Jodie Whittaker as Doctor Who
Doctor Who

Question of the week: what do you think of Jodie Whittaker being cast as the 13th Doctor Who?

Unless you’re some kind of ‘sports fan’ (whatever they are) then the big news of yesterday was that actress Jodie Whittaker joins a long line of actors with awkwardly spelt names to become the 13th/14th official TV Doctor Who.

She’s already done an interview with the BBC web site, if you want to find out more about her, the casting process and important things like whether she’s picked out a costume yet.

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The Psych reunion movie
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New US TV show casting

Naomi Watts in Netflix's Gypsy
TV reviews

What have you been watching? Including Gypsy, Downward Dog, Doctor Who, Glow, Riviera, Ronny Chieng – International Student and Westworld

It’s “What have you been watching?”, my chance to tell you each week what movies and TV I’ve been watching recently and your chance to recommend anything you’ve been watching. Go on – I dare you.

The slowdown into summer continues and with the July 4th weekend having just passed, there wasn’t a huge amount for me to watch this week. Elsewhere, I’ve reviewed Spike (US)’s The Mist but that was the only new show other than Netflix’s Gypsy, which I’ll get onto in a minute. In fact, two more shows have had their season finales since last week: Doctor Who (UK) and Downward Dog (US). There’ll be nothing left at this rate…

Anyway, after the jump, as well as those two concluding shows, I’ll be looking at what’s left of the regulars: Glow, Riviera and Ronny Chieng – International Student. And, because I finally had some time to play catch-up, I’ll be looking at the final few episodes of Westworld (US), too – now there’s a blast from the past, hey?

Gypsy (Netflix)

Tediously familiar Chance territory in which Naomi Watts plays a bored psychiatrist trapped in a struggling marriage with Billy Crudup and dealing with a borderline-ADHD, possibly trans eight-year-old daughter and the mundanities and social rivalries of fellow mums. But then she begins to think that maybe she could do more for her clients by interfering in their lives, and in the process add some excitement to her own life. So she does and the boundaries between personal and professional begin to blur once she gets the hots for Karl Glusman’s dangerous ex-girlfriend (Sophie Cook) and begins constructing a boundary-crossing alter-ego for herself.

Gypsy wants to be a clever lesbian erotic thriller, playing with ambiguities about what’s real and who’s real, whether Glusman, Watts or Cook has the best idea of what Cook is truly like, and so on. The trouble is that it’s busy naming its episodes things like ‘The Rabbit Hole’, setting them in bars called ‘The Rabbit Hole’ set in basements you have to climb down stairs to get to, shortly before people say “We’re going down the rabbit hole now.” It’s basically a stupid person’s idea of a clever lesbian erotic thriller. Were it not for the production values, cast and runtime, it would probably be airing late night on Channel 5, having previously been released straight to video back in the early 90s.

I managed an episode and a half before the tedium of it all was too much for me.

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A screen-cap from Twin Peaks
TV reviews

What have you been watching? Including GLOW, Riviera, Logan, Twin Peaks and Ronny Chieng

It’s “What have you been watching?”, my chance to tell you what movies and TV I’ve been watching recently and your chance to recommend anything you’ve been watching.

Redesigning and migrating TMINE took up quite a bit of my time this week, so I didn’t cast my net as wide as I’d hoped in watching new TV. All the same, you’ll be excited to hear that I’ve managed to give two other new shows at try, as well as a movie, and I’ll be reviewing The Mist (US: Spike) in the next couple of days, too.

After the jump, a look at the latest episodes of Doctor Who, Ronny Chieng: International Student and Twin Peaks, as well as the season finale of Silicon Valley. One of those could offer some of the finest visuals TV has ever seen.

But first…

GLOW (Netflix)
Slightly weird half-hour comedy based on the genuinely real 80s phenomenon of GLOW (Gorgeous Ladies Of Wrestling), which has already been the subject of movies and TV shows but here sees aspiring but really rather terrible actress Alison Brie (Community) almost as the point of doing porn to make ends meet before her agent gives her one last potential gig – a new cable TV sports show in which she would be a wrestler. Together with several other oddball women, she auditions to take part, but it’s not until she ends up in a catfight with best friend Betty Gilpin (Masters of Sex, Nurse Jackie) that she gets her chance to appear in the ring.

I got through the first episode without laughing much, except at the over-the-top attempts at 80s LA fashions, which all seemed to be takes on Jane Fonda aerobics videos. But it was amiable enough and silly enough that I’ll at least try episode two.

Riviera (UK: Sky Atlantic)
Glossy French-set, French-filmed thriller in which Julia Stiles (the Jason Bourne movies, Dexter) is apparently happily married to super-rich Anthony LaPaglia (Murder One, Without A Trace) when his yacht gets blown up off the coast of Monaco. The result is… revelations! Maybe LaPaglia got his money through dodgy means. Maybe he was having an affair and slept with ‘party girls’.

All the episodes have been released but I’ve only managed the first, rather insipid one so far. Stiles is fine, but spends most of her time having passive aggressive sit-downs with LaPaglia’s ex-wife Lena Olin or one of Olin’s kids (Misfits‘ Iwan Rheon and Les témoins (Witnesses)’ Roxane Duran). Attempts to inject excitement into all the iciness come from having Amr Waked (Lucy, Engrenages (Spiral), Marco Polo) run around a bit or by promising some excitement soon but never actually producing anything.

Basically, the usual glossy Sky fare with a good cast list (and Neil Jordan in the writing credits) but only two big names who actually stick around for the main action.

Logan (2017)
The X-Men meet gritty reality and the cowboy genre, as we flashforward to 2029. Most of the world’s mutants are dead, with Wolverine and Professor X the only big names left alive thanks to a highly successful stamping out campaign. Even so, Wolverine’s dying from adamantine poisoning and Professor X has dementia over which he’s losing control, causing all manner of problems for anyone and any towns that happen to be in his vicinity. Into the mix comes a woman with a girl who has Wolverine-like abilities, asking our hero to protect her from evil Richard E Grant and the cybernetic Reavers.

It’s basically Shane with superheroes, but a clever piece of work that is sparing with the action but nevertheless has an awful lot of bloody stabbing. It pokes fun at its predecessors as being (literally) comic book fun, divorced from the real world in which people suffer and die, but manages to still enjoy the trappings of the superhero genre.

It’s all a bit bleak though and beyond a couple of cool scenes, nothing to really unique.

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