It’s “What have you been watching?”, your chance to recommend anything you’ve been watching this week
Spring is here, the flowers are blooming and daylight savings time has arrived in the US. That can only mean one thing. New TV programmes.
Reviews-wise, Boxset Monday has given us the entire second season of Marvel’s Jessica Jones (Netflix), while Deception (US: ABC) and Life Sentence (US: The CW) have been considered elsewhere. But there’s more.
Crackle dumped the entire first season of The Oath onto the Internet on Friday, but given I had 13 episodes of Jessica Jones to get through, I prioritised and The Oath lost. I’m not sure I’ll be able to watch all of it before the next WHYBW (unless it’s good), but I’ll certainly be reviewing the first episode. Also having aired in the past few days in the US is For The People, which I’ll be looking at, too. And in Australia, Ioan Gruffudd’s back as a forensics bod again in Harrow on Friday, so I’ll probably have something to say about that, too.
But then there’s Rise. That’s a musical and as I’m tough on musicals, tough on the causes of musicals, I’ll probably be skipping that. Meanwhile, in Australia, SBS’s asylum-seeker drama Safe Harbour has just started. However, at just four episodes, that might not really be worth my time. You never know, though.
If anything else pops up in the next few days, I’ll do my best to cover it, as well. But after the jump, the regulars: Black Lightning, Counterpart, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, The Good Fight, The Looming Tower, The Magicians, SEAL Team and Will & Grace. I’ll also be taking a look at the final two episodes this season of Corporate, but also making a surprising return this week is Timeless. First it was cancelled, then it wasn’t – was time travel involved? No, it wasn’t. But it’s back.
And I’ve actually watched one other new show, which I didn’t have time to review separately: Champions. That’s after the jump as well.
Champions (US: NBC)
Mindy Kaling (The Mindy Project)’s responsible for this one, so you might think it’s got potential. You wouldn’t be 100% wrong but you’re probably going to be more than a bit disappointed with this somewhat aimless sitcom, which has a lot more sit than com, and it’s a bizarre, somewhat hard to describe sit at that. But I’ll do me best.
Cleveland-based Kaling is taking her flamboyant son (JJ Totah) to audition at an exclusive New York performing arts school. However, due to various administrative issues, the audition is postponed so while she’s in town, she takes him to visit the father he’s never met – Anders Holm (Workaholics, The Intern), a disillusioned quitter who runs a gym with his much beefy, much stupider, much nicer younger brother Andy Favreau. Everyone gets to know each other and Holm takes him to his audition as Mindy has to go to work. Totah gets into the school, so I think he’s now staying with Holm and Favreau, while Mindy’s gone back to Cleveland.
Is that a situation? Kind of. But if you’re looking for a culture clash, you’re not going to find what you’re expecting. Holm’s dating another Indian girl, Mouzam Makkar (The Exorcist); neither Holm nor Favreau is even slightly homophobic (“We dream of owning a gay gym. Women and straight men are disgusting”); they know how to cook, single mum Kaling having raised her kid on takeaways and ready meals.
So I guess anyone who sticks with this gets to see a gay Indian kid go to performing arts school, while staying with his dad and uncle and dealing with his potential future Indian step-mother? I’m not seeing huge joke potential and there wasn’t a lot of laughs in the pilot, either, so I think this is a no.
Shows I’m watching but not necessarily recommending
Black Lightning (US: The CW; UK: Netflix)
1×8 – Revelations
James Remar’s dodgy background emerges, younger daughter’s superpowers start to emerge (we’ve had lightning and thunder – what’s she going to be?) and we learn where Black Lightning’s powers come from. Perhaps the most fun, though are the conversations between Black Lightning and Black Thunder (that’s her name now), which are delightfully plausible father-daughter conversations, even if the situation isn’t.
Obviously, the show already had a political and racial undertone, but is it (spoiler alert) too much to have white racists trying to destroy the black population with vaccines, in order to do God’s work? I think that’s getting a bit much now. All the same, you’ve got that on one side, and on the other side, you’ve got albino black people, so maybe it all sort of balances out?
