What have you been watching? Including Hooten and the Lady, Doctor, Doctor and High Maintenance

It’s “What have you been watching?”, my chance to tell you what movies and TV I’ve been watching recently that I haven’t already reviewed and your chance to recommend things to everyone else (and me) in case I’ve missed them.

The usual “TMINE recommends” page features links to reviews of all the shows I’ve ever recommended, and there’s also the Reviews A-Z, for when you want to check more or less anything I’ve reviewed ever. 

Après lui le déluge. This week marks the proper kicking off in the US of a big selection of the Fall schedule, so brace yourself for a flotilla of reviews as the likes of Designated Survivor, Notorious, The Good Place, This Is Us, Lethal Weapon and Pitch head down the pipes towards. I’ve saved myself some of that burden by previewing a couple of shows already, including Speechless (US: ABC) and Son of Zorn (US: Fox); I’ve also reviewed the first episodes of Quarry (US: Cinemax; UK: Sky Atlantic) and Better Things (US: FX), and passed a third-episode verdict on Four In The Morning (Canada: CBC). 

I’ll do my best to keep up, but I might get caught up on some rapids somewhere – maybe by deciding to watch the rest of saison 2 of Le Bureau Des Légendes (The Bureau) (France: Canal+; UK: Amazon).

After the jump, I’ll be reviewing the regulars, Halt and Catch Fire, Mr Robot and You’re The Worst, as well as the second episode of newcomer Quarry. But if you think that the list above is all I’ve been watching, you don’t know me very well:

Home From Home (UK: BBC Two)
I tuned into this comedy pilot purely for old times’ sake, since it starred my TV wife Joanna Page. It sees Page married to Johnny Vegas for some unfathomable reason and the two of them deciding to buy a cottage in the Lake District and dragging their kids along to stay with them. Unfortunately, in the transit down the motorway, they forgot to bring any jokes with them. Somehow, I doubt it will make it to series…

Hooten and the Lady (UK: Sky1)
There can’t have been many people who, when they first heard of Lara Croft, thought to themselves “Wouldn’t she better if she were split in half – one half an aristocratic archaeologist, the other an adventurer who likes diving off things and grunting?” Yet Tony Jordan (Life on Mars, Hustle) apparently did, as can be seen from his new Sky1 show Hooten and the Lady.

As nominatively determined to dreadfulness as its spiritual predecessor Bonekickers, it sees Ophelia Lovibond – last seen ruining Elementary – deciding the best thing to do to fight government cutbacks at the British Museum is throw aside over a century of archaeological best practice, revive the good old days of Empire and cultural insensitivity, and head off down the Amazon a-lootin’ ‘n’ a-pilligin’. There she meets American petty criminal Michael Landes (Love Soup, Save Meand they strike a pact to combine his brawn and her brains in an effort to get rich and save museums. 

The show wants to be a sort of Indiana Jones meets the screwball comedies of the 40s and 50s, but in reality is a near-unwatchable fan fic version of Lara Croft meets Relic Hunter, but without the charm, stunts or wit of either. The decade and a half’s age difference between the two leads doesn’t help conjure an air of romance, either, even assuming there were more to either character than a thinly sketched character background more suited for a murder-mystery weekend.

Everybody involved looks like they’re having fun out on location somewhere sunny. The rest of as we sit through their irritating, by the numbers, ‘flirtatious banter’? Less so.

Doctor, Doctor (Australia: Nine)
After taking over most of Australia’s TV channels, the omnipresent Rodger Corser (The Doctor Blake Mysteries, The Beautiful Lie, Party Tricks) now makes his moves on the Nine Network with this surprisingly enjoyable Australian redo of Doc Hollywood that also feels like it’s here to stick two fingers up at Seven’s somewhat clunky 800 words, which has just returned for a second season, as well as wave in passing at ABC Australia’s Rake and USA’s Royal Pains.

Corser plays a top Sydney heart surgeon who’s got one too many addictions for his own good. An incident at a party ends up with the arrogant Corser being stuck on probation for a year but, with few friends and the Australian health service in desperate need of GPs in rural areas, Corser finds himself sent back to general practice in his home town.

There, he has to deal with his politician mother, the fiancée he stood up and who’s now married to his brother, his uninterested father, his gun-mad foster brother and everyone he grew up with. Oh yes, and not remembering any general medicine any more, so having to Google everything, half his patients being a plane-ride away, not being able to do any surgery or else he’ll lose his licence, and an Irish nurse who’s not going to help him quit substance-abuse any time soon.

