Wednesday, 22 October 2014

The TV I've been watching lately...

We're fast approaching November and most of the new autumn shows have begun, plenty of old favourites are back, and the summer shows are a memory. But what am I enjoying watching every week, finding time to write about, or have given up on completely? Read on!

THE AFFAIR (Showtime, season 1). It's been a great two-episode start to this new Showtime drama starring Dominic West and Ruth Wilson as extra-marital lovers, with a unique flashback format that also bisects each episode into opposing perspectives on the same events. Even without those narrative devices, I'd like this The Affair in terms of the basic story and performances, but the twists are what makes this feel so compelling. And I was pleased the second episode didn't beat around the bush, so we already have an idea about why the main characters are being interviewed by cops a year after their affair began. My only vague concern is that it's hard to really side with West or Wilson's character, as each "part" of the tale casts one or t'other as the more dominant, mildly unlikeable one. Not knowing who to believe or trust is part of the show's mystery, of course, but it does mean the viewer's constantly unsure about anything... which makes it hard to settle into. ★★★☆

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

THE WALKING DEAD, 5.2 – 'Strangers' • the last good man alive


The premiere was thoroughly enjoyable, but had modest aims and was perhaps impossible for THE WALKING DEAD to get wrong after so much practice. The follow-up, "Strangers", was a better indication of what this fifth season's going to bring viewers, but obviously things are at a very early stage... although it's very promising that creepy Gareth (Andrew J. West), together with some of the other cannibals, survived last week's onslaught of walkers and Rick's (Andrew Lincoln) violent escape from their Terminus home. They're even scarier in the woods, stalking Rick's group and looking for vengeance...

HOMELAND; that's all folks!

While I'm likely to review a noteworthy episode, and will probably write about the fourth season in general once the finale airs, my weekly reviews of HOMELAND are done. This isn't a strict reflection of Homeland's quality just now (I'm quite enjoying it), just the fact older shows lose that indefinable quality that makes one eager to write about them. And I don't want to sit down and force myself to write hundreds of words about TV episodes I don't feel passionate about.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Digital Spy: Life After Cancellation

Over at Digital Spy today, you can read my article about some of television's greatest stories of revival. I look at why each show was axed, what happened while it was off-air, how long each show was gone for, and the circumstances of their unlikely returns. (If you have any others to mention, of which there are many, please leave a comment over there!)

DOCTOR WHO, 8.9 – 'Flatline' • an unexpected masterpiece


After 51 years it's hard for DOCTOR WHO to come up with fresh ways to deliver an episode. The revival's been active 9 years alone, and there are plenty of occasions when an episode feels like an amalgam of recent hits. "Flatline" impressed me because it was a fundamentally typical hour (with a vague similarity to the atrocious "Fear Her"), but a handful of creative differences helped set it apart from every other episode.

TV Picks: 20-26 October 2014 - Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D • American Horror Story • The Big Bang Theory • Drifters • Life Story • Russell Howard's Good News • Scorpion

Below are my picks of the most notable new shows, returning or premiering on UK screens over the next 7 days...

Friday, 17 October 2014

St★te of the Bl★g

I've reconsidered my star rating system. It's been a four-star system for a good six years or so, but I used half-star increments. So, technically it was a ten-star system? Hmm.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

THE FLASH, 1.2 – 'Fastest Man Alive' • attack of the clones


Like countless second episodes, "Fastest Man Alive" half-existed to reiterate the concept behind THE FLASH, in a manner that wouldn't test the patience of those who saw the pilot. (Which is usually the majority of people watching.) It managed to accomplish that rather well, with dialogue recapping that wasn't always subtle, but felt reasonable. In some ways, the story was also a mini-version of the pilot—with Barry (Grant Gustin) testing the limits of his super-sonic movement before having to fight 'metahuman' Danton Black (Michael Christopher Smith), a one-man clone army.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

GOTHAM, 1.4 – 'Arkham' • big developments


"Arkham" arrived in the nick of time for GOTHAM, as I was poised to cease writing these reviews. I'm still unconvinced it's rich enough to bother with for the entire season, but episode 4 was a more interesting and layered hour, with less of the silliness that unbalances the show's tone. I liked this week's villain, assassin Gladwell (Hakeem Kae-Kazim), who favours a telescopic blade to kill his prey, and the story wisely introduced Arkham Asylum as a prized real estate the city's two biggest mobsters—Falcone (John Doman) and Maroni (David Zayas)—are interested in exploiting. The twisted politics of the city are becoming quite enjoyable to watch...

THE WALKING DEAD, 5.1 – 'No Sanctuary' • end of the line


I'm not surprised THE WALKING DEAD is a hit. What surprises me if how much of a hit! An astonishing 17.3 million people watched its AMC premiere, and that figure is predicted to rise to around 22m when repeat airings and catchup is included. The show even gave Fox a ratings boost here in the UK on Monday (helped by the less-than-24-hour later scheduling?), by achieving an overnight audience of 824,100 viewers. So was the fifth season premiere worth all the attention?