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow (US: The CW; UK: Sky1)
3×14 – Amazing Grace
The first dreadful episode of the season, as we have Elvis Presley raising the dead with his guitar. Some pretty terrible lip syncing to some Elvis classics didn’t help. I’m also wondering if Dominic Purcell is leaving some time soon – all he seems to do is skulk at the back of the ship now, with little enthusiasm for anything much, making dark comments about ‘changes on the ship’. Can’t say they weren’t forewarning us, can they?
The Looming Tower (US: Hulu; UK: Amazon)
1×4 – Mercury
An annoying change of pace, as we shift away from the taut investigational side of things in favour of personal lives. However, we also do get the CIA-view of things and see the seeds being planted of the 9/11 attacks, so not a bad episode by any means. When did CIA and military types start making references to Terminator 2 rather than The Book of Five Rings, though?
Episode reviews: 1-3
SEAL Team (US: CBS; UK: Sky1)
1×15 – No Man’s Land
A pretty standard, smart piece of covert special ops fieldwork married with some politicking about both women’s freedoms in Afghanistan, as well as the difficulty of current US immigration laws, even when it comes to helping allies.
Timeless (US: NBC; UK: E4)
2×1 – The War to End All Wars
For about the first ten minutes, I thought we were getting a traditional “We’re back but our budget has been cut to make it happen, so brace yourself for a lot of changes, maybe the loss of a cast member or two” format-changing premiere. After that, though, it became clear that actually, it was business more or less as usual, just with a slight format change that means they don’t go outside as much. Everyone’s back, even Patterson Joseph who gets something to do for a change. Plenty of historical fun, too, as Marie Curie and her daughter turn up to shame Abigail Spencer’s (actually quite good) French.
The ending also bodes relatively well for the future, since the best episodes of the first season were always the ones where Goran Visnjic had lots to do. Of course, he might just spend the whole time in jail, which would be a shame.
Corporate (US: Comedy Central)
1×9 – Weekend
The horror of helping co-workers with their personal lives, as well as the manufactured amiability of the likes of Chili’s get a good roasting, in a pretty skewering piece of social observation.
+ 1×10 – Remember Day
Highly near the knuckle stuff as it turns out that some time after a certain well known terrorist incident in 2001, Hampton DeVille decided to create a new public holiday somewhat like Christmas to celebrate the fact. It just needed a couple of decades for it to get accepted.
All of which enables the show to satirise the corporatisation of public holidays, the corporatisation of 9/11 and patriotism in general, and people who think it’s clever to point out that everything’s getting corporatised, all while doing a reverse Scrooged. There’s a reason why the show’s in the recommended list, you know.
God damn it! That was the season finale!
Please, Sir, can I have some more?
Counterpart (US: Starz)
1×8 – Love the Lie
Some impressive work by JK Simmons as he and his counterpart confront each other about what they’ve learned about each other’s lives. You’re never in any doubt as to which Simmons is which and you forget that he’s not actually in the same scene with himself. You can tell why the man’s won so many awards.
Meanwhile, we also learn the Opposite Side’s cunning plan, and Harry Lloyd’s plot advances. On first viewing, I didn’t think the ending made much sense, but thinking about it now, I can see it’s a lot cleverer than I’d thought. Which is nice.
The Good Fight (US: CBS All Access; UK: More4)
2×2 – Day 415
Could this be the end of the Ponzi scheme plot? I do hope so, because the show is so much better when it’s being political and legal. Some great courtroom antics this time round, too.
The Magicians (US: Syfy; UK: Channel 5)
3×9 – All That Josh
One of the show’s infrequent but always impressive forays into musical episodes (yes, I know what I said earlier), with David Bowie getting the love this time in something of a retake of Buffy‘s Superstar. Plenty of magic, too, which was a welcome relief after so many weeks without it.
Will & Grace (US: NBC)
9×13 – Sweatshop Annie & The Annoying Baby Shower
A somewhat pointed episode for an older audience, with Grace having to endure various comments about her childless state at a baby shower, a plot that ends with actually rather a nuanced view of things. More interesting was Will’s venture into social media, during which I learnt names for previously nameless things I already knew (“Deep liking” and “Breadcrumbing”). Aren’t teens innovative? And there was also a crossover of sorts with Shades of Blue, with J Lo turning up as herself and her character – if there was a reference to that time when she showed up in Will & Grace as not-herself, I missed it.
Episode reviews: 1