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? I bet it’s better than what I’ve been watching.
And lo! The floodgates have opened. Coincidentally in the week I’m busiest this month. Why couldn’t it have been last week? Pfft.
I’ve already reviewed The Brave (US: NBC) and the first two episodes of Star Trek: Discovery (US: CBS All Access; UK: Netflix), and I’ve passed a third-episode verdict on The Orville (US: Fox; UK: Fox UK), too. But still in my viewing pile from last night are Young Sheldon (US: CBS; UK: E4) and Me, Myself and I (US: CBS); I’ve still to write a preview of Ghosted (US: Fox), although doesn’t start until October 1; and I have to admit to having been a bit tardy in getting round to watching Bad Blood (Canada: City), too. All of those I hope to review within the next week, but you can bet your bottom dollar there’ll be a bunch of other shows joining them soon.
I’ve only watched one movie this week, Baywatch, so after the jump, I’ll be discussing that along with the latest episodes of Get Krack!n (Australia: ABC), Halt and Catch Fire (US: AMC; UK: Amazon) and The Last Ship (US: TNT; UK: Sky1). I’ve also been playing catching up with Bang (UK: S4C) and Professor T (Belgium: Eén; UK: More4). More on all of those in a mo.
Baywatch was an odd TV series. Originally designed purely as a vehicle for a post-Knight Rider David Hasselhoff (he even went over to Germany to raise funding for it), it started out as a relatively straight drama show about Californian lifeguards saving people – sort of like a coastal Casualty with better weather. You even had proper actors like Parker Stevenson around to discuss the merits of the profession versus those of lawyering.
But with the advent of Pamela Anderson, it became something of a showcase for former Playboy playmates hoping to have an acting career and who didn’t mind appearing in soft core rock video style interludes while on TV. Meanwhile, Hasselhoff was starting to solve crimes again and before you knew it there were spin-offs including Baywatch Nights (lifeguards by day, private detectives by night). Surprisingly, it also became the most watched TV programme in the world.
Now, in the wake of other movie adaptations of ‘classic’ TV shows such as Starsky & Hutch, CHiPS and 21 Jump Street, we’re getting Baywatch. Surprisingly, it’s not too awful and not too exploitative. It’s also been made by people who actually seem to have watched the TV show and expect us to have watched it, too.
It stars The Rock as Mitch Buchannan – David Hasselhoff’s character, although oddly enough Hasselhoff appears as Mitch Buchannan in it, too – a Californian lifeguard in charge of the elite ‘Baywatch’ team. He and his deputy Ilfenesh Hadera are looking for new recruits who have the Baywatch spirit and soon he’s hiring Alexandra Daddario and Kelly Rohrbach to join the team. Coincidentally, they all have the names of Baywatch TV characters, too, even though Pamela Anderson turns up as CJ Parker (Rohrbach’s character) as well. Confusing, no?
At the same time, he’s having former Olympic swimmer and all round douchebag Zac Efron foist onto him by his boss, and Efron soon has to learn the ‘Baywatch’ team spirit as the team go undercover to stop Priyanka Chopra dealing drugs on the beach.
What do you mean lifeguards don’t ‘go undercover’? Well, you’re not wrong and much of the interplay between The Rock and Efron (as well as other characters) is Efron pointing out that everything that’s happening – and that used to happen on the original TV series – is nothing that lifeguards should be involved with. No chases, no undercover missions, no investigating clues. They’re lifeguards. The movie is also happy to mock the slo-mo photography of the original series, too.
As well as subverting all those tropes, the movie also flips the voyeurism of the original show on its head. This is a movie that wants to ogle Efron and The Rock’s physique as much as it can, while the women largely get to cover up and do daring things. There’s a bit of cleavage, but it’s mostly about Efron and the Rock trying to out-bulge one another as they carry refrigerators along a beach.
But although Baywatch (2017) is clearly smarter than Baywatch, it’s still got a lot in common with many modern day dumb comedies, with The Rock and Efron playing gross-out tricks on one another, Efron and the Rock riding a tiny pink moped together in a chase scene, penises getting stuck between wooden slats, vomiting and so on. None of that is hugely funny and generally detracts from the rest of the piece.
The more you know about the original series (remember Baywatch Hawaii), the more you’ll get from Baywatch. It’s not hilarious, but anything with the Rock and/or Efron in is automatically better than it should be, the script isn’t utterly dumb, and by the end of it, you’ll have had a few laughs – and seen the Rock and David Hasselhoff together.
Shows I’m watching but not necessarily recommending
Bang (UK: S4C)
And the plot continues. Except not really. On the one hand, we have the sister’s contribution to the murder investigation, which isn’t really going anywhere any time soon. Lots of driving, lots of chatting, very little clue-solving, the occasional bit of shagging. On the other, we have lots about the brother with the gun, who it turns out has been thieving from work. But not much is actually happening there either. There’s also a lot of flashbacks to what happened after his dad was killed and there are some bad people in the neighbourhood. Who might do something some time.
In other words, it’s not going anywhere very quickly, which leaves me wondering if I should give up on it. It looks lovely and to its credit, it has a lot to say about life if you’ve a dead end job, can’t afford to buy a house, live on an estate and have a zero-hours contract.
But it has very much less to say about murders and isn’t that great as an investigation show, either. On top of that, you have the rather bad optics of making the chief bad guy a lisping, camp, Tweed-clad, posh gay man who likes to sexually assault young men and boys. Oh dear.
In all likelihood, I’ll have given up by next week, but keep watching this space.
Episode review: 1
Get Krack!n (ABC: Australia)
A promotion for the show as the two Kates (well one of them – the other had issues) get back on track with a far funnier, more varied, far worse produced effort than before that was as hysterically funny as the first episode. Someone in the UK really needs to pick this up. And I need to watch some back episodes of The Katering Show.
Episode reviews: 1-2
Halt and Catch Fire (US: AMC; UK: Amazon)
4×6 – A Connection Is Made
Halt and Catch is all about ageing and failure, and this was probably the most ‘ageing and failure’ episode so far, as our heroes reflect back on their lives, how they’ve changed and their mistakes, full of regret, wondering if they can fix things that have gone wrong or wondering if it’s all now too late. It’s all subtly done, although Donna’s encroaching alcohol problem is being played a little heavily, but it’s only once you reach the end of the episode what the show’s been up to. Come on Donna – just apologise to Cameron! She can help!
The Last Ship (US: TNT; UK: Sky1)
4×7 – Feast
Some land battles this week, but still as exciting for once. Peter Weller’s practically frothing at the moment, mind. Oddly, I thought his daughter was Circe – turns out she’s Calypso and Weller’s Circe. That’s surprising.
Professor T (Belgium: Eén; UK: More4)
Another swift promotion to the recommended list as I finally catch up with More4’s schedule. I’m really enjoying what is actually quite a sad show at heart – you don’t realise it at first because of the jokes, jaunty soundtrack and imaginative scenes – with a central lonely character who knows about people in theory but not in practice, but who really would like human connections if people weren’t so germ-ridden and stupid.
The latest four episodes I watched fleshed out not only Professor T and his past (including his parents and ex-partner), but also the supporting characters, making the Lestrade of the piece sympathetic (spoiler: (spoiler alert) he used to be a great detective who solved all his cases until his child died and he began to drown his sorrows in booze). There’s also a little sub-plot involving a prostitute whom Professor T hires purely to talk to and emulate a normal relationship with.
The crimes themselves are generally a bit nothing, with nonsense psychology and a confession usually tying up some pretty flimsy evidence for a pretty flimsy case, but the show itself is actually quite delightful.
Episode reviews: 1-2