they’re supposed to be literally the hairies of the Aboriginal Dreaming. Indeed, what the show is actually doing is treating the Dreaming, the Cleverman and all the stories as being literally true (more or less), with the Aborigines themselves being characters in their own rights, which is a lot more interesting than it seemed to be in episode one. Nice to have whole chunks of dialogue in Gumbaynggirr, too. But it needs to pick up a bit in terms of showing us what it’s up to, since at the moment, it’s all a bit ‘modern life is rubbish’.
Review: First episode

Outcast (US: Cinemax; UK: Fox International) 
1×2 – (I Remember) When She Loved Me
Probably to get promoted next week to the recommended, a genuinely unsettling bit of horror that was a whole lot smarter than its Exorcist pilot, as we ask what if the devil were really real and only a smart town preacher truly believed it – and had to fight the devil by himself. To be honest, it could still be utter rubbish and I’d watch it just for the Atticus Ross score, though. 
Review: First episode

The recommended list

The Americans (US: FX; UK: ITV Encore)
4×13 – Persona Non Grata
The saddest show on TV rounds off its best season since the first with a traditional finale of no truly big events, just more sadness and various characters filled with ennui/dying/departing. Marvellous to see a show that just fails to obey all the traditional rules of TV storytelling in terms of ‘beats’, but one that’s so smart about it.
Review: First episodethird episode

Game of Thrones (US: HBO; UK: Sky Atlantic)
6×8 – No One
The Arya Stark storyline gets an interesting push (although probably not this one), as does Daenarys’, but mainly an episode of amusement and character moments, particularly for the Hound, Jamie and Daenarys’ retinue. Quite fun, but I’d quite like a new Red Wedding some time soon.
When’s it airing near me?
Reviews: First episodefirst seasonsecond and third seasons


  • 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.

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