What have you been watching? Including Leverage: Redemption, Invasion and Dopesick

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

It’s been a fortnight since the previous WHYBW, thanks to the delights that are half-term and the mandatory staff holiday TMINE resultingly enforces. And there’s been a lot of TV for me to watch in that time! Shock! That’s new… but also old, which is reassuring.

But with a lot of TV to review, it’s going to be a bit of whistlestop tour. I should point out at this stage that I wasn’t able to watch 4400, the CW’s revival of the very similarly named show of the mid-2000s, The 4400, as I never watched that and I wasn’t that excited to watch a reboot of it. But if you reckon I should, let me know.

After the jump, we can talk about new shows Dopesick, Invasion and Leverage: Redemption, the final episodes (oops) of season one of Only Murders in the Building and the return of Locke & Key.

Dopesick (US: Hulu; UK: Disney+)

Available in the UK: Friday, 12 November

True story of how “one company triggered the worst drug epidemic in American history. The series takes viewers to the epicentre of America’s struggle with opioid addiction, from the boardrooms of Big Pharma to a distressed Virginia mining community to the hallways of the DEA. Defying all the odds, heroes will emerge in an intense and thrilling ride to take down the craven corporate forces behind this national crisis and their allies.”

And I actually quite enjoyed episode one. It has that same faux documentary style of direction as Spotlight (2015) and Dark Waters (2019), and is really quite shocking in how few punches it pulls in depicting how one company’s – indeed, one family’s and one family member’s – desire to turn a big profit when its patent ran out effectively made it decide to market opioids as a safe, long-term way to manage pain. Which basically messed up the entire country significantly, with lovely little GPs like Michael Keaton actually being persuaded to recommend medicines to his patients, only to see them all die.

It’s well told, unsensational with a good cast and is sort of a Crash (2004) but with opioids instead of racism. It’s also all quite shocking and although I currently have a big downer on shows that are downers, I’d happily watch episode two if I could find the time.

Invasion (Apple TV+)

“An alien invasion is seen through the different perspectives of various people on different continents across the world.”

It’s basically Heroes, but with an alien invasion. And it’s not great. But I didn’t hate it. It was better than War of the Worlds, at least.

Episode one consists of introducing all the main characters. Then killing a random selection of them. Oh no. Sam Neill is the only name of note. Guess whether he’s one of the dead ones.

And by introducing them, we mean “Showing how their love lives aren’t doing so well, they’re closeted, etc, and how Important all of that is.”

It’s also supposed to be on “different continents across the world”. That apparently means the US and Japan.

But that said, it was actually quite spooky at times and even horrifying, getting a decent number of quasi “jumps” out of me in the first episode. It’s all nicely weird too.

It’s just the characters aren’t the draw the writers think they are. And they’re going to need a lot more of them in episode two…

I’ll give that a whirl this week.

Leverage: Redemption (IMDbTV)

A revival of Leverage that sees reformed criminal vigilantes put their unique skills to good use by helping ordinary people fight back against corporate and governmental injustices.

I hadn’t realised the original was so well loved as to warrant a reboot but here it is. And it’s about as good as the original. They’ve written out that naughty man who was accused of bad things and replaced him with a botoxed Noah Wyle from ER, etc, as a neophyte would-be vigilante lawyer whom they take under their wing. An unbotoxed Gina Bellman gets to be the boss instead, which is a pleasing change in all senses.

Otherwise, it’s basically business as usual, but with everyone looking a bit older. One big change is that there appears to be a season arc, with our heroes chasing down one guy around the world; there’s also a hint at a bigger bad out there that knows about our heroes capabilities and is willing to stop them.

It had its moments, it raised more than a few smiles, it was almost clever at times. But it really wasn’t that clever, you’ll probably be several hundred metres ahead of the script most of the time and 90% of the time it’s not even slightly plausible.

I gave up on the original after a while because it was only an okay show at best. I did the same with this show for more or less the same reason.

The regulars

Only Murders in the Building

Despite my claim last time that Only Murders in the Building had concluded, there were two more episodes left. Oops. Sorry about that. And to be fair, those two episodes left the show in a much better, more enjoyable place than it had seemed at the time. Loose threads got sorted out, there was indeed a ‘grand finale’ and generally, everything came together. Particularly funny was the arrival of Jane Lynch as Steve Martin’s stunt double from his old TV show.

There is, though, a new cliffhanger which is actually an old cliffhanger that brings together everything heralded in previous episodes. So now I’m actually looking forward to season two. And that’s the first show of 2021 that can say that.

Locke & Key

Returning to Netflix last week was Locke & Key. Season one of that I’d quite enjoyed, despite it combining quite a young content aimed at kids with some quite nasty things. Season two carries on as before, but takes those two tendencies and keeps them pulling in different directions. This feels like a younger TV show, more aimed at kids somehow, but the gore is going up and so is the nastiness. It’s an uneasy combo.

But… it still worked. I did actually quite like the trans subtext that wasn’t in the original source material (as far as I know) with the main evil-doing male adopting a female persona for most of his evil work and seeming to prefer being a woman to being a man, despite his new associate’s objections. It’s an interesting twist that you don’t get to see much in sensible shows and movies – I discount anything involving Vince Vaughn – so I think I might watch the rest of it to see where that goes.

I also liked the fact the show has a time limit now: anyone who’s an adult can no longer remember magic, from the very moment they’re 18, so our heroes only now have a few months before they can no longer have anything to do with the plot. That could be interesting, too.

It’s still a bit teeny, with juvenile concerns about dating and exams, but c’est la vie. It’s kind of fun!

Author

  • 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.