What have you been watching? Including Ten Days in the Valley, The Flash and The Last Ship

The Last Ship

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

It’s that time again. No, I’m not talking about WHYBW. For starters, it’s Wednesday. Oh dear.

Hopefully, we’ll be back to the regular Tuesday slot for WHYBW next week, since Sunday and Monday’s schedules seem to be dying down. But I was actually referring to my usual October cull of the schedules, to weed out shows that for me are no-hopers, which should help, too.

For just a little sense of excitement, I won’t reveal which ones those are until after the jump, but at least two regulars are for the chop, in fact – ooh! On top of that, a lot of the new shows didn’t make it passed their second episodes, either.

Elsewhere, I’ve reviewed the first episodes of Kevin (Probably) Saves The World (US: ABC) and The Gifted (US: Fox; UK: Fox UK). I’ve also passed third-episode verdicts on Absentia (AXN), The Brave (US: NBC) and Me, Myself and I (US: CBS).

No, I didn’t get round to Alias Grace (Canada: CBS; UK: Netflix). Sorry. That’s three episodes in. Some day, though. Some day. However, Ghost Wars (US: Syfy; UK: Netflix) and Valor (US: The CW) will be getting their turn tomorrow for sure.

I did also promise a review of Ten Days in the Valley (US: ABC), Kyra Sedgwick’s new show in which she plays a TV producer whose daughter goes missing. However, so terrible, so boring, so unbearably by the numbers was it that I didn’t even get as far as her daughter going missing. Fortunately, the ratings are so low I doubt ABC will air the entire series, so not a huge omission on my part, I feel.

So follow me after the jump where I’ll be discussing the latest episodes of Get Krack!n, Ghosted, The Gifted, Great News, Halt and Catch Fire, Kevin (Probably) Saves The World, Lethal Weapon, Lucifer, Marvel’s Inhumans, The Mayor, Professor T, SEAL Team, Star Trek: Discovery and Will & Grace, as well as the season finale of The Last Ship and the returns of The Flash and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. Which do you reckon will be getting the boot?

TV shows

 

Shows I’m watching but not necessarily recommending

The Flash (US: The CW; UK: Sky1)

4×1 – The Flash Reborn

At the end of season 3, I concluded my review by saying:

…the show managed to reprieve itself from finally being consigned to my delete list with some good fun, some heart and a promise of some final revelations. But it’s still on thin ice and the show really needs to start changing the formula if it’s to earn my trust enough for me to return for its fourth season.

So no huge change in formula so far, with Barry being rescued from Speed Force jail and going all Beautiful Mind on everyone, before ultimately defeating the baddie. Everyone is written as being significantly stupider than we are so you can probably work out why Barry’s talking weird without much effort, but let’s see how long they eek it out. Still, the producers are promising this season will be far lighter and more fun than the previous season, and there are enough hints at future differences already that I’m prepared to give it another episode or two of slack.

Episode reviewsFirst episodethird episode

Ghosted (US: Fox)

1×2

Nope. So terminally unfunny, with an attempt to do some kind of ‘vampire cat’ story, and packed with nerd-blue collar buddy-buddy conversations that test the soul, that I couldn’t make it to the end of the episode. One for the bin.

Episode review: First episode

The Gifted (US: Fox; UK: Fox UK)

1×2 – rX

A significantly better affair than the first episode that saw our heroes either languishing in jail or trying to avoid getting chopped in half by a poorly mutant. Far more the Lower Decks-style look at the X-Men Universe that we were promised in the promo blurb, it had a lot more going for it, too, with Amy Acker getting to show she’s more than ‘just a mom’ and Moyer getting to be stern and legal. The prison scenes were all a bit stereotypical, but at least the show’s on an upwards trajectory.

Episode review: First episode

Great News (US: NBC)

2×2 – Squad Feud

And the jokes are back! Phew! No longer having to introduce us to Tina Fey’s new character, we got to watch everyone do their own thing as everyone tried doing each other’s job. All the same, Fey got some of the best lines particularly her jokes about Westworld (“I’m on the board of Westworld. You don’t want to know what I do to those robots.”).

Episode reviews: First two episodes

Kevin (Probably) Saves The World (US: ABC)

1×2 – Listen Up

I’ll tell you the exact point I lost interest in this. It’s about five minutes in when Kevin went Buddhist and an Angel agreed with him. “If the universe wants me to…” he starts. She responds: “If the universe wants you to…” Yep, an Angel said that.

