What have you been watching? Including Almost Family and Mr Robot

Almost Family

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

Ruby Rose

This week’s reviews

This week’s been a bit quieter than planned reviews-wise. I did manage to review Batwoman (US: The CW) as planned; however, I’m just finishing episode eight (of nine) of Raising Dion, which is obviously a day or two later than Boxset Monday and Tuesday allows. But it’s a shoo-in for next week.

What’s coming this week

Orange Thursday didn’t happen again, either. Sorry. However, fingers crossed, we’ll be looking at Between Two Ferns: The Movie (2019) and – in a brief flashback to Weekly Wonder Woman – Wonder Woman: Bloodlines (2019).

As well as Raising Dion, the coming week should also bring us Nancy Drew (US: The CW) and eternal optimist that I am, I’m hoping to watch season two of Plan Cœur (The Hookup Plan) over the weekend.

And after that, Fall 2019 – part three begins…

Mr Robot
Mr Robot

The regulars

Fall 2019 – part one and Fall 2019 – part two brought us new shows, but I’ve been winnowing again. I can’t really be bothered with either Prodigal Son or Emergence any more, so they’ve been dropped from the viewing queue.

But that still leaves us with Evil, Magnum PI, Mr InBetween, Pennyworth, Stumptown and Titans. On top that, Mr Robot has made his comeback.

All of those after the jump, together with a brief rundown of last week’s extra turkey, Almost Family.

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

Almost Family

Almost Family (US: Fox)

Plot

Only child Julia Bechley (Brittany Snow) finds her life turned upside down when her father reveals that, over the course of his prize-winning career as a pioneering fertility doctor (Timothy Hutton), he used his own genetic material to conceive dozens of children.

Reeling from this explosive revelation, Julia discovers two new sisters: former best friend Edie Palmer (Megalyn Echikunwoke) and ex-Olympic athlete Roxy Doyle (Emily Osment). As these three young women begin to embrace their new reality, Julia must figure out what life is like without her father by her side; Edie comes to grips with her burgeoning sexuality as her marriage falters; and Roxy faces adulthood out of the spotlight.

Against all odds, the three women attempt to form a bond as sisters, even as they must welcome a tidal wave of new siblings into their rapidly expanding family.

TMINE verdict

Okay, I’ll fess up. I got about 10 minutes into this really dreadful adaptation of Ten (Australia)’s Sisters before I abandoned it. It was just the worst.

It needn’t have been, of course, since Hutton, Snow and Echikunwoke are all really engaging actors. But this was just tediously predictable and without anything really novel about the characters to engage the audience.

The point, in case you were wondering, I decided to turn off was when Osment is doing down-market product-placement appearances with fans. One slightly older, slightly maler fan eagerly asks for selfie with her.

Can you see what’s coming? You can, can’t you?

Yes, he tries to cop a feel. (Tab A-Slot B). Osment defies nearby overbearing mother and slaps bad fan. (Tab B-Slot C).

‘Fan’ insults her. Can you guess what’s coming when he turns around?

You can, can’t you?

Yes, the Olympic athlete… jumps on his back and starts to pathetically flail at him.

Give me strength. Not only a cliché but one completely inappropriate for the character. Doubly bad writing.

Snow’s anxious act was at least moderately entertaining, and Echikunwoke was just on the cusp of revealing that the reason she doesn’t want to have sex with her husband any more is (as usual) she’s a lesbian. But I didn’t get that far. Really, life’s too short, particularly during Fall season in the age of PeakTV™.

Shows I’m watching but not necessarily recommending

Evil (US: CBS)

1×2 – 177 Minutes

Evil continues to remain very promising, as our team investigate an apparent miracle and yet again prove there is no God. It’s a bit more open than the previous episode, but the show’s definitely still sitting firmly in the science camp of the religion v science debate. Which is a definite plus. It even managed to come up with even more secular reasons why all the things that happened in the first episode had rational explanations.

That said, it does at least have some interesting debates about religion and science (miracles by definition being extraordinary and science dealing with repeatable).

This episode was also dedicated to fleshing out both Mike Coulter and Aasif Mandvi’s characters, and again, to its credit, it completely bypassed clichés in favour of far more interesting ideas.

A very nice second episode, in fact.

