TV

May 2020

The Trial (Il Processo) (TV)

– Italian crime thriller reaches for high stakes but descends into melodrama instead. The story is an absurd, rambling, meandering mess, beleaguered by endless contrivances. There’s nearly nothing here to like.

April 2020

Better Call Saul S05 (TV)

– when brilliant writing meets convincing acting and memorable cinematography is cut with creative direction, you end up with a show as consistently compelling as Better Call Saul. Jimmy has come a long way since we were first introduced to his origin story, but Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould pace his development just right, with barely a foot wrong. Unfortunately, the wrong foot in this season falls in the final episode, which is a real clanger given the deliberate realism of the series so far. This might well be the best show currently on TV though, and over 50 episodes, the occasional misstep can be forgiven.

Ozark S03 (TV)

– though the black witted crime drama remains a cut above most of its competition, this season dips in the middle, returns to retread some old ground, and has a sense of inevitability about it that is dangerously close to tedious. That said, it ends with a bang, the comedy remains laugh out loud at times, and the main cast are as terrific as ever. It’s a shame the writers lean into ’emotional conflict’ so heavily they could be following notes from a university lecture on creative writing. It grates.

Tiger King S01 (TV)

– batshit crazy biopic cum true-crime documentary about the deadly rivalries between private zoo owners in the USA. Definitely unique and worth watching for the extraordinarily eccentric characters and the eye opening lives they lead. The chronology is chaotic though and the whole series too drawn out. It also feels a little manipulative, as these shows so often do, withholding key information or revealing it in drips to frame audience opinion and maximise shock factor.

March 2020

A Confession (TV)

– Martin Freeman is well cast in this tense and punchy drama detailing the fall from grace of Detective Superintendent Steve Fulcher, who caught a serial killer then spent years fighting for his career as well as pursuing justice for the victims’ families. No comment on the facts of the case, but as a TV show, this is polished and absorbing, if a little heavy on the drama and liberal with the exposition. It’s definitely worth a watch.

The Capture S01 (TV)

– if every character wasn’t so annoying, and the plot wasn’t so ludicrous, this very-BBC-TV cop thriller could have been good. As it stands, it’s certainly bingeable, and paced fast enough you might overlook its endless irrationality. I’m afraid I couldn’t.

The Outsider S01 (TV)

– after an intriguing and promising start, this Stephen King mystery abandons the mystery, introduces a human-possessing demon and an expositional clairvoyant, then sinks the viewer into their very own hell: boredom. Hugely disappointing, an absolute waste of time.

The Stranger (TV)

– very ‘made for TV’ binge mystery starts intriguing but farfetched and gets progressively more and more inane. None of it adds up, none of it is remotely plausible outside of the realms of TV land, and it’s stupid even by those low standards. Save yourself the eyerolls and vexation: avoid.

February 2020

Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet (S01) (TV)

– it got off to a cracking start, a lot of laugh aloud moments and great quirky characters. By mid-season though, the smart gag rate was dropping, replaced with hysterics, shouting, and unironic stereotyping. McElhenney is fantastic as Ian Grimm, and the show works best when his heady mix of inspiration and egotism is at its peak. Unfortunately, that’s not often enough. It dragged its way over the season finish line all out of ideas.

Watchmen S01 (TV)

– Not quite a masterpiece but certainly a masterful piece of TV storytelling. Racism, identity, time travel, religion and transgression are just some of the themes considered, all under the guise of a slickly produced and extremely stylish action thriller. Nice work.

January 2020

Giri/ Haji (TV)

– international detective story boasts a cast at the top of their game, a hugely witty script and more excitement by episode three than most series have reached by their finale. Unfortunately, it struggles to sustain its focus, becomes diverted by petty relationship dramas and ill thought out plot strands and so misses the bullseye. That said, fantastic TV show, highly recommended. Great soundtrack too.

Servant S01 (TV)

– the clues to this convoluted, slow-burning, skin-crawling mystery emerge through a combination of supernatural horror and black humour. It’s a claustrophobic drama, brilliantly acted, wonderfully intriguing and often very funny, but it’s also inconsistent, juggling a plethora of ideas and themes that are too meandering (almost random), and left underdeveloped and ultimately a bit thin (echoes of Lost). Perhaps an expanded cast and range of locations will help flesh it out in season two.

