Jongo
International TV

What have you been watching? Including Jongo, Cobra Kai, Shooter, Condor and

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

Gosh. Isn’t a quiet? I can’t remember when a July was this quiet for TV worldwide. I wonder what’s up?

There have been a least a few new shows for me to review in the past week. Elsewhere, I cast my eye over the first episode of What We Do In the Shadows spin-off Wellington Paranormal as well as the whole of Netflix’s first Indian original, Sacred Games.

But given the sparsity of viewing options, I had a look over Amazon to see what I could try to play catch up with. First stop was the second season of You Are Wanted. All was looking good for about a minute before I discovered that despite being an Amazon Original and despite the first season having been available with its original German dialogue, season two is only available dubbed in the UK.

FFS. No, thank you, Amazon.

Or so I thought until 10 seconds ago. Turns out that you have to specifically seek out the separate “English subtitled” version, rather than the normal version in order to get the German dialogue. Seriously, Amazon, could you not just have two audio tracks on your video?

You Are Wanted

I’ll probably watch the proper German one on holiday then.

While I was busily and inaccurately cursing Amazon, though, I did find something else to try, so after the jump, following on from TMINE’s first ever Indian show, I’ll be talking about the first African TV show TMINE’s tackled in rather a long time: Jongo. And on top of that, I finally got round to watching the rest of Cobra Kai.

However, that’s about it. I hope they’re not saving all the new shows for August when TMINE is on its holidays.

Upon which subject, this is going to be the last WHYBW for a good while, since TMINE’s holidays start next week! No reviews, no news, no slightly niche TV observations from next Monday for at least four weeks, I’m afraid. However, I’ll be back from mid-August, so although the Daily News probably won’t be back until September (on the general grounds there usually isn’t much news since everyone’s on holiday) and it’ll take me some time to play catch-up (although, thanks EU!), blogging could resume at any time from that point onwards. So stay tuned. At least from mid-August.

Normally at this point pre-holidays, I’d play my usual July game of “Can I be bothered catching up with this show when I get back?” However, all the usuals are now on the recommended list, so you can probably guess that I will definitely be catching up with Condor, Marvel’s Cloak and Dagger and Shooter when I get back. Oh well, so much for that fun. Maybe next year.

Anyway, I’ll be telling you about their latest episodes after the jump, too, so see you in a mo.

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Internet TV

Boxset Tuesday: Sacred Games (season one) (Netflix)

Available on Netflix

As a rule, despite this being an ‘international TV blog’, I don’t watch a lot of Indian TV. I did back in the late 80s/early 90s, when BBC Two had the likes of The Mahabharat. But Bollywood’s love of music and dancing is an anathema to TMINE (motto: “Tough on musicals, tough on the causes of musicals”) and the ubiquity of multi-channel TV by the mid-90s meant pretty much everything outside ‘the mainstream’ ended up shunted to its own channel with a random EPG number somewhere between the 75th and 76th Mersenne primes.

In other words, I – and almost everyone without a dedicated interest – haven’t had much of a chance to watch Indian TV in the UK since.

(Well, I can hear it coming from my downstairs neighbours a lot of the time – including right now – but I’m not sure that counts.)

The arrival of streaming TV hasn’t changed things that much, but changes have been happening, with Amazon and Netflix both acquiring a multitude of Indian shows in the past couple of years. However, the opacity of channel categories and ‘recommendations’ means that you usually have to know what you’re looking for and express an interest before either network will reveal its hidden cache of treasures.

But we’re now entering the phase when both global networks are commissioning and airing Indian shows for global consumption – and they want you to watch them so might even tell you they have them.

Amazon launched its first Indian original, Breathe, a few months ago and I have every intention of watching it. I do. And just last week, Netflix launched its first Indian original, Sacred Games, with Ghoul to follow next month. That means I can watch Indian TV again. Hooray! Or hooray?

Sacred Games

Sacred Games

As you might expect of Netflix, Sacred Games is something of a prestige production, being based on the award-winning Vikram Chandra novel of the same name. It sees Saif Ali Khan playing one of the few honest cops in Mumbai, something that earns him nothing but misery in exchange. One night, he gets a mysterious phone call from someone giving him all manner of orders and the runaround. Who are they? What do they want? And what game are they playing? Whatever it is, it seems Mumbai might have just a few days of existence left…

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What We Do In The Shadows
Australian and New Zealand TV

Review: Wellington Paranormal 1×1 (New Zealand: TV NZ 2)

In New Zealand: Wednesdays, TVNZ 2, 8.30pm
In the UK: Not yet acquired

Taika Waititi is so hot right now. Eagle V Shark may have had a cult following, but it didn’t elevate him to stardom. You might have noticed him in Green Lantern

…but it didn’t exactly give him free rein to be hilarious. 2014 vampire house-sharing comedy What We Do In The Shadows, which he co-wrote with Flight of the Conchords‘ Jemaine Clement, might have done better business than the original short film, but it still didn’t quite set the world alight.

