What have you been watching? Including Frankie Drake and Babylon Berlin

Frankie Drake

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 TV shows TMINE has ever recommended and TV Reviews A-Z lists every TV show ever reviewed here

We’re back on Wednesday again thanks to a massive surfeit of shows on Sundays and Mondays compared to the rest of the week (thanks, Babylon Berlin, Frankie Drake Mysteries, Travelers, Star Trek: Discovery and The Brave). Hopefully, that’s not rocked the bedrock of your beliefs about the universe.

Elsewhere, this week’s Boxset Monday was season 1 of 4 Blocks (Germany: TNT Series; UK: Amazon), and I’ve also reviewed the first episodes of the aforementioned Frankie Drake Mysteries (Canada: CBC; UK: Alibi) and Damnation (US: USA; UK: Netflix). I’ve not yet found time to review Sisters (Australia: Ten) (Narrator: he never will), which is now up to episode three, but I’m going to review the first episodes of both it and Future Man (US: Hulu) some time in the next week, and I might even have a whirl at No Activity (US: CBS All Access) if I have a mo – assuming the arrival of Marvel’s The Punisher (Netflix) on Friday doesn’t nuke my entire viewing schedule.

No other new TV shows this week and I’ve not watched any movies, either, which means it’s time to look at the tail end of the Fall season after the jump with the latest episodes of the regulars: Babylon Berlin, The Brave, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, Frankie Drake Mysteries, Mr Robot, SEAL Team, Star Trek: Discovery and Travelers.

We’ll also be looking at the season finale of Professor T, although you’ll have to wait until next week to hear what I think about the final episode of Marvel’s Inhumans, as lovely wife hasn’t mustered up enough enthusiasm to watch it yet. I can’t really blame her.

TV shows

Shows I’m watching but not necessarily recommending

Babylon Berlin (Germany: Sky 1; UK: Sky Atlantic)

1×3-1×4

More temporal tourism for Germans as we take in labour relations, women’s emancipation, prostitution laws, the May day riot and more. It’s all a bit grungy and depressing, despite the occasional Baz Luhrmann-worthy nightclub scene, but some marvellous recreations of Berlin and clever location filming make it all worthwhile.

Episode reviews: 1-2

Frankie Drake Mysteries (Canada: CBC; UK: Alibi)

1×2 – Ladies in Red

Talking of communists, a slightly odd choice of second episode for the light Frankie Drake as we head off into union territory and the bolsheviks of Toronto. After all the development Frankie got in the first episode, the focus is now on her helpers, all of whom get their background stories fleshed out (morality officers, hey? Well I never), but it’s not quite the lightweight piece of fun it was before and problematically, Lauren Lee Smith hasn’t settled into her role – pretty much everyone showed more charisma than her this episode.

Still, all empowering and educative, so enjoyable enough.

Episode review: 1

SEAL Team (US: CBS)

1×6 – The Spinning Wheel

It’s surprising how much time SEAL Team spends on the training and practice of the SEAL teams. This is an entire episode in which there’s nothing but training in both a- and b-plots. Still, it is cleverly making us care about our cipherous heroes, even the young one, as well as make the basic CBS viewer a bit more aware of some of the subtleties of racism.

Episode reviews: 1, 3

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

1×9 – Into the Forest I Go

Oh gods. Don’t turn into Star Trek: Voyager. Don’t turn into Star Trek: Voyager. Don’t turn into Star Trek: Voyager.

Episode reviews: 1-2

Recommended shows

The Brave (US: NBC)

1×8 – Stealth

Promoted after eight episodes to the recommended list, The Brave has managed to earn its place through a combination of slow character development, pivoting to make the show mostly about spying rather than fighting (although we got some proper special forces action this week up against Spetsnaz), and balancing a fine line between popcorn escapism and pedantic accuracy. We also finally got that episode 1 cliffhanger addressed at the end of this week’s episode.

Shame that the girl doesn’t get any character development and the near-invisible doctor turned out last week to be called McG. Shudders. No one deserves that fate.

Episode reviews: 1, 3

DC’s Legends of Tomorrow

3×5 – Return of the Mack – 3×6 – Helen Hunt

And so we see the gradual exit, stage right, of Victor Garber, so naturally he’s getting a bit more to do than before. We’re also seeing the beginning of the reveals of this season’s big bads – yay to the return of Damien Darkh who always makes things fun, but we’re getting some ‘evil opposite’ fun, too.

Time-travelling vampires in Return of the Mack was quite fun, but Helen Hunt was a largely ahistoric trek through movie history with the help of an equally ahistoric (but surprisingly not totally ahistoric) Helen of Troy. Nice to see Hedy Lamarr getting some kudos this year for scientific work, but would it really have been that hard to get someone who could do an Austrian accent?

Oh yes, and brilliant major shout out to (spoiler) Wonder Woman at the end, but more about that tomorrow, of course.

Episode reviews: 1, 4

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency (US: BBC America; UK: Netflix)

2×5 – Shapes and Colours

Generally, business as usual as the show starts to reveal some of its secrets and begin to make a little sense (assuming that you hadn’t guessed them already, like I did last week). However, there’s a scene where basically everyone’s on the equivalent of Ecstasy that’s quite lovely, the fact our holistic assassin might have found a boyfriend is nice and the holistic aspects of the episode were well done, too.

Episode reviewsFirst episodethird episode

Mr Robot (US: USA; UK: Amazon)

3×5 – eps3.4_runtime-error.r00

This aired without adverts in the US, since creator/director Sam Esmail decided to try to do a Rope, shooting the episode to look like a single continuous take. It wasn’t but it came close to seeming like it at times and he managed to make it look pretty splendid as well.

Looks to one side, quite an important episode dramatically, as Elliot tries to prevent a disaster in real-time but fails. Interesting, too, from the point of view of how to overcome security through social engineering, and how stereotypes can sometimes lead you astray (sometimes hilariously). Not as compelling as the promo would have you believe, but an ambitious episode that largely succeeds and certainly the best episode of the season so far.

Episode reviewsFirst episodethird episode

Professor T (Belgium: Eén; UK: More4)

1×13 – Murder by Numbers: Part 2

A sad end to a sad series that managed to fool us all with its charm and occasional bouts of silliness. We’ve got (spoilers) Professor T in a psychiatric wing because he’s suicidal, one of the cops permanently paralysed, one of the Prof’s support staff murdered, and another cop having to look after her dementing father and her now-paralysed boyfriend. Still, jaunty music, hey?

A show that seemingly a little formulaic and derivative at first, Professor T did get better and smarter over time, even if the crimes were never that exciting, the final episode being not that much different in that regard. There was character development, changes to the status quo and more, making it much more than a simple episodic procedural. But it never quite achieved greatness, thanks to the essential duffness of those crimes.

Season 2 starts in a couple of weeks or so there’ll be more fun (?) ahead soon and we’ll get to see how it all pans out afterwards.

Episode reviews: 1-2

Travelers (Canada: Showcase; UK: Netflix)

2×5 – Jenny

Aha! Now that was some clever trickery that’s basically upset all our assumptions about what the show has been doing this season. You thought it was an easy reset in episode one? Nope. Indeed, it now seems everything has been continuing on nicely from season one – we just haven’t seen how until now.

Plenty of challenges and excitement now that the show is also about to turn into (spoiler) 12 Monkeys, too. Nicely done guys.

Episode reviews: First episodethird episode

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