It’s “What have you been watching?”, your chance to recommend to fellow TMINE readers anything you’ve been watching this week
This week’s reviews
It’s been a busy old week for TV, with a whole bunch of returning shows, as well as some new ones. However, despite my grandiose promises last week, I’ve not reviewed a huge amount. Elsewhere, TMINE has only looked at:
- What We Do In The Shadows (US: FX; UK: BBC Two)
- Abby’s (US: NBC)
- Il nome della rosa (The Name of the Rose) (Italy: Rai 1; UK: BBC)
To be fair, that’s because all the shows I’d planned to review in depth weren’t as tempting as I’d hoped…
I did promise last time that for this week’s Boxset Monday, I’d review either Netflix’s Osmosis or Amazon’s Hanna. Unfortunately, one episode was about all I could take of Osmosis in a sitting, but I’ll be talking about that after the jump.
So then I tried episode two of Hanna, having already previewed episode one a while back. However, while that proved more appetising than the first, it had some other qualities that made me sigh a lot. And not make me want to watch any more episodes in hurry. We’ll talk about that after the jump, too.
Before next WHYBW, I’ll be previewing Jordan Peele’s new take on The Twilight Zone and maybe The CW’s In The Dark, Cinemax’s Warrior and Netflix’s Quicksand, as well as anything else that crops up. Orange Wednesday will be back tomorrow with reviews of John Wick – Chapter 2, Justice League vs The Fatal Five and Donkeyote.
As for the regulars, I’m all caught up now. The Orville is on yet another long break, so join me after the jump for a look at the latest episodes of Doom Patrol, The Good Fight, Il Miracolo (The Miracle), The Magicians, Star Trek: Discovery and Whiskey Cavalier. I’m going to be demoting one of them – can you guess which?
I’ll also be frowning at the return of Happy!, smiling thinly at the mid-season return of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow and waving goodbye sadly to the first season of Magnum P.I.
See you in a mo!
French Netflix Original set in Paris in the near future. A new app called Osmosis promises true love, by searching your mind for the image of your soulmate and revealing them to you.
However, with the government trying to shut the developer down by fair means or foul, owner Hugo Becker (Baron Noir, A Very Secret Service) is forced to take shortcuts to get the product to market on time. Meanwhile, his sister and lead developer (Agathe Bonitzer) is more interested in using Osmosis’ potential to rescue the memories of their comatose mother than in the safety of the users. And although security chief Suzanne Rault-Balet (Philharmonia) says everything is impossible to hack, a breach soon proves that to be an optimistic statement indeed.
As someone recently pointed out to me, what’s the point of Osmosis when we already have five seasons of Black Mirror?
To be honest, there isn’t that much point to Osmosis, particularly since Black Mirror is far better executed and able to do more, given that it’s not truly supposed to show us our reality, whereas Osmosis is.
For an app that requires everyone to be injected with nanites that can enter their brain and mine it for its secrets, there’s considerably less oversight by the regulators than you (ie a sentient human being) would expect and everyone’s far more trusting of an unfunded start-up than you (ie a sentient human being) might be in real life.
Osmosis is also quick to set up foundations but slow to explore in its initial episode why on Earth we should care about this highly improbable dystopia coming our way. The characters are all charmless and self-involved, not apparently taking the slightest care about the lives in their charge, only about themselves. The plotting isn’t the clearest either, leaving you wondering what on earth is going on or whether you’ve simply spotted yet another plothole.
Indeed, although the show is billed as probing the question: “If science could guarantee true love, would you say yes?”, by the end of the first episode, you might well be answering, “Maybe, but only if science sticks rigidly to the Human Research Ethics guidelines of the Horizon 2020 legislation and Clinical Trial Regulation EU No. 536/2014.” That’s probably not what they want you to say, though.
The ending of the first episode does at least put things in a reasonable place for a more interesting second episode. But I doubt I’ll stick around for more.
Shows I’m watching but not necessarily recommending
The Good Fight (US: CBS All Access; UK: More4)
3×3 – The One Where Diane Joins The Resistance
So a demotion for a show that seems to have lost its way. Sure, it’s funny. Sometimes. Sure, it’s got a good cast. But where’s the legal accuracy? Where have half the cast gone? What is Michael Sheen doing?
