Public Service Announcement 10 of 2018: Blindspot

Mid-season break over, Blindspot returns to Sky Living tonight (Monday) at 10pm, with Kurt in the somewhat awkward position of having just confessed to his wife that he REDACTED her REDACTED. Um….

Since this is Weller we’re talking about, presumably there’s much more to it than that and Jane will (eventually) forgive him but, in the meantime, this may not bode too well for season 3’s initially super-fun vibe; with a little help from joy-in-human-form Rich Dotcom and a renewed delight in its own inherent craziness, the first few episodes of this run were some of the funniest and the best the show has ever produced and I really hope the writers don’t lose sight of that and drag us all down into Kurt’s big black hole of misery without throwing some Rich and Patterson hi-jinx into the mix to lighten the mood. I mean, just because Kurt is distraught, doesn’t mean we all have to be. And, since I’m on weekly review duty, I really don’t fancy another three months of estrangement of the show’s OTP – does this need to happen every year? – if we can avoid it, so if there’s any chance the big guy could be mistaken about what he thinks he’s done, let’s find out sooner rather than later, eh? PLEASE.

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Public Service Announcement 9 of 2018: Homeland

The argument against season 7 of Homeland (and seasons 2-6 as well), generally from people who don’t watch it any more, runs as follows: it should have finished after one season with the death of Brody, which would have left it standing as a unique, brilliant, and imaginative one-off drama. It’s never been as good since. It’s all about the money now.

And the argument in favour: well, it’s difficult to quibble with much of that. But we are where we are; successful TV shows are always all about the money, and they generally don’t stop while they’re still making bank; we should instead discuss whether it’s any good, rather than worrying about whether it should exist at all.

On balance I’m in the latter camp. Homeland, it’s true, has never quite hit the heights of its first season, and is unlikely to ever again. Evaluated on its own terms, though, for what it is, rather than what it isn’t: it’s not bad at all. Inconsistent for sure; but capable of being an intelligent and well-made drama, which in recent seasons has shown a welcome willingness to grapple with hot-button topics – for example, terrorism in Europe in season 5, and an alt-right fake news factory in season 6. On the other hand, the treatment of Quinn last time around was frankly bizarre: why bring him back from almost certain death just to make him suffer, then kill him anyway? (And getting rid of Astrid as well was a grievous error, assuming that the actor didn’t want out.)

This time round, at least to start with, Carrie will be dealing with the consequences of the events of the last season, in which President Keane somewhat brutally cleaned house and restricted civil liberties. Although given that she’d barely survived a right-wing coup attempt led by Dar Adal, one can see why she might have wanted to tighten her grip a little. Looking forward to this. Weekly reviews as ever (tonight, Channel 4, 9pm).

 

Hawaii Five-0 s8 ep 6

Two out-of-towners in a hire car are stopped for no reason by a police officer, who then shoots them both dead. As the victims weren’t African American, though, it’s immediately clear that the incident needs further investigation. In fact – spoiler alert, although it isn’t much of a mystery – the shooter isn’t a real cop, but someone with that multiple personality thing. I suppose that TV’s handling of this has become a little better over the years, but not much; and it still feels to me to be much more common in procedurals than in real life, to the point where I felt that I’d really seen it all before. Dr Alicia, still on H50’s bench, is brought on and provides an assist.

Meantime, Steve’s friends stage an intervention to try and reduce his stress levels. This, explains Danny, is because Steve’s radiation poisoning renders him more likely to get cancer, so he needs to make some changes to mitigate the risk. Those offering guidance include Jerry and Kamekona – am I being ungenerous in saying that these burly gentlemen are likely to have little useful to say about how to lead a healthy lifestyle? (Also there is Trump-supporting idiot Dog the Bounty Hunter, who can still go and eff himself.) Anyway, as part of the intervention Steve is obliged to have a stress evaluator to follow him around for a day. Turns out Steve’s job is stressful. Unfortunately, apart from one top-tier cargument (“Twice a week, and three at the most, and that’s if it’s someone’s birthday or something”) this storyline is too slight to justify the considerable amount of screen time devoted to it.

Directed, incidentally, by Tony Almeida.

Hooyah Watch: Hooyah!

The Post (2017)

It’s ironic but perhaps unsurprising, given history’s persistent tendency to repeat itself, that such an unapologetically old-fashioned period piece could be so piercingly relevant to the times we’re living in now. Steven Spielberg’s ode to journalists fighting to expose years of political wrong-doing in the face of a government willing to do anything to suppress it may be resolutely retro in both style – no CGI or special effects to distract here – and setting, but no amount of seventies suits or old-timey typewriters can obscure the immediate, overwhelming pertinence of its two principal themes: freedom of the press as the protection of freedom, and women stepping up and taking control after years of being told that they can’t.

