What have you been watching? Including Hightown

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

Extraction (2020)

Previously on TMINE

TMINE’s regular schedule isn’t really compatible with a busy workload and lockdown, so as usual, it’s been a bit of a review-lite week this week. Covideodrome did manage to take in Netflix’s new blockbuster, Extraction (2020) (TBH, it’s the kind of movie that shouldn’t be on a streaming service but on the big screen, but there you go). But that’s it for reviews.

So I’m guessing that for the time being at least, I’m going to have to confine reviews to WHYBW, which is probably going to be on Thursdays for the near future at least.

Parks and Recreation special

What TMINE is currently watching…

I’m four episodes into season 3 of Baron Noir (France: Canal+; UK: Amazon) and I’m pleased to report that it’s as good as the first season and better than the second so far. Fingers crossed, I might have finished it by next week, so it could well be a Boxset Monday. Yes, I know what I just said.

A quiet backburner project that Lovely Wife and I are running is season 3 of The Crown (Netflix), which is proving very interesting in lots of ways. But that’s ongoing, so I’ll save my comments until we finish the season.

I also watched the Parks and Recreation charity special. This was… okay. But then I only ever thought Parks and Recreation was okay – something Lovely Wife seems to agree with, as she works her way through it on Sky Comedy as another backburner project. Still, it was nice to see the cast ‘together’ (or at least interacting in character) again.

Stargirl

Next on TMINE

There’s more TV on the way this week, but as usual, Covid-19 rules apply to the following new shows: I have every intention of watching all of them, but might not be able to, for one reason or another.

I’m hoping to get round to I Know This Much is True (US: HBO; UK: Sky Atlantic) at some point, but that started on Sunday, so it’s not going well so far. Friday brings us The Great (US: Hulu; UK: StarzPlay) as well as Inhuman Resources (Dérapages) (France: France 2; UK: Netflix) and White Lines (Netflix).

Coming Sunday is Snowpiercer (US: TNT; UK: Netflix), while Tuesday brings us Stargirl (US: DC Universe) – not to be confused with the very different Disney+ show. And on Wednesday, there’s Blood & Water (Netflix).

One Lane Bridge

After the jump…

Also coming after the jump are the usual regulars: For Life, Mystery Road, One Lane Bridge and What We Do In The Shadows. But I’ll also be previewing Hightown (US: Starz; UK: Starzplay), which starts on Sunday in both the US and the UK.

See you in a mo!

What TMINE watched this week

TMINE recommends has all the TV shows TMINE has ever recommended and TV Reviews A-Z lists every TV show ever reviewed in the past 15 years.

New shows

Hightown

In the US: Sundays, 8pm, Starz. Starts May 17
In the UK: Sundays, StarzPlay. Starts May 17

Hightown follows Jackie Quinones, a hard-partying lesbian in Provincetown, Massachusetts, aka P-Town; a National Marine Fisheries Service Agent who uses her gun and badge to seduce tourist chicks. She’s none-too-enthusiastically putting in her time until she can draw a federal pension – but everything changes when she discovers a body in Cape Cod Bay, and finds herself at the centre of the Cape’s gruesome heroin epidemic.

Stars: Monica Raymund, Riley Voelkel, Shane Harper, Atkins Estimond, Amaury Nolasco, Dohn Norwood, James Badge Dale

TMINE verdict

It’s surprising how much supposedly taboo-breaking or ground-breaking shows are becoming predictable. These days, you only have to read the adjectives in press releases to know exactly what the character trajectories are going to be.

“Promiscuous” or “hard partying” when applied to a woman? Going to be gay roughly 80% of the time. Can’t have promiscuous heterosexual heroines, can you? A “strong” woman? Almost certainly going to be either gay or BAME, too. “Recreational drug-taking”? Clear code for “has a dark background of trauma and is secretly very sad but who will be rehabilitated and mend her ways through the events that will transpire in the story”.

Yawn.

That’s not the only reason I spent most of my time yawning my way through Hightown. It’s just dull.

Someone’s murdered, it’s probably because she informed on Amaury Nolasco (Prison Break), cops investigate. There’s not much to that story, is there? So rather than get by on an intriguing plot, Hightown tries to get by on its belief that it’s ground-breaking and edgy. Which it’s not, except in the most well-worn ways possible. Cops visiting strippers? Gosh, well now I’ve seen everything.

What it does offer is a couple of things. First, it does provide a good sense of place. True, only James Badge Dale (Rubicon, 24, Iron Man 3) seems to be trying to do a local accent, but Cape Cod seems to be fascinating place to live and Hightown‘s observations are novel.

The second is that it is at least a reasonable take on police work. Dale’s detective does have a unique investigatory style and I enjoyed watching as he navigated the boundaries of what’s legal.

But honestly, the thought of watching even a few more minutes of the heroine and her traumas – yes, she has them! Did you see that coming – bores me to death. So I won’t be watching any more of Hightown.

TMINE rating

Rating: 1.5 out of 5.

Shows I’m watching but not necessarily recommending

One Lane Bridge (New Zealand: TVNZ)

1×4

A few decent spooky moments this episode, but it’s surprising how slow-moving the criminal investigations are and how little the show is interested in them. Similarly, with all those great ingredients sitting there to be mixed up and their tastes explored, it’s bonkers that One Lane Bridge is doing almost nothing with them.

You have a Maori with Second Sight who’s also Catholic. Imagine all the things you could do with that! Except the show largely consists of him repeatedly seeing things then saying “I don’t believe in this sh*t”. Dude – you’ve only got two episodes left. Get with the programme.

Still, there was a fascinatingly weird ritual at the end of the episode, so maybe the show’s finally going to put all those ingredients on to cook soon.

TMINE rating

Rating: 1.5 out of 5.

Initial TMINE review

Recommended shows

For Life (US: ABC)

1×12 – Closing Statement

As the status quo gets shaken up, For Life is becoming slightly less interesting since we’re moving into more conventional good guys v bad guys, conventional prison territory that we’ve seen numerous times before. It’s all building up to the season finale, of course, although I can guess that our hero probably isn’t going to get out. So let’s just consider these final episodes as plot establishment, rather than significant entries.

TMINE rating

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Initial TMINE review

Mystery Road (Australia: ABC; UK: BBC Four)

2×3 – Episode 4

More of the same, really. Mystery Road is largely degenerating into a standard police procedural. But there were signs of its former self in there, and the ‘circles of belonging’ this time looked at male/female boundaries within the Aboriginal community, which was novel.

TMINE rating

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Initial TMINE verdict

What We Do In The Shadows (US: FX; UK: BBC Two)

2×5 – Colin’s Promotion

As the name suggests, a Colin-oriented episode that sees him promoted (in several senses), upsetting the natural order of things. A lot more vampire powers on display this week, again reminding us this isn’t just a comedy, but it worked best for its observations of life-sucking banality.

TMINE Rating

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Initial TMINE review