This week’s episode was more of the same super-silliness. Legal matters were barely addressed and where they were addressed, it wasn’t with much by way of relevancy or smartness. Meanwhile, Diane’s getting tricked by a confidence trickster… again.
I’m going to keep The Good Fight in the viewing queue for a while, just in case it perks up, but at the moment, it feels like a flailing piece of anti-Trump rhetoric that doesn’t know what it wants to do except scream at the world and/or burble in a corner.
When I previewed episode one, I did wonder what the point was of remaking so faithfully yet blandly an already good movie. Some congratulations at least should be due then to the producers for a second episode that’s somewhat different from the movie and is probably the first thing I’ve seen a male poledancer in a TV show.
Other than that, though, Hanna is a very odd, globe-trotting thing. Its selling point apart from the movie’s plot is that it reunited The Killing (US)‘s Mireille Enos and Joel Kinnaman but episode two again keeps them apart; more importantly, their roles are almost bit parts – Enos is trying to befriend her French boyfriend’s daughter, while Kinnaman is stripping again so he go for a swim in Germany.
The main focus is the titular Hanna, who has escaped a very poorly defended underground black site in Morocco and has hooked up with… oh gods, no… a British family. Said British family seem to have dragged British TV values along with them, because everything looks so cheap.
Even the fight scenes, which weren’t half bad in the first episode, here have so many cuts you can hardly see when things start and stop, presumably because it’s a bit obvious they’re asking quite a short, thin girl to do things to much taller blokes that require a much higher centre of gravity and strength.
The fact that the show is at least going off on a different path now makes me more likely to watch the rest of the season than the first episode did. But so far, I’ve seen nothing that would make me think it would be worth the effort.
Episode reviews: Initial
Il Miracolo (The Miracle) (Italy/UK: Sky Atlantic)
We’re five episodes into the eight-episode first season of The Miracle and surprisingly, the show so far has turned out not so much to be an examination of what it would mean for the world if a genuine repeating miracle were to take place, but what you would do to keep a bleeding statue of the Virgin Mary in your basement swimming pool, while carrying on with the rest of your life as normal. That’s not what I would have predicted.
The antics between the Prime Minister and the First Lady are the obvious main highlights of the show, although the show is also scrupulously deconstructing the Prime Minister’s utter ineptitude as a leader. There’s also the bonkers priest who seems to be a lot less bonkers now he’s off his meds.
However, oddly enough, the most enjoyable part of the show for me is proving to be the police commander doing his own version of The Trip. Each episode, he visits another Italian village looking for the source of the statue of the Virgin Mary. Every episode, he has a nice meal, has a chat with the locals, buys some fresh local produce and then visits some pretty places in the mountains. It’s very pleasing and I do like how good he is at relaxed interrogation.
I just wish something a bit more miraculous was happening in the basement.
Episode reviews: Initial review
Whiskey Cavalier (US: ABC)
1×5 – The English Job
And a trip to London for most of the cast, a trip to some part of Europe that can be mocked up to look like London for the rest.
The show was naturally fringed with a lot of the usual nonsense of US shows set in London, such as everyone making tea for one another and not coffee – does everyone not at least ask what hot drink everyone would prefer these days (TMINE fact: I hate tea)? It doesn’t help that generic posh young thing Ophelia Lovibond (Elementary, W1A, Hooten & The Lady) was representing MI6 and appears to have come on aboard as Scott Foley’s new love interest and thus break Lauren Cohan’s new healed broken heart again.
That said and despite the not-quite-right licence plates giving the game away, far more verisimilitude than is typical (I mean not season 2 of Legends good, but still quite good), we get the introduction of a new series Big Bad and the Foley/Cohan dynamic is starting to work well.
Episode reviews: Initial review
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow (US: The CW; UK: Sky1)
4×9 – Lucha De Apuestas
And it’s the return of TV’s stupidest show. Although to be honest, the show is starting to get delusions of grandeur. “Look at how importantly diverse and representative we are.” Very nice, guys, but instead of spending the entire episode talking about the emotions, feelings, etc, we might have for pansexual Hawaiian werewolves or our cloned girlfriends, do you think we could have more pieces to camera and people taking the piss? Doom Patrol is at risk of being stupider than you at the moment.
