Streaming TV

What have you been watching? Including Star Trek: Strange New Worlds and The Essex Serpent

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 bit quiet for TV viewing here at TMINE Towers of late. We’ve not really been watching much at all. I actually blame TV networks for this, since there’s not been much we’ve wanted to watch.

Superman & Lois (US: The CW; UK: BBC One) came back for all of an episode before disappearing again. That’s progressing nicely and has survived The CW’s recent Night of Long Knives, so it’s good to know that there’ll be a season three.

I did manage to finish Moon Knight (Disney+). That’s probably now my favourite of all the Disney+ Marvel TV shows, thanks mainly to its dedication to ignoring the comics to give us something a lot more interest and based in Egyptian mythology. The addition of Scarlet Scarab at the end was something of a punch the air moment, too, and the mid-credits sequence was if not a game-changer, something that genuinely twisted the whole show and what you’d seen.

However, its biggest flaw was that it felt like the middle of an MCU movie, one that needed some prologue and epilogue featuring our titular hero since he hardly ever showed up. Season two isn’t confirmed, either, making this feel like a weird random addition to the MCU, rather than something too important. For now, anyway.

Meanwhile, Bel-Air (Peacock) is still just there, waiting for us to watch the rest of it. We’ve only watched one more episode of Star Trek: Picard (US: Paramount+; UK: Amazon Prime). That’s mainly because Lovely Wife is sorely aggrieved with me for calling it ‘bobbins’ last time and has withdrawn my viewing privileges, as she is the official custodian of all things Star Trek. But it’s also because it’s bobbins.

But while Lovely Wife may be the custodian of all things Star Trek, I’m the custodian of all things “not yet available to view in the UK”, which includes brand new Star Trek show Strange New Worlds. So we’ve watched two of those episodes.

And while Netflix might be losing its lustre as the world’s premier streamer (thanks to all manner of internal ructions and hubris, about which much has been written in the trades, recently, as its subscriber figures start to slump and it contemplates an ad-supported model), Apple TV+ is picking up and is on the verge of becoming ‘must see TV’. And so even though The Essex Serpent is a British period drama, I decided to give that a try, too.

Both of those after the jump…

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International TV

What have you been watching? Including Moon Knight and Mr Inbetween

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

“Doing this every two weeks seems to be working out for me right now. I think I can pull this off. Famous last words.”

Oops. That’s what I said last time and it pretty much killed April. Work! Gah! More work! Gah. Holiday. Not gah. Actually quite relaxing.

Oh well. Best stop procrastinating and put some TV thoughts down on paper or those really will be my last words…

I’ve watched a whole bunch of new shows, as well as the regulars, but doing proper reviews will take the rest of the day, I reckon, so I’m going to be disciplined and stick to one sentence rundowns. And here’s the clincher: if you want to know more about one of the shows, ask me! Then I’ll respond in the comments.

I reckon that’ll work. And how’s that for fun, too?

There’s been an awful lot of new shows since the last of these, but here are the ones that interested me enough to watch them: The Ipcress File (UK: ITV); Minx (US: HBO Max); Welcome to Flatch (US: Fox); The Last Days of Ptolemy Gray (AppleTV+); Halo (Paramount+); Outer Range (Amazon Prime); Moon Knight (Disney+); and Russian Doll (season two) (Netflix).

Meanwhile, we’ve got stuck on a few of the regular shows: Bel-Air (Peacock) is sitting there, waiting for us to watch the rest of it when we’ve got the time; but Superman & Lois (US: The CW; UK: BBC One) has been on holiday all of April. The Endgame (US: NBC) got a bit repetitious so I gave up on that. I’ve been continuing to watch Star Trek: Picard (US: Paramount+; UK: Amazon Prime) and Severance (AppleTV+), though. And Mr InBetween (Australia: Showcase; UK: Disney+) has secretly been on Disney+ for months, I suspect, so I finally got to watch the third (final) season.

All of those after the jump…

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International TV

What have you been watching? Including The Endgame, Children Ruin Everything, Our Flag Means Death and Troppo

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

Doing this every two weeks seems to be working out for me right now. I think I can pull this off. Famous last words.

I’ve watched some new TV shows. One from pretty much every country of the world! Well, three of the four usual English-speaking ones. Most of them were rubbish, unfortunately. But at least one was fun. We can talk about those after the jump: Troppo (Australia: ABC), Our Flag Means Death (US: HBO Max), Children Ruin Everything (Canada: CTV) and The Endgame (US: NBC).

But first…

…four shows I didn’t manage to get around to watching

The Dropout (US: Hulu; UK: Disney+) is a switch of the usual ‘drama based on real-life’ offering that we’ve getting of late. It’s a mini-series that sees Amanda Seyfried playing Elizabeth Holmes, and Hulu/Disney+ summarise it thusly: “Elizabeth Holmes, an optimistic and determined young woman, drops out of Stanford to found a promising new blood testing startup.”

