Marvel's The Punisher
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Boxset Monday: Marvel’s The Punisher (season 1) (Netflix)

The Punisher in all his incarnations has always been something of an accidental success. A former marine, Frank Castle turns lethal vigilante following the murder of his family by criminals, becoming judge, jury and executioner to those who would break the law. He had no powers, just his military training, a heap of weapons and a skull on his chest, and he was originally a bad guy – one of Spider-Man’s many badly becostumed adversaries in the early 70s.

Spider-Man and the Punisher

But it was that almost unique willingness to kill in comics that made him such a success that he eventually got his own comic and no fewer than three (pretty bad) film appearances, where he was played first by Dolph Lundgren, then Thomas Jane and finally Ray Stevenson.

However, his success ended for a while when a 2011 attempt by Fox to produce a TV series starring the character fell through.

But let’s now flash-forward to the era of Netflix and its Marvel superhero shows. The plan from the outset was very clear: there would be four one-season superhero shows – Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist – which would then lead into a team-up show The Defenders.

The first sign everything was going off-plan was when Daredevil got a second season. It’s hard to tell whether that had been planned from the outset; however, it seems likely given

  1. Netflix awarded Daredevil another season only a week after its first season aired
  2. The whole plot of that second season is vital to the plot of The Defenders

Nevertheless, what definitely wasn’t part of the plan was the success of guest anti-hero/baddie The Punisher in that second season. That can be put down to the ‘lightning in a bottle’ casting of Jon Bernthal. Bernthal’s always been part of the supporting cast, never the lead.

He’s Andrew Lincoln’s best bud in The Walking Dead, not Andrew Lincoln.

He’s Ben Affleck’s brother in The Accountant, not Ben Affleck.

He’s the guy Andrea Anders rejects in The Class to go back to her husband (although he ends up with Lizzy Caplan so it’s not all bad).

But as Castle, Bernthal was the undoubted star of the second season of Daredevil, a brutal match for Charlie Cox’s gymnastic lead – a blue-collar grunt to Matt Murdock’s white-collar, morally-torn lawyer.

Bernthal so occupied the role that it’s hard to think of anyone else being able to play the character and it wasn’t long before Netflix and Marvel realised what they’d got and decided to break with the plan and commission Marvel’s The Punisher, with Bernthal as its lead.

Punishing?

The question was what form the show would take. Would it follow on, for example, from the comics’, the movies’ and season 2’s general theme of a man giving ‘the punishment they deserve’ to mobsters, rapists, paedophiles et al who seem to be above the law and escaping justice? Yet, how would a white man with a lethal arsenal shooting up cities go down in an age of the alt-right, MRAs and mass-shootings by white men who feel aggrieved by society? And how would it go down against the liberal backdrop of Netflix’s other shows: Daredevil stuck up for the poor and oppressed; Jessica Jones deconstructed superheroes, male power and sexual violence; Luke Cage asked what a black man can do for his community and others against both oppression and police shootings; and Iron Fist looked at the responsibilities of the rich towards the poor and the rest of the world.

The various trailers Netflix produced in the lead up to the show’s released seemed to suggest business as usual for Frank Castle – lots of gunfire against a rock soundtrack. And yet, oddly, that’s not what Marvel’s The Punisher is. For the most part, the show is instead the white, working class male’s equivalent of Jessica Jones and Luke Cage. It’s a look at family, responsibility, friendship, parenting, class, class loyalty, what it is to be in the military and to have brothers-in-arms, the consequences of violence, and the role of government in helping the working class. And oddly, there’s very little punishment meted out.

Here are those moderately misleading and spoilerish trailers. Slightly less spoilerish review of all 13 episodes after the jump.

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The Last Ship
TV reviews

What have you been watching? Including Ten Days in the Valley, The Flash and The Last Ship

It’s “What have you been watching?”, my chance to tell you each week what movies and TV I’ve been watching recently and your chance to recommend anything you’ve been watching. TMINE recommends has all the reviews of all the TV shows TMINE has ever recommended, but for a complete list of TMINE’s reviews of (good, bad and insipid) TV shows and movies, there’s the definitive TV Reviews A-Z and Film Reviews A-Z

It’s that time again. No, I’m not talking about WHYBW. For starters, it’s Wednesday. Oh dear.

Hopefully, we’ll be back to the regular Tuesday slot for WHYBW next week, since Sunday and Monday’s schedules seem to be dying down. But I was actually referring to my usual October cull of the schedules, to weed out shows that for me are no-hopers, which should help, too.

For just a little sense of excitement, I won’t reveal which ones those are until after the jump, but at least two regulars are for the chop, in fact – ooh! On top of that, a lot of the new shows didn’t make it passed their second episodes, either.

Elsewhere, I’ve reviewed the first episodes of Kevin (Probably) Saves The World (US: ABC) and The Gifted (US: Fox; UK: Fox UK). I’ve also passed third-episode verdicts on Absentia (AXN), The Brave (US: NBC) and Me, Myself and I (US: CBS).

