What have you been watching? Including Star Trek: Discovery and The Twilight Zone

Kelly and Kelly
Adrianne Palicki in Fox (US)'s The Orville

It’s “What have you been watching?”, your chance to recommend to fellow TMINE readers anything you’ve been watching this week

Dax Shepard and Lake Bell in ABC (US)'s Bless This Mess
Dax Shepard and Lake Bell in ABC (US)’s Bless This Mess

This week’s reviews

With everyone celebrating that Jesus dying (and coming back again) for the past few days, it’s been another quiet one for TMINE. But elsewhere, I did review ABC (US)’s Bless This Mess and Orange Wednesday took in Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse, so I’ve not been totally slacking.

The Bad Seed

What’s coming this week

A few new shows are coming up, and fingers crossed, I should finally be able to watch all of TVNZ 1’s The Bad Seed. Plus Orange Wednesday tomorrow will be taking in an Australian double-bill, Mystery Road and Goldstone, as well as a classic from the 80s, The Name of the Rose.

There’ll be other stuff, too.

Freeform's Marvel's Cloak and Dagger
Freeform (US)’s Marvel’s Cloak and Dagger

The regulars

While there may not have been a huge number of new shows, I’ve not been slacking when it comes to the regulars. I’ve now caught up with episodes 2-4 of The Twilight Zone, so I’ll be looking at that, as well as all the other regulars: Au Service De La France, Doom Patrol, Game of Thrones, The Good Fight, Happy!, Il Miracolo (The Miracle), Il Nome della Rosa (The Name of the Rose), The Magicians, Marvel’s Cloak and Dagger, The Orville, Star Trek: Discovery, Warrior, What We Do In the Shadows and Whiskey Cavalier.

Brace yourselves, though, because not only are The Magicians, Il Miracolo and Star Trek: Discovery leaving that list because they’ve just had their season finales, I’m also purging no fewer than five of the others, on the general grounds they’re not much cop any more.

See you in a mo for a veritable TMINE Night of the Long Knives!

TV shows

TMINE recommends has all the TV shows TMINE has ever recommended and TV Reviews A-Z lists every TV show ever reviewed.

Shows I’m watching but not necessarily recommending

The Good Fight (US: CBS All Access; UK: More4)
3×6 – The One With The Celebrity Divorce

Despite this and the previous episode being marginally better than their predecessors, first of the shows for the chop is The Good Fight. What started weak and then quickly grew into a genuinely interesting and insightful take on both law procedurals and racial relationships has quickly grown this season into absolute nonsense, helped in no small measure by Michael Sheen’s ‘Brian Blessed in Flash Gordon‘ level performance.

To its credit, this week, Sheen dialled it down a notch and there was just a hint of the show that was in the trial. The humour was a bit more precise, too, even if we did have to entertain the notion of Melania Trump seeking out a divorce attorney. But it’s still just a shadow of the show that was, so I think it’s time to abandon it.

Episode reviewsInitial review, Verdict

Il Miracolo (The Miracle) (Italy/UK: Sky Atlantic)
1×8

So, I’m not entirely what the point of all that was. On the plus side, this last episode of the show did finally explain what was going on with that seemingly irrelevant sub-plot involving that dad and his son, as well as the origin of the statue. We also get a hint at the end of what ‘the miracle’ will actually be (it’s not the one we thought it was). But everything else we’ve been watching somehow seems entirely irrelevant to the story. What was the point of the Prime Minister and his wife, the crazy priest, the dead mum and everything else?

The entire season therefore feels like build-up to a second season, which as of yet, has still to be commissioned.

There were things about it I liked, but if you missed it, you didn’t miss much, I’d say.

Episode reviews: Initial review

Il Nome della Rosa (The Name of the Rose) (Italy: Rai 1; UK: BBC)
1×4

Second for the chop is Il Nome della Rosa. It’s a shame, because it started off so promisingly. But the latest episodes have largely been material tacked onto Umberto Eco’s original story, staffed by barely intelligible Italian actors in pointless little co-production expansions to the original. When it gets back to Eco’s source, it’s really good, but that’s only now about 50% of the show and the additions are almost unwatchable.

Episode reviews: Initial review

The Orville (US/UK: Fox)
2×13 – Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow

This week’s ripped off Star Trek episode: Second Chances.

That said, firstly, it was good to have a funny episode of The Orville again, instead of one of the show’s attempts to do serious. The party scene in particular was great.

