1000 Years A Slave
Streaming TV

What have you been watching? Including 1,000 Years a Slave

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

This week’s WHYBW is mostly going to be about what you’ve been watching, since I’ve not been able to watch that much. I’ve tried to watch a lot.

I started watching the new season of Narcos: Mexico. However, my appetite for joyless violence and misery has all but gone, thanks to lockdowns, and it was pretty clear that without the benefit of proper real-world history and engrossing performances, the show’s dedication to Spanish-language violence and unpleasantness wasn’t going to be anywhere near enough to make me want to watch umpteen episodes.

The drug trade is nasty. There’s a historical reason for it being that way. I’ve followed about as much of that history as I need to.

Narcos: Mexico isn’t the only returning show. Dexter is back for a reason I can’t even begin to fathom, other than “cash”. Dexter: New Blood is on Sky Atlantic, but I never even made it to the end of Dexter, it had plummeted off the stupid cliff so many seasons previously, so I’m not going to tune in again to watch as it hits the ground at the bottom nearly a decade later.

Okay, so the trailer isn’t that bad and I do like the idea of Jennifer Carpenter being the new voice of his ‘conscience’. But I don’t want to see Dexter meeting his grown-up son. Wouldn’t he be 10 or something anyway?

In fact the only new show I did watch was the thoroughly depressing but hugely important and impressive 1,000 Years A Slave on Channel 5. It’s not TMINE fare, being a documentary, but if you ever want to astonish yourself about how little you know about the slave trade and just how astonishingly evil it was – obviously it was evil, it was the slave trade, but however bad you think it was, multiply that by a factor of at least 1,000 – watch this.

Perhaps the most pointed part of it is that it feels like one aspect of it is deliberately a flipside of the BBC’s happy white Who Do You Think You Are?, mirroring its style in pretty much every regard. We get to see a whole bunch of Britain’s finest and best Black actors (David Harewood, Hugh Quarshie, et al) getting to retrace their ancestors’ footsteps, all the way back to Africa or the Caribbean… where they were murdered, abducted, etc, as slaves. Of course, we all remember what happened with Ben Affleck’s episode in the US, so who knows if that’s also being subtly referenced.

Just amazing and utterly devastating.

Here’s episode 1. Wisely, the comments have been switched off on it on YouTube

The regulars

Locke & Key – season two (Netflix)

I managed to watch three more episodes of Locke and Key before I gave up. It just got too much about who’s dating who and who’s annoyed at who’s dating who, while simultaneously being about melting people and having them attacked by giant spiders. There’s also far more than is tolerable throughout these episodes about a student horror movie, which even gets a full cinematic screening.

Maybe I’m just too old for a show that did at least have some adult interest in previous seasons. There’s still a little here – I’m enjoying Aaron (not Shawn) Ashmore’s character a lot, although I’m also horrified to discover that Jimmy Olsen from Smallville is now 42, as well as the intrigue among the adults. But too much of it is subordinate to the children’s storyline and I don’t care about the annoying brats. There’s also almost zero of female Dodge, who – let’s face it – was the main interesting thing about season 1.

I might pick it back up again, given how little TV there suddenly is again, but it doesn’t feel like I want to at the moment.

But what have you been watching?

The Stranger
Streaming TV

Boxset Monday: The Stranger (Netflix)

Available on Netflix

Of all the crime authors who seem to be doing very well out of the globalisation of TV, Harlan Coben has to be at the forefront. We’ve had The Five on Sky in the UK and Juste un regard (Just One Look) on TF1 in France; meanwhile, on Netflix we’ve had the UK-based Safe, with a Spanish version of The Innocent and a Polish version of The Woods on their way. And right now, we have another UK Coben production – The Stranger.

Which is odd, really, since most of his books are set in the US and no US network has so far chosen to adapt any of his books. I wonder why?

Safe, of course, despite being set in Manchester, starred a couple of global TV megastars – America’s Michael C Hall (Six Feet Under, Dexter) and France’s Audrey Fleurot (Engrenages, Les témoins). However, The Stranger is almost exclusive populated with home-grown talent, albeit UK and Irish actors who have also done very well out of TV and film globalisation themselves.

Richard Armitage in The Stranger
Richard Armitage in The Stranger

No Stranger

The star of The Stranger is none other than TMINE’s very own Dick Head (retired), Richard Armitage (Robin Hood, Strike Back, Berlin Station, Hannibal, Captain America: The First Avenger). Armitage is a regular lawyer and family man living in an unnamed town that looks suspiciously like various parts of Greater Manchester. He seems happy, despite the fact his mate/client Stephen Rea’s house is about to be knocked down by a firm owned by his very own father (Buffy‘s Anthony Head). He also seems to love his wife (Dervla Kirwan) very much.

Then a complete stranger confronts him one day: Hannah John-Kamen (Killjoys, The Tunnel, Ant-Man and the Wasp). She tells him a secret about Kirwan that turns Armitage’s world upside down. But Armitage isn’t the only one who has secrets, and soon everyone’s having to deal with their private lives being revealed.

And decapitated alpacas.

Continue reading “Boxset Monday: The Stranger (Netflix)”