Weekly Watchlist #9 (28th Oct – 3rd Nov)

Much more stuff this week!

Daybreak (Netflix)

This has really captivated me – very easy to dismiss as derivative (because, well, it absolutely is), but with just enough flourish to occasionally feel very inspired. Oddly, it’s not the most confident show – for every step it takes towards a new idea, it quickly hurries two steps back to comforting archetypes – but when it gets things right it absolutely soars. I’d struggle to recommend it wholeheartedly, but at the same time it’s clearly not a bad show: just one I wish was a little more willing to trust its best instincts.

Defending the Guilty (BBC Two)

It never quite managed to solve the flaw I highlighted a while ago – the lack of development for Will’s girlfriend – which becomes harder to ignore as the series concluded. At the same time, though, I still really enjoyed this: it’s funny and it’s moving, with a brilliant cast and a killer soundtrack. The ending invites a second series I’m not sure is wholly needed – but I really can’t wait for more.

House of Games (BBC Two)

I normally tend not to include all the quiz shows I watch in these listings, but I just wanted to note for posterity that I got an answer about Virginia Woolf very quickly this week, and I was very proud of myself.

That’s all.

In the Long Run (Sky One)

It’s easy to forget just how good a comic talent Idris Elba is, given his more high-profile outings tend towards the dramatic – even then, this loosely-autobiographical piece feels like it’s flown especially under the radar, not really making a huge impact on people’s impressions of Elba. (I’d bet more people know about his DJ work than this show. Actually, I’d bet more people would know him from Bond rumours than this show, and that’s probably never going to happen.)

That’s a shame – In the Long Run is a charming, funny little show, the sort of thing that I could very easily see being just as loved as Derry Girls or Stath Lets Flats if it too had found a home at Channel 4.

Motherland (BBC Two)

Admittedly, “I really can’t wait for more” is also exactly how I felt about Motherland’s first series; this year’s effort is much more easily written off. I could never quite put my finger on what changed – and maybe if I went back and rewatched the first series, I’d be disappointed by that as well. Either way, it’s been a disappointing year

Riverdale (Netflix)

Halloween is absolutely the best time of year for Riverdale. Wait a few months and I’ll say the same about Christmas, though – this is a show that really thrives on excess and exaggeration, so the heightened nature of any holiday always makes for an especially fun instalment of Riverdale nonsense.

Superstore & The Good Place (NBC, Netflix)

Doing these ones together, because I remain of basically the same mind about each – Superstore is just about recovering from a rough start, while The Good Place continues to tread water, increasingly prompting me to realise again (as is the case with every new season of The Good Place) that I just don’t love it. Both these shows might end up bumped from the weekly watchlist – I’ll still keep on top of them, of course, but I’m definitely not going to have something new to say about them each week.

Favourite show of October: I suspect ‘favourite’ is probably the wrong word here – I’d want to very heavily caveat it in this instance – but Daybreak is undeniably the show that’s made the most impression on me, and I suspect the one I’ll be thinking about longest.

Best new show of October: Again, I think it has to be Daybreak.

Most looking forward to in November: Lot of possibilities here – I have high hopes for His Dark Materials, some measured interest in a few of the Apple+ shows, and I haven’t quite got around to Watchmen yet so we’ll call that a November show – but it’s hard not to choose The End of the F***ing World series 2. Absolutely loved the first series, and really curious to see how Jessica Barden fills the role of the lead.

You can look at other Weekly Watchlists here. If you liked this article and you want to support what I do, you can leave a tip over on ko-fi, or back my Patreon here.

Facebook | Twitter | Blog Index | Television Index

Weekly Watchlist #8 (21st Oct – 27th Oct)

I watched very little this week. But I was doing real work! So that’s got to count for something, I hope.

Fleabag (BBC Three)

Just the one episode, from the first series, because I was channel hopping, and it was on. Hugh Dennis gives such a subtle, moving performance in this; it’s surely the best work of his career, certainly not something you’d think he was capable of from Mock the Week. But the closing moments of that fourth episode, the one I watched this week? He’s sublime.

