Mini-reviews: Big Sky and The Flight Attendant

Regular readers will have gathered by now that things haven’t really picked up for me in terms of availability, workload or actual ability to watch new TV. But I’m still here, don’t worry, and I reckon I can at least stretch to a mini-review or two now and then…

…Like now. So after the jump, we can talk about two new US shows: Big Sky and The Flight Attendant. See you in a mo.

Big Sky

In the US: Tuesdays, 10/9c, ABC
In the UK: Not yet acquired

Storyteller David E Kelly (Big Little Lies) presents a series about private detectives Cassie Dewell and Cody Hoyt, who join forces with Cody’s estranged wife and ex-cop, Jenny Hoyt, to search for two sisters who have been kidnapped by a truck driver on a remote highway in Montana. When they discover that these are not the only girls who have disappeared in the area, they must race against the clock to stop the killer before another woman is taken.

Stars: Katheryn Winnick, Kylie Bunbury and Ryan Phillippe

TMINE verdict

First, let’s start off by giving Big Sky a big round of applause. Bravo, good sirs and mesdames: you are the first show to genuinely surprise me in a long time. That final minute I absolutely did not see coming. You got me good.

I’m not going to spoil it for the rest of you by telling you what it is. Indeed, telling you that there is a twist in a show that until that point is incredibly predictable, boring and clichéd has probably already spoiled it for you. But I did want to focus on at least one positive.

The other positive is the cast: Ryan Phillippe (Shooter) for sure, but principally Katheryn Winnick (Vikings, Wu Assassins) and John Carroll Lynch (American Horror Story). They’re very good, as is the Montana scenery that provides the backdrop to the story. And when Phillippe and Carroll Lynch are together, it’s a very nice, sparky affair.

Right. Positives done.

This is otherwise awful, somewhat despicable, misogynistic stuff. It’s yet another “young women are being abducted” serial killer drama in which a trucker is routinely humiliated by his mother, so tazes prostitutes at truck stops and chases after High School in cars.

Women fight back, sometimes two at a time, but somehow, they just can’t match this 10 stone weakling in a fight and must be punished for their transgressions. Meanwhile, the only positive female characters – Winnick and Bunbury – are busy fighting one another (often literally) because Bunbury had an affair with Phillippe.

It’s breathtakingly bad and unpleasant nonsense that makes you feel a worse person for watching it.

TMINE rating

Rating: 1 out of 5.

The Flight Attendant

In the US: Sundays, HBO Max
In the UK: Not yet acquired

Flight attendant Cassandra Bowden wakes in her hotel room in Bangkok, hungover from the night before, with a dead body lying next to her. Afraid to call the police, she continues her morning as if nothing happened, joining the other flight attendants and pilots traveling to the airport.

In New York, she is met by FBI agents who question her about her recent layover in Bangkok. Still unable to piece the night together, she wonders if she could be the killer.

Stars: Kaley Cuoco, Michiel Huisman, Zosia Mamet, TR Knight, Michelle Gomez, Colin Woodell, Merle Dandridge, Griffin Matthews, Nolan Gerard Funk and Rosie Perez

TMINE verdict

The Flight Attendant is essentially a vehicle for its star and exec producer Kaley Cuoco (Charmed, Big Bang Theory) to show off both her comedic and dramatic chops, while having a good time of things in overseas locations. However, that doesn’t make it a bad thing, since Cuoco is very funny and charming.

The story itself is a tad clichéd and its vision of air steward party girl Cuoco, drinking and drugging her way around the world, is clearly a male idea of a party girl. There’s also a certain judgement the show attaches to this lifestyle, which is a bit wearing – you just wish it would let Cuoco enjoy herself, even though it does give her a chance to bit witty – but standard for US TV (cf Hightown). It also doesn’t go very far in its depiction: this is very much a no nudity, no drugs vision of intercontinental partying, despite the alcohol and the Mile High sex.

Nevertheless, the character and Cuoco herself are entertaining and show hidden depths. The show also does do more than simply give her some criminal investigation hoops to jump through. As well as not remembering what happened the night of the murder, she spends most of her time talking to the dead body, who appears to her partly through imagination, partly through druggy flashback. It’s a novel framing device for a show like this, but it does work well and allows Huisman and Cuoco to have some fun chemistry.

I’m not 100% persuaded by the first episode, but one thing to look forward to is the arrival of Michelle Gomez (Green Wing/Doctor Who) on the scene in episode two as the ‘big bad’/potential murderess. The season trailer also suggests there’s going to be a tendency to proper comedy as well.

So I think this might actually be a keeper – for now.

TMINE verdict

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.