What have you been watching? Including Whitstable Pearl

Whitstable Pearl

Look at that! Two weeks in a row. Could consistency be approaching, just as August finally arrives? Who knows, but let’s tread softly and not say anything, lest we jinx things.

This week, I’ve mostly been self-isolating, thanks to the pingdemic – thanks, Covid! – so no new trips to the cinema for me. Bah! Or new movies, in fact – just repeated viewings of Black Widow (2020) on Disney+.

But I have been watching TV, at least.

Mostly, it’s been the regulars: Loki (Disney+) and Superman & Lois (US: The CW). Evil (US: Paramount+; UK: Alibi) I’ve decided is just too silly now, so I’ve given up on it. Damn, that was a good show when it started, too.

Also damn: that was the last Loki of the season, but in a change of tack for Disney+, there’s actually going to be a second season. However, all six episodes of Loki showed me was that Richard E Grant is very funny when dressed in the classic Loki outfit.

I did kind of it enjoy, and I get the feeling I’d have enjoyed it even more if I had any idea who (spoiler alert) Kang was in Marvel comics. Everything looked great and Sophia Di Martino’s Sylvie was lovely.

But so far, it’s feeling a little unnecessary: we already knew there were going to be alternative timelines from Avengers: Endgame. The show spends the entire run trying to stop them from happening. And then they happen. Prune those six episodes from the timeline and we’d be exactly where we were when we started, just absent some great comedic acting from Tom Hiddleston.

I’ll dare say others will argue otherwise, but compared to the innovation of WandaVision (Disney+) and what that is giving the MCU, it doesn’t feel like there’s much point to Loki other than giving us more Loki (something I admit I’m not unhappy about).

Superman & Lois continues to give us the definite Superman of any TV show or movie, and we had a sort of conclusion to the current story arc this week, which ended in the most inspiring way possible. Screw Zac Snyder and ‘the symbol means hope but my movie isn’t going to give you any’ – this is a show that is also definitively about the world’s nicest and most inspiring superhero and it knows it without being cheesy.

Slightly oddly we also got a cameo from Diggle (David Ramsey) from the Arrowverse, which amounted to very little (so much for the Green Lantern suggestions), although he’s set to be in future episodes, too. His appearance, however, raised the flipside of the question we always asked when watching Supergirl: where the Hell was Supergirl in all of this and why wasn’t the baddie interested in her at all? Are Kryptonians that sexist?

I did give on new show a try as well…

Whitstable Pearl (UK: Acorn TV)

Whistable Pearl is based on one of those neverending stream of crime books that see quirky men or women in small towns solve all manner of unexpected crimes. This adaptation, one of the first original shows by streaming service Acorn TV, sees Pearl (Kerry Godliman from After Life, Treadstone), an ex-copper turned restaurateur, trying to become a private detective in her native oyster-loving Kent town of Whitstable, while striking up a sort of relationship with widowed ex-cop Howard Charles (The Musketeers) and trying to deal with her grown-up son’s problems, as well as those of her waitress and her mum (Frances Barber).

Normally, I give these kinds of things a wide berth, but not only do I go on holiday in Whitstable a lot so know it well, I was actually on holiday when they were filming it there in October and so I might even be in some of the establishing shots – I was certainly passing the house of ‘posh woman’ in episode two. So I thought I’d give it a go.

The first thing to note is that it’s really trying hard to be a Nordic Noir with its title sequence and theme: apparently, that’s now the go-to for European crime shows of any kind. However, the show itself is pretty generic stuff after that, without much edge to it. It’s 45 minutes in which a crime is established, everyone gets interrogated by Charles and/or Godliman in various capacities or they interrogate each other for facts/local knowledge, and the whole thing gets solved by the end. There’s nothing really remarkable about it at all. Even Charles seems weary of the pedestrian nature of the plotting.

But… it does look great. They use Whitstable and other Kent locations well (Ramsgate harbour gets a look in in episode two), although I spent most of my time trying to work out what specific shops and restaurants normally were when they’re not covered in fake fascias. Everything looks quasi-moody and picturesque (or at least like Whitstable in October when it’s not absolutely bucketing it down). Godliman is actually a charismatic screen presence. Two eps was my limit, but if you like slightly quirky crime shows in regional UK locations, Whitstable Pearl is worth a try.

That’s what I watched. But what did you watch?


  • Rob Buckley

    I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.

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