Greg Davies in BBC One's The Cleaner
International TV

What have you been watching? Including The Cleaner

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

As I suspected last week American Rust, an adaptation of Philipp Meyer’s novel that Showtime described as “a compelling family drama and a timeless story told through the eyes of complicated and compromised chief of police Del Harris (Jeff Daniels) of a Pennsylvania Rust Belt town full of good people making bad choices” was about as fun as a hernia operation. Honestly, why do networks think:

  1. People want to watch miserable sh*t right now, after a year and a half of misery (at least a year and a half – apparently, in the Before Times, there were things to be miserable about other than Covid, too, but I struggle to remember those days so can’t confirm that)
  2. Miserable = quality TV while happy = lightweight TV?

It’s just such an odd couple of equations.

I also tried Australian Gangster (Australia: Seven). That’s billed as “Drug dealer, gangster, gym-junky, Lamborghini driver, husband, father, Australian Gangster is a four hour TV series about the life and death of a new breed of Sydney criminal. The kind that doesn’t care about playing it safe or keeping a low profile or even getting caught. Our main character is emblematic of the type of modern gangster that only really cares about looking good on Instagram, making a name for himself in a new, wannabe glamorous crime scene, while at the same time trying to manage the pressures of family life.”

I mean, it’s an obvious attempt to do a new Underbelly, just as a new Underbelly comes out, but want to guess how much fun it was? I mean it opens with a man being mildly threatening to a teacher because his kid has speech issues and so goes around biting everyone.

Do you know what that made me do? It made me watch some British TV.

The Cleaner (UK: BBC One)

“After CSI have done their stuff, the cleaner mops up the grisly remains. For Wicky, a bloodbath and the pub is all in a day’s work. Comedy written by and starring Greg Davies.”

And it’s odd. Mildly funny, but odd. Essentially, it’s a series of two-handers, with Davies turning up at a property to clean it after someone has died and then chatting with whomever he finds there for 30 minutes. So far we’ve had Helena Bonham-Carter, as a widow and suspected murderer who has returned to the scene of the crime; and David Mitchell, as a somewhat irate writer with writers’ block.

It’s somewhat reminiscent of Davies’ Taskmaster in some regards, with the dialogue usually being a battle of wits, before Davies just plays a meanness trump card to win. His character is little different from his standup persona, too, although there are fewer mentions of his mother.

But, I enjoyed it. Bonham-Carter was pleasingly dotty but also sympathetic as the woman who hated her model-making, unromantic husband but never got round to killing him. Mitchell was the “angry logic, you’re all imbeciles” persona we’ve come to expect, but also a figure of sympathy after a while.

It’s all a bit rough and loose, and your enjoyment is likely linked to how much you like Greg Davies. But it was definitely worth my time enough that I’d watch it again.

The regulars

On top of that, I now have two regulars to watch! It’s a true embarrassment of riches. They’re after the jump. But what have you been watching?

Continue reading “What have you been watching? Including The Cleaner”
US TV

What have you been watching? Including What We Do in the Shadows

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

TV is taking its time to wake up after both Covid and the summer holidays. I keep looking for new stuff and can’t find anything that I’d like to watch.

To its credit, Showtime in the US is about to give us American Rust, an adaptation of Philipp Meyer’s novel that the network describes as “a compelling family drama and a timeless story told through the eyes of complicated and compromised chief of police Del Harris (Jeff Daniels) of a Pennsylvania Rust Belt town full of good people making bad choices”.

That starts this Sunday at 10pm ET/PT, so there’s an outside chance I might even be able to preview it for you this week before it starts. But it doesn’t sound like a whole bunch of fun, does it?

That leaves me with just one returning regular to watch

What We Do In the Shadows

The show returns for its third season with two episodes, as is traditional. The first deals with the fallout from last season, with our Vampires having to become heads of the local Vampire Council while dealing with Guillermo (spoiler alert) Van Helsing, the Vampire Slayer. Largely an opportunity for Natasia Demetriou to really go to town and Matt Berry to swear a lot, it was as funny as usual, which was gratifying, and the arrival of another energy vampire really helped to mix up the bore-dom and give us a new, edgier, next generation kind of dull to enjoy. I also enjoyed the slight freeing of Guillermo to be less subservient but the cameo by (spoiler alert) Taika Waititi did little but give us more of (spoiler alert) Taika Waititi.

The second episode was a more entertaining affair, throwing open the floor to Kayvan Novak to do a whole bunch of impressions – and look fittish without his top on. There was less to it, but I found it funnier, on the whole.

Either way, the third season started well and on a par with its predecessors.

But what have you been watching?