What I've Been Watching 2.
Some time ago I compiled a set of miniature reviews of TV shows I had recently watched. It was something I enjoyed doing and therefore I have decided to do an update. Here are my heavily biased and extremely unbalanced reviews of the shows I have been watching over the last few months:
Rick and Morty (Season 4b):
The long awaited second half of the fourth season of Rick and Morty finally landed and it already feels like it was a lifetime ago. I was unimpressed with the first half of the season and although I thought the second half was better, with some brilliant jokes, clever ideas, there were moments where I just found it tedious. It feels like the creators of the show are attempting to combine fan-service with tearing up the rule book, at times it was great, but at other times it was grating.
This BBC show ran for three seasons between 2010 and 2014 and has become one of my favourite sitcoms and one that I regular re-watch in full. Tom Hollander and Olivia Colman take the viewer on an emotional rollercoaster with some phenomenal pieces of drama sandwiched between hilarious comedy. Whenever I talk about this show I quickly find myself running out of superlatives, it is simply wonderful. Liam Neeson turning up in the third season is one of my television highlights of the last decade.
After I picked up the games cheap on Steam and began playing them during lockdown, my wife introduced me to the Netflix series. It’s a solid show and refuses to patronise the viewer by spelling everything out, instead allowing the pieces to gradually come into place. Some viewers have complained about the ‘confusing timeline’ but once you realise that the different aspects of the story happen at different times, it is no longer a problem. Henry Cavill is an impressively versatile actor and I’m very much looking forward to season 2 (as well as working my way through the books).
The Thick of It:
Another favourite of mine, I attempted a re-watch during lockdown as a break from seeing our incompetent government on the news all the time. It only half worked, in my anxiety ridden state I became confused about where Peter Mannion stopped and Matt Hancock began. An absolutely classic show, satire hasn’t been as good since.
Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich:
I have been following the case against Jeffrey Epstein for approximately ten years, back when it was dismissed as a wild conspiracy theory. This documentary series is harrowing and it will be very interesting to see how much of the speculation holds up in court, should certain individuals find themselves under indictment. It is an interesting series, it gives a voice to some of the victims of Epstein (and friends), which is important. It is not an easy watch but if you are interested in the case then it is worth checking out.
Jeeves and Wooster:
I was given the boxset and decided to give it a go. I’d never watched it before and I’m not familiar with the book series or anything else written by PG Wodehouse – though I do like his tips. As a piece of television comedy, I found it thoroughly underwhelming. I will admit that I’m not the biggest fan of Stephen Fry and it was disappointing to see Hugh Laurie play more or less the same character from Blackadder 2-4, when these days we think of him as such a versatile actor. The jokes were thin and few, with a lot of focus going into setting up situations that more often than not had a rather bland pay off. I am perhaps guilty of giving up on the show too early and may give it more of a chance another time (though this isn’t something I regularly do – more of that in a moment).
This show is sheer genius. It has an absolutely fantastic formula that I am in love with. First, they provide some historical background to a really interesting place or event. Second, they introduce the mystery element to it that nobody can explain. Finally, they speculate wildly about how it must have been aliens! Brilliant. I love historical mysteries; I love the idea that we don’t know everything that has occurred or the reasons why people did certain things at certain times. I also love wild speculation about aliens. I am deeply amused by the “ancient astronaut experts” they get on, rather than actual historians or scientists. This show is almost perfect. The only way it could get better: if it was backed up with some kind of facts, rather than sheer nonsense. I try not to think of it as a documentary but a substitute for those bullshit conversations we all love to have whilst camping.
I have a simple philosophy when it comes to watching TV shows: you have one episode to show me why I should keep watching. A series is an investment and with so much content now available to watch, the first episode’s primary duty is to be good enough to convince you to continue watching. I’d heard a lot of things about Schitt’s Creek and despite it looking like nothing special, I decided to give the first episode a go. It is genuinely one of the worst things I have watched in my life. The characters were boring, cliched and dull. The writing was hollow and the jokes non-existent. I am amazed this has managed to garner as much praise as it has. Perhaps it gets better, I will never know and I’m okay with that.
Star Trek: Lower Decks
The latest and strangest addition to the Star Trek canon, Lower Decks is an animated comedy following the misadventures of unimportant crew members on an unimportant Starfleet ship. The concept is great and at its best it is a whacky show full of in-jokes and fan service. In its weakest moments, however, it comes off as being a poor man’s Rick and Morty set in the Star Trek universe (which is, of course, our universe). It isn’t just the animation style and high concept, sci-fi storylines that make it reminiscent of Rick and Morty, there is a deeper surreal edge that doesn’t quite fit the context of a brighter future for humanity. It is, however, extremely charming and has enough about it to make the second series something to look forward to.
I vaguely remember watching this as a kid, so decided to give it a go as an adult. Goodnight Sweetheart is a fun British 90’s sit-com about time-travelling bigamist Rodney Trotter Gary Sparrow. After stumbling upon a time-portal (like you do), Gary finds himself torn between his marriage to yuppy Yvonne and the Blitz. Admittedly, the main attraction to war-torn London is another woman, Pheobe, rather than falling bombs, black-outs and food shortages. There are two ways to watch this show, one as a bog standard 90’s sit com, the other as a study on sexism in different eras. The similarities and differences between sexism in the 40’s and the 90’s is incredibly interesting and provides a (probably) un-intentional undercurrent to the whole show, which massively fails the Bechdel test. Some of the jokes are a little dated, some of the concepts a little worn but for the most part this is still a fun show and it is probably the reason I enjoy time travel so much.
What can I say about this show that hasn’t already been said? It is undoubtedly one of, if not the greatest television show ever made. The acting is incredible, the writing sensational and every episode is a masterpiece. I fell in love with it when I watched it for the first time in my late teens. I’ve re-watched it several times since then and after I showed my wife The Godfather for the first time a while back, I suggested she let me show her The Sopranos too. Now there are two Sopranos fans living in our house and we’re both very excited about the prequel movie coming out next year.
5/5 (I’d put more but I hate that sort of thing).