Frankie Drake
TV reviews

What have you been watching? Including Frankie Drake and Babylon Berlin

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 TV shows TMINE has ever recommended and TV Reviews A-Z lists every TV show ever reviewed here

We’re back on Wednesday again thanks to a massive surfeit of shows on Sundays and Mondays compared to the rest of the week (thanks, Babylon Berlin, Frankie Drake Mysteries, Travelers, Star Trek: Discovery and The Brave). Hopefully, that’s not rocked the bedrock of your beliefs about the universe.

Elsewhere, this week’s Boxset Monday was season 1 of 4 Blocks (Germany: TNT Series; UK: Amazon), and I’ve also reviewed the first episodes of the aforementioned Frankie Drake Mysteries (Canada: CBC; UK: Alibi) and Damnation (US: USA; UK: Netflix). I’ve not yet found time to review Sisters (Australia: Ten) (Narrator: he never will), which is now up to episode three, but I’m going to review the first episodes of both it and Future Man (US: Hulu) some time in the next week, and I might even have a whirl at No Activity (US: CBS All Access) if I have a mo – assuming the arrival of Marvel’s The Punisher (Netflix) on Friday doesn’t nuke my entire viewing schedule.

No other new TV shows this week and I’ve not watched any movies, either, which means it’s time to look at the tail end of the Fall season after the jump with the latest episodes of the regulars: Babylon Berlin, The Brave, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, Frankie Drake Mysteries, Mr Robot, SEAL Team, Star Trek: Discovery and Travelers.

We’ll also be looking at the season finale of Professor T, although you’ll have to wait until next week to hear what I think about the final episode of Marvel’s Inhumans, as lovely wife hasn’t mustered up enough enthusiasm to watch it yet. I can’t really blame her.

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Blade Runner 2049
TV reviews

What have you been watching? Including The Guest Book, SMILF and Blade Runner 2049

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 been a quieter week than last week, so there haven’t been as many new shows to watch as before. Mario Van Peebles’s southern BuffySuperstition (US: Syfy; UK: Netflix), I’ve already reviewed and I’ve passed a third-episode verdict on Matt Nix’s ‘The X-Men universe without The X-Men’ show The Gifted (US: Fox; UK: Fox UK).

But that doesn’t mean this week’s WHYBW is going to be an empty affair. For starters, I forgot to review Blade Runner 2049 last week. Oops.

But there’s been one new show I haven’t yet covered, The Guest Book (US: TBS), which comes from the pen of Greg Garcia (My Name is Earl), and there’s a forthcoming show, SMILF (US: Showtime; UK: Sky Atlantic), that I’ll be previewing, too.

I’ll also be running through the latest episodes of the regulars: The Brave, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, Great News, Marvel’s Inhumans, Mr Robot, My Myself and I, Professor T, SEAL Team, Star Trek: Discovery, Travelers, and Will & Grace. At least one of these is for the chop – can you guess which one?

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What have you been watching? Including Travelers, Falling Water, The OA, Shooter and Dix pour cent (Call My Agent!)

It’s “What have you been watching?”, my chance to tell you what movies and TV I’ve been watching recently and your chance to recommend anything you’ve been watching. 

I did promise you on Monday one potential last WHYBW to sign off with before the Christmas hols to mop up the few shows with remaining episodes this week. And here it is! How exciting. How reliable of me for a change.

After the jump then, the finale of Falling Water and as Netflix released all of Travelers today in the UK, I was able to binge-watch the final episodes, so I’ll be looking at them, too. Thanks to its delayed airing, I’ll be looking at the latest (not final) episode of Shooter, and I’ve also watched a few more episodes of The OA since I started it on Monday. 

On top of that, I also managed to catch up with another of Netflix’s French imports:

Dix pour cent (Call My Agent!) (France: France 2; UK: Netflix)
Sort of the French equivalent of ExtrasDix pour cent is set in a talent agency, where the various members of staff have to deal with all the problems that beset the ‘talent’, including the talent themselves. Except there’s all manner of inter-agency rivalry, poaching et al to deal with, too, once the head of the agency pops his clogs.

The show’s selling point in France is that series producer Dominique Besnehard was one of the biggest talent agents in France for 20 years and managed huge numbers of top actors, actresses and directors. He then persuaded a select range of these stars to appear as ‘themselves’ in the show to send themselves up, with episode one seeing Cécile de France (The Young Pope, Around The World in 80 Days, Mesrine) finding herself ditched from a Quentin Tarantino movie for being – gasp! – too old.

Which is a problem for UK audiences, since although there’s a chance that some of us will be familiar with some of the stars such as Audrey Fleurot from Engrenages (Spiral), most of the stars are like de France and are going to leave virtually everyone scratching our heads in exactly the same way every American did when Les Dennis turned up in Extras, for example. Even if you do know the show features such cameos (which isn’t obvious), most people aren’t going to know fictional character from cameo, let alone know an actor’s public persona and what they’re sending up.

On top of that, it’s just not that funny. Quelle surprise, given it’s France 2, but the show’s few jokes went flashing past unaccompanied by laughs. Oh, and the subtitling is terrible.

One to avoid unless you really know your French acting scene, I’m afraid.

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Question of the year: what were your favourite new shows of 2016? Here’s my Top 13!

TMINE’s about to take its traditional Christmas and New Year break. I’ll be back tomorrow but after that, normal business won’t resume until January 3rd or 4th with the Daily News et al. But a new tradition I started last year was to leave you with a specific question to keep you occupied: what were your favourite new shows of the year? As always, let everyone know your choices and the reasons below or on your own blog.

