What have you been watching? Including Forever

Forever
Maya Rudolph and Fred Armisen in Forever

It’s “What have you been watching?”, your chance to recommend to fellow TMINE readers anything you’ve been watching this week

As the fall season hasn’t quite started in the US, it’s been relatively easy to stay ahead of the tele this past week. I’ve reviewed the first two episodes of the rather good You (US: Lifetime; UK: Netflix) and previewed the surprisingly not bad God Friended Me (US: CBS). And although I’ve not actually reviewed it yet, I’ve finally made it through the second season of Ozark, so I’ll be boxsetting that for you on Monday. I’ll also be giving at least the first episode of The First (US: Hulu; UK: Channel 4) a whirl.

That means this week’s WHYBW is going to be rather short and sweet, particularly as I’ve given up on Kidding (US: Showtime; UK: Sky Atlantic). I’ll be catching up with the latest episode of The Last Ship (US: TNT; UK: Sky1) and the final ever episode of Shooter (US: USA; UK: Netflix). I’ll also be taking a bewildered look at the first couple of episodes of Amazon’s Forever (no, not that one). Join me after the jump.

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Forever
Maya Rudolph and Fred Armisen in Forever

Forever (Amazon)

I wasn’t really sure what to expect from Forever when I started watching it, as I’d not heard anything about it. All I had was the fact Fred Armisen (Portlandia) and Maya Rudolph (Up All Night) were the stars (A Good Thing, obviously) and Amazon’s description:

Married couple June and Oscar live a comfortable but predictable life in suburban California. For years they’ve had the same conversations, eaten the same meals and taken pleasant vacations at the same rented lake house. But after June talks Oscar into shaking things up with a ski trip, the pair suddenly find themselves in completely unfamiliar territory.

And that’s pretty much the first episode. Armisen’s playing one of his more mild mannered Portlandia characters, Rudolph her usual role, and they go through the standard comedy tropes of married couples who have been together forever. To be fair, it raised a few smirks, some at bona fide jokes, some at accurate observations about married life, familiarity and growing old.

Then Armisen and Rudolph go to the ski resort and have some mildly amusing tussles with some snotty kids. So far so ordinary. The end of the episode has Armisen skiing and then there’s a mild scene of mild peril and that was it. I almost didn’t bother watching the second episode, as I figured it would be more of the same.

The second episode then reveals that Armisen died at the end of the first episode in that scene of mild peril. Huh. The rest of it is then Rudolph having to cope with life as a widow and being thoroughly miserable, as everything reminds of her the dead Armisen or she’s committing huge faux pas at the local church.

I assumed I’d been conned and Amazon had done a switcheroo – they’d advertised is an Armisen and Rudolph comedy, but it was actually quite a sad, jokeless vehicle for Rudolph in which she learns to experience new things now her life-long partner has died.

So I almost switched off.

Except then Rudolph dies at the end of the second episode and ends up in what looks like heaven with Armisen.

I’ve just started episode three and Aziz Ansari’s brother, who’s a co-writer on the show, is getting stoned. I have no idea what to expect from the rest of the show. I’ll report back to you when I do. It might be the case you only need to watch from episode three onwards.

Whatever the case, you won’t learn much about the show from this trailer.

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The Last Ship (US: TNT; UK: Sky1)

5×2 – Fog of War

Unlike ShooterThe Last Ship seems intent on going out on a high with its final season. Although one can quibble about whether a US naval ship would be totally at sea without access to the US GPS system – no GLONASS, Galileo or BeiDou equipment at all? – and the new Texas crewman wasn’t exactly subtly introduced, this was another episode that really amped up the naval warfare with some decent, if moderately improbable battle tactics and tech. Exciting from start to finish, it’s good to have the show back.

Episode reviewsInitial reviewVerdict

Shooter (US: USA; UK: Netflix)

3×13 – Red Light

Well that was a bit hurried and sad. I’m not sure if that’s how they originally planned to end the show, but neutralising all but one of the bad guys in the first 20 minutes was an interesting approach, although one might wonder why they went to the extent of hiring Rhea Perlman (Cheers) for a role that only had about 10 lines over the course of two episodes. It was also très exciting – shame they only got their marine martial arts sorted out in the final episode, though.

But after that start, then giving most of the characters a decent send-off and ending the three season-long conspiracy theory plot, it seemed a far odder move indeed to do something so bog standard and depressing as (spoiler alert) killing off our hero’s wife so he’d have an excuse to do some revenging in the final few minutes, particularly after (spoiler alert) she’d actually had a chance to participate in the action for a change and survived.

And you’d have thought that for a final, final send-off, they’d at least have brought back all the CGI sniping physics that were such a hallmark of the first season. Call me inexperienced but I’d have thought making that shot at that distance in that climate through a window would have required a bit more thought than simply staring down a sight. But if there’s one thing this season has been consistent in doing is forgetting what was in its DNA in its first season: honourable characters doing their best for family, God and country.

A slight uptick from previous episodes in quality, though, but still a sad ending to what in its first couple of seasons had been a really decent action show and that rarest of jewels: a smart conservative TV show.

Episode reviews: Initial review, Verdict