Yep, the show lost its bottle. Now it’s just a plain old agnostic piece of magical realism about how we should all be nice to one another and ‘the universe’ will reward us. FFS, you’re seeking the 35 righteous souls that keep the Earth from descending into despair – if God’s not behind that, who is?

Anyway, I forward wound through the rest of it to see if anything different happened, and it was basically Jason Ritter going around town trying to be nice to people and cocking up, before eventually doing something right. So  it looks like this one’s going to be a long, thoroughly uneventful show livened up only occasionally by fish falling from the ceilings of lifts.

So I’m out.

Episode review: 1

Lethal Weapon (US: Fox; UK: ITV2)

2×3 – Born to Run

And we’re done. As with Kevin (Probably) Saves The World, I actually watched this on forward wind, stopping to see if there was anything new and remarkable to care about, but there wasn’t. Basically, it’s now just buddy-buddy cop silliness, with only a passing resemblance to the movies of the same name. I’m never a big fan of an episodic, non-serial procedural, comedic or otherwise, and with the viewing queue pretty full right now, I think it’s time for me to bow out.

Episode reviews: 1, 3

Lucifer (US: Fox; UK: Amazon)

3×2 – The One with the Baby Carrot

And another one that’s being added to the deleted queue. Despite the show amping up the comedy this season, ultimately this was just the usual combination of police investigation, Tom Ellis hamming and piecemeal theology that every previous episode was. Without a significant change in format, there’s no point in watching this for me, so I’m out.

Episode reviews: First episodethird episode

Marvel’s Inhumans (US: ABC; UK: Sky1)

1×3 – Divide and Conquer

In which our heroes twat around Hawaii for no good reason. Thankfully, Lost‘s Henry Ian Cusick offers the faint glimmer of hope that the storyline is going somewhere.

I’m honestly still unsure whether this is supposed to be a comedy or a drama, since everything dramatic is undercut by comedy, but I’m never sure if it’s deliberate or whether the whole thing is supposed to be enormously stupid. Is Mortis supposed to be scary? To me, he’s just… daft.

Still, sticking with it because lovely wife fancies Black Bolt.

Episode reviews: 1

The Mayor (US: ABC)

1×2 – The Filibuster

Essentially, a kiddie’s version of The West Wing that explains how politics works to those who normally watch YouTube music videos on their phones rather than CSPAN, with our heroic rapper-turned-mayor discovering that balancing a budget can be tricky and so turning to the filibuster to try to save the day. It’s all good hearted, it’s got a good cast (and guest cast, since Larry Wilmore turned up) and I made it to the end of the episode, which is more than I did with a lot of shows this week. But ultimately it’s not hugely funny, so I’m out.

Episode review: 1

SEAL Team (US: CBS)

1×2 – Other Lives

Another competent piece of TV, filled with SEALs doing SEAL things and lots of things getting blown up as the team go into Syria to investigate potential chemical weapons. The writers are clearly also trying to signal that they’re a lot smarter than they’re allowed to be, since as well as avoiding all the usual dialogue clichés, they actually had a discussion of intersectional feminism in a bar at one point. A nice touch was to have the newbie sent back to basic training to be tutored by none other than The Unit‘s Michael Irby. But it’s still soulless, heartless but efficient TV that fails really to excite, despite all of that. I’ll be back for one more episode, but I suspect that’ll be it.

Episode review: 1

Star Trek: Discovery (US: CBS All Access; UK: Netflix)

1×4 – The Butcher’s Knife Cares Not For the Lamb’s Cry

By rights, I should already have passed a verdict on this, but what’s the point? It’s Star Trek, so of course I’ll keep watching it. That said, this was probably only the first episode that felt like Star Trek, with the crew finally starting to come together. The ‘spore drive’ is nonsense, of course, but there are signs it’ll get phased out for reasons of animal cruelty. However, the show’s Achilles Heel is its Klingons, who just won’t stop talking ever. Every time they show up on screen, it’s like a death knell for excitement, which is the exact opposite of what’s supposed to happen.

So can we have some war please?

