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.
I’ve been both lazy and hard-working this past week. On the one hand, despite knowing every year that the US is going to start launching all its new shows around now, I’ve not actually bothered looking at the schedules. I just assumed it would all be chocka by now, so I cleared the decks accordingly.
Except it’s not been chocka at all, so I’ve ended up watching a whole load of extra TV in the gaps I’ve left. That means that this week, as well as previews of new US shows The Good Doctor (US: ABC; UK: Sky Living) and The Mayor (US: ABC), I watched all the first season of Tin Star (UK: Sky Atlantic) and all the second season of Glitch (Australia: ABC; UK: Netflix) for TMINE’s newly inaugurated ‘Boxset Monday’.
Impressive, huh? What will I do next Monday, hey? Probably nothing as I’m going to be busy on Monday, so take Glitch as a downpayment.
On top of all those shows, I’ve been trying to watch an awful lot of other new shows and movies – to somewhat limited success, I have to admit.
I tried to watch the second episode of Dear Murderer (New Zealand: TVNZ), but my hopes of a nice spy trial episode were dashed once it became apparent that the trial was going to be thinly spread across the entire season, with our ‘hero’ instead mostly losing lots of cases using the same attempt to inject reasonable doubt into proceedings every time. So I gave up on that.
I also tried to watch Netflix’s pastiche of true crime documentaries, American Vandal. That lasted about 10 minutes before I realised it was basically about a US high school kid accused of spray-painting penises on people’s cars. So I gave up on that.
I also tried to give The Edge of the Bush (Australia: ABC) a whirl. That’s a short-form character comedy in which a small cast play a large number of very stupid, related people: “What happened on The Edge of the Bush? Something so powerful it will bring the Watts family calisthenics dynasty to its knees.” I got through about five minutes of that before I decided the jokes were so bad, I couldn’t even.
For reasons unclear to me, Netflix, Amazon and iTunes have simultaneously decided to carry a movie that was actually a recent failed attempt to resurrect ‘The Saint’ as a TV series. Since it was free on Netflix, I decided to give The Saint a whirl, but it only took me about 10 minutes and a very bad humorous fight scene before I understood why it had failed and gave up. Even though Eliza Dushku and Ian Ogilvy are in it.
Lots of failures then. But I did have greater success elsewhere. Although I didn’t quite have time to watch the second episode of Bang today as I’d planned, there were of course the usual regulars: Get Krack!n, Halt and Catch Fire and The Last Ship as well as the series finale of כפולים (False Flag). I also watched the first episode of returning regular Lethal Weapon and the second episode of The Orville.
But since I still had a moment or two spare over the weekend, I tried the first two episodes of Belgium’s Professor T. And together with my lovely wife, I also gave two movies a try: The Lobster and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2. All that after the jump.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 (2015)
Honest to God, we’ve tried watching this four times now. Four times. But despite the first two movies being real crackers, and the third marginally less exciting, but still worthwhile, this third sequel, which rounds off the whole Hunger Games saga is almost unwatchable. We were literally breaking it down into chunks of 10-20 minutes, and watching it a chunk a night to be able to finally make it to the end.
I’m not entirely sure why, though. On the face of it, it’s not that much different from previous efforts. Maybe it’s the disaffected nature of Katness in the final part, as she has to deal with being a propaganda tool for a rebellion that’s not that much different from the regime it’s trying to overthrow at times.
But this feels like about an hour and a half of movie padded out beyond all reasonable tolerance. One for completists only.
The Lobster (2016)
Giorgos Lanthimos’s first big English-language movie after Κυνόδοντας (Dogtooth) is another absurdist masterpiece satirising society and human relationships. It envisages a world where people who aren’t in couples have to stay in a hotel until they fall in love. If they don’t fall in love within a set number of days, they get turned into an animal of their own choosing. However, they extend their stay by helping in the daily hunt of singletons who try to escape the system by living alone in the forest.
Then the recently dumped Colin Farrell comes to the hotel, where he fails to find true love and risks becoming a lobster. Until finally he meets Rachel Weisz.
Most of the absurdity comes through the simple act of having the entire cast either saying the subtext of a human relationship out loud or getting them to talk like children trying to make friends with one another, showing how arbitrary interactions are and how saying what you actually want – or what you think the other person wants to know – means you’re never going to get it. But there’s plenty of just downright bonkers moments, as well as (unfortunately) a lot of violence against animals that really upset my poor little vegan heart.
A great cast that also includes Olivia Colman, Ashley Jensen, Ben Whishaw, John C Reilly and Léa Seydoux means this is definitely worth watching if you don’t mind your comedy being downright odd.
Professor T (Belgium: Eén; UK: More4)
On the one hand, Professor T is your basic crime drama. It sees Ella Leyers playing a police detective who comes up a rape case that reminds her of one that took place 10 years ago involving one of her friends. Unable to solve it, she returns to university to ask one of her old professors – the brilliant eponymous Professor Jasper Teerlink (Koen De Bouw) – to help. He agrees and by the end of the first episode/start of the second, he’s agreeing to become a police advisor to help her with future investigations as well.
So far, so ordinary. Neither the first nor the second episode had much by way of great plotting; the crime wasn’t a huge puzzle; Professor T’s wisdom wasn’t so huge that anyone with a passing acquaintanceship with the genre wouldn’t have already heard it on a half-dozen other crime shows.
What really makes Professor T work is the character, De Bouw’s acting and the general tone of the show. Professor T is Hercules Poirot to the max, a vain misanthrope who hates other people and thinks we’re all “herd animals”. He’s so obsessed with personal hygiene that he wears rubber gloves, has a constant stream of antibacterial gel at his command and insists everyone stands at least 5m away from him at all times. His furniture is all covered in sheets and he prefers to sit on the roof of his university to get away from it all those pesky people.
