TV reviews

What have you been watching? Including Debris, Coming 2 America and Can’t Get You Out Of My Head

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

What a busy week I had last week! So much so, even the current reduced TMINE service was out of the question. However, fingers crossed, this new regular Monday slot is going to work out better with my new schedule.

I’ve continued to watch the usual thing: Young Rock (US: NBC) is more or less the same as always, being a comedy, although last week’s was the first to stick to more or less one time zone. So not much to say about that. I’ve watched another ep of For All Mankind (Apple TV+), which was fine – a bit dull, but with one big emotional scene – but I’ve not caught up with the latest yet.

However, I have watched new things!

Can’t Get You Out of My Head

Available on iPlayer

I gave a couple of episodes of Adam Curtis’s Can’t Get You Out of My Head a whirl, which given there are six of them that are about two hours long each in some cases was about as much as I could do.

And it’s pretty good, almost back to the form of The Power of Nightmares, as well as a return to some of its ideas, so it’s almost a rounding up of Curtis’s work of the past 20 years. Some of it is counter-intuitive and backtracks, so now Vladimir Putin is largely powerless apparently. He also manages to link all manner of unconnected things in surprising ways that end up making surprising sense.

But a lot of it you feel like shouting “That’s nonsense!” at, only to realise you’ll see it’s all true in about 10 years’ time (cf The Power of Nightmares). And it’s also very depressing. But then that’s the news right now.

Also, if you play Adam Curtis Bingo as a drinking game, you will be hammered by the end of the first hour.

However, I honestly can’t face watching four more episodes. Seriously, it’s too long.

Coming 2 America (2021)

Available on Amazon Prime

Sequel to the 80s comedy classic that sees Eddie Murphy discovering he has a son in America and bringing him back to his how country to become his heir. Slight problems: he already has three daughters, all of whom would be better monarchs than the new guy; and Wesley Snipes runs the neighbouring country of Nexdoria and expects his daughter to marry Murphy’s son.

And I know everyone hates it, but I loved it. Would happily watch it again. For starters, it’s co-written by Kenya Barris (#BlackAF, black-ish et al), who is a genius, and there are genuinely laugh out lines, as well as some great callbacks to the original. The story isn’t just a retread of the original – more an inversion – and although one can question why a prince who went to America to find his equal partner would find it hard to let a daughter take over from him, you can sort of see how it’s commenting on how young radicals become conservative in their old age as they tire of trying to fight the system.

Importantly, while it’s clearly not a film made by Africans, it’s very definitely a movie made by Black Americans – director Craig Brewer is most famous for Hustle & Flow (2005) – and it’s far more imbued with Black American culture and values than the original was. This feels like a movie made by Black Americans for Black Americans, that in part comments on their own feelings about Africa and satirises them. And there are the occasional nods to knowledge of African culture, such as Snipes’ talking about ‘aunties’

Equally importantly, turns out Snipes is a comedy genius and he gets to do a little bit of martial arts. Bonus!

Debris

Available in the US on NBC and Peacock

At first look, Debris feels like one of those generic NBC mystery shows (cf Manifest) crossed with a Fox/CBS procedural. The central conceit here is that an alien spaceship entered our solar system and then started to break up, raining down debris on the Earth. However, whatever that spaceship is made from, it’s got weird properties that seriously mess up physics – and people. The US and UK launch a joint taskforce to gather as much of the debris together as possible to prevent all manners of disaster happening, with Jonathan Tucker (Kingdom, The Black Donnellys) and Riann Steele (Holby City) playing CIA and MI6 officers respectively.

So far so ordinary. Both sides are also keeping secrets from one another and there are shadowy individuals also collecting the debris for their own use. Each episode so far has also had heartwarming endings that tell us something about the human spirit. Yuch.

However, this is probably the closest thing we’ve had to The X-Files since it first started in several ways. Firstly, it’s got a great electronic soundtrack. Secondly, it’s just plain disconcerting. The effects the debris have genuinely feel alien and more like magic than science, with resurrections and cloning just not as we know it. It’s almost Fringe-like at times. I mean Mulder and Scully didn’t go everywhere trailing huge suitcases containing hazmat equipment and who knows what else. It’s clear this is hugely dangerous and mindwarping stuff, right down to Tucker (spoiler alert) having to shoot one of his own clones in the second episode.

This is quickly joining my regulars list. I hope it maintains the same level of uneasiness throughout.

But what have you been watching?