International TV

What have you been watching? Including Foundation

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

There has been a plethora of new shows out in the US and Canada over the past week. On the one hand, this is promising: things are returning back to normal and this is normally the fall season, when TMINE would review as many as it could.

On the other, it did fill me a little with despair.

In the US, we have FBI: International, another spin-off from CBS’s FBI that reminded me of that terrible Criminal Minds spin-off that filled me with rage a few years ago.

NCIS: Hawaii: another spin-off from CBS’s NCIS.

Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol, Peacock’s attempt to give us something as astonishingly terrible as both Dan Brown’s books and the movies adapted from them.

There were other shows, such as anthology show The Premise (and I don’t review anthology shows anyway), but I think I gave up at that point daring to dream anything good was going to come at that point.

Canada didn’t help me either. We had the ‘raucous dramedy’ (ie rubbish) Moonshine from CBC, about the owners of a ramshackle summer resort on the south shore of Nova Scotia who are keen to retire but whose adult children are battling for control.

Strays, a spin-off from Kim’s Convenience.

And Family Law , in which “Abigail Bianchi, a recovering alcoholic and lawyer goes to work with her estranged father and two half-siblings. She’s never worked in family law before, and suddenly finds herself having to manage not just her clients family dysfunction, but her own. She must learn to navigate working with her father and siblings she doesn’t know as part of her probation, all while trying to maintain her sobriety.”

No.

So the only new show I watched and thus am able to review so far is…

Foundation (Apple TV+)

This is an adaptation of Isaac Asimov’s series of novels about a Galactic Empire that’s about to fall apart? How do they know that? Because a mathematician called Hari Seldon has developed something called ‘psychohistory’, which enables him to predict how large groups of people are likely to behave. He says that the end can’t be averted but the return to civilisation can be sped up if there are two ‘Foundations’ created to act as a repository of knowledge for civilisation – and to keep an eye on things.

The series boasts a decently stellar cast, including Jared Harris, Lee Pace and… Reece Sheersmith. No, really. It also looks astonishing. The effects and design are amazing.

It’s also one of the most boring TV shows I’ve ever seen. It singly failed to involve me at any point. It’s been so long since I read the Foundation series that I can’t really remember enough of it to say if it was a failing of the originals. But I read all three, as well as the later additions Asimov added, so I must have been motivated to do that.

Whatever the case, nothing about the first two episodes made me want to watch any more of it, with its lack of real characters, just ideas and attempts to do hard sci-fi that fell flat many, many times. But given the lack of anything else appetising to watch, I might still tune in for the third episode on Friday.

Hark at me talking about ‘tuning in’ to a streaming show. How old am I?

The regulars

Otherwise, it was just the regulars. What We Do In The Shadows was moderately funny, but largely unforgettable, although its visit to Atlantic City did make me realise just how not the Las Vegas of the East Coast it is. I was also mildly amused to see the whistle stop tour of Europe: it did actually look like they’d been to Greece, although maybe not London.

Only Murders in the Building was pleasing, as we moved the action along and began to suspect Selena Gomez less. The podcast elements remain the show’s most amusing point, though.

The Cleaner had that nice lady from Cabin Pressure in one episode, while the other was more about vegan disabled people. They were both pleasant enough ways to pass time, but not exactly a riot of laughs. I’ll keep watching, though.

News

Netflix releases a trailer for its adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman

Sandman was really the graphic novel that got me into reading comics. With its stories of the seven Endless – personifications of abstract ideas including Dream, Death, Desire and Destruction who were gods in a DC Universe that had gods – it caught me at just the right time, just as I was sporting a Robert Smith hair cut at university.

It was also the comic that introduced the world to Neil Gaiman, who has of course gone on to many mighty and varied things, including writing episodes of Doctor Who, movies such as Stardust (2007), books for children and adults, and TV shows based on his books, such as Good Omens.

There have been various attempts to adapt Sandman for other media over the years, including a movie with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the most successful being a series of audio plays for Audible featuring James McAvoy as Dream and Kat Dennings as Death.

