The Watchlist: May 2017

Television

suits-season5Suits S5

Oh, Suits. It’s been a while since I watched you. Every time I finally took the plunge and bought the latest series on DVD inevitably Netflix would release it for streaming just weeks later so this time round I opted to hang in there, and BAM, surprise surprise it appeared… although not very well publicised, it took me a month to realise it.

The problem I always face with Suits is that it’s so tightly plotted it’s impossible to remember what’s gone on one series to the next and it can be incredibly alienating to start a new series after time away and be scratching your head. But hey, that’s not the biggest issue with the show: it’s time to get some stuff off my chest.

  1. Why does nobody use mobile phones?! They’re hotshot lawyers ffs and it’s like they’re in a parallel universe where working on the move just doesn’t happen. They’d rather schlep half-way across the city to have a conversation face to face that lasts two minutes than pick up the goddam phone. I appreciate endless calls don’t make ‘gripping’ TV in the same way face-to-face confrontations do but purleasseeee.
  2. Also on that note, how come everybody has access to harvey’s apartment? He wanders into his living area and BAM there’s somebody sitting on his sofa. And. It. Happens. All. The. Time. He needs to change the locks, pronto.
  3. The shot-to-shot continuity is still dreadful. If you’re going to be working with documents scattered all over the place it’s difficult but ffs it just looks messy. This is something they’ve never managed to conquer since season one.

Aside from all that, did I enjoy it? I suppose. There’s still great moments of humour but, as I’m sure it does with a lot of viewers, some of the lawyering stuff goes right over my head. It’s worth noting that character development seems to have paused for many of the series regulars – there’s little of their personal lives seen on screen, probably wise given the nature of the series plot overall. Harvey is a different matter, however. He’s started therapy and we see him come to realise things (albeit slowly) and get some flashbacks too.

Honorary mention for Jessica still being sassier than a sassy thing. We could all do with being a little more Jessica.

In The Flesh S2

Given this series is only six episodes long it took me a mightily long time to get through it – nearly six weeks. It was always within reach for me to watch another episode (the disc never left the blu-ray player) but it was never on the top of my list. I’m glad I finally got round to it though as series one was (for all its plot holes) one of the better things I watched last year. Was this purely because my future husband Luke Newberry is in the starring role? I couldn’t possibly comment.

The plot appears to have developed nicely, and given they were given more time (series one only had three episodes) it didn’t feel as rushed. The plates that were spinning never felt overwhelming or too few, it all trundled along nicely. There’s many parallels that can be made about the politics on display in the series and those we’ve seen the world over during the past few years. That’s no accident but it’s interesting how its come to more of a head since the series aired back in early 2014.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt S3

With UKS (cba to type it again) there always seems to be an element of people wearing rose-tinted glasses between series. “It’s amazing!” “Look at these gifs of the show we made!” “Can’t wait for the next series!!!1!” Then the next series comes along and people come to their senses: “it’s… not as good as I remember?” “um… it’s not as perfect as it was in my head?”

It’s not a perfect show, that’s a given. It suffers from the classic Netflix problem of having as much time as it needs for each episode. That inevitably effects how tightly the editing of the show and script has been given its not fitting to linear broadcast episode times. There’s some really plodding moments at times ~but~ I think S3 is a vast improvement on S2. Far more enjoyable, and it’s nice to see Lillian finally given some semblance of character and plot for a change. In the previous two series I always felt that she was purely a conduit for the overall plot and as a sounding board for other characters’ feelings. That’s obviously important in any show but she always felt like a spare part and any episodes that tried to revolve around her were weak.

The opening two episodes of this series were very poor imo. Miraculously it perks up substantially for the next five or six episodes before falling a little again, so that was relief.

P.S it’s notable how many familiar 30 Rock faces pop up this series.

taskmaster_series4

Taskmaster

Woah now, this series has come round quickly again! This is the shining jewel in the Dave original programming crown (and kudos to them, there’s a fair bit these days) and it really is a great light relief from the trials and tribulations of the real world. There’s been a lot of politics and horrific events and news over the past few weeks and Taskmaster has acted as shining light for me; a real escape from the real world with an hour of joyous, good-natured nonsense. I can’t wax lyrical about it enough.

