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
I think it’s summer fever. That’s the only explanation for why I’ve done nothing over the past week. To be fair, neither have most TV networks.
Anyway, that’s meant no reviews of anything. But that doesn’t mean I’ve not watched anything. Oh no.
What’s coming this week
Friday marks the end of TMINE summer time – that fabled time of the year when I go off on holiday and don’t talk about TV until mid-August and don’t really get back into the reviewing-and-news groove until September.
That means that this is the last WHYBW? for a good long while. However, before I hang up my typing fingers on Friday, I plan to review at least Pandora (US: The CW) and maybe even The Unsettling (US: HBO). My Life is Murder (Australia: Ten; UK: Alibi) started today, so I’m going to give that a whirl, too.
On top of that, although I never quite got round to doing Orange Thursday last week, I did at least put the movie-watching in, with Κυνόδοντας (Dogtooth) (2009), Atomic Blonde (2017) and the bonus of 47 Ronin (2013) being the order of the day. So that’ll be tomorrow’s Orange Thursday – the final one before TMINE’s holidays.
But after the jump, one last delight – new show Departure (Canada: Global; UK: Universal), which is all about a missing plane. They just keep disappearing these TV planes, don’t they?
I did a little bit of pruning of the TMINE viewing queue last week, but this week will see the full application of the scalpel-like “Can I be arsed to catch up with this when I get back from my holidays?” to the dwindling viewing queue.
Harrow has just aired its season finale, mind, so will be spared the knife. But what among City on a Hill, Legion, Perpetual Grace LTD and Swamp Thing can I be arsed to catch up with when I get back in August?
Find out after the jump.
Departure (Canada: Global; UK: Universal)
A plane takes off perfectly normally from JFK airport in New York but just a couple of hours into the flight, contact is lost and everyone assumes the flight has crashed. UK aeroplane boss Christopher Plummer calls in top former investigator Archie Panjabi to help find the plane and any survivors, assuming it has crashed, and determine what happened. Was it a fault with the aircraft, terrorists or something else?
We’ve, of course, had our fill of aeroplanes mysteriously disappearing through supernatural means, in shows such as Lost and Manifest, of late, so you’d be forgiven for thinking this was more of the same. But although Departure is filled with hokey dialogue, the show should be credited for defying expectations and doing something different – having a perfectly normal plane disappearance.
Departure is in effect a mystery show and a thriller in which none of the possible suspects can be interviewed and there may not even be any bodies. Much like Pine Gap, this first episode is less about boots on the ground – since they’d sink in the ocean – but about remote information and how you can work out what has happened. There aren’t many normal shows that correctly use the relativistic Doppler effect – even if they don’t quite explain it correctly – but Departure is such a show. Then there’s surveillance footage, different types of communication systems and more.
The show’s a Canadian production, so Toronto and a whole bunch of Canadian actors are on board for this. But it’s also a UK co-production, so there’s copious UK (and Irish) filming, even in Heathrow, a relatively decent amount of accuracy (although an Irish flat cap? Really) and a bunch of British actors, too – even that Clem Fandango. Given this was made at the tail end of last year, don’t be too surprised there’s an underlying assumption that Brexit would already have happened by now, which is moderately amusing.
Despite the relentless clichés that fill up the dialogue to almost breaking point, I think I might try to watch the rest of this – it’s only a six-episode limited series.
Shows I’m watching but not necessarily recommending
City on a Hill (US: Showtime)
1×5 – From Injustice Came the Way to Describe Injustice
Ah, it showed such promise in its first episode, but we’re up to episode 5 and that marvellous reform of the Boston criminal justice system and the authentic, well researched crime stories have disappeared and haven’t shown much sign of returning. Although Kevin Bacon gets the occasional bit of good dialogue, everyone else doesn’t, and the rest of the episodes is just relationship padding, to be honest.
This episode was a marginal improvement on last week, but we’re now talking about the early days of #MeToo, rather than what was promised. Again, this feels like a show that was given 10 episodes when it only nearly six – or even fewer.
Can I bothered catching up with the second set of five episodes when I get back? To be honest, no. If I weren’t going away, I’d probably stick with this, just to see where it goes. But I am, so it’s time to give it up, I think.
Episode reviews: Initial
Harrow (Australia: ABC; UK: Alibi)
2×10 – Pater Familias
A somewhat surprising end to the season. All the characters got to shine and the absence of darkness in the central character that I’d been bemoaning for weeks suddenly reappeared in a real, no punches pulled way.
All in all, probably not as good a season overall as the first one and not quite as smart. But a more polished one, with fewer dips, that would probably have worked better as a bit of boxset viewing. The relationship between Harrow and Fairley Jr could have been developed more, and the fact they’re now down two regulars suggests that the writers need to work a bit harder at keeping what they’ve got next season.
Will I be coming back for that third season (if it comes)? I think I will. The cliffhanger at the end of this episode felt a bit forced and implausible – why Harrow rather than some other pathologist, particularly given he’s on leave and also a possible suspect yet again? – but I like what’s left of the show’s set-up enough that I’d like to see what they do next.
Episode reviews: Initial
Swamp Thing (US: DC Universe)
1×7 – Brilliant Disguise
The best episode since the pilot. Indeed, probably the best episode full stop, despite the fact Swamp Thing isn’t himself. Or rather he is. Or maybe isn’t. Anyway, Swampie’s powers come out, we learn more about what he’s all about. We finally learn who the Big Bad is and it’s all pretty exciting.
True, there’s a stupid cabal called something like ‘the Cabal’, but hey – comic books. Am I right?
So yes, I can be arsed to find out what happens next. Even though it’s been cancelled. I mean three episodes ain’t much of a commitment, is it?
Episode reviews: Initial
The recommended list
Legion (US: FX; UK: Fox UK)
3×4 – Chapter 23
Staggeringly, we’re still not treading water. Indeed, this was probably the most accessible episode of the season so far, coming across like a nightmarish combination of Sapphire and Steel and Jigsaw, as envisioned by David Lynch, thanks to some disturbing time-travelling demons.
Some really lovely visuals, some imaginative story-telling methods that even slightly topped Doom Patrol‘s recent efforts and some pathos, too. Could it be that Legion is finally fulfilling the promise its initial few episodes made? I think it might.
Not watch the rest of this? Are you crazy? It’s just getting good!
Perpetual Grace LTD (US: Epix)
1×7 – Bull Face
A return to amusing form, thanks partly to the proper arrival on the scene of Timothy Spall, but also thanks to the show’s constant undermining of conventions even as it follows them. I especially loved the absurdity of the ‘cash cab’ and its Q&A, with Spall answering the questions before they’d even been asked once he’d dealt with the Kardashians.
But some good character work, too, and Kingsley and Weaver’s adventures in Mexico are promising.
Can I be arsed to watch the rest of it when I get back? You betcha. This is a keeper.
Episode reviews: Initial