The To Be Watched List 2 – A What I Will Be Watching Review

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Yesterday the Rugby Six Nations drew to a close with Wales victorious.  One of only two annual sporting fixtures I watch (the other being Wimbledon) this has dominated my viewing over the last few weekends meaning that the time on Saturday and Sunday I normally spend catching up with what I haven’t watched during the week has not happened and my Sky Box is beginning to groan under the weight of unwatched shows (well, it’s got up to 60% full and things start to get stressful when it creeps up more than that).  So either I’ve got to start deleting or settle down and get that percentage down.

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 So for today’s blog I thought I’d do something I did way back in  July 2017 and explore what I will be watching in order to reduce the Sky Box’s waistline rather than focus on something I have already watched.  As preparation I looked back to that previous post of nearly 20 months ago and was surprised to see that not much had changed.  The focus of that post was me falling asleep in the first episode of Series 7 of “Game Of Thrones” which I had planned to review and with Series 8 imminent here is the confession, I haven’t watched any more.  I have the whole series sitting in the Planner, including the episode which caused such a deep slumber because I will have to revisit this again right from the start to have any chance of knowing what is going on.  Hopefully, the escalation of publicity for Season 8 will prompt me to watch the previous seven episodes.

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Also, I note that I was working my way through two series I had on series link and here things haven’t improved.  I might have got through series 5 of the likeable enough Sherlock Holmes reboot “Elementary” starring Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu but I now have ten unwatched episodes of Season 6.   The situation regarding “Hawaii 5-0” shown on Sky on Sunday evenings is even worse.  It’s a show that’s not quite limping along but almost so I am now watching it in small doses, which is probably why eighteen episodes over two series have built up.  It’s still happily recording them each Sunday but perhaps at some point soon I will need to pull the plug on this.

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I’m a good one for watching first episodes as soon as they come out and then stalling with the rest of the series.  I haven’t yet made up my mind about W’s “Flack” a London set drama dealing with a PR company protecting the reputation of celebrities starring child Oscar winner and ex-Sookie Stackhouse from “True Blood”, Anna Paquin.  It’s one of those US/UK productions that end up seeming a little odd to viewers on both sides of the Atlantic, but I’m only a couple of episodes behind so I’ll stick with it.  I’m also not sure what to make about BBC 2’s “Motherfatherson”, surprisingly starring Richard Gere.  I’m really not sure where it is going and it wasn’t Gere who lit up the screen in the first episode  but Billy Howle as his tortured son.  The first episode ended up in a hospital scene with what looked like a brain tumour operation so I really can’t guess how the series is going to pan out.  It has the similar stylish feel of BBC1’s flawed “McMafia” but this is written by Tom Rob Smith, a British crime novelist of great repute who did excellent work penning “The Assassination of Gianni Versace” and the odd but fascinating “London Spy”, so I am certainly going to continue with this.

tomrobsmithTom Rob Smith

And then there’s “Finding Neverland: Michael Jackson And Me” which was spread out on subsequent nights into two parts by Channel 4.  I watched the first part and found it so disturbing and it gave me nightmares.  I know I should watch the second part but haven’t got round to it yet.  At this stage I really can’t put my impressions into words.  I can’t help but recall the cultural shift which happened in this country following the revelations about presenter and DJ Jimmy Savile which I struggled to sum up after reading the chilling exceptionally researched book about the man, “In Plain Sight” by  Dan Davies (2014) .  Here again, it feels like something we knew about and yet chose not to believe or ignore.  The impact of Michael Jackson on our popular culture is huge, the almost erasure of people like Savile, Gary Glitter and Rolf Harris from our cultural pasts was possible because they did not have celebrity to the magnitude of Jackson’s.  Sales of Michael Jackson’s records have grown in the UK since this programme was shown so this is a complex issue that I’m not going to be able to deal with in a paragraph, especially as I have only watched half of the television programme that has caused these developments.

 Hopefully, I will be less disturbed by two further music biographies.  “Mariah: The Diva, The Demons” was shown on Channel 5 on their Mariah Carey night before Christmas and promises to be a dramatised bio-pic focusing on 2000-20001 where Mariah bludgeoned her career to bits by performing in the movie “Glitter”, which I’ve seen and don’t think it’s as bad as it was made out to be.  It was gloriously tacky, and I’m hoping that this bio-pic will be too, but it’s also long which has put me off it up until now.

teddyTeddy Pendergrass

 I’ve been reading quite a bit about a documentary which had a limited cinema release a few week back which sounds right up my street, Teddy Pendergrass: If You Don’t Know Me” examines the life of the extraordinary vocalist from Harold Melvin and The Bluenotes and his subsequent solo career dogged by tragedy.  It was shown on Sky Arts last night.  I suspect here too there will be revelations I will find challenging.

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 And once I’ve exhausted the Sky Planner there’s always Netflix , where I am still working my way through “Dynasty” where I’m about to begin Series 2.  This is a show which has got better since my review of the first episodes probably because the character of Fallon Carrington is so sparklingly played by Elizabeth Gillies and has taken a more central role as the series has progressed and “Riverdale” which has lost any sense of fun it had and become increasingly dark, but still watchable.  Also Netflix is adding episodes weekly to the latest series of “Rupaul’s Drag Race”, which hasn’t yet had the magical spark of the last season of “All Stars” and I’m also one episode in to creepy stalker drama “You”, but I suspect here I might not last the distance.

Who says there’s nothing on television nowadays?

