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. TMINE recommends has all the reviews of all the TV shows TMINE has ever recommended, but for a complete list of TMINE’s reviews of (good, bad and insipid) TV shows and movies, there’s the definitive TV Reviews A-Z and Film Reviews A-Z. But it’s what you have you been watching? So tell us! Ah go on. Go on, go on, go on
August is nearly here, which means TMINE is about to take it’s traditional month off from talking about TV in order to lounge around by a pool and try to read a book without falling asleep for a change. Naturally, of course, all the new shows are starting up now so there’s no slouching to be done just yet, though.
I’ll be reviewing both Midnight, Texas (US: NBC; UK: Syfy) and Pulse (Australia: ABC) over the next couple of days, but after the jump, I’ll be looking at the first episodes of Somewhere Between (US: NBC) and Ozark (Netflix). I’ve also caught a couple of movies out the corner of one eye, so I’ll be reviewing Sing (2017) and Beauty and the Beast (2017), too.
But as it is the last WHYBW before the August vacations, as usual it’ll be a little special and I’ll be applying my standard “Can I really be shagged to catch up with it when I get back?” test to the current list of shows, including Game of Thrones, Salvation, Snowfall, Will and Twin Peaks, as well as the returning Shooter. Can you guess which ones I can really be shagged to catch up with when I get back? Ah go on.
Movies I’ve caught out the corner of one eye
My wife was watching them. I was doing other things at a slightly odd viewing angle relative to the television
Animated musical animals. Koala voiced by Matthew McConaughey. Some sort of singing competition to keep Koala’s theatre up and running to which lots of animals turn up to despite peer pressure and sing their little hearts out. Nice voices (Scarlett Johansson as a punk porcupine, Taron Egerton as a gangster gorilla, Seth McFarlane as a con mouse), decent enough script, a few moving moments. Not as bad as I thought it would be.
Beauty and the Beast (2017)
Faithful live-action remake of the Disney cartoon (caveat: I haven’t seen the Disney cartoon) in which Emma Watson plays Belle, Dan Stevens plays the Beast, and a flotilla of the great and the good (Emma Thomson, Ewan McGregor, Sir Ian McKellen, Stanley Tucci, Gugu Mbatha-Raw) play various pieces of animated furniture. Exactly what you’d expect, well done and with some pretty decent animation. Although no amount of make up can cover up the fact non-beast Stevens is nearly a decade too old for Watson.
Jason Bateman is a seemingly lowly, porn-addicted, Chicago financial advisor in a slightly dull marriage with Laura Linney, with two ungrateful teenage kids. What they don’t know (or don’t like to talk about) is that Bateman and his best mate have actually been laundering drug money for the past decade.
Unfortunately, best mate’s been siphoning off some of the cash and when Esau Morales turns up, he’s not best pleased so kills everyone. Except Bateman who convinces him that actually, the Ozarks might be a better place for selling drugs, as it’s free of Chicago’s government surveillance yet knee-deep in rich people. So Morales gives him a week to get things up and running.
I have to admit that I only watched the first episode under the TMINE contractual obligation to watch everything new I possibly can. But actually, it was a whole lot better than I thought it was going to be. Director/star Bateman and writer/creator Bill Dubuque (The Accountant) make the show a lot smarter, funnier and lighter than you think it’s going to be, Morales is great to watch, and the teenagers are admirably whiny. Bateman’s not quite Breaking Bad, since he’s already bad to begin with, but his ability to deploy financial regulations to his advantage at a moment’s notice is alternatively bad ass.
Episode 1 ends with the family Bateman turning up at the Ozarks, so I have no idea what the format is for the other nine episodes. But I’ll certainly be giving them a try when I get back. At some point.
Somewhere Between (US: ABC)
Adaptation of a Korean show in which TV journo Paula Patton unwisely promises to catch a notorious serial killer, said killer than deciding to kill her daughter in return for all that hubris. Patton kills herself, but wakes up to find it’s 10 days earlier, all the bad things haven’t happened yet and she has a chance to stop everything before it starts. Potentially along for the ride, given that he was thrown in the same lake at the same time as Patton decided to drown herself, is disgraced cop turned PI Devon Sawa – who equally coincidentally has a grudge against Patton’s DA husband, as he was the one who put his brother behind bars.
