What have you been watching? Including The Royals, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Community, The Flash and 19-2

It’s “What have you been watching?”, my chance to tell you what movies and TV I’ve been watching recently that I haven’t already reviewed and your chance to recommend things to everyone else (and me) in case I’ve missed them.

The usual “TMINE recommends” page features links to reviews of all the shows I’ve ever recommended, and there’s also the Reviews A-Z, for when you want to check more or less anything I’ve reviewed ever. And if you want to know when any of these shows are on in your area, there’s Locate TV – they’ll even email you a weekly schedule.

Well, it’s been another epic week in TV land (not to be confused with “I can’t believe you can still see the” TV Land – the network for older, nostalgic, probably slightly visually challenged folk), with loads of new shows, as well as some returning ones. I haven’t managed to find the time to tune into Netflix’s new thriller series, Bloodlines, which was released on Friday, but this week, I’ve managed to take a gander at:

I also had a look at the first two episodes of…

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix)
Tina Fey’s new sitcom (unfortunately not starring Fey) in which one of four female cult members holed up underground are rescued by the authorities, and while three of them are happy to return home, one of them is spunky enough to try to make a new life for herself. Her name? Kimmy Schmidt. First, Schmidt (Ellie Kemper) manages to find herself a ‘home’ (aka small cubbyhole, it being New York) to live in with failed actor Titus Andromedon (Tituss Burgess) and makes a sort of a friend in the form of Lillian Kaushtupper (Carol Kane). Then she gets a job looking after the son of the delightfully named and incredibly rich trophy wife Jaqueline Voorhees (Jane Krakowski). Will she buckle under all these pressures or will she prove unbreakable?

As with 30 Rock before it, this is a show that grows from a not especially auspicious pilot episode redeemed by one character (Jack in 30 Rock, Mrs Voorhees here) to become funnier over time. But it’s still not hilarious by the second episode and if you’ve ever seen The Nanny Diaries, you’ll find yourself noticing not only how very similar they are in a lot of ways but also that there’s:

  1. A complete lack of Scarlett Johansson in this, who was much funnier
  2. A complete lack of Chris Evans or anyone even in a similar role. He was funny in that, too
  3. Nowhere near as much intelligence in the script-writing, despite the source.

All the same, there are some laugh out loud moments involving IP licensing and the revelation of who Voorhees’ parents are, so I’m going to bear with and watch the rest of it – when I have a mo.

I also tried to watch…

The Royals (US/UK: E!)
Liz Hurley becomes queen and has to supervise the rest of her equally inappropriate, bonk-tastic family. Or something. I did manage to get through the young Harry-alike playing darts and managing to get a bullseye every time while not really looking, to impress an American girl into bed. But I gave up after 10 minutes, in part because it’s really hard to watch that much soft porn shagging on your iPad when you’re commuting on a train, without people thinking you’re a perv, and I didn’t manage to get back to it. Oh well. I don’t think I’ll be missing much. Joan Collins is in it, too, apparently. But then she was in Benidorm.

After the jump, the regulars: 12 Monkeys, 19-2, The Americans, Arrow, The Blacklist, The Doctor Blake Mysteries, The Flash, Fortitude, Man Seeking Woman, Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD and Vikings. One of these is being demoted this week. I wonder which one?

On top of that, we also have the return of Community. Woo hoo? You’ll find out the answer to that one after the break, too.

Wondering where Dig and American Crime are? The short answer is: waiting for third-episode verdicts tomorrow and maybe Wednesday. The long answer? I’ve got to watch them first…

Continue reading “What have you been watching? Including The Royals, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Community, The Flash and 19-2”


Review: Cult 1×1 (The CW)

The CW's Cult cast

In the US: Tuesdays, 9pm ET/8pm CT, The CW
In the UK: Mysteriously acquired by an unnamed network

Cults are really big right now on TV. The Following is on Fox and now we have Cult on The CW. Intriguingly, both shows were thought up years ago, The Following as the script for Scream 3 and Cult as a show for the now-defunct predecessor to The CW, The WB.

The two shows both have good pedigrees. The Following comes from long-time writer Kevin Williamson (Dawson’s Creek and The Vampire Diaries) but Cult comes from the even older pen of Rockne S O’Bannon, who started out on The (New) Twilight Zone, before going on to create Farscape, Alien Nation and seaQuest DSV.

So perhaps it’s appropriate that Cult is a trickier, more knowing beast than The Following. The Following, of course, has all kinds of degrees of Scream-esque meta, but Cult takes things a step further. It begins seemingly as a somewhat stupid, tacky The CW show in which a young blonde cop, Kelly Collins, (Alona Tal) and an older, fatter, blacker cop have to investigate the cult run by Billy Grimm (Robert Knepper) to which Collins used to belong.

But just as they find somewhat buried in a wall and he utters the somewhat ludicrous and unfathomable “‘Well hey. These things just snap right off,” we discover we’ve been watching a TV show within a TV show. Collins is really actress Marti Gerritsen and Knepper is actor Roger Reeves and they star in The CW’s Cult.

With me so far? Good. Anyway, so far, so Pulaski/30 Rock. But rather than being a spoof or send up of the making of a TV show, Cult is a far darker creation that focuses on the nature of cult television and its fans. This Cult has fans and it’s created web sites and all kinds of other clues for them to seek out to discover more about the show. Except perhaps it’s not all fiction. Because when one fan seems to work it all out, he disappears. When his journalist brother Jeff Dean Sefton (Matthew Davis) comes looking for him, he starts to discover the same messages in the show that his brother did, and with the help of a researcher on the show, Skye Yarrow (Jessica Lucas), they begin to investigate Cult, to see if they can find out what’s really going on and what’s happened to his brother.

