What have you been watching? Including Catch-22 and American Princess

American Princess

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

Good Omens
Good Omens

This week’s reviews

With summer season ending a whole bunch of regular shows and with TMINE’s workload (and social life) being quite high at the moment, the reviews list hasn’t been so big this week, unfortunately. I’ve watched a whole bunch of shows, but so far, I’ve only had time to review the first season of Amazon’s Good Omens.

Meanwhile, this week’s Orange Thursday featured Always Be My Maybe (2019) and First Man (2018)

But coming up after the jump, I’ll (finally) be looking at the first episodes of Catch-22 (US: Hulu; UK: Channel 4) and American Princess (US: Lifetime).

Carla Gugino in Cinemax's Jett
Carla Gugino in Cinemax’s Jett

What’s coming this week

Coming up at some point this week will be the usual Orange Thursday, which will definitely feature Apollo 13 (1995) at the very least, as well as a review of the first episode and perhaps more of NOS4A2, as well as a preview of Showtime’s forthcoming City on A Hill.

I have a full and confident expectation of being able to watch the third and final season of Marvel’s Jessica Jones (Netflix) this weekend that undoubtedly will be proved false, unless I have an awful lot of ironing to do. Cinemax’s Jett will also be starting this Friday, as will HBO’s Los Espookys, so I’ll try to watch them both at some point, too.

New shows that I’ll probably be skipping: Grand Hotel will be starting on Monday in the US, which is an updated, soapy version of Spain’s period epic Gran Hotel, which seems like a terrible idea to me. I’m also just not young enough to watch HBO’s Euphoria, which starts on Tuesday and is full of oodles of teen sex and drug-taking apparently.

Shudders.

Amazon’s Too Old to Die Young will be available from Friday, but in a clash between it and Jessica Jones, I’m afraid it’s going to lose this week. But maybe next week. Or the next.

YMMV.

Ben Kingsley in Perpetual Grace LTD

The regulars

After the jump, I’ll be looking at the latest episodes of Harrow, The InBetween, Mr Black and Perpetual Grace LTD, as well as the season finale of Warrior. And even though it’s already been cancelled, I thought I’d watch the second episode of Swamp Thing.

The observant will notice that for, I think, the first time in WHYBW history, the ‘recommended list’ is empty. Shock, horror! Will there be any promotions soon? Maybe. We’ll see.

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 in the past 13 years.

New shows

George Clooney in Catch 22
George Clooney, Christopher Abbott and Pico Alexander in Hulu’s Catch-22. © Philipe Antonello/Hulu

Catch-22 (US: Hulu; UK: Channel 4)

Catch-22 is a classic of 20th century American literature, an hilarious, moving, poignant and angering story about the insanity of war – particularly during World War II. It’s already been adapted as a not very good movie but now George Clooney’s adapted it for a full six-part mini-series and brought along the likes of Hugh Laurie to help him.

And it’s all right. You get most of the characters from the book, getting most of their normal lines – Major Major, Orr, Yossarian and co are all there, although I’m not sure Orr has crabapples in his cheeks. You get the first of the many ‘Catch 22s’. You get lots of the misery of war.

But does it grip you like the book or make you cackle like a drain? Not at all. You do admire the CGI for the planes, for sure. But the acting’s the usual “we’re doing comedy!” acting, with lines usually delivered too quickly, in order to make it seem like a screwball comedy.

It’s pretty, glossy… but empty. I don’t think I’ll even bother watching the rest of it. It’s a shame, as I really wanted this to be good, but it’s not for me.

American Princess

American Princess (US: Lifetime)

A strange iteration of Miss Congeniality and Legally Blonde, American Princess sees Georgia Flood (ANZAC Girls, Here Come The Habibs) playing a Jewish-American ‘princess’ who runs away from her wedding when she finds her fiancé having sex with another woman. However, while running away, she accidentally runs into a Renaissance Fair.

Rather than discovering that this is a tedious, ahistorical piece of cultural appropriation that’s barely one step up from a carnival and populated by people barely above the breadline, Flood discovers that the European-faking Americans are all college-educated philanthropists and therapists, who’ll help up through her trauma – if she joins them by putting her advanced knowledge of Shakespeare to good use.

