Saturday, 21 July 2012

What else am I watching?

Saturday, 21 July 2012

The TV shows I review aren't all I watch. Oh no. My TiVo is full of many things, which I don't have the time to write about, so here's a brief insight into my DVR's weekly recordings...

The Midnight Beast (E4, Thursdays). I reviewed the pilot, which was promising, and have stuck with E4's Flight Of The Conchords-esque teen comedy. I still wish it was better written, have to say. The trio are very likeable and most of their songs are fun (if getting slightly repetitive in style), but each episode's story and the jokes haven't grabbed me. It's a pleasant diversion, but nothing I'm in a rush to watch.

The Ricky Gervais Show (E4, Wednesdays). I often watch this when I have a half-hour to fill, and it makes me chuckle. Karl Pilkington works better in an audio or animated context than live-action (An Idiot Abroad), although the quality of his anecdotes and left-field thinking has taken a dip this series. You have to wonder how many times they can pick his brains before, well, he runs out of brains worth picking.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (LoveFilm streaming). I was planning to watch Veronica Mars this summer, but then I noticed that LoveFilm have every season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer available on streaming. So rather than fork out for a Mars box-set (which are oddly expensive at £25 each, considering it was a little-known show in the UK), I decided to watch Buffy online. I'm only a few episodes into season 1 and, yeah, it's bringing back memories of why I stopped watching in 1997. The difference now is this: I know it gets a LOT better, or so I've always been told by Whedonites.

Revenge (E4, Mondays). I enjoyed the pilot (but only on second viewing), and thus series-linked this on my TiVo. But to be honest, I'm getting a little bored now. I was about to stop watching recently, but then a good episode gave me pause. I'll persevere, for now. It's alright, just not as juicy and gripping as I was expecting it to be, and Emily Van Camp's becoming so wooden she's starting to grow acorns. Please let her loosen up. I know she's out for revenge, which is a nasty business, but she just looks so damned suspicious all of the time. Learn some misdirection skills, girl.

Line of Duty (BBC1, Tuesdays). This BBC1 cop drama gives Lennie James (Jericho) a chance for Luther-style glory now he's back on home turf, and he's certainly the main reason to watch. The problem with LoD, beyond the usual BBC irritation of episodes being far too long at a full HOUR, is that I find the "good cop" hero a vacuum of charisma. So I'm on the side of "bad cop" James, which I didn't think was intended. But maybe it is, as the plot thickens and we learn more about the characters. I have a feeling my opinion will change once the final episode airs, but as of right now... I just wish this show was a more clear-cut case of Vicky McClure vs Lennie James, because that would be 100x more exciting to me than watching Captain Charisma-less every week.

Big Brother (Channel 5, nightly). Yeah, I'm still watching this show, for my sins. It hasn't been a good year, admittedly. There are no outright monsters (although Caroline comes close at times), a few of the best housemates have been evicted too early, another tedious "bullying" controversy is brewing over nothing, the big "showmance" of Pob-like Ashleigh and Max Beesley clone Luke S is tedious, and nothing has really developed between the housemates that means you want to keep tuning in. It hasn't been particularly funny or cringe-making. I'd rather it be over and we move onto the celebrity version.

The Bachelor (Channel 5, Fridays). I know! It's a very lowbrow show, but this is trash TV done in style. Everything about it makes me giggle, because it's a show where everyone involved is deluded and blissfully unaware the audience is laughing at them. Made In Chelsea prat Spencer Matthews isn't as famous as last year's metrosexual rugby player Gavin Henson, unfortunately, but it helps the show that he's more forthcoming and less shy. The potential girlfriends are the usual mix of bimbos, bitches, and busty wannabes. It's all good fun, capped off with a pitch-perfect faux-serious narration by Hugo Speer. (Yes, that guy from The Full Monty.)

Louie (FX, Thursdays). See, I still find time for quality. Think of Big Brother and The Bachelor as sorbets. I reviewed the season 3 premiere, and have been watching the episodes since. It hasn't really tickled my funnybone much this year, although I enjoyed the Miami episode and episode 2's oral sex scene with Melissa Leo. The recent episode with Parker Posey was also really nice, but it's yet to really hit its stride. I sure hope Louie C.K hasn't used up all his best material for series 1 and 2, meaning this third year's only going to have a few diamonds in the rough.

Continuum (Showcase, Sundays). I surprised myself by really enjoying the first few episodes of this Canadian sci-fi drama, but I've cooled now. (Much like the ratings, which have halved.) It's alright, but it's starting to feel like the concept's too narrow. I think I'd like future-cop Cameron to fight other crimes occasionally, without so much focus on the Liber8 baddies from the future. It kind of makes sense that she's more concerned about them, but from a viewer perspective I'm getting a little bored with that group now. I also wish they'd hurry up and make it clearer that the baddies have principles that aren't crazy-sounding to people in the present, and only Cameron thinks what they believe in is strange (as a brainwashed citizen of a future state run by conglomerates). The show dances around this issue so much that I sometimes think I've misunderstood the subtext.

The Newsroom (Sky Atlantic, Tuesdays). It's split opinion in the US, and I can see the show's flaws regarding its retrospective storytelling and female characters, but the dialogue still has sparkle and the performances are very committed. A fascinating failure in some ways, but I don't think it's fair to write Aaron Sorkin's latest show off just yet. Maybe it's a good sign he's fired all the writing staff? A similar move helped The Walking Dead in series 2, after all.

Dynamo: Magician Impossible (Watch, Thursdays). Series 2 has featured a lot of routine street magic and simple tricks in fancy new clothing, but there has also been some truly mind-boggling moments. Dynamo himself remains the main reason to watch, mainly because he's basically a scrawny geek who's getting away with ripping off David Blaine. His patter even steals the same phrases, like "I want to try something..." But it's glossy to look at, and every episode is almost guaranteed to have three tricks that make you reconsider the existence of witchcraft. He vanished while walking through HMV! He flew over a nightclub crowd! He walked down the side of an L.A building, horizontally!

Falling Skies (FX UK, Tuesdays). I like some of the improvements they've made in season 2, but I'm finding it hard to care about anything at this point. Maybe the whole alien invasion subgenre is just too overplayed? I don't like most of the characters, which doesn't help. It's just hard to see what the point is, because they're obviously not going to defeat the aliens for a long time yet, and watching the daily survival of a group I don't much like isn't fun. Brilliant CGI and alien creatures, though.

Parents (Fridays, Sky1) A very enjoyable family sitcom that's already my favourite Sky comedy. Good performances, regular laughs, and a very pleasant atmosphere. It's nothing radical that I'm desperate for others to discover, but it's a nice half-hour of easygoing laughs and the occasional twist of emotion. Maybe the conceptual joke of a career-minded mum being forced to move back in with her old-fashioned parents, family in tow, will start to flag after awhile... but for now, this is working a treat.

So that's what I've been watching, in addition to Sinbad, True Blood and Breaking Bad--what about you?