He’s also a great manipulator and very imaginative, with many scenes simply being him imagining song and dance numbers or lipsyncing to a song.
And unlike Sherlock Holmes, there are clear reasons for his misanthropy (possibly his failed relationship with the chief of police) and he can be quite nice about people – just not to their faces.
It’s that combination of charm and eccentricity that means that the show’s already been remade by both France and Germany. I really enjoyed simply the tone of the first two episodes, so I’m probably going to play catch up with the remaining episodes that have already aired on More4 (cursed August).
More4 have been their usually twatty selves and not bothered posting any trailers on YouTube, so here are some Dutch (or maybe Flemish) ones, but with Spanish subtitles. I don’t speak much Spanish, but I could read them anyway, so fingers crossed you can, too. I’ve also posted a Facebook clip – it’s not that great but it does give you a flavour of the show and in English, too.
Shows I’m watching but not necessarily recommending
Get Krack!n (ABC: Australia)
Although the first episodes of this comedy were indisputably one of the most hilarious things Australia has ever produced, episode three made a slight misstep in being both too dark (it can be very dark at times. Very) and too focused on a single idea (Katy Perry is coming onto the show. Which, of course, she’s not) rather than the marvellous variety of jokes that made the first couple of episodes genuinely laugh-a-minute. But still full of properly funny moments so absolutely not a wash out.
Lethal Weapon (US: Fox; UK: ITV2)
2×1 – El Gringo Loco
It’s not really back yet, but I saw a preview, so I thought I’d talk about it now while the memories were still fresh. So it’s basically the same. There are no huge reboots, no cast changes that I noticed (although the kids looked slightly shinier but maybe they’re just getting paid for). There’s a vague hint that Riggs might now be a little bit death-wishy and ready to move on. But that’s about it.
Otherwise, more of the same, but even less plausible, although Riggs was significantly more of a lethal weapon than more, with considerably more baddies actually getting shot and killed, which is certainly welcome. More Lethal Weapon, less Lethal Weapon 4, please.
The Orville (US: Fox; UK: Fox UK)
1×2 – Command Performance
So I know I said last week that The Orville is less a pastiche, more cheap, recast version of Star Trek, but this week’s episode was genuinely Star Trek. There’s a new title sequence which is more or less Star Trek: Voyager‘s; the plot was more or less identical to that of Star Trek‘s marvellous pilot episode The Menagerie. It’s the same show, but with a bit more swearing, a bit more bickering and a few more office jokes. That’s the only difference.
That said, it’s also quite a dull version of Star Trek. I nearly didn’t make it to the end of the episode, it was so poor, despite being The Menagerie again, which would have been a shame since the final couple of scenes were the best ones. They weren’t great, but they were still the best ones.
Seth McFarlane says the show is deliberately supposed to switch genre and be unpredictable, but so far it’s been two bland versions of Star Trek with the only true innovation being replicators capable of making cannabis brownies, so unless next week’s is a completely different genre, I’m out. Oh, and Adrianne Palicki had better get something to do next week, too – that’s a deal-breaker.
כפולים (False Flag) (Israel: Channel 2; UK: Fox UK)
Okay, so that just about held together. It needed the final scene and the final final scene to make it all work, but at the end of that, I think the narrative logic worked, although maybe there were one too many “But what if they’d done that instead of this? Wouldn’t that have all gone pear-shaped?” questions lingering in my mind.
That said, all in all, a top, smart spy thriller that nevertheless managed to keep the little people in focus for most of its run, which is impressive. I’d still definitely recommend anyone looking to watch a good modern TV spy thriller to watch this (along with The Bureau, of course).
The show aired in Israel in 2015 and the ending leaves everything potentially open to a second season. Indeed, the writers were already working on it in 2015. But nothing yet. Fingers crossed!
PS False Flag was definitely a mistranslation
Halt and Catch Fire (US: AMC; UK: Amazon)
4×5 – Nowhere Man
In which Joe realises that directories are not as good as algorithms when it comes to indexing the web. Ah, if only he knew what we knew, hey? But that’s the point.
Anyway, not so much an episode about events – although there were a few of those – more an episode about how you can’t escape the past, no matter how time moves on. Really then a whole bunch of people sitting around having things revealed at them and then either reverting to bad past behaviour and occasionally having heart attacks.
I’ve said it before, but Halt and Catch Fire is not just the best show about the difficulty of success in business, but also the best show about ageing since maybe Our Friends in the North.
The Last Ship (US: TNT; UK: Sky1)
4×6 – Tempest
YOU THERE. YES YOU, STUPID. DID YOU NOT SPOT THAT THIS WAS A SEASON BASED AROUND THE ODYSSEY? GOD DAMN IT. WE TRIED NOT TO BE TOO SUBTLE. RIGHT, WE ARE GOING TO HAVE TO MAKE IT SO MUCH CLEARER.
Hence, the producers thought that after weeks of hints, it was still a good idea this episode to actually have a character reading The Odyssey and explaining just how similar their own adventures were to those told in The Odyssey. Really just astonishing balls on these people.
This week, of course, was essentially Scylla and Charybdis, with just a hint of the Battle of Trafalgar thrown in for good luck. Lots of lovely naval action and even a bit of shooting, too, which was brilliant and what we’re all here for really, anyway. Wolf’s looking a bit lost for things to do, mind, and am I wrong or are there now three captains on the bridge?