Riverdale (Netflix)

Riverdale is very easy to criticise – and, in fairness, deserves a lot of the criticism it gets – but I will always maintain that it’s actually a much better show than its reputation suggests. Structurally, it’s a marvel; I’m convinced that Riverdale is one of the most attentively, acutely paced programs on television at the moment. I really believe that!

Superstore (NBC)

I can’t help but feel like Superstore’s solution to keep Matteo in the store after last year’s ICE cliffhanger is a bit contrived – although, equally, I wouldn’t have wanted them to lose Nico Santos, whose always been one of the best parts of the show. I’m interested to see what Matteo’s plotline will look like across the rest of the year; so far it hasn’t quite lived up to the weight of expectation created at the end of season 4, but hopefully that’ll change going forward.

The Circle (Channel 4)

I still haven’t actually caught up on this – in fact, I got spoilers for who won when I was putting together the last weekly watchlist. (Whoops.) Again, though, I’m inclined to stick with it. I sort of wish it would get a bit more popular, so there would be more writing on it – I’m convinced that someone better versed in the history of reality television would have quite an interesting take on it.

The Good Place (Netflix)

After I complained last week about the memory wipes, this episode opened with a quick joke about restoring Jason’s memories. That, I think, is probably the best I’m ever gonna get – and I don’t think I’ll ever really be entirely pleased with that.

But, yes, quite a few things missing this week. Keep managing to miss Watchmen, which is a nuisance, because I’m really curious about that. And I missed The Accident, too; I mostly enjoyed Kiri, so I was keen to check that out, but a lot of the reviews have been less than encouraging.

Tell you what, though, I’m increasingly becoming more and more conscious of just how much television there is. Which is a bit of an obvious thing to say, but I was quite struck by the fact that this week, a friend of mine started watching and in turn heavily recommending Daybreak – a new Netflix show that debuted this week, and I hadn’t even heard of until he mentioned it. There’s a lot going on there, of course, and part of that is down to Netflix’s advertising – but equally, this isn’t a small show! It’s got Matthew Broderick in it, it’s based on what are apparently relatively popular comic books!

But we’re at the point where there’s so much television that even I, someone who ostensibly watches television for a living, hadn’t heard of this show. Which is an odd thing to confront, I suppose.

You can look at other Weekly Watchlists here. If you liked this article and you want to support what I do, you can leave a tip over on ko-fi, or back my Patreon here.

Facebook | Twitter | Blog Index | Television Index

Weekly Watchlist #7 (14th Oct – 20th Oct)

weekly watchlist 7 the good place tahani jameela jamil rebecca front thick of it succession kendall headphones

Haven’t picked up anything new yet this week. Been a while. Recommendations always appreciated!

Motherland (BBC Two)

An improvement this week, if only a little one, because last week’s new character was sidelined a bit. (It is… a shame that this character is played by the only WOC in the cast. The actress is great, but the character is really, really misconceived. Do intentionally irritating side-characters ever work?) Even then, anyway, the episode was a bit of a disappointment. Ah well.

Riverdale (The CW, Netflix)

It’s absolutely ridiculous, but that’s why I love it. Frankly I’d be disappointed if it ever tried to be grounded again – I watch this for nonsense like Veronica making reporters watch her sing and dance before giving a press conference, or Jughead having a classmate called ‘Bret Weston Wallis’. It is nonsense! And, therefore, often the highlight of my week.

Succession (HBO, Sky Atlantic)

Undoubtedly, it’s going to make my top ten for 2019 – how could it not? – but, as I’ve noted a few times over the past few weeks, I think it’s harmed by the fact it never quite followed up on the ending of episode 5 as much as it could have. Or, I suppose, maybe it’s more accurate to say ‘as much as I would’ve liked’. Given how important the relationship between Shiv and Kendall was to this episode, though, it definitely feels as though the ball was dropped, at least a little bit.

