Streaming TV

What have you been watching? Including La Brea

It’s “What have you been watching?”, your chance to recommend to fellow TMINE readers anything you’ve been watching this week

Surprisingly, last week’s huge flurry of new shows seems to have been the extent of the Fall season in North America. I assumed it would be bigger and longer than… a week. Maybe there’ll be more this month, but that would involve me looking to find out. Sounds like work, doesn’t it?

I prefer to just bump into new shows these days. Did you know IMDb TV is going to be a thing? I’d heard a bit about it and knew there was a new Judge Judy show on it, but that’s about it, so figured it was just reality TV.

But now I’ve just stumbled onto the fact that apparently, they’ve rebooted Leverage with the entire original cast and Noah Wyle but not Timothy Hutton (for very, very obvious reasons). And here’s a trailer for Leverage: Redemption, which is going to start in just a few weeks. Isn’t that some good stumbling?

I also stumbled across Fires, which is ABC (Australia)’s retelling of last year’s wildfires in Australia. Remember when that was going to be the thing of 2020?

Anyway, that’s just started but is verboten in this house, on the grounds it’s about something real and miserable.

That meant the only new show I have to share with you is this piece of rubbish.


La Brea (US: NBC)

A massive sinkhole mysteriously opens up in Los Angeles, separating part of a family in an unexplainable primeval world, alongside a disparate group of strangers.

Rob says: ‘Lost meets The Lost World = Twice as Lost’

It’s pretty obvious right from the outset of La Brea that this is going to be an awful TV show. All the standard tools for character compression get thrown out like balls from a tennis practice machine, with us clear within the first minute of a random car journey to school that the three characters have moved house, are a family, one has lost her leg somehow, have left the father somewhere else for ‘reasons’, the mum (Natalie Zea) is feeling guilty of being a ‘helicopter mom’ and more. Not for a moment is it natural dialogue.

By minute two, a massive sinkhole has opened up and we’re having car chases on pavements in reverse, people running out the way, buildings falling and more.

Never for one second are you expected to be bored or to have to use your brain. Don’t worry – you won’t need it.

Before you know it, half our family are in a grassy wonderland that looks a bit Canadian that’s apparently under LA somehow, the other half are stuck up above and think the first lot are dead. But fear not, they’ve just fallen down some kind of portal into a primeval dimension, filled with CGI wolves, sabretooth tigers and sort of vultures.

Meanwhile, Air Force dad (Eoin Macken from Nightflyers) turns out to have been diagnosed with schizophrenia but – oh wow, isn’t this handy and coincidental – has actually been having visions of what’s happening in this parallel world and can now see that his wife and all these other helpfully diverse people (surgeon/Navy SEALs, psychologist with guns, heroin smugglers) are all still alive! And must be saved! Please believe him!

One of the characters references Lost. I presume that’s as a sort of preemption to prevent people from accusing it of being Lost. “We’re not going to point out the similarities if we actually are just doing Lost are we?”

It is Lost. Sorry. That little ruse didn’t work for Catherine Tramell in Basic Instinct; it won’t work here either.

But it’s also The Lost World. That’s a really hard one to portmanteau with Lost, isn’t it? Shall we just say it’s twice as Lost?

Clearly, it’s The Lost World. Maybe even Verne’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth. Or more likely that thing with Doug McLure.

Anyway, it’s terrible. Everyone’s stupid. There wasn’t even one moment of plausibility in the whole thing, even before the sinkhole opened up. The effects are poor. The set-up is dumb. Even Natalie Zea can’t save this one.

And, of course, it’s an NBC show with a central ‘secret’ that will be eked out across multiple seasons and then cancelled before there’s any real resolution, unless Netflix saves it (cf Manifest). And this one is going to get cancelled very quickly. That means there are even fewer reasons to watch it.

The regulars

Otherwise, it was just the regulars. So, first up, I’m not going to be reviewing What We Do In The Shadows any more. For starters, I’m getting a bit bored of it, so I’m not sure there’s much point. It’s a bit funny every week, but that’s about it. There’ll probably be one awesome episode this season, which seems to be the tradition, but one awesome episode isn’t really enough to sustain reviews.

