What have you been watching? Including NOS4A2, City on a Hill and Los Espookys

Los Espookys

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

Jessica Jones
Marvel’s Jessica Jones

This week’s reviews

Despite my ironing pile not being especially big this weekend, I still managed to work through not only the whole of season three of Netflix’s Marvel’s Jessica Jones but also to review Cinemax (US)’s Jett.

Meanwhile, this week’s Orange Thursday featured Apollo 13 and on top of all that, I’ve managed to watch the first episodes of a few other shows, all of which I’ll be talking about after the jump: Showtime (US)’s City on a Hill, AMC (US)’s NOS4A2 and HBO (US)’s Los Espookys.

I feel quite pleased with myself. Yay me!

Reef Break

What’s coming this week

Tomorrow’s Orange Thursday will take in Men in Black: International (2019) and Tokyo Story (1953). Season 2 of Netflix’s Dark hits teh Interweb on Friday, so that could well be Boxset Monday, and ABC (US)/M6 (France)’s Reef Break will probably get a Tuesday review.

After that, there are bound to be surprises. For me and you.

Lobo in Syfy’s Krypton

The regulars

The InBetween took a break last week, so after the jump, I’ll be looking at the latest episodes of Harrow, Perpetual Grace LTD, Swamp Thing, as well as the season finale of Mr Black. One of those might be getting a promotion to the recommended list.

Krypton has also returned and I watched it.

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

NOS4A2

NOS4A2 (US/UK: AMC)

Zachary Quinto is a very old man who likes to rescue children from their abusive parents. Unfortunately, he also likes to drain them of their live so he can be young again, after which he buries them in boxes in a fantasy world he’s created where it’s always Christmas.

However, there are other ‘creatives’ like him, one a girl who’s looking for a missing child and who find Scrabble tiles always answer her questions; then there’s another girl who can find anyone, but frequently ends up going riding over a bridge that disappeared 15 years ago instead.

It’s all a bit odd and unusual is NOS4A2 (say it out loud and you’ll understand it’s not just Quinto’s licence plate), although at times it feels like the first season of Happy!, just without the imaginary unidonkey and the ultraviolence. Episode one is particularly creepy and I was ready to rave about it afterwards. However, episode 2 succumbed to “AMC syndrome” – ie the plot suddenly stops and everyone starts chatting and not doing anything. So

I’ll watch episode 3 to see if it progresses any more, at least. I’ll also keep watching it to see why exactly Ólafur Darri Ólafsson (Ófærð (Trapped)) is in it as an amiable janitor who wants to work in ‘Christmasland’.

City on a Hill
City on a Hill, with Kevin Bacon, Aldis Hodge and Jonathan Tucker (right)

City on a Hill (US: Showtime)

Apparently, in the early 90s, Boston was something of a lawless hellhole. Then it all changed thanks to something called the ‘Boston Miracle’, of which City on a Hill is a fictional recreation. It sees Aldis Hodge (Leverage) playing a new DA who wants to shake up the corrupt justice system in the city. He quickly comes across dodgy but effective FBI agent Kevin Bacon and they lock horns.

However, it’s not long before the two start working together to turn round the system. And they start with some bank robbers led by Jonathan Tucker (The Black Donnellys, Kingdom).

Given City on a Hill hails from Tom Fontana (Homicide: Life on the Street, Oz), Barry Levinson (Wag the Dog, Good Morning Vietnam) and Boston journalist Chuck MacLean, it’s not totally surprising that actually, this is a bit of cracker. Its dialogue sizzles, it’s unpredictable and feels properly authentic. It’s also got a good cast packed with a whole bunch of top blue collar character actors, some of whom actually come from Boston.

Watching it, you do feel like you’re watching something that could be the new The Wire or at least the new Homicide. I’m a little unsure about Bacon’s performance, but Hodge is eye-opening. Definitely one to keep watching.

Los Espookys

Los Espookys (US: HBO)

Netflix is changing the TV world, particularly the US, which is quietly learning about the virtues of subtitled TV. Los Espookys hails from Fred Armisen (Portlandia, Saturday Night Live) and is HBO’s first (?) bilingual comedy.

