What have you been watching? Including Ash vs Evil Dead, Impastor and The Fall

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. 

It’s possible that Peak TV peaked last week, given how many more new shows launched, and there’s a few more coming our way this week, too. Last week, I (p)reviewed:

I also passed a third-episode verdict on Quarry (US: Cinemax; UK: Sky Atlantic).

On top of that, later this week, I’ll pretty definitely (well, you know me…) be reviewing:

  • Westworld (US: HBO; UK: Sky Atlantic)
  • Graves (US: Epix)
  • Aftermath (US: Syfy; UK: 5*)
  • Falling Water (US: USA)
  • Deep Water (Australia: SBS; UK: BBC Four)
  • Hyde & Seek (Australia: Nine)
  • Luke Cage (Netflix).

I’ll also definitely be passing third- and fourth-episode verdicts on:

…probably on:

…maybe on:

…and quite improbably on:

Internet streaming services being a little elusive at times in terms of telling you what they’re showing, if I’ve the time (!), I might try to play catch up with Easy (Netflix) and Start Up (Crackle), too, but I suspect they’ll get pushed to next week again. For starters, there’s bound to be other new shows this week that I’ve missed, too – I’m pretty sure Hayley Atwell’s new ABC show Conviction is on the way, but I’m too lazy to check the schedule.

Before all that, though, after the jump, reviews of the latest episodes of Designated Survivor, The Exorcist, Halt and Catch Fire, Lethal Weapon, Notorious, Pitch, Speechless, This is Us and You’re The Worst – if you do a quick bit of correlation with the list of shows above, you’ll probably be able to guess which ones I’m dropping. We also have the return of Ash vs Evil Dead, Impastor and The Fall to entertain us. 

Did I mention I watched a lot of tele this week? Because I did.

Shows I’m watching but not recommending

Ash vs Evil Dead (US: Starz; UK: Virgin On Demand)
2×1 – Home
Last year, Ash vs Evil Dead opened well, with a script from Sam Raimi, before becoming a weekly ‘almost’ – almost great but never quite excelling, something its half-hour format didn’t help with. However, this year, showrunner Craig DiGregorio gives us the season opener and it seems he’s worked out what to do with the show, since it’s come back funnier, more wrong and more grossly gory than ever before. On top of that, we have guest star Lee Majors as Ash’s dad. Did they make something of Ash’s cybernetic hand? Oh, you betcha. Keep it up, guys, and you’ll be promoted to recommended.
Reviews: First episodethird episode

Designated Survivor (US: ABC; UK: Netflix)
1×2 – The First Day
Dialling down some of the worst aspects of the pilot, the show also gets a bit slower, a bit more moralising and a bit more nuts and bolts, with the focus shifting to how to form a constitutionally valid government when everyone’s dead. Virginia Madsen (who’s thankfully been released from American Gothic now the summer’s over) pops up as the Republicans’ designated survivor (Kiefer being revealed as a big old Democrat) and does well with the job; elsewhere Kal Penn gets to first show why profiling brown people is bad, before showing that we’re all one big family underneath it all. A nearly good episode that could have been better with Kiefer channelling his inner Bauer again.
Review: First episode

The Exorcist (US: Fox; UK: Syfy)
1×2 – Chapter Two: Lupus In Fabula
There’s a reason why I never normally mention the director and direction in my reviews of first episodes – even though everyone hires David Nutter in the hope that not only will their show get picked up to series, he’ll set the style for subsequent episodes, there’s no guarantee the director of a pilot will set the tone for those who follow. But Rupert Wyatt’s direction on the first episode of The Exorcist was just so good, you’d have thought the producers (of whom he is one) would have had to have been crazy not to have told their other directors to do what he did.

Except it turns out they are crazy, because episode two wasn’t a patch on episode 1. Tonally, it owed a lot more to recent horror movies, including the likes of Blair Witch, with its few shocks coming from handheld camera footage rather than a general pervasive feeling of evil. Compounded with this is the fact the show has decided to become more like Outcast, not quite making it a buddy-buddy piece but getting perilously close. Making the elder vicar (Ben Daniels) a member of a secret order trained from childhood to be exorcists doesn’t exactly help to achieve mimesis. 

