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
We’re entering week three of TMINE’s coverage of the Spring 2020 season and still the new shows keep coming, with a deluge set to hit in February. So far this week, I’ve covered the first episodes of 68 Whiskey (US: Paramount) and 9-1-1: Lone Star (US: Fox).
But there’s more to come after the jump as I look at the first episodes of Avenue 5 (US: HBO; UK: Sky Atlantic), Medical Police (Netflix), Little America (Apple TV+), and Everything’s Gonna Be Okay (US: Freeform). And although it’s not a new show, since it’s such a big change from the first season, I’ll also be considering season two of Miracle Workers (US: TBS; UK: Sky Comedy).
What’s coming next
Looking ahead, coming in the next week, I’ll be covering Awkwafina Is Nora From Queens (US: Comedy Central), Outmatched (US: Fox) and Star Trek: Picard (US: CBS All Access; UK: Amazon).
And tomorrow’s Orange Thursday will be reviewing Knives Out (2019) and Angel Has Fallen (2019).
The regulars list remains small but is still growing. Joining Evil and Stumptown this week are new shows 9-1-1: Lone Star, Lincoln Rhyme: Hunt for the Bone Collector and The Outsider. Will any of them make it to week three?
Find out more after the jump.
What TMINE watched this week
Medical Police (Netflix)
Doctors Owen Maestro and Lola Spratt leave Childrens Hospital and join a secret arm of the CDC to investigate and destroy a deadly global virus.
This spin-off from Adult Swim’s Childrens Hospital is about as subtle (and as funny) as the original. The jokes are firmly in the “look at us sending up a genre” camp, as the duo highlight that although everyone’s American, they’re all supposedly in Brazil (“This is Brazil, which is the place where we work.” “Yes, this is Brazil”).
But you can tell the show’s comedic laziness from the first five minutes, which have a long joke about the hospital having all its desks replaced with standing desks and that everyone’s going to have to clean out their desks if they don’t clean out their desks ready for the new desks – immediately followed by a montage scene set over several days… of Erinn Hayes working at her regular desk.
If you like your comedy obvious, with a hint of low-blow genre send-up – and you miss Angie Tribeca – Medical Police is the methadone replacement for your original hit.
Avenue 5 (US: HBO; UK: Sky Atlantic)
Captain Ryan Clark and his crew deal with the malfunction crisis caused on the space cruise ship Avenue 5 carrying several people.
I’ve been a fan of Armando Iannucci ever since the halcyon days of Lionel Nimrod’s Inexplicable World (“Evil Ian Beale in his extinct undersea volcano base”), so every time his name comes up on a new project, I get excited.
Unfortunately, Avenue 5 is not what you’d call his best work. A sort of watered down Veep in space, it wonders what would have happened if the B-Ark from Hitch-hikers Guide to the Galaxy had had an accident in space. Could they have fixed the situation or would they all have been doomed?
There’s a fine cast of mostly Brits assembled for the comedic duties, headed by none other than Hugh Laurie himself, most of them forced to do an English accent – although there’s a fine piece of comedy involving Laurie’s character concerning this very point midway through the episode. However, Silicon Valley‘s Zach Woods and Frozen‘s Josh Gad also provide credible contributions.
Otherwise, it’s just a bunch of bickering, small people being slightly mean and stupid to one another. Sometimes that’s funny, most of the time it’s not. I’m hoping it’ll get better – and that Peter Capaldi turns up as a stowaway to rip them all a new one.
Little America (Apple TV+)
An anthology of funny, romantic, heartfelt, inspiring, and surprising stories about the lives of immigrants in the United States.
Apple TV+ has yet to have a really good TV series, but if you’d placed bets as to what its first good one would be, it’s probably this: effectively a series of Sundance Festival shorts about immigration that would have rocked the independent movie scene. How Apple, hey?
I watched the first, though, which is based on a true story about an Indian kid and his parents. His parents get deported, leaving him to run their hotel in his absence. However, he puts his spelling talents to good use and eventually makes it as far as the Bush White House…
It’s pleasing and charming, for sure, with fine performances and writing. But do I fancy watching any more? Not really. Not because they aren’t good, but because I’m not American and so it hasn’t got much by way of resonance for me. Which is true of a lot of Apple’s Americo-centric electronics and TV shows, too. It’s also an episodic anthology show, so everything is standalone, with completely different casts.
But if you are American, maybe it’ll speak more to you.
Everything’s Gonna Be Okay (US: Freeform)
Nicholas is a neurotic twenty-something visiting his dad and teenage half-sisters, one of whom is on the autism spectrum. When Nicholas’ trip is extended due to his father’s untimely death, the siblings are left to cope with not only a devastating loss, but also the realisation that Nicholas is the one who will have to rise to the occasion and hold it all together.
Navigating autism, budding sexuality, consent, parenthood, adolescence, family and grief, the heartfelt comedy follows this imperfect family as they discover the importance of finding happiness in the middle of really difficult moments, one awkward conversation at a time.
