Awkwafina
US TV

What have you been watching? Including Awkwafina Is Nora from Queens

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

Star Trek Picard
Star Trek: Picard

This week’s reviews

Week four of Spring 2020 was a little quieter than the previous one, but we had three new shows launch. You can read the TMINE reviews of Outmatched (US: Fox) and Star Trek: Picard (US: CBS All Access; UK: Amazon) elsewhere, but we can talk about Awkwafina is Nora from Queens (US: Comedy Central) after the jump.

Meanwhile, in the film world, Orange Thursday took in Knives Out (2019) and Angel Has Fallen (2019).

Ragnarok
Ragnarok

What’s coming next

Starting in the next week are Onisciente (Omniscient) (Netflix), The Stranger (Netflix), Luna Nera (Black Moon) (Netflix) and Ragnarok (Netflix). Yep, while others sleep, Netflix triumphs. I’ll pick one of those to watch over the next week and hopefully, it’ll be your Boxset Monday, but more likely your Boxset Tuesday.

Tomorrow’s Orange Thursday will be reviewing The Personal History of David Copperfield (2020) and X-Men: Dark Phoenix (2019). One of those is significantly better than the other.

Daredevil
Daredevil

The regulars

The regulars list is smaller even than normal this week, since both Evil and Lincoln Rhyme: Hunt for the Bone Collector took a break and Lovely Wife has decided she’d quite like to watch Avenue 5, so we’ll be watching episode 2 tonight.

Anyway, that just leaves 9-1-1: Lone Star, Stumptown and The Outsider. Still, it is What have you been watching? so now’s your chance to recommend some shows. Even Doctor Who. I hear there was a surprise guest ((spoiler alert) Captain Jack) and a massive development ((spoiler alert) another Doctor Who/alternative Doctor Who). Still not bothering with it.

In case you’ve been wondering what TMINE has been doing with itself, given such a lack of viewing options, the answer is simple: I’ve been rewatching the entire first season of Marvel’s Daredevil. It’s been an interesting experience, since clearly I was in a grumpy mood when I reviewed the first few episodes and still quite grumpy when I didn’t include it in my Top 9 (would have been 10 with Daredevil) shows of 2015.

Because it’s brilliant. Really sublime stuff – possibly my favourite season of all the Marvel shows, even more so than the first season of Iron Fist. It verges on the out and out sadistic at times, sure – you can tell showrunner Steven S DeKnight had just come off Spartacus – but despite having already watched it, I zoomed through all 13 episodes in about three days flat. Even the underwhelming costume reveal at the end was fine and Stick and the Hand didn’t irk me so much this time round.

The scripts explorations of the characters are almost lyrical at times, plus I really enjoyed some of its side-themes more, such as its study of the (diminishing) importance of journalism. There’s some real detective work/journalism going on in the investigation. And even when you know what’s coming, there are still some genuinely surprising choices by the writers, such as Melvyn’s reaction to losing a fight. Of which there are many, all so beautifully choreographed and directed – even Wu Assassins couldn’t quite match it.

Plus there’s the general tone of the whole season, with some actually thought-provoking discussions of good and evil, morality, vigilantism, killing, rich and poor, Catholicism and more. Properly adult stuff it is.

Lastly, having watched all the other seasons and Netflix Marvel shows since, it’s really surprising to see how much everything fits together and was set up from the beginning. Yep, all that building-buying for the Japanese had a point and Madame Gao really did have to travel further than China to go back to her homeland.

So, if you’ve already watched Daredevil, give it another go, as it might surprise you. If you’ve not, you should definitely try it – provided you’ve got a strong stomach.

There. I finally got round to doing that boxset review like I promised. Only took me five years.

Continue reading “What have you been watching? Including Awkwafina Is Nora from Queens”
The Punisher
Streaming TV

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)”

Daredevil
News

Daredevil, Another Period cancelled; Preacher renewed; Nick Hornby’s Uri and Ella adaptation; + more

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

Internet TV

US TV

US TV show casting

  • Dara Reneé to recur on ABC’s black-ish
  • Eric Roberts, Raoul Bova, Humberto Zurita et al join Telemundo’s La Reina del Sur

New US TV shows

New US TV show casting

  • Yvette Monreal and Christopher James Baker join DC Universe’s Stargirl
Daredevil and Fisk
Streaming TV

Boxset Monday: Marvel’s Daredevil (season three) (Netflix)

Available on Netflix

Well, that was a disappointment. And a relief. But probably not for the reasons you were thinking.

