What did you watch this fortnight? Including It’s Kevin, Plebs, GI Joe: Retaliation, Parks and Recreation, and Arrow

It’s “What did you watch this week fortnight?”, my chance to tell you what I movies and TV I’ve watched this week fortnight that I haven’t already reviewed and your chance to recommend things to everyone else (and me) in case I’ve missed them.

First, the usual recommendations:

  • The Americans (FX/ITV)
  • Archer (FX, 5USA)
  • Arrow (The CW/Sky 1)
  • Being Human (US) (SyFy)
  • The Daily Show (Comedy Central)
  • The Doctor Blake Mysteries (ABC1/ITV)
  • Cougar Town (TBS/Sky Living)
  • Elementary (CBS/Sky Living)
  • Go On (NBC)
  • House of Cards (Netflix)
  • Modern Family (ABC/Sky 1)
  • Shameless (US) (Showtime/More4)
  • Southland (TNT/Channel 4)
  • Spartacus (Starz/Sky 1)
  • Vegas (CBS/Sky Atlantic).

These are all going to be on in either the UK or the US, perhaps even both, but I can’t be sure which.

A combination of pluses and minuses in terms of time means that although I’ve nearly watched all of House of Cards, there’s still a lot left in my viewing queue, including the latest episodes of The Bates Motel, Modern Family, Archer, Cougar Town and Southland. I’m sure they’ll survive without me for a bit, and the Easter weekend should give me a chance to catch up. All the same, I have had the chance to try out a couple of new shows:

It’s Kevin
Kevin Eldon’s been one of the stalwarts of British comedy for the last 20 years or so – his Big Train appearances, especially his George Martin impressions, were all great, as were his appearances on shows like Fist of Fun. So I had high hopes for this, his first leading comedy role. And it’s all right. The second episode was considerably funnier than the first, but largely it’s the kind of show that’s intellectually interesting and raises the occasional smile, but nothing laugh out loud funny.

Plebs
I had firm expectations of disliking this, ITV2’s Roman era answer to The InBetweeners. And it certainly fits The InBetweeners mould, with three lads – two mates, one sensitive, one all mouth (but no trousers – literally) and their slave – moving to Rome from the country where they get office jobs (apart from the slave) and try to pull girls, with minimal success. But despite my expectations, it is actually surprisingly funny. Although essentially it’s an ahistoric transposition Up, Pompeii/Flintstones-style of modern society onto an ancient society, the show manages to maintain some degree of in-story excuse for it – that the lads are from outside Rome (hence plebs or plebeians) and the girls are from Britain, so are culturally backward – and have the actual Romans sex-happy, nudity-happy, etc, in a more accurate way (although bouncers at clubs, women without male Romans to be in charge of them, an emphasis on scrolls rather than wax tabular, and a Venus sculpture without arms because, you know, the Venus de Milo doesn’t have arms, are just some of the minor infractions that still take place for comedic purposes). Those minor niggles aside, it’s still funny, if a little conventional, the CGI to make it seem like Roman times is pretty good, and you have the likes of Doon Mackichan, Adrian Scarborough and Joel Fry to make the funny happen, so it’s a cautious semi-recommendation from me. Just don’t think of it as being “as good as revision” as some viewers have suggested.

Parks and Recreation
Yes, I have actually watched episodes of this before, but seeing as there’s a movement that seems to think P&R is funny, I thought, since BBC4 was showing them all from the beginning, that I’d give it yet another try. So far, I’ve seen all of season 1 and although it does get better towards the end of the season and I actually began to laugh at other moments and characters, for the first few episodes at least, the basic flowchart was: Is Ron Swanson on? No – not funny; Yes – funny. It was literally that simple. I’m told it gets better in the second season. I hope so.

Watch this trailer and you’ll see what I mean.