Just as Apple’s Little America requires you to be American and thus get a tear in your eye when you hear a story about hard-working immigrants in America, Everything’s Gonna Be Okay requires you to be at the very least Generation Z, Generation Y at the absolute outside, for this tale of annoying teenagers and an even more annoying older brother.
The first episode introduces us to Josh Thomas (Please Like Me) and his exaggeratedly autistic sister and his just-entering-puberty other sister. Oh, and Thomas’ new boyfriend.
By the end of the episode, I’d concluded that the only character I’d wanted to spend time with was Thomas’ dad, who died midway through the episode, unfortunately. That’s mainly because of Thomas, who as well as being just plain young and annoying, also has possibly the most annoying accent, which somehow manages to sit midway between American, English and Australian. It’s probably his real accent, but God, it’s hard to take for more than half an episode.
There’s some comedy in here, but nothing much really by way of jokes, just situations such as when autistic sister is revealing to all her friends that little sister has just had her first period. Oh the hilarity.
But there is some charm and warm to the comedy, too, with autistic girl’s attempts to get to know the handsome high school jock turning out… surprisingly nicely.
Not the worst show I’ve ever seen, but comfortably not a show I need to see any more of.
Shows I’m watching but not necessarily recommending
9-1-1: Lone Star (US: Fox)
1×2 – Yee-Haw
And still the comedy rolls on. Highlights of this episode were an elongated sequence about Rob Lowe’s hair-grooming technique, including an equally long dream sequence. Less interesting was the establishment of Liv Tyler’s back story, although she suddenly seemed to get a shot of adrenaline towards the end and wake up midway through a scene, which was a nice surprise.
Equally surprisingly, I’m enjoying this enough to keep watching. Plus it’s a brave Fox show that actually has semi-naked men not just kissing but having sex. Times they are indeed a-changing.
Lincoln Rhyme: Hunt for the Bone Collector
1×2 – God Complex
Well, there’s dull for you. You’d think with a limited series format, they’d stick to telling a straight story. But following last week’s establishment of the characters, this week we’re into standard ‘serial killer of the week’ territory, with a baddo punishing people in the style of Greek myths – or at least Greco-Roman ‘myths’. It’s all very generic, and we even had a ‘let’s punish the foreigner for daring to criticise America’ scene.
But the cast are amiable, the stuff with the actual Bone Collector is more interesting and it was nice to see 24‘s Sarah Wynter get to deploy her regular Australian accent.
Miracle Workers (US: TBS; UK: Sky Comedy)
2×1 – Graduation
Miracle Workers is an odd name for the show now. It started as a simple tale of employees of God trying to save the world. That story finished in season one and the show has now transformed into an anthology show telling a completely different story, just with the same cast. No miracles can be observed, however.
The story has shifted to the Middle Ages, with Daniel Radcliffe now the dilettante idiot son of scary warmongering tyrant Peter Serafinowicz. Meanwhile, former God Steve Buscemi is now a ‘sh*t shoveler’, Geraldine Viswanathan his precocious daughter trying to avoid the family trade by going to this new-fangled thing called ‘school’.
In contrast to Simon Rich’s previous outings, this is relatively ‘magical realism’ free, instead being a sort of Terry Pratchett-esque tale of modern mores and attitudes transported back in time, Renaissance Fair-style, to the Middle Ages. Viswanathan wants to do something with her life, but post-school, she’s saddled with debt and a qualification of minimal use. Meanwhile, the local mean Valley girl mocks her.
This is pretty weak stuff, weaker in fact than season one, so unless you enjoy lots of jokes about sh*t, don’t tune in and expect to laugh. Maybe titter a few times but that’s it.
The Outsider (US: HBO; UK: Sky Atlantic)
1×3 – Dark Uncle
A slight dip from the opening two episodes, as Jason Bateman departs from directing duties. There’s still the same creepiness as before and the slowness of the storytelling remains both an asset and a liability. But the focus of the show is shifting to Cynthia Erivo’s annoying private detective, who may have to “fuck knows what” wrong with her but has clearly decided to play said nebulousness like Dustin Hoffman’s Rainman.
Stumptown (US: ABC)
1×11 – The Past and the Furious
A distinct improvement on the previous week’s episode, as we head back towards some of the pilot’s issues and bring in the associated characters. But it feels like we’re in padder territory for Smulders’ character, beyond the (spoiler alert) moving out of her brother , with no real story arc development at the moment, at least around her career, relationships, etc.
However, green shoots are in sight, and at least Jake Johnson is up to fun with welcome addition Inbar Lavi (The Last Ship, Lucifer, Imposters).
The recommended list
Evil (US: CBS)
1×12 – Justice x 2
Well gosh. That’s an interesting ending for a show’s penultimate episode. I’m not sure what that does to the show, but it’s a definite something. Is it going to be a comedy even?
Otherwise, a strong episode with the developments around the daughter, and we also have a great scene between our heroine and Michael Emerson, which.