Secondly, it was nice to not only give Adrianne Palicki something to do again but to make Kelly’s younger self break that great American taboo of being a total (female) pisshead. Palicki did a good job of differentiating the two characters, even though they’re explicitly not that different, too. And the ending? Not the total reset you might have expected.

All in all, the first properly good episode for some time.

Episode reviews: Initial review, Verdict

The Twilight Zone (US: CBS All Access)
1×2 – Nightmare at 30,000 Feet, 1×3 – Replay and 1×4 – A Traveler

Two remakes of original series episodes with a twist, and one original. The first resets Nightmare at 20,000 Feet by giving us an onboard nightmare fit for our paranoid age – a plane traveller finds a true crime podcast from the future telling him that the plane he’s on is about to crash, so does his best to find out who causes it and prevent the crash. The answer isn’t what you think and has a suitable moral, too.

Episode 3 is a bit of a sledgehammer, with a mum trying to take her kid to college, only for them to be stopped by a racist cop with an itchy trigger finger. Fortunately, she has a camcorder that can wind time back, giving her the chance to try again. And again. And again. The moral isn’t exactly subtle, but it’s well executed and tense.

Episode 4 is a new take by The X-Files‘ Glen Morgan on the classic The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street, with an ‘aggro traveller’ turning up in the cells of a remote Alaskan police station run by Greg Kinnear. However, he seems to know a lot about the town and its people, and what’s with all those power cuts? However, it’s a bit ropey, to be honest – a decent opening half leads to a daft, barely coherent second half – making it the first episode I didn’t really enjoy watching.

All in all, a really good new version of the original series that gets under the skin and is often thought-provoking and scary.

Episode reviews: Initial review

Warrior (US: Cinemax; UK: Sky1)
1×3 – John Chinaman

Another episode that shows Warrior is probably more interesting as a historical piece than as a fighty/crime piece, despite the Bruce Lee origins of the show and the obligatory one fight scene per episode. Indeed, not a lot actually happened to move the storylines on past the point where they were at by the end of the first episode. However, we do now understand the characters a lot better, at least.

So far, not quite the blinding brilliance and excesses of Banshee, but certainly one to stick with for now.

Episode reviews: Initial review

Whiskey Cavalier (US: ABC)
1×8 – Confessions of a Dangerous Mind

Third for the chop is Whiskey Cavalier. As with The Good Fight, it actually had a mild uptick in quality this week, as we finally get ourselves a decent Big Bad for the team to fight. However, the switch away from “Look! A European city you know and recognise” to “A bunker somewhere in eastern Europe” has hit the show’s allure. The lack of real plot for Lauren Cohan’s, beyond her pining for Foley, is now getting tedious – something not helped by the addition of a new romantic interest (Marika Domińczyk) for another character. There’s no real excitement to the spy action either.

All in all, a light frothy show with a decent cast that’s okay to watch, but which doesn’t really ever hit any highs.

Episode reviews: Initial review

Recommended shows

Au service de la France (A Very Secret Service) (France: Arte; UK: Netflix)
2×4 – The Monkey Is In The Rocket – 2×5 – The Coup

Lovely Wife tends to have a hexing effect. Normally, I watch TV on my iPad, but on those rare occasions when I watch it on an actual TV, she has special powers. Normally, she magically causes naked women to appear on screen in shows that previously never featured naked women; but with comedies, she somehow causes them to stop being funny.

The latter is what happened with The Monkey Is In The Rocket, which was funny right up until Lovely Wife entered the room then stopped being funny. Sigh. But there was some lovely Allo, Allo grade accent work and sight gags (an American general called ‘Clint Harry’), as our heroes accidentally cause The Bay of Pigs.

The Coup followed the same ‘accidental history’ principles, with our distracted heroes accidentally bringing about Algerian independence, but this was a bit more amusing if you knew about Algerian history in advance (particularly the four generals). However, the standout comedy came more from the civil service bureaucracy as a state of emergency is declared and everyone has to (spoiler)work out which stamp to use.

Episode reviews: Initial review

Doom Patrol (US: DC Universe)
1×10 – Hair Patrol

Behold! The Beard Hunter has arrived! That was an unexpected treat, particularly has he has almost nothing in common with his comic book self, instead having possibly the most disgusting – and deceptively pointless – power in the book.

Meanwhile, in a place and a time far, far away from the main cast, Timothy Dalton is off redoing The Terror by himself – with the occasional hindrance of The Unit‘s Max Martini. It’s good to see Dalton, particularly in such a weird little sub-plot and especially since it finally seems to explain why everyone seems to be immortal. Plus Mr Nobody showed up, too! Bonus.