Now, some thoughts on some of the regulars:

  • The Americans (FX/ITV): One of those shows where if the show runner’s name is on the writing credits, it’s really good, but suffers when it’s not. Fortunately, last week’s saw our Joe return to writing duties, and we had a lovely cold piece about how spies can’t trust one another, even if they’re married.
  • Arrow (The CW/Sky 1): So now we have Alex Kingston (River Song from Doctor Who) in scenes with Paul Blackthorne (also British), both pretending to be Americans, not 100% successfully. And there’s John Barrowman, too. So weird. Anyway, two episodes, one utter rubbish, one pretty good – as usual, it’s Huntress (about a million miles from her comic book persona) who’s to blame, since she’s Geoff Johns’ baby and Johns appears to be a quality curse when it comes to Arrow. Felicity should also get a panic button, I reckon. But last night’s was a lot better, and the Batman Begins-inspired plot that they’ve been hinting at (potential spoiler: Merlin/Barrowman having gone off to the land of the League of Assassins/Shadows to learn how to be the Dark Archer) looks like it’s coming to fruition. Odd to see the lengths they’re going to to keep Arrow’s Chinese mentor out of the flashbacks’ main narrative, but they’re definitely going for the long game now. And is it my imagination or are they hinting that Felicity has the hots for Oliver?
  • Being Human (US) (SyFy): Two episodes, one funny, one less funny. The first gave us Sam Witwer’s attempt at an English accent. Or maybe it was Irish. It also showed us that essentially the whole season has been a diversion, with everything likely to return to the status quo that was the beginning of the season, after experimenting with changing more or less everyone’s set-up (spoiler: Aidan being the only vampire, more or less, before they all start coming back again; Sally being alive, then a zombie, then a ghost again, probably; Josh not being a werewolf then becoming a werewolf again). But at least Deanna Russo is getting work after the horror that was the Knight Rider remake.
  • The Doctor Blake Mysteries (ABC1/ITV): A story that was suspiciously about Asperger’s without actually being about Asperger’s, which was interesting. Also a fun look at what Australian TV was like at the time, with an appropriately fun ending where (spoiler alert: they all decided to play Pontoon instead of watching any more). Not necessarily the most plausible plot line, though.
  • Shameless (US) (Showtime/More4): A couple of funny episodes, with William H Macey really make Frank his own now. Plus Bradley Whitford playing gay (or is he gay?)!
  • Spartacus (Starz/Sky 1): After seasons of women being raped to provide plot motivation, Spartacus finally moves into male rape with the rape of (spoiler alert: Caesar) no less. And quite an important couple of deaths, too, although given everyone knows that Spartacus’s slave revolt failed, it wasn’t hugely surprising. Good to see them breaking up the important deaths, though, rather than offing everyone in one go, so that everyone gets their time in the sun.

And in movies:

GI Joe: Retaliation 3D
A surprising movie. Or should I say movies?

While ostensibly a sequel to 2009’s GI Joe, with a few of that movie’s cast members returning (Channing Tatum, Ray Park, Byung-hun Lee, Jonathan Pryce, Arnold Vosloo, some of whom are more or less just cameos, but I won’t spoil it for you by saying who), largely it’s a reboot, designed to get rid of some of the deadwood (Christopher Eccleston, that’s you, but so are most of the original Joes), and introduce a new cast to the franchise led by The Rock, almost-Wonder Woman Adrianne Palicki, possibly Bruce Willis as well (he’s in it, anyway) and… some other guy (DJ Corona from Detroit 1-8-7 and Windfall. Yes, him. Remember him? No, me neither.)

But it’s a weird movie(s) that beyond a few elements is very little like the original. Essentially, it consists of one movie that’s a proper war movie, with people behaving like proper soldiers, with firefights and Apache gunships, and that features The Rock, Palicki and Corona. Then there’s another spy movie, where they’re sneaking into places in disguise, that features the same bunch, as well as Ray Stevenson (Rome, Dexter, The Punisher: War Zone) with a dodgy southern accent. Then there’s a third movie that’s basically Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon with ninjas and its own, more or less separate cast (Park, Lee, Elodie Yung). And then it all finishes off by becoming Megaforce.

