What have you been watching? Including Game of Thrones and The Orville

The Orville - The Road Not Taken
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

Yes, it’s Thursday! After a temporary relocation to Tuesday, WHYBW is back on its God-ordained day thanks to last week’s viewing queue cull. Fingers crossed, that’ll allow me to start boxsetting again at the weekends. Fingers even more crossed, we won’t need to reschedule anything for a while.

Elizabeth Laidlaw and Noel Fisher in The Red Line
Elizabeth Laidlaw and Noel Fisher in The Red Line. Photo: Elizabeth Morris/CBS ©2018 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

This week’s reviews

There’s been a trickle of new shows over the past week, although I’ve skipped the likes of Netflix’s Chambers, on the general grounds it sounded rubbish. But elsewhere, I’ve reviewed:

And this week’s Orange Wednesday took in Avengers: Endgame (2019) and Godzilla (1954)

Cobra Kai - season 2
William Zabka, Martin Kove and Ralph Macchio in season 2 of YouTube’s Cobra Kai

What’s coming this week

The observant will have noticed that I’ve been watching the second season of YouTube’s Cobra Kai. I’ll be reviewing all of that tomorrow.

I’ve also started watching TVNZ’s The Bad Seed and as that ain’t bad, I’ll hopefully be doing that as a boxset on Tuesday (it’s another Bank Holiday in the UK on Monday).

That makes Netflix’s Dead to Me unlikely to fit into the schedule when it starts on Friday, but I might do that later next week. The Spanish Princess starts on Starz (US) on Sunday, but I’ll be working to Lovely Wife’s schedule on that one, her being the Tudor/Philippa Gregory expert.

There’ll be other stuff, too, I’m sure, maybe even in countries other than the US. But I’m not sure what.

HBO (US)'s Game of Thrones
Apparently, there was a big fight this week in HBO (US)’s Game of Thrones

The regulars

After last week’s cull, we have a much more stable stable of regulars to talk about this week. However, as WHYBW has been pushed back a couple of days, some of them are on double-episode duty.

After the jump then, Doom Patrol, Game of Thrones, The Twilight Zone, Warrior, and What We Do In the Shadows – one of them is getting promoted to the recommended list. Can you guess which one? It was also the season (and possibly series) finale of The Orville, so I’ll be talking about that, too.

See you in a mo.

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 Orville (US/UK: Fox)
2×14 – The Road Not Taken

This week’s ripped off Star Trek episode: The Year of Hell. Or maybe Yesterday’s Enterprise. Or maybe both.

So obviously complete nonsense in practically every way. Black hole physics? Just nonsense (“Let’s hide behind the event horizon!”). Reasons for why Ed and Kelly’s relationship are the key to saving Earth? Nonsense. Orville at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean? Nonsense.

Still, The Orville never makes much sense and is notionally a comedy – this episode did even have a few jokes – so we can skip all that nitpickery and enjoy what was generally a reasonable, character-based bit of flippery that to some extent felt like a possible goodbye letter to the fans, given the show hasn’t been renewed for a third season (yet).

We also got a brief cameo by one departed character, adding to the feeling of finality and the parallels with Yesterday’s Enterprise. Although said character probably needed more than about five lines for that to work. (I even suspect that they put her in it purely because there was a similar character in Yesterday’s Enterprise and once they’d done that, they had no further use for her). It was nice to see her again, mind.

On the whole, I was never a real fan of The Orville, which is why I initially gave up on it after three episodes; nothing I’ve seen since has really made me think I was wrong to do that, although there have been enough decent and surprising episodes over the past season and a half that I’ve not really regretting adding it back to the TMINE viewing queue. If it comes back, it comes back, if it doesn’t it doesn’t. I’m not sure I care.

But the one thing it has done quite well is make me feel fond for the characters. They’ve not been used especially brilliantly this season, but they are a decent enough bunch to hang around with once a week. I might miss that.

Episode reviews: Initial review, Verdict

Warrior (US: Cinemax; UK: Sky1)
1×4 – The White Mountain

A bit of a filler episode, albeit one in which we get the relationship between Joanna Vanderham and Andrew Koji advanced somewhat, everyone gets their backstory fleshed out, and Dianne Doan gets to do some cool politicking. But as usual, it’s the historical and cultural insights that make Warrior genuinely interesting.