The Witcher S01 (TV)

– another disappointing video game adaptation, this one hoping to capture the Game of Thrones audience with a moody atmosphere, the requisite conspiratorial plotting and plenty of gore. Though a huge fan of the games, I found this dull and confusing.

The Morning Show S01 (TV)

– Billy Crudup carries this hyperbolic #metoo movement drama as sociopathic and anarchic network news president, Cory Ellison, perhaps the only character among the whole stellar lineup who’s actually entertaining or likeable. There are moments of clever scripting – some even laugh out loud, but mostly it’s not half as clever as it would like to be or thinks it is, brimming with overacting, contrived set pieces, and a condescending didacticism that seeps through cheesy montage after heartfelt speech after hysterical breakdown as the show goes to increasingly far-fetched and eye-rolling lengths to inject some excitement and jeopardy into morning news. It’s certainly bingeable, that much is true, but whether it deserves to be binged is another matter. It feels like a desperate effort to capitalise on real world events, yet despite its grounding in the truth, manages to be utterly unconvincing.

December 2019

Counterpart S01 (TV)

– JK Simmons’ doppleganger sci-fi definitely suffers from an overly ponderous pace and dour tone, but if you’ve the patience for it, there’s a smart spy thriller at its core, with a pleasantly convoluted and twisting plot, fantastic acting and an evocative musical score.

November 2019

Dublin Murders S01 (TV)

– a mixed bag of mystery and intrigue whose brilliant cast and sometimes sharp script is tempered by bad subplots and ludicrous allusions to the supernatural. An enjoyably compelling experience overall, but proves ultimately disappointing.

October 2019

Animal Kingdom S04 (TV)

– perhaps the most bingeable of the show’s seasons despite a jarring and tedious historical plotline about Smurf. The writing is smarter and wittier than the last series (admittedly a very low bar to beat), and the plot moves at a fast pace through major, character-changing events. If you were on the fence about carrying on after S03 (and I wouldn’t blame you), this is worth resuming. If not, I wouldn’t bother starting Animal Kingdom at all.

Animal Kingdom S03 (TV)

– there’s nothing more criminal in this series than the way it has turned a menacing, high stakes crime drama into a chaotic, madcap and asinine catalogue of errors; as if the writers decided as long as they included the stock ingredients of drug-taking, sex and random acts of violence, they could avoid actually having to drum up a compelling storyline or any innovative new heists. This is terrible writing with nearly nothing to redeem it. As a fan of series 1, I can only hope they seriously upped the game for season 4. I’m not holding my breath.

Narcos: Mexico S01 (TV)

– engrossing as this sometimes is, it’s nothing we haven’t seen before (and in this show no less). The Narcos formula begins to feel tired; thin on ideas and excitement, with twists and turns bordering on predictable, and plot strands that run to nowhere. It doesn’t help that the characters this season aren’t charismatic and the ending, when it comes, concludes nothing.

El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie

– very much a sequel to offer closure on Jesse Pinkman’s story. It plays more as an extended episode of the show than a standalone film, with some slightly laboured exposition to help fill the gaps. It’s an unnecessary but no less welcome return to Breaking Bad, and although it doesn’t bring anything new, Gilligan’s trademark camerawork and strong performances make for another engaging and competent production.

Unbelievable S01 (TV)

– Though clearly a series on a mission, the impressive acting and well paced cat and mouse story allows for some didactic freedom without the script becoming too preachy. It takes a few episodes to really kick into gear, and the extensive exposition is tiresome, but once it has you, it’s extremely compelling viewing and a very refreshing addition to the crime genre.

The Boys S01 (TV)

– wildly original as well as just plain wild, this is a superhero misadventure with more dark twists and psycho kinks than a comicon in a bondage dungeon. The script is often too try-hard, whether in attempts at shock or humour, and the characters and Machiavellian scheming sometimes just too obvious, but as a cocktail, it’s hard not to swallow the lot with a giddy smile and extend the glass for more. Cross Deadpool with Banshee and you’re somewhere close – Antony Starr sure can pick ’em.

