What have you been watching? Including High Fidelity and Locke & Key

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

Narcos – Mexico

Previously on TMINE

TMINE’s plans to dazzle you all with a double boxset this week didn’t quite happen. Sure, I delivered unto you the whole of season 2 of Narcos – Mexico, but there was no second boxset.

To a certain extent I blame both a lack of background reading on my part and the raw material itself.

ZeroZeroZero turns out to have already been on Sky in the UK already. No point in reviewing that.

Utopia Falls (US: Hulu) might be be science-fiction, but here’s the plot: “Amidst the charred ruins of Earth, a group of teens are chosen to compete in the prestigious Exemplar performing arts competition; when they stumble upon a hidden archive of cultural relics, they question everything they have been taught.”

Yep, it’s a post-apocalyptic, young adult, hip-hop drama. That’s not happening here. Not on my watch.

Similarly, Interrogation (US: CBS All Access) might be a crime procedural but it’s an episodic anthology series, with each episode not merely having a different cast but actually being set in a different year altogether. No point reviewing that.

But I did give High Fidelity (US: Hulu) a try, since it passed both the inclusion and the exclusion criteria of TMINE. However, I only managed to get through two episodes because it wasn’t very good. I’ll talk about what I did see after the jump.

Thankfully, in the film world, Orange Thursday watched A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (2019) and Parasite (2019).

Al Pacino in Amazon's Hunters
Al Pacino in Amazon’s Hunters

Next on TMINE

Apart from all the lovely boxsets I’ve just mentioned but didn’t watch, there have been no new shows for TMINE to watch. Huh. More are on the way – they’re just not here yet. That means I’ve been able to watch a few more episodes of Netflix’s Locke & Key, which I’ll also talk about after the jump.

Hunters is coming to Amazon on Friday, as is Netflix’s Gentefied. I’m more likely to watch Hunters, given Al Pacino’s in it, so I suspect that’ll be Boxset Monday – or Tuesday, if work’s heavy. Tuesday I’m hoping to review Tribal (Canada: APTN). However, my access to APTN isn’t the best, so I might not be able to watch that.

If I can’t, I’ll bring forward my preview (remember them?) of the forthcoming War of the Worlds – not to be confused with the BBC’s recent The War of the Worlds, which is also based on the HG Wells novel. Otherwise, that’ll probably be on Wednesday. Or next Monday. I’ll do at some point, anyway.

Meanwhile in movies, tomorrow’s Orange Thursday will be previewing Greed (2020) and reviewing The Gemini Man (2019). Definitely. Probably during my lunchbreak.

Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist
Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist

The regulars

Experimental error continues since although I dropped a show last week, the regulars list still has three shows: The Outsider, Star Trek: Picard and Stumptown. I did try to add Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist to that, but the show hard-opened on a musical number that even Jane Levy had to take part in – which doesn’t even make sense, given the show’s central concept – so that got switched off inside a minute. I also didn’t have time to watch last night’s For Life today.

So all of those three shows after the jump.

What TMINE watched this week

New shows

High Fidelity

In the US: Available on Hulu
In the UK: Not yet acquired

Rob, a record-store owner in the rapidly gentrified Crown Heights neighbourhood of Brooklyn, revisits past relationships through music and pop culture while trying to get over her one true love.

Stars: Zoë Kravitz, David H Holmes, Jake Lacy, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Da’Vine Joy Randolph

TMINE verdict

Some novels are very much of a time and a place, and Nick Hornby’s 80s London record shop-based High Fidelity is very much such a novel. More importantly, it’s about a bloke.

High Fidelity, meanwhile, is set now, in a record shop in Brooklyn and is about a girl. And it doesn’t work. I think it could have worked had it also paradoxically not been so faithful to the book.

See, the problem is the new Rob (Kravitz) has the book’s protagonist’s autistic tendencies – lots of top five lists and a general dislike of other people and talking to other people – that don’t work with the gender switch. Female autists have their own issues and top five lists don’t usually figure among them, despite Buzzfeed’s best efforts.

Similarly, it’s New York, yet pretty much all the music is European and from the 80s, with Dexy’s Midnight Runners’ ‘Come on Eileen’ improbably the highlight of the first two episodes. Again, had Rob’s interests been more American and/or maybe a little more cultural appropriate, that could have worked.

And it’s now, too. Maybe I’ve missed a trick with today’s youth, but coming up with ‘mix tapes’? Seriously, everyone I know does Spotify Playlists for one another. I know proper musos spit on Spotify, but they still come up with playlists.