Episode reviews: Initial review

Recommended shows

Doom Patrol (US: DC Universe)
1×11 – Frances Patrol

A slightly unmemorable affair in which Brendan Fraser goes looking for his daughter and Matt Bomer has to deal (again) with being gay, etc. Not even that sweary, unfortunately, but at least April Bowlby got something to do.

Do you know, it was only when I typed that last sentence that I remembered her in Two and a Half Men? How could I forget?

Episode reviews: Initial review

Admiral Whiskers arrives and Mr Nobody returns

Game of Thrones (US: HBO; UK: Sky Atlantic)
8×3 – The Long Night

Well, it’s what everyone’s been waiting for – the war against the dead. It’s been building for about eight seasons and everyone wondered how it would go down.

And now it’s all over in a single episode. None of that “let’s lay siege to Winterfell for an entire season nonsense”. Done and dusted in one – that’s the new, post-books Game of Thrones.

So lots of complaints obviously. All those 50+ night shoots really paid off in terms of us… not being able to see anything. Okay, I couldn’t see anything on my iPad but on a TV, everything looked a bit squinty, but I’ve had worse. That’s the benefit of twatting around with the contrast settings on your TV for months. But millions of others were grouchy.

More importantly, can we talk about castles? Have the producers ever been to one? Did nobody even think about moats, drawbridges, layered walls, boiling oil, arrow slits in walls or anything of the countless other methods of defence that medieval fortresses used to put in place to stop people doing exactly what they did in this episode? Sure, nob

There are other criticisms to be had. While it’s fair to argue that at this point, at least a reasonable number of characters whose storylines had been building for eight seasons needed to see them concluded, it would have been a lot more sensible not to stick them in almost insurmountable peril at every turn to avoid people wondering why they couldn’t just die already.

Then there’s the eventual demise of the Night King. That’s not one of my complaints because that was chuffing brilliant – that’s a reverse of the previous criticism. He builds up that entire army, recruits giants and dragons, raises the heroes he’s just killed from the dead, destroys everything and everyone in Winterfell and then just as he’s about to win completely, (spoiler alert) a wee little girl sneaks up on him and puts a pointed stick between his ribs. Similarly, all those manly heroes doing their best and yet it’s (spoiler alert) Arya who manages to do it.

Brilliant. That’s the Night King’s Red Wedding right there.

Lots of lovely character moments throughout, too, as well as individual standout moments. It wasn’t perfect, but I think it justified the wait. I’d certainly watch it again, just to watch that resolution.

Episode reviewsSeason one

The Twilight Zone (US: CBS All Access)

A promotion to the recommended list this week for The Twilight Zone, which is still doing good things and coming up with original ideas.

1×5 – The Wunderkind

Here we’re in an alternate reality in which Article II, Section I, Clause 5 of the US Constitution doesn’t exist and failed political ‘wunderkind’ John Cho decides he’s going to make a comeback by getting a 10-year-old YouTube sensation elected president. He achieves his aim… but soon regrets it.

The episode isn’t exactly the subtlest (spoiler alert) Trump allegory going, but it is properly nightmarish, hammers its points home and then follows it up with a coda about the importance of experts..

1×6 – Six Degrees of Freedom

Now we’re in the far future and a mission to Mars – very subtly, the rocket is called the Bradbury – is about to take off when news comes in that North Korea has just launched nuclear missiles against the US. Should the astronauts still take off, even if it means they’ll probably be the only humans left alive? And can they even be sure what they’re hearing is happening?

To be honest, the conclusion, while unexpected, doesn’t exactly explain what we’ve been watching enough that I could tell you what the episode was trying to say. Something about the human spirit? Maybe. But I’m not sure.

The episode is perhaps most notable, though, for revealing that former Daily Show correspondent Jessica Williams is now a proper actress.

Episode reviews: Initial review

What We Do In The Shadows (US: FX; UK: BBC Two)
1×5 – Animal Control – 1×6 – Baron’s Night Out

A rather fun double-bill that returns some characters we’ve not seen since the pilot episode. Animal Control allows Natasia Demetriou to take centre stage and she really does well with it, particularly since Limitless‘s Jake McDorman returns as her reincarnated lover. Some properly funny moments throughout.

Meanwhile, Doug Jones is back as the vampires’ terrifying leader, who decides that he’d quite like to mingle with the mortals of New York, despite being a wizened husk of a man with no dress sense. Again, some lovely silly moments, and Demetriou gets some great lines to play with.

Episode reviews: Initial review