That’s the preaching part of my review over for the night, though. Here’s the rest: The Post is an engagingly earnest, lovingly-made movie with something to say, and I loved it. The cast is magnificent – Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks are the irresistible partnership at the centre of it, and they’re wonderful, but even the smallest roles have some of the best actors (Sarah Paulson, Carrie Coon, Bruce Greenwood, the list is endless) working today in them, and the performances, paired with clean, clear-headed direction turn what could have been a stodgy, preachy two-hour lecture into an incredibly entertaining, thoroughly enjoyable and ultimately uplifting fist-bump of a film. Sometimes, the old stories really are the good ones.

Lethal Weapon s2 ep 5

A generously-built man, Howard Trotter, dies at a racetrack. Although we know that he was murdered, there isn’t much evidence of that – it looks like natural causes – until Howard’s friend persuades Murtaugh and Riggs to investigate further. The good news is that Howard’s friend is ethically-challenged attorney Leo Getz (Thomas Lennon), making a triumphant return to the show, this time bringing a giant mancrush on Murtaugh along for the ride. Every scene featuring Leo is, of course, an absolute delight.

But the darker side of Lethal Weapon is never too far away. In an apparently comedic plot development Riggs’s trailer is towed away, effectively leaving him homeless. This leads, though, to Riggs recalling further unhappy childhood events involving his father, and in turn to one scene when he, quite unexpectedly, uses a baseball bat to brutalise a suspect. Although Riggs now seems to have got over his dead wife, it looks as if season 2 is going to involve him confronting the memory of his father. It’s a great episode.

The Blacklist s5 ep 6

We’re taken back to 1989, specifically the day the Berlin Wall came down, and a hitman taking out a target. Jumping to the present day, Red tells Liz that a man called Mitchell Dunning has been marked out for assassination by this week’s Blacklisters, The Travel Agency, a loose alliance of killers-for-hire who have been dormant for 12 years. Dunning is killed before Ressler and Liz can protect him, and an investigation reveals a connection between the two victims. And something more; specifically, some clever monkeying around with timelines. The clue was there in the first scene; I spotted it, but didn’t appreciate its significance.

Meantime, Red and Tom come face-to-face to discuss the Suitcase O’Bones. I always enjoy their scenes together, as James Spader and Ryan Eggold are arguably the show’s best actors. Red warns Tom off. Tom ignores him. And Lena, Pete’s girlfriend, who was helping Tom last week, is threatened by Bucky out of Nashville, who tells her to stay away from Tom. But she doesn’t, which presumably means she’s dead next week. Liz and Tom get married. I thought they… already were? And Agent Cooper, with Red’s help, runs around trying to sort out the drug-related problems of Isaiah, the son of some friends of his. It has no connection whatever to the rest of the episode, or indeed the show, and is presumably there to give Cooper something to do, and to allow the show to make the point that, as Cooper tells Isaiah, “It’s the gospel truth that if you’re black in this country, and you say the wrong word, you can be killed.” A point always worth making, in fairness, but an uninspiring episode otherwise.

Public Service Announcement 8 of 2018: Collateral, Trauma

It’s John Simm vs John Simm tonight (Monday), as the BBC and ITV have somehow managed to ignore every other day of the year and schedule both of their big new dramas featuring the same man, on the same night at the same time. Um…well done?

At 9pm on BBC2, and first up for our purposes, is Collateral, a project so steeped in pedigree it should have its own category at Crufts. Written by Oscar nominee/ BAFTA winner and generally venerated playwright Sir David Hare, and starring Oscar nominee/ BAFTA winner and generally venerated actress Carey Mulligan, with a supporting cast including the aforementioned Mr Simm and the wonderful Nicola Walker, it couldn’t sound more prestigious if it tried. Mulligan plays a detective investigating the murder of a pizza delivery driver and, without wishing to wander into spoiler territory, this is a serious BBC drama in four parts, so it’s going to delve into some uncomfortable, upsetting issues. I can’t face any more weighty, worthy detective dramas at the moment though – if I need a reminder of the appalling things people can do to each other, I can just watch the news – so I’m going to give it a miss.

Also at 9pm, then, ITV1 has Trauma, an “event series” showing across three consecutive nights – as if anybody has time for that – written by Mike “Doctor Foster” Bartlett, and starring Simm as a grieving father who blames (rightly or wrongly, I’m guessing we’ll find out) trauma consultant Adrian Lester for the death of Simm’s teenage son while under Lester’s care. Whether it’ll be any good or not, and whether it’ll be a sad, sobering look at class, grief and the magnitude of the challenges facing the NHS, or a scenery-chewing soap opera, I have no idea and I don’t think I’ll be tuning in to find out, but let us know if you do.