No, I didn’t get round to Alias Grace (Canada: CBS; UK: Netflix). Sorry. That’s three episodes in. Some day, though. Some day. However, Ghost Wars (US: Syfy; UK: Netflix) and Valor (US: The CW) will be getting their turn tomorrow for sure.

I did also promise a review of Ten Days in the Valley (US: ABC), Kyra Sedgwick’s new show in which she plays a TV producer whose daughter goes missing. However, so terrible, so boring, so unbearably by the numbers was it that I didn’t even get as far as her daughter going missing. Fortunately, the ratings are so low I doubt ABC will air the entire series, so not a huge omission on my part, I feel.

So follow me after the jump where I’ll be discussing the latest episodes of Get Krack!n, Ghosted, The Gifted, Great News, Halt and Catch Fire, Kevin (Probably) Saves The World, Lethal Weapon, Lucifer, Marvel’s Inhumans, The Mayor, Professor T, SEAL Team, Star Trek: Discovery and Will & Grace, as well as the season finale of The Last Ship and the returns of The Flash and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. Which do you reckon will be getting the boot?

Continue reading “What have you been watching? Including Ten Days in the Valley, The Flash and The Last Ship”

Will and Grace
TV reviews

What have you been watching? Including Bad Blood, 9JKL and Will and Grace

It’s “What have you been watching?”, my chance to tell you each week what movies and TV I’ve been watching recently and your chance to recommend anything you’ve been watching. TMINE recommends has all the reviews of all the TV shows TMINE has ever recommended, but for a complete list of TMINE’s reviews of (good, bad and insipid) TV shows and movies, there’s the definitive TV Reviews A-Z and Film Reviews A-Z. But it’s what you have you been watching? I bet it’s better than what I’ve been watching. And I watched a lot

Week one into the new US TV season and I reckon I’m keeping up pretty well. Admittedly, I’ve had to ditch Boxset Monday and move WHYBW? from Tuesday to Wednesday to do it, but I don’t think that’s going to cause too many fainting fits.

This week, I’ve reviewed (and even previewed) the first episodes of:

That’s not the whole gamut of new shows, mind, and still to come this week are my reviews of Kevin (Probably) Saves The World (US: ABC), Ten Days in the Valley (US: ABC) and The Gifted (US: Fox; UK: Fox UK). I’m also planning to have a look at Alias Grace (Canada: CBC; UK: Netflix) and Absentia (AXN), and I might even give 4 Blocks (Germany: TNT Serie; UK: Amazon) a whirl if I have the time.

On top of that, there are a few other new shows – but I’ll be dealing with them after the jump, along with the regulars, both old and new. So follow me over the page to where I will cast my eye over the latest episodes of The Brave, Get Krack!n, Great News, Halt and Catch Fire, The Last Ship, Lethal Weapon, Lucifer, My Myself and I, Professor T and Star Trek: Discovery, as well as fill you in on new arrivals Bad Blood, 9JKL and – what’s this? – Will and Grace. Is that right?

(Yep, I dropped Bang and The Good Doctor. What you gonna do?)

Continue reading “What have you been watching? Including Bad Blood, 9JKL and Will and Grace”

Baywatch
TV reviews

What have you been watching? Including Baywatch, Bang, Get Krack!n and Professor T

It’s “What have you been watching?”, my chance to tell you each week what movies and TV I’ve been watching recently and your chance to recommend anything you’ve been watching. TMINE recommends has all the reviews of all the TV shows TMINE has ever recommended, but for a complete list of TMINE’s reviews of (good, bad and insipid) TV shows and movies, there’s the definitive TV Reviews A-Z and Film Reviews A-Z. But it’s what you have you been watching? I bet it’s better than what I’ve been watching.

And lo! The floodgates have opened. Coincidentally in the week I’m busiest this month. Why couldn’t it have been last week? Pfft.

I’ve already reviewed The Brave (US: NBC) and the first two episodes of Star Trek: Discovery (US: CBS All Access; UK: Netflix), and I’ve passed a third-episode verdict on The Orville (US: Fox; UK: Fox UK), too. But still in my viewing pile from last night are Young Sheldon (US: CBS; UK: E4) and Me, Myself and I (US: CBS); I’ve still to write a preview of Ghosted (US: Fox), although doesn’t start until October 1; and I have to admit to having been a bit tardy in getting round to watching Bad Blood (Canada: City), too. All of those I hope to review within the next week, but you can bet your bottom dollar there’ll be a bunch of other shows joining them soon.

I’ve only watched one movie this week, Baywatch, so after the jump, I’ll be discussing that along with the latest episodes of Get Krack!n (Australia: ABC), Halt and Catch Fire (US: AMC; UK: Amazon) and The Last Ship (US: TNT; UK: Sky1). I’ve also been playing catching up with Bang (UK: S4C) and Professor T (Belgium: Eén; UK: More4). More on all of those in a mo.

Continue reading “What have you been watching? Including Baywatch, Bang, Get Krack!n and Professor T”

Watchmen
News

The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina; Walter Presents acquires Mama’s Angel; + more

Internet TV

International TV

  • Sean Penn joins Channel 4/Hulu (US)’s The First

UK TV

New UK TV shows

US TV

US TV show casting

New US TV shows