US TV

What have you been watching this week (w/e May 14)?

The Apprentice

Coming to you, live from my sickbed (sneeze, sneeze, cough, cough), it’s “What have you been watching this week?”, my chance to tell you what I’ve been watching this week and your chance to recommend things to everyone else (and me) in case we’ve missed them.

My usual recommendations for maximum viewing pleasure this week: Community, Cougar Town, The Daily Show, Doctor Who, Endgame, Happy Endings, House, Modern Family and Stargate Universe. Watch them (and keep an eye on The Stage‘s TV Today Square Eyes feature as well) or you’ll be missing out on the good stuff.

However, just to give you an idea of their relative merits, this is the order I actually prefer the regulars on the list: Community, Happy Endings, Endgame, Modern Family, Doctor Who, The Daily Show, House, Cougar Town and Stargate Universe. Make of that what you will.

I should also add I’m now adding Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle to the list, since it’s absolutely brilliant, practically perfect. Watch it.

Now to the irregulars and new things, as well as a few thoughts on some of those regulars:

  • The Apprentice: Well, it’s back with a slightly saner prize and teams that aren’t quite so hateful. Episode two gave me a chance to put on one of my other journalistic hats and nerd out (“Of course, you notice they’re not producing any iPhone apps because of the time it would take to get the app on the App Store”), as did all the tech journos I know on Twitter. Not sure why they went for Wired and TechCrunch, which aren’t the most obvious online sites for new app news, but perhaps no one else want to be involved. My money’s on Jim for the final, since he seems really good. No obvious female leader at the moment, since they’re all quite irritating at the moment. Let’s wait and see. Also, have you noticed that Karren Brady has started to become more Margarety?
  • Business Nightmares with Evan Davis: quite an entertaining business documentary, with Evan Davis running through some of the worst design mistakes in business history with some of the people involved, including “New Coke” and the release of the original Mini at a price that was less that it was actually possible to make it for. Well shot, well directed and Evan Davis actually made some good points. Will be watching the next episode.
  • Chuck: the best episode in ages, full of numerous Star Wars, Terminator and other pop culture references, it still didn’t have as much bite as I’d have liked, but it was a decent hour of TV with a good ending.
  • Cougar Town: Lovely bits with Nia Vardalos of My Big Fat Greek Wedding fame – she happens to be married to the guy who plays Andy.
  • Endgame: Peter Wingfield has even worse Russian accent than the star, but good to see him getting work. Quite a good episode, too.
  • Happy Endings: ridiculously funny, especially the final tattooing scene. Nice that they’re slowly slipping in details about each of the friends (we learn Elisha Cuthbert runs her own business this week) and that they’re keeping it real (money and rent came up, too), while they’re simultaneously being silly.
  • Night Shift: the first Icelandic comedy – if not TV programme – broadcast on British television, this is comedy in the same way that Ibsen is comedy. Set in a Shell petrol station, it’s largely about three not especially interesting, introverted blokes and the customers who come in during the night shift. Not especially funny, but oddly compelling. I’ve only tried the first episode, but I’ll give the next episode a try.
  • Running Wilde: Kind of lolloping along on FX now. Not actually very funny any more though.
  • Sex and the British Sitcom: something I recorded a while back, a BBC4 documentary about the changing attitude towards sex of British sitcoms. A very decent piece of work, full of both expected and unexpected sitcoms, as well as a very valid comparison with US sitcoms. Worth watching if it comes round again.
  • The Shadow Line: much better than the first episode, with some really tense scenes and Ralph Spall’s psychopath character being extremely creepy and Stephen Rea just being awesome. But it still feels like someone’s done this marvellous thriller then tried to stick the dialogue from Marion & Geoff into it. Still, as long as you keep thinking, “Pretend it’s David Lynch”, it’s worth watching, I think.
  • Smallville: the season and series finale. Surprising dull and underpowered for the conclusion of 10 years of TV and full of some of the dumbest moments imaginable, it still was suitably reverential, finally had some iconic moments we’ve all been waiting for, and was so lovely in its mimicking of the movies right at the end, I’m actually now watching Superman. Great to see Michael Rosenbaum back in action, too.
  • Stargate Universe: And after all that, it ends with a whimper. Clearly designed to leave the door open in case the production team were able to convince anyone to continue the show in some other form – they didn’t – it was a little unsatisfying, answering none of the questions raised during the series, but had just enough of the “Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong” ethos that differentiated it from its predecessors. I don’t think I enjoyed season two as much as I did the far bleaker first season, although the characterisation was a lot better – there were just too many unfinished plot threads, too many new weaker plot threads to deal with instead, and things just started to get too nice. But it was still a whole lot better than the likes of Warehouse 13, which gets to live, so I think the wrong decision was made there. This also means that for the first time in what must be nearly a decade and a half, even two decades, there’s no Stargate-related TV show airing – it’s the end of an era.
  • The Untold Battle of Trafalgar: a slight lie in that the supposed untold story was of about how many foreign sailors took part on the English side at the Battle of Trafalgar – and that was actually what is known as a ‘told story’ – the actual untold story was new research into what the Bellerophon did at Trafalgar. Wonderfully recreated, very detailed, actually a pretty decent documentary. Go and watch it.

