Review: The Rook 1×1 (US: Starz; UK: Virgin)

In the US: Sundays, 8pm ET/PT, Starz
In the UK: Mondays, 10pm, Virgin TV Ultra HD. Starts tonight

I can’t tell if Starz is a bit limited or has a David Cameron-esque ‘one in, one out’ approach to TV series. If you recall, until quite recently, it had a sci-fi spy thriller set in a major European capital: the rather good Counterpart. It cancelled that before the end of the second season for no really good reason.

But could the explanation for this insanity have nothing to do with quality or ratings? Could it simply be because Starz had The Rook coming and it didn’t want two very similar shows on at the same time? One clearly a lot, lot better than the other?

Joely Richardson in The Rook
Joely Richardson in The Rook

Rookie mistake

Adapted from Daniel O’Malley’s novel of the same name, The Rook is set in frequently rainy London and sees Emma Greenwell (Shameless US) waking up next to the Millennium Bridge, surrounded by a host of internally exploded dead bodies. She doesn’t remember how she got there or even what her name is, let alone how everyone died, so legs it.

In her pocket, she discovers a letter – from herself. In it are two keys to a safety deposit: one red, one blue. If she uses the blue key, she can start a new life with a new identity; if she uses the red key, she can re-enter her old life. Be warned, her previous self warns her, your old life is dangerous.

Guess which one she picks.

The Rook

By hook or by rook

Soon, ‘Myfanwy’ is learning that she works for a secret branch of British Intelligence called the Checquy that deals with people with special powers. Everyone in Checquy is given a rank based on chess and she’s a ‘rook’ and works for ‘queen’ Joely Richardson.

All she’s got to do is find out what happened to her and not get found out –and not let guest American agent Olivia Munn (The Newsroom) learn that she’s the one who exploded her boyfriend by the bridge. Oops.

Continue reading “Review: The Rook 1×1 (US: Starz; UK: Virgin)”
International TV

What have you been watching? Including Legion

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

Netflix’s Dark

This week’s reviews

It’s been another successful week at TMINE in terms of a high “promises made versus shows reviewed” ratio. This week’s Boxset Monday was the second season of Netflix’s Dark and I also had a look at US-French summer nonsense Reef Break yesterday.

Meanwhile, Orange Thursday gave us Men in Black: International (2019) and Tokyo Story (1953).

So well done me.

The Rook
Starz’s The Rook

What’s coming this week

Tomorrow’s Orange Thursday will almost certainly feature The Lego Movie 2, although we’re only halfway through that. What the second movie will be is anyone’s guess, though. We’ll see what we see, hey?

Premiering on Sunday is Starz (US)’s The Rook and there’s a whole bunch of foreign-language Netflix shows to pick from on Friday, so I’m sure I’ll cover one of those. Or that Amazon show that came out a couple of weeks ago.


The regulars

The ranks of the regulars are swelling again. As usual, after the jump, we’ll have Harrow, The InBetween, Krypton, Perpetual Grace LTD, and Swamp Thing. But joining them in their second outings are City on a Hill, Jett and Los Espookys. Meanwhile, Legion has returning for a third season – and don’t be surprised when I tell you it’s far out, man.

See you in a mo.

Continue reading “What have you been watching? Including Legion”

Review: Reef Break 1×1 (US: ABC)

In the US: Thursdays, 10/9c, ABC
In the UK: Not yet acquired

Although France has a reputation for being a bit anti-American, its TV schedules suggest a different story. They’re packed with US imports, the popularity of which can endure for far longer than in their own countries.

We’ve recently discussed France’s love affair with Starsky & Hutch, but a far more recent hit, far more popular in France than it was in the US, was Unforgettable, starring Without A Trace‘s Poppy Montgomery.

Small surprise, therefore, that Montgomery is the lucky star of Reef Break –the latest project from that most Americophilic of the French channels, M6, and ABC Studios International’s second international show following Harrow.

Reef Break

On reefer

Created and written by both Montgomery and Numb3rs‘ Ken Sanzel, Reef Break is set on the fictitious US Pacific territory of ‘Reef Island’ and sees Montgomery playing a crime-solving surfer.

No, really.

Of course, episode 1 explains how Montgomery becomes a crime-solving surfer. Previously a hot-shot crime-committing surfer, she ran into hot water when she accidentally married undercover FBI agent Ray Stevenson (Rome, Punisher: War Zone, Thor, Dexter) and ended up testifying against various mobsters.

