For All Mankind
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What have you been watching? Including For All Mankind

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

Jason Momoa in See
Jason Momoa in See

This week’s reviews

We’re back to our usual day this week for WHYBW, you’ll be glad to hear, although with the first few days of next week looking particularly busy, I reserve the right to relocate it again to Thursday.

Reviews-wise, over the past week I endured the first three episodes of Apple TV+’s See so you don’t have to and Orange Thursday covered Doctor Sleep (2019) and Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2018). But that’s been about it.

I did manage to watch the second season of Netflix’s Plan Cœur (The Hookup Plan) over the weekend, so hopefully I’ll be reviewing that some time in the next week. But it might just sit there, lurking in my memory, until there’s a lull in viewing, since this weekend’s looking particularly good…

Kat Dennings in Hulu's Dollface
Kat Dennings in Hulu’s Dollface

What’s coming this week

Orange Thursday, tomorrow, will take in Netflix’s The Laundromat (2019), as well as whatever other movie I manage to watch tonight. Hulu’s Dollface is turning up on Friday, so I’ll try to watch that.

However, Lovely Wife has indicated she’d quite like to watch The Mandalorian (US: Disney+) at the weekend, but seeing as season 3 of Netflix’s The Crown is on the way then, too, I’ll try to get her to watch it before the weekend. Of course, she also wants to watch Apple TV+’s The Morning Show, so we’ll just have to see what comes out in the wash.

Whether once I’ve watched them I’ll be able to review any of them or whether I’ll simply be lying in an exhausted stupor at the start of next week will be an exciting voyage of discovery for us all.

Matt Ross in HBO's Silicon Valley
Matt Ross in HBO’s Silicon Valley

The regulars

It’s the usual viewing queue again after the jump, with only Treadstone absent as I reviewed last week’s episode last week: Engrenages (Spiral), Evil, For All Mankind, Mr InBetween, Mr Robot, Silicon Valley, Stumptown, Titans, Total Control and Watchmen.

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Apple TV+'s See
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Third-episode verdict: See (Apple TV+)

Available on Apple TV+

The thing about sci-fi and fantasy is that no matter how terrible it gets, somebody somewhere will think it’s great. Objectively speaking, there are mops used for wiping the floors of hospital wards of diarrhoeic patients that contribute more to world culture than certain sci-fi shows, but they’ll still gel with some aspect of someone’s subconsciousness, light some imaginative spark somewhere or get someone’s blood flowing because of a tiny-costumed actor or actress. And they will watch, long past the point when sanity, decency or the human soul should have stopped them.

How else to explain the success of Uwe Boll?

I’m assuming that either a TV commissioner at Apple is aware of this fact or the above rule applies to TV commissioners as well as audience members, because there is no other explanation for See.

Or the fact that in a good seven to ten months, some Internet denizen will come across this review, ignore the posting guidelines and accuse me of having a personal axe to grind, no taste, a hatred of all things good and pure, a love of panning things (despite my having recommended more than 100 TV shows in my time), or being in the pay of the Illuminati, Microsoft or Netflix (who may all be one and the same) – because all independent and fair-minded thinkers will agree it’s The Best Show Ever.

It will happen.

You see, See is not the best TV show ever. Indeed, it’s a candidate for the worst TV show ever. But that won’t stop somebody somewhere from ABSOLUTELY LOVING IT. BE QUITE YOU PTHETIC H8TERS! Or a TV commissioner at Apple from already having renewed it for a second season. It’s sci-fi.

Jason Momoa in See
Jason Momoa in Apple TV+’s See

Oh say can you See?

See stars Jason Momoa. You may know him from Game of Thrones, The Red Road or Aquaman, as well as the metric fuck-ton of terrible TV shows he’s also starred in (Baywatch, Stargate Atlantis, Frontier). He’s a charismatic and extremely good looking actor. He is literally the only reason to watch it.

It’s set 600 years after a virus has wiped out all but a couple of million members of the human race, all of whom are now blind. Society has evolved and regressed to deal with its new situation, with technology a thing of the past, groups living together in small villages and a religion centred on oppressing everyone by telling them vision is evil.

Momoa plays Baba Voss who Let’s stop right there in the middle of that sentence because you should already be laughing your socks off. Yes, Baba Voss. Maybe you aren’t. Maybe there’s something about it being written down that means you’re not laughing yet. But after you hear it for the third or even fifth time, you’ll start to snigger. That’s even before you hit the likes of “Tamacti Jun”, “Gether Bax” and “Haniwa”.

Let’s stick with ‘Momoa’ in print, then. Momoa leads a village in the middle of the American wilderness. One day, a woman pregnant with the children of would-be revolutionary Tamacti Jun comes to the village. Despite the risk of the ‘witchfinders’ coming to the village after her, Momoa takes her in and looks after her and her children as they grow up.

However, it’s not long before the new family discovers that the children have a secret ability: the ability to see. Will the witchfinders come for them and what will they do with their ability?

Do you honestly care? And if you do, can you be helped?

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Mrs Fletcher
International TV

What have you been watching? Including Mrs Fletcher

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

For All Mankind
Apple TV+’s For All Mankind

This week’s reviews

Oops. Yes, I know WHYBW is supposed to be on Wednesdays and Orange Thursdays on Thursdays. I didn’t forget. I just had to work late yesterday. Can you imagine that?

Anyway, it’s here now and tomorrow will be a slightly belated Orange Thursday, I hope. More on that in a mo, though.

This week, however, TMINE did manage to review for your delight all of season two of Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan and everything new kid on the block Apple TV+ has given us so far of For All Mankind.