But despite having that core base layer of stupid, largely derived from its source Saturday morning cartoon to which it pays homage on more than one occasion, it does have some surprising touches. Cobra Commander’s plot to take over the world is impressively not stupid, involves actual science and hasn’t been done before. Some of the action sequences are well shot and choreographed. Palicki is over-sexualised, including a couple of quite voyeuristic points when she’s taking off her clothes, and her ability to attract any man, no matter what, is implausible, but largely she’s treated as an equal of the other Joes, she’s given some background story and a lot of the time, she gets to wander around in jeans, not being sexy (Michael Bay this is not). And since there’s the addition of Jinx to the core roster, there are actually two kick ass women, rather than just the usual token one. The motivations for the villainous Lee are also even more nuanced than you’d suspect.

It’s still epically stupid most of the time, the fast action makes the 3D malfunction, and it still somehow feels like a 1980s action TV show that’s been given a phenomenal budget, but it’s a damn sight better than the original.

“What did you watch this week?” is your chance to recommend to friends and fellow blog readers the TV and films that they might be missing or should avoid – and for me to do mini-reviews of everything I’ve watched. 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?

What did you watch this fortnight? Including Banshee, The Americans, Mr Selfridge, Hitchcock and Silver Linings Playbook

It’s “What did you watch this week fortnight?”, my chance to tell you what I movies and TV I’ve watched this week fortnight that I haven’t already reviewed and your chance to recommend things to everyone else (and me) in case I’ve missed them.

First, the usual recommendations:

  • The Americans (FX/ITV)
  • Archer (FX, 5USA)
  • Arrow (The CW/Sky 1)
  • Banshee (Cinemax/Sky Atlantic)
  • Being Human (US) (SyFy)
  • The Daily Show (Comedy Central)
  • The Doctor Blake Mysteries (ABC1/ITV)
  • Cougar Town (TBS/Sky Living)
  • Elementary (CBS/Sky Living)
  • Go On (NBC)
  • House of Cards (Netflix)
  • Modern Family (ABC/Sky 1)
  • Mr Selfridge (ITV/PBS)
  • Shameless (US) (Showtime/More4)
  • Southland (TNT/Channel 4)
  • Spartacus (Starz/Sky 1)
  • Engrenages/Spiral (BBC4/Netflix)
  • Top Gear (BBC2/BBC America)
  • Vegas (CBS/Sky Atlantic).

These are all going to be on in either the UK or the US, perhaps even both, but I can’t be sure which.

Surprising, despite my time away, I’ve actually managed to get my viewing queue down to more or less nothing: last night’s Shameless (US) and This Is Kevin. I’ve even found time to watch some more House of Cards, which I note is now available to buy on DVD and Blu-Ray. Buy it, it’s really good. 

Admittedly, to get back on track, I’ve had to drop Red Widow (ABC), Lightfields (ITV) and Broadchurch (ITV) from the viewing queue before I’d even started watching them, and Shetland (BBC) didn’t even get a look-in, but such is life.

Now, some thoughts on some of the regulars (fingers crossed, reviews of the final four episodes of Spiral – bloody BBC4 – tomorrow):

