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
Since I took the radical move of having a day off on Friday (and most of Thursday), it’s been a slightly reviews-light week this week. However, I did cover the whole of season two of Impulse (YouTube), which you should definitely watch. Never mind the width – feel the quality.
What’s coming this week
The aforementioned day off meant I actually had some time to watch a couple of movies this week, so Orange Thursday tomorrow will be taking in both Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) and Terminator: Dark Fate (2019).
Friday is, of course, November 1, but it’s also the beginning of Fall 2019 – Part Three, since as well as Amazon giving us the second season of Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, Apple is finally launching its Apple TV+ streaming service with no fewer than four new series: The Morning Show, See, Dickinson and For All Mankind.
Which of those will be Boxset Monday and/or Tuesday, I can’t say, but I suspect it’ll be either Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan or For All Mankind. Or both.
And I still might get round to watching season one of Modern Love (Amazon), season two of The Hookup Plan (Netflix), season one of Beau Séjour (Belgium: Éen; UK: Walter Presents) or season two of The Kominsky Method (Netflix).
Another new show starting within the next week is His Dark Materials (UK: BBC One), but I’ll probably skip that. You never know though.
Bar Stumptown, which took a day off last week, too, it’s the usual usual after the jump: Batwoman, Engrenages (Spiral), Evil, Magnum PI, Mr InBetween, Mr Robot, Titans, Total Control, Treadstone and Watchmen. I also watched a couple of Star Trek: Short Treks. And joining all of them is the returning Silicon Valley.
That’s a lot, isn’t it? Time for a cull…
Star Trek: Short Treks (US: CBS All Access; UK: Netflix)
Not technically a new show – or even a show, given TMINE doesn’t do short-form – Star Trek: Short Treks are basically what the UK sees as the equivalent of DVD extras at the end of the Netflix rundown for each season of Star Trek: Discovery. In the US, though, they air separately on CBS All Access and no fewer than six of various kinds (some animated) are winging their way out over the Internet airwaves at various points over the new few months.
Normally, I wouldn’t have bothered, since I ended up concluding I would give up Star Trek: Discovery at the end of last season. But these are actually intended to give the public something they really do want – more of the Captain Pike Enterprise.
The first, Q&A, is actually a prequel to the prequel, giving us Spock’s arrival on the Enterprise as an ensign, where he meets Number One for the first time. The two of them spend the entire ‘episode’ outnerding each other, while stuck in a turbolift – supertextually, of course, Spock took on most of Number One’s character traits when NBC ruled Gene Roddenberry could have Spock or Number One but not both characters in the show.
It fleshed out both characters, who have rarely had much character time together. I really liked it.
The second, The Trouble With Edward, only briefly features the Enterprise crew and is largely set on a science vessel where the voice of Archer is genetically engineering Tribbles to become the things we’ve come to know and love. It’s a far more comedic and daft affair than Q&A, but it will make you laugh, that’s for sure.
Really, just make a TV show about these characters, you numpties. I’d watch that.
Shows I’m watching but not necessarily recommending
Batwoman (US: The CW)
1×4 – Who Are You?
First for the cull (I suspect) is Batwoman. To be fair, the episode actually had a sense of humour, and for the first time Ruby Rose’s Batwoman actually felt like a decent character and she might actually be quite good at comedy.
But stop it with the Batman obsession. Just stop it. So you all watched a few episodes of Batman Beyond when you were kids and have a lot to say about the Bat – this is Batwoman. On top of that, there’s the relentless dedication to illogic – you have a design for something that needs to be printed by a 3D printer, but it’s encrypted. Yet, you can still print it? How’s that work?
Then there’s the fact you have the Alice gang killing dozens of Gotham’s citizens, but to prove to the city that you’ve got its back, you decide to catch the most dangerous… jewel thief. Sure.
Lastly, the writing’s not exactly subtle and this week, as well as the show’s LGBTQ+ message being hammered home, it was just plain embarrassing.
So I think I’m done. It might be good for the college kids, but I don’t think this one’s for me. Thanks, Titans.
Episode review: Initial
Treadstone (US: USA; UK: Amazon)
1×2 – The Kwon Conspiracy
While the nod in the episode title to Robert Ludlum book-naming conventions is amusing, the series itself carries on as before. Whenever it’s doing Heroes-style origin stories, it’s actually very good. Whenever it tries to do spy stuff – particularly car chases – oh dear.
The fight scenes are still all very good and the cast are all doing their best, but for a supposed top-tier spy show spin-off of a top-tier spy movie franchise, it ain’t half clichéd.
Episode review: Initial
Watchmen (US: HBO; UK: Sky Atlantic)
1×2 – Martial Feats of Comanche Horsemanship
I actually had to turn down a chance to appear on Turkish TV this morning to talk about Watchmen, as I already had prior commitments (my crazy life, huh?), so y’all can have the benefit of my wisdom here instead.
Episode two – no, I don’t know why that was the episode title – dials up the bonkers a little more, while dropping in a few more references to the original graphic novel.
We’ve got human cloning, Night Owl’s tech all appears to have been passed on to the police, we’ve had discussion of Dr Manhattan and it appears Ozymandias is up to his old tricks. The interspersing of the Minuteman TV show throughout the episode is clearly its take on the notorious pirates narrative in the original graphic novel, too.
