Joss Whedon – you either love him or only like him a bit. I think it’s probably impossible to hate Joss Whedon unless you’re about 12 years old and have no sense of TV history.
Politically, Whedon is, of course, a great big feminist and Democrat, and you shouldn’t be surprised that with a few exceptions – cough, cough, Sarah Michelle Gellar – so are his mates. With President Trump an actual realistic possibility in the next four months, Jossy-baby has got a huge number of his more famous pals to put together a video pleading with you not to vote for the racist, misogynist, homophobic, lying sociopathic conman who could well usher in the Apocalypse. He’s even got half of the cast of The West Wing along for the ride.
The video’s probably preaching to the converted and won’t sway many dissenters, but it’s worth a gander anyway because it’s pretty funny, too.
Wonder no more, thanks to this helpful documentary, featuring Thor and another absent Avenger. Possibly a bad idea to set the whole thing in Australia, given how wobbly Hemsworth’s accent gets at times, but plenty of fun to be had all the same.
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.
Quiet, isn’t it? Where has all the new TV gone? Despite a fortnight in between WHYBWs, all I’ve managed to cover are the third episodes of Containment (US: The CW; UK: E4) and Game of Silence (US: NBC). I’m sure there’s something somewhere that I can review, but I just haven’t spotted it.
Okay, so there’s a new series of comedy pilots on Australia’s ABC on Wednesday, but being pilots, there doesn’t seem much point in reviewing them – I did like the sound of Ronnie Chieng: International Student, though. There’s a new Canadian Molly Ringwald/Jason Priestley sitcom, Raising Expectations, that started last night on the Family Channel – I just need to work out a way of watching it.
Amazon Prime’s picked up Hulu’s Casual, too. I didn’t watch that when it first appeared on Hulu since I figured “What’s the chance any UK network is going to pick up something on Hulu, hey?” There’s me duped. I might watch that, too, but I suspect the ship has sailed on that one.
In fact, the only new thing I’ve spotted that I haven’t yet reviewed, and had both the inclination and the ability to review was…
Marseille (Netflix) Following on from last year’s Narcos, which was effectively Netflix’s first Spanish-language original drama, now we have Marseille, the company’s first French-language original. It stars – who else? – Gérard Depardieu as the mayor of Marseille, having to balance the competing demands of a degenerative disease, his family life, a drug habit, his back-stabbing protégé, a project to renovate the city with a new casino, and the mafia.
And it’s nothing special. I did say ‘original’, but for all intents and purposes, it’s Starz’s Boss but in French, with just a hint of Les hommes de l’ombre (Spin). It’s got the usual misogyny of such shows. It’s got the slightly tedious offsetting of power and crime. It’s billed as ‘steamy’ but is surprisingly perfunctory (and again misogynistic) for a French show. None of the characters are especially engaging and Depardieu oddly doesn’t have half the presence that Kelsey Grammer did in Boss. Subtitling loses quite a bit in translation and you’ll often have points where you wonder what people are reacting to as a result of what’s allegedly said (eg there’s a point where two women are laughing when one of them says ‘chick’. It makes a bit more sense if you know she actually said ‘poof’). And oddly for Netflix, the production values are pretty low, with more than a hint of ‘stuck in a cheapo studio with a cheapo video camera’ at times.
More laughable than gritty, it’s hard enough to get through one episode, let alone all eight, so I’m not going to try.
After the jump, it’s the regulars: 12 Monkeys, The Americans, Arrow, Banshee, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, Game of Silence, Game of Thrones, Lopez, Silicon Valley andThe Tunnel. Most of those are double helpings, since there was no WHYBW last Monday, it being a Bank Holiday everywhere; two of them will be getting crossed off the viewing list, too. I’ll also be looking at the season finales of both Limitless and Lucifer.
But before that, a movie!
Captain America: Civil War (2016) Depending on how you want to look at it, this is probably better titled Captain America: Winter Soldier 2 or The Avengers 2.5, since it sees Cap continuing his mission to find and rehabilitate his brainwashed pal, Bucky “The Winter Soldier” Barnes, with various members of The Avengers either trying to help him or hinder him after Barnes is implicated in an act of terrorism.
Otherwise, the plot is more or less identical to that of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, with its concerns about collateral damage from superheroics and the consequent need for legal limits on superhuman powers. Yet despite the huge cast from the other movies (only Thor and Hulk are absent) and the necessity to launch both Black Panther and Spider-Man off its back, it manages to be a million times better than DC’s drudgefest. Once again directed by Winter Soldier‘s Russo Brothers (who got the gig directing, of all things, the paintball episode of Community), it manages to make all previous superhero movies look plodding and stupid, balancing comic book fun with gritty Euro thriller aesthetics, while serving all its characters well, being by turns tear-jerking, funny, breath-taking and tense.
It’s a little longer than it needs to be, but nevertheless, afterwards we came out so drained by the spectacle, it took about three hours down the pub to recover. It also rendered Age of Ultron unwatchable. Some would argue it already was, but we’d enjoyed it at the time.