  • The Americans (FX/ITV): The first of the two episodes since last entry was actually the first rubbish one so far: it was entirely obvious what the twist was and the counter-trap laid by the FBI was clumsy. The second was much better, showing us for the first time what Matthew Rhys’ character gave up and that no spy can truly be trusted to tell the truth. The Russian dubbing was a bit poor, though.  
  • Banshee (Cinemax/Sky Atlantic): A strong finish to the season with the typical violence we’ve come to expect and virtually all the loose plot threads brought together at the end. Add on some creepy Amish incest and Banshee season two (coming 2014) looks like it’ll be worth watching. Not quite sure why that video didn’t go viral, though.
  • Being Human (US) (SyFy): Zombies are so hot right now. But I think it’s a misstep. Plus that vaccine was remarkably easy to come by.
  • Cougar Town (TBS/Sky Living): Good to see the Travis/Lori relationship being developed. And the Alanis Morisette episode was a nice callback to the cast’s previous work and the Cox/Springsteen episode.
  • The Doctor Blake Mysteries (ABC1/ITV): Two eps, the second of which was a little bit blah, beyond the continuing development of Blake’s moving relationship with his housekeeper. The first was a more intriguing piece dealing with the death penalty and featured some early forensic science. I like how Blake isn’t afraid to proclaim himself a scientist, a period statement if ever there was one.
  • Elementary (CBS/Sky Living): Features a The Wire reunion. Otherwise, same old, same old.
  • Mr Selfridge (ITV/PBS): A slightly limp ending to the season, with Jeremy Piven not proving up to the challenge of delivering lines in anything less than a Barnum style and far too much time spent over the season on soap opera intrigues. All the same, the play at the end was a welcome bit of acid to the normal proceedings and David Calder, whom I almost didn’t recognise, was fantastic as the King. Will I watch if Gregory Fitoussi isn’t back next year, though? I think not.  
  • Shameless (US) (Showtime/More4): Fiona’s speech last week was a powerful moment, whereas this week’s episode is far more comedic (in a good way). 
  • Southland (TNT/Channel 4): Odd how unlikable Sherman has become. That’s good character development for you. Mind you, my mother in law has given up watching it now because it’s making her sad to see what’s happening to all the characters she liked.
  • Spartacus (Starz/Sky 1):Tying into history well and good to see Romans who aren’t complete idiots for a change, particularly Caesar. Not long to go now, but we all know where it’s heading, so it should be an interesting few episodes. Hopefully, not more ‘rape as a character point’, though, please?

And in movies, which I saw a few of on a teeny tiny screen in the back of a chair:

  • Lincoln: Essentially two and half hours of historical talking that’s less exciting than an episode of The West Wing. A brilliant performance from Daniel Day Lewis and eye-opening in terms of the legal manoeuvers that Lincoln and others used to indulge in back then, but not as involving as it should be.
  • Silver Linings Playbook: Good central performances from everyone (Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Julia Stiles and even Chris Rock), with Cooper and Lawrence two mentally damaged people who offer to help each other on the road to recovery. But it’s an unempathising, predictable movie with the standard message that crazy is more interesting than normal and that leaves you cold beyond the normal romcom parameters. Plus Cooper and Lawrence is a little bit too May to December to avoid a certain amount of queasiness.
  • Hitchcock: Surprisingly jaunty for a movie about the true story of the making of a movie based on a real-life serial killer and in which the director has a peep hole into his leading ladies’ dressing rooms. Anthony Hopkins is surprisingly light as Hitch compared to Toby Jones in The Girl, Scarlett Johansson is aces but perhaps a little too self-possessed as Janet Leigh while Helen Mirren is great as Hitchcock’s real-life partner in crime Alma, who was as much responsible for the success and quality of his movies as her husband was. Nice touch to have it book-ended in the style of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, too. 
  • Van Helsing: Possibly the worst movie ever made

“What did you watch this week?” is your chance to recommend to friends and fellow blog readers the TV and films that they might be missing or should avoid – and for me to do mini-reviews of everything I’ve watched. 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?