September 2019

Animal Kingdom S02 (TV)

– the crazed family of thieves continue to trample each other and everyone nearby in their attempts to earn a quick buck, get high or get laid. While there are some major plot developments this series and it remains easy viewing, the show feels less even-handed and considered than its prequel, with a reckless, scattergun approach that is messy and unconvincing.

Animal Kingdom S01 (TV)

– there are plenty of problems with this show, but none register for long before they’re superceded by a nailbiting thrill or a move that leaves you squirming. Though it wallows in gratuity – the whole cocktail of sex, drugs and violence – and the whole conceit stretches plausibility, it goes to plenty of dark places that a lesser show might not, and though the dialogue can seem trite at times, the cast (nearly) uniformly deliver even the weaker lines with an unhinged edge that keeps you gripped and their deranged characters intact. Echoes of Bloodline (2015) but far less restrained.

August 2019

Green Frontier (Frontera Verde) (S01) (TV)

– Afraid to say I gave up on this after a few episodes. Beautiful scenery, but the pace is paralysingly slow, the script and premise both vague and unconvincing, and the lead actress is nearly devoid of emotion. Life is too short.

When They See Us (TV)

– Though polished, this is thoroughly miserable from start to finish. Whether accurate or not, it doesn’t make for enjoyable viewing.

Mindhunter (S02)(TV)

– As per the first series, though on paper the premise suggests an intense and suspenseful crime thriller, in practice, the ingredients feel undercooked, lukewarm, not even raw. The inherently interesting subject matter proves compelling enough to keep watching, but never excites.

Chernobyl (TV)

– brilliantly crafted historical drama depicts the harrowing tragedy informatively and ungratuitously whilst remaining utterly engaging. A rare feat that more than deserves the acclaim and audience recognition it has received.

Stranger Things S03 (TV)

– a sillier season than its predecessors, with some annoyances like Hopper’s incessant rage and shouting, and Will’s neck-scratching demotion to near irrelevance, but overall, fans of the franchise will still be entertained, and it promises another fun follow-up.

July 2019

The People vs. O.J. Simpson

– solid if unexciting show, worth watching, particularly as an educational historical piece highlighting the significance of the case as well as the simmering race issues at the time. Not the most fun I’ve ever had though…

True Detective S03 (TV)

– A satisfying mystery that intrigues and excites thanks to carefully calculated performances from a cast at the top of their game, and a sharp and quick witted script.

Killing Eve S02 (TV)

– Sadly far inferior to its predecessor, this time it forgoes the cat and mouse excitement for a focus on relationships, resulting in the kind of banal drama found in any other run of the mill TV show. There are enough key ingredients to entertain, but it’s disappointing.

May 2019

Bosch S05 (TV)

– a strong season for fans of grumpy Harry. It’s not cutting edge TV, it’s basic, borderline procedural crime drama, but the characters have a cantankerous charm about them, and the soundtrack and general atmosphere is somehow calming. In the absence of better crime thrillers, this is just dandy.

Line of Duty S05 (TV)

– the predictable but compelling BBC crime drama continues, as far fetched as ever, and no less entertaining.

April 2019

Dead to Me S01E01 (TV)

– not my cup of tea. American glossy trash vibes. The premise is good, the delivery too slapdash.

Russian Doll S01E01 (TV)

– following acclaim in the media I gave this a shot. Another misfire.

Arrested Development S05 (TV)

– not very good at all, and it’s a shame. The comedy’s gag rate is lower and the jokes less successful, historic flashbacks to the childhood of the Bluths don’t work well (as well as being inconsistent with the show), and the narrative has become so convoluted and self-referential as to be confusing. Very disappointing. I think the show is dead.

Veep S07 (TV)

– So darn good. A huge return to form after its somewhat lacklustre and sloppy last series. Laugh out loud comedy multiple times an episode. Great.

March 2019

The West Wing S07 (TV)

– it’s only upon concluding the West Wing story that you realise how truly momentous and significant an achievement it was, and even more strikingly, how much the standard of the last three seasons suffered as a result of Aaron Sorkin departing the political drama. I could easily watch it again, but if and when I do, I’ll stick with the first four series and happily forget the unpleasantness of its concluding chapters.

