What have you been watching? Including Mr Robot, Marco Polo, The Last Ship and Outcast

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. 

Today’s is going to be the last WHYBW for quite some time now, since I’m off on my traditional summer break from next week. Whether I’ll take all of August off remains to be seen, but let’s not start promising anything at this point.

Before then, I’ll be reviewing the first episode of Vice Principals (US: HBO; UK: Sky Atlantic) and I’ve got plans to have a look over a couple of French shows on Netflix and Amazon, too. I might even have a look at Netflix’s Stranger Things, which debuted on Friday.

I’ve already reviewed the first episode of Barracuda (Australia: ABC), but after the jump, I’ll be looking at the latest episodes of 19-2, The Kettering Incident, The Last Ship, Outcast and Preacher, as well the return of Mr Robot and the rest of season two of Marco Polo. Given that I’m going to be away on holiday, will I employ my usual July ruthlessness and purge from the viewing list any that I can’t be bothered to catch up with? It’s a possibility…

At this point, I’d normally tell you about the movies I watched last week. Unfortunately, despite my best intentions, we couldn’t get through either Joy or Hail, Caesar!, since they were both a bit dull. That might be the closest I ever get to reviewing them, but you never know.

Shows I’m watching but not recommending

The Ketting Incident (Australia: Foxtel Showcase)
1×3 – The Search
Snore. After a surprisingly creepy first couple of episodes, the show’s gone full on Top of the Lake, with our heroine just wandering around the lovely Tasmanian landscape while pissing people off. To the extent that people are commenting that she’s annoying, even her dad. Meanwhile, precisely nothing else happens with the main plot. Five more episodes of this? No thank you.
Safe from the July purges? Nope. It’s gone.
Review: First two episodes

Marco Polo (Netflix)
2×4-2×10
What an odd season. Sure, it’s an historical so in a sense it has to follow actual history so having such a somewhat dull concept as a ‘kurultai’ (a Mongolian election) take centre stage for an entire season could be construed as unavoidable. But as the show otherwise takes such liberties that it has the Crusaders sizing up to be the main enemies for season 3, clearly another course could have been taken. Instead, rather than working out what was interesting in the first season and going from there, the show continued as The Water Margin meets House of Cards/Game of Thrones, relegating 100 Eyes and other interesting characters into virtual walk-ons. The silly sex scenes that I thought had gone? They came back to and the show still didn’t really manage to find a narrative function for the limp Marco Polo. To be fair, there is a genuinely good battle scene in episode 9 and Michelle Yeoh’s cracking whenever she turns up and the show becomes Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. But it’s largely just meaningless messing around without any really interesting driving plot. It’s still oddly compelling in some areas, so I might be back for season 3, but there’s no way in the world I suggest anyone else do as I do.
Safe from the July purges? In the sense that I’ve watched it all now? Yep.
ReviewFirst season

Preacher (US: AMC; UK: Amazon Prime)
1×8 – El Valero
A couple of points of strangeness to make me think there’s still some fun ahead of the show, perhaps from the point at which the show picks up the comics’ road-trip storyline. But it’s still all a bit one part good to seven points of dull. Some enjoyable bits with the angels, but that’s about it, so there’s a good chance I might be dropping this one. Although there are only two episodes to go.
Safe from the July purges? Nah. I think I’m done. 
ReviewFirst three episodes

The recommended list

19-2 (Canada: Bravo; UK: Amazon Prime) 
3×4 – Bitch
Workplace politics, misogyny and alcoholism seem to be the themes of the season. As Mark pointed out last week, that doesn’t seem like much fun. He’s right you know, isn’t he? And TBH, I’m not enjoying it, despite its importance and excellence. So I think possibly the best thing to do is save this up for winter, because this really isn’t a summer show.
Safe from the July purges? Maybe I’ll play catch up later in the year.
ReviewsFirst episodethird episode

The Last Ship (US: TNT; UK: Sky1)
3×6 – Dog Day
It’s starting to feel like there’s too much land warfare this season, and not enough naval battles; the hostage storyline has also been going on for way too long now. That said, though, some good adrenaline-packed moments as always, most of the main plot threads have now been concluded and it looks like episode 7 is going to mark a sea change. Ho ho. 
Safe from the July purges? It’s an absolute keeper
Reviews: First episode Third episode

Mr Robot (US: USA Network; UK: Amazon Prime)
2×1 – Eps2 0 Unm4Sk-Pt1.tc – 2×2 – Eps2 0 Unm4Sk-Pt2.tc
Last season ended on a somewhat ambiguous note. Where could the show go, I wondered? The answer is all-out dismantling of reality. Much has already been written about whether anything in these two episodes can be taken at face value or whether Elliot is actually in prison or a hospital, judging by some of the camerawork, props, compositions, routines, etc. It’s a tribute to the show’s brilliance that it can play this much with people without being obvious about it all, particularly as it steps into full-on Fight Club when it comes to Elliot and Mr Robot (and maybe even Missing Swedish Guy, too, and perhaps even every character for that matter). A few missteps, mostly involving Mrs Missing Swedish Guy, but otherwise a marvellous return for a marvellous show.
Safe from the July purges? You better believe it.
ReviewsFirst episodethird episode 

Outcast (US: Cinemax; UK: Fox International) 
1×6 – From The Shadows It Watches
While the episode itself felt a bit like the show treading water – just got on with some exorcisms already, will you? – it still had that marvellous creeping horror to it, with the idea that there’s actually bugger all you can do against demons, who’ll just laugh at your Holy Water and fake you out. No control, just evil. Not fun.
Safe from the July purges? Actually, I think it probably is

ReviewFirst episode




  • Mark Carroll

    Shows like “Preacher” will have to wait for a bit longer. We're up to date with “Outcast”, though, which seems to be moving kind of slowly, but son is much liking theorizing about how it all works. And, we are seeing some progress in the plot.

    It turned out that son was liking “The Living and the Dead” so we're still watching. On the one hand, it's absolute bobbins, and hardly intriguingly intricate, but on the other it's actually not that bad at creepy scares. Just one more to go now.

    We saw “Trumbo”. Not my cup of tea, really, but still it was quite good, it's hard not to like watching Bryan Cranston, and it seemed timely given Newt Gingrich. I hadn't known much of the story.

    Also, “Spotlight”, the sex abuse scandal film, not the news for the south west of England. Not really my cup of tea either, but actually it held my attention and it turned out to be pretty good.