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
Netflix decided to unleash a slew of new shows on us last week. Elsewhere, you’ll have seen TMINE’s verdict on The Stranger, thanks to Boxset Monday. Onisciente managed to keep me interested for one episode at least, and you can read about that after the jump.
But I’m still working my way through Ragnarok, which is going to be next week’s Boxset Monday or Boxset Tuesday, and I didn’t get a chance to look at Luna Nera (Black Moon) – I’m not convinced about its chances, given what’s coming over the next week.
Meanwhile, in the film world, Orange Thursday covered The Personal History of David Copperfield (2020) and X-Men: Dark Phoenix (2019).
What’s coming next
It’s Part II of Spring 2020 in the US. Over the next week, we’ll be getting more than a few new shows, including Briarpatch, Indebted, Interrogation, Katy Keene, For Life, and Tommy.
Meanwhile, from Friday, we’ve got Locke & Key on Netflix and Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet starting on Apple TV+.
I doubt I’ll be able to give everything my undivided attention, but I hope to give at everything a first glance at least – hopefully more.
Meanwhile in movies, tomorrow’s Orange Thursday will be reviewing A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (2020) and… something else. I knew my Christmas viewing would run out some time.
The regulars list, which is already pretty small, is going to start getting even smaller soon, since this week, I’ll be covering the season finales of both Evil and Stumptown. However, that still leaves 9-1-1: Lone Star, Avenue 5, Lincoln Rhyme: Hunt for the Bone Collector, The Outsider and Star Trek: Picard, the latest episodes of which I’ll also be covering.
I wonder if I’ll be dropping any of them, too, making the list even smaller. Let’s find out… in just a moment.
What TMINE watched this week
Available on Netflix
In a city where citizens are monitored 24/7, a tech employee must outsmart her surveillance drone in order to investigate a murder.
Despite the Netflix backing for this show, this is a pretty low budget affair for the most-part in which a plucky heroine tries to investigate the murder of her father in a society in which murder is theoretically impossible since everyone’s being watched all the time by their own personal drone.
The show manages to come up with some fascinating loopholes, which the narrative then exploits. Sure, everyone’s being watched all the time by a tiny flying drone, with an AI interpreting what you’re up to based on infra-red et al. But it’s only watching you and if you want to access someone else’s drone, you can’t, because of privacy issues. Not even if that meant being able to solve a murder.
Similarly, it’s still just technology and if you know how it works, you can still sew some reflective material into your dress and slow your breathing, so that your drone can’t spot you’re up to something sneaky.
There are various warnings about societies in which all crimes can be spotted and punished, too. Brazil’s not a country whose television I’ve ever seen much (if any) of, so it’s all refreshingly new.
But the heroine, while sneaky, is uninspiring, monotone and has a stupid haircut. Plus the fact pretty much all the action takes place on a couple of poorly lit, cheaply decorated sets doesn’t really make me want to watch that much more.
But I might give episode two a whirl at least, given the alarmingly dwindling size of the regulars list.
Shows I’m watching but not necessarily recommending
9-1-1: Lone Star (US: Fox)
1×4 – Act of God
I had a feeling this was going to happen. It all started out so promising and weird and comedic. As soon as the show’s creators left writing duties, it became a plain old procedural, albeit a quirky one with some quirky characters.
This week, at least, it felt less like a tourist board promotion for Austin, Texas, given the whole thing was about the less pleasing side of Texas – bibles and tornados. But the general amusement about Lowe’s fancy New York ways was gone and we spent way too long on Liv Tyler’s continuing spaced-out investigations into her disappearing sister.
So I’m out. Oh well.
Avenue 5 (US: HBO; UK: Sky Atlantic)
1×2 – And Then He’s Gonna Shoot Off…
How come something with such a good pedigree can be this bland? It really should be so much funnier. The cast are firing on all cylinders, no matter what accents they’re using, but it’s to no avail. It’s just flat. So very, very flat. Just a bunch of Golgafrinchans being mildly snippy at one another to no import. That kind of worked when there was an alpha like Peter Capaldi around in The Thick of It. Here, it’s just irritating.
So the fate of Avenue 5 is in the laps of the gods – or the goddesses, at least, since if Lovely Wife wants to keep watching it, we will; if she doesn’t, we won’t. And she’s not enjoying it much either.
Lincoln Rhyme: Hunt for the Bone Collector (US: NBC)
1×3 – Russian Roulette
The now standard third episode of any procedural in which it’s the turn of one of the supporting characters to get a cursory bit of back story. Here, Michael Imperioli gets to be upset about a cold case disappearance of a missing child, allowing our hero and heroine to help save the day.
To be fair to the show, the conclusion was actually almost tear-inducing – a happy ending! And there was a bit of the Bone Collector in the background of the story.
But honestly, I suspect I’m just not going to bother watching any more of this, since some probably much better shows are on the way.
The Outsider (US: HBO; UK: Sky Atlantic)
1×5 – Tear-Drinker
A bit more Ben Mendelsohn this week and the stuff with the evil thing was moderately engrossing. But it’s taking far too long to get to the point here and is reiterating a lot of what we already know or have guessed. Plus I’m still not warming to Holly.
Still, I think I’m sticking with this one to the end, at least.
Star Trek: Picard (US: CBS All Access; UK: Amazon)
1×2 – Maps and Legends
And we’re moving somewhat out of fan fiction territory into something better, with exec producer Michael Chabon taking on writing duties this week. The somewhat crowbarred-in political message of the first episode gets a more pragmatic rebuttal this episode and there’s some proper moments of comedy, too (“This facility has gone xxx days without an assimilation”).
All the same, we are dealing with a sub branch of the Romulan secret police going on its own Butlerian Jihad, so it’s not like the show has instantly becoming accessible to non-Trekkies. But Patrick Stewart holds it all together, just about.
It really needs a bit more ooph now, though. Jeri Ryan would do nicely.
Stumptown (US: ABC)
1×13 – The Dex Factor
And we cruise leisurely into the final episode, with no real conclusion to any of the show’s various character-driven plots, just the main plot about drugs that’s spanned the past few episodes. It’s clearly a show confident in being renewed, given we’ve only just brought in Steven Williams as a major character, and teased at a ‘big badette’ – Shooter‘s Cynthia Addai Robinson.
But the show’s faults are still the same as before: uninspiring, under-used/over-used supporting characters (delete according to whether it’s the annoying comedy ones or the important Native American ones), a lack of chemistry between any of the leads, no real ongoing plot any more, an almost ADHD tendency to flit between storylines as its attention takes it and a general lack of an actual edge.
Plus really, if you’re going to make your heroine a marine, make her do marine corps martial arts. The fight scenes are just embarrassing.
I suspect that if the show does return, I’ll give it a miss, since despite its early promise, it just never did anything with its foundation after the first episodes. And now there’s nothing in it to really lure me into continued viewing.
One to cross off the list.
UPDATE: Apparently, there are 15 episodes this season, not 13. Well, don’t I feel stupid now? Well, let’s stick with it for the final two then.
The recommended list
Evil (US: CBS)
1×13 – Book 27
A slightly odd conclusion, filled with slightly odd events, some of which might have explanations. But impressively, the show managed to take more or less every seemingly unconnected aspect of all its previous episodes and thread an Ephemerol-style narrative around it to connect it all together.
I’ll be back next season to see what they do with the masterplan, now it’s been revealed. And to discover if there really is a Satan who gives therapy sessions to Incels.