It’s “What have you been watching?”, your chance to recommend to fellow TMINE readers anything you’ve been watching this week
WHYBW isn’t quite the proverbial frog in a pan of water, but the observant will have noticed that it’s been getting later each week. That’s not really a grand design, simply my current workload in action. I could pretend it’s so that I could watch all this week’s episodes of Nightflyers; I could also point out that it’s because there’s actually nothing much on Wednesday or Thursday nights in the US, whereas there’s oodles on Mondays and Tuesdays, so it currently makes more sense to have WHYBW on a Thursday or a Friday.
But fundamentally it’s an accident.
Anywhere, it’s Friday and here’s WHYBW! I’ve already watched a lot of the new shows that have come out since the last WHYBW, including Netflix’s 1983 and the first episode of the aforementioned Nightflyers, but it being Friday, a new batch has just come out, any or all of which could be a Boxset Monday or at least feature in a review next week: the third season of Fortitude, as well as Netflix’s Dogs of Berlin and The Hook-Up Plan.
But that means I’ll only be talking about the regulars after the jump: Black Lightning, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, Happy Together and Titans. The observant will notice Doctor Who isn’t on that list. That’s because I haven’t watched it. Yes, I know it’s on Sundays, so I’ve had enough time, but honestly I’ve felt absolutely no pressing desire to watch it, particularly since all the reviews suggest it’s a particularly terrible episode. Maybe I’ll have watched it by next WHYBW, but I get the feeling I might actually be over Doctor Who – at least for now. It only took about 40 years, but there you go.
Shows I’m watching but not necessarily recommending
Black Lightning (US: The CW; UK: Netflix)
2×8 – The Book Of Rebellion Chapter One
Usual things happen. Some good fights. Nothing really new, though, despite starting a new ‘book’. Last chance, guys.
Nightflyers (US: Syfy; UK: Netflix)
1×2 – Torches and Pitchforks – 1×5 – Greywing
After a slightly excessive first episode, Nightflyers slowly improves and becomes a more thoughtful affair. It’s still an odd melange of sci-fi and horror, never quite being great at either, but each episode continues to be smarter than you’d expect and to surprise you in its revelations. Even when I’ve guessed something in advance, it’s turned out to be not quite what I was expecting. As a bit of horror, it’s no The Haunting of Hill House but the nods to everything from Phase IV through Arrival and even eXistenZ make Nightflyers a decidedly more impressive and eclectic affair, too.
That said, the revelation that most of the mischief on the ship is down to (spoiler alert) the ‘ghost’ of someone’s mother is a bit disappointing, even if it allows Blake’s 7 Josette Simon to return to sci-fi in an almost Servalan-esque outfit at that. Fortunately, that’s not the whole story, though, so I’m looking forward to learning what other revelations are still to come.
Episode reviews: Initial review
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow (US: The CW; UK: Sky1)
4×7 – Hell No, Dolly!
Ooh dear. We don’t want to start domesticating John Constantine, guys. The whole point of him is he’s a git. Stop that at once.
Happy Together (US: CBS; UK: E4)
1×9 – The Power Of Yes… Men
A bog-standard sitcom script passed through the Happy Together innovation prism, which makes it a whole lot smarter and more enjoyable than the standard “Dweeb husband needs to learn to be confident” and “Pop stars are insulated from reality” fare might suggest. I am a bit concerned that Amber Stevens West is rarely the focus of the scripts, more a support to Damon Wayans Jr’s plots, which is becoming the show’s one big flaw now.
Titans (US: DC Universe; UK: Netflix)
1×8 – Donna Troy
Obviously, I could write a great big tract on this one, as we see the arrival of eponymous Donna Troy in the Titans universe. While not the twin sister of Wonder Woman or even the clay version of the nu52/DCYou, she’s nevertheless a girl adopted by Diana and raised by the Amazons and we get a lot said about both (“Wonder Woman was born to protect the innocent, Batman was born to punish the guilty”, “The Amazons have a thing about redemption”). Interestingly, this Wondergirl (yes, they go there) also has superpowers – super-strength and super-leapiness at least – so if she wasn’t actually born an Amazon, that suggests a Golden Age style approach in which Amazon skills and powers can be taught to the willing.
But let’s keep it at that for now before I start boring people with chat that I would normally confine to Weekly Wonder Woman. More interesting for everyone else is her relationship with Robin, to whom she acts like a big sister, and a decidedly more cheery one than she usually gets to be in the comics. Arguably, given that Dick is basically the show’s Batman, it’s a mirror of the Wonder Woman-Batman relationship, but it still works on its own terms, too. We also get the first signs of Starfire getting her memory back. That doesn’t work out well.
All in all, a very good episode. Titans is just getting better and better.