What have you been watching? Including Merry Happy Whatever

Merry Happy Whatever
Netflix's Merry Happy Whatever

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

Servant
Apple TV+’s Servant

This week’s reviews

Yep, despite my best efforts, it’s Thursday again for WHYBW. Next week, though. Next week.

Not much reviews-wise this week, but I did take in the first three episodes of Apple TV+’s Servant.

V-Wars
Netflix’s V Wars

What’s coming this week

It’s going to be another light one this week, since although Netflix released the (probably not that great) V Wars today, I’m away this weekend and Monday, so won’t have time to watch or review a whole boxset.

However, I will review Fox (US)’s remake of Australia’s The Moodys and Showtime (US)’s Work in Progress. I might also get round to watching at least an episode of Hulu (US)’s Reprisal and Apple TV+’s Truth Be Told – and maybe of V Wars, too.

Dollface
Hulu’s Dollface

The regulars

Evil‘s still on a Thanksgiving holiday, so after the jump, we’ll be talking about the latest episodes of the regulars: The Mandalorian, Mr Robot, Silicon Valley, Stumptown and Watchmen, as well as the season finale of Titans. I also barrelled through the remaining episodes of Dollface.

But it’s worth pointing out that pretty much all of those are on TMINE’s recommended list and thus the crème de la crème of current TV output. Sure, I’ve ragged on some of them of late, but I think this week I’ve learnt the value of patience, thanks particularly due to Mr Robot, but also Watchmen.

Therefore, perhaps I shouldn’t be so curt in this section – because not just one, not just two, but three of those shows have served up some really sublime TV this week, with a fourth serving up a meme and some soup.

See you in a mo.

TV shows

New shows

Merry Happy Whatever (Netflix)

Plot

A strong-willed father navigates the stress of the holiday season when his daughter brings her new boyfriend home for Christmas.

TMINE verdict

Netflix’s comedies are almost always a bit woeful, its sitcoms doubly-so, but this one’s especially woeful. A sort of ‘slightly reheated after being left outside on a hot day after it’s begun to go off’ version of Mr Black, it sees Dennis Quaid in his first ever TV sitcom playing a (smallish) town sheriff who served in Desert Storm who’s dismayed when his daughter brings home her Seth Rogen-grade boyfriend for Christmas.

The best that can be said of it is that it stars Dennis Quaid and that the studio laughter track drowns out most of the dialogue, so you can’t hear how awful the complete lack of jokes is. The script does try to do jokes, usually one per line of dialogue, to be fair, but given they’re all of the structure “Dennis says manly thing, Boyfriend says not manly thing, Dennis sighs inwardly or says something manly and pointed”, it’s a bit hard to actually laugh at them.

There’s no real attempt to balance the two opposing characters – you’ll hate Baby Rogen as much as Quaid does. The first episode felt like an exercise in verbal water-boarding. There are eight of them. Do not watch any.

Shows I’m watching but not necessarily recommending

The Mandalorian (Disney+)

1×4 – Chapter 4: Sanctuary

In this “Eastern meets Western”, it was inevitable I guess that the show would eventually do a Seven Samurai/Magnificent Seven adaptation, so it’s good it got it out of its system so early in its run. It was quite a decently handled effort, too, with Bryce Dallas Howard the surprise director of the piece and Gina Carano the real star, who elevated the stunt scenes somewhat, even if she couldn’t entirely rescue them.

But despite Carano’s kick-arsery (can we have her back, please?) and some more fleshing out of Pedro Pascal’s character (I’m assuming he’s in there sometimes), the episode will inevitably be remembered for a certain soup-sipping scene that’s already become a meme.

Episode reviews: Initial

Stumptown (US: ABC)

1×8 – The Other Woman

The first episode since the pilot to really call back to its set-up, as well as the comic book source. Lots of revelations, self-discovery, etc, and of course we have the final, slightly predictable scene that gives the episode title a second meaning, which is quite clever, and a big change to the show’s set-up.

The recommended list

Dollface (US: Hulu)

1×6History Buff1×10 – Bridesmaid

So I binged the second half of Dollface, which bar the over-serious eighth episode, was really a delight. I levelled a few criticisms of the show in my previous reviews, and while these five episodes didn’t address all of them, they did address quite a lot.

As well as a guest appearance by Margot Robbie, we also got the truly great episode nine – the appropriately titled Feminist – which was an hilarious episode-long Wizard of Oz tribute that dissected what it means to be a feminist.

The show also dared to end the story, not just leave everything open-ended, while not going for the standard resolutions to most of its storylines.

All in all, probably the best and most interesting comedy I’ve seen all year.

Episode reviews: Initial

Mr Robot (US: USA; UK: Amazon)

4×9 – 409 Conflict

I think I’ve fallen back in love with Mr Robot. Now this was an episode. We get the heist, at last, and wow, didn’t they handle that well? Sure, maybe everyone’s a lot better at typing on their phones than I am, but that aside, you could just about see them overcoming all the necessary real-world technological barriers they’d never to overcome for this heist – no artifice abounded here.

But we also had a great episode for Michael Cristofer going at full power. We also have the hints at multiple additional personalities – or maybe something else? And Sam Esmail did some really impressive direction, with some particularly nice ‘single takes’.

I’m excited now. I want to see where this goes again.

Episode reviews: Initial, Verdict

Silicon Valley (US: HBO; UK: Sky Atlantic)

6×6 – Russfest

The now-traditional seasonal “tech inspiration saves the day” episode, but for once, one where you could see some actual tech thinking going on. Generally enjoyable, too, if nothing stunning overall.

Titans (US: DC Universe; UK: Netflix)

2×13 – Nightwing

Well. As we learned at the start of this season (oddly enough), Titans doesn’t know how to do cliffhangers. That time, it was revealed that the show would spend an entire season building up an exciting face-off, only for everything to be solved in 20 minutes. This time, it was exactly the same issue, compounded in numerous ways. This included the idea that marred Daredevil‘s first season finale: that if you reveal a hero’s shiny new costume, you don’t actually need to demonstrate why that’s exciting or interesting, let alone give the show some corresponding drama.

But we also had (spoiler alert) the death of Donna Troy , nonchalantly thrown out there in an idle moment. Which could have been dramatic if the show hadn’t been so quick to neutralise any drama by hinting that Raven could use magic powers to undo the event; a subsequent long tribute scene therefore had no impact whatsoever.

All of which is very, very disappointing, but really only rendered the episode “Meh”, rather than a complete disaster, as there were still a reasonable number of plusses to the whole thing. Still, it does make me less inclined to watch next season, although I’m sure I will.

All in all, season 2 has been a slightly variable affair, with some very strong episodes interspersed with some randomly bad episodes. The tone has become lighter than season one, as well, to the point sometimes where it’s been hard to take the show seriously, but at least we got some humour from the show. Plus Iain Glen as Batman? Who’d have thunk it.

Episode reviews: Initial

Watchmen (US: HBO; UK: Sky Atlantic)

1×7 – An Almost Religious Awe

Wowzers. Now that was something of a game-changer. Of course, the show is dominated in recollection by the final revelation of the true identity of (spoiler alert) Dr Manhattan, which was about as batshit crazy as it gets. But as well as Sister Night’s origin story, we’re now at the point where we know (pretty much) all the plans and circles within circles that the show has been spinning since the start of the season, as well. Everything involved Adrian Veidt is still a bit mysterious, but squint and you can see where that’s going, too, I reckon.

My oh my, if you’re not watching by now you should be.

Episode review: Initial