 

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The To Be Watched List – A What I Will Be Watching Review

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This week I was geared up to review the opening episode of Series 7 of “Game Of Thrones” which exploded onto Sky Atlantic.  It’s been plugged for what feels like months on Sky and was such a big event that even people who have never watched Sky must have been aware of its return.  I have watched every episode, but saw the review writing as a challenge as there’s so many plot-lines and characters that I take (most) of it in while I’m watching but tend to forget quite a lot soon afterwards.  Visually, it’s stunning and like no other television series ever made and I do always enjoy it, but I’m not a super-fan who knows every little detail and my review could end up just upsetting the super-fans if I get things wrong.

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I prepared myself for this by watching “Game Of Thrones- The Story So Far” on Sky Atlantic, a 90 minute re-cap narrated by Sue Perkins and whilst there were a few things I’d forgotten I actually surprised myself by recalling much of what had gone on.  It’s the unpredictability of the series which can throw you off-kilter.  Seemingly minor characters become important, major characters get killed off, and plot lines develop from all directions which demands attentive viewing.  I felt I was ready to give you my verdict on the opening episode and sat down to watch.

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But I fell asleep.  This had nothing to do with the episode (although it was one of the slightly too dark to totally make out what was going on scenes which did it).  It’s been a busy week at work and although I know Arya got some splendid revenge for the massacre of much of her family, that Ed Sheeran sang a song and Daenerys sailed into somewhere I’m not totally sure where.  I’m going to have to re-watch but as it’s not going to fit in with review deadlines I’ll have to hang my head in shame and feel like an old man.  I know I’m  probably not too far away from being my Dad who used to wake up from armchair TV slumbers after the channel had been changed and we were watching something else, him thinking it was the same programme with increasingly bewilderment as to what had been going on.

It’s actually the second time this week this has happened.  The night before I had rented overnight from the library “Hidden Figures” which I’d really been looking forward to seeing ever since I saw a trailer when I went to see “La La Land”.  Starring Taraji P Henson, who I adore in “Empire”, this based on a true story tale of three African-American women working in the early 60’s at NASA at the Langley base in Hampton Virginia seemed right up my street and I was really enjoying it until Taraji’s math genius character, Katherine Johnson, began writing long sums on a blackboard and it was if I was back in double Maths and, like the perfect sedative that used to be, I fell asleep.

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Which is why I’ve decided to use what’s recorded on my Sky Planner as my To Be Watched list (not to be confused with my To Be Read List- which is massive) to take a look at what I should  be watching over the coming weeks, should I stay awake long enough.

There’s the last episode of ITV’s “The Loch”, which began really well and I was delighted to see Siobhan Finneran in a leading role.  I had high hopes of this as another “Broadchurch” turning the Loch Ness area into a must-see for television watchers in the West Bay location boosted tourism for “Broadchurch” voyeurs.  It looked just as stunning, but the series for me didn’t sustain it’s very good opening couple of episodes.  It’s still good but not the must-see tv event I had initially anticipated.

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There’s three US series shown on Sky that have episodes stacked up on series link.  I’ve nearly worked my way through Series 5 of “Elementary”.  This feels like a good old fashioned detective series, it’s wobbled slightly over the years but its back as strong as it ever was.  Jonny Lee Miller as Sherlock Holmes and Lucy Liu as Dr Watson in modern day New York are a great combination.  I know I’m in a tiny minority here, but I prefer Miller’s Sherlock to Benedict Cumberbatch’s.  There I’ve said it………. “Quantico” is midway through its second series on the planner.  I didn’t watch all the first but rejoined it for the second because Russell Tovey was joining the cast.  It’s all over the place, seemed to change tack drastically a few episodes ago and it’s really only Tovey (who’s very good in it) and the very attractive cast which is headed by ex Miss World Priyanka Chopra that’s keeping me tuning in as I really don’t know what’s going on.  I also have ten (gulp!) episodes of the re-booted “Hawaii 5-0” to watch.  This is probably past its prime now, it has always has the odd duff episode but there are now fewer quality episodes to make up for that.  The news that the leading Hawaiian actors have decided to leave over pay inequality does not bode well for the future.

When I’ve got a good few hours to spare I may also catch up on the Channel 4 school based drama “Ackley Bridge”.  Watched the first episode, liked the cast more than anything else but haven’t got round to catching up with the rest of the series.  It features Paul Nicholls who has had his own personal drama this week after being trapped under a waterfall for three days with a broken leg in a Thai jungle- a real life story more dramatic and chilling than anything he’s appeared in on TV.  It sounds like a long road to recovery for him.  Those of us that have enjoyed his performances in “Eastenders”, “Clapham Junction”, “Canterbury Tales”, “Goodbye Charlie Bright”, the very under-rated “A Thing Called Love” and even as  a posh doctor with Suranne Jones in the weirdly casted “Harley Street” wish him a speedy return to good health.

Paul Nicholls in “Ackely Bridge” and being rescued in Thailand

There’s another poignant presence on my Sky Planner.  We heard this week that Britain’s Got Talent winner Pudsey has died leaving owner Ashleigh Butler and his legion of fans heartbroken.  I’ve got his full length movie appearance in “Pudsey The Dog- The Movie (2014) which was shown on TV a few weeks ago to watch.  I know reviews were atrocious and that’s there probably as much CGI as real dog.  I’ve got to be home alone to watch it- the other half drawing a line over this one but I’m hoping it will be a tribute to this extraordinary dog who just seemed to love to perform.  I might need to wait a few weeks to watch it though to avoid sniffling through it.

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Ashleigh and Pudsey – a true showbiz trouper