It’s “What have you been watching?”, your chance to recommend to fellow TMINE readers anything you’ve been watching this week
It’s been a bit of a slow one, this week – yes, I’m talking about myself – but it’s also been a bit quiet for TV. I’m vaguely considering watching Amazon’s Homecoming, since:
- It stars Julia Roberts
- It’s from Sam Esmail (Mr Robot)
- Each episode is only about half an hour long
- I would have watched it last weekend, but I was away (!)
But that’s more or less been it for new shows, although I’ll be taking a look at the first episode of new arrival Tell Me A Story (US: CBS All Access) after the jump.
I’m sure the weekend will bring us something new, though. Gosh, if only there were a handy feature on this ‘ere blog that could tell me when new shows were starting…
Time for the regulars, though. Black Lightning went on holiday this week, so after the jump, it’s DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, Doctor Who, Happy Together, The Last Ship, Magnum PI, Pine Gap, Titans and You. There’s not one but two promotions in that list. Can you guess which ones will receive the TMINE blessing?
Tell Me A Story (US: CBS All Access)
Curious adaptation of Mexican web series Érase una vez (Tell Me A Story) by Kevin Williamson (The Following, Dawson’s Creek, The Vampire Diaries, Stalker, Cult, Time After Time) that takes classic Grimms’ Fairy Tales and turns them into a modern-day crime anthology series. For season one, we have Little Red Riding, Three Little Pigs and Hansel and Gretel mashed together into an ensemble drama, with three separate storylines that occasionally crossover with one another.
Red is a California high school girl who has to come to live in New York with her gran (Kim Cattrall) when her mum dies; trouble is, she likes to walk on the wild side and maybe ends up sleeping with someone she shouldn’t have. The Three Little Pigs are thieves who accidentally kill someone’s fiancée, no doubt resulting in later episodes in hot pursuit to their various homes by the grieving fiancé. Meanwhile, Hansel and Gretel sees a man go into the wrong flat with the wrong man, things go a bit pear-shaped, prompting him to need the help of his sister. I wonder if they’ll accidentally leave a trail of evidence that others may follow.
The show isn’t subtle about what it’s doing: the title sequence features all the fairy tales you’re going to see and if that doesn’t give you clues, every so often Kim Cattrall will offer Red a shiny coat to put on, the robbers will wear pig masks or Gretel will start playing with a gingerbread house. However, it’s all really just an excuse for Williamson to push the limits of what Internet TV will allow, with plenty of male nudity, sex, under-age sex, violence and drug-taking.
All of which sounds interesting, but when you’re watching it, you’re hoping the wolf will huff and puff and blow your TV in, because it’s significantly duller than you might think. There’s the occasional bit of deft Williamson dialogue (“You’re a liberal, too!” “Yes, but I’m a self-hating liberal”) and a certain degree of human insight, particularly into the New York party scene and East Coast liberals. But honestly, plotting is languorous to say the least, making it pretty tedious stuff, Cattrall’s the only really watchable cast member, and you’ll be hard pushed to find a single character to care about or even hate.
I doubt I’ll stick with it, but funnier things have happened.
Shows I’m watching but not necessarily recommending
Doctor Who (UK: BBC One)
11×5 – The Tsangara Conundrum
A return to rubbish form for Chris Chibnall, as we have something that looks like a Blue Peter competition winner terrorising a spaceship. Can a peaceful solution be found? Can the Doctor and her companions get back to the TARDIS? Can a man give birth to a baby?
The episode suffers the usual Chibbers problem of 30 minutes of linear, deftless plot spread over 50 minutes and a whole bunch of guest characters getting so much characterisation, b-plots and the like that the regulars barely get a look in. Direction was at least markedly better and more exciting than it has been of late, the sets were shiny and the ultimate solution to the monster dilemma was somewhat original. There were even a few jokes sprinkled around. But when you’re reduced to having actors wobble a bit to create excitement, you’re probably on a hiding to nothing.
Roll on next week’s Chibless wonder.
Pine Gap (Australia: ABC; UK: Netflix)
1×4 – Episode 4 – 1×5 – Episode 5
I was about giving up hope on Pine Gap by the middle of episode 4, since it just seemed to be random efforts to do “couples spying on each other”. But the conclusion of the episode flipped the show over from trite espionage into a more interesting political what if (spoiler: (spoiler alert) what if Australia signed a neutrality agreement with China); episode 5 then returned the show to the SigInt excitement of the first episode and even possible war!
I get the feeling there was probably about three episodes’ worth of actual story. But it’s a good three episodes, just with two to three episodes stuck in between them. Fingers crossed for the final part!
Episode reviews: Initial review
Titans (US: DC Universe; UK: Netflix)
1×4 – Doom Patrol
Almost a standalone episode designed to introduce DC Universe’s next TV show, Doom Patrol, giving us the voices at least of Brendan Fraser and Matt Bohmer as Robotman and Negative Man respectively, as well as April Bowlby as Elasti-Woman. Oddly, Timothy Dalton wasn’t playing The Chief (it was Bruno Bichir), so as a soft launch, this was pretty rubbish.
Nevertheless, while the Doom Patrol themselves weren’t that interesting, at least there wasn’t really the clash of genres with the Titans as there has been in previous episodes with other superheroes. The episode also served to finally introduce Beast Boy to the audience and help him to join the team.
Not bad, not great, but decent enough.
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow (US: The CW; UK: Sky1)
4×3 – Dancing Queen
Well, I guess if you want to keep an English actress on board your show but her American character has run its course, this was one way to do it. True, it did have one of the worst depictions of 1970s Britain ever committed to film (seriously, at least get some right-hand drive cars next time), but at least we got some full on, comics-authentic John Constantine back story – although oddly, the least believable thing about the episode was the short journey time to Liverpool.
Happy Together (US: CBS; UK: E4)
1×6 – Bland Gestures
I did say last week that if there was another good episode, it was promoted and here it is, as we see how hard it is for regular married couples to make romantic gestures that can compete with those of A-list celebrities. I spent most of the episode sniggering in recognition of all the things Lovely Wife and I have been guilty of over the year, and the central chemistry of the two main stars continues to delight. But Felix Mallard also continues to surprise with a really smart performance that neatly trends the line between innocent and obtuse.
The Last Ship (US: TNT; UK: Sky1)
5×9 – Courage
And another one bites the dust. Is there going to be anyone crewing this ship by the end of the season? Still D-Day beckons next week so they may not even have a ship by then. The obvious theatrics to one side, a surprisingly interesting look at the importance of surveying in modern warfare. Yes – educational.
Magnum P.I. (US: CBS)
1×7 – The Cat Who Cried Wolf
Ooh, a staggered origin story for Magnum’s shirt choices! I like it! I also liked that once again, we’re in proper PI territory, with our hero having to investigate a missing cat, because it’s not like being a PI is well paid. Some good Higgins/Magnum moments, some good action sequences, some proper naval fun – even TC and Rick were useful. Hence this week’s promotion.
You (US: Lifetime; UK: Netflix)
1×9 – Candace
Gosh. Another unexpected twist. I really didn’t think the show would go there so quickly, particularly not so soon after Joe has ‘exonerated’ himself. But it did. It really is a surprisingly decent show, this. Good to see John Stamos getting a bit more to do, though, although it wasn’t totally unexpected what he ended up doing, I guess. He is John Stamos.
Episode reviews: Initial review