I don’t know what it is about 2022, but I feel like I’ve lost my blogging mojo somewhat. Perhaps it’s long COVID, perhaps it’s the soul-crushing impact of the realization that we still live in a world where things like the invasion of Ukraine can happen, and perhaps it’s that too much time on my PS5 has disconnected me from reality. Anyway, to try and remedy the situation somewhat here is a properly random ramble through my last two months of television viewing.
Doctor Who: Flux is a season of the much-loved BBC sci-fi show that I recorded the previous year and only just brought myself to watch this year, and while it had its moments I think my lack of appetite was justified. I’m agnostic when it comes to the male/female Doctor debate, but would like to see some better writing on the show that has been my sci-fi mainstay since I was a wee nipper scared that The Master might shrink me and keep me in a matchbox, or that the Daleks were real and might zap me, or that the Cybermen might convert me into one of their own – little did I know that just getting a job would have the same sort of effect. I wasn’t prepared to be assimilated (sorry mixing my sci-fi I know) but it happened anyway.
Flux incorporated some joyous time-hopping shenanigans with a somewhat lacklustre script, but it was certainly an ambitious approach to trying to revitalise a waning show having it as a series of six properly connected chapters in a long story for once (harkening back to a time when this was quite a common occurrence for the Pertwee and Tom Baker days). The effects were generally good, but there never seemed to be any great peril to any of the situations the Doctor or her team were exposed to. She just waves her magic wand, eh hem… sonic screwdriver and everything is okay.
The Book of Boba Fett on Disney Plus was perhaps not as eagerly anticipated by me as you might expect simply because I wasn’t that taken with how he was represented in his introduction back into life in truly excellent The Mandalorian. His back story of living with the sand people after escaping the acidic Sarlacc pit was pretty cool, but he seemed to spend too much time in his bacta tank and in boring meetings rather than kicking ass. In fact when the show finally got around to showing some serious ass-kicking Boba had to call in reinforcements most notably in the form of the aforementioned shiny Mando and still cute as a button Grogu. In fact later episodes, especially the one featuring some truly great deepfake Luke Skywalker moments, felt more like Mandalorian episodes than a show about Boba. I am really enjoying the Star Wars TV stuff in general, and can’t wait for the Obi Wan show, but I expected a bit more action from The Book of Boba Fett especially given that it was directed by Robert Rodriguez. It felt more like a Mando spin-off than a proper show on its own merit.
Man Like Mobeen (available in the UK on Netflix) is a British comedy that’s probably not really aimed at me – given that it revolves around the adventures of a Muslim ex drug dealer trying to look after his sister in Birmingham. But I saw Guz Khan in Taskmaster and thought I would give it a go as I liked his banter and cheeky schoolkid vibe on that show. The same goes for Daisy May Cooper in the BBC’s This Country which I have just finished watching on iPlayer. I saw her wild antics on Taskmaster, thought she was hilarious, so gave it a go. Both shows are typical of modern British comedies in that there is a huge amount of heart in them. Mobeen is more farcical to begin with before going much darker in the third season when he is drawn back into the criminal world. The Country is a mockumentary set in a Cotswolds village following the lives of two young adult friends stuck in the countryside and coping in various strange ways with their limited options.
After Life returned to Netflix earlier this year for its final season and did not disappoint, although Roisin Conaty was missing from the cast for some reason. Ricky Gervais is a master of balancing tragedy with comedy and also pushing how far he can take a comedy character and your reaction to them. If there is a British comedy that truly exemplifies how much heart and soul can go into something that will make you truly laugh out loud and then shed a tear then this is it.
I am really intrigued to know what Gervais has in the pipeline next as so far with his shows (Derek, Extras, The Office) he has not put a foot wrong and deserves all the plaudits and awards (although he bemoans the idea of awards often enough) it has garnered.
ITV’s The Masked Singer UK and E4’s Celebs Go Dating on the other hand represent the kind of dross I am just about willing to put up with watching with Siggy, so I can then get to watch some of the shows I want to watch. With the celebrities on Singer disguising their voices for most of the shows and there being so many clues it literally could be absolutely fucking anyone there’s not much hope of guessing who is behind the mask. That said, when Natalie Imbruglia actually did sing with her normal voice toward the end of the competition then it finally dawned on me who it was. So I am claiming victory on guessing the winner.
On Dating it really just depends what reality / has-been stars are on and it’s not so much an interest in their (mostly largely insincere) quest for love but Rob Beckett’s hilarious commentary that makes the show bearable. Really this season featured two of the most punchable ‘celebs’ I’ve ever seen, while I do have to admit to be being impressed by the eventually hugely endearing Chloe Brockett from TOWIE.