For the record, after the jump are my Top 1213 from all the countries around the world, as well as that new-fangled Internet thing, in no particular order, with the addition of one I mysteriously left off this morning. Merry Grafelnik, everyone!

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What have you been watching? Including Rogue One, Nobel, The OA and Chance

It’s “What have you been watching?”, my chance to tell you what movies and TV I’ve been watching recently and your chance to recommend anything you’ve been watching. 

It’s the final week before Christmas and TMINE’s usual end-of-year break, so this is going to be the final WHYBW of 2016, unless I do another one on Thursday and Friday to mop up a few concluding shows.

As usual, American TV has just about wound down in readiness for Crimbo but this year, Internet TV has started arming a flotilla of box sets for everyone to settle down with once the turkey has subsided and no one can move any more. I’ll be looking a couple of those in a mo, but there’s too many for me to deal with by myself, so if you’ve already watched season two of The Man in the High Castle on Amazon or season one of Une Chance De Trop (No Second Chance) or Cannabis on Netflix, feel free to let everyone know what you thought of them in the comments section.

Elsewhere, I’ve (p)reviewed Swedish Dicks (Sweden) and passed a third-episode verdict on Shut Eye (US); after the jump, the regulars:

  • Canada
    Travelers
  • US
    Chance, Falling Water, The Great Indoors, Shooter, and Timeless.

But first, a couple of newbies:

Nobel (Norway: NRK1; UK: Netflix)
Aksel Hennie (The Martian) is a Norwegian special forces officer just back from Afghanistan who is ordered to investigate when a former Taliban target turns up in Oslo. Hennie ends up killing him, but begins to learn that maybe his orders weren’t as legitimate as he first thought. Who’s responsible, will he get found out, has it anything to do with the Nobel Peace Prize committee and what happened back in Afghanistan anyway involving the target’s wife?

Something of a leap up in quality from previous Norwegian efforts such as Okkupert (Occupied) and Mammon, Nobel is a geopolitical thriller that juxtaposes the individual with realpolitik, examining the decisions individual soldiers have to make on the ground, the effects of war and the little bit people who get caught up in big decisions, while looking at the alliances needed and compromises made to end war, where even a $60bn deal can be threatened by the wrong person turning up to a party at the wrong time. It all feels nicely realistic for a change, even if some of the nuances of the language and culture passed me by (eg a translator appears to be speaking Norwegian with everyone else and then someone says to her “six languages and you still can’t speak Norwegian”. What language is she speaking then?!), and Hennie makes for a very plausible special forces operative.

I’m only two episodes in but this looks like a keeper.

The OA (Netflix)
Netflix has started to develop a habit of covertly producing very odd but wonderful little series with no publicity that it puts out of a Friday as a boxset and surprises everyone. The OA is such a show, a genre-defying piece created by and written by Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij, directed by Batmanglij and starring Marling (as well as a certain Jason Isaacs) that’s almost impossible to categorise – the best comparison I can come up with is if Neil Gaiman and Hal Hartley sat down together and decided to mash up Stranger Things, Room and Anastasia.

It starts with Marling jumping off a bridge. But when her parents come rushing to her hospital, they reveal she’s been missing for seven years – however, before she disappeared, this fully sighted girl was blind. Returning to her home, she’s soon shaking up the town with some special powers she seems to have acquired. But she needs five “strong and flexible” people to help her rescue someone, perhaps from that mysterious other realm she once visited…

Full of strange authorial decisions from Marling’s insistence that everyone now call her ‘The OA’ through to only starting the title sequence 45 minutes into the episode once she begins to retell her story of actually being a reincarnated Russian oligarch’s daughter, it’s a properly auteured piece of work that needs to be watched if you’re to stand a chance of knowing what it’s like. Visually beautiful, it is by turns upsetting, bewildering and heart-warming, and most frequently like a fairy tale – but even that’s a classification it eludes.

I’ve seen one episode so far and it never once did any of the things I suspected it would do and did many things I’ve never imagined. I’m going to watch more just to see if it’ll blow my mind any further, but it requires a good deal of patience and I suspect it won’t be to everyone’s tastes.

I also watched a movie this week!

Rogue One (2016)
An almost immediate prequel to Star WarsRogue One reveals the full details of how those plucky spies mentioned in the first movie’s opening introduction were able to retrieve the plans for the Death Star and ultimately help to stop the Empire’s plans for galactic domination. Directed by Gareth Edwards and co-written by Tony Gilroy, the film is more like a proper war movie than any of the other Star Wars flicks, echoing The Dirty Dozen and The Seven Samurai, as plucky crim Felicity Jones puts together a band of warriors that includes Donnie Yen and Riz Ahmed to track down the man who designed the Death Star – her father, Mads Mikkelsen.

Operating resolutely in the vein of Edwards’s previous blockbuster, Godzilla, it’s a game of two halves. The first is a slow, character-builder that shows off the Star Wars universe with some spectacular location filming. The second is then a giddy, action-packed pay-off that surprises with an oddly large number of heroic deaths. On top of that, you have the return of a number of original Star Wars characters and actors who appear as their young and/or not-dead selves through the power of CGI, the movie effectively spelling out why the Empire was so fearsome, why everyone was properly worried of the Death Star and by the end, precisely why everyone was right to cack themselves as soon as Darth Vader entered the room.

All in all, a movie that gets better in the memory and which finally does something new and worthwhile with the franchise. It’s also best to watch Star Wars afterwards to see how it almost exactly matches up with everything we see in that.

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