The action alternates between LA and Mexico, where a group of young friends turn out to have a talent for staging horror scenes. A local clergyman needs to fake an exorcism, so before you know it, they’re recreating The Exorcist. Meanwhile, back in LA, Armisen is not only the world’s best valet car driver, he’s also the uncle of ‘Los Espookys’s leader, so is trying to drum up trade among the rich and famous there, with the help of local news show Mira Esto.

Los Espookys is quite tittersome, but never hilarious. Armisen’s obviously great at sketch comedy and there are individual items of genius, such as his valet parking skills, Mira Esto‘s philosophically profound but constantly dazzed and confused hostess (“When the lights turn off, who do I become?”) and co-creator Ana Fabrega’s put-upon, will do any job for cash dogsbody.

It’s certainly genial and amusingly ridiculous at times, so probably worth a second viewing at least.

Shows I’m watching but not necessarily recommending

Harrow (Australia: ABC; UK: Alibi)

2×6 – Locus Poenitentiae

Quite a nice little piece as we go into Fairley’s backstory and we finally get a bit more of our Evil Big Bad. Quite a good mystery to be solved, too.

And yes, that was o soto gari, although really, can no one take uke’s balance before reaping these days? That was literally the first thing they taught white belts in my day…

One question: how does the rental company get its car back?

Episode reviews: Initial review

Krypton (US: Syfy; UK: E4)

2×1 – Light-years From Home

Krypton‘s back. Superman’s granddad is in the Phantom Zone and then he’s not, giving him the chance to meet the genre-inappropriate, Irish-accented Lobo and his “shithead detector”. Meanwhile, back on Krypton, there’s all manner of in-fighting as General Zod… ends class divide and income inequality. General Zod a socialist? I didn’t see that coming.

I’ll probably watch next week, once the format for the season has stabilised, but if that doesn’t do anything too exciting, I expect I’ll be bailing.

Episode reviews: Initial

Mr Black (Australia: Ten)

1x7–1×8

Two episodes, but not a two-parter to end the season, with our hero potentially having a long lost son to deal with in the first part, our heroine having to deal with a nude portrait artist in the second part.

Quite a few laughs to be had, albeit more of the standard sitcom style than initial episodes would have suggested, although there were a few reminders in episode 7 in Mr Black’s attitude to yoga. But once again, some surprising accuracy about journalism that suggests some real knowledge going on behind the scenes, particularly the pedantry around ‘literally’ and ‘okay’.

All in all, Mr Black turned out not to be the show the first two episodes hinted at, never really returning to the darker places it went into, which is a bit of shame. But it ended up being a relatively well drawn comedy character study, with decent plots, depth and novelty.

If there’s a second season, I suspect I’ll be back for more.

Episode reviews: Initial review

Episode reviews: Initial review

Swamp Thing (US: DC Universe)

1×3 – He Speaks

As the title suggests, this episode Swamp Thing speaks. Otherwise, more branching out in supernatural and gross out horror this week, plus the introduction of some of Swamp Thing‘s completely unknown roster of enemies (go on, name one).

On the whole, I’m finding this Swamp Thing better than previous versions with more to say, but it’s not especially great as a horror show, unless you like the icky stuff and characterisation could do with some work – particularly the Abby and Alec relationship, which is being flagged up some kind of deep love affair but which the first episode never really established.

Plus another classic “It’s science, Jim, but not as we know it”, in which a powerful disease is thwarted by administering an immune suppressant and when it seems to work on one person, everyone’s immediately given the same treatment in exactly the same dosage. Hmm…

Episode reviews: Initial review

The recommended list

Perpetual Grace LTD (US: Epix)

1×3 – Felipe G Usted. Almost First Mexican On The Moon. Part 1

A swift promotion for Perpetual Grace LTD which is proving to be an excellent noir comedy. It’s practically laugh a minute, either through some proper gags or simply the bizarreness of it all. We also got a cast boost this week, with the arrival of not just Kurtwood Smith but Timothy Spall as the one man who can frighten Ben Kingsley. Plus Jacki Weaver’s clearly up to something, even if her line-count isn’t going up quickly

Episode reviews: Initial review

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