So, Netflix’s various Marvel superhero shows have been in something of a funk of a late. When they were first announced, everyone was sceptical. With all the best Marvel superheroes in the cinema, what was Netflix going to do with a bunch of also-rans like Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist?

But under the auspices of Steven DeKnight and Drew Goddard, the first season of Marvel’s Daredevil blew everyone away. This was quality TV. Okay, the costume was a let-down but at least that was only five minutes at the end of the last episode and we could just about excuse the magic ninja, the extreme sadism and Daredevil’s ability to heal crippling injuries in a couple of days using only the power of meditation before that.

Then Marvel’s Jessica Jones came along and that was the end of that – it looked like Netflix was doing for superhero shows what it had done for Internet TV with House of Cards. Phew. We were in safe hands. Roll on the other two shows.

Since then, those of us following these shows have largely been in a state of perpetual disappointment. Maybe it would have been better if the first two shows hadn’t been quite so good, then we wouldn’t have been quite so disappointed. Marvel’s Luke Cage was okay, but not great. Marvel’s Iron Fist was awesome! Unfortunately, I’m probably the only person who thought that (screw you, haters). The much-anticipated second season of Daredevil was half-good, half-dreadful. The great big team-up of all four superheroes, Marvel’s The Defenders, was a bit blah thanks to a rushed conclusion and poor characterisation. Season two of Jessica Jones was season one of Jessica Jones again. Yawn. Season two of Luke Cage was a marked improvement over season one, but still not good enough to prevent it getting cancelled. Season two of Iron Fist was not only soporific, it was season two of Luke Cage as well, so it got cancelled, too.

The one bright star in the Marvel firmament was unexpected addition The Punisher.

So it was with low expectations but a certain degree of hope that I went into season three of Marvel’s Daredevil. Would it be as good as season one? Would it even be good?

I crossed my fingers, anyway.

Bullseye

Daredevil to hope

As I said, after 13 episodes, both relief and disappointment were the results. Disappointment, not because it was bad, but because it starts so well. The first six or so episodes are great. It then just turns into absolute rubbish. It’s stupid and almost unwatchable at times. Remember the Hand? Just as bad.

Oh the disappointment.

So why relief? Because thankfully, the final three or four episodes are great again. Woo hoo!

And it’s all by going back to the first season and what was good about the show. And by ditching that stupid costume. Spoilers after the jump.

Continue reading “Boxset Monday: Marvel’s Daredevil (season three) (Netflix)”

Titans
Streaming TV

Review: Titans 1×1 (US: DC Universe; UK: Netflix)

In the US: Fridays, DC Universe
In the UK: Acquired by Netflix. Will air in 2018

‘Tis the season to launch new streaming TV services, apparently. You’d think there were enough already, with the likes of Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, Crackle et al already here and charging a healthy $10 or so a month for a subscription, but ‘No Large Media Conglomerate Left Behind’ and all that. Disney (which owns Marvel) is contemplating its own service, while WarnerBros, which is already mulling its own streaming service, has just launched another one for its DC Comics property.

It’s going to end badly, you mark my words.

Anyway, a streaming TV service needs TV to stream. Although DC Universe has a decent back catalogue of movies and TV series, a lot of DC’s comic properties are already doing nicely on other networks so are tied up elsewhere. The Flash, Arrow, Gotham, Supergirl, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, Constantine, Krypton, and Black Lightning won’t be gracing DC Universe yet. Instead, the company is working through some of its lesser, quirkier properties. Later down the line, we’ll be seeing live-action Swamp Thing and Doom Patrol series, but first up, we’re getting Titans.

Unsurprisingly, to ensure its first scripted outing is a success, DC Universe has chosen to commission the US’s most powerful and prolific TV producer Greg Berlanti (producer of virtually all those other DC superhero shows, plus the likes of You and a few other shows, too) to head it. Equally unsurprisingly, it’s pretty damn good. Who needs Batman, hey? F*ck Batman.

Continue reading “Review: Titans 1×1 (US: DC Universe; UK: Netflix)”