It’s “What have you been watching?”, your chance to recommend to fellow TMINE readers anything you’ve been watching this week
The schedules are a shifting and new shows are arriving. Now, there’s not much on Mondays but lots on Wednesdays, meaning that for a second time, while I’ve watched Corporate, I’ve not had a chance to watch this week’s Magicians. Therefore, WHYBW might well be moving to Tuesday next week. Let’s see how it goes, though.
This week’s reviews
Coming up in the next week, there’s a lot. YouTube launched Weird City last night, so I’ll be watching that, and TBS has also given us Miracle Workers, so I’ll be tuning in for that, too. However, there’s much more than that on the way, including some Australian programming, so expect quite a few reviews over the next week.
On top of that, Comedy Central (US)’s three-part mini-series Time Traveling Bong will be airing in the UK from Sunday, so I gave that a view. Well, some of it. I’ll take about that after the jump.
Magnum P.I., DC’s Legends of Tomorrow and The Orville were all on a break last week, so after the jump, we’ll be talking about: Cavendish, Corporate, Counterpart, The Passage and Star Trek: Discovery, as well as the final three episodes of Das Boot. See you in a mo!
Time Traveling Bong (US: Comedy Central; UK: Comedy Central)
This actually aired as a ‘three-night event series’ in the US three years ago, so as it’s a mini-series, I didn’t watch it at the time. But seeing as it’s finally airing here on the 17th, each episode is only 20 minutes long and Comedy Central UK offered me a preview, I thought I’d try it.
So, if you recall, when I first reviewed Corporate – and pretty much every scripted production that Comedy Central ever aired before that – I pointed out that Comedy Central’s scripted output was almost entirely aimed at people watching the TV stoned. In no way does Time Traveling Bong disprove that theory. The only difference is that everyone in front of the camera is stoned, too.
Here, the idea is that time travellers from the future arrive in the present day and are almost immediately knocked down by a car. Wastrel cousins Ilana Glazer and Paul W Downs use Google Lens to translate the strange writing on the side of a bong the time travellers dropped and it reveals itself to be a time-travelling bong. They give it a puff and end up in the past.
The show is three 20-minute episodes but even the 10 minutes I watched felt like an eternity. There are no jokes, other than the idea of a time-travelling bong and that our heroes are a bit rubbish and would sacrifice one another to save their own skins. They travel into the past, meet a dinosaur and get a bit frightened, so they leave. They enter the time of the Salem witch trials and try to show they’re from the future… with a smartphone, thus immediately prompting the accusation they’re witches, but spend more time complaining when the screen gets damaged. Oops.
And more of the same.
Making History may not have been the best “dopey people travel in time” series but it was light years ahead of this. Avoid.
Shows I’m watching but not necessarily recommending
Cavendish (Canada: CBC)
1×6 – The Coven
A switch in writers and suddenly the brothers’ bickering is properly funny again, with a cracking rejection letter the initial source of amusement. Then they try to join the local Wicca coven and it remains funny until one of them gets rejected and ends up becoming a Satanist. After that, it all falls apart and becomes less than hilarious.
Not bad, but needed a better conclusion.
Episode reviews: Initial review
The Passage (US: Fox; UK: Fox UK)
1×5 – How You Gonna Outrun The End Of The World?
Despite mostly being vampires sitting around in everyone else’s subconsciousness, chatting about morality, ethics and relationships, probably the best episode of the show so far. There are attempts to have an exciting moment or two through a fight, but these are largely forgettable and/or laughable. Instead, the show is absolutely at its best when it’s flashbacks to the vampires’ former lives and mind-games. It’s even poignant this episode. How long it’ll remain like this remains to be seen, though…
Episode reviews: 1
Corporate (US: Comedy Central; UK: Comedy Central)
2×5 – The Expense Report
The first not-great episode this season, despite homaging The Usual Suspects and featuring a weird and wacky turn by Kyra Sedgwick as a cowgirl billionairess. There are funny moments and the cast elevate it, but it’s still not wasn’t as brilliant as normal.
Counterpart (US: Starz; UK: StarzPlay)
2×9 – You To You
Possibly the penultimate ever episode of the series, as Starz has cancelled it (rescue plans are afoot, however), and it’s clear once again that it’s been a bit of a mistake to sideline JK Simmons for large chunks of the season. He does make everything better. And as I commented early on in the first season, while it’s a fabulous piece of philosophical musing, Counterpart frequently is a bit lacking as a spy show and here, the quite basic lack of tradecraft (wearing wires, only having one guard on a prisoner and perhaps even an entire building) is glaringly bad. Plus the cast of Brits/Americans in German roles meant we had to endure the “everyone’s German but still speaking English to one another” problem sporadically, in between scenes of “everyone’s German so everyone’s speaking German”.
But the meeting of the two Olivia Williams was majestic and the surprise arrival of (spoiler) Patterson Joseph was very welcome, too.
Das Boot (Germany: Sky Deutschland; UK: Sky Atlantic)
Well that was really rather good, wasn’t it? I do admire just how many people got killed off in the final efforts – bold moves all round. The coda at the end only very slightly undermines that marvellous fifth-episode twist, but given everything else that happens, I didn’t mind it and it at least gave us a slightly happy ending to one storyline at least.
All in all, a great look at heroism – and the lack thereof – in times of war. I’d be very surprised if this wasn’t in the TMINE’s Top N of 2019.
Episode reviews: Initial review
Star Trek: Discovery (US: CBS All Access; UK: Netflix)
2×4 – An Obol For Charon
As with the first season, a generally rubbish start is becoming a much better affair. Humour, character moments and continuity come in the right places, and there are not too many and not too few plotlines to deal with. The highlight this episode, of course, was the arrival of Number One from the Enterprise, here played by Rebecca Romijin (X-Men), rather than Majel Barrett, who was able to flesh her out and make her a far more interesting, far less misogynistic creation than her 60s predecessor. The blatant BSG-inspired explanations for why Star Trek tech is worse than Star Trek: Discovery tech were amusing, too.
Still nothing fabulous but at least a substantial improvement.
Episode reviews: Initial review