It’s also a comedy and as with Modern Family, which I did watch until the final episode but stopped reviewing at about season 4, there’s only so much you can say about an episodic comedy anyway before there stops being a point. So I’m going to keep watching What We Do In the Shadow but not review it.

Only Murders in the Building gave us more of Selena Gomez’s character, but as usual, Martin Short steals the show with his podcast antics.

The Cleaner was a more interesting affair, since it was basically Greg Davies (old bloke) meeting some young guy who’s obsessed with both social media and the 80s and Davies educating him about what the 80s was really like. But the two also came to a sort of interesting rapprochement that I quite enjoyed, so it wasn’t just an old guy going ‘Tsk, tsk! The kids today, hey?’

But what did you watch?

Streaming TV

What have you been watching? Including Foundation

It’s “What have you been watching?”, your chance to recommend to fellow TMINE readers anything you’ve been watching this week

There has been a plethora of new shows out in the US and Canada over the past week. On the one hand, this is promising: things are returning back to normal and this is normally the fall season, when TMINE would review as many as it could.

On the other, it did fill me a little with despair.

In the US, we have FBI: International, another spin-off from CBS’s FBI that reminded me of that terrible Criminal Minds spin-off that filled me with rage a few years ago.

NCIS: Hawaii: another spin-off from CBS’s NCIS.

Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol, Peacock’s attempt to give us something as astonishingly terrible as both Dan Brown’s books and the movies adapted from them.

There were other shows, such as anthology show The Premise (and I don’t review anthology shows anyway), but I think I gave up at that point daring to dream anything good was going to come at that point.

Canada didn’t help me either. We had the ‘raucous dramedy’ (ie rubbish) Moonshine from CBC, about the owners of a ramshackle summer resort on the south shore of Nova Scotia who are keen to retire but whose adult children are battling for control.

Strays, a spin-off from Kim’s Convenience.

And Family Law , in which “Abigail Bianchi, a recovering alcoholic and lawyer goes to work with her estranged father and two half-siblings. She’s never worked in family law before, and suddenly finds herself having to manage not just her clients family dysfunction, but her own. She must learn to navigate working with her father and siblings she doesn’t know as part of her probation, all while trying to maintain her sobriety.”


So the only new show I watched and thus am able to review so far is…

Foundation (Apple TV+)

This is an adaptation of Isaac Asimov’s series of novels about a Galactic Empire that’s about to fall apart? How do they know that? Because a mathematician called Hari Seldon has developed something called ‘psychohistory’, which enables him to predict how large groups of people are likely to behave. He says that the end can’t be averted but the return to civilisation can be sped up if there are two ‘Foundations’ created to act as a repository of knowledge for civilisation – and to keep an eye on things.

The series boasts a decently stellar cast, including Jared Harris, Lee Pace and… Reece Sheersmith. No, really. It also looks astonishing. The effects and design are amazing.

It’s also one of the most boring TV shows I’ve ever seen. It singly failed to involve me at any point. It’s been so long since I read the Foundation series that I can’t really remember enough of it to say if it was a failing of the originals. But I read all three, as well as the later additions Asimov added, so I must have been motivated to do that.

Whatever the case, nothing about the first two episodes made me want to watch any more of it, with its lack of real characters, just ideas and attempts to do hard sci-fi that fell flat many, many times. But given the lack of anything else appetising to watch, I might still tune in for the third episode on Friday.

Hark at me talking about ‘tuning in’ to a streaming show. How old am I?

The regulars

Otherwise, it was just the regulars. What We Do In The Shadows was moderately funny, but largely unforgettable, although its visit to Atlantic City did make me realise just how not the Las Vegas of the East Coast it is. I was also mildly amused to see the whistle stop tour of Europe: it did actually look like they’d been to Greece, although maybe not London.