However, the marketing muscle of Marvel Studios meant that Thor: Ragnarok finally unleashed the hilarity of Taika Waititi around the world. Naturally, that has meant there’s a lot of interest in his latest projects, which include a US series of What We Do In The Shadows with Toast of London‘s Matt Berry.

What We Do In the Shadows

Wellington Paranormal

Before that, though, we have a somewhat more niche project that’s actually more of a Jemaine Clement affair, given he’s the co-writer of the first episode. It’s a New Zealand TV show called Wellington Paranormal that’s a spin-off from What We Do In the Shadows, and features two of that movie’s characters, Officers Minogue (Mike Minogue) and O’Leary (Karen O’Leary), but none of the vampires. A sort of cross between Cops and The X-Files, it sees the hapless duo Mulder and Scullying up to haplessly investigate incidents of the paranormal at the insistence of their sergeant (Maaka Pohatu), who’s been collecting evidence for years suggesting that Wellington might have its own hellmouth (maybe).

The first episode concerns a case of demonic possession that might ultimately lead to the dead coming up from hell to take over the Earth through the Bucket Fountain in Wellington, which was apparently created by Satanists in the 60s. As you might deduce, just like The Almighty Johnsons before it, Wellington Paranormal plays on the low-key, friendly, not especially Earth-shattering nature of New Zealand life, as well as satirising genre conventions. O’Leary and Minogue generally have little to do in their regular line of duty and when they experience a demon projectile-vomiting, they merely advise it where to direct its bodily fluids. They chase after ‘unusually athletic’ housewives, castigate people for breaking the laws of gravity, and advise them not to rotate their necks 360º as it’s bound to hurt. Minogue’s claim to there being a sexual tension between him and O’Leary is met merely with an uncomfortable, embarrassed silence.

However, if you’re expecting something designed to ride on the backs of both Clement’s and Waititi’s current popularity to achieve worldwide success, you’ll be surprised. This is a low-budget affair clearly devised as something for a New Zealand audience watching TV NZ’s second channel (not even its first). There are plenty of jokes that you might need Wikipedia to get if you’re not from NZ – the Bucket Fountain joke only really works if you’ve ever spent time watching it in real-life – and you really do have to have an appreciation for the New Zealand style of comedy to find Wellington Paranormal a laugh-a-minute, rather than a titter-a-minute show.

There is plenty to raise a giggle most of the time, and there’s even a belly laugh from time to time (such as O’Leary’s encounter with a fence), but it’s not something that even tries for the hilarity of Thor: Ragnarok, let alone achieves it.

Wellington Paranormal

Not Ghosted

On the plus side, it’s at least light years ahead of Ghosted and the 25-minute runtime does fly by, as there’s never really a let-up in the show’s antics. The characters are more jokes and set-ups for punchlines than real characters, but that’s often usually enough to work, and the genre pastiching does score more than a few hits.

Just don’t expect something that’s going to set the world alight or make your sides hurt from all the laughing.

The Outpost
Airdates

When’s that show you mentioned starting, TMINE? Including Kim’s Convenience, The Outpost, The Bletchley Circle: San Francisco, White Famous, Insatiable and Ghoul

Every Friday, TMINE lets you know when the latest TV shows from around the world will air in the UK

A big bunch of premiere dates this week, with only one new show getting picked up with just a vague date (“Some time in August“) – ABC (US)’s pretty dreadful Ten Days In The Valley. Otherwise, we know where and when all of the following will be showing up on UK TV and laptop screens:

Premiere dates

Kim's Convenience

Kim’s Convenience (Canada: CBC; UK: Netflix)
Premiere date: Today

Adaptation of the hugely successful Canadian stage play about a Korean family who run a convenience store. Fun but not always the funniest, I enjoyed it enough to stick around for three episodes at least.

Episode reviews: 1-2, 3

Bletchley Circle San Francisco

The Bletchley Circle: San Francisco (US: BritBox; UK: ITV)
Premiere date: Wednesday, July 25, 9pm

US-made spin-off of ITV’s The Bletchley Circle that sees a bunch of former Bletchley Park codebreakers head off to San Francisco, where they link up with some American code-breaking friends to solve crimes.

White Famous

White Famous (US: Showtime; UK: Sky Atlantic)
Premiere date: Wednesday, July 25, 11:05pm

Series supposedly based on the life of Jamie Foxx, in which comedian Jay Pharoah decides he wants to be famous not just to black people but to white people as well. And that’s going to involve some compromises, some of which might involve dealing with the rather bizarre ‘Jamie Foxx’.