Episode reviews: 1-2

Recommended shows

DC’s Legends of Tomorrow (US: The CW; UK: Sky1)

3×1 – Aruba

A season reboot apparently designed for the show to have even less of a serial element while everyone larks around. I’m not finding that hugely appealing so far and I did feel a bit sorry for poor old Simon Merrells, who having played Crassus rather awesomely in Spartacus got to play a far less impressive Caesar here. But let’s see how the next episode settles things in. Because I hate procedurals.

Episode reviews: 1, 4

Get Krack!n (ABC: Australia)

1×6

A slightly limp episode that perked up at the end, as our heroines have to deal with hosting the early morning show when they have their kids in tow. A few gems, but not up to the usual standards.

Episode reviews: 1-2

Halt and Catch Fire (US: AMC; UK: Amazon)

4×8 – Goodwill

Another tear-jerking episode that surprised by giving us a flashback to the 70s to open the show. Really, just an episode for everyone to come to terms with what happened, rather than to advance the plot, although a reconciliation of Donna and Cameron feels inevitable at this stage. Only two episodes left to go now, so I doubt Comet is going to become Google, but you never know.

Episode reviews1, 3

The Last Ship (US: TNT; UK: Sky1)

4×9 – Detect, Deceive, Destroy – 4×10 – Endgame

Well, these two certainly were worth the price of admission with some hugely exciting naval warfare, as our heroes have to take on multiple similar vessels without getting destroyed before they can save the world. Plenty of land warfare and a surprisingly high casualty rate, too.

On the whole, although the references to The Odyssey were a little unsubtle this season, better than the previous season, giving us more or less what we signed up for in spades. Only one season left now! Shame!

Episode reviews13

Professor T (Belgium: Eén; UK: More4)

1×8

The usual mixture of poignancy and humour, as we find out more about the chief inspector and his dead daughter, all while the Professor gets annoyed by his students during exams week. As usual, we see that the Professor is quite a nice chap at heart, just disappointed by other people’s stupidity and blunt about it, too, but delighted when he sees a spark of intelligence in others.

Episode reviews: 1-2

Will & Grace (US: NBC)

9×2 – Who’s Your Daddy?

Time really has moved on, it seems, and the writers are aware of it. As well as older, nicer characterisations of the leads that make them actually seem like friends, the episode addressed societal changes in attitudes towards homosexuality and how far we’ve come in a generation – and even the past 10 years. I’m actually impressed by the fact the writers aren’t just doing the same old schtick but are doing something different with the show, even if the foundations are more or less the same.

Episode reviews: 1




  • Mark Carroll

    “Later… with Jools Holland” is back, though the first episode wasn’t all that great for me except for entertaining awkwardness when he attempted to interview Liam Gallagher. The BBC brings live awkwardness also in the form of “Strictly Come Dancing”: it’s hard to imagine anyone less suited to pasodoble than Rev. Richard Coles.

    I’ve been liking Simon Reeve’s slightly random miniseries on Russia. We get to see slices of different bits of it. The show’s nicely shot and seems authentic. There’s also been another BBC documentary miniseries “The Human Body” which, while slightly gimmicky, has actually been fairly good; I learned a little.

    “W1A” trundles along and I liked the live interview but the introduction of an unfunny medical issue seems a peculiar new dimension: I wonder where that’s going. “Upstart Crow” continues to be a bit heavy-handed but apparently sufficiently entertaining for my family.

    Subtlety’s in even shorter supply elsewhere though. “Rick and Morty”‘s now done for the foreseeable future; I’m not quite sure where that last episode was telling us. “Star Trek” signals things to us with large neon signs. I can’t help but wonder if in the long term they’re trying to set up for another mutiny. Nice that they’re not afraid to kill people though.

    We watched the animated film “The Red Turtle”. Goodness, what a strange thing. I think we were meant to think the central character was happier in the end than it seemed to me; I found it a bit slow and miserable and strange. It was nicely done but I didn’t get much from it. Perhaps too much subtlety there for me.

    Also rewatched “Unbreakable”. That remains pretty good. Fairly simple but generally engaging. Nice twist for those who’ve not seen it so definitely worth a first viewing.

    • The STD death seemed inevitable to me, since Michael needs a place in the manifest and that seems the most available spot.

    • JustStark

      the introduction of an unfunny medical issue seems a peculiar new dimension

      Especially odd as they apparently didn’t check that Sarah Parish can do good pratfalls before starting it (she rather clearly bounced off thin air six inches before the door she supposedly walked into).

