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.
Well, look at that. I’m back blogging in August. Okay, the Daily News won’t be back until September and I’m not going daily until then for anything else, either, but there’s a good chance I’ll be peppering August with further posts, including a look at the latest Amazon pilots, such as The Tick, Jean-Claude Van Johnson and I Love Dick, I hope.
Elsewhere, I reviewed the first season of Baron Noir (France: Canal+; UK: Amazon Prime), which was my holiday project, and I left you with my thoughts on Stranger Things (Netflix) and Star Trek Beyond (2016) before I went. But surprisingly, since then, there hasn’t actually been much new TV and as I did quite a purge before the holidays, the only regulars I’ll be covering after the jump are The Last Ship and Mr Robot, as well as everything up to the season finale of Outcast. I also haven’t been to the movies, being away and all, not even to see Jason Bourne.
But we did watch one movie rather a lot:
My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 (2016) (iTunes)
The sequel to the worldwide success that was wedding culture-clash comedy My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002), My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 brings back virtually the entire cast to just about manage to do something different, with Nia Vardalos and John Corbett’s daughter Elena Kampouris (American Odyssey) having to choose whether to go away to college or not, while facing the constant pressure to get married to a good Greek boy; meanwhile, Vardalos’ parents discover the priest at their wedding didn’t sign the certificate, meaning they’re going to have to have – you guessed it – a big fat Greek wedding.
Vardalos’ script is mostly a mother-daughter story, but is also partly a rejoinder to the original movie’s stereotypical portrayal of Greek culture, emphasising its potential for acceptance and diversity as well as the cloying conservatism shown in the original movie. Wisely, it also gives Andrea Martin far more to do. However, there are few of the original’s insights, various plot lines (eg Corbett’s relationship with his parents) go virtually nowhere, the Greek (what little there is of it, even between people who are from Greece) is atrocious, and the general message of hope and pushing boundaries of the original is destroyed, with Vardalos’ travel agency having closed between movies, forcing her to work for the family restaurant again, and her brother’s artistic talents going precisely nowhere either.
Nice to see everyone back together again, but a shame that Vardalos doesn’t have much left to say, it seems (did she use it all up on the TV series?).
The recommended list
The Last Ship (US: TNT; UK: Sky1)
3×7 – In the Dark – 3×10 – Scuttle
The slight alteration in format away from matters maritime towards conspiracy theories and land-based action is hurting the show somewhat, as is the low budget for the CGI, but generally, each episode has been guaranteed to fire the adrenaline glands full speed ahead at least once during its run. The arrival of additional ships has also made things interesting, to the extent that even the latest filler ep was marvellously tense. But can we get back to naval warfare again, please? Thanks.
Reviews: First episode Third episode
Mr Robot (US: USA Network; UK: Amazon Prime)
2×4 – eps2.2_init_1.asec – 2×7 – eps2.5_h4ndshake.sme
Another show that’s been treading water a bit, it finally gave us the big reveal that everyone had been theorising about since the first episode – and wasn’t it marvellous? I suspect more is to come, though, judging by that figure in the trunk of that brilliant 1980s sitcom mock-up in episode 6 (with a cameo by none other than Alf!)… It’s great to see the other characters getting something to do, too, as well as the continuing attention to detail at every level by Sam Esmail, despite the fact there’s literally nothing on-screen that you can trust as being what’s actually happening.
Reviews: First episode; third episode
Outcast (US: Cinemax; UK: Fox International)
1×7 – The Damage Done – 1×10 – This Little Light
A show I probably promoted to recommended before it was ready, Outcast has had continuing problems since those early episodes, not the least of which was nothing happening for episodes at a time. While the later episodes have at least given us a few more clues as to what’s going on than we had at the beginning, and there’s been some enticing moral ambiguity, too, the show has nevertheless been less a US version of Apparitions, more a slower version of Heroes set in one tedious little, demon-riddled Virginian backwater town. The genuine chills of the earlier episodes have also disappeared, something expedited by Brent Spiner’s hammy act and hat. The season finale did offer enough of a change of pace and direction that the second season still holds some appeal for me, but if I do go back to it, things had better start happening and soon. Overall, a slightly disappointing first season after a good start, buoyed up by some intelligence and Atticus Ross/Leopold Ross/Claudia Sarne’s brilliant soundtrack.
Review: First episode