After Life S01 (TV)

– Gervais carries on his losing streak with a now typical dramedy where the comedy comes second to the laboured and on the nose hardship of his characters. If long-suffering fans are still hoping for a glimmer of the genius shown by The Office and Extras, this will disappoint. The XFM shows and podcast series continue to be mined for jokes, and even without his involvement, Karl’s ideas crop up throughout. Gervais seems to believe crass language is comedic in and of itself, resulting in a script that’s as hard to listen to as his protagonist is to like, his tedious, career-long obsession with atheistic bible-bashing goes on unabated, while the intended redeeming moments of poignancy are so devoid of subtlety or art they feel as lifeless as his character’s dead wife. This is a depressing show, both literally because of its content, and also because it suggests any hope for Gervais to return to his glory days is not worth holding on to.

Fargo S03 (TV)

– if the format hasn’t grown tired, I’ve certainly grown tired of it. Unusually, I abandoned this half way through when I realised I had zero interest in either the characters or the story.

This Time with Alan Partridge S01 (TV)

– while not up to the standard set by old school Alan, this is still a very funny satire with some shrewd and incisive comedy. It definitely tries much too hard, but even the unfunny bits manage to entertain.

Homecoming S01 (TV)

– although this PTSD drama mystery features good performances and is shot in an original style, it’s too plodding and, on balance, I think I preferred the radio/ podcast series.

February 2019

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia S13 (TV)

– by far their worst season, patchy at best, unfunny and gratuitously gross out at its worst. That said, as always, there are moments that make it worth the viewing, the final scenes of the season finale proving a case in point.

January 2019

Luther (S05)(TV)

– as per the plummeting trend, the eye rollingly stupid crime thriller is more gratuitous and more ridiculous than ever. Waste of time.

The ABC Murders (TV)

– gratuitous and trashy whodunnit crime thriller with no wit, charm or smarts. The few bits of genuine intrigue remain unsolved at its conclusion, and the murderers motive (and unexplained obsession with Poirot) is farcical to the point of annoyance. Avoid.

December 2018

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia S14 (TV)

– the most disappointing series yet. There are a few giggles along the way, but this feels like the team are phoning it in; a lot of reliance on historic episodes and gross out humour that doesn’t feel earned as it has in past seasons.

Castle Rock S01 (TV)

– after half the first series, I decided not to stick this out. It left me cold and didn’t seem to have much going for it by way of scripting or story.

Parks and Recreation S02 (TV)

– better than the first season, but still massively hit and miss. Some episodes hardly evoke a giggle, others are filled with belly laughs.

The Little Drummer Girl (TV)

– highly stylised but excellent spy thriller. It’s overindulgent at times, but maintains a high calibre and taut atmosphere throughout.

November 2018

Elite S01 (TV)

– glossy teenage trash with the usual spanish melodrama

Better Call Saul S04 (TV)

– such amazing and consistently high brow craftsmanship, surely one of the most unique and remarkable TV shows to prove a success. Every frame, scene and line of dialogue is carefully considered and meaningful. Excellent. Bring on Season 5.

October 2018

The West Wing S03 (TV)

– Sorkin’s writing is of such a high standard that it remains a joy to watch even after multiple viewings.

Bodyguard S01 (TV)

– after a phenomenal start that marked a new bar for British TV, with set pieces that would have been polished even for Hollywood thrillers, the story and action slips into familiar clichéd territory and intensity becomes absurdity. That said, this is still an extremely compelling and smartly delivered BBC drama, ideal for an edge of the seat binge watch.

The West Wing S05 (TV)

– this one was the miss. Albeit still an entertaining show, its clear the calibre of writing slipped post Sorkin, and the new team are struggling to find their rhythm.

The West Wing S04 (TV)

– Not quite on a par with the first three seasons, this series really goes off the rails during its final episodes which are unconvincing at best, and totally un-West Wing.

September 2018

The Mechanism S01 (TV)

– Easily lost in the endless churn of low calibre TV series because it’s not compelling enough to compete with the better thrillers out there about political corruption in its various guises. I wanted to like it, but after several episodes I couldn’t be bothered to keep trying.

Ozark S02 (TV)

– another solid, morbid series of drama, thrills and blood spills. Not quite as polished as its antecedent, nor quite as wholly gripping, but still well above average and highly recommended with outstanding performances across the board.