But what have you been watching?

“What have you been watching this week?” is your chance to recommend to friends and fellow blog readers the TV that they might be missing or should avoid – and for me to do mini-reviews of everything I’ve watched this week. Since we live in the fabulous world of Internet catch-up services like the iPlayer and Hulu, why not tell your fellow readers what you’ve seen so they can see the good stuff they might have missed?

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What have you been watching this week (w/e April 29)?

My usual recommendations for maximum viewing pleasure this week: Archer, Community, Cougar Town, The Daily Show, Endgame, Modern Family, Stargate Universe and 30 Rock. Watch them (and keep an eye on The Stage‘s TV Today Square Eyes feature as well) or you’ll be missing out on the good stuff. I’ve also decided to add Happy Endings to the recommended viewing, since although it can be a bit silly, it is consistently funny.

Just a few thoughts on a couple of the regulars:

  • Loved last week’s episode of Community – a clips show with clips from episodes that don’t actually exist. How awesome is that?
  • Stargate Universe almost made me cry this week, which is kind of pathetic I know, but TJ getting motor neurone disease was just upsetting.
  • Smallville – Booster Gold turns up. So a bit rubbish basically. Still not long to the final ever episode.

Since the last “What have you been watching?”, I’ve tried

  • Game of Thrones, but gave up after 15 minutes since it seemed very dull. I might be wrong on that, but then fantasy books have never really been my thing.
  • I also dipped back into Hellcats, just to see what they did with Aly Michalka’s sister, who they’ve got to play… her long-lost sister. They didn’t do much though and since most of the rest of the episode was actually quite dreadful Kids From Fame stuff, I decided not to bother watching any more of it and was glad I gave up a while back.

I did record The Crimson Petal and the White, The Suspicions of Mr Whicher and United, but didn’t watch them. Were they any good?

But what have you been watching?

“What have you been watching this week?” is your chance to recommend to friends and fellow blog readers the TV that they might be missing or should avoid – and for me to do mini-reviews of everything I’ve watched this week. Since we live in the fabulous world of Internet catch-up services like the iPlayer and Hulu, why not tell your fellow readers what you’ve seen so they can see the good stuff they might have missed?

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What have you been watching this week (w/e April 15)?

My usual recommendations for maximum viewing pleasure this week: Archer, Community, The Daily Show, House, Modern Family, Stargate Universe and 30 Rock. Watch them (and keep an eye on The Stage‘s TV Today Square Eyes feature as well) or you’ll be missing out on the good stuff.

Separate reviews of this week’s episodes of Spiral/Engrenages are over here, but this is what else I’ve been watching this week:

  • Being Human (US) – an interesting way to end a series that actually became a lot more interesting over the course of the season than its first couple of episodes would have suggested. Once it found its feet, starting picking and choosing from the UK original and then twisting it to its own ends while sticking to the same template, it actually became better than the original in a lot (but not all) ways. It was actually able to take things that had been squished into a single episode and let them breath over a couple of episodes. To avoid Internet spoilers, the finale really wasn’t what you might have expected if you’d seen the original – and actually used expectations of what happened in the original to mislead you. So looking forward to the next season now!
  • Breaking In: Cleverer than the first episode and Alyssa Milano was rather a good guest star. But not really very funny at all and I don’t really care about any of the characters.
  • Chaos: after an acceptable start, episode two was actually rather dull, despite some quite nice spy stuff. James Murray’s toned down his Scottish accent a lot – and now is starting to sound English a lot more. Not awful, but not worth tuning in for. Disappointing.
  • Chuck was quite fun, but Chuck’s just a dull character now, Sarah still really hasn’t got a character and what’s happened to Linda Hamilton? The family Volkoff are the only things to look forward to on this show now.
  • Endgame was really quite excellent, bar a slightly disappointing ending, so it’s going to be promoted to the “you should watch” bit at the bottom
  • Happy Endings: Coming to a separate review near you, soon!

But what have you been watching?

“What have you been watching this week?” is your chance to recommend to friends and fellow blog readers the TV that they might be missing or should avoid – and for me to do mini-reviews of everything I’ve watched this week. Since we live in the fabulous world of Internet catch-up services like the iPlayer and Hulu, why not tell your fellow readers what you’ve seen so they can see the good stuff they might have missed?

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Wednesday’s “German number one” news

Books

Film

  • James Franco to star as Richard Ramirez in The Night Stalker
  • Vera Farmiga and Mia Wasikowska to join A View From The Bridge

British TV

  • Digital TV uptake passes 90% [subscription required]

US TV