Lots of coincidences, lots of lines about how coincidental it all is (although gods bless them for “A million people and you happened to break into the same man’s home. What are the chances?” “100% it seems, since it actually happened”), lots of sad faces, etc. But the most exciting and realistic moment in the entire first episode is Patton throwing herself in the lake, before which it’s a highly soporific affair. There’s all manner of red herrings thrown out there as to who might be the serial killer, etc, and there’s a somewhat distasteful plotline about Sawa’s brother’s case being used to bring back the death penalty in Washington State, but none of it is compelling viewing and the inanity and simplistic nature of the dialogue and plotting make it an insulting watch.
Given it looks like there’s only one reset, rather than a full groundhog recursion, it’s likely to be pure murder-mystery from now on, albeit one that flashes up what happened the previous time round. Every. Single. Moment. I’m not sure if that floats your boat, but I doubt I can be shagged to play catch-up after my holiday.
Shows I’ve been watching but not recommending
Salvation (US: CBS; UK: Amazon – maybe)
1×2 – Another Trip Around the Sun
And I’m out. For every one slightly smart idea – we’re now talking about building an EM drive to propel a satellite to deflect the potentially Earth-destroying asteroid using gravitational attraction – we have something ludicrously stupid, usually along the “private sector so smart, government so stupid and will try to kill you” lines, that it all cancels out. I can’t watch any more of this dumb.
Episode reviews: 1
Can I really be shagged to catch up with it when I get back? I hope the asteroid does hit the Earth
Snowfall (US: FX)
1×2 – Make Them Birds Fly – 1×3 – Slow Hand
John Singleton’s journey back to the LA of the 80s to look at the birth of the crack epidemic continues much as it did during the first episode – telling us not much we didn’t know already. Its strongest storyline is actually the CIA thread, but it mirrors that of junior crack dealer Damson Idris in really being about newbies coming across seasoned vets of wars and learning to either get hard or get beaten up. Episode three is perhaps the notable of the three episodes, but that’s mainly due to an unpleasant scene of torture and rape that we all could have guessed the outcome of (“don’t trust a gang member”).
Episode reviews: 1
Can I really be shagged to catch up with it when I get back? It’s not addictive – I quit
Will (US: TNT)
1×4 – Brave New World
Deep breath going in as this was the first ep not written by Craig Pearce so potentially the first ep to emulate rather than embody (or deliberately deny) the punk spirit of the show. Still, while there were definite episode twoish moments of historical tedium, an ep that managed to have plenty of fun with its historic-ahistoric tensions, all to a T-Rex/Beastie Boys soundtrack, as Will goes to one of Marlowe’s parties, and nearly writes A Midsummer Night’s Dream but ends up doing Henry VI instead. It’s not up there with the sheer joy of episode one again, but the show does at least seem to be stabilising around two good songs, a new play and a deliberate anachronism each episode, at least.
Game of Thrones (US: HBO; UK: Sky Atlantic)
7×2 – Stormborn
Far more of a crowd-pleaser than the season opener, giving us all manner of meetings, news imparted, battles and more that really rewarded the long-term viewer. Interestingly, even though we’re now nearing the end of the story, there’s still room for goodies to get killed and/or captured, so there could be some old school Game of Thrones surprises still to come. Not sure where Grey Worm got so good at shagging, mind.
Reviews: Season one
Can I really be shagged to catch up with it when I get back? Sesīr kipi!
Shooter (US: USA; UK: Netflix)
2×1 – The Hunting Party
So we skip a book and a continent or two for the rather good start of the second season of USA’s surprise hit military show (of which there are now many, many more to come this year). Ryan Phillippe’s off in Germany now, Omar Epps is off in Thailand and Cynthia Addai-Robinson is stuck behind a desk, but everyone seems to want them back in the thick of things – particularly a rather naughty sniper from the first season.
Despite the quick turnround between seasons, the action feels more polished, the on-screen sniping maths less intrusive, the flashbacks more realistic and Phillippe more plausible as a hardcore ex-marine. Its conservative heart also doesn’t try to do down Germany or (the obviously not) Thailand, being a decently respectful visit to both countries. The “we’re being hunted” storyline is a bit old-hat, but I can live with that.
Reviews: Season one
Can I really be shagged to catch up with it when I get back? Oohrah!