Still! That ending. Can’t wait for next year.

Superstore (NBC)

It’s still a little frustrating, and still feels like a weak cover of earlier years, but it’s starting to find the groove again. Thankfully!

The Good Place (NBC, Netflix)

So, here’s the other thing that bothers me about The Good Place: the mind-wipes. It’s never quite sat with me – especially in a show that purports to be a character-driven show – how easily and how willingly The Good Place quite literally resets its characters. There’s only ever been a partial restoration of memories once, so it’s not like these memories are going to be restored – I don’t understand how losing those memories isn’t essentially like a death?

That feels like a hugely important thing for a show that’s meant to be about its characters to grapple with – certainly I had a bit of trouble caring about any of them again at the start of series 2, as it became clear that all the development they underwent the year before was being undone – but especially so for a show that’s so heavily concerned with philosophy. How is that not something they’d get into – all these questions about selfhood and identity and what constitutes the fundamental essence of a person? It’s a strange device to use in such a throwaway fashion, and I’m increasingly realising I’ll never quite get a satisfactory answer on that.

The Thick of It (BBC Two, Netflix)

Very nearly caught up on this, just coming to the end of the third season. Really like Rebecca Front as Nicola Murray, quite a breath of fresh air for the show. Curious to see how they handle the coalition years in the next series too.

Quite a few things I’ve missed this week – fallen behind on Defending the Guilty, which is a bit of a shame. I’ll have to get back on top of that soon.

You can look at other Weekly Watchlists here. If you liked this article and you want to support what I do, you can leave a tip over on ko-fi, or back my Patreon here.

Facebook | Twitter | Blog Index | Television Index

Weekly Watchlist #6 (7th Oct – 13th Oct)

Still trying to work out a format for this that actually works, given that I’m not sure I have a lot worth saying about all the things I’m watching. Getting there, though.

House of Games (BBC Two)

I really, really like quiz shows, and this is fun enough and slightly offbeat enough to be worth tuning into regularly.

Motherland (BBC Two)

Hugely disappointed by this, I’ve got to admit – this, I think, made my best of 2017 list, so I was really looking forward to its return. Which was hugely underwhelming in the end! The issue I think was because so much of this episode was dedicated to a new, fairly one-note character, the entire episode structured around one fairly limited joke (“look, the mothers have to take care of this other mother, who is acting like a teenager”). Bit of a shame, that.

Riverdale (The CW, Netflix)

Genuinely moving, in a way I didn’t think of Riverdale ever could be.

Succession (HBO, Sky Atlantic)

I’ll miss this a lot when it ends for the year – admittedly I do think it’s faltered ever so slightly since those near-perfect opening episodes, but frankly Succession at 80% is better than a lot of shows at 100%.

Superstore (NBC)

Something of an improvement this week, but mainly I was just trying to work out where I recognised the actress playing Colleen from. (The answer, I’m fairly sure, is SNL. Or more likely Veep, since I don’t even really watch SNL.)

The Chase (ITV)

I watch this every day, more or less – even on the weekends, when it’s not actually on properly, I’ll tend to watch a syndicated repeat. I would hate to know how many hours of my life I’ve spent watching The Chase, to be honest. And how little I’ve actually learned from it! But I’m definitely getting better at it. Eventually, I will go on The Chase, I will take the higher offer, be caught within two questions, and never watch it again.

Which would be one way to break a habit, I suppose.

The Circle (Channel 4)

Still gradually working my way through The Circle, albeit fairly behind the actual broadcast schedule – six episodes a week is frankly too much of anything. It remains unexpectedly compelling, though; it’s the first reality show of its ilk that I’ve been genuinely into enough to actually want to watch six episodes of a week. (Or, well, try to anyway.)