Yeah, I know all about Elizabeth Holmes. I know the twist and a whole lot more. Don’t really need to watch that, but I hear Seyfried is very good.

The Porter (Canada: CBC) is something a bit more of a period piece, but is still a real-life story. “The series will depict the history of Black Canadian and African-American men who worked as Pullman porters in the period following World War I, leading to the 1925 creation of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters as the first Black-led labour union.”

Again, I hear it’s really good and it even numbers Alfre Woodard. But… I don’t care. Sorry, the history of the Canadian trade union movement is niche even for me.

Shining Vale (US: Starz; UK: Starzplay) isn’t real at all. It also didn’t hold my attention more than a minute, since it’s a horror comedy-drama about depression/demonic possession.

“A dysfunctional family moves from the city to a small town after Patricia “Pat” Phelps, a former “wild child” who became famous through writing raunchy female empowerment novels, is caught cheating on her husband. The house the family had moved into is a place where in the past, terrible atrocities have taken place. Nobody seems to suspect anything odd except for Pat who’s convinced she’s either depressed or possessed. Pat has been sober for 16 years, but begins to feel very unfulfilled in life – she still hasn’t written her second novel, she can’t remember the last time she had sex with her husband, and her teenage kids have grown up to the point they don’t want their mother in their lives. But soon, the demons haunting the family’s new home begin to appear much more real.”

It may star Greg Kinnear and Courtney Cox but no.

Lastly, there’s The Ipcress File (UK: ITV), the first UK drama I’ve been tempted to watch in a long time. In this case, I simply haven’t got round to watching it. But you know what, I think I will, since I not only love the Michael Caine movie, I’ve even read the book, so I’m interested to see what ITV have done with it.

The regulars

Superman & Lois (US: The CW; UK: BBC One/iPlayer) was great fun as usual, and of course the chance to reunite Supes and his brother was irresistible, so I’m looking forward to that. It’s fascinating that a show that was based on how compelling a performance one actor gave in a completely different TV show now has an equally compelling performance overshadowing it. I do also much admire the fact the show is ‘depatriarchying’ the entire Superman story, too.

Severance (AppleTV+) has continued to be fascinating and JustStark’s suggestion that it’s reminiscent of a Philip K Dick story was something I hadn’t noticed but is spot on the money. But the show alternates as well between interpretations, with allusions to the priesthood in the latest episode and there are also musical references to The Conversation (1974) as well. But the core considerations of whether work might actually be psychologically important to us – so what happens if we can’t – are also interesting. Really, really enjoying.

Bel-Air continues to be equally impressive and powerful. The characters are now evolving in fascinating ways and it’s fascinating to see Will ‘gentrifying’. One of the disadvantages of not watching UK TV any more is that I didn’t notice that this show’s Geoffrey is played by Jimmy Akingbola (In the Long Run, Kate & Koji, Holby City, Rev et al). And this Geoffrey is hardcore. Definitely a must-watch.

And back for a second season is Star Trek: Picard (US: Paramount+; UK: Amazon). That appears to have dumped the entire narrative it was setting up at the end of the first season in favour of yet more Borg stories. But we got Whoopi Goldberg back as Guinan and John de Lancie back as Q – that’s not a spoiler, as it’s in the trailer – all of which suggests better things are to come.

I should also point out that Wu Assassins (Netflix) mysteriously has a sequel movie, Fistful of Vengeance, set in Thailand and featuring all the Asian cast but almost no one else and is largely unrelated to the surprisingly good original in almost any way. The fights are poorly shot, even if the cast are good at them, making them pretty lacklustre, too. I quite enjoyed newcomer Francesca Corney, who was at least funny, but that was about it.

Join me after the jump for a brief rundown of the new shows.

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Firebite
US TV

What (completely forgettable TV) have you (also) been watching? Including American Auto, Grand Crew and Firebite

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

Well, this is awkward. I’ve just written about all the TV I’ve been watching… and I’ve just remembered I’ve watched three other shows. Oh dear.

So let’s do a quick extra rundown of those utterly unmemorable shows while I can still retain them in my mind. I should also point out that some utterly insane fool at HBO Max commissioned Station Eleven, the first episode of which aired last week:

‘Survivors of a devastating flu attempt to rebuild and reimagine the world anew while holding on to the best of what’s been lost.’

Are you f*cking insane, HBO Max?