Only Murders in the Building was pleasing, as we moved the action along and began to suspect Selena Gomez less. The podcast elements remain the show’s most amusing point, though.

The Cleaner had that nice lady from Cabin Pressure in one episode, while the other was more about vegan disabled people. They were both pleasant enough ways to pass time, but not exactly a riot of laughs. I’ll keep watching, though.

Greg Davies in BBC One's The Cleaner
Streaming TV

What have you been watching? Including The Cleaner

It’s “What have you been watching?”, your chance to recommend to fellow TMINE readers anything you’ve been watching this week

As I suspected last week American Rust, an adaptation of Philipp Meyer’s novel that Showtime described as “a compelling family drama and a timeless story told through the eyes of complicated and compromised chief of police Del Harris (Jeff Daniels) of a Pennsylvania Rust Belt town full of good people making bad choices” was about as fun as a hernia operation. Honestly, why do networks think:

  1. People want to watch miserable sh*t right now, after a year and a half of misery (at least a year and a half – apparently, in the Before Times, there were things to be miserable about other than Covid, too, but I struggle to remember those days so can’t confirm that)
  2. Miserable = quality TV while happy = lightweight TV?

It’s just such an odd couple of equations.

I also tried Australian Gangster (Australia: Seven). That’s billed as “Drug dealer, gangster, gym-junky, Lamborghini driver, husband, father, Australian Gangster is a four hour TV series about the life and death of a new breed of Sydney criminal. The kind that doesn’t care about playing it safe or keeping a low profile or even getting caught. Our main character is emblematic of the type of modern gangster that only really cares about looking good on Instagram, making a name for himself in a new, wannabe glamorous crime scene, while at the same time trying to manage the pressures of family life.”

I mean, it’s an obvious attempt to do a new Underbelly, just as a new Underbelly comes out, but want to guess how much fun it was? I mean it opens with a man being mildly threatening to a teacher because his kid has speech issues and so goes around biting everyone.

Do you know what that made me do? It made me watch some British TV.

The Cleaner (UK: BBC One)

“After CSI have done their stuff, the cleaner mops up the grisly remains. For Wicky, a bloodbath and the pub is all in a day’s work. Comedy written by and starring Greg Davies.”

And it’s odd. Mildly funny, but odd. Essentially, it’s a series of two-handers, with Davies turning up at a property to clean it after someone has died and then chatting with whomever he finds there for 30 minutes. So far we’ve had Helena Bonham-Carter, as a widow and suspected murderer who has returned to the scene of the crime; and David Mitchell, as a somewhat irate writer with writers’ block.

It’s somewhat reminiscent of Davies’ Taskmaster in some regards, with the dialogue usually being a battle of wits, before Davies just plays a meanness trump card to win. His character is little different from his standup persona, too, although there are fewer mentions of his mother.

But, I enjoyed it. Bonham-Carter was pleasingly dotty but also sympathetic as the woman who hated her model-making, unromantic husband but never got round to killing him. Mitchell was the “angry logic, you’re all imbeciles” persona we’ve come to expect, but also a figure of sympathy after a while.

It’s all a bit rough and loose, and your enjoyment is likely linked to how much you like Greg Davies. But it was definitely worth my time enough that I’d watch it again.

The regulars

On top of that, I now have two regulars to watch! It’s a true embarrassment of riches. They’re after the jump. But what have you been watching?

Continue reading “What have you been watching? Including The Cleaner”

What have you been watching? Including What We Do in the Shadows

It’s “What have you been watching?”, your chance to recommend to fellow TMINE readers anything you’ve been watching this week

TV is taking its time to wake up after both Covid and the summer holidays. I keep looking for new stuff and can’t find anything that I’d like to watch.

To its credit, Showtime in the US is about to give us American Rust, an adaptation of Philipp Meyer’s novel that the network describes as “a compelling family drama and a timeless story told through the eyes of complicated and compromised chief of police Del Harris (Jeff Daniels) of a Pennsylvania Rust Belt town full of good people making bad choices”.

