What have you been watching? Including Jason Bourne, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency and Ash vs Evil Dead

It’s “What have you been watching?”, my chance to tell you what movies and TV I’ve been watching recently and your chance to recommend anything you’ve been watching. 

It’s been a slightly busier weekend than I was planning, thanks in part to the arrival of my new nephew, Charlie (welcome to the world, Charlie!). That means I didn’t quite manage to watch all the new shows I wanted, but I’m otherwise pretty much up to date. I’ve already reviewed the first episode of Shut Eye (US: Hulu), but that’s as far as I’ve got – third-episode verdict later this week, though. I’m five minutes into Netflix’s Medici: Masters of Florence and it’s got a worrying Borgia-quality to it, so I’m not in a rush to get any further with that, but I’ll try.

However, I’ll definitely be previewing Swedish Dicks (Sweden: Viaplay) this week and hopefully working my way through 3% (Netflix) and anything else that looms large, too.

That means that after the jump, thanks to last week’s minor purge and the December break, I’ll be looking at the slightly reduced list of current regulars:

Canada
Travelers

US
Chance, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, Falling Water, The Flash, The Great Indoors, Lethal Weapon, Shooter, Son of Zorn and Timeless.

I’ll also be looking at the season finales of Ash vs Evil Dead and Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency.

I did manage to watch a movie this week, too:

Jason Bourne (2016)
Disappointing return of the now-venerable franchise, with both Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass returning after the brief Tony Gilroy/Jeremy Renner interlude of The Bourne Legacy. Trying to take in the developments in world espionage since the The Bourne Supremacy, Jason Bourne brings Damon out of retirement to help Julia Stiles with her Snowden-esque activities, only to discover that his own dad might have had a hand in the Treadstone programme that created ‘Jason Bourne’. Meanwhile, Alicia Vikander is helping CIA director Tommy Lee Jones hunt down Damon and Stiles, while covering up his guilty secret, which involves Mark Zuckerberg-alike Riz Ahmed; Vincent Cassel is their asset out in the field, trying to kill Damon and Stiles, but not just because he’s following orders.

The plot and pretty much everything else is a poor retread of the best and worst bits of The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum, offering nothing new, while sacrificing one of the things that made the first few movies so refreshing: a reasonable attempt at mimesis. Here, the technology is just nonsense – “I’ve embedded malware in the files. As soon as she accesses them, I’ll know where she is” – the fights and inevitable car chases are poor and implausible, and even locations are glossed over, with the Canary Islands standing in for Athens at one point.

Should have stayed off the grid, guys. Or asked Tony Gilroy to help out again.

Chance (US: Hulu)
1×9 – Camera Obscura
Still suffering from the same problem I mentioned last week in that the show keeps dropping hints, but Chance himself ignores them (eg. spoiler: if Gretchen Mol was there when Chance’s daughter was kidnapped, why did she say she gave herself up in exchange for her? Pay attention, Chance!). Whether that’s just poor scripting or deliberate, I can’t say and the show either definitely wants you to think that everything is being played for reals or it’s messing with is. If everything is for real, the show’s just nonsense; if it is messing with us, which so many hints now suggest it is, then it’s great (although relying a lot on its name to excuse certain things), but Chance is a complete idiot.

That plotting issue to one side, an interesting semi-flashback episode that fills in a few gaps while dropping more hints as to what’s going on. It’s all going to hinge on next week’s episode, which is apparently going to be directed by Robert Zemeckis. I’ll believe that when I see it.
Review: First three episodes

DC’s Legends of Tomorrow (US: The CW; UK: Sky 1)
2×8 – The Chicago Way
The usual mid-season cliffhanger bomb-drops to encourage us to come back in January, with the return of Wentworth Miller and John Barrowman joining Team Evil, too. Dominic Purcell mildly perks up now he’s got someone to act off and there’s all manner of superheroic hijinks, too. I’m not sure the Chicago setting, Elliot Ness, Al Capone et al were needed, but they were jolly good fun all the same.
Reviews: First episodefourth episode

Falling Water (US: USA; UK: Amazon)
1×8 – The Well
How can this show be getting slower?
Reviews: First episodethird episode

The Great Indoors (US: CBS; UK: ITV2)
1×7 – @emma
The first episode that really was on the millennials’ side, with McHale firing Emma the social media influencer and discovering that it’s not easy being popular. Ironically, the episode saw the return of Stephen Fry, in which Fry (current Twitter following: 12.3m) had to learn from a millennial how to use Twitter.

