The Punisher
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Boxset Tuesday: The Punisher (season two) (Netflix)

Available on Netflix

Marvel’s The Punisher is constantly surprising. It’s surprising that it’s so surprising. An unexpected spin-off from season two of Marvel’s Daredevil, its potential seemed limited: an ex-marine is a bit hacked off that his wife and children are killed by gangsters, so tools himself up to the nines with all the guns and ammo he can get his hands on to punish those responsible. And in an age of the alt-right and mass shootings, an angry white man shooting up the neighbourhood because he thinks it’s gone to the dogs doesn’t really have great optics.

Yet, season one of Marvel’s The Punisher was one of TMINE’s Top N shows of 2018, a musing on men’s role in society, class, the brotherhood of soldiering and the nature of war. It saw ‘The Punisher’ aka Frank Castle (Jon Bernthal) facing up to former best friend Billy Russo (Ben Barnes) in New York to deal with moral infractions by the CIA, the alt-right and corporate greed, all while slowly realising that maybe he can no longer fit into a family thanks to the violence he’s seen – and meted out.

More surprisingly still, there was actually very little ‘punishing’. Indeed, I pointed out that “Frank Castle hardly feels like ‘The Punisher’ at all.”

Season two isn’t that different in that regard. Indeed, contrary to Netflix’s standard “first season as a pilot” rule, I’d say here, it’s “two seasons as a pilot”, with Frank only becoming The Punisher in the season’s – and perhaps the series’ – final scene. Up to that point, what we have is a curious retread of the first season, but with perspectives switched.

The Punisher

Pilgrim’s progress

Season two opens with everyone in very different places from where they started season one. Russo is laid up in a coma in hospital, his face now a mangled ‘jigsaw’ thanks to Frank’s work in season one. Department of Homeland Security special agent Dinah Madani (Amber Rose Revah) may now be in charge of New York’s DHS operations, but she’s obsessed with Russo, visiting him every day in hospital, convinced he’s faking his coma and, when he wakes up, his apparent amnesia about what he did in the first season.

Meanwhile, Frank’s in a good place, travelling the US. Unfortunately, one day he goes to the wrong bar and ends up having to save  Giorgia Whigham’s Amy Bendix from a group of highly trained killers. Soon, fundamentalist Christian ‘John Pilgrim’ (Shooter‘s Josh Stewart) is on his tail trying to kill both him and Bendix.

You can bet, of course, that those two plot threads are going to intertwine, but their resolution? Maybe not what you’d expect from The Punisher.

Continue reading “Boxset Tuesday: The Punisher (season two) (Netflix)”

Natascha McElhone, Sean Penn and Oded Fehr in The First
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The First cancelled; Craith renewed; Gillian Anderson is Margaret Thatcher; + more

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Australian TV

  • Ten green lights: house-sharing drama Five Bedrooms, with Kat Stewart, Stephen Peacocke, Doris Younane et al

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  • NBC green lights: pilots of widowed dad comedy Saving Kenan with Kenan Thompson and magical workplace comedy Like Magic
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Rush
Airdates

When’s that show you mentioned starting, TMINE? Including Star Trek: Short Treks, Safe Harbour, Camping, Nightflyers, Rush, Dirty John and After Life

Every Friday, TMINE lets you know when the latest TV shows from around the world will air in the UK

Plenty of acquisitions this week, and all but one comes with premiere dates.

Acquisitions

  • Sundance Now has picked up Sjónvarp Símans (Iceland)’s Stella Blómkvist, which is based on a series of books about a hard-nosed lawyer who takes on mysterious murder cases. It’ll be available in the US from January 31, but it looks like we’ll have to hold out until April before we get it here.

Premiere dates

Short Treks

Star Trek: Short Treks (US: CBS All Access; UK: Netflix)
Premiere date: Available now

Cunning hidden away in the “trailers and extras” section of the Netflix menu system for season two of Star Trek: Discovery are these short movies focused on individual characters from the series, both heroes and villains. Haven’t watched them, since I’ve been saving them for Lovely Wife until now.

Safe Harbour

Safe Harbour (Australia: SBS; UK: BBC Four)
Premiere date: Saturday, January 26, 9pm or maybe February 2 

Four part 2018 drama set in Brisbane that revolves around a group of five friends whose sailing holiday of a lifetime to Indonesia takes an unexpected turn when they come across a boat overloaded with desperate asylum seekers.