Who Is America? (TV)

– Crass, irreverent, often plain disgusting, yet this satirical political comedy highlighting the gross prejudices, greed and stereotypes within American society illuminates some extremely uncomfortable truths. It’s not consistently funny, and it’s downright unpleasant to watch at times, but its shocking approach cuts straight to the point and hits home often enough that its misses can be overlooked. Careful who you watch it with though…

Disenchantment S01 (TV)

– not worth pursuing. Either Matt Groening has lost his touch, or this experiment failed. Mostly unfunny, crass and uninspired.

Fariña (Cocaine Coast) S01 (TV)

– a spanish language narcotics soap opera, a telenovela in every respect but production values. The story is predictable, character behaviours stupid, and every episode follows the exact same formula: risk of arrest being averted by a litany of increasingly absurd coincidences, contrivances, and deus ex machinas. If it wasn’t for the love of the language, it’s unlikely I’d have watched past episode two, and all the warning signs are there in episode one. If you want an amazing thriller about drug trafficking, there are so many to choose from, don’t choose this one.

August 2018

Stranger S01 (TV)

– An above average whodunnit wrapped in political intrigue and cultural hierarchies and deferences. Our fascinating protagonist isn’t some blundering alcoholic battling with his demons as he solves cases; he is shrewd, capable, relentless, he sees much and says little, he is enigmatic but sympathetic, and his performance is fastidious and crisply delivered. The programme is soap operatic in many ways, excessively long (episodically and as a series), and it does suffer curious quirks and melodrama that are a million miles from realism or even plausibility, but overall these inadequacies don’t undermine its value as fun and extremely engaging television.

Deadwind S01 (TV)

– Based on episode one only, this is a plainly unoriginal and formulaic drama following the tropes established by The Killing, The Bridge and other far superior scandi-crime dramers/ thrillers. Given how competitive this space is, shows really need to do better to stand out.

Bosch S04 (TV)

– Great series overall and they handled a difficult plot turn mostly well, although it cast a glum shadow over the remaining episodes. This is a reliably solid detective show in a landscape that suffers from a drought of decent murder mysteries. Hope Bosch S05 gets the go ahead.

July 2018

Halt and Catch Fire S04 (TV)

– the first half of this season is quite stunning. It’s funny, sweet, intriguing, full of potential. Then there’s a tonal shift, it becomes ponderous, introspective, monologue after monologue, devoid of ideas and inspiration (much like its characters). If the first three seasons were about progress and moving forwards, this season is preoccupied with regression and the past.

Fauda S01 (TV)

– Gripping, if entirely unrealistic thriller. After a strong and furiously fast paced start, the pacing drops off a cliff and padding crops up detailing superfluous soap opera relationship drama. It’s a shame. Furthermore, the ending, when it comes, is so abrupt it feels like no ending at all, with slapdash contrivances that undermine all the efforts of the protagonists (and the audience) to have come so far. The same story in 8 episodes would have been a blinder. Expect I’ll still watch season 2 though.

Sharp Objects S01 (TV)

– Stopped after two episodes of this dreary and loveless drama. Sinfully dull. Exhausting. Waste of time.

June 2018

A Very English Scandal (TV)

– Excellent performances and a witty script. Entertaining TV.

The Crossing S01 (TV)

– very low quality soap opera sci-fi. A shame as the concept is strong and Steve Zahn is terrific in everything.

The Detectorists S02 (TV)

– charming, wonderfully lighthearted, and with numerous laugh out loud moments each episode, this second series is perhaps even better than the first. It’s a fantastic script, and the chemistry between McKenzie Crook and Toby Jones has only matured. An excellent comedy.

Arrested Development S05 (TV)

– nowhere near as good as the original few seasons, but still good entertainment and fun to watch.

Killing Eve S01 (TV)

– wonderfully original British crime drama. Unfortunately the climax of the series teeters a little too close to the edge of the rails.

May 2018

Utopia S02 (TV)

– enjoyable continuation of the conspiracy thriller, but clutching at straws and contrivances in a way that series 1 didn’t need to. Still great entertainment, I’m just glad it was wrapped before it descended into farce.

