Streaming 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.

Continue reading “What have you been watching? Including The Endgame, Children Ruin Everything, Our Flag Means Death and Troppo”
Streaming TV

What have you been watching? Including Severance and Bel-Air

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 Half-Term here in the UK, which means I’ve been taking some time off. Which was nice. But never fear, not only did a load of TV shows have the same idea, I still managed to watch a couple of new shows, as well as finish off two of the regulars

But first…

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

From (US: Epix) only started last night, so I’ve not had time to watch it yet. It doesn’t sound (or even look) very good, though, so I might skip it.

“In a nightmarish town in middle America that traps everyone who enters, unwilling residents fight to stay alive and search for a way out. But they are plagued by the threats of the surrounding forest including terrifying nocturnal creatures.”

The Fear Index (UK: Sky Atlantic) is another one of those glossy transatlantic things with big(ish) US stars that Sky makes (cf Riviera). It’s based on the Robert Harris novel of the same name and “is set in a period of roughly 24 hours from the 6 May 2010 – the date of the British general election and the Flash Crash. It follows the interactions of a group of employees at Hoffmann Investment Technologies, a fictional hedge fund operating in Geneva.”

Couldn’t. Be. Bothered.

I mean, generic or what? Although the trailer did make me hope that The Champions would show up.

Inventing Anna (Netflix), on the other hand, is simply a show I didn’t get around to watching, but which I really do hope to watch when I have time, as it stars the rather awesome Julia Garner as the eponymous Anna (The Americans, Ozark). It’s also based on a true story. So fingers crossed for next week.

“A journalist investigates the case of Anna Delvey, the Instagram-legendary heiress who stole the hearts and money of New York elites.”

The regulars

Superman & Lois (US: The CW; UK: BBC One/iPlayer) were clearly taking a couple of weeks off together to have some quality time away from their annoying teenagers, so that just left The Peacemaker and The Book of Boba Fett for me to enjoy.

The Book of Boba Fett (Disney+) managed to have a reasonably thrilling and at times touching finale, filled with fights and Boba Fett for once. Plenty of Mandalorian and tiny Yoda, though, which given the season has only been seven episodes and they’ve been the focus of three of them, hasn’t really given Boba much to do.

However, by the end of it, it was all feeling a bit… childish, you know? Sure, it’s Star Wars, but honestly, with the biker gangs, the tired western clichés, baby Yoda, the big beastie, etc, it just all felt like a kids show. I might not bother with season 2, but we’ll see.

The Peacemaker ended with a couple of not bad episodes. Some decently amusing dialogue, some really daft helmets (you’ll understand when you see it) and some decent plot twists, plus a really awesome cameo or two right at the end meant it was definitely worth the viewing time. But it felt like after a really excellent start, the show ran a little out of the bizarre steam that made the first couple of episodes so different and exciting. John Cena remained awesome throughout and Freddie Stroma’s switch from pretty boy (UnREAL, Time After Time) to idiotic psychopath was a real eye-opener. But I no longer feel totally comfortable recommended the whole season as a must-see. Maybe the first couple of episodes.

After the jump, though, let’s talk about the new shows I did watch: Severance (AppleTV+) and Bel Air (US/UK: Peacock). And I’m really glad I watched both, you’ll be glad to hear.

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Streaming TV

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

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).

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Streaming TV

What have you been watching? Including How I Met Your Father, The Afterparty and Single Drunk Female

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

Sorry for the slight absence. Januaries hey? Too much work, too little time. But I have been watching some TV at least, since we’ve been getting a decent number of new shows.

First off, some shows I thought I might watch but never got round to

On Netflix, there’s The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window and In From the Cold. They turned up on Friday and I simply didn’t have any time to start them. The former stars Kristen Bell: “Mixing wine, pills, casseroles and an overactive imagination, Anna obsesses over a hunky neighbor across the street and witnesses a murder. Or did she?”

Also on Netflix is In From the Cold, which I might farm out to our resident movie reviewer, assuming I can get her to watch TV, as it’s “Exposed as an ex-Russian spy, an American single mom must juggle family life and unique shape-shifting skills in a battle against an insidious enemy.” Shape-shifting skills? Hmmm.

There’s also The Gilded Age (US: HBO Max; UK: Sky Atlantic), which is Julian Fellowes’ new show. I never watched Downton Abbey (UK: ITV), and something like it set in America doesn’t float my boat at all, so I decided not to bother.

Secondly, some shows I started watching but couldn’t bring myself to finish

Promised Land (US: ABC), on the hand, I sat down to watch and it was about five minutes before I thought to myself: “Haven’t I just watched this show?”

The plot: “Two Latinx families vie for wealth and power in California’s Sonoma Valley.”

