What have you been watching? Including Reacher, Murderville and In From The Cold

Murderville

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

I think I might – might – be getting the hang of this ‘watching TV’ thing. I actually watched some new shows this week, including some that were on my list from last week and one complete season of a show, too. Is anyone impressed apart from me? Probably not. And I also hope not.

But first…

…a show I couldn’t bring myself to watch

Suspicion (AppleTV+) might at first glance look like something I’d have watched, given it was on AppleTV+ and stars Uma Thurman, Noah Emmerich and a whole bunch of actors from US TV shows you’ll probably recognise.

However, it fell foul of a very important new TMINE viewing rule: no more UK TV. I might break this at some point, probably when Rusty starts Doctor Who again or if that Life on Mars sequel ever sees the light of day. But honestly, life is otherwise too short to be wasting it on watching UK TV.

And Suspicion may be on an American streaming network and be based on the pretty good Israeli show כפולים (False Flag), but it is clearly British, since it’s set in London and even the guys you saw on those US TV shows have been secretly British this whole time. (And I’ve seen both seasons of the Israeli version anyway.)

For those of you with greater tolerance for the inexcusable, here’s the plot description and a trailer.

“Five people – three men and two women – have their lives turned upside down after being identified by London police as suspects in the kidnapping and subsequent disappearance of American media mogul Katherine Newman’s son Leonardo.”

The regulars

The Book of Boba Fett (Disney+) was yet again, another episode of The Mandalorian. My wife is getting very bored of this fact. I’m getting very worried about Temuera Morrison’s health – is he okay? This is like when they had to introduce Young Hercules in Hercules: The Legendary Journeys to cover up for the fact that Kevin Sorbo was injured – or when they bodyswapped Callisto and Xena on Xena: Warrior Princess when Lucy Lawless fell off her horse.

Anyway, the producers dialled up the awesome to compensate, bringing back not just jedi master Rosario Dawson, obvious Western reference Timothy Olyphant and the Mandalorian himself, but also a very, very spookily rejuvenated Mark Hamill to re-enact the best bits of Empire Strikes Back with tiny Yoda. It was a whole bunch of Squee for Star Wars fans and even I couldn’t help but go wow! But it is reliably reinforcing the fact that Boba Fett’s story isn’t either that interesting or getting a lot of service in his own show. Worrying.

The Peacemaker was less entertaining this week, unfortunately, perhaps because it was the most serious of all the episodes so far. But also perhaps because it was the most unremarkable in lots of ways. I mean “Eagly is hardcore, man!” will stay with me for a while and there were lots of lovely silly bits, but nothing that stood out in quite the way earlier episodes did.

Meanwhile, in Superman & Lois (US: The CW; UK: BBC One), it was more of the same as last week in what was basically a bridging episode to get us from point A to point C, by filling in the gaps that people who hadn’t realised it was (spoiler alert) Bizarro last week getting it spelled out for them this week. Good fights but everything to do with Lois Lane’s sister (Jenna Dewan – reprising her role from Supergirl, I understand. Where’s m*therf*ck*ng Supergirl, though? She’s not dead – I checked!) made me roll my eyes a lot. Seriously, what bizarrely insanely high standards of journalism are local papers expecting in the US? Weirdos.

After the jump, though, let’s talk about the new shows I’ve been watching and completing entire episodes and even seasons of: Reacher (Amazon Prime), Murderville (Netflix) and In From the Cold (Netflix).

Reacher (Amazon Prime)

When retired Military Police Officer Jack Reacher is arrested for a murder he did not commit, he finds himself in the middle of a deadly conspiracy full of dirty cops, shady businessmen and scheming politicians. With nothing but his wits, he must figure out what is happening in Margrave, Georgia. The first season of Reacher is based on the international bestseller, Killing Floor by Lee Child.

Rob says: ‘As b-movie as any Amazon movie, but still thrilling’

The Lee Child books are very, very popular. There’s lots of them. My sister-in-law loves them. I have never read them. The one thing I do know is that no one liked the Tom Cruise Jack Reacher movies, not even author Lee Child, on the general grounds that Tom Cruise was definitely not Jack Reacher in any way shape or form.

Reacher, Amazon Prime’s latest TV show (already renewed for a second season), is kind of what you get when you don’t have a Hollywood movie star like Tom Cruise at your beck and call (although he does produce it through Skydance), as it’s more or less like every 80s and 90s B-movie you might ever have thought of. But decent.

