The Watchlist: April 2017

A joyous month, truly. I’ve moved and settled into a flat with a proper telly, a proper living room and proper sofas. Here’s the watch list.

Television

Line Of Duty S3 & S4

I treat my Line Of Duty as a bit of a non-binge. I made my way through Series 1 and 2 in March and it was now the turn of 3 and 4. I could have gone from episode to episode in an afternoon but the episodes are so detailed, so full of plot that I was determined that I was going to at least partially savour them and try to leave a day between episodes. I’m glad I did – this has been one of my favourite periods, knowing I’ve got another episode of LoD to come back to after work.

Series 3 was explosive, as seeds planted in series 1 and 2 came to a head with an astonishing finale. In fact, it’s worth pointing out that a huge swathe of the finale was based in the ‘interview room’ – over twenty minutes, one scene, one table, four actors. It’s testament to the show’s direction and writing that this doesn’t feel boring, far from it. This finale felt like an ending as well, whereas I thought S2 was a little of a damp squib in the final few minutes. There’s the usual series of twists and turnsand and as I said previously, the fact that what other shows would use as a cliffhanger to close an episode can happen in the middle of one with Line Of Duty, this is about as tightly plotted and action packed a drama you can get without feeling overwhelming. At no point are you confused, at no point does it over step the mark and feel ridiculous, at no point is it overwhelming.

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I caught up with Series 4 the week before the finale aired. This one was more nuanced, we didn’t see the full picture but were given inklings as to the truth. There was a lot that each character under investigation was hiding. Finale wise? Not as explosive as S3, but the final ten minutes were pacey. The whole thing leant back to Series 1 without making new viewers feel alienated, and they set themselves up for a S5… but we have to wait until 2019 for that. The investigation took control of this series and less was seen of Arnott, Flemming and Hasting’s personal lives. A shame I thought, but with so much going on with Huntley’s, it was understandable.

I also discovered the reason as to why I felt there was something odd about Martin Compston’s portrayal of Steve Arnott in S1. I mentioned in last month’s post that his delivery seemed a little stilted and off, but I couldn’t understand why – his acting felt fine. It turns out that he’s not a native English man! He’s ‘doing a Tennant’ and in fact has a natural strong Scottish brogue that he’s covering up.

Broadchurch

The final few episodes of Broadchurch aired in April. It’s undeniable that it was a marked improvement on Series 2, which undeniably had it’s problems, but this wasn’t without its flaws either. I was impressed that the finale didn’t play too much on the fact it was billed as the final series. There wasn’t a neat personal wrap up for Hardy and Millar, it didn’t appear wistful in anyway. I was, however, disappointed by how the plot wrapped up. With a series of this length that’s based around one case, I, as a viewer, feel a little cheated when the ‘winning evidence’ in the final episode is something new. Something the murderer did in panic, something only just discovered that changes everything… I want to be able to look back on the series and see the stars align and wonder why I didn’t get it sooner. I’m all for red-herrings, obviously, but I felt like the reveal featured a bit of a scapegoat and not one that was massively clever. No one could have predicted it or why it was, so I felt cheated.

My money was on Arthur Darvill as the vicar and when it turned out not to be it left me scratching my head. Not because there was a mountain of credibly evidence against him, but the opposite. I couldn’t understand why he was in this series. Sure, he’s the parish priest but he plays no part in any plot. Same goes for the newspaper editor. They’re local ‘characters’ we’ve met before but there inclusion in this series felt odd. They were given nothing to do, and the fact part of the finale was given over to wrapping up their story seemed bizarre – no one really gave a monkeys about them or what they were up to post ‘case’. Will I miss Broadchurch? Nah. Did I appreciate it for what it was? Yes.

Car Share

Am I just very difficult to please? I’m feeling like I’m being very negative this month, but I had real issues with the new four episode (and apparently final) series of Car Share. Having sat on the shelf for a while S1 proved to be a huge success and S2 was met with a lot of excitement as a result. Once again, all episodes were available to stream on iPlayer at once and I did them over a weekend. Episode one was a real shame I thought, feeling like a free kick that went nowhere near its intended goal. I understand the broad show premise had to move on a little, but I kept waiting for Episode 1 to get started, to become pacey with an actual storyline filled with jokes… and it just never appeared. It ended and left me feeling a little empty. Was that… it? Really? After all that time?

4221396001_5395733519001_5395726104001-vsEpisodes two and three were a marked improvement. Still not as ‘laugh a minute’ as they could have been but at least they felt like an episode worth watching. The final one felt a little flat to me. A shame. And interesting to see how often Peter Kay lifted his phone while stationery at traffic lights – that’d get you six points now with the 2017 post-filming crackdown!

First Dates

Having ditched First Dates Hotel in a fit of pique, I was pleased to see ‘proper’ First Dates had returned and back to its usual self. The newer waiter still has much charisma as a wet fish, though.

Department Q

Interestingly, this was filed under the ‘films’ section of iPlayer while I was browsing through. I assume that was the case purely because the three episodes that exist are standalone and of feature length. It’s another BBC Four Scandi-noir import, based on some novels revolving around the premise of a police officer recovering after a botched operation being shunted to ‘close’ cold cases. His idea of ‘closure’ is a little different from his superiors, however, as he goes about re-investigating from scratch. Episode 1 was quite enjoyable and I haven’t watched a piece of Scandi-noir for a while. What I really loved was the fact that once again, being multi-screen is impossible. You can’t quickly check Twitter while watching as you’ll miss half the action and subtitles.

Films

Get Out

I’m a terrible person I know, but when I’m considering going to see a film at the cinema, its length is very important to me (ooh, matron etc). Get Out is a snip at 1h44m, and it felt just the right length. There was a lot of chatter flying around about this film and I haven’t seen a psychological thriller for a while. The people with me in the cinema however, had clearly got the wrong memo. They thought it was more of a horror and subsequently audibly gasped at every little thing that made you jump. It wasn’t designed to scare but to freak you out. I think Get Out did a pretty good job of that, aside from the fact the main theme sounded remarkably like ABBA’s Does Your Mother Know with the ‘take it easy, take it easy’ line.

I was a little thick at times and had to get my flatmate to explain some plot points and scenes to me I didn’t understand and when he did I realised how clever the plot was. A good, solid little thriller.

45 Years

This has been on my to-watch list for a good while now and I’ve really had no excuse since Netflix added it months back. This is one of those wistful movies, the ones that are character driven and feature lingering shots of them staring into the distance contemplating things. In fact, like a true cliché, that’s how this ends. Nice to have Norwich having a spotlight shone on it though with something other than Partridge.

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