The Handmaid’s Tale

elisabeth-moss-as-offredThis has been much-hyped on Twitter since its release on US streaming series Hulu and there was much chatter about which UK entity would pick up the rights. I swear I saw that Amazon were extremely close to getting it, but thankfully it fell to free-to-air Channel 4. With any much-hyped show there’s always a fear that the reality is going to be far different from the gushing on the internet but I was thrilled to discover the The Handmaid’s Tale lives up to, if not exceeds expectations. The first episode was *insert 100/fire/suitable emoji*, roll on the rest of the series.

(I’m in two minds as to whether I should read the original novel or not – it’s been on my to read list for years, should I take the plunge? Or will it ruin my enjoyment of the show given I have no idea where the story’s heading?)

The Trial

My least favourite part of any crime drama series is often the bit in court. I realise it’s the essence of real life dramatics and you have the twists and turns of the courtroom but it wasn’t until American Crime Story last year that I think I appreciated it more. This series is a really interesting premise: a mock trial with a real life jury. Genuine judges and barristers preside over the case in a real court-room but we see all the evidence as the jury do and follow their deliberations. It was certainly different but I wouldn’t say it was as shit-mazing as some were making out.

First Dates

It’s back! And I’m back – I refuse to watch the mess that it First Dates Hotel. There’s been a few interesting developments this series:

  • diners no longer return if there date was unsuccessful the first time, as with previous series.
  • Also of note is the sizeable increase in sob-stories – there’s a far greater number of dead family, disabilities and illnesses cropping up than previously
  • the outdoor seating area is being utilised more, and they’ve switched its side – no more free exposure for Birley sandwiches
  • there was one episode where they experimented with using none of their post-date animations, but exclusively new shots of London where lights appear out of focus in the shape of hearts or heart shaped balloons float away. This lasted one episode before normal service resumed.
  • and… there was an odd episode this series. It didn’t appear under the banner of ‘series 8’ on All4, but series 5 and featured some clearly older dates that had sat on a shelf for a while, interspersed with more recent dates and shots of the restaurant and staff. I wonder what went on?

First Dates Ireland (and Australia?) air on E4 – I’ve not taken the plunge with these, but I’m intrigued to see if/when First Dates US appears. Drew Barrymore narrates it and it’s been getting rave reviews..! Okay, mainly from Ellen DeGeneres.

Films

bd2b9ae44c11280e488ab4bc48de6b63701e8251309eaa525bf24b388fb0fa8b

Ex Machina

There’s bound to be a lot of chatter this year about The Circle. I read the novel last year and the cinematic version is due for release in a few months (don’t get me started on how Emma Watson is terrible casting) but if you’re unaware of it, it centres around a large tech company, its mysterious leader and its mysterious new projects and ever reaching powers and presence in people’s lives.

Ex Machina has been recommended to me a few times. The reason I bring up The Circle is because Ex Machina also revolves around a tech firm and its mysterious leader (Oscar Issac). Caleb ‘wins’ a competition to go to the a retreat and meet the man behind the company and things develop from there. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Domhnall Gleeson in another film before but I found him very watchable. His characters not overly likeable, he’s not the ‘hero’ of the piece (there really isn’t one) but Caleb was nicely naïve and well presented.

It’s worth noting how few characters feature in this film. In fact, it could quite easily be a play. There’s broadly one setting, the action doesn’t move out of three of four rooms and the number of characters can be counted on one hand. And it’s not too lengthy –  a run time of just over a 100 minutes. A decent watch.

Memento

Brace yourself, it’s coming – the joke is on its way, are you ready? Hold on, here we go… there’s no going back now…

I couldn’t remember if I’d seen this film before!!!!

Okay, now that’s over with let’s skip to the chase. Did I enjoy this? Yes, towards the end. I realise I’ll be saying all of this twenty years after everyone else but the presentation of this story takes a while to get used to. Is it genius? Yes. Is the way your perception of events and characters constantly changing impressive? Yep. Solid.

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