Returning after an absence of five years to explain why one particular mobster she testified against shouldn’t be granted parole, her notoriety lands her on TV and she’s soon dragged into the kidnapping of a local rich girl.

Soon, her rule-breaking, criminal acuity, observational skills and downright sassiness endear her to powerful people on the island.

Continue reading “Review: Reef Break 1×1 (US: ABC)”
German TV

Boxset Monday: Dark (season 2) (Netflix)

Available on Netflix

The first season of Netflix’s Dark was probably the most quintessentially German TV show the country has given us. Not in terms of production values, since Dark had the full weight of Netflix’s budgeting behind it, and not because it was a crime show or featured a story by Rosamunde Pilcher.

But this appropriately named show had a whole bunch of concerns and themes that combined, indicated it could only have come from the land that gave us Goethe: is our fate predetermined? Does free will exist? Were “Atomkraft? Nein Danke” T-shirts ever cool?

Set in a small town called Winden – more or less the German equivalent of the US’s Springfield – Dark was a time travel drama like no other. As the producers of Avengers: Endgame recently discovered, the average person’s idea of time travel is based on Back To The Future, with people potentially able to go back in time and change their own pasts.

Dark, however, went in the exact opposite direction. What if you could change absolutely nothing if you went back in time? Even if you did change something, that change is what had always happened. Cause could be effect, effect could be cause, beginning end, end beginning. You might have a time machine, but you actually built it from some plans someone gave to you. Where did they get them from? Well, you give them to them in the future. So who actually invented the time machine? No one? God?

Smarter than the average Netflix show

As befits a country where basically everyone’s been to technical university for seven years and even the train timetables seem to require an in-depth working knowledge of calculus, season one of Dark was a complicated affair.

Set in three time zones 33 years apart – plus a bonus fourth time zone in the final episode – that meant a full roster of characters played by up to three sets of actors, all of whom can travel between years and meet each other and end up becoming one another’s/their own parents if they’re not careful. It didn’t help that half the time, they never introduced themselves, so it wasn’t until eight episodes in that you knew that “crazy white-haired lady” was actually the 66-year-older version of “cute little girl”.

Nevertheless, and despite the often alienating – not quite Brechtian alienating – characters, who were more than a little bit prone to shouting at all times, the first season of Dark was a marvellous piece of work, if you could follow it. Claustrophobic, with a great eye for period detail, a real attempt to address philosophical concerns and science, its one real-let down was its ending, which suggested a shark was about to be jumped.

Now here’s season two. Said shark has not been jumped, you’ll be glad to hear and this more streamlined season two is perhaps even better than season one.

But time appears to be repeating itself. Because guess what – I really hated that ending.

Continue reading “Boxset Monday: Dark (season 2) (Netflix)”
Los Espookys
International TV

What have you been watching? Including NOS4A2, City on a Hill and Los Espookys

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

Jessica Jones
Marvel’s Jessica Jones

This week’s reviews

Despite my ironing pile not being especially big this weekend, I still managed to work through not only the whole of season three of Netflix’s Marvel’s Jessica Jones but also to review Cinemax (US)’s Jett.

Meanwhile, this week’s Orange Thursday featured Apollo 13 and on top of all that, I’ve managed to watch the first episodes of a few other shows, all of which I’ll be talking about after the jump: Showtime (US)’s City on a Hill, AMC (US)’s NOS4A2 and HBO (US)’s Los Espookys.

I feel quite pleased with myself. Yay me!

Reef Break

What’s coming this week

Tomorrow’s Orange Thursday will take in Men in Black: International (2019) and Tokyo Story (1953). Season 2 of Netflix’s Dark hits teh Interweb on Friday, so that could well be Boxset Monday, and ABC (US)/M6 (France)’s Reef Break will probably get a Tuesday review.

After that, there are bound to be surprises. For me and you.

Lobo in Syfy’s Krypton

The regulars

The InBetween took a break last week, so after the jump, I’ll be looking at the latest episodes of Harrow, Perpetual Grace LTD, Swamp Thing, as well as the season finale of Mr Black. One of those might be getting a promotion to the recommended list.

Krypton has also returned and I watched it.

See you in a mo.

Continue reading “What have you been watching? Including NOS4A2, City on a Hill and Los Espookys”