It’s “What have you been watching?”, your chance to recommend to fellow TMINE readers anything you’ve been watching this week
WHYBW is back on Wednesday, following its August-friendly move to a Friday time-slot. That means, though, that there’s been a week and a half since the last WHYBW and TV has come back with a vengeance. Well, a trickle, maybe.
Elsewhere, I’ve been keeping up with most of the new arrivals, reviewing the first season of Amazon’s Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan and the second season of Netflix’s Marvel’s Iron Fist, as well as the first episodes of Fox (US)’s Rel, ABC (Australia)’s Back in Very Small Business and Showtime (US)’s Kidding. In the next week or so, I should also be previewing CBS (US)’s God Friended Me and hopefully, I’ll have got through the whole of the second season of Netflix’s Ozark.
Those glued to their TV schedules will notice I’ve missed a few shows. But there are Reasons. First up is the USA Network’s The Purge, which is a spin-off from the popular horror/sci-fi movies in which everyone gets to go off and commit crimes for a day without fear of penalty. I’ve not seen any of the movies, they certainly don’t appeal to me and you can already see new episodes every Wednesday on Amazon in the UK, so I’m not going to make the effort. Soz.
Similarly, FX (US)’s Mayans MC might be hugely popular already in the US, but it’s a spin-off from Sons of Anarchy all about a Mexican biker gang. Again, didn’t like Sons of Anarchy, didn’t watch very much of it, and this doesn’t sound like my show, either. Maybe you’ll like it more than I would.
After the jump, I’ll be looking at the second episode of Kidding and the penultimate episode of Shooter, as well as the return of old favourite The Last Ship and the first episode of another show I missed off the list: One Dollar.
One Dollar (US: CBS All Access)
Every so often, a mainstream US network tries to do a prestige show all about the everyday blue collar American, rather than spies or wedding planners. It has high production values, a good cast and wants to impart a message. For NBC, it was Friday Night Lights. For ABC, it was American Crime. Now CBS is giving us – via its All Access Internet-only channel, so as not to destroy the ratings – One Dollar.
Borrowing from Crash and shows such as Six Degrees, its conceit is that it’ll follow a one dollar bill as it passes from hand to hand in a small rust belt town in the US, to illustrate connected lives, the power of money and crime, and how class can still divide in a town like this. Everyone’s poor, everyone needs work but jobs are drying up. And everyone’s a victim of crime and the show’s big opener is a murder investigation at a steel mill.
A good start and it’s all very credible and sympathetic. It looks great, it’s well acted and it seems to know of which it speaks. Trouble is, it’s pretty dull to watch. This isn’t Friday Night Lights, where there’s some joy in people’s lives. This is misery porn cloaked in the trappings of a crime thriller.
I’m glad CBS tried to make something like this, but do I want to watch any more of it? No, sirree.
Shows I’m watching but not necessarily recommending
Kidding (US: Showtime; UK: Sky Atlantic)
1×2 – Pusilanimous
A slightly nicer affair than the first episode, with kindness rewarded for a change. I’d also really liked to have grown up watching Mr Pickles’ show, because it looks delightful – delightfully French, one might even say, particularly given Michel Gondry’s input. Carrey would actually make a good kids TV presenter, too, if given the chance.
However, it’s still all a bit sad, making it less funny, more pitiable.
Episode reviews: Initial review
The Last Ship (US: TNT; UK: Sky1)
5×1 – Casus Belli
If last season was a decidedly unsubtle rip-off of The Odyssey, it seems this season is going to be an equally unsubtle rip-off of Battlestar Galactica. Initially, there was a hint from the new title sequence that it was just going to be a post-apocalyptic take on World War II and Pearl Harbor. But when your entire fleet is wiped out in a surprise attack, caused by your tech being knocked out by a computer virus, and the only ship that survives is the old one that was out at sea having been turned into a museum, you know exactly what the source material is.
With most other continents already having been trounced by the US in previous seasons, it’s the turn of Central and South America to get taught a lesson by the slightly less super power. It’s all a little bit laughable in terms of global political understanding and seeing some of the old cast getting killed off to make everything seem more real (and to thin the bulging ranks) is a little sad, but as usual, the thrills are very thrilling and the redeployments of characters all make sense. Looks like a great season is ahoy.
Shooter (US: USA; UK: Netflix)
3×12 – Patron Saint
And so the show limps towards its conclusion, having been cancelled while TMINE was on holiday. It’s not an auspicious way for the show to end, given how exciting and different it was when it started – a bona fide decent, well made, thoughtful conservative action show. Now it’s borderline silly and derivative, with none of the traits that made it such a good watch.
To be fair, the fight scenes are still dynamic and authentic and show you – or at the very least Marvel’s Iron Fist – how important direction is to generating a real thrill, no matter how good the stunt performers are. But the show is now very much by-the-book when it comes to the characters, even if there’s still wit in the action.