US TV

What have you been watching?

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

I’ve watched just two things, both of them regulars, since last week: Debris, and The Falcon and The Winter Soldier. I blame Easter and taking a couple of weeks off. I’ve not even watched last week’s For All Mankind.

Debris was good, but was more a spy versus spy than a fringe science thing, so possibly the show’s first ‘not that great’ episode, although it was good for what it was – I’ll watch last night’s episode later this week.

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier seems to be hitting its stride now, which given it’s only six episodes long is a bit belated but has given us some good fight scenes, as well as (spoiler alert) Wakandans. This week’s ep did have a bit of a lull in the middle, though, and we did get a ‘really? In 2021?’ moment when (spoiler alert) the Black sidekick got killed to give the anti-hero a reason to go mental . But the second half was a solidly intense bit of superheroic (and not so heroic) fighting. Plus we got the Zemo dance

Still, fingers crossed, I might actually watch something this week.

But what did you watch?

Film

What have you been watching? Including Nosferatu and Vampyr

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

It’s been a quiet week for TV, less for movies at TMINE. TV-wise, it’s just been the regulars: For All Mankind, Debris, The Falcon and The Winter Soldier and Superman and Lois. And they’ve all been fine.

The cosmonauts in FAM made the show more interesting than previous weeks, but not greatly so, and the changing attitudes to gay relationships in a little over a decade was well happened; Debris was more scary science with everyone in boiler suits, which was good; TFatWS was better than the first episode, funnier, with some interesting things to say about race, thanks to good old Carl Lumbly (Alias) and the arrival in the MCU of (spoiler alert) Isaiah Bradley; and Superman and Lois was alternately exciting and tear-jerking, thanks to the return of Airwolf‘s very own Michele Scarabelli as Martha Kent.

All good viewing, all staying on the recommended list, but nothing that made punch the air or something. It should be noted, however, that Superman & Lois isn’t back until May now, since Supergirl has now got its timeslot. How odd.

Movies-wise, I got about halfway through The Trial of the Chicago 7 (2020), but was a bit disappointed by the lack of scorching Aaron Sorkin dialogue. Good cast and I might try to watch the rest of it, but I’m not enthused.

I did manage to watch all of LA LA Land (2016), in which tedious Ryan Gosling tries to explain the joys of jazz to Emma Stone. Hated it. Lovely song and dance numbers, beautiful design, but you’ll want to kill Gosling by the end of it.

Meanwhile, a couple of classic German black and white movies were leaving MUBI so I figured I should try to watch them while they were still on: Vampyr (1932) and Nosferatu (1922). Nosferatu is the more famous but while it’s a visually stunning adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, with some truly iconic moments, it’s not a great movie. Plus the soundtrack given to this silent movie for the MUBI release was borderline comic. It would have been about a thousand times better with the soundtrack on this trailer.

Vampyr is a slightly more haunting affair based on elements from J Sheridan Le Fanu’s In a Glass Darkly. Again, visually great but with a plot that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

I think it’s worth watching them both to say you’ve watched these two foundational movies, but don’t go in thinking you’re going to be thunderstruck by how awesome they are.

All in all, not a bad week of viewing, more an uninspiring one, if you see what I mean?

But what did you watch?

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?

News

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New US TV shows

  • ABC red lights: The Brides, Valley Trash and thirtysomething(else)
  • …and Revenge sequel
  • green lights: pilots of Rebel, Harlem’s Kitchen, Bossy (formerly Kids Matter Now), Home Economics and Work Wife
  • yellow lights: Adopted, National Parks Service (formerly ISB) and Triage
  • The CW red lights: LA Complex reboot
  • NBC green lights: series of crashed spaceship drama Debris, with Jonathan Tucker and Riann Steele
  • HBO developing: limited series adaptation of Brit Bennett’s The Vanishing Half

New US TV show casting

  • Leslie Odom Jr, Tommy Dorfman, Gil Bellows et al to star in Freeform’s Love in the Time of Corona