April 2018

Utopia S01 (TV)

– An intriguing and arresting pilot episode is followed by what must surely be one of the finest and most original conspiracy thriller series Britain has produced. There are some occasional lines of cheesy expositional dialogue, and the plot frequently strays into absurdity, but for sheer entertainment and thrilling momentum, this is an instant classic. Neil Maskell in particular is a rivetingly sinister villain.

AP Bio S01 (TV)

– ridiculous and puerile comedy, often reliant on ropey slapstick. Somehow still managed to win me over with it’s asinine charm (and Glenn Howerton). Couldn’t recommend it though.

Se Quien Eres (I Know Who You Are) S01+S02 (TV)

– frequently absurd but captivating nonetheless. The mystery intrigues even through the dodgy script and occasionally terrible acting. (

March 2018

Mozart in the Jungle (S04)(TV)

– as always, a wacky pleasure. Great music and comedy, and enough off-kilter zaniness to stay original.

Sneaky Pete (S02)(TV)

– this is not high art, it’s indubitably bad on so many levels, but it’s incorrigibly bad, loveably so, and it always leaves me grinning like a dufus.

January 2018

Wormwood (TV)

– Interesting concept proves dull viewing. Too much atmosphere, not enough coherence.

Manhunt: Unabomber

– terrific TV series with a career best performance from Sam Worthington and perhaps from Paul Bettany too. It’s a shame some of the scenes are a bit on the nose and exposition heavy because it falls just short of perfection. Nonetheless, a fantastic ride.

The Siege of Jadotville

– fantastic, suspenseful and stunningly beautiful war film. Unexpected given its modest renown.

Godless (S01)(TV)

– A truly magnificent Western. Epic, beautiful, profound, with a splendid cast and sharp witted script. Fantastic.

Shooter S02 (TV)

– Another stunted season due to Ryan Philippe’s freak injury. Probably a saving grace to be frank. Despite a good turn from Josh Stewart (under-appreciated as always but well cast here), this was fraught with cliche, stupidity and wearisome machismo.

November 2017

The Five (TV)

– Thoroughly engaging and enjoyable TV drama exploring the mystery of why a missing and presumed dead boy’s DNA is showing up at murder seasons. Utterly ridiculous and implausible, but compelling.

The Sinner S01 (TV)

– intriguing, often gratuitous and unnecessarily drawn out crime mystery. Disappointing.

Stranger Things S02 (TV)

– more of the same, ergo it’s awesome, must watch TV. Feel-good, nostalgic, inspiring, and dangerously easy to binge. Bring on the next season.

October 2017

Mindhunter (S01)(TV)

– watchable, and occasionally fun, but nowhere near as sinister or macabre as it would like to be, and perhaps ought to be, given its premise. There’s much better TV out there.

Quarry (S01)(TV)

– one of the most original and affecting shows I’ve seen on TV in a good while. Travesty they cancelled it, but at least it’ll last as a tightly contained masterpiece. Watch it.

Narcos (S03)(TV)

– great show, a little slow on the uptake, but once the first few episodes are out of the way it’s gripping and suspenseful to the end. In some ways, it’s more entertaining than the first two episodes, and some of the cast members are just fantastic; hat tip Andrea Londo and Matias Varela.

September 2017

Shooter S01 (TV)

– Fast paced action thriller, as plausible as Prison Break but similarly enjoyable.

August 2017

House of Cards (S05)(TV)

– disappeared so far up itself I’m left watching solely to see the house collapse, the cards tumble down, and Frank Underwood take a bullet to the face (or the just equivalent)

Mar de Plastico S01E01 (TV)

– spanish attempt at scandinoir falls flat with glossy casting, a tactless script and infuriatingly stupid plot oversights (generously not called ‘holes’)

July 2017

Banshee S04 (TV)

– at long last the town of Banshee gets its final act. The drawn out and self indulgent conclusion in the last episode is preceded by a mostly entertaining, if staggeringly gratuitous main story. Worth watching if you’ve come this far if only for the closure.

Veep S06 (TV)

– The comedy has definitely declined since its early seasons, but there are still enough laugh out loud moments to warrant the viewing time.

Ozark S01 (TV)

– best original show in years, a masterclass – Bateman and Linney are fantastic, but the writing is where it flies, the dance between tragedy and hilarity is graceful and gripping. Excellent, must watch show.

