It’s “What have you been watching?”, your chance to recommend anything you’ve been watching this week
So that didn’t quite go as planned. Mais, plus ça change, hey? As well as upfronts week throwing a bit of a spanner in the works in terms of having the time to review and watch things, I spent a bit more of the weekend talking to Microsoft Support than I was planning, so I had even less time than that.
No review of Vida, then, but I’ll try to get one done by next WHYBW, by which point it might be a third-episode verdict anyway. I also hope to review AXN’s new show, Carter, and I might even be able to get through All Night, even though it’s a teen comedy. But we’ll see about that.
In terms of Boxset Monday, my plans were a bit more convoluted. I did make a start on Tabula Rasa on Walter Presents, except I managed about 10 minutes of that before feeling like it was a bit of a struggle. Interesting, but a bit of struggle. I’m going to try to bear with it, since Fans of European and World TV Dramas reckons the second half is ‘amazing’.
But that might not be for a while now, since this weekend, I’m going to try to get through the rest of Netflix’s Safe. See, I had been thinking of having that as a back-up in case I didn’t manage to make it through Tabula Rasa, but given the trailer, I figured I’d be able to just watch the first episode and call it a day, since Michael C Hall’s accent sounded very annoying. Except I ended up watching the first two and quite liking it, and then someone I work with told me she’d boxset the entire series in a day and that the last episode was great.
That’s the plan for next Monday, then. Let’s see how it withstands an encounter with reality.
This weekend saw a lot of changes to the schedules, mind, with new shows coming and old shows going, and TMINE’s viewing schedule has gone through quite a bit. We’ve decided to stop watching The Handmaid’s Tale, at least for now, since it’s just a bit too bleak and miserable. That may change at some point, though. Meanwhile, in the UK, Bron/Broen (The Bridge) is back. Timeless, of course, had a double-episode finale, which meant I didn’t quite have the time to watch the latest Killing Eve, so I’ll do a doubler next week. Mean-meanwhile, Harrow and Silicon Valley both had regular finales, more about which will come after the jump.
That just leaves the other usual regulars: The Americans, The Good Fight, Krypton, Legion, SEAL Team and Westworld. All of that after the jump, too.
Shows I’m watching but not necessarily recommending
Harrow (Australia: ABC; UK: Alibi)
1×10 – Mens Rea
So, about half and half in terms of the ending being what I expected. I’d guessed the overall pattern of the scene and the eventual motivation, but the actual logistics of it was a lot gutiser than I thought it would be. Not quite the big reset button you’d expect, some strong character choices, some quite brutal scenes and also some really superb acting from Ioan Gruffudd. That said, while it was nice to see Joel Tobeck (The Doctor Blake Mysteries, Ash vs Evil Dead, Westside) showing up, it was a bit more of a cameo than I’d have liked and I’m not really sure how that whole story arc added much to the episode; I’m also not convinced that the theft towards the end of the episode wouldn’t get noticed virtually the next day.
All in all, while a bit hard to characterise as a season, a definitely above-average, smart, charming, frequently funny procedural that wasn’t too quirky for its own sake, managed to get you to care about all the characters, even the supposed comic relief, and had some quite strong forensics. Generally, any TV show with Ioan Gruffudd is going to be a cut above the average anyway, though. Definitely worth watching, I reckon, especially if you like crime procedurals.
Reviews: Initial review
Krypton (US: Syfy; UK: E4)
1×8 – Savage Night
Lots and lots of plot and excitement, but I didn’t feel like I especially cared about much of it. Not knowing whom to cheer for is part of the problem, since anyone could be a goodie or a baddie, and even if they do good things, it could ultimately be bad and vice versa. All of which makes it a bit more dispassionate. Still, the filling out of Adam Strange’s background worked well and there were some good moments.
The show got picked up by E4 this week, so it’ll be on its way to the UK soon, if any of that interests you.
Reviews: Initial review
SEAL Team (US: CBS; UK: Sky 1)
1×21 – The Graveyard of Empires
Not where I thought this was going, since it involved a lot more lying around having very obvious hallucinations than SERE work. The usual competence in action scenes on display, though, but as usual, nothing really remarkable overall.
Timeless (US: NBC; UK: E4)
2×9 – The General – 2×10 – Chinatown
As usual, lots of liberal history lessons as we meet the likes of Harriet Tubman for various poorly thought-out reasons, while simultaneously getting double-crosses, love twists, a few characters killed and some big changes to the format. Then there was the bonkers “please renew us” ending…
As a season, an obviously cheaper one with less logic to it, but one clearly intended to focus more on the core characters and ‘making history personal’. Some things worked, some things didn’t. There were some good changes to the format. All in all, a good, fun second season with some real high points, but not a slam dunk or a show that I’d missed terribly if it were cancelled. Again.