Episode reviews: Initial review

Admiral Whiskers arrives and Mr Nobody returns

Game of Thrones (US: HBO; UK: Sky Atlantic)
8×2 – A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms

In which every actor gets to have a scene with every other actor they’ve never had a scene with before. Poignant at times (Sam’s sword bestowing, Brianne’s knighthood, Jamie’s revelations), important at times (Jon’s revelation to Daenerys) and often amusing as well as sad, it was a salutary lesson to Star Trek: Discovery on how to do farewell scenes that don’t slow the plot to a crawl and which are dramatically appropriate. Hint: borrow from Henry V

Episode reviewsSeason one

Happy! (US: Syfy; UK: Netflix)
2×4 – Blitzkrieg!!!

And the fourth show to get the chop is surprisingly Happy!. I grew to love both Happy and Happy! over the course of the first season, but this second season has lost its mojo. There’s no drive and little comedy. All the characters are underserviced or totally out of character. Even the violence is down to negligibly interesting levels. All that leaves is Christopher Meloni hamming it up each episode.

So, sadly!, I think I’m out. Let’s pretend this never happened, hey?

Episode reviews: Initial, Verdict

The Magicians (US: Syfy; UK: Syfy)
4×13 – No Better To Be Safe Than Sorry

A surprise death and a surprise musical number round off the fourth season in a moderately more interesting way than all the preceding episodes. But did I cry to Take On Me? No.

It’s not been a great season, to be honest. The characters have all been separated. There’s been little magic and imagination.

So I think I’m out. The first three seasons, based on the books, were largely very good, albeit with diminishing returns, but the show doesn’t seem to have much new to say about fantasy stories and their tropes.

There’s a fifth season on the way but I don’t think I’ll be back for more.

Episode reviews: Initial review, Verdict

Marvel’s Cloak and Dagger (US: Freeform: UK: Amazon)
2×4 – Rabbit Hold

Last of the regulars for the chop this week is Marvel’s Cloak and Dagger. As with Marvel’s Runaways, that had a great, novel first season, but with its second season, seems to have struggled to find anything to say. We’ve had a few new powers and the addition of more voodoo had promise; this episode also tried to do a David Lynch, albeit a bit dully. But there’s been nothing to excite in the whole run and if there’s a story arc worth following, I’ve missed it. So rather than feel a bit bored each week, hoping to see if the show gets its mojo back, I think I’ll duck out now.

Episode reviews: Initial review

Star Trek: Discovery (US: CBS All Access; UK: Netflix)
2×14 – Such Sweet Sorrow – Part 2

Well, you can’t knock the special effects. What a gloriously beautiful episode. Nice to see Battlestar Galactica being borrowed from copiously, even if for some reason, no one realises there’s a z-axis or that you can move starships around so they can avoid getting hit. The final scene aboard the Enterprise was glorious, too, and I’d watch that show in a heartbeat (do the maths: they want a Star Trek show on every week and they have three planned at the moment…).

However, everything before that was just nonsense. It literally did not make sense. I spent most of the episode going, “Wait, what? Why are they doing that? Why are they still doing that? Why is that happening? Didn’t they say that shouldn’t happen? Why are they doing that now when they had a day to do it already? Don’t they have transporters any more? How did you all train to be fighter pilots – and why?” And more.

Just so much daftness.

Oh yes, and “Why are you talking about that now? People are dying – why are you spending three hugely vital minutes talking about your relationship instead of doing the very important thing you’re supposed to be doing?”

The Klingons didn’t help either – every time they spoke or did anything, the plot hit an abrupt brick wall, too.

All in all, a decidedly weak, overly complicated, overly soapy second season that usually never made much sense, usually had everyone acting out of character, but which always looked lovely and had a cast doing their best with the scripts they were offered.

Will I be back for season 3? Doubtful. While shifting the action 950 years into the future does has the advantage of allowing the show to tell new and utterly different, even more futuristic stories, it now has only its main characters to fall back on for storytelling. And I can’t think of even one of them that I’d want to watch any more.

So I’m probably out. Call me when Star Trek: The Pike Years gets commissioned.

Episode reviews: Initial review

What We Do In The Shadows (US: FX; UK: BBC Two)
1×4 – Manhattan Night Club

Tee hee. Cursed hat. That and the battle between the energy and the emotions vampire added up to an entertaining piece.

Episode reviews: Initial review

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