Continue reading “What (completely forgettable TV) have you (also) been watching? Including American Auto, Grand Crew and Firebite”
US TV

What have you been watching? Including La Brea

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

Surprisingly, last week’s huge flurry of new shows seems to have been the extent of the Fall season in North America. I assumed it would be bigger and longer than… a week. Maybe there’ll be more this month, but that would involve me looking to find out. Sounds like work, doesn’t it?

I prefer to just bump into new shows these days. Did you know IMDb TV is going to be a thing? I’d heard a bit about it and knew there was a new Judge Judy show on it, but that’s about it, so figured it was just reality TV.

But now I’ve just stumbled onto the fact that apparently, they’ve rebooted Leverage with the entire original cast and Noah Wyle but not Timothy Hutton (for very, very obvious reasons). And here’s a trailer for Leverage: Redemption, which is going to start in just a few weeks. Isn’t that some good stumbling?

I also stumbled across Fires, which is ABC (Australia)’s retelling of last year’s wildfires in Australia. Remember when that was going to be the thing of 2020?

Anyway, that’s just started but is verboten in this house, on the grounds it’s about something real and miserable.

That meant the only new show I have to share with you is this piece of rubbish.

© NBC

La Brea (US: NBC)

A massive sinkhole mysteriously opens up in Los Angeles, separating part of a family in an unexplainable primeval world, alongside a disparate group of strangers.

Rob says: ‘Lost meets The Lost World = Twice as Lost’

It’s pretty obvious right from the outset of La Brea that this is going to be an awful TV show. All the standard tools for character compression get thrown out like balls from a tennis practice machine, with us clear within the first minute of a random car journey to school that the three characters have moved house, are a family, one has lost her leg somehow, have left the father somewhere else for ‘reasons’, the mum (Natalie Zea) is feeling guilty of being a ‘helicopter mom’ and more. Not for a moment is it natural dialogue.

By minute two, a massive sinkhole has opened up and we’re having car chases on pavements in reverse, people running out the way, buildings falling and more.

Never for one second are you expected to be bored or to have to use your brain. Don’t worry – you won’t need it.

Before you know it, half our family are in a grassy wonderland that looks a bit Canadian that’s apparently under LA somehow, the other half are stuck up above and think the first lot are dead. But fear not, they’ve just fallen down some kind of portal into a primeval dimension, filled with CGI wolves, sabretooth tigers and sort of vultures.

Meanwhile, Air Force dad (Eoin Macken from Nightflyers) turns out to have been diagnosed with schizophrenia but – oh wow, isn’t this handy and coincidental – has actually been having visions of what’s happening in this parallel world and can now see that his wife and all these other helpfully diverse people (surgeon/Navy SEALs, psychologist with guns, heroin smugglers) are all still alive! And must be saved! Please believe him!

One of the characters references Lost. I presume that’s as a sort of preemption to prevent people from accusing it of being Lost. “We’re not going to point out the similarities if we actually are just doing Lost are we?”

It is Lost. Sorry. That little ruse didn’t work for Catherine Tramell in Basic Instinct; it won’t work here either.

But it’s also The Lost World. That’s a really hard one to portmanteau with Lost, isn’t it? Shall we just say it’s twice as Lost?

Clearly, it’s The Lost World. Maybe even Verne’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth. Or more likely that thing with Doug McLure.

Anyway, it’s terrible. Everyone’s stupid. There wasn’t even one moment of plausibility in the whole thing, even before the sinkhole opened up. The effects are poor. The set-up is dumb. Even Natalie Zea can’t save this one.

And, of course, it’s an NBC show with a central ‘secret’ that will be eked out across multiple seasons and then cancelled before there’s any real resolution, unless Netflix saves it (cf Manifest). And this one is going to get cancelled very quickly. That means there are even fewer reasons to watch it.

The regulars

Otherwise, it was just the regulars. So, first up, I’m not going to be reviewing What We Do In The Shadows any more. For starters, I’m getting a bit bored of it, so I’m not sure there’s much point. It’s a bit funny every week, but that’s about it. There’ll probably be one awesome episode this season, which seems to be the tradition, but one awesome episode isn’t really enough to sustain reviews.

It’s also a comedy and as with Modern Family, which I did watch until the final episode but stopped reviewing at about season 4, there’s only so much you can say about an episodic comedy anyway before there stops being a point. So I’m going to keep watching What We Do In the Shadow but not review it.

Only Murders in the Building gave us more of Selena Gomez’s character, but as usual, Martin Short steals the show with his podcast antics.

The Cleaner was a more interesting affair, since it was basically Greg Davies (old bloke) meeting some young guy who’s obsessed with both social media and the 80s and Davies educating him about what the 80s was really like. But the two also came to a sort of interesting rapprochement that I quite enjoyed, so it wasn’t just an old guy going ‘Tsk, tsk! The kids today, hey?’

But what did you watch?