To be fair, the fake British accents are all pretty good and it is quite a warm show that put a smile on my face at times, although not from any of the jokes. But this feels like half of a 1h30 minute movie, rather than something that can sustain one or more seasons.

Shows I’m watching but not necessarily recommending

Harrow (Australia: ABC; UK: Alibi)

2×5 – Ab Initio

I’m surprised they went there. Last week hinted at it, but they actually did do it this week, which was a definite surprise and a welcome one at that. I can see, too, that even if we’re not getting some darkness for Harrow itself, the writers are adding some dark back stories to other characters. Plus Fairley seems to getting better treatment, too, making him more than simply a Gil Chesterton re-run.

Things are definitely on the up.

Episode reviews: Initial review

The InBetween (US: NBC; UK: Universal)

1×2 – Made of Stone

So somewhat interestingly, The InBetween is becoming a sort of quasi-horror show, in which unpleasantly dead people show up and haunt a woman, while at the same time, her nice gay dad solves crimes and drinks tea. It’s an odd combination, particularly for a summer show, but surprisingly, it works. The psychic stuff is strangely bonkers, too, but in that “I’m thinking of a horse… is it a horse… maybe something beginning with h… or an e… Is it a dog? I knew it was a dog. He’s saying it’s a dog,” kind of way, except with imagery and hallucinations instead.

It’s not must-see TV, but it’s different enough that I’m probably going to keep watching, especially if the series arcs work out.

Episode reviews: Initial review

Mr Black (Australia: Ten)

1×6

So, on the one hand, I’m not 100% enjoying the fact that the show has become less of a clash of cultural values – old school manliness versus millennial new manliness – more simply a dad who dislikes his potential son-in-law and decides to make his life a misery. Mr Black is increasingly portrayed simply as a git and not even an especially manly one, rather than any real epitome of the values he espouses. Equally, the son is less the essence of millennial man, more a bloke who doesn’t get on with his girlfriend’s dad.

On the other hand, this was actually a pretty funny episode, with a few neat, dark touches. Bonus – Nadine Garner was back and as usual, she makes the dynamics of the relationships work a lot better. So a weaker, more mainstream, less specific format, sure, but still funny, so what am I really complaining about, hey?

Episode reviews: Initial review

Episode reviews: Initial review

Perpetual Grace LTD (US: Epix)

1×2 – Orphan Comb Death Fight

Perpetual Grace is quickly shaping up to be the most interesting item on the TMINE viewing queue. It works as both noir thriller and pastiche of noir thriller, with Ben Kingsley both terrifying as the evil pastor and hilarious.

Case in point: we get Kingsley in narration explaining that he has many psychological techniques for wearing people down and bending them to his will, all of which sound like classic, psychological noir. In practice, they turn out to be him shouting “Hey fattie!” and “Are you going bald?” at a bloke all day.

Meanwhile, Damon Herriman reappears and disappears. Literally. Which is thoroughly entertaining. Plus Jacki Weaver once again manages to get top billing despite being in a series for a mere three seconds per episode. That’s a neat, probably well paid trick if you can get it.

It’s all oddly hilarious, yet oddly tense at the same time. I suspect I’ll be promoting it to the recommended list next week.

Episode reviews: Initial review

Swamp Thing (US: DC Universe)

1×2 – Worlds Apart

Episode one of Swamp Thing not only was Swamp Thing-less, it also left things up in the air as to which iteration of Swamp Thing we’d see. I’m pleased to say that episode two, as well as adding plain old gothic Southern supernatural horror to the body horror mix, seems to be pushing things in the direction of Alan Moore’s ideas.

Shame it’s been cancelled, really.

Episode reviews: Initial review

Warrior (US: Cinemax; UK: Sky1)

1×10 – If You’re Going to Bow, Bow Low

An odd way to end the season, since it effectively marked episode nine as the end of the real story, episode ten the start of the season two story. Otherwise, the usual usual – a reasonably good kung fu fight, some really interesting pieces of historical detail and decent character interaction and development.

All in all, not the first season you might have expected from the Banshee-esque first episode or even the fact it was based on ideas by Bruce Lee. Instead, it’s been a cultural and historical piece that’s frequently been eye-opening. Don’t watch it for the kung fu – watch it to learn about the history of the Chinese in the US.

Episode reviews: Initial review

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