Here’s a trailer that gives away all the good bits from the first episode.

Continue reading “Review: Cult 1×1 (The CW)”

What did you watch this week? Including Arrow, 30 Rock, Banshee, Charlie Brooker’s Weekly Wipe and Elementary

It’s “What did you watch this week?”, my chance to tell you what I movies and TV I’ve watched this 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: Archer, Arrow, Banshee, Being Human (US), The Daily Show, Cougar Town, Elementary, Go On, Modern Family, Mr Selfridge, Shameless, Spartacus, Suits, Top Gear and Vegas. These are all going to be on in either the UK or the US, perhaps even both, but I can’t be sure which.

Don’t forget, UK readers – season 4 of Spiral aka Engrenages will start tomorrow on BBC4 at 9pm. Two episodes, of course. Anyone want episode-by-episode reviews?

I tried to watch Derek, Ricky Gervais’s new ‘comedy’, but after five minutes of offensive, unwatchable, poorly acted cobblers, we switched off. New Yes Prime Minister got given its notice after two episodes, because despite attempts to update it for modern politics, it still feels like an 80s show with 80s characters, yet at the same time isn’t faithful enough to them to work.

Still in the viewing queue: this week’s episode of The Doctor Blake Mysteries as well as most of House of Cards and The Carrie Diaries, which I suspect might never get watched. But that’s about it. Except for Community, which finally returned last night. Normally I’d just recommend it straight off, but without Dan Harmon as show runner, I’m going to watch the ep then decide, since the signs have not been good.

Now, some thoughts on the regulars.

  • 30 Rock: A pretty poor finale, redeemed by about 15 minutes of quality material. But then, that’s pretty much what the first episode was like, so that’s probably appropriate, and it did have some fun things to say about women, work and childcare at the same time. Goodbye Liz Lemon – you were great while you were here.
  • The Americans: A really good second episode that had all the good qualities of the first, but with added spy evilness on the part of the KGB/our heroes, as well as guest impersonations of Casper Weinberger and British defence secretary John Nott. The end part really makes you sympathise with the Soviets. Plus we finally have some actual Russians, speaking Russians, which contrasts well with ‘the Americans’ themselves.  
  • Arrow: On the plus side of Arrow, something I haven’t mentioned is that the producers have absolutely no reverence for the comics: they’ll use what they want and change what doesn’t fit. Case in point: the arrival of (spoiler)Slade Wilson, aka Deathstroke, this week. Now they’ve cast Spartacus‘s Manu Bennett in the role, simply because he’s so cool, and they’ve simply made his character Australian and a member of the Australian SIS as a result. Marvellous.
  • Banshee: Unlike Arrow, Banshee wants everyone to be American. So even though they’ve got a New Zealander in the lead role (he was one of the Wests in Outrageous Fortune) and a Dane as the villain, they’re still making them pretend to be Americans. Last week’s episode was a characteristic mix of the ludicrous and the great, so I encourage you all to give it a try.
  • Being Human (US): They’re starting to hint at an Aidan and Sally relationship, as per the original, I notice, which is intriguing. I’m also curious about what’s happened to Josh’s family, given he has no reason not to see them any more.
  • Charlie Brooker’s Weekly Wipe: Basically, just like all his other Wipes but with less to say, a weird attempt at a collaborative movie review feature and a more inspired “reading out of comments from the Internet”. Not his best, but still watchable.
  • Cougar Town: Ooh! The writers remembered that everyone is supposed to have a job.
  • Elementary: An odd choice for the post-Superbowl episode, with very little to commend it, but last night’s featuring not just John Hannah in full Scottish mode but also an ex member of The Unit was a big improvement. It was also one of the first episodes that felt like a proper Holmes story, too, with a few references here and there to the originals. It also raised the intriguing suggestion that the reason that Holmes doesn’t feel like Holmes is because he needs drugs and now he’s sober, he’s not the man he used to be as a result. Could be a good narrative direction they’re going to go in there.
  • Spartacus: Julius Caesar has arrived! Otherwise, a largely unremarkable episode.
  • Suits: Two fabulous episodes made even more fabulous by Wendell Pierce (Bunk from The Wire) and the return of (spoiler alert)Daniel Hardman. Gives House of Cards a run for its money in terms of manipulations.
  • Vegas: A bit more for Carrie Anne Moss to do this week, but her character is so lifeless, that’s still not much. But a good episode and I wasn’t expecting many of the twists the show turned up this week, either.

“What did you watch this 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?

Monday’s “Returning X-Men, Dr Strange is coming and loads more pilots” news


Film casting

  • Anna Paquin, Ellen Page and Shawn Ashmore returning for X-Man: Days of Future Past


  • Trailer for Michel Gondry’s Mood Indigo, with Audrey Tautou
  • New trailer for Snitch with Dwayne Johnson, Susan Sarandon et al [US only]


  • Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart to star in No Man’s Land and Waiting for Godot

Canadian TV



US TV casting

  • Sarah Chalke to guest on Grey’s Anatomy
  • John Pyper-Ferguson to recur on Once Upon a Time and Sendhil Ramamurthy to be a regular on Beauty and the Beast

New US TV shows

New US TV show casting

Thursday’s “Multi Doctor Who anniversary story, trailers for Rogue and Hemlock Grove, & too much Anger Management” news

Doctor Who

  • Big Finish to release multi-Doctor, multi-companion 50th anniversary play



  • Trailer for The Last Exorcism Part 2



US TV casting

New US TV shows

  • FX to launch two new dramas, three new comedies in 2013
  • ABC orders pilot of Mixology
  • Trailer for The Audience Network’s Rogue, with Thandie Newton
  • Trailer for Netflix’s Hemlock Grove