What did you watch this week? Including The Spa, The Americans, Banshee, Go On, House of Cards, Mr Selfridge and Shameless

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

First, the usual recommendations:

  • The Americans (FX/ITV).
  • Archer (FX, 5USA)
  • Arrow (The CW/Sky 1)
  • Banshee (Cinemax/Sky Atlantic)
  • Being Human (US) (SyFy)
  • The Daily Show (Comedy Central)
  • The Doctor Blake Mysteries (ABC1/ITV)
  • Cougar Town (TBS/Sky Living)
  • Elementary (CBS/Sky Living)
  • Go On (NBC)
  • House of Cards (Netflix)
  • Modern Family (ABC/Sky 1)
  • Mr Selfridge (ITV/PBS)
  • Shameless (US) (Showtime/More4)
  • Southland (TNT/Channel 4)
  • Spartacus (Starz/Sky 1)
  • Engrenages/Spiral (BBC4/Netflix)
  • Suits (USA/Dave)
  • Top Gear (BBC2/BBC America)
  • Vegas (CBS/Sky Atlantic).

These are all going to be on in either the UK or the US, perhaps even both, but I can’t be sure which. If I got the channels wrong, let me know and I’ll fix them

Still in the queue: plenty to go in the House of Cards queue and there’s this week’s episodes of The Doctor Blake Mysteries, Vegas, Elementary, Archer, Zero Hour and Community to watch, although I think Community‘s days as a watched programme are numbered in this house. On top of those I have new US show Cult to watch – basically The Following but on The CW and with the guy who played T-Bone on Prison Break – which I’ll try to sneak a look at over the weekend, as well as new Australian show, Mr and Mrs Murder, which sees a husband and wife team cleaning up murder scenes (literally) and then doing some detective work of their own. I’ve also got Channel 4’s one-off spy drama Complicit to give a try, but Guy says it’s a bit rubbish so I might skip it.

I did get round to watching Sky Living’s The Spa, which stars Rebecca Front. It’s as dreadful as every other Sky 1 and Sky Living comedy, I’m afraid. In particular, we had a scene based on someone being told to tell someone they were ‘clinically obese’ and mishearing and saying they were ‘clinically a beast’.

Now, some thoughts on the regulars as well as some of the shows I’m still giving a try.

  • The Americans (FX/ITV): A rather excellent episode all round, set against the backdrop of the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan and suggests how it could have resulted in World War 3. There’s excellent usage of archive news footage and intriguing to see the Soviets transferring and imagining it could be an attempted coup by General Hague. ‘Operation Christopher’ also showed just what the KGB was capable of if necessary. There’s also a humorous suggestion that Christopher Hitchens (ish) was basically a Soviet sleeper agent, pretending to be a new-wave conservative to hide his true plans to spy on the US. Very much recommended.
  • Arrow (The CW/Sky 1): A living breathing advert for Windows 8 and way too teenage and soapy. Even James Callis couldn’t keep a straight face. It was redeemed by the use of the BSG alert klaxon during the museum robbery scene.
  • Banshee (Cinemax/Sky Atlantic): Is it my imagination or is the title sequence becoming more and more animated with each episode? I could have sworn the albino didn’t move until this episode. A decent flashback episode, this one focusing on Hood’s time in jail, that paid off well if you’d been watching since the beginning. Very, very brutal, mind.
  • Being Human (US) (SyFy): Somehow feels less involving than previous seasons. Mark Pellegrino turning up in flashback was good, as was his English accent, but Sam Witwer’s needed work.
  • The Blue Rose (TV3): Still hasn’t found its feet and neither comedic nor dramatic enough to be compelling. But I’ll give it a week or so more yet.
  • Elementary (CBS/Sky Living): Not seen all of it so far, but I’ll tell you one thing: Sherlock Holmes doesn’t know how to build a molecule with benzene rings in it properly.
  • Go On (NBC): Has reached the point where ideas are now being thrown out randomly, whether they work with particular characters or not. They finally gave the blind black guy something to do with some funny retcon – he’s a former cop and has mentioned it loads of time, but because everyone’s been so self-involved they’ve ignored him – and Piper Perabo does a funny New Jersey accent.
  • House of Cards (Netflix): I’m an episode or two further along now and enjoying its twisty turniness. Not convinced Kate Mara’s character would allow herself to have pictures taken in the nude, and the latest episode had the usual American belief that unions are little more than organised crime in disguise, even teachers’ unions, but lovely stuff. The show actually used the c-word as well, which was remarkable. And if you wondered what happened Joel Schumacher, turns out he’s directing House of Cards now. Definitely still recommended.
  • Modern Family (ABC/Sky1): Yes, that was Maxwell Caufield.
  • Mr Selfridge (ITV/PBS): The show’s starting to become a little self-mocking and Jeremy Piven is starting to spiral out of control, presumably thanks to the punishing schedule. The archness (and hair bra) of his aristocratic sponsor is also starting to grate, as are the accents of some of the cast: some of the Selfridge children’s US accents are wobbly and Amy Beth Childs, who was good with a Northern accent in Sirens, is clearly struggling with a squeaky cockney. Still, we did get John Sessions as Arthur Conan Doyle and a seance, and next week, we’re going to be getting Michael Brandon (Dempsey from Dempsey and Makepeace).
  • Shameless (US) (Showtime/More4): For once, you wanted to side with Steve against Fiona in their dramas. All of a bit of a jolly jape, though, all the mean girls at the swimming pool were good, but the ending was a refreshing change to the status quo. Looking forward to seeing what happens next week.
  • Southland (TNT/Channel 4): And so the bleakness goes on. Loving it. Best moment: Cooper’s fire-fight, although his continuing self-closeting and kindness to the Downs girl were close seconds.
  • Suits (USA/Dave): A great finale marred somewhat by some of the worst English stereotypes since The Patriot or possibly Three Men and a Little Lady. It does feel though that it’s not actually doing seasons any more but is just one long continuous show that occasionally takes breaks.