Netflix has been trying to adapt the comics into a TV series. That seemed initially like it was going to be as successful as the movie adaptations that preceded it. But look at this, will you! We have an honest to God teaser trailer, as well as a behind the scenes featurette. And it looks both good and authentic, which will please the fundamentalist Sandman fans out there. Of which there are many.

The cast looks pretty good, too:

  • Vivienne Acheampong as Lucienne
  • Sanjeev Bhaskar as Cain
  • Asim Chaudhry as Abel
  • Gwendoline Christie as Lucifer
  • Jenna Coleman as Johanna Constantine
  • Charles Dance as Roderick Burgess
  • Stephen Fry as Gilbert
  • Boyd Holbrook as The Corinthian
  • Kirby Howell-Baptiste as Death
  • Sandra James-Young as Unity Kincaid
  • Razane Jammal as Lyta Hall
  • Patton Oswalt as Matthew the Raven
  • Mason Alexander Park as Desire
  • Donna Preston as Despair
  • Kyo Ra as Rose Walker
  • Joely Richardson as Ethel Cripps
  • Tom Sturridge as Dream

News

Russell T Davies is back as Doctor Who’s showrunner

Wow. I never thought this would happen. But it’s been confirmed by proper actual news sources that Russell T Davies is returning to Doctor Who for its next season, replacing Chris Chibnall (bah!) as showrunner, just in time for its 60th anniversary in 2023.

Given that I gave up on Chibnall’s run and stopped watching Doctor Who purely because of his writing, whoever took over from him was always going to be of interest to me. Most bookies were suggesting Mark Gatiss or similar, but Russell T Davies? Wow. No one had that.

Now, you only have to go over TMINE’s Doctor Who reviews to know it wasn’t the biggest fan of Davies’ largely logic-free approach to writing. But it was always fascinating to watch and he set up the foundation for the show that helped it to last 15+ years on the BBC. So, it’s going to be fascinating to see what he does with it now, with the benefit of hindsight, perhaps better resources and more experience.

It should also be noted that rather than being a purely BBC Studios production, it’s now going to be a co-production with Julie Gardner’s Bad Wolf. Gardner, of course, was possibly almost as instrumental in Doctor Who‘s successful return as Davies was, so the BBC is getting a two-for-one deal here.

10 Things I Hate About You
Film

The TMINE multiplex: The Unbelievable Truth, Un 32 août sur terre and 10 Things I Hate About You

In which Nat talks briefly about the movies she’s been watching this week for no particular reason and that probably don’t warrant proper reviews, but hey? Wouldn’t it be nice if we all chatted about them anyway?

Being TMINE’s Official Movie Reviewer in Residence is obviously new to me, so I’m not yet sure exactly what shape my contributions are going to settle into yet. At the moment, I’m planning for my full reviews to be of new releases and for them to feature on Mondays or Tuesdays, after I’ve watched them at the weekend.

Unfortunately, I don’t have as much access as I did before Covid to press screenings, screeners et al, thanks to changes in both my job and the whole world (😭). That means that although I’ll be able to preview some movies at least, I’ll usually be watching films at the local cinema when they come on general release, just like everyone else. Sorry, guys.

This weekend, however, I was up in London to see Rhod Gilbert at London Wonderground, so didn’t get to watch anything. If I had gone to see anything, it would have been Gunpowder Milkshake, so maybe you could all just imagine the beautiful, artfully constructed, witty review I would have put together.

I think it’s likely then that I’m going to be watching most films at home on streaming services, TV, DVDs or Blu-Rays – and then showing them here at The TMINE Multiplex every Wednesday or Thursday.

My life before Covid. Honest. Totes me. Photo Credit: Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC

One really strange aspect of lockdown for me was I was no longer the Queen of Watching Movies on Entertainment Systems or My iPad While Travelling to Some Glamorous Exotic Locale. Okay, that may not seem strange to you, but that was a big change for me (and my self-image #FirstWorldProblems).

A consequence of this was my film consumption really dropped and, weirder still, I started playing a superhero game on my phone (Marvel Strike Force). The weird thing was that actually I met some really lovely people that way! I even met someone who is now one of my best friends and now, every Wednesday, we have ‘Movie Night’ where we watch a movie one of us has chosen.

