US TV

What have you been watching? Including What We Do in the Shadows

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

TV is taking its time to wake up after both Covid and the summer holidays. I keep looking for new stuff and can’t find anything that I’d like to watch.

To its credit, Showtime in the US is about to give us American Rust, an adaptation of Philipp Meyer’s novel that the network describes 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”.

That starts this Sunday at 10pm ET/PT, so there’s an outside chance I might even be able to preview it for you this week before it starts. But it doesn’t sound like a whole bunch of fun, does it?

That leaves me with just one returning regular to watch

What We Do In the Shadows

The show returns for its third season with two episodes, as is traditional. The first deals with the fallout from last season, with our Vampires having to become heads of the local Vampire Council while dealing with Guillermo (spoiler alert) Van Helsing, the Vampire Slayer. Largely an opportunity for Natasia Demetriou to really go to town and Matt Berry to swear a lot, it was as funny as usual, which was gratifying, and the arrival of another energy vampire really helped to mix up the bore-dom and give us a new, edgier, next generation kind of dull to enjoy. I also enjoyed the slight freeing of Guillermo to be less subservient but the cameo by (spoiler alert) Taika Waititi did little but give us more of (spoiler alert) Taika Waititi.

The second episode was a more entertaining affair, throwing open the floor to Kayvan Novak to do a whole bunch of impressions – and look fittish without his top on. There was less to it, but I found it funnier, on the whole.

Either way, the third season started well and on a par with its predecessors.

But what have you been watching?

Theatre

Review: Back to the Future: The Musical (Adelphi)

Back to the Future: The Musical is nothing short of miraculous. It’s not that it took more than a decade to put together or that it was the movie’s original writer, director and composer who developed it. It’s not even that having found its lead cast in 2018, the show managed to keep them all for three years while we all waited out Covid. Because with this cast, you would want to hang on to them.

No, the miracle is that it’s just so good.

I tell a lie. Bad Nat. There are two miracles. The second is that they appear to not only have cloned Michael J Fox from 1986, they’ve improved him at the same time.

Continue reading “Review: Back to the Future: The Musical (Adelphi)”
Film

Review: Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021)

Out in cinemas

La la la! Here’s another Marvel movie! Yay! I love Marvel movies. I’m so looking forward to this! Wait… Shang-Chi? Who? What? Maybe even… why? Trailer, please… Huh. A couple of cameos by people I’m not that interested in, some okay martial arts, Awkwafina being annoying. Aren’t trailers supposed to make me want to watch a movie, not put me off?

It really was an unpromising start and when I sat down to watch Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021), I was confidently expecting to be as underwhelmed as I was when I watched most of the Disney+ Marvel shows. Bar Black Widow (2020) and certain parts of WandaVision (Disney+), it’s been feeling like Marvel has been struggling to kickstart its franchise back into action, following the closure that Avengers: Endgame (2019) brought to its decade-long story.

Surprisingly for me at least, Shang-Chi manages to both restart that storyline and make us care about – and let’s be clear about this – an absolute nobody of the Marvel comics whom nobody but nobody outside of a comics shop has ever heard of. And who goes into comics shops?

It’s one of those movies that transcends many of its sillier foundations to become something much more. Shang-Chi, while by no means a threat to Shakespeare or Mamet in its writing, is fun, engaging, character- rather than punch-driven, and generally a pleasure to watch from start to finish – and beyond, because of the obligatory credit scenes.

Continue reading “Review: Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021)”
Red Hood in Titans
US TV

What have you been watching? Including Titans and Superman & Lois

Look at that! It’s September. Didn’t time fly?

So what did I watch in August? Not a lot, to be honest. This actually wasn’t for want of trying but there haven’t been any appetising-looking new TV shows for me to bite my teeth into, TBH. I’m still considering Vigil on BBC One, mind, because it has submarines in it.

There’s one other exception: yet another remake of Fantasy Island, this time for Fox.

I thought about watching that. Then decided not to. It was August after all, and if normality is going to reassert itself post-Covid, we have to reassert the old rules, too: start a new show in August and TMINE will ignore you.

I also realised there’s a whole bunch of shows that are coming back for second seasons that I can’t be bothered with either. So Stargirl on Amazon isn’t getting much love from me, either.

That meant I’ve only been watching a couple of the regulars, both superhero shows, one concluding, one returning.

Superman & Lois

Superman & Lois remained perfect almost to the end, even if Lovely Wife did watch five minutes of it and declare it “terrible”. I thought it was great. Thrilling and exciting, with Adam Rayner proving a wonderful villain. The finale suffered maybe a little from being a slight retread of a previous episode, copying its conclusion and get-out mechanism, but I don’t think it suffered too much from that.

If I had one niggle, though, it’s the final scene: I just didn’t care. The funeral was oddly moving, given what it was. That’s not my niggle. That person showed up. I didn’t care. It was anti-climactic and actually put me off from watching the next season. But only a bit. I’ll definitely be back.

Titans

Meanwhile, Titans is back, now on HBO Max in the US. The main cast are a bit jauntier and a bit less angsty than before, although the absence of both Raven and Donna Troy is a real detraction from the show. Where it works still is on its depiction of superheroes growing up and ageing. This is still very much a show about sidekicks who are now too old to be sidekicks and need to move out of their friends’ shadows – and superheroes who are now old to be doing anything much at all, really.

The problem is that this season so far has focused on the ‘birth’ of Red Hood. Those who know their comics will not be surprised by who that is and the show only takes a couple of episodes to reveal all there. More surprising is just how bleak and miserable it all is. People are dying and getting tortured. Batman’s off murdering people. Not even Scarecrow – Pete from Mad Men – can add any fun to things. It’s just so unpleasant.

So I’ve given up after four episodes. Guys, we’ve been through so much misery over the past year and a half, I’d just like to watch something fun, please. Thanks!