The Americans (US: FX; UK: ITV4)
6×7 – Harvest
In which, we get to see the really dirty and difficult side of spying, as well as what happens when things really go wrong – I think that might have killed off Philip’s enthusiasm permanently. Meanwhile, Stan finally gets his WW moment. Thank the Lord and just so well acted by Noah Emmerich.
Bron/Broen (The Bridge) (Sweden: SVT1; Denmark: DR1; UK: BBC Two)
The best of the Nordic Noirs returns! It’s on BBC Two! They’re only showing an episode a week so I might stand a chance at keeping up with it! So why am I not so excited?
The problem, for me at least, is that the show used about Saga and it was funny at times. It made jokes, unlike most other Scandi tales of misery and despair. But none of that was true of the first episode. Instead it was about Not Martin (aka “I see dead children!”), whom I never warmed to last season anyway, and Saga was having a miserable time of it in prison.
It reminded me of The Bridge (US), where the producers seemed unable to cope with the idea of a strong female lead and mentally rebelled over time, making it more and more about her male counterpart. The ending really didn’t disabuse me of that notion – I’m assuming from the trailer that Saga’s not dead, but at the very least, it didn’t make me enthused for episode two.
All that said, rather than the usual bonkers silliness of previous seasons, we had something a bit more interesting and regular as a plot – or at least as regular as Bron/Broen can get – with a little bit of politics, as an immigrant boss gets stoned to death, prompting lots of debate about whether Iran still has stoning. It’s definitely trying to speak to important issues, but I’m not sure having a salt-of-the-earth, unPC cop to talk to Not Martin about ‘poofs’ the whole time is the best way to go about it.
Where’s Saga when you need her? Oh yes, abandoned in prison…
Reviews: Initial review
The Good Fight (US: CBS All Access; UK: More4)
2×11 – Day 478
That was some pretty shonky aikido, wasn’t it? It made a little nostalgic, mind.
That aside, the usual topical political debate – men v women, was it rape or was it a date gone wrong? – wasn’t handled with the usual subtlety and nuance. The episode tried but never really came to any real conclusions nor made an astute observations, which is something it normally does so well. All in all, a bit forgettable.
Legion (US: FX; UK: Fox UK)
2×7 – Chapter 15
Everything shifts up a gear and the plot moves forward. As a show, Legion remains a fascinating example of just how much tone, style and production values can change a story. The basic plot – someone comes back from the future to warn mutants about a terrible fate that only they can stop – is basically X-Men: Days of Future Past, the super-mutant with mega-powers who has to be defeated is X-Men: Apocalypse. But by making the show about philosophical discussions, the nature of reality, the nature of the mind, the nature of good and evil, the nature of colonialism, as well as so much more, while simultaneously giving it a stunning look, you have a completely different story altogether.
Some top bonkers ideas, some very creepy moments, some very funny moments, some very thought-provoking moments and some great acting by Navid Negahban made this one of the best episodes since the start of the season.
Silicon Valley (US: HBO; UK: Sky Atlantic)
5×8 – Fifty One Percent
And the season ends with an upbeat note – that makes a change. Better than season four, on the whole, with the show actually progressing the narrative and Pied Piper’s development in reasonably realistic ways, while ditching some of the dead wood aspects of the format. Plus making the original cast more managerial also helped to stop the show from getting stale, as it allowed everyone to reveal different sides of their personalities.
Not quite as precise in its targeting and with only one truly memorable episode (the Christian one), but still one of TV’s most consistent comedies.
Westworld (US: HBO; UK: Sky Atlantic)
2×4 – The Riddle of the Sphinx
Last week, you’ll have noticed I bit less than enthused by Westworld of late. Its presence in the TMINE viewing queue was even in a precarious position. This episode rescued it from doom. While not quite “the best episode ever!” some on Twitter would claim, it at least returned us to all the good things of the first season – questions about identity, free will, the nature of consciousness, and the differences between human and robot. It also pointed us in some strong plot directions, rather than generally hinting they might be there, and was marvellously creepy with its time jumps. All the scenes with Peter Mullen were of course brilliant, but the conveying of the passage of time in those scenes was done beautifully, too.
Keep it up guys – and I’m very much looking forward to Shogunworld.