It stars Alan Ritchson, who at 12′ tall (he’s 6’2″, which is how tall I am. I do not look like him. I look 6’2″. He somehow looks 12′) is much more in keeping with the Jack Reacher books. Ritchson has previously played both Aquaman on Smallville and Hawk on Titans, and frankly, that superheroic background is about right, because Reacher is basically an epic male fantasy of what it’s like to be 12″ tall, able to kill five highly trained killers in 10 seconds with your bare hands, have any girl you want, eat whatever food you want, take any damage you want, break numerous laws and get away with it, make deductions worthy of Sherlock Holmes, and still wander around with a big smirk on your face – because hell, everyone will still give you a lift, so why would you need a car?

Despite that fantasy element, Reacher was… ridiculously enjoyable. Just a non-stop load of fights and fun. Ritchson is hugely charismatic and I could actually see why the Lee Child books are so popular: they’re a bit more than holiday reading for men who have outgrown James Bond, with a crime plot that I’d never heard before, a man-mountain central character who nevertheless is best at using his brain (he even speaks French and Arabic, which is more than James Bond ever did), and some unexpected general sensitivity to women.

The supporting cast are fine, with heroine Willa Fitzgerald being suitably feisty. The bad guys are nasty, the fights are well choreographed and really, really brutal (if still a bit escapist), and I just ended up playing one episode after another all weekend until I’d finished.

I’m geared up for season two and I’m glad Ritchson has finally found something that puts him front and centre for a change.

Murderville (Netflix)

Terry Seattle (Will Arnett) and his guest celebrity partner improvise their way through a scripted murder investigation without the script.

Rob says: ‘There’s a reason people have scripts’

I don’t know if the BBC Three show, Murder in Successville, on which this is based was any good, but this version isn’t. Unlike its predecessor, which saw celebrities play versions of themselves, though, here the celebrities are simply doing one of those murder-mystery weekend things on-camera: they have to solve a crime, they don’t have a script, everyone around them is an actor who has to help them tell the story and ultimately solve the crime.

And it’s just not funny. I watched two of the episodes – the ones featuring Conan O’Brien and Sharon Stone – and it was very clear that the show needed both a funnier script for the actors, with even Will Arnett barely able to raise a chuckle, let alone the lesser mortals around him, but the celebrities just couldn’t handle the scenario. I’m not sure why: both O’Brien and Stone have a history of improv, but both were reduced to just picking apart the dumb scenarios they’d been provided with or saying “No” a lot in response to Arnett’s dumb questions.

It was a huge mass of dead air in each episode that made me feel embarrassed for everyone taking part. And I won’t be watching the rest.

In From The Cold (Netflix)

A mother’s life turns upside down when she must choose between putting her family at risk and returning to her past as a bio-engineered Russian agent.

Rob says: ‘The female Reacher’

In its own way, In From The Cold is as much a fantasy as Reacher, with a single mum who used to be a glamorous young Russian spy 25 years later able to just leap back into the life, beat up anything that moves, change shape (yes, really) into any other person, and even get a rocking new haircut simply by cutting her old hair with a pair of scissors she found lying around. And wear her own daughter’s clothes.

Sure.

And if Reacher was a Tom Cruise movie on a B-movie budget, In From The Cold is Reacher on a C-movie budget. There’s a cast of about six, with more spent on one of her CIA bosses’ suits than on the rest of the show, which has the unmistakable look of Spanish sci-fi (cf Warrior Nun) thanks in part to the Madrid-filming, right down to the fact everyone looks and sounds like they’re Spanish but speaking English, even when they’re not. The fight scenes are choreographed, rather than well choreographed, looking more like everyone dancing than anything too realistic. And our heroine even gets a super fighting suit. Because why not?

But… just as Reacher is still undeniable fun, so is this. The split-narrative between 1990s Moscow (complete with actual Russian-speaking actors and actresses) and the modern day gives the show a bit more depth than you might think, with the back narrative addressing Russian LGBT+ issues. The heroine (both versions) is as charismatic, if not as fun as Alan Ritchson.

It’s nonsense. Really bad nonsense. But an enjoyable way to pass the time at least.

I highly doubt I’ll watch every single episode, but I’ve made it through to episode three, so clearly it has a certain je ne sais quoi, at least.

Author

  • 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.