What did you watch last week? Including Grand Hotel, The Master, The Ghosts of Crickley Hall, Dexter and Vegas

It’s “What did you watch last week?”, my chance to tell you what I movies and TV I watched in the past week that I haven’t already reviewed and your chance to recommend things to everyone else (and me) in case I’ve missed them.

First, the usual recommendations: 30 Rock, Arrow, Don’t Trust The B—– in Apartment 23, Falcón, Go On, Grand Hotel, The Last Resort, and Modern Family.

Here’s a few thoughts on what I have been watching.

  • Dexter: Meh. While the show is playing all the right notes in some senses, it’s getting hard to care. Plus it looks like they’re handing over big bad duties for the second half of the season, which makes it even harder to care. But Ray Stevenson has been remarkable and last week’s scene with him and Michael C Hall was fabulous in an otherwise dull episode.
  • Don’t Trust The B—– in Apartment 23: A delightful piece of Thanksgiving evil. The return of Michael Landes was welcome, too.
  • Falcón: Is it just me or are more and more crime dramas forgetting they need to be solved somehow? Here we have the classic cop-out of the bad guy revealing himself for no very good reason, just so he can finish the plot off quickly within the run-time. All the same, an atmospheric piece of work with a surprising bit of casting for the villain (spoiler: Alexander Siddig from Star Trek: Deep Space 9). Good to see they didn’t write Hayley Atwell out immediately the story ended, too. I’ll be tuning in this week.
  • The Ghosts of Crickley Hall: Joe Ahearne of Ultraviolet fame adapting a James Herbert novel for BBC1. Unfortunately, it’s up to Herbert’s standards rather than Ahearne’s, and everything’s a bit dull and typically BBC – period trappings, nothing too nasty. Good cast, though, even if some of the actors think they need to act spooky for things to be spooky.

  • Go On: Hang on. So John Cho and Matthew Perry are supposed to be the same age? How’s that work? Despite that niggle and the return to the somewhat duller short title sequence, this was probably the best episode so far, with Lauren Graham of Parenthood turning up as Cho and Perry’s old college friend whom they both discover they have feelings for. Getting Graham in, who’s friends with Perry now but used to date him, is a genius move, since the chemistry they have was very obvious and the whole episode worked very well. The supporting cast got further rounding out, too, although Laura Benanti could benefit with a bit more depth to her character.
  • Grand Hotel: Best described as the Spanish version of Downton Abbey and currently running on Sky Arts, it’s actually a whole lot better than that. Both a period piece and a mystery, with one young man coming to the Grand Hotel to be with his sister, only to discover that she’s disappeared, it’s wonderfully made and acted. But it’s not my thing. But if you like Downton, give this a try. More about it here.

  • Homeland: After last week’s bit of silliness, it was a welcome return to form for Homeland, with everyone acting relatively sensibly and the story picking up at last. Grown up TV, again, thank God.
  • The Mindy Project: The return of Ed Helms for a fun episode that perhaps made us like all the characters more than Mindy now. And good to see an English character amused by the US rather than vice versa for a change.
  • Vegas: Another cracker of an episode and a bit of gamechanger, too, here blending the procedural in with the main storyline. And proud deployer of the line “What do you do for a living?” “Wholesale butchery”, which was lovely.

And in movies:

  • The Master: Beautifully made, beautifully acted and a fascinating character piece, essentially about L Ron Hubbard and Scientology, with Joaquin Phoenix playing an ordinary schlub who gets sucked up into ‘The Master’s’ (Philip Seymour Hoffman) post-war craziness. But one of the most meandering, plot-free films you’re ever likely to see, it stumbles from situation to situation for no well explored reason, relying on the actors to carry the whole thing with their performances because there’s no narrative drive or coherent message beyond “Learn to love yourself so that you can love others”.

“What did you watch last week?” is your chance to recommend to friends and fellow blog readers the TV and films that they might be missing or should avoid – and for me to do mini-reviews of everything I’ve watched. Since we live in the fabulous world of Internet catch-up services like the iPlayer and Hulu, why not tell your fellow readers what you’ve seen so they can see the good stuff they might have missed?

European TV

Life on Mars in Spain

La chica de ayer

Since Ashes to Ashes is (thankfully) finishing tonight, it seems appropriate to show what Life on Mars is like in other countries. Now, we’ve already looked at Life on Mars in the US in some detail. So let’s go Spanish today, with Antena 3’s La chica de ayer (The Girl from Yesterday), in which the Spanish police detective Samuel Santos leaves 2009 and finds himself in 1977, where has to take the orders of the old school Joaquín “Quin” Gallardo and deal with his fellow officers, Raimundo García and José Cristóbal Mateo. But there is the upside of the lovely Ana Valverde.

Is he loco, in a coma, or back in time? No sabe.

I have a very small idea about what they’re saying in these vids, but six weeks of Teach Yourself Instant Spanish didn’t give me much insight into murder investigations, desgraciadamente. You can see more videos at the Antena 3 web site, and hopefully work out what’s different for yourselves.

(via @jonnelledge)