HBO's Camping

Camping (US: HBO; UK: Sky Atlantic)
Premiere date: Thursday, January 31, 10pm

Dull US remake of the Sky Atlantic Julia Davis comedy about a group of city friends going off camping together to celebrate a birthday. David Tennant, trialling his inadvisable American accent again, is the lucky man in question, Jennifer Garner his controlling wife, Juliette Lewis their flaky friend along for the trip.

Didn’t last more than an episode of it.

Episode reviews: 1

Nightflyers

Nightflyers (US: Syfy; UK: Netflix)
Premiere date:  Friday, February 1

Nightflyers is set in the year 2093 and follows a team of scientists aboard The Nightflyer, the most advanced ship ever built, as they embark on a journey to find other life forms. Their mission takes them to the edge of the solar system, and to the edge of insanity, as they realise true horror isn’t waiting for them in outer space – it’s already on their ship.

This sci-fi horror piece based on a George RR Martin novella is a frustrating affair, that’s intermittently good and bad, with a tediously inconclusive final episode. It has some good ideas and a great cast (including Blake’s 7‘s Josette Simon), but ultimately, it proves a great big waste of time.

Episode reviews: 1, 2-5, 6-10

Rush

Rush (Australia: Ten; UK: Alibi)
Premiere date: Monday, February 4, 5pm

Rush follows the lives of members of the prestigious Tactical Response team (TR), which is based on the real life Victoria Police Critical Incident Response Team, a highly mobile unit that fills the operational gap between general duties police and the SWAT-like Special Operations Group. The team is seen responding to violent incidents such as carjackings, suicides and armed offences.

It’s a bit of an old one this (2008), so you can treat yourself watching all manner of “before they were famous actors”, such as Rodger Corser (Glitch, Doctor, Doctor) and  Claire van der Boom (Hawaii Five-0).

Dirty John

Dirty John (US: Bravo; UK: Netflix)
Premiere date: Thursday, February 14

Dirty John tells the true story of how a romance between Debra Newell and the charismatic John Meehan spiralled into secrets, denial, manipulation, and ultimately, a fight for survival for an entire family. Their fast-tracked romance creates tension between Debra and her two daughters Terra and Veronica, leaving the girls no choice but to investigate the man who has swept their mother off her feet, while the backstory of Debra and her mother Arlane (Jean Smart) provides insight into why Debra was so vulnerable.

The eight episode drama series is based on the articles and breakout true crime podcast from Los Angeles Times reporter Christopher Goffard. It stars Connie Britton, Eric Bana, Julia Garner, Juno Temple and Jean Smart.

After Life

After Life (Netflix)
Premiere date: Friday, March 8

Netflix Original written by, starring and directed by Ricky Gervais. It tells the story of Tony (Gervais), who had a perfect life. But after his wife Lisa dies, Tony changes. After contemplating taking his own life, he decides instead to live long enough to punish the world by saying and doing whatever he likes from now on. He thinks it’s like a superpower – not caring about himself or anyone else – but it turns out to be tricky when everyone is trying to save the nice guy they used to know.

It also stars Kerry Godliman, Tom Basden, Tony Way, David Bradley, Ashley Jensen, Penelope Wilton, David Earl, Joe Wilkinson, Mandeep Dhillon, Jo Hartley, Roisin Conaty, Tim Plester and Diane Morgan.

No trailer yet. Soz.

Michael Douglas and Adam Arkin in Netflix's The Kominsky Method
News

The Kominsky Method renewed; Star Trek: Short Treks acquired; M – Eine Stadt sucht einen Mörder trailer; + more

Every weekday, TMINE brings you the latest TV news from around the world

Internet TV

International TV

Australian TV

  • Richard Roxburgh, Asher Keddie, Sam Reid et al join SBS’s The Hunting (previously The Hunt)

French TV

  • Trailer for season 7 of Canal+’s Engrenages (Spiral)

German TV

  • Trailer for TV Now’s M – Eine Stadt sucht einen Mörder (M – A City Hunts a Murderer)

New US TV shows

  • NBC green lights: pilot adaptation of Jeffery Deaver’s Bone Collector books as Lincoln
  • USA’s Suits spin-off to be called Pearson

New US TV show casting