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.
The wave of new US shows is dying down at last, so WHYBW has returned to its usual day of Tuesday. In the past week, I’ve reviewed the whole of season 1 of Mindhunter (Netflix), as well as the first episodes of Valor (US: The CW) and Ghost Wars (US: Syfy; UK: Netflix), and passed third-episode verdicts on SEAL Team (US: CBS) and Wisdom of the Crowd (US: CBS).
There have been a couple of other new shows, though. The reboot of Dynasty (US: The CW; UK: Netflix) has just started, but you can work out for yourselves if you like that, since I’m not touching it. However, I will be reviewing Superstition (US: Syfy) tomorrow, you lucky people, as well as passing a third-episode verdict on The Gifted (US: Fox; UK: Fox UK).
Now I did promise you all a review of Alias Grace (Canada: CBC; UK: Netflix). However, I got about 15 minutes into the episode, before the various attempts at Irish and American accents proved so grating that I couldn’t get any further. Sorry about that. Hopefully you can get over it to enjoy this somewhat cheap looking adaptation.
After the jump, the usual regulars: The Brave, Great News, Marvel’s Inhumans, Me, Myself and I, Professor T, Star Trek: Discovery and Will & Grace. We’ll also be talking about the return of both Mr Robot and Travelers, as well as the final ever episodes of Halt and Catch Fire. I couldn’t be bothered watching any more Valor though.
See you in a mo.
Shows I’m watching but not necessarily recommending
The Brave (US: NBC)
1×4 – The Break Out
A surprisingly decent marrying of the usual skulking around with SEAL Team shoot-outs, and even Anne Heche gets to go into the field. All a bit lit easy and forced, but exciting all the same.
Episode reviews: 1, 3
Great News (US: NBC)
2×3 – Honey Pot
A suspiciously well timed episode in which Tina Fey’s character is accused of sexually harassing members of staff. Oodles of silliness, plenty of jokes and laughs, but not much actual work done.
Episode reviews: First two episodes
Marvel’s Inhumans (US: ABC; UK: Sky1)
1×4 – Make Way For… Medusa
A show I wouldn’t be sticking with, were my wife not watching it, too, since it’s so bad. Episode 4 is possibly the worst so far, but also the first obviously aimed at a younger audience. Nothing makes sense, everything’s just nonsense, there’s no real tension or excitement. You basically have to love Hawaiian trees to be able to endure it. I do like a nice tree, mind.
Episode reviews: 1
Star Trek: Discovery (US: CBS All Access; UK: Netflix)
1×5 – Choose Your Pain
Finally, the first episode of the series since the first one that was enjoyable, not just endurable. Also the most Star Trek episode so far, despite the actual, honest to goodness swearing and the first two openly gay male characters to grace the franchise. The characters are all coming together, there’s a marvellously bonkers final shot and the Klingons only spoke English. Hello to Jason Isaacs got some development and some kick ass scenes to do. There were even a few laughs thanks to the arrival of a TOS character (spoiler: Harry Mudd), whom my wife cunningly identified after a mere two lines of dialogue.
More of this and I might actually start looking forward to each week’s episode.
Episode reviews: 1-2
Halt and Catch Fire (US: AMC; UK: Amazon)
4×9 – Search – 4×10 – Ten of Swords
And thus it ends, a very different show from when it began. When it started, it was a simple look at the somewhat obscure history of the PC cloning business in the 80s. By the end, as well as being a whistle stop tour of all computing history of the past few decades, taking in computer viruses and the creation of the web browser along the way, it’s become possibly the greatest TV show about failure that’s ever been made.
Almost as forensically as The Wire did with its concerns, it’s taken apart the reasons why businesses, particularly tech businesses, start and then fail, whether it’s been legal, human, timing, competition or finance. It’s also been about ageing, as we’ve followed our characters from young firebrands into middle age and even grandparenting, looking back at their regrets, at how people enter our lives and then leave them, and at how some mistakes are unrectifiable – while others aren’t, given enough time.
But as the final episode title should hint, it’s been about ‘creative destruction’ and how failure helps, as well as how it brings us together and changes us. Ultimately, no one ended up where you could have predicted, even with numerous nods to the very first episode, including a returning character and some repeated scenes. I think Joe’s is probably the most interesting, but all the characters have been on big journeys.
Often times, it was genuinely moving and visually innovative, with many lovely theatrical scenes this season (‘Phoenix’ was nice, but I still think the temporal walkthrough in the first episode was better).
An ending that will make you think long afterwards to a great series. And I do feel I should kick myself for not realising that the soundtrack was by Tangerine Dream’s Paul Haslinger. I knew there was a reason I loved it so much.
It will be much missed.
Me, Myself and I (US: CBS)
1×4 – Star Wars
A quick promotion for a show that just makes me smile happily from beginning to end. This week, our hero gets to see Star Wars for the first time, gets to show it to his daughter for the first time… and goes into space. In each time zone, no one else (including me) can understand why he loves the movie so much. Oh well.
Mr Robot (US: USA; UK: Amazon)
3×1 – eps3.0_power-saver-mode.h
So at this point, I’m wondering if maybe it’s time for me and Mr Robot to part ways. There was a genuine excitement to the first two seasons, as we grappled with the idea of what reality was, given everything we saw was filtered through the eyes and mind of a very unreliable narrator who was potentially also happy to lie to us. That kind of intellectual fun, coupled with a genuine attempt to do technology and hacking accurately, made Mr Robot just such a joy to watch.
Now, obviously we might be in the same territory here, but… season 3 changes that paradigm. We’re potentially entering science fiction here as we discover half the ‘Dark Army’s’ reason for the hack of the previous two seasons was to gain access to a (spoiler)particle accelerator that might be able to change reality/the universe. And that makes it a very different kind of show, one that loses its import and ability to properly commentate on our reality.
The series often saves its twists for quite late in the day, though, so I’m figuring it’s now or never, since once I start this season, I’ll have to stick with it. But I’m a bit disappointed by this. Assuming it’s true.
Bobby Cannavale’s turned up now, by the way. He’s not irritating. That’s new.
Professor T (Belgium: Eén; UK: More4)
An episode in which the Professor has little to do, beyond muck around at college with writers’ block (oh, how I know the pain). But probably the first really interesting crime of the series and I like how there’s a new dynamic with the head cop, following the Professor’s help in the previous episode.
Episode reviews: 1-2
Travelers (Canada: Showcase; UK: Netflix)
2×1 – Ave Machina
A low-key return for a low-key show that manages to show off all the traits we loved it for in the first season. However, because this is Canada (there’s a knowing nod to this fact in the episode), we naturally couldn’t last for long without Enrico Colantoni (Flashpoint, Remedy) turning up; and as it’s Canadian sci-fi, it was only a matter of time before Amanda Tapping (Stargate SG-1, Sanctuary) showed up, too, with a big chunk of the cast of Continuum, too.
As an episode, a fun reintroduction to the show, as well as a minor reboot that looks promising and suggests it’s not going to kill off all the things we did like, such as its humanity, humour and love of temporal paradoxes.
PS Gutsy move to have the 9/11 scenes. I wonder how that’ll play in the US…
Will & Grace (US: NBC)
9×3 – Emergency Contact
In case you were worried Will and Jack were going to get all the meaty storylines, this time it’s Grace’s turn as ex-husband Harry Connick Jr returns to the scene and they look at why their marriage failed. Funnier than it sounds, but a bit more old school than the previous two episodes.
Episode reviews: 1