Again, as always, an oddly well researched episode that featured a surprisingly large amount of knowledge about page views, sponsored content, click-throughs et al, and I have to admit to having learned a little about Instagram from it myself.
Reviews: First episodethird episode

Lethal Weapon (US: Fox; UK: ITV)
1×9 – Jingle Bell Glock
Although Die Hard gets all the kudos for being a Christmas movie, it’s an oft-forgotten fact that Lethal Weapon is a Christmas movie, too, even featuring ‘Jingle Bell Rock’ over its opening credits. So for its Christmas episode, the Lethal Weapon series wisely took its first stab since the pilot at pillaging plot from the movie, with the Murtaugh’s home being invaded. But there were also nods to Lethal Weapon 2, with the idea that the death of Riggs’ wife was actually a murder. Or was it? Riggs didn’t get to go too mental at that, unfortunately, but it was a nice touch. 
Review: First episodethird episode

Shooter (US: USA; UK: Netflix)
1×4 – Overwatch
Continuing in the reliably decent but never outstanding manner of the first few episodes, episode four’s flashback to Ryan Phillipe’s marine days was nevertheless markedly more exciting than the previous episodes, giving us some actual action and some actual shooting, as well as the return of a dead character or two. On top of that, it gave Phillipe a bit more backstory, fleshed out Omar Epps’ character, and gave Tom Sizemore and Cynthia Addai Robinson something to do, too. 

But as with previous weeks, Phillipe’s marine martial arts were just lousy. I spent this week’s big fight thinking, “No! Don’t do that or he’ll just… oh, he just did it! Doh!” He needs to go back to basic training, I think.
Review: First episode; third episode

Timeless (US: NBC; UK: E4)
1×9  – Last Ride of Bonnie & Clyde
Somehow, Bonnie and Clyde get roped into the Sinister Plot, which is now starting to bear a passing resemblance to National Treasure. And we get a bit of ‘will they, won’t they?’, since we’re nearing the mid-season finale. A generally pleasing episode, but nothing really to write home about, beyond the fact the show is finally working out how best to deal with each of the characters.
Reviews: First episodethird episode

The recommended list

Ash vs Evil Dead (US: Starz; UK: Virgin On Demand)
2×10 – Second Coming
A fitting way to round off the season, which really came into its own once it discovered the key to its own particular brand of comedy was gross-out bodily humour crossed with intense stupidity, gore and slapstick. Essentially just an excuse to run around a bit dumb, the show nevertheless managed to come up with a fitting conclusion to its storyline while keeping its options open for the next season. Great fun for those with a strong stomach.
Reviews: First episodethird episode

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency (US: BBC America; UK: Netflix)
1×8 – Two Sane Guys Doing Normal Things
What would have been a truly cracking end to the season and establishing of a format for a new season is somewhat undermined by the final ten minutes, in which the one storyline that didn’t get polished off decides to attack all the others in what had been a quite a heartwarming, promising set-up until then. It’s not a big problem, since I can see everything being fixed inside 10 minutes of the next season if the writers really want to, which they might do as it really was the least interesting storyline of them all.

Otherwise, a very smart, intrically woven season that took a time to transcend from being simply bonkers, inexplicable fun to becoming a smart, character-based comedy drama as well. Everything really came together at the end and the season as a whole was simultaneously in no way faithful to the books, while still being entirely faithful, as if an American Douglas Adams had written it. Shame the casting of Dirk himself was so off, but otherwise very fine in pretty much every way… right until that final 10 minutes.
Review: First episodethird episode

The Flash (US: The CW; UK: Sky 1)
3×9 – The Present
Christmas fun, with all being revealed about Draco Malfoy but differently to how you might have expected, given previous seasons’ formula. Also featured the Philosopher’s Stone, just for Harry Potter geeks. Lovely to have Mark Hamill and John Wesley Shipp reunited, even if only briefly, too. 
Reviews: First episodethird episode

Son of Zorn (US: Fox)
1×9 – The War on Grafelnik
It’s culture clash time again as Zorn tries to get everyone to celebrate his island’s equivalent of Christmas, Grafelnik. Plenty of laugh out loud moments from everyone, but the biggest come from the animated side of things, as always. Just watch it, everyone.
Reviews: First episodethird episode

Travelers (Canada: Showcase; UK: Netflix)
1×8 – Donner
Almost a standalone episode in which our Travelers have to deal with a possible misfire with another Traveler operation. Or do they? It all works out quite cleverly, as always, but again as always, it’s mostly about the characters and how they deal with modern times and their different ‘selves’, as well as how others deal with them. Top sci-fi.
Reviews: First episodethird episode