But largely, the show is laying down more mysteries for later solving. Where’s it going with all of this? Will any of the other characters show up? What’s up with Lou Gossett Jr? We also have more skewering of left-wing ideologies, particularly Robert Redford, which is amusing.
Plus I finally got round to checking who wrote the score: Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. They might as well have written “Rob will love this show no matter what” in the title sequence.
Episode review: Initial
The recommended list
Engrenages (Spiral) (France: Canal+; UK: BBC Four)
Who’d have thought there were still things left for Engrenages to explore and educate us about? We’ve taken in Chinese-French relations, briefly touching on a certain set of concerns Trevor Noah encountered recently. We’ve learnt about the French prison system and what is and isn’t allowed (Really? They allow them to do that?). And we’ve also seen that the new(ish) boss isn’t utterly useless, as we investigate how modern money laundering works – and it’s a lot more sophisticated than US TV would allow.
On top of that, Mathilde Warnier (Au service de la France) has shown up and we learn once again that there’s something very strange going on in France between young French women and older French men who look like Gilou.
Plus we got a cameo appearance by Tin Tin, for old time’s sake. I’m not sure at what point exactly Laure and Karlsson reconciled, but hey, let’s go with the flow on that one.
Evil (US: CBS)
1×5 – October 31
By no means the only US show to turn in a Halloween episode, with Magnum offering a three-for-one offer this week, but certainly the one where it’s most fitting.
Here, we got a trick that isn’t getting old yet – the audience being led to expect demons with a final reveal showing that there’s a perfectly rational explanation for it all. In fact, we got it twice, but in both instances, they were well earned, scared us in the process and the twists were decent. I did particularly enjoying the Most Haunted/Mythbusters take-down, too.
On top of that, I liked the fact they’ve started calling back to previous investigations, including the one which I thought got explained away a little too easily. Nice.
Episode reviews: Initial
Magnum P.I. (US: CBS; UK: Sky1)
2×5 – Make it ‘Til Dawn
“That basically leaves Higgins. That’s probably enough. But there should be more.”
And it wasn’t.
Sorry, Magnum (and Higgins), but I’m done. The fun’s gone. You’re basically just Hawaii Five-0, but with a male-female partnership at the centre.
This week, we did at least get some different pairings for a change, although for some reason, that meant we had to get Bobby Lee partnered with Magnum. Really, just as you think they couldn’t treat Jay Hernandez any worse, they do that to him.
Still, three Halloween stories – a rampant killer, a haunted graveyard and a haunted house – in one episode was at least ambitious, I’ll give it that.
I’ll miss Higgins, but I think that’s about all I’ll miss now. Shame.
Mr InBetween (Australia: Showcase)
2×7 – Watch our for snakes
And we’re back in the room, as our hero finally goes off on a job and finds it’s a bit trickier than he was expecting, despite some impressive prep work. Really well done this episode, and we get the welcome return of Matt Nable, who is clearly going to be a top foil for Mr InBetween.
Mr Robot (US: USA; UK: Amazon)
4×4 – 404 Not Found
Another episode, another death of a major character. Oddly, this felt like a series of ‘bottles’ with a bunch of characters stuck together in rooms, having big long chats with one another. Interesting chats, but very static and the plot doesn’t really move anywhere very fast.
The show is also proving to not have much beneath the surface, as it heads towards its conclusion. It has the cast, particularly Remi Malek. It has Sam Esmail’s direction. But have we really sat through two and a bit quite brilliant seasons, only to have this linear conclusion? Where is it even headed?
I do hope the final episodes prove all of this worth it, because at the moment, it’s just a very well acted, beautifully directed, but entirely rudderless series of character pieces.
Silicon Valley (US: HBO; UK: Sky Atlantic)
6×1 – Artificial Lack of Intelligence
HBO’s most accurate – and only – comedy about the tech industry returns, with our heroes now major tech players and actually testifying to Congress about the evils of Facebook and the like. Plenty of good points about privacy and ethics are interspersed around the usual goofy workplace antics, as well as some new characters whose behaviour will probably ring a bell or two.
But the days of razor-sharp satire and belly laughs are probably behind it now. I’ll keep watching, but this feels like a gentle jog towards the end, rather than going out with a bang.
Titans (US: DC Universe; UK: Netflix)
2×8 – Jericho
Okay, so we hadn’t quite guessed Dick’s dark secret, which turns out to have been elaborate misdirection by the show for no good reason. I’m not sure that makes up for another flashback episode. Is Starfire even in the show still, since I can’t help but notice that with all the flashbacks and the extra characters, the show’s original line-up hasn’t had much to do beyond sit on their beds for the best part of a season.
And sure, Deathstroke was cool. But is he so cool he could hand so many Amazons, including Donna Troy, their arses on a plate? I don’t think so. Particularly since these Amazons are faster than speeding bullets and strong, too.
I hope later episodes make up for these indignities.
Episode reviews: Initial
Total Control (Black B****) (Australia: ABC)
We’re back in Canberra for some excellent and amusing politicking, as we see the horrors of trying to govern with a slim majority and the various side-deals that need to be made. Plenty of insight into the actual processes of law-making, too.
Hugely smart with a lot to say, so a quick promotion for this one. But did we need to have the naked Rachel Griffiths scene? I’m not sure what that added.
Episode reviews: Initial