Still, quite a brave attempt to be stupid, even if it does feel like most of the regulars (Ray, Rory) are very underserved by the scripts. I’m also not 100% convinced that John Constantine’s the most obvious choice of Mexican wrestling fan. Could we not have given that job to Rory?
Doom Patrol (US: DC Universe)
1×7 – Therapy Patrol
As usual, being promoted to the recommended list has resulted in a duff episode. But we know this phenomenon so let’s overlook it.
Fans of TV shows often become excited when episodes dwell in depth on characters and in Therapy Patrol, we have an episode in which everyone sits down and talks about their characters. This is not fun for everyone who isn’t a fan to watch.
The slightly non-linear structure of the episode did help, at least, and the arrival of Admiral Whiskers and the return of Alan Tudyk, if only as the Narrator, did jolly things up considerably at the end, too.
Episode reviews: Initial review
Happy! (US: Syfy; UK: Netflix)
2×1 – The War on Easter
From the moment Grant Morrison’s name appeared in the writing credits, I knew this was going to be bad, so I basically lay back and let it wash over me. To be fair, the final five minutes or so redeemed the episode, but this was more or less a re-establishment of everything for the new season, without very much else to commend it.
For reasons best known to Morrison, he’s decided that rather than a smooth character evolution over the course of several seasons, Chris Meloni’s character is simply going to regress back to his former self so he can carry on doing the same things he did before and in the same way, rather than do anything different. At the same time, he’s decided that sweet little Happy needs to become more like Meloni. It makes sense, give Happy is now Meloni’s imaginary friend, but leads to a tonally more homogeneous show – and removes one of its main assets.
There’s also no big hook for the show with the death of Bad Santa and a certain possessed mobster being stuck in prison. Bringing back an old character rather than simply creating someone new for this season’s Easter Bunny is somewhat dull, too.
But… as I said: Morrison. He seems to turn up for the first episode of a season then go away. In fact, the final scene made it feel like he’d gone away already, so I have greater confidence for the rest of the season. Happy’s animation seems to have improved as well, and there are hints that he might not be totally Melonied.
Sticking with it, at least.
The Magicians (US: Syfy; UK: Syfy)
4×10 – All That Hard, Glossy Armor
This year’s musical episode proved to be a bit of a disappointment, despite recruiting some new characters to the singing cause. The twist to the djinn in the desert story was quite good, but generally nothing really of note.
Magnum P.I. (US: CBS; UK: Sky1)
1×20 – The Day It All Came Together
You know, for a season finale, I’d have expected something a bit flashier with a bit more Justin Lin directing. Instead, we get a slightly undercooked helicopter chase (cherished memories of Airwolf have nothing to be worried about) and a moderately conventional narrative, lifted even less moderately by the return of Jordanna Brewster. No surprises in the big revelation about what she’s been up to, just in the fact that Brian Austin Green cameoed as a Secret Service agent for about five minutes.
Still, even if a slight anti-climax to the season, overall the season itself was very good. Just the right balance of comedy and drama; the addition of the sexual tension between Magnum and Higgins has been a good twist; and Perdita Weeks is a real find. A good formula that I hope can be sustained in a new second season at least.
Star Trek: Discovery (US: CBS All Access; UK: Netflix)
2×10 – The Red Angel – 2×11 – Perpetual Infinity
A daft one and then a not quite as daft one, as we finally come to grips with the Red Angel. Probably the stupidest idea for a trap possible – “the Red Angel travels through time to save me, because it’s probably me and I don’t want to die in the past, so if I kill myself in a really painful way, I can lure in the Red Angel!” Sure. That makes sense.
However, Perpetual Infinity did at least give us The Wire‘s Sonja Sohn in a potentially recurring role, a bit of fighting with Michelle Yeoh and Ethan Peck acting more and more Spockish at last.
After this, if they end up making a Section 31 series rather than a Mount/Peck/Romajin Star Trek: Year 0, I will be very, very disappointed.
Episode reviews: Initial review