“What did you watch this week?” is your chance to recommend to friends and fellow blog readers the TV and films that they might be missing or should avoid – and for me to do mini-reviews of everything I’ve watched. 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?

What did you watch this week? Including Arrow, 30 Rock, Banshee, Charlie Brooker’s Weekly Wipe and Elementary

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

First, the usual recommendations: Archer, Arrow, Banshee, Being Human (US), The Daily Show, Cougar Town, Elementary, Go On, Modern Family, Mr Selfridge, Shameless, Spartacus, Suits, Top Gear and Vegas. These are all going to be on in either the UK or the US, perhaps even both, but I can’t be sure which.

Don’t forget, UK readers – season 4 of Spiral aka Engrenages will start tomorrow on BBC4 at 9pm. Two episodes, of course. Anyone want episode-by-episode reviews?

I tried to watch Derek, Ricky Gervais’s new ‘comedy’, but after five minutes of offensive, unwatchable, poorly acted cobblers, we switched off. New Yes Prime Minister got given its notice after two episodes, because despite attempts to update it for modern politics, it still feels like an 80s show with 80s characters, yet at the same time isn’t faithful enough to them to work.

Still in the viewing queue: this week’s episode of The Doctor Blake Mysteries as well as most of House of Cards and The Carrie Diaries, which I suspect might never get watched. But that’s about it. Except for Community, which finally returned last night. Normally I’d just recommend it straight off, but without Dan Harmon as show runner, I’m going to watch the ep then decide, since the signs have not been good.

Now, some thoughts on the regulars.