Doctor Sleep (2019)

What’s coming this week

I’m going to try to do Orange Thursday, tomorrow, work willing. Up on the cinema bill is Doctor Sleep (2019) plus whatever I decide to watch tonight.

We’re a bit light for new TV shows this week, however, which means I’ll be turning my viewing eye over the weekend to consider some of the streaming backlog: Apple TV+’s The Morning Show, See and Dickinson; Amazon’s Modern Love; the second seasons of Netflix’s The Hookup Plan and The Kominsky Method; and season one of Beau Séjour (Belgium: Éen; UK: Walter Presents). Maybe I’ll only manage one show, but let’s aim for two.

I might also give the BBC a call and see if they’ll let me preview Vienna Blood. That might be nice, hey? It doesn’t start until the 25th, though, so I might wait. There’s probably an embargo, too.

But brace yourselves, because less than two weeks after the arrival of Apple TV+, we’re going to see another giant wade into the TV streaming pool next Tuesday in the US: Disney is plussing itself, too, to give us Disney+. That’ll offer us the likes of Star Wars: The Mandalorian amongst other things.

I’ll be reviewing that, I suspect.

HBO’s Watchmen

The regulars

Of last night’s TV, I’ve only watched Treadstone, so let’s save this week’s Stumptown to next Wednesday. Otherwise, with Evil taking Halloween off, this week’s viewing queue is: Engrenages (Spiral), Mr InBetween, Mr Robot, Silicon Valley, Titans, Total Control, Treadstone and Watchmen. And last week’s Stumptown.

See you after the jump, together with a brief reviewette of HBO’s Mrs Fletcher.

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For All Mankind
Internet TV

Third-episode verdict: For All Mankind (Apple TV+)

In the UK: Available on Apple TV+

Behold! We are entering a new age. Apple TV+ is upon us. Depending on when you last bought an Apple product, there’s a new streaming service in town that’s either free for a year or £4.99/month – and it’s got four new TV shows for you already. Or at least the first three episodes of four new TV shows for you – how quaint and not boxsetty.

It’s an equally quaint initial line-up:

  • The star-studded The Morning Show, which is a sort of Aaron Sorkin take on morning TV
  • See, a post-apocalyptic fantasy show, in which everyone (more or less) is blind, that hopes desperately to be better than every other TV show in which Jason Momoa has starred (cf Frontier, Stargate: Atlantis, Baywatch Hawaii)
  • Dickinson, a sort of A Knight’s Tale biopic of Emily Dickinson

And For All Mankind – the most appealing of the bunch. It’s billed as coming from the mind of Battlestar Galactica creator Ronald D Moore and depicting an alternative reality in which the space race never ended and “astronauts were seen as rock stars”.

That is not what For All Mankind is like. At all.

For All Mankind

Red Peril

For starters, Ronald D Moore doesn’t have much to do with it, as far as can be seen, beyond co-writing the first episode. Equally, over the first three episodes, it’s considerably more depressing than you might think. Okay, that’s quite Ronald D Moore, I’ll admit it.

The first episode sets up this alternative universe in which “the space race doesn’t end” by having the USSR pip the US to the post. First man on the Moon? Alexei Leonov who doesn’t say anything about it being “one giant step for mankind” but dedicates his landing to the Marxist-Lenist way of life.

The US is miserable. The whole world is miserable. All the US astronauts are miserable. It doesn’t help when NASA loses touch with Apollo 11, just a few weeks later, when the LEM crashes into the moon’s surface. Poor old Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin; hell, Michael Collins is going to kill himself while he’s still orbiting the moon.

Depressing, huh?

Yet it’s from that thoroughly miserable start that the show does at least manage to course-correct and become something a bit more interesting. And less depressing.

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Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan
Internet TV

Boxset Monday: Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan (season two) (Amazon)

In the UK: Available on Amazon

When pretentious people talk about adaptations, the stock phrase ‘going back to the source material’ usually pops up at some point. But what if, to be slightly euphemistic, your source material is ‘a couple of rounds short of a full clip’? How authentic to your source material do you want to be then?

It was a dilemma that faced pretty much everyone who’s adapted Tom Clancy’s books, including the producers of season one of Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, Amazon’s best show up to that point – all things being relative. Clancy’s books can be exciting but are also mockably bad, jingoistic nonsense at times. So if you want to do a Tom Clancy adaptation, do you ‘go back to the source material’ and do something that’s risible, or do you do something that’s better?

Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan was actually decent enough TV. True, it was often pretty stupid and its Clancy-esque view of the world gave us Muslim terrorists able to smuggle not just one but two WMDs into France. But you didn’t feel like you were watching a Trump Tweet come to life and it did at least aim for a certain air of verisimilitude.

John Krasinski and Noomi Rapace
John Krasinski and Noomi Rapace in Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan

Stupider

Season two, however, seems to have decided to go back to the source material – and be stupider and crasser. After only moderately insulting Muslims, France and the Middle East in season one, this time round, it’s the turn of South America to get told it’s really rubbish and nowhere near as good as the US.

It sees our former buddies – Jack Ryan (John Krasinski) and James Greer (Wendell Pierce) – working on different continents. Greer is in Russia, trying to work out who’s firing missiles from the South Seas. He’d probably stand a better chance if he didn’t keep falling over and nearly dying from a heart condition.

Meanwhile, Ryan is back in the US. He has suspicions that Russia is shipping arms to Venezuela and before you know it, he’s in-country, trying to find proof. And before he knows it, so’s Greer – as their respective missions start to dovetail.

But not everything is so clear cut. Except for the fact Venezuela is shit and corrupt and nowhere near as good as the US – or one All-American guy with a big American gun.

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