Sometimes funny because of its takes on ‘soft racism’, it felt more like a weak Entourage and Jamie Foxx wanting to get a few things off his chest than anything worthwhile.

Episode reviews: 1

Insatiable

Insatiable (Netflix)
Premiere date: Friday, August 10

Insatiable tells the story of Patty, who for years has been bullied, ignored, and underestimated by those around her because of her weight. But now that she finds herself suddenly thin, Patty is out for payback against anyone who has ever made her feel bad about herself. Bob Armstrong, a disgraced attorney whose true passion is coaching beauty pageant contestant, is the only one who sees Patty’s potential, and takes her under his wing – first as a legal client, and then as a pageant contestant whom he coaches toward becoming the top pageant queen in the country. But Bob and his wife Coralee have no idea how deep Patty’s rage goes, or how far she will go to exact revenge on anyone who has ever wronged her. Bullies beware: payback’s a bitch, revenge is sweet, and if you cross Patty, you’ll be her next treat.

The comedy series, which was created by Lauren Gussis, stars Debby Ryan, Dallas Roberts, Alyssa Milano, Christopher Gorham, Erinn Westbrook, Michael Provost, Kimmy Shields, Irene Choi and Sarah Colonna. The executive producers are Lauren Gussis, Ryan Seacrest, Nina Wass, Andrea Shay, Todd Hoffman, Dennis Kim and Andy Fleming.

The Outpost

The Outpost (US: The CW; UK: Syfy)
Premiere date: Monday, August 13, 9pm

I’ve just watched the first episode of this, so consider it a review as well, to save me writing a full review.

The Outpost follows Jessica Green, ‘a strong female hero’ and the lone survivor of a race called ‘Blackbloods’. Years after her entire village is destroyed by a gang of brutal mercenaries, Talon travels to a lawless fortress on the edge of the civilised world, as she tracks the killers of her family. On her journey to this outpost, Talon discovers she possesses a mysterious supernatural power that she must learn to control in order to save herself, and defend the world against a fanatical religious dictator.

And it’s dreadful. It’s nearly unwatchable, low-budget, badly written, terribly acted dredge that is a throw-back to the syndicated likes of Relic Hunter in the 90s. If you make it past the first minute of plot-dumping dialogue, I’ll be surprised.

It desperately wants to be Game of Thrones, but it doesn’t come close to even the qualities of the somewhat similar The New Legends of Monkey – somewhat similar in that it not only features our heroine wandering around some nondescript fantasy realm, fighting mildly-threatening fantasy things, it’s stuffed full of Australians. While the present day antics are almost unwatchable, the little momentum they have is broken up by dreadful flashbacks to Green’s childhood in which everyone speaks a ludicrous made-up language (sorry in advance if it turns out to be Gaelic, as there are a lot of Irish actors around, too). Except they only speak it for about five seconds at a time before switching to English for no reason then starting again a minute later. The child who plays the younger Green looks so unlike her, too, it makes me wonder if that’s potentially even a plot point.

The fights are about the best bit of it, although the direction is so poor that you’ll spot every time a stuntwoman subs in for Green. Avoid like the zombie-alien plague. No, really. They have zombies with Alien mouths.

Ghoul

Ghoul (Netflix)
Premiere date: Tuesday, August 28

Three-part Indian  horror series about a prisoner who arrives at a remote military interrogation centre and turns the tables on his captors, exposing their most shameful secrets.

Sharp Objects
US TV

What have you been watching? Including Sharp Objects

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

July 4th continued to wipe out viewing last week, so not a lot of new shows for me to look at. As promised, I did manage to review the second season of Netflix’s GLOW and after the jump, I’ll be looking at HBO’s new limited series, Sharp Objects.

I’ll be reviewing The Outpost (US: The CW; UK: Syfy) in the next few days and I’ve made a start on Netflix’s first Indian original, Sacred Games, which is like an odd religious combination of The Game, GoodFellas and Narcos, but as I’m only a few episodes in, I’ll leave commenting on it until next week when hopefully I’ll have watched the whole thing.

I even had a little time to watch some fourth season iZombie on Netflix out of the corner of my eye as Lovely Wife binged it. It’s basically still the same, isn’t it, bar there being a lot more zombies than there were in season one? Still, it was fun to see the now traditional “lead foreign actor gets to use his/her real accent” episode of the show (cf Chuck, Bionic Woman, House), in which Rose McIver got to speak in Kiwi.

Given there was no Condor last week (July 4th, yadda, yadda), that means the only regulars I’ll have to talk about after the jump are Marvel’s Cloak and Dagger and Shooter. Gosh. Maybe I should take up reading books instead. Or is that too radical? The most I’ve managed recently is Winnie the Pooh…

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