It’s “What have you been watching?”, your chance to recommend to fellow TMINE readers anything you’ve been watching this week
Not many new shows this week, so I was able to make it through the entire first season of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina yesterday. I also passed verdict on Titans (US: DC Universe; UK: Netflix). I’m not sure if Netflix or Amazon have anything shiny and new for me this coming weekend, so who knows what might happen on Monday. I might even review all the films I’ve watched in the past six months in the exceptionally infrequent ‘Movie Monday’…
After the jump, we can talk about all the usual regulars: Black Lightning, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, Doctor Who, Happy Together, The Last Ship, Magnum P.I., Pine Gap, and You. We can also talk about the final episode of Mr InBetween and the final two episodes of The Haunting of Hill House…
Shows I’m watching but not necessarily recommending
Black Lightning (US: The CW; UK: Netflix)
2×4 – The Book Of Consequences – Chapter Four: Translucent Freak
A vast improvement on the previous episode, with action – and funky soundtrack – aplenty, a return to some social relevancy and interesting debates, and generally humorous moments thank to Tobias Whale. Younger daughter is still annoying, but given this is a show about a middle-aged superhero, maybe that shouldn’t be too surprising.
Doctor Who (UK: BBC One)
11×4 – Arachnids in the UK
Blinks. Gosh, was that really by Chris Chibnall? But… but… there were funny lines, it made a vague kind of sense, wasn’t wholly derivative of a famous schlock movie and there were some decent character moments. Chris Noth wasn’t simply playing a version of Donald Trump but something more interesting altogether. I just don’t understand! It was even moderately scary and thoughtful at times.
I mean no one’s going to mistake it for a Rusty or a Stevie script, but I did actually enjoy this one. Good to see the cast are settling in nicely, too. And gosh. Wasn’t Bradley Walsh good and even poignant in those scenes back in his flat?
Happy Together (US: CBS; UK: E4)
1×5 – Like Father, Like Son
A return to form coincided with the welcome arrival of Lethal Weapon‘s Damon Wayans as… Damon Wayans Jr’s dad. What excellent casting. It obviously really works and the two do really well together. Chris Parnell also gets the most to do since the pilot episode, as does Felix Mallard and he makes the most of it – particularly one scene right at the beginning when you really can believe he’s an A-list pop star. Even Amber Stevens West manages to excel, despite being confined to a laptop screen for the entire episode. I also liked the fact that we got a bit more depth and thought about the set-up of the show, and that all the characters are equally but only partially flawed and also enjoy being with one another. Might get a promotion to the Recommended list if it keeps this up, but I’ll stay alert to the possibility of another “episode 4 incident”.
Magnum P.I. (US: CBS)
1×6 – Death is Only Temporary
Kudos to a US TV show in this day and age dedicating its entire pre-credit scene to jokes and character moments that have nothing to do with the episode’s main plot. A welcome return to form, too, as Magnum and Higgins go off investigating together – and it’s proper private detective work again, too. Meanwhile, we have echoes of the original series as TC and Rick drop everything to befriend a disabled vet and explore what it’s like to find meaning in life after seeing so many horrors.
That said, Higgins’ Englishness went a bit wobbly this week, when she started talking about ‘bug spray’ and made a security code Robin Masters’ birthday (4th August) in the firm expectation that Magnum would type 0804 rather than 0408. Very accommodating of her, but if you’re going to be English and proud of calling football football instead of soccer in one episode, you need to be using insect repellant in the next one…
Pine Gap (Australia: ABC; UK: Netflix)
1×3 – Episode 3
Another episode more in the vein of episode two than the first episode, with a slightly technologically dodgy hunt for a mole. I do like the espionage warfare between supposed allies the Americans and the Australians; American techno git is reassuringly and realistically gittish. But I do wish we could return to the more interesting focus on SIGINT of the first episode.
Episode reviews: Initial review
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow (US: The CW; UK: Sky1)
4×2 – Witch Hunt
Probably the better of this week’s two witch-based shows, with Dear John (USA)‘s Jane Carr turning up as a fairy godmother and John Constantine proving a suitable foil for Mick Rory. The shake up in the crew roster is also working well, and good to see Thomas F Wilson (Back to the Future) again – I hope he’s going to be a regular.
The Haunting of Hill House (Netflix)
Huh. I did say that The Haunting of Hill House could potentially drop the ball in its final two episodes. It didn’t – hence its promotion to the recommended list.
But it did do something I really wasn’t expecting – it turfed up a happy ending. I’m not sure what to make of that. I was hoping for something as nasty and as terrifying as both the initial episodes and the movie. We do get something that explains more or less everything, fills in all the plot points, ties up loose ends, is thematically in keeping with what’s been before, has its own fair mixture of terrifying moments and is as beautifully made as everything that preceded it. It’s not even the happiest ending imaginable, but feels about as happy as such a show can be. But it just feels odd to have something tonally so different to the rest of the show.
All in all, though, a generally excellent season that’s genuinely frightening and haunting. It really should have avoided make-up and special effects for the ghosts, since they were the show’s weakest link and almost undermined it, but they were just about good enough not to ruin it. Watch it if you dare since it’s genuinely one of Netflix’s best ever true originals.
Episode reviews: Verdict
The Last Ship (US: TNT; UK: Sky1)
5×8 – Honor
Thankfully, plot machinations prevented Admiral Square Jaw from saving the day single-handed this week, even if he did manage to (spoiler alert) destroy an entire ship by himself, incurring only a nasty headache along the way. But a high octane piece of land warfare this episode, and it was nice to see the show take a leaf out of SEAL Team‘s book and actually have people rehearse a special forces mission, rather than simply go in guns blazing. A slightly easy resolution to the situation, mind, but gosh, yet another regular dead. This is what I call a final season.
Mr InBetween (Australia: Showcase)
1×6 – Your Mum’s Got a Strongbox
A marvellous conclusion to both this two-parter and the season, once again showing both a code of behaviour among bad guys and the horrible price you might pay if you breach it. The juxtaposition of the mundane and ordinary with the lethal, as well as the difference between real crims and would-be crims has proved refreshingly impressive. Top work from both Scott Ryan and Matt Nable this episode and I really hope the next season maintains the high standards of this one.
You (US: Lifetime; UK: Netflix)
1×8 – You Got Me Babe
A nifty piece of plotting pushes things along from the previous episode in surprising ways, overcoming some expected obstacles and contortions to take us to a plausible new place in the main relationship. John Stamos continues to deliver a pleasing low-key performance, but kudos to everyone as usual. Nice that there’s enough realism that Badgley still has a scar on his forehead from the events of previous episodes, despite so much time elapsing it could plausibly and aesthetically simply have healed away.
Episode reviews: Initial review