It’s “What have you been watching?”, my chance to tell you each week what movies and TV I’ve been watching recently and your chance to recommend anything you’ve been watching.
First up, it’s a warm welcome to the returning “TMINE recommends“, which went missing in action during the recent TMINE redesign while I worked out how to reproduce it in WordPress. To be honest, though, I hadn’t updated it in a couple of years, so it wasn’t quite as useful as it was before. But I spent a little bit of my weekend recommending things in the system, so it should now be as complete a list as it was in its glory days.
I’ve also been working on some variably useful A-Z indexes of reviews, including ones for all the TV reviews, audio play reviews and Internet TV reviews. More to come when I’m not exhausted. With all of these, though, I’ve yet to work out a good way of including the weekly mini-reviews from WHYBW, so they’re not 100% complete, but they’re the best they’ve ever been all the same.
Right, now the admin’s out the way, let’s talk TV.
Things are starting to hot up again in TV around the world so expect some actual reviews later in the week and the start of next week. You’ll certainly be getting a third-episode verdict of Will tomorrow and I’ll probably be doing you a third-episode verdict of Snowfall next week, since I haven’t got round to watching last night’s episode yet. After the jump, I’ll be looking at the latest episodes of the now very short list of regulars: Ronny Chieng – International Student, Twin Peaks and the returning Game of Thrones. I’ve also managed to work my way through the whole of GLOW and I’ve tried two new shows: I’m Sorry (US: TruTV) and Friends From College (Netflix). See you on the other side!
I’m Sorry (US: TruTV)
I think I’ve lost count now of how many recent TV shows have been about mildly caustic, middle-aged, inept people playing semi-fictional versions of themselves who wander around getting annoyed at the world and its many petty social challenges. Curb Your Enthusiasm, Lead Balloon, The Paul Reiser Show, Donny!, Good Dog, Lopez… I’m sure there’s more than that, but it’s a pretty big list already
Anyway, add to that throng I’m Sorry, in which writer/comedian Andrea Savage plays writer/comedian ‘Andrea Savage’, a 40-something, possibly menopausal mom who wanders around LA trying to navigate its petty social challenges. These include a swearing old woman at her local dance class who refuses to let her turn on the air-conditioning because “it’s not actually that hot” and whether to say anything to one of the other moms about the fact she (and every man she’s acquainted with) knows that said mom used to be a porn star.
I’m Sorry doesn’t even have the virtue of being the first “irritated woman” show, since Better Things takes that honour (I knew I’d left one off), and in the scheme of things it’s roughly on a par with The Paul Reiser Show rather than Curb Your Enthusiasm. The jokes aren’t funny, unless you think the idea of going around a group of women, asking if they like horses, is funny.
‘Andrea’ herself is pretty charmless and has zero chemistry with on-screen husband Tom Everett Scott (Southland). Not even Judy Greer can rescue this foul-mouthed pup.
Friends From College (Netflix)
A whole bunch of friends from college come together again, once one couple have to relocate for work. Trouble is that the guy in the couple is shagging one of the other friends.
After one episode, that’s as much plot as I’d been exposed to and as much as I could be bothered with, since despite the cast, it’s eminently tedious stuff. And what a cast, too: Keegan-Michael Key as the shagging high-brow writer forced to write young-adult literature by agent Fred Savage; Cobie Smulders as his wife; Annie Parisse as his shaggee; and Nat Faxon as another of their mutual pals. Yet this mines pretty much the exact same territory as every single French film since 1957 without adding even an iota of anything new, not even jokes, despite literally the entire cast being talented comedy actors. How did that happen?
Shows I’ve been watching but not recommending
Well, it took a while but we finally hit pay-dirt with episode 7 – Live Studio Audience – which had some genuinely funny moments, largely thanks to Marc Maron’s commentary on the wrestling match. Indeed, pretty much everything comes together after that, from Alison Brie’s character (and ‘character’) through to the relationships between the other wrestlers and the revelation about Maron’s fan. I wouldn’t say I’d thoroughly recommend it, but it is actually worth the investment of time.
One thing that did irk me was the British character ‘Britannia’ whose accent was so glottal-stopped, I assumed it had to be effected by an American. Could they really not find a Brit? Really?
Guess what? It’s only that Kate bleeding Nash, innit?
Reviews: Episode 1
The recommended list
Game of Thrones (US: HBO)
7×1 – Dragonstone
By now, they know they’ve got us – we ain’t quitting now – so there’s no need to wow us with the season opener. So beyond a slightly obvious pre-title review, not much new and exciting in this episode, which is basically just an exercise in seeing where everyone’s earlier character arc had taken them between seasons. There was the usual excitement of characters almost meeting or turning up where another character had just left, but largely it was little things, like The Hound’s vision in the fire, that made it a very watchable episode.
That said, how stupid do you have to be to not realise that the biggest collection of dragon glass in the world is going to be in the conveniently empty city of (spoiler alert) Dragonstone. You don’t need no book-learning to spot that one coming.
Review: Season one
Ronny Chieng – International Student (Australia: ABC)
1×6 – Performance Enhancement
It’s cramming time at uni, so everyone wants the cough and flu medicine that really helps them to concentrate. Unfortunately, the store’s sold out and before you know, some enterprising students are buying meth so they can reverse engineer cough and flu medicine from it. Sounds bonkers? It is – not the funniest the show has ever been, but still full of some odd laughs, as well as the evolving relationship between Ronny and his gal pal.
Reviews: First two episodes
Twin Peaks (US: Showtime; UK: Sky Atlantic)
The plots are still converging, thankfully, but this was the first episode where I’ve found my concentration wandering and not getting punished for my lack of dedication. Some great moments, including Sexy Dougie and the return of Laura Palmer, although we’re going into some dark territory with Richard Horne and his probable father. And we did get David Lynch doing some of his art. Anyone for more ‘The Angriest Dog in the World’? So not all bad.
Reviews: First two episodes