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. Anything good?
Summer’s nearly here. Ignore the sunshine that may (or may not) be outside your window, because the true signs of summer are new TV shows arriving on our screens. Things should be hotting up by the end of the month, but already this week I’ve covered Will (US: TNT) and Snowfall (US: FX) and passed a third-episode verdict on Riviera (UK: Sky Atlantic).
But we’re not quite there yet, so although I’ll be looking at the usual regulars after the jump, I’ve been filling my empty days with some more catch-up TV. So follow me after the jump where not only will we be talking about the latest episodes of GLOW, Ronny Chieng – International Student and Twin Peaks, I’ll also be chatting about the tail end of You Are Wanted. See you in a mo…
Shows I’ve been watching but not recommending
Not being the biggest of WWE fans, it had never occurred to me that it’s basically just a big soap opera, so thanks to GLOW for opening my eyes there. But also a good episode for the female characters as they begin to find their feet and themselves.
Reviews: Episode 1
You Are Wanted (Amazon)
For a while there, You Are Wanted appeared to be a techno thriller with something to say about personal information, our need for privacy and our vulnerability to hackers if they acquire access to systems both private and governmental. For about half of episode three, it almost became a modern-day version of 80s West German nuclear thriller Gambit, with everything being revealed to be an attempt to altruistically expose this issue to the world. Sure, pretty much everything technical is nonsense and near magic, undermining any sense of reality, but its heart is in the right place.
Unfortunately, it goes a bit pear-shaped after that, with our hero facing a master arch criminal who is of course known to him in a somewhat ordinary plot about Big Brother watching you, while having to recruit allies who live in secret basements in Chinese restaurants. When it brings in WikiLeaks as heroes (good luck with that…) at the end, it all falls apart.
Slightly problematically, too, is the fact our hero is a dick. A cheating dick who goes around shouting in people’s faces a lot and manhandling them. Frankly, you want terrible things to happen to him.
Not the best written of shows, full of dramatic clichés that make it feel like it wants to be a US show but can’t only imitate, You Are Wanted also highlights the inevitable quality issues in which a star also writes and directs the piece. Yet it’s not awful and it’s better than a whole bunch of other shows I could mention. Let’s just hope that it doesn’t put Amazon off making more German series – and that the next one’s better.
The recommended list
Ronny Chieng – International Student (Australia: ABC)
1×5 – For The Love Of Theatre(Er)(Her)
Without co-writer Greg Larsen on board this episode, proceedings return from the land of Spaced to give us something a bit more regular albeit still reasonably meta. The ongoing “will they, won’t they?” storyline returns, of course, but in the context of a stand-up competition at which Ronny discovers that his “persona” (ie him) is actually a funny character. Gosh, doesn’t that sound familiar and a bit Doctor Ken? Some good, near-the-knuckle moments about writing Asian characters, too, but the show could do with Larsen back again soon, by the looks of it.
Reviews: First two episodes
Twin Peaks (US: Showtime; UK: Sky Atlantic)
While nothing could be as amazingly out there as the previous episode (although never say never), this was much more familiar territory, with the action returning to the main plots, including some forgotten almost since the first episode, but with a far greater sense that there was some end point with an explanation that everything was aiming towards. Despite not trying to hit the visual highs of the previous episodes, there was still plenty of strangeness that echoed the original’s “The owls are not what they seem” et al in the dialogue and actions, too.
Reviews: First two episodes