Greg Davies in BBC One's The Cleaner
International 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”
Streaming TV

Review: Only Murders in the Building 1×1-1×3 (US: Hulu; UK: Disney+)

In the US: Available on Hulu
In the UK: Available on Disney+. New episodes Tuesdays

Fans of TMINE will know that TMINE is not a fan of… well, lots of things, because it’s getting old and crotchety (hence the need for some new, younger blood to add some positivity to things). But also because it has taste. However, specifically, reality shows aren’t getting so much as a sideways glance from TMINE and crime is all but dead to me, because it honestly always seem to be the same old show, time after time after time, and why would you want to watch that?

As a result, the phenomenon of the true crime podcast, which being audio-only has even less appeal than one of those CBS Reality shows such as Murderers and their Mothers, has pretty much passed me by. People listening at home to usually a complete amateur investigating a crime that took place in real life in the hope of solving it, where police have supposedly failed? What could possibly go wrong?

It’s actually almost fortunate then that I stumbled across Only Murders in the Building while skimming through Disney+, looking for something new to watch. I had no idea what it was about, but it had a nice graphic and… Wait, is that… Steve Martin? (reads cast list) Martin Short! Really? He’s still alive and acting?… Selena Gomez? Who’s she? Hang on, I think I’ve heard of her. (Another reason TMINE is in urgent need of new, younger blood…).

And it was co-created by Steve Martin? Okay, sign me up.

So I had zero expectations beyond the creator and the cast of what the show was going to be. And that at half an hour an episode (it’s the new 40 minutes, doncha know?) I could watch at least one without it taking a chunk out of my oh-so-packed day.

Steve Martin, Martin Short and Selena Gomez in Only Murders in the Building

Only a murder in our building

Turns out, it’s about a bunch of people who live in an expensive New York apartment block and who like most people who live in expensive New York apartment block, never talk to one another and don’t know anything about one another. Then one day, there’s an alarm and they’re forced to evacuate the building and de camp elsewhere. There, lo and behold, our three heroes discover they’re all fans of the same true crime podcast.

They try to solve the featured crime together, as fans of true crime podcasts are apparently wont to do, but when they get back to the building, they discover there’s been a real crime committed. Together, they try to solve it and launch their own podcast in the process. The podcast’s hook? Only murders in the building will be investigated…

Continue reading “Review: Only Murders in the Building 1×1-1×3 (US: Hulu; UK: Disney+)”
US 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

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?

Red Hood in Titans
US TV

What have you been watching? Including Titans and Superman & Lois

Look at that! It’s September. Didn’t time fly?

So what did I watch in August? Not a lot, to be honest. This actually wasn’t for want of trying but there haven’t been any appetising-looking new TV shows for me to bite my teeth into, TBH. I’m still considering Vigil on BBC One, mind, because it has submarines in it.

There’s one other exception: yet another remake of Fantasy Island, this time for Fox.

I thought about watching that. Then decided not to. It was August after all, and if normality is going to reassert itself post-Covid, we have to reassert the old rules, too: start a new show in August and TMINE will ignore you.

I also realised there’s a whole bunch of shows that are coming back for second seasons that I can’t be bothered with either. So Stargirl on Amazon isn’t getting much love from me, either.

That meant I’ve only been watching a couple of the regulars, both superhero shows, one concluding, one returning.

Superman & Lois

Superman & Lois remained perfect almost to the end, even if Lovely Wife did watch five minutes of it and declare it “terrible”. I thought it was great. Thrilling and exciting, with Adam Rayner proving a wonderful villain. The finale suffered maybe a little from being a slight retread of a previous episode, copying its conclusion and get-out mechanism, but I don’t think it suffered too much from that.

If I had one niggle, though, it’s the final scene: I just didn’t care. The funeral was oddly moving, given what it was. That’s not my niggle. That person showed up. I didn’t care. It was anti-climactic and actually put me off from watching the next season. But only a bit. I’ll definitely be back.

Titans

Meanwhile, Titans is back, now on HBO Max in the US. The main cast are a bit jauntier and a bit less angsty than before, although the absence of both Raven and Donna Troy is a real detraction from the show. Where it works still is on its depiction of superheroes growing up and ageing. This is still very much a show about sidekicks who are now too old to be sidekicks and need to move out of their friends’ shadows – and superheroes who are now old to be doing anything much at all, really.

The problem is that this season so far has focused on the ‘birth’ of Red Hood. Those who know their comics will not be surprised by who that is and the show only takes a couple of episodes to reveal all there. More surprising is just how bleak and miserable it all is. People are dying and getting tortured. Batman’s off murdering people. Not even Scarecrow – Pete from Mad Men – can add any fun to things. It’s just so unpleasant.

So I’ve given up after four episodes. Guys, we’ve been through so much misery over the past year and a half, I’d just like to watch something fun, please. Thanks!