Bloodline S03 (TV)

– albeit engaging throughout, this season really underdelivered and went off the rails. An episode where John spends time hallucinating multiple realities really jumps the proverbial shark, but even before then, it had become increasingly unhinged and ungrounded. Meg was abandoned within the story, written out, and Mama Raeburn has her depravity dialled to 11. I can’t say I didn’t enjoy the show overall, but I’m very glad it’s ended. Its conclusion felt long overdue.

June 2017

Public Enemy S01 (Ennemi Public) (TV) 

– disappointing crime thriller, particularly given the rave reviews ahead of its release. Not even close to the benchmarks set by The Bridge and The Killing.

Better Call Saul S03

– terrific series of an increasingly terrific show. It’s a shame the season finale was lacklustre relative to some of the other episodes and didn’t leave me hyped for the next season, but I savour every minute this is on air. Great performances, great script, simply great TV.

May 2017

The Path S01

– this obsession with cults and the supernatural is a bit tiresome. Not bad, but didn’t wet my whistle. Won’t be watching season 2.

Line of Duty S04

– ludicrous but thoroughly engrossing and engaging to the bitter end. And it is a bitter end. I hope they pull S05 back from the edge of the abyss.

April 2017

Fargo S02

– far inferior to the opening season, but this was still entertaining for the most part.

March 2017

Halt and Catch Fire (S03)(TV)

– Whilst still mostly excellent, this season indubitably suffered from excluding, to a large extent, its most interesting character: Joe McMillan. Whilst he’s still present, his storyline plays second fiddle to the emotional difficulties in the relationship triangle between Donna, Gordon and Cameron.

February 2017

The Principal (TV)

– riddled with problems, and some of the scripting is clumsy at best, but it has a positive, optimistic outlook and wins over as a really sincere and genuinely heartwarming series

The Moorside (TV)

– uncomfortable two part drama recounting the missing of Shannon Matthews in 2008. Questionable whether this should have been made at all. Easy to watch, but not exactly thrilling TV.

Nobel (TV)

– Terrific performances, tight and well executed sequences and a really compelling script in this near perfect little Norwegian thriller. I loved it.

The Honourable Woman (TV)

– well intentioned but tediously self-aware and imperious. There are a few good characters, but none are likeable, and the plot is infuriatingly drawn out. After the powerhouse of The Shadow Line, this is a huge disappointment.

January 2017

Sherlock S04 (TV)

– a far fetched and self-conscious but mostly enjoyable crime series, with a finale that hugely disappoints. It seems the creators gave up on actual cases in favour of pseudo psychological thrills and set pieces, and the show suffers hugely as a consequence.

The Last Panthers S01 (TV)

– a strong, high concept pilot episode disintegrates into a dull, muddled mess of a crime drama.

Sneaky Pete S01 (TV)

– Enjoyable and imaginative TV show of the ‘easy viewing’ variety; a lot of fun, compelling cliff hangers, solid casting and an engaging story. The flaw is that in order to carry it all off, it relies on some serious suspension of disbelief, more than a little cliche, and too much instructive soundtrack and exposition. Sadly, the setup for the second season was extremely ham-fisted and rushed.

December 2016

The Missing S02 (TV)

– vastly superior to its first season, this crime thriller drama is very engaging TV. It suffers from some clumsy exposition and occasional offtone acting, but largely this is an excellent ride.

Westworld S01 (TV)

– all at once fantastic, beautiful, gratuitous and scary, this should be a one season wonder, but I fear it’ll be tarnished with subsequent series that can’t possibly live up to the near perfection of these ten episodes. Watch it if only for it’s magnificent conclusion.

The OA S01 (TV)

– Weird sci-fi drama with an unlikeable cast, if just about intriguing enough to command attention. Mostly well produced, its a shame about the plot.

The League S01 (TV)

– occasionally hilarious, but just as often tediously puerile. It could serve as good entertainment if you’ve got the time to kill. Sadly, I don’t.

Mozart in the Jungle S03 (TV)

– Terrific show as always, but I’m a teeny bit concerned this series was less well plotted than the first two and I hope this isn’t the first scree on a slippery slope. I still thoroughly enjoyed the season though, it’s a joy to watch a show with