Episode reviews: Initial

Mixed-ish (US: ABC)

1×3 – Let Your Hair Down

For those of you who can’t be bothered to watch Good Hair (2009), this episode basically distills it all down into a potted guide to the history and politics of black women’s hair in the US. Very educational, n’all, but at the same time, not hugely funny.

It had its moments, quite a lot of them down to Gary Cole, but I called it in my initial review – without Kenya Barris writing it, Mixed-ish loses its magic. The characters aren’t the same, it’s not as sharp, it’s not as funny and it becomes more of a bog-standard sitcom.

So I’m out. I’m sure it’ll continue to have good, even great episodes, though, so your patience could well bring rewards.

Episode reviews: Initial

Stumptown (US: ABC)

1×2 – Missed Connections

Pleasingly, we don’t instantly hit the emergence of a series format with this episode. Cobie Smulders’s character doesn’t suddenly become a fully fledged PI, the police don’t instantly start bringing her in on cases and mistakes are made. Instead, we’re getting tiny increments of development, which is pleasing.

The case itself was a bit daft, if emotionally interesting in its conclusions. More importantly, the episode fleshed out Smulders’ relationship with him off New Girl. You can kind of see the joins between the original casting and Johnson’s casting, since he’s really no ex-con car thief – no way, Jose – but they’re at least lightening up the character.

Final note: I’m no more buying Smulders as an ex-Marine as I am Zachary Knighton in Magnum P.I. Which is odd, because she was really good as an MP in Jack Reacher: Never Go Back. Here, though, she’s getting beaten up by random women who’ve had a couple of kickboxing classes. Come on – marine martial arts all the way!

Episode reviews: Initial

The recommended list

Magnum P.I. (US: CBS; UK: Sky1)

2×2 – Honor Among Thieves

Who’s the new guy? Could they not get Ken Jeong this week? I do hope he’s not a regular. And no, I’m not talking about Larry Manetti – Magnum, P.I.‘s Rick, who cameoed in this episode, and may well be back for more.

Otherwise, the threatened reformatting didn’t really seem to happen, with Higgins and Magnum up to their usual antics, and Magnum’s girlfriend nowhere in sight. Which is probably a good thing.

Still not buying Zachary Knighton as an ex-Marine. Nope.

Episode reviews: Initial, Verdict

Mr InBetween (Australia: Showcase)

2×4 – Monsters

The first real standalone episode so far, so oddly, also the best episode this season, as our anti-hero goes off on a job for Damon Herriman and does something that could almost be described as good work for a change. Dark and disturbing, but in a good way.

Episode reviews: Initial, Verdict

Mr Robot (US: USA; UK: Amazon)

4×1 – 401 Unauthorized

And the TV-changing, network-remoulding auteurial blitzkrieg that is Mr Robot returns after a two-year absence for its final season. Presumably just for the lolz, so it can go through every Apache 40x error code – is there even going to be an episode 4?

Big shocks obviously, more so if you are watching the whole series in a boxset since if you’re going to (spoiler alert) kill off an important character, it’s probably best not to do it when you haven’t seen them in two years. But it’s more interesting as a sort of ‘hangover’ from the excesses of the third season, as everyone comes round to find reality is a bit sharper and harder to deal with.

Lots of Sam Esmail directorial flourishes helped, of course, and for a second, I began to wonder if Mamie Gummer’s character was starting to have Mr Robot syndrome. I’m a little curious as to whether this final season is simply going to round off the plot in a conventional way, or whether Esmail still has some tricks in his bag. But it’s promising so far – plus I really can’t get enough of Michael Cristofer.

Episode reviews: Initial, Verdict

Pennyworth (US: Epix; UK: StarzPlay)

1×7 – Julie Christie

The first clunker of an episode so far, as we start doing devil worship in earnest. As an origin story, too, it’s not exciting convincing me that Thomas Wayne and Martha Kane are ever going to get married, as they have zero spark and are more likely to murder one another at the moment.

But enough good qualities in it to make me keep watching.

Episode reviews: Initial

Titans (US: DC Universe; UK: Netflix)

2×5 – Deathstroke

This season now seems to be hitting its stride. There was decent action sequences, the gang’s starting to come together again, there was a big twist in the plot and Deathstroke turned up in earnest. Or at least his stuntman did, and Esai Morales got to hang out in his nim-nams in the voiceover booth.

The retcon efforts are still coming across a bit weird, but it’s definitely enjoyable.

Episode reviews: Initial

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