Doctor, Doctor is actually a lot more charming yet simultaneously harder edged than you might think. Corser’s character is as big a dick as Rake‘s, yet Corser is engaging enough to make you like him. The fact he’s a coke-head who likes to party-hard on whatever other substances you might have to hand is also a lot darker than someone with a single incident behind him. There’s also the coming to terms with general practice, as well as the denizens of the local hospital, which is pretty entertaining.

It’s unlikely ever to make it to the UK, given Nine’s strapped enough for cash as it is, but I used to think that about Hulu, too, and look what happened there. Give it a whirl if you can.

High Maintenance (US: HBO; UK: Sky Atlantic – probably)
Originally a Vimeo web series and maintaining a lot of that feel, High Maintenance sees its co-writer-creator Ben Sinclair playing a pot-delivering, New York cyclist who encounters new and odd customers in every episode.

While billed as a comedy, it’s probably better to think of it as a frequently amusing series of vignettes skewering characters, the first a katana-wielding strongman who seems reluctant to pay, the second a gay man who realises he’s spending too much time with his fag hag flatmate rather than other gay men. With Sinclair an in-story Rod Serling, don’t be too surprised to discover there’s a twist in the tail with each vignette, the first having an absolute kicker of a resolution. But also be prepared for a lot of cringe comedy along the way, as the drug-focus of the piece means the show goes to some dark and uncomfortable places along the way.

Continue reading “What have you been watching? Including Hooten and the Lady, Doctor, Doctor and High Maintenance”

US TV

Review: Rush 1×1 (USA)

USA Network's Rush

In the US: Thursdays, 9/8c, USA Network

A while ago, I remarked that of all the people from Coupling whom you might have expected to see as a US action hero, Englishman Richard Coyle was probably at the bottom of the list, since he played poor old put-upon, terminally unconfident Welshman Jeff.

Well, it seems the season for such surprises because over on basic cable, USA has decided that absolutely the best person to head up its new dark, gritty – well, darker, grittier – medical show Rush is Welshman Tom Ellis. From Miranda. Yes, Miranda.

Here, let Blog Goddess and Welshwoman Joanna Page talk you through Tom Ellis’s Miranda highlights.

As Ellis himself remarks, “If Rush was a show in the UK, I don’t think that they would think of me to play that part.”

All power to him, though, because despite being forced to play American, Tom Ellis is actually very good in Rush. Tom Ellis is not Rush’s problem.

And Rush does have problems. Many of them. The most obvious of these is it’s basically Royal Pains crossed with the anaemic US version of Rake. Just like Dr Hank, Ellis’s eponymous Rush is a concierge doctor to the rich and famous, rushing to their side whenever they’re in medical trouble and using his ingenuity and network of connections to solve the trickiest of medical concerns.

But just like Rake’s Cleaver Greene, Rush is in it for himself and is a drug-taking, near moral vacuum who likes to screw around, smoke at his godson’s party, sabotages his relationships, exploits his female assistant and will take the worst scum of humanity as his clients, as long as they pay cash up front or hold a gun to his head.

Except this is basic cable so Rush has a heart. And it’s the USA Network, where characters are welcome and dark and gritty aren’t. Which means if you’re expecting a rush from Rush, you’re going to be sorely disappointed.

Here’s a trailer:

Continue reading “Review: Rush 1×1 (USA)”

News: Freema Agyeman is in Sense8, Joanna Page joins Knifeman, Rosario Dawson is a Daredevil + more

Doctor Who

  • Sequel to The Five(ish) Doctors planned

Film

Film casting

Trailers

  • Trailer for The Drop with Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace and James Gandolfini
  • Trailer for Love is Strange with John Lithgow and Alfred Molina

Theatre

  • Tamsin Greig to star in Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown adaptation

Australian TV

Internet TV

UK TV

New UK TV shows

  • BBC3 announces nine Comedy Feed pilots
  • Trailer for BBC1’s Common

US TV

US TV show casting

New US TV shows

New US TV show casting

Today’s Joanna Page: Doctor Who – The Day of the Doctor

It’s only a few weeks now until the 50th anniversary special of Doctor Who arrives on our screens (and our 3D cinema screens, too). Although we know very little about it in terms of plot, we do know Steven Moffat’s written it and it will feature Matt Smith, David Tennant, Jenna Louise Coleman, Billie Piper, John Hurt and, of course, our Joanna Page.

And here they all are talking about it. Well, apart from Hurt and Pipes. Apologies to everyone who doesn’t live in these fair isles if it turns out that these are only viewable in the UK.