  • 30 Rock: A pretty poor finale, redeemed by about 15 minutes of quality material. But then, that’s pretty much what the first episode was like, so that’s probably appropriate, and it did have some fun things to say about women, work and childcare at the same time. Goodbye Liz Lemon – you were great while you were here.
  • The Americans: A really good second episode that had all the good qualities of the first, but with added spy evilness on the part of the KGB/our heroes, as well as guest impersonations of Casper Weinberger and British defence secretary John Nott. The end part really makes you sympathise with the Soviets. Plus we finally have some actual Russians, speaking Russians, which contrasts well with ‘the Americans’ themselves.  
  • Arrow: On the plus side of Arrow, something I haven’t mentioned is that the producers have absolutely no reverence for the comics: they’ll use what they want and change what doesn’t fit. Case in point: the arrival of (spoiler)Slade Wilson, aka Deathstroke, this week. Now they’ve cast Spartacus‘s Manu Bennett in the role, simply because he’s so cool, and they’ve simply made his character Australian and a member of the Australian SIS as a result. Marvellous.
  • Banshee: Unlike Arrow, Banshee wants everyone to be American. So even though they’ve got a New Zealander in the lead role (he was one of the Wests in Outrageous Fortune) and a Dane as the villain, they’re still making them pretend to be Americans. Last week’s episode was a characteristic mix of the ludicrous and the great, so I encourage you all to give it a try.
  • Being Human (US): They’re starting to hint at an Aidan and Sally relationship, as per the original, I notice, which is intriguing. I’m also curious about what’s happened to Josh’s family, given he has no reason not to see them any more.
  • Charlie Brooker’s Weekly Wipe: Basically, just like all his other Wipes but with less to say, a weird attempt at a collaborative movie review feature and a more inspired “reading out of comments from the Internet”. Not his best, but still watchable.
  • Cougar Town: Ooh! The writers remembered that everyone is supposed to have a job.
  • Elementary: An odd choice for the post-Superbowl episode, with very little to commend it, but last night’s featuring not just John Hannah in full Scottish mode but also an ex member of The Unit was a big improvement. It was also one of the first episodes that felt like a proper Holmes story, too, with a few references here and there to the originals. It also raised the intriguing suggestion that the reason that Holmes doesn’t feel like Holmes is because he needs drugs and now he’s sober, he’s not the man he used to be as a result. Could be a good narrative direction they’re going to go in there.
  • Spartacus: Julius Caesar has arrived! Otherwise, a largely unremarkable episode.
  • Suits: Two fabulous episodes made even more fabulous by Wendell Pierce (Bunk from The Wire) and the return of (spoiler alert)Daniel Hardman. Gives House of Cards a run for its money in terms of manipulations.
  • Vegas: A bit more for Carrie Anne Moss to do this week, but her character is so lifeless, that’s still not much. But a good episode and I wasn’t expecting many of the twists the show turned up this week, either.

“What did you watch this week?” is your chance to recommend to friends and fellow blog readers the TV and films that they might be missing or should avoid – and for me to do mini-reviews of everything I’ve watched. 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?

Australian and New Zealand TV

Review: The Doctor Blake Mysteries 1×1 (ABC1/ITV)

The Doctor Blake Mysteries

In Australia: Fridays, 8.30pm, ABC1
In the UK: Will air on ITV
In the rest of the world: Not yet acquired

If you’re from the UK and of a certain age – your 30s or 40s – you’ll remember Craig McClachlan: he was Henry on Australian soap opera Neighbours, back when anyone who was anyone watched it.

So popular was he in the role, that he was enticed over to the UK to star in BBC1’s Bugs, a fun bit of escapism masterminded by The Avengers‘ Brian Clemens that was thoroughly enjoyable until a bunch of people who’d written some Doctor Who New Adventures novels decided they wanted to make it proper sci-fi and robbed it of any or all enjoyable qualities in its second series.

One thing that McClachlan didn’t really demonstrate in either of those two shows was the ability to act. In fact, he was largely only notable for his haircut and huge pectoral muscles, and that was about it.

Craig McClachlan in Neighbours

So colour me surprised by The Doctor Blake Mysteries, a new Australian crime series set in small Victoria town in 1959 and which stars McClachlan as the eponymous Doctor Blake. Because not only is the show itself really rather decent, but McClachlan – as well as not taking off his top once – seems to have matured into “one of Australia’s favourite and most versatile actors” during the past 20 or so years.

Here’s a trailer.

Continue reading “Review: The Doctor Blake Mysteries 1×1 (ABC1/ITV)”