That starts this Sunday at 10pm ET/PT, so there’s an outside chance I might even be able to preview it for you this week before it starts. But it doesn’t sound like a whole bunch of fun, does it?

That leaves me with just one returning regular to watch

What We Do In the Shadows

The show returns for its third season with two episodes, as is traditional. The first deals with the fallout from last season, with our Vampires having to become heads of the local Vampire Council while dealing with Guillermo (spoiler alert) Van Helsing, the Vampire Slayer. Largely an opportunity for Natasia Demetriou to really go to town and Matt Berry to swear a lot, it was as funny as usual, which was gratifying, and the arrival of another energy vampire really helped to mix up the bore-dom and give us a new, edgier, next generation kind of dull to enjoy. I also enjoyed the slight freeing of Guillermo to be less subservient but the cameo by (spoiler alert) Taika Waititi did little but give us more of (spoiler alert) Taika Waititi.

The second episode was a more entertaining affair, throwing open the floor to Kayvan Novak to do a whole bunch of impressions – and look fittish without his top on. There was less to it, but I found it funnier, on the whole.

Either way, the third season started well and on a par with its predecessors.

But what have you been watching?

What We Do In The Shadows
Streaming TV

What have you been watching? Including What We Do In The Shadows

It’s “What have you been watching?”, your chance to recommend to fellow TMINE readers anything you’ve been watching this week

Previously on TMINE

TMINE’s ever-increasing workload means that somehow WHYBW has slowly slipped from Wednesday to Thursday to Friday and now to Monday. This is despite the recommended list and the number of new (and interesting) shows appearing on your screens dropping to an all-time low.

I don’t think I’m operating on some sort of weird lunar calendar, but it’s always a possibility. Still, at least Monday makes some kind of weird sense for WHYBW, as a way to round off the weekend and start the work.

And I did at least manage to review all of season 3 of The Crown (Netflix).


What TMINE has been watching

The lack of reviews isn’t down to a lack of viewing. Season 3 of Baron Noir continues at pace and continues to be great. For a bit of light, concentration-free relief, I’ve also been watching some previous greats from the TMINE archives: Hannibal (US: NBC; UK: Netflix) and Travelers (Canada: Showcase; UK: Netflix).

Travelers is proving to be as great as it seemed at the time, whereas Hannibal, beyond that blinder of a pilot episode, is getting quagmired in a greater pretentiousness than I recall season one having, as well as those initial Criminal Minds style episodes that really dragged. However, there’s usually at least a few genius moments in each and it remains as sumptuous to watch and listen to as before.

I haven’t managed to tuck into season two of Das Boot (Germany: Sky; UK: Sky Atlantic), but I’m sure it’ll only be a matter of time.

Covideodrome has also been hard at work. I did give 21 Bridges (2019) a try, seeing as it’s currently free on Amazon Prime, but that was bad enough that first Lovely Wife gave up on it after about 20 minutes and then I did 10 minutes later. Bad, bad dialogue. However…

Next on TMINE

…with a Disney+ subscription and access to almost all the movies that Disney has ever made, we decided to fill some gaps in our collective viewing and work our way through a whole bunch of movies we’ve never watched, including The Jungle Book, Mulan, Moana, Brave, Aladdin and The Lion King. More on them later in the week. Probably.

Covid has now really kicked into the schedules and the only new show that I can see coming up this week is Hulu’s new series, Love, Victor, but I honestly can’t be bothered with teen/YA romances, gay or otherwise, particularly if they’re spin-offs of movies I haven’t seen. Australia et al don’t seem to have anything new either, so I’ll see if I can find something on Netflix or Amazon instead

What We Do In The Shadows

After the jump…

After the jump, I’ll be looking at the final episodes of the first season of Space Force. Otherwise, it’s just the ridiculously small list of regulars: Operation Buffalo, Star Girl and What We Do In The Shadows, which is about to get two-thirds smaller… Eek!

Continue reading “What have you been watching? Including What We Do In The Shadows”