Professor T
TV reviews

What have you been watching? Including Professor T, Lethal Weapon and כפולים (False Flag)

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.

I’ve been both lazy and hard-working this past week. On the one hand, despite knowing every year that the US is going to start launching all its new shows around now, I’ve not actually bothered looking at the schedules. I just assumed it would all be chocka by now, so I cleared the decks accordingly.

Except it’s not been chocka at all, so I’ve ended up watching a whole load of extra TV in the gaps I’ve left. That means that this week, as well as previews of new US shows The Good Doctor (US: ABC; UK: Sky Living) and The Mayor (US: ABC), I watched all the first season of Tin Star (UK: Sky Atlantic) and all the second season of Glitch (Australia: ABC; UK: Netflix) for TMINE’s newly inaugurated ‘Boxset Monday’.

Impressive, huh? What will I do next Monday, hey? Probably nothing as I’m going to be busy on Monday, so take Glitch as a downpayment.

On top of all those shows, I’ve been trying to watch an awful lot of other new shows and movies – to somewhat limited success, I have to admit.

The rubbish

I tried to watch the second episode of Dear Murderer (New Zealand: TVNZ), but my hopes of a nice spy trial episode were dashed once it became apparent that the trial was going to be thinly spread across the entire season, with our ‘hero’ instead mostly losing lots of cases using the same attempt to inject reasonable doubt into proceedings every time. So I gave up on that.

I also tried to watch Netflix’s pastiche of true crime documentaries, American Vandal. That lasted about 10 minutes before I realised it was basically about a US high school kid accused of spray-painting penises on people’s cars. So I gave up on that.

I also tried to give The Edge of the Bush (Australia: ABC) a whirl. That’s a short-form character comedy in which a small cast play a large number of very stupid, related people: “What happened on The Edge of the Bush? Something so powerful it will bring the Watts family calisthenics dynasty to its knees.” I got through about five minutes of that before I decided the jokes were so bad, I couldn’t even.

For reasons unclear to me, Netflix, Amazon and iTunes have simultaneously decided to carry a movie that was actually a recent failed attempt to resurrect ‘The Saint’ as a TV series. Since it was free on Netflix, I decided to give The Saint a whirl, but it only took me about 10 minutes and a very bad humorous fight scene before I understood why it had failed and gave up. Even though Eliza Dushku and Ian Ogilvy are in it.

Lots of failures then. But I did have greater success elsewhere. Although I didn’t quite have time to watch the second episode of Bang today as I’d planned, there were of course the usual regulars: Get Krack!n, Halt and Catch Fire and The Last Ship as well as the series finale of כפולים (False Flag). I also watched the first episode of returning regular Lethal Weapon and the second episode of The Orville.

But since I still had a moment or two spare over the weekend, I tried the first two episodes of Belgium’s Professor T. And together with my lovely wife, I also gave two movies a try: The Lobster and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2. All that after the jump.

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Australian and New Zealand TV

Boxset Monday: Glitch (season two) (Australia: ABC; UK: Netflix)

In Australia: Thursdays, 8.30pm, ABC
In the UK: Netflix. Available from November 28

The first season of ABC (Australia)’s Glitch was one of the high points of 2015.

The best of the “dead are coming back to life shows”, Glitch gave us a relatively unique slice of ‘Australian gothic’, where the returned came back to tell us something about Australian history, as well as people and possibly about the importance of death itself to the universe, with a bad guy who might have a point. With some genuinely spooky moments, its second season is going to be much anticipated.

The show got an almost instant renewal, but it’s only now that we’re getting a second season. Trouble was, the Australian acting industry is quite small and actors move around a lot, not just between networks but also between countries, looking to find fame and fortune in the US. Series lead Patrick Brammall not only had existing commitments with No Activity, Offspring and Upper Middle Bogan, he also went to the US for a while for an attempted remake of Upper Middle Bogan. Meanwhile, the ubiquitous Rodger Corser got his own show, Doctor Doctor, which is already on its second season and doing well internationally, while local doctor Genevieve O’Reilly has been off in Canada on Tin Star.

Still, there’s nothing like a bit of Netflix cash to make things happen, and with the show doing well globally, here we are at last with the second season. When we left our dead friends in 2015, we were on the verge of discovering what a mysterious pharmaceuticals company might have to do with their return; although the deceased’s memories were taking a long time in coming back, with Corser unable to even remember his own name, former town mayor Ned Dennehy was remembering that he had some aboriginal descendants, while Hannah Monson was remembering that she’d not had a good time of things. On top of that, Brammall was torn between his returned wife (Emma Booth) and his new wife (Emily Barclay).

On top of that, they’d had their own ‘grim reaper’ chasing after them – the recently deceased Andrew McFarlane, seemingly returned by death itself to restore the natural order of things by killing off the returned. They stopped McFarlane but would Barclay, who nearly died giving birth, take his place?