All of which makes watching High Fidelity feel like a weird nouvelle vague cover band version of a good song that misses all the reasons the song was the way it was originally.

It doesn’t help that Kravitz is just not engrossing to watch. She’s cool, for sure, but I never really felt much sympathy for her – there was never a moment when she didn’t come across as self-indulgent and cold, rather than someone nice who’s hurting.

Equally, the supporting cast never really have a chance to wow, merely be dicks to others through trying to be musically superior. That can work with the right kind of charm or humour:

This is hugely flat and charmless.

I made it to the end of episode two without caring once about any of the characters, their back stories or their failed/nascent romances. That was enough for me.

TMINE rating

⭐⭐⭐

Locke & Key

In the UK: Available on Netflix

Following their father’s murder, three siblings move into a house filled with reality-bending keys; from the comics by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez.

Stars: Darby Stanchfield, Connor Jessup, Emilia Jones, Jackson Robert Scott, Petrice Jones, Laysla De Oliveira and Griffin Gluck

TMINE verdict

Do young people watch TV? No, they watch Netflix. Is it on Netflix? No? Then they won’t watch it.

It’s largely through shows like Ragnarok, The Umbrella Academy, et al, in which lots of young adult protagonists have to deal with the trials and tribulations of high school/college/family life – while maybe solving something spooky and paranormal – that they’ve managed to do this, which probably shows you just how bad traditional broadcasters have become at giving the kids what they want.

Now we have Locke & Key, which feels like a PG-13 version of Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House crossed with Syfy’s The Lost Room. The show revolves around the Locke family, who move back to their father’s old house when he’s murdered, so they can start a new life. Trouble is, one of the reasons he moved out in the first place is said house is full of keys that have magical powers. Worse still, others know about the keys and want them for themselves.

The show’s biggest problem is that it its production sensibility screams ‘young adult’ at you every chance it gets. I almost turned off the third episode simply because of the horrifyingly twee, Harry Potter-esque incidental music that the show has mistakenly chosen to use.

It’s a mistake, because the show is actually quite nasty at times and can even be properly horrifying, but the music et al actively work against that.

There’s considerable imagination gone into the show and its keys, with the ‘head key’ being the show’s signature innovation – a key that enables you to enter someone’s mind, like it was a real place, and even add or subtract things from it as you see fit. Want to learn something new? Put a book inside. Want to get over something traumatic? Take it out of your head space. Maybe stabbing it while you’re doing it.

There’s also a suitably creepy antagonist in the piece, who isn’t a wizard in robes, but Laysla De Oliveira. Again, she gets to do quite nasty things like (spoiler alert) throw kids under fast-moving trains , even if the direction underplays it at every opportunity.

Locke & Key is interesting and smart, but you’re really going to need to get over its unpalatable YA sensibilities to enjoy it. I’m up to episode seven of 10 and it’s still pretty good – although I’m still waiting for some big revelations to come. I’ll let you know whether I recommend the whole season next week.

TMINE rating

⭐⭐⭐⭐

Shows I’m watching but not necessarily recommending

The Outsider (US: HBO; UK: Sky Atlantic)

1×7 – In The Pines, In The Pines

The pace continues to pick up, as we get closer to revealing – and more importantly accepting – the evildoer. I enjoyed this more than previous weeks, but beyond revealing to the characters things we’d already worked out, I’m not sure the episode actually added much to the narrative.

TMINE rating

⭐⭐⭐⭐

Initial TMINE review

Star Trek: Picard (US: CBS All Access; UK: Amazon)

1×4 – Absolute Candor

So the show seems to be less about Picard now, more about being to the Romulans, what Star Trek: The Next Generation was to the Klingons in terms of fleshing out their culture and giving them dimension. However, on the human side, while we are in space and exploring, adding again to our cast of characters, we didn’t really add to the overall plot much, merely fill in backstory.

That complaint to one side, probably more enjoyable than previous weeks thanks to some actual jokes. And, of course, Jeri Ryan.

TMINE rating

⭐⭐⭐⭐

Initial TMINE review

Stumptown (US: ABC)

1×14 – Til Dex Us Do Part

Dex investigates a husband-to-be. A decent enough standalone piece that makes me wish that actually, the show was just about Dex doing investigations and that all the background aspects, particularly her brother, Jack Johnson and co could be expunged forthwith, since it would probably be far more interesting as a show if it focused on her.

TMINE rating

⭐⭐⭐

Initial TMINE review

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