The Good Place (NBC, Netflix)

This episode wound me up a bit, admittedly. I’ve always gone back and forth on Tahani, whether I find her charming or irritating; I’m increasingly starting to think, though, that while Tahani is still this cartoonishly bourgeoisie character, The Good Place is never quite going to make “there’s no ethical consumption under capitalism” land as its central thesis. (Assuming that remains its central thesis, admittedly.)

The character needs to develop beyond the initial archetype – I’m not saying there isn’t some depth to her (well, I’m not saying that at the moment, anyway), but while The Good Place still sticks to that initial joke, I’m not sure it’ll ever quite be what it seems to want to be.

You can look at other Weekly Watchlists here. If you liked this article and you want to support what I do, you can leave a tip over on ko-fi, or back my Patreon here.

Facebook | Twitter | Blog Index | Television Index

Riverdale Season 2 Finale: All the questions we have ahead of Season 3

riverdale season 3 brave new world labor day questions need to know kj apa camila mendes archie andrews veronica lodge serpents cherly blossom

And so Riverdale Season 2 has concluded. It wasn’t with a bang, nor with a whimper, but rather, something that’s a little bit in between.

This deliberately understated final episode didn’t quite deliver all the twists and turns we’ve come to expect from Riverdale, nor the explosive cliffhangers of Season 1, but there’s more than enough to set up next year’s third season.

Here, then, are five questions we have after watching the Riverdale Season 2 finale, Brave New World.

My final Riverdale article of the season! Quite possibly my final Riverdale article (of this type) full stop, actually – I’ve got no idea if this ongoing, week-to-week coverage is something I’ll be continuing at Metro for Season 3.

Hopefully, it will (I say, months after I’ve actually finished it, when the week to week stresses are a faint memory), because I do like the show, but if not, that’s not the end of the world: I’m sure I’ll have some other Riverdale, and maybe Sabrina, content at some point anyway.

Facebook | Twitter | Blog Index | Riverdale Index

Riverdale season 2: Who is the second Black Hood? What is the darkness?

riverdale season 2 judgment night betty cooper lili reinhart alice cooper mädchen amick

Every so often, Riverdale brings up the idea of ‘the darkness’ – the darkness in Betty, or in Chic, and in the Black Hood, now revealed to be Hal Cooper. It’s what prompts Hal to kill people, Chic to be creepy, and Betty to occasionally wear a black wig. But what is it? 

The truth is, though, it’s deliberately vague: a hinted at but not explicitly defined mental illness that can be used as a broad motivator, without any of the responsibility to present a real mental illness with care. It’s a bit of a weak offering from Riverdale; the sooner ‘the darkness’ is forgotten about, the better.

I’ve finally worked out how to balance genuine theories with loving sarcasm and critique, just as the series is coming to a close. Ah well. Next year.

In any case, here’s my Metro article discussing Riverdale season 2, episode 21 Judgment Night, and the five questions we have now – concerning the identity of the second Black Hood, Hermione Lodge, and more.

Facebook | Twitter | Blog Index | Riverdale Index

Riverdale Season 2: Is Hiram Lodge the brains behind the Black Hood?

riverdale season 2 shadow of a doubt hiram lodge mark consuelos veronica lodge camila mendes

At the end of this episode, we saw that Hiram was manipulating Reggie and the Black Circle – and possibly has been for quite some time. Hiram always seemed like the sort of guy to have a lot of different irons in the fire, so it begs the question: what if he’s been doing the same with the Black Hood?

It makes sense, after all – the chaos created by the Black Hood is exactly what’s convinced the town to support Hiram’s plans for a private prison. Maybe Hiram has been the brains behind the Black Hood all along?

Riverdale! Enjoy.

This week’s post discusses the possibility that Hal Cooper has a twin brother, whether or not Hiram Lodge is the secret mastermind behind the Black Hood murders, questions just how much Veronica knows about her parents (it’s a running theme), and more.

Facebook | Twitter | Blog Index | Riverdale Index

Riverdale Season 2: Is Hal the Black Hood? And will he kill Sheriff Keller next?