Being children of the 90s/00s, we typically end up watching a movie from that era – 90s/00s movies are just better anyway. Naturally, I will report on those in The TMINE Multiplex. But please don’t hold me to a strict 90s/00s policy, as we might occasionally watch a newer or older movie. Those who came to the Multiplex last week will know why I won’t be reviewing many 80s movies, though.

That ‘Movie Night’ pick will be showing at The TMINE Multiplex, together with whatever else I’ve been watching. At the moment, I’m working my through an extensive MUBI watchlist, as well as a few entries on BFI Player, but there undoubtedly will be some really, really bad things showing, too, since I really can’t be worthy all the time. Sometimes, you just want to watch something dreadful.

However, this week, be prepared to learn about (or revisit) no fewer than three 90s movies at the Multiplex: The Unbelievable Truth (1990), Un 32 août sur terre (1998) and 10 Things I Hate About You (1999)

Continue reading “The TMINE multiplex: The Unbelievable Truth, Un 32 août sur terre and 10 Things I Hate About You”
Greg Davies in BBC One's The Cleaner
International TV

What have you been watching? Including The Cleaner

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

As I suspected last week American Rust, an adaptation of Philipp Meyer’s novel that Showtime described as “a compelling family drama and a timeless story told through the eyes of complicated and compromised chief of police Del Harris (Jeff Daniels) of a Pennsylvania Rust Belt town full of good people making bad choices” was about as fun as a hernia operation. Honestly, why do networks think:

  1. People want to watch miserable sh*t right now, after a year and a half of misery (at least a year and a half – apparently, in the Before Times, there were things to be miserable about other than Covid, too, but I struggle to remember those days so can’t confirm that)
  2. Miserable = quality TV while happy = lightweight TV?

It’s just such an odd couple of equations.

I also tried Australian Gangster (Australia: Seven). That’s billed as “Drug dealer, gangster, gym-junky, Lamborghini driver, husband, father, Australian Gangster is a four hour TV series about the life and death of a new breed of Sydney criminal. The kind that doesn’t care about playing it safe or keeping a low profile or even getting caught. Our main character is emblematic of the type of modern gangster that only really cares about looking good on Instagram, making a name for himself in a new, wannabe glamorous crime scene, while at the same time trying to manage the pressures of family life.”

I mean, it’s an obvious attempt to do a new Underbelly, just as a new Underbelly comes out, but want to guess how much fun it was? I mean it opens with a man being mildly threatening to a teacher because his kid has speech issues and so goes around biting everyone.

Do you know what that made me do? It made me watch some British TV.

The Cleaner (UK: BBC One)

“After CSI have done their stuff, the cleaner mops up the grisly remains. For Wicky, a bloodbath and the pub is all in a day’s work. Comedy written by and starring Greg Davies.”

And it’s odd. Mildly funny, but odd. Essentially, it’s a series of two-handers, with Davies turning up at a property to clean it after someone has died and then chatting with whomever he finds there for 30 minutes. So far we’ve had Helena Bonham-Carter, as a widow and suspected murderer who has returned to the scene of the crime; and David Mitchell, as a somewhat irate writer with writers’ block.

It’s somewhat reminiscent of Davies’ Taskmaster in some regards, with the dialogue usually being a battle of wits, before Davies just plays a meanness trump card to win. His character is little different from his standup persona, too, although there are fewer mentions of his mother.

But, I enjoyed it. Bonham-Carter was pleasingly dotty but also sympathetic as the woman who hated her model-making, unromantic husband but never got round to killing him. Mitchell was the “angry logic, you’re all imbeciles” persona we’ve come to expect, but also a figure of sympathy after a while.

It’s all a bit rough and loose, and your enjoyment is likely linked to how much you like Greg Davies. But it was definitely worth my time enough that I’d watch it again.

The regulars

On top of that, I now have two regulars to watch! It’s a true embarrassment of riches. They’re after the jump. But what have you been watching?

Continue reading “What have you been watching? Including The Cleaner”