I mean, a soapy show about winegrowers? That’s The Kings of Napa (US: OWN). There are some differences, particularly around a whole ‘Illegals’ plotline about who’s got the right papers and who hasn’t, and this is played a little straighter than The Kings of Napa. There’s also a subtly different plotline about what new product the next generation wants to get the older generation to sell: The Kings of Napa went with dessert wine, while Promised Land decided to go with wines with funny names and labels designed to appeal to young people. Otherwise, basically the same show. And they both bored me.

The regulars

I’ve been keeping up with the regulars. The Book of Boba Fett (Disney+) has been reliably interesting, if not compelling, with Boba Fett’s backstory appeasing Star Wars and being moderately entertaining, while the more forward-looking original storyline about his efforts to take over Jabba’s old empire proving to be a lot duller.

However, the latest episode was more technically speaking an episode of The Mandalorian, given Boba doesn’t make an appearance and there’s barely a cameo appearance from anyone else from The Book of Boba Fett, all while we spend our time finding out what The Mandalorian has been up to since the events of the second season, and setting the scene for the third season. It’s a little worrying that the fight scenes and plotting are visibly better than Boba Fett‘s, although there’s already so much mythos around The Mandalorian that it’s feeling hard to keep up with all it and not be bored by sub-section 5, para 4 of The Mandalorian Way or whatever being the main focus of the show. Did you get that dark sabre through legitimate fight or was it given to you? Did you take your helmet off? If so, at what point and in front of whom. Hmm, let me check para 5 to see…

You get the idea.

Can we just have fights and fun instead, please?

Meanwhile, I’ve caught up with all the episodes of The Peacemaker, which has been reliably stupid (in a good way) and entertaining. Our team is sort of coming together and the addition of Freddie Stroma’s Vigilante has added more fun to everything. It’s incredibly daft but there’s usually one side-burstingly funny moment or 10 each episode, and Cena’s tough but soft dick of a superhero is a magnificent creation and pointed satire for our time.

And in Superman & Lois (US: The CW; UK: BBC One), we’ve had the usual ‘flipped Smallville‘ approach to storytelling – yes, it’s a show for people who grew up with Smallville but are now parents with their own kids – with the abject tedium of the teenage relationships the B-plots and the planet-threatening villains and the difficulties of being a parent the A-plots. I’m quite enjoying what their doing with the supporting adult cast this season, with Lana, Steel and Lois’ dad all getting some quite intriguing and different stuff from the usual.

But oh joy! After teasing us a possible planet-killer for most of the season, we finally get the revelation that we’re at least going to meet (spoiler alert) Bizarro – loved the end title of the latest episode. That actually made me burst out laughing.

Anyway, it’s all still thrilling and moving in alternate measures, so everyone should be watching.

After the jump, though, let’s talk about the new shows I’ve been watching and completing entire episodes of: Single Drunk Female (US: Freeform), The Afterparty (AppleTV+) and How I Met Your Father (US: Hulu)

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Streaming TV

What have you been watching? Including Peacemaker, Pivoting, The Kings of Napa and Naomi

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

New Year, new shows. Hoorah! Life is good, even if the TV isn’t always quite so good. But I’ve tried almost everything out there, just to see if the lockdown has been incubating some good shows, ready finally to emerge onto our screens.

First, some regulars. Last week, we were down to The Book of Boba Fett, since we’ve pushed the pause button on Cobra Kai. This week’s BBF I actually liked more than the previous week, perhaps because there was less backstory and fan service than the previous week. The Wookie fight was fun and gosh, Danny Trejo showed up! Not so sure about the new gang’s Quadrophenia vibe, but it made for some amusing visuals at least.

More promising and more welcome was the return of Superman & Lois (US: The CW), the first season of which is now on BBC One and the iPlayer in the UK. We’ve moved a bit further along and we’re starting to look at some more interesting, more adult themes than we usually get from the CW’s superhero shows.

Sure, we still have the two sons and their dull romances; we also now have their ‘sister from another universe’ to deal with. But underlying all of that, we have Superman having to deal with the stresses on his marriage of both his sons and Lois’ issues, something prompting him to drink lots of wine with Lana Lang. We also have a more interesting relationship with the US government, with Supes being asked to swear his allegiance to America and being forced to decide if that’s something he’d like to do. By the end of it, if you’re not wanting Superman to be your dad, there’s something wrong with you – or you just have a very nice dad, already.

Usual quibble, though: for a show that’s a spin-off from Supergirl, which used to mention Superman more or less every episode nevertheless, how is that not only does she never get mentioned, there’s not even the implication that she exists? People act like Supes is the only Kryptonian in town. Nothing weird happened in the series finale of Supergirl, did it?

Thoroughly enjoyable and really, the effects on this are just superb for a TV show.

New shows after the jump: join me there to hear if Peacemaker (US: HBO Max), The Kings of Napa (US: OWN), Pivoting (US: Fox) and Naomi (US: The CW) are any good.

Continue reading “What have you been watching? Including Peacemaker, Pivoting, The Kings of Napa and Naomi”