First Dates and Gogglebox have a bit more class about them. Sure First Dates is similar in some ways to Celebs Go Dating but features real people who I think in a majority of cases are genuine in their search for happiness with someone else. It takes people watching to another level and it’s that kind of voyeuristic feeling that keeps me going back for more. Gogglebox, another big title for Channel 4 in the UK, is similarly voyeuristic but also often hilarious and heart warming. Also it’s nice to hear other people’s opinions of the television shows we’ve all been watching and see some genuinely emotional reactions. It’s a bit of a pain when the show contains spoilers (for instance we still haven’t watched any Killing Eve because of Gogglebox), but you learn to watch all your recordings from the week ahead of the corresponding episode of Gogglebox. Nice to see all the old episodes are available on Netflix now.
Love It or List It kind of falls into the ‘Siggy makes me watch this’ category as it is a ‘house programme’ where people do their houses up and then go and look at some others and generally unsurprisingly decide at the end of the show to stay put and ‘love it’. But it is the only house programme we watch – having blown off Grand Designs and Amazing Spaces because of the high rich-cunt quotient on those shows – people who spend £3000 on a kitchen tap need to spend a week living of food banks or on the run from Russian troops. Again, there is that voyeuristic element to it and I like to see the interplay between the couples involved one of who wants to list it and one who wants to love it.
Ozark Season 4 Part 1 is the first half of the final season of this classic Netflix show which had the capacity to become the new Breaking Bad, but didn’t quite reach those lofty heights. To be honest I have enjoyed it. The characters are brilliant, but I really am growing to hate the way it all seems to be shot in the dark or colour-graded to give that effect. It is hardly an advert for the Ozarks which on paper sound dreamy. The show still has the capacity to deliver some shocking twists – generally involving main characters getting shot when you least expect it – and this part has similar surprise body count.
While I am becoming increasing less sympathetic to the money laundering family’s woes, trapped as they are within a Mexican drug cartel’s machine, I hope the sun might finally come out for at least one character and that is the infinitely plucky and foul-mouthed Ruth Langmore played by Julia Garner. Off the back of her amazing performance in Ozark we’ve started watching Garner in Inventing Anna also on Netflix (and actually struggling not to think of her as Ruth doing a different accent).
Disenchantment also returned for a new season on Netflix recently and I found it worked better to binge watch it over the course of a week or so to get the best out of the show – a comedy fantasy animation from The Simpsons people bending fairytales into a story aimed at adults (a difficult trick I think, but one they pull off very well). Again it’s down to the characters to make this show work and that relies on good writing regardless of the gags. And the writing is really very good. Combined with some excellent voice talent (including many comedy actors from the UK) its a fun show deserving a congratulatory pat on the bum bum.
Reacher is the first of two much-anticipated shows in the Haynes household. It landed on Amazon earlier this year and after watching the first episode I was relieved to see that the makers have nailed it by casting the intelligent looking hunky slab of man meat that is Alan Ritchson instead of a grinning Scrappy-Doo Hollywood dwarf in the titular role. Siggy gave it a try and was hooked after the first sitting. So we got through the show relatively quickly. The first season was logically based on the first book Lee Child wrote ‘The Killing Floor’ as more or less stuck to the story pretty well.
Reacher is a barely contained psychopath when it comes to kicking bad guys’ asses and a bit of a smart-ass when it comes to doing a Sherlock Holmes analysis of a situation or piece of evidence. It’s a great combination and I think this show has legs. I am certainly looking forward to Season 2. It’s only when I watched it on TV that I realised that Reacher is essentially the Hulk without the inconvenient turning green and hulking out – he roams from town to town solving injustices as he goes. Also nice to see the author having a brief cameo in the final episode.
Peaky Blinders is the other show I have been gagging to watch. Last night we saw episode two of the final series and so far it is firing on all cylinders. Tom Hardy was brilliant as Alfie Solomon and it’s very good to see The Queen’s Gambit‘s Anya Taylor-Joy getting a lot more lines in this season. Cillian Murphy is an actor I have gradually grown to like and it’s nice to have seen such a complex character as Tommy Shelby develop over the course of the series which sees him getting further and further into a web of criminal and political plotting which now spans an ocean. Murphy and Taylor-Joy sizzled in their scene together in the first episode and I look forward to more drama as it progresses. And what a brilliant sound track! Love it.