That aside, Daniels gets to have a lot more fun that he did in the pilot and is jolly good. There are at least a few scares, too. But following such a great first episode, episode two is a major disappointment.
Review: First episode

Impastor (US: TV Land)
2×1 – The Devil Went Down To Ladnor
Last year’s surprise good comedy from TV Land returns to pick up where last season’s cliffhanger left off with an innovative solution to the predicament, some interesting potential new directions for the show and about the same level of silliness and drama as before. I doubt this is ever going to get promoted to recommended, but it’s a generally fun little half hour every week.
Review: First episode 

Lethal Weapon (US: Fox; UK: ITV)
1×2 – Surf N Turf
Ditching the scripts of all the Lethal Weapon movies in favour of new plots, the show nevertheless manages to combine stupid cop buddy-buddy laughs with Martin Riggs’ death wish and the original’s fixation on special forces reasonably well. There’s a decent fire-fight and flesh added to the other characters, too, although making Mrs Murtaugh YA attorney feels like a step backwards into the generic from the movies’ ‘secret author of romance novels’. But I guess given how much authors earn now versus the size of the Murtaughs’ house, it’s possibly a more realistic move. Chace Crawford is still the best thing about the show, which is at least significantly better than Rush Hour, yet it feels like there’s not much being added and a whole lot being taken away from the originals here. And I don’t think comparing yourself in more or less every scene with every other famous cop show partnering helps, either. You are not Starsky and Hutch, that’s for sure.
Review: First episode

Notorious (US: ABC)
1×2 – The Perp Walk
More bobbins with Perabo and the increasingly worse Daniel Sunjata, as the news producer and the attorney squabble a bit over a guest B-plot criminal case to distract from the fact the A-plot is very empty and stupid. The point at which I decided to give up on Notorious wasn’t the first or even the second time Perabo’s anchor took her top off immediately after or before a news broadcast, but was actually when her assistant – you remember her, the former escort? – revealed she had a top secret source in the NSA who could hack the company’s own network for her. Nope. Sorry – I’m gone.
Review: First episode

Pitch (US: Fox)
1×2 – The Interim
My gods, baseball is dull. But what’s even duller than baseball is the second episode of a show that’s all about baseball that does all the same things it did in the first episode. Except without the surprise at the end. Or the dramatic peaks. So even though this was an Ali Larter-centric episode, it’s also the one that made me give up on Pitch.
Review: First episode

Speechless (US: ABC)
1×2 – N-E-NEW A-I-AIDE
Surprisingly, Speechless not only had a few more things to say about disability, it was also able to conjure up ways of making the non-Minnie Driver members of the family interesting, which was no small achievement. Middle son is a bit of a waste of plot, but a nicely blue collar yet diverse show for ABC for a change.
Review: First episode

This is Us (US: NBC; UK: Channel 4)
1×2 – The Big Three
The trouble with being clever and predicating your TV show on being clever is if you’re not actually as clever as you think you are. While episode two of This Is Us is a good deal less pleased with itself than the first episode, it tries again to pull another twist ending, which again is no surprise to anyone who’s been watching or has watched genuinely good TV. Otherwise, another episode of angsty ‘drama’ about all the universal things that are universal to all people trying to work out their place in the world, and which tritely answers all its own questions with ‘all is all you need’. Nice to see Brad Garratt up to things still, though.
Review: First episode

The recommended list

The Fall (UK: BBC Two)
Only halfway through this, but so far, a marvellous start tinged with the usual thorough research you’re used to from The Fall. I do wonder how much sleep Richard Coyle is getting, though, given how many shows he’s been in this year. 
First episode

Halt and Catch Fire (US: AMC; UK: Amazon)
3×7 – The Threshold
As usual, the show plays a curveball or two at the end, but ones that it thoroughly earned. Beautiful acting by everyone, some individually lovely moments (especially the one between Joe and Gordon) and some top plotting as well. Shaping up to the show’s best season so far, even if it a bit less interesting and spiky than the first.
Reviews: First episodethird episode

You’re The Worst (US: FXX; UK: 5*)
3×5 – Twenty Two
Not really a funny episode, but if season 2 was all about Gretchen’s depression, season 3 seems to be about Edgar’s PTSD and the show is handling it just as cleverly and sensitively. Some of the jokes fell a bit flat, particularly the silent movie, but generally excellent and reminded me a lot of that ‘this is what it’s like to have schizophrenia’ video that got put out a while back. 
Review: First episode


  • 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.