It’s “What have you been watching?”, your chance to recommend to fellow TMINE readers anything you’ve been watching this week
And we’re picking up speed now! Not quite the pre-lockdown TMINE throughput I know, but I’m glad to say I am watching TV and movies again, albeit selectively now. And that there is TV to watch.
I just don’t have the time to write about it…
In terms of the regulars list is, there’s WandaVision (Disney+). This was, of course, the big revelations episode, as we learn who or what has been responsible for everything so far. The big reveal itself was marvellously done – (spoiler alert) it was Agatha all along! – and shows the virtue of paying attention. But actually everything before it was lovely, too, with head nods to 2010s sitcoms including Happy Endings, The Office (US) and Modern Family. A lot of pathos, too, as more of Vision’s story is revealed to him.
The other ‘regular’ I watched was The Equalizer (US: CBS). That effectively formed the second part of a two-part pilot, with the show establishing its parameters, explaining why it’s called ‘The Equalizer’ and opening up the possibilities of plots that aren’t just crim of the week – although that was a nice change to the Big Bad of week one. All the same, I think I’ve seen enough of it to have my fill. If you like procedurals, it’s a pretty good one, but I don’t, so it’s not for me.
Talking of procedurals, we had the return of a previous regular, Harrow (Australia: ABC; UK: Alibi), for season three. I watched the first episode of that and we had the now-traditional “format revamp”, with another new generic character replacement. I enjoyed the addition to the Harrow backstory, but apart from the tortured ‘son’ revelation, I think the moment I decided to give up on it when Fern did yet another “Oh Dad! I hate you!” moment. Bored now. Sorry.
After the jump, the new shows I’ve watched: Clarice and Young Rock. But I’ll just briefly mention two movies that I’ve watched this week.
The Greatest Showman (2017) is a quasi-biographical musical of PT Barnum’s life and creation of the circus, with Hugh Jackman assembling a group of misfits rejected by society and giving them A Family – and a job being stared at for money. The songs aren’t bad, if not that memorable, and the cast (Zac Efron, Zendaya) is very good. It’s more memorable as an epic piece of ahistorical wokeness, but if that’s your bad, it’s fun enough.
Also gracing my retinas this week was The News of the World (2021), which you can currently see on Netflix. It’s best thought of as Tom Hanks doing John Wayne in The Searchers (1956), taking an orphaned German girl, who’s gone native with some native Americans, back to her supposed family. While also delivering the news to people, since he basically reads out newspapers for a living.
It’s very beautifully put together and bar a couple of slightly shakycam action scenes, you’d never know it was Paul Greengrass directing it, with so many big open vistas and drone shots. But is it engaging in the slightest? Not really.
Clarice (US: CBS)
Sequel to The Silence of the Lambs (1991) that finds out what happens to Clarice Starling one year after the events shown in that movie. She’s got a desk job, she’s being seen by a psychologist (Shawn Doyle) but no one’s ready to let her back out into the field. Then the senator mother of one of Buffalo Bill’s attempted victims calls her in to help investigate crimes in DC, hindered somewhat by her new boss Michael Cudlitz.
And it’s okay. On the plus side, it’s got a strong central performance from Rebecca Breeds, who more than adequately fills Jodie Foster’s shoes. It’s also got great production values, very much evoking the original movie’s most iconic scenes – although Hannibal himself gets only a passing reference or two in this pilot episode.
But this is very much another generic procedural – and it’s exactly the kind of show most people were expecting Hannibal to be. Cudlitz is entirely wasted in a cliched ‘just follow orders, Clarice’ role. And beyond the iconography of Silence, there’s just not much to it. Even Criminal Minds is more interesting in its plotting and its criminals.
Plus, just as Silence essentially preyed on women’s fears about men, so does Clarice, albeit different ones (not being good enough, not being a good enough friend).
I’m not going to bother with the second episode I don’t think.
Young Rock (US: NBC)
Comedy show that sees The Rock (aka Dwayne Johnson) running for president a decade from now and telling interviewer Randall Park all manner of stories from his youth, to show everyone what he’s really like.
Effectively, it’s a sitcom in four time zones then, since some of the stories come from The Rock’s childhood, watching his dad’s pro-wrestling career and hanging out with the likes of Andre the Giant. Then there’s his high school years, when he’s learning to fit in, and his university years, when he’s becoming a college football star.
And it’s all amiable and enjoyable stuff, albeit a show that depends on your love of The Rock (he is very lovable) for its key selling point. Oddly, this is co-created by Nahnatchka Khan, who has a great track record for skewering celebrities playing versions of themselves in Don’t Trust the B—- and Always Be My Maybe (2019), but this feels very tame in comparison to her previous efforts. The Rock might have done some shoplifting when he was young? Oh noes…
But fun enough, and made more fun by the biographical elements. I’ll stick for ep two, particularly since Lovely Wife loved it.