Season two does a surprisingly good job of answering almost all those questions and tying up all the hanging plot threads, as well as introducing some new characters. But there’s a fair old bit of retconning going on to take account of the cast’s new pecking order and schedules, and that Netflix money has somewhat changed the tone of the show. More on that, including a few spoilers, after the jump…

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Tin Star

Boxset Monday: Tin Star (UK: Sky Atlantic)

In the UK: Thursdays, 8pm, Sky Atlantic

Since Sky Atlantic’s outset, it’s had two missions:

  1. To make you want to buy a Sky HD add-on, by showing you some beautiful locations and lots of pretty celebrities
  2. To mess around with genre, so you never know what you’re going to get

The first has been a feature of virtually every Sky drama, whether it’s been the Spanish-set Falcón, the Riviera-set Riviera or the Iceland-based Fortitude, all of which were beautiful to look at, not all of which were great drama.

The less obvious, genre-switching remit has been there from the outset, too. Why have a drama about a trans woman meeting her hitherto unsuspected pre-transition children and another about a contract killer when you can have both in the form of Hit and MissFortitude, of course, initially looked like a simple piece of Nordic Noir, with a murder on an isolated island, before ultimately becoming a piece of sci-fi horror about parasitic wasps from before the dawn of time.

Now we have Tin Star, a new Sky Atlantic show created by Rowan Joffe (The American, 28 Weeks Later) that sets out to fulfil both Sky Atlantic remits. It sees Tim Roth playing an ex-Met officer who emigrates to a small Canadian town with his family in order to give them a safer, better life. He’s also a recovering alcoholic and believes that without the stresses of London, his chances of a relapse are smaller, too.

However, an oil company wants to set up operations near the town and sends PR woman Christina Hendricks (Mad Men) and security officer Christopher Heyerdahl (Hell on Wheels) to persuade the townsfolk. The townsfolk could do with the cash, both from the company and the workers they’ll bring; Sheriff Roth points out that they’ll bring crime with them at levels the town might fight difficult to deal with.

A year later, all is as Roth predicted. And when he takes a stand, his house and family are attacked. Before you know it, there’s a family tragedy. Who did it? What will Roth do in response? Can he stay sober? Will he want revenge?

Indeed, Tin Star is billed as a revenge thriller. But who’s getting revenge on whom? And can Sky Atlantic do a straight revenge thriller, or is it all going to be something a whole lot weirder than that?

I’ll try to keep the spoilers to a minimum after the jump, as I reviewed the entire first series. Enjoy this trailer first, though.

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ABC's The Mayor

Preview: The Mayor 1×1 (US: ABC)

In the US: Tuesdays, 9.30/8.30c, ABC. Starts October 3

For much of the past year, there’s been an ongoing race to see which TV show will be the undoubted first of ‘the Trump era’. Did The Good Fight get there first with its inclusion of the Trump inauguration, alt-right characters and people being discriminated against for voting Trump? Arguably not, as it wasn’t really about Trump.

How about any of the legion of forthcoming military shows due on US screens within the month? Are they going to claim the title by arguing that they speak to conservative concerns?

If they do, they’ll be too late because we now have The Mayor. On the face of it, it’s an unlikely winner, given it’s about a small-time Californian rapper (Search Party‘s Brandon Micheal Hall) hoping to hit the big time. However, Hall decides to boost his career by entering his city’s mayoral elections. His ignorance of policy shines through at debates, much to the disgust of his opponent’s totally clued in and competent manager (Glee‘s Lea Michele).

But his appeal to ‘the common man’ nevertheless means that when election day rolls round, he actually wins the contest he had no intention of winning and has to become mayor.

“Did the Russians hack the voting machines?” asks his best friend and campaign manager.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner. The Mayor is ‘Trump Show: The First’.

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The Good Doctor

Preview: The Good Doctor (US: ABC; UK: Sky Living)

In the US: Mondays, 10/9c, ABC. Starts September 25
In the UK: Acquired by Sky Living to air in Autumn

Back in 2014, I made a confident prediction:

I’m confidently predicting synesthesia as the TV Aspergers for 2015. All the shows will be doing it soon – you’ll see.

I wasn’t 100% on the money, but synesthesia did pop up in a few shows and CBS did try a synesthesia pilot back in 2016.

However, my unspoken assumption was that TV was so over Aspergers. It was done with it. It had been in everything already, so now was the time to find something newer and groovier for TV drama to work with.

Oops. My bad. Here we are, at the start of the 2017-2018 US TV season, and we have ABC(US)’s The Good Doctor, which is centred on an Aspie. Yep, following all the lovely racial and sexual diversity work ABC’s been successfully glopping out onto people’s screens for the past few years, it’s now the turn of us ‘disableds’ for a bit of special treatment. It’s nice but it does feel a bit 2013 all the same.

Freddie Highmore (Bates Motel) is the central Aspie of the piece. He’s just starting out at a prestigious hospital as a surgical resident. So far, so uncontroversial.

However, forget 2013 – it’s almost like the past 10 years haven’t happened for The Good Doctor, because even though Abed’s been making movies on NBC’s Community and Ben Affleck rolling-pinned his way into the special forces in The Accountant, ABC isn’t quite sure if Aspies can hold down a job…

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