  • Why are the STD writers MURDERING the actors with bloody K’L’I’NG’O’N? The ‘Hunt for Red October’ trick of staring the scenes in Russian then fading into English could have SHOULD HAVE been used. It must be hell for the actors under all that latex, then ha’vi’ng t’o sp’eak’in a no’n ex’ist’en’t la”’n’gu’ag’e ” in ‘ st’ag’ger’ed sy’lla’b’les.

    Subtitles are also in a horrible color/font, not easy to read against bright backgrounds.

    Their designs – esp. costumes, are terrible.

    • I understand that the false teeth also making speaking Klingon a faff, which probably contributes to making it such a slow language. If they were speaking Spanish, I reckon the scenes would be over in half the time anyway, although it would still be endless twatting on about honour rather than anything that might advance the plot.

      Very bad choice. Still, I’m sure it appeals to some fans. Did you know that Netflix actually gives you the option of having the entire show subtitled in Klingon? Anyone would picks that gets what they deserve

      • mathias broucek

        I saw that and thought it was a joke. But, no, there are actually Klingon subtitles…

        • Would that it were. Imagine how much better these people’s lives would be if they learnt a real language instead?

  • JustStark

    So, Blade Runner 2049. Slightly more story than the original, but as the original had basically no story at all, that’s not hard. Slightly less visually daring than the original, but, well, what else has matched it? For a ridiculously long film, I was never bored. A mix of total cliché and marvellous invention. The one real problem is that is has Harrison Ford in it: as soon as he turns up, it bends a film which had been proceeding quite nicely totally out of shape as suddenly it becomes ALL ABOUT HIM and everything that the audience has spent two hours getting invested in is relegated to background whose only purpose was getting to the point where he shows up.

    In summary, definitely worth it, but I wish they had had the courage to not have Ford in it. It would have been a better film. But it is still a pretty darn good one.

    On television: First bit of the third (and apparently last) series of Dark Matter, which continues its quest to do every sci-fi cliché known to humankind, usually with just enough of a twist to make it entertaining (for instance, the time-loop episode begins with the looped character already having relived the day so many times he knows everything that’s going to happen and has almost given up on every convincing the others what’s going on, and assumes the audience knows the cliché so well they will instantly twig this is the case).

    Another episode of Travelers [sic] which continues to get more interesting. Though I don’t know why the lead traveller is an FBI agent when they are clearly in Canada, and they have recruited half the cast of Continuum. Maybe mounties don’t read on camera.

    American Horror Story continues to get madder. I mean seriously, if they keep upping the crazy at this rate I honestly have no idea where it’s going to end up by the last episode, but I look forward to finding out.

    Black Lake remained pretty creepy until the end.

    And I still admire the chutzpah of The Last Ship: ‘The co-ordinates of the baddy’s lab keep changing! It must be… on a ship!’ Well, yes. When was the last time the baddy wasn’t on a ship? Honestly, it’s very convenient that in this post-apocolyptic world nothing interesting ever happens in, say, Switzerland.

    Question: does Ozark have any nudity in it? I ask because my gym has screens you can plug devices into to play downloaded programmes, but the tendency of modern TV to cut to orgy scenes with no warning* and the consequent necessity of scrambling to pull out the cable can really throw off one’s rhythm. I can’t help thinking anything which lets you download episodes should also warn you on a per-episode basis whether there’s anything unsuitable for viewing in public, to avoid such nasty surprises.

    *or, in the case of Mafiosa, to have scenes set entirely needlessly in strip clubs, but I think it may have picked that up from The Sopranos

    • Mark Carroll

      “Ozark” does have a bit of NSFW-ness I’m afraid. Not much but some. Though I was kind of amazed on airplanes to find things like GoT available on seat-back screens.

      • JustStark

        Sigh, I suspected that. I’m guessing Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency is safe, though?

        • A bit of light violence from time to time, but nothing nudey, no.

      • You occasionally see letters in the Metro or Tweets saying “I was on the train and the guy next to me was watching porn!” and wondering how many people were actually watching something from Showtime

    • Will have more to say on Blade Runner next week since I actually went and saw it this week!

      “Though I don’t know why the lead traveller is an FBI agent when they are clearly in Canada, and they have recruited half the cast of Continuum. ”
      It’s probably set in the same universe as Orphan Black

      “nothing interesting ever happens in, say, Switzerland.”

      The Last Ship: in association with Harry Lime.