We know now the Black Hood is going after the victims who previously escaped him, as well as those he perceives to be sinners. With Midge and Chic dead, that leaves a couple of obvious victims next – maybe Moose, or indeed Fred Andrews. 

But it feels more likely that he’ll target Sheriff Keller. 

He’ll find himself in the crosshairs because of his affair with Mayor McCoy, but from a narrative perspective, it makes sense: Keller is exactly the sort of prominent supporting character whose death would create emotional stakes, but not represent a massive change in the same way killing Archie’s dad would. 

Next week, then, Sheriff Keller should probably be worried about more than just his job.

Here’s my piece on this week’s Riverdale episode, which I’d love if people could share around a bit.

This particular article ponders whether Hal is the Black Hood, if Sheriff Keller is likely to be his next victim, and more. (Like, for example, why Cheryl and the River Vixens have a special funeral outfit. Actually, it’s less a question, because the reason is obvious – it is Extremely Extra, in a way that suits both Cheryl and Riverdale, so it makes perfect sense – and more of a celebration.)

And, yes, if you’re thinking that the above picture has very little to do with the above text, then… well, then you’d be correct. These things happen, you know how it is.

Facebook | Twitter | Blog Index | Riverdale Index

Riverdale Season 2: Everything we need to know after the musical episode, AKA Riverdale’s best episode ever

riverdale season 2 a night to remember musical betty cooper lili reinhart veronica lodge camila mendes archie andrews kj apa

There’s something about Riverdale’s exaggerated aesthetic and over-the-top sensibilities that make it almost uniquely suited to a musical. You could easily imagine it becoming an annual tradition, with the series covering a whole host of different musicals. It’s pretty much exactly the apotheosis of Riverdale’s already idiosyncratic style, and it’d be brilliant to see the show have another try at it.

Indeed, this week’s episode was already probably the best episode of the show so far on its own terms anyway. It married the distinct tone and feel of the quirky teen drama with the musical genre in a pretty much perfect way – and, as ever, opened up a lot of questions about the future of the show. From Archie’s relationship with his dad to Cheryl’s conflict with her mother, and of course the blood-curdling return of the Black Hood, this episode gave us a lot to consider.

It is in no way an exaggeration, to my mind, to say that the musical episode was the best episode of Riverdale ever, and I’d love to see them do another one. Genuinely, I really properly loved it; after a run of episodes that I found quite frustrating, this was such a breath of fresh air that really made me want to engage with the show again.

What’d be a good one to do next year, do we think? My knowledge of musicals is, sadly, sorely lacking. Les Mis, maybe? That’s sort of it. Phantom of the Opera, actually, seems like it could fit pretty well within Riverdale‘s Extremely Extra aesthetic.

Facebook | Twitter | Blog Index | Riverdale Index

Riverdale season 2: Five questions we have after episode 17

riverdale season 2 the noose tightens cheryl blossom sisters of quiet mercy madelaine petsch

This week’s episode of Riverdale was another twisting and turning instalment of the quirky teen drama that gives us a lot to ponder.

We saw the Blossoms at each other’s’ throats, the Coopers’ crime come to light, and Archie seemingly enlisting his friends as mob enforcers – it’s an intense time to live in Riverdale.

Here’s my piece on the seventeenth episode of Riverdale season 2, The Noose Tightens, which was the last one for a couple of weeks.

It was a nice reprieve, to be honest – the weekly Riverdale article was becoming increasingly frustrating. I’m basically fond of the show, but it was going through a rough patch, and these “five questions we have after” articles are not the most mentally stimulating to write. (Which isn’t a knock on the format, incidentally; I think a big part of why I struggled with them is because I didn’t know how to write them well. Listicle type things are a skill unto themselves, I reckon.)

Anyway! Hope you enjoy this piece.

Facebook | Twitter | Blog Index | Riverdale Index