What have you been watching? Including Condor

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

Previously on TMINE

The lack of new (and watchable) TV, as well as continuing lockdown, means it’s been a slow week for TMINE.

I did shoot through a mighty list of Disney movies for Covideodrome on Wednesday, but that was it. Sorry! I’ll do better this week.

A Greek Odyssey with Bettany Hughes

What TMINE has been watching

I’ve got one episode further into season 3 of Baron Noir; I also started on season 2 of Das Boot. But that was it for scripted. I will finish them at some point. Although I said that about the third season of Babylon Berlin and look what happened there; Das Boot wasn’t too inspiring, either, and didn’t make me think, “Ooh, I must watch the rest of this immediately.”

I’ve been watching a tad more in the unscripted realm. A Greek Odyssey with Bettany Hughes (which confusingly is also called Greek Island Odyssey) is on Fridays on 5 and is about 50% travelog, as our Bettany goes from island to island and samples local food and customs, 50% historical piece as she visits museums and archaeological sites, tying them into Odysseus’ return home from the Trojan War.

It is, of course, fine and engaging, but the level of artifice is slightly annoying. Bettany’s faux pretence to be surprised at everything, even the basics, grates after a while, particularly when she forgets and says things like “I’m so pleased it’s a kylix.” Similarly, her level of Greek (for someone who regularly spends time in Athens, has been visiting since the 80s, etc) is oddly basic, even on things that she’s been good at in other episodes. Until she forgets and is good again.

The editing is also a little strange. In the latest episode, as she supposedly retraces Odysseus’ journey home from Turkey to Ithaca, she first hits Delos, then heads to Ikaria, then heads for Mykonos – even though the only real way to get to Delos is on a boat from Mykonos. Yep, it’s all been reordered.

Sure. You’d go to Delos, then Ikaria, then Mykonos, wouldn’t you?

That said, it’s great to watch and there’s some good archaeology, if you can overlook the dumbing down for 5. It’s also several hundred miles better than Joanna Lumley’s similar effort.

Matthew Rhys in Perry Mason
Matthew Rhys in Perry Mason

Next on TMINE

Movies-wise, we tucked into Bad Boys For Life (2019) over the weekend, so that’ll be this week’s Covideodrome. Airing last night was Perry Mason (US: HBO; UK: Sky Atlantic). But that’s about it for new shows.

Fortunately, returning this week are old regulars Doom Patrol (US: HBO Max; UK: StarzPlay), Dark (Netflix) and The Twilight Zone (US: CBS All Access; UK: Syfy), so at least there’ll be something to watch.

After the jump…

After the jump, the latest episode of Stargirl gets a review. Is that it? No, because Condor (US: Audience; UK: Universal) came back with three whole episodes for me to talk about.

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. There’s also an A-Z list of all TMINE’s film reviews

Shows I’m watching but not necessarily recommending

Condor (US: Audience; UK: StarzPlay)

2×1 – Exile is a Dream – 2×2 – If It Serves A Greater Good – 2×3 – A Former KGB Man

Condor has returned. You may not have remembered it ever existed, but it’s back and coming at you. And to be honest, it’s somewhat gambling on you not having remembered much about it.

In common with Legends, it’s gone for a hard reset in season two, initially with a trip to Central Europe – albeit Hungary rather than the Czech republic. We’ve gone from jaunty American spy hijinks to down-at-heel Russians wanting to defect. Virtually all the cast from the first season are missing, irrelevant or dead by the end of the first episode, leaving just a few reminders of what’s passed.

The show has also lost a lot of its cultural mercurialiness and quirkiness. No more Israeli actors, Muslims plots or Brendan Fraser being weird (Bob Balaban is standing in his stead there, admittdly); it’s just our hero, doing US intelligence work for the bloke who ran the massive plot to commit global genocide last season and who had all his friends killed. As you do. This is despite everything that was in the news, assassins after him and his distrust of anything that moves by the end of the first season.

Like I said, they’re hoping you forget all of that and just enjoy it.

Surprisingly, I think I am – perhaps more so than season one. While there’s still that air of pretentiousness to the show (cf the episode titles), it’s been dialled back. Characters and cast you liked (Kristen Hager) who were previously separated from the others now get to interact more.

And the new characters and cast are good, too – we have Constance Zimmer (UnREAL) as the new Mira Sorvino, we have Toby Leonard Moore (Billions, Daredevil) as the possible CIA mole our hero is snooping on, and former Flash Gordon Eric Johnson is being marvellously sneaky.

It’s all quite nuts and bolts, and it’s not the massively radical improvement and change in tone that season two of Legends was over its predecessor. But it’s a solid, watchable spy yarn. And I’ve very partial to those.

TMINE rating

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Initial TMINE verdict

Stargirl (US: DC Universe)

1×5 – Hourman And Dr Mid-Nite

As the name suggests, we get two more additions to our junior league of superheroes in this episode. But it’s all a bit less impressive than Wildcat was an introduction. One of them basically puts on a set of Microsoft Hololens and becomes a superheroine; the other wears an hourglass and becomes smart… for an hour a day.

The characters aren’t so well drawn here, and you’re not really drawn into their stories. It is also doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. But it’s diverting enough, at least.

TMINE rating

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Initial TMINE verdict