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.
TV networks around the world are starting to crank into life, with a few old favourites returning to our screens and a few more new ones on their way this week (Canada – I’m looking at you here). That means that after the jump, as well as the latest episodes of Shooter and Sherlock, I’ll be looking at the return of Lethal Weapon, Man Seeking Woman, and Son of Zorn.
I’ve not yet had a chance to watch NBC’s gritty Wizard of Oz adaptation, Emerald City, from Friday, so I’ll be reviewing that separately on Wednesday. But the other major newbie out last week was…
Beyond (US: Freeform; UK: Available now on Netflix)
A gender-swapped insipid amalgam of every other Young Adult sci-fi/fantasy show you’ve ever watched, whether it be Twilight or even Freeform’s own Kyle XY, in which a young adult (Burkely Duffield in this case) discoveres he’s very, very special for some arbitrary reason and both a skulking conspiracy and a band of goodies want to recruit him to their respective teams.
Here, the conceit is that Duffield was knocked out when he was 12 years old and since then has been in a coma. Except during that time, his disembodied consciousness went to another realm – unimaginatively called The Realm – something that’s given him telekinetic/firestarting abilities. Waking up, he’s pursued by a ‘man in a yellow jacket’ (Peter Kelamis), as well as a foreign-sounding ‘ninja girl from The Matrix‘ (Dilan Gwyn), while having visions of an old man (Alex Diakun). Duffield not only has to recover his memories from that time in The Realm and try to escape those who would control him, he’s also got to get used to the new world of cellphones, Wikipedia and being a 12-year-old in a 24-year-old’s surprisingly unatrophied body. There’s also all the changes in his family, with younger brother now effectively the elder brother and his parents having separated.
There are moments in Beyond – most of them in the pilot – where the show’s almost cool, such as when Duffield uses his powers for the first time. There’s also a sweet charm to Duffield’s character, who tries to woo girls by talking about science and history, because that’s all he knows about, having missed out on half his life. Kelamis’s ‘yellow jacket’ is both sinister and amusing, and the introduction in episode 5 or so of a coma-girl with powers of her own was a welcome addition.
But I managed to sit through six episodes without finding anything much more than that, although maybe I should have held on a bit longer until Martin Donovan shows up as the Big Bad. There’s not much danger, nothing too exciting about The Realm beyond a few dogs. Duffield’s powers seem to consist of accidentally blowing things up a lot, which gets boring after a while. Gwyn is far less Trinity, far more Bella (but before she gets all cool and vampirey), constantly pining after Duffield but never actually doing much.
The show also has a 24-year-old’s memory of history. So while it’s interesting we learn that US youth have in just 12 years gone from first making phone calls to talk to someone they like to texting them (something last week’s Lethal Weapon touches on, oddly enough), everything else exists in an oddly timeless vacuum. While we’re clearly in something like the present day, judging by the phones and the CSI:Miami-style floating displays and touchscreens behind invalids’ beds, Duffield doesn’t know about Apple Computers (iPod generation 2 released 2002) and his 12-year-old self had a bedroom adorned with original Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back posters. Meanwhile, Kelamis wears a pair of glasses straight out of 1988.
All in all, you’re probably better off watching Shadowhunters, if you’re going to be watching any YA fantasy shows.
Shows I’ve been watching but not recommending
Lethal Weapon (US: Fox; UK: ITV)
1×10 – Homebodies
In which Riggs meets someone almost as much of a shut-in and depressed as he is. Sounds fun, hey, but it works quite well and actually, I’m enjoying the fact that Riggs’ misery isn’t cured by a lot of shooting and turkey, as per the movie, but by time and therapy. Also notable for a few fun things with Roger’s kids (cf Beyond), as well as the marvellous Chin Han (The Dark Knight, Serangoon Road, Marco Polo) as the duo’s new partner (don’t ask).
Review: First episode; third episode
Sherlock (UK: BBC One; US: BBC America)
4×2 – The Lying Detective
A vast improvement over the previous episode, with reliable Stevie Moffat righting the ship and generally reminding us of why the show became a hit in the first place, with Toby Jones deliciously creepy as the Jimmy Savile of the piece. Not really a mystery to be solved so much as a “How will they get evidence against him?” but plenty of twists around every corner and thankfully, a whole plethora of deductions for a change, too. A clever red herring (‘Sherrinford’) should have sent plenty of Holmes fans chasing up the garden path, as well, which is nice. Fingers crossed for the last episode…
Reviews: first episode
The recommended list
Man Seeking Woman (US: FXX)
3×1 – Futon
The return of one of TV’s funniest and most absurd comedies (the two qualities seem to go together these days), with the show slightly changing format (man has now found woman) and gauging things as much from the female point of view as the male this episode at least. The usual flights of fancy are both insightful and entertaining, with the show taking potshots at everything from immigration policy to MRAs in its own skewed way, and new arrival Lucy (Katie Findlay) fits right in, even getting the first chucklefest of the episode with her unlucky pre-date day.
Review: First episode
Shooter (US: USA; UK: Netflix)
1×8 – Red on Red
Confrontations and shoot-outs aplenty, and some decent intrigue, too; Phillippe’s character finally seems to be recovering his Marine training, as well. On top of that, Addai-Robinson and Phillippe get to team up at last, which also led to an interesting piece on the different ethoses of the FBI and the Marine Corps. I guess we’ll have to wait for the proper Phillippe/Harrington face-off until a later date, but I enjoyed what we did get, particularly the discussion about what makes a sniper different from a marksman.
Review: First episode; third episode
Son of Zorn (US: Fox)
1×10 – Radioactive Ex-Girlfriend
Olivia Wilde turns up as the voice of Zorn’s (literally) radioactive ex-girlfriend whom Zorn returns to dating to ensure he has a hot plus-one for Edie and Craig’s engagement party. But is this a (literally) toxic relationship Zorn will live to regret? Or will he more likely die from terrible radiation poisoning?
Obviously an episode where sub-text is text as well, but one that plays out well, with Craig and Alangulon allowed some space to develop for a change. The usual flotilla of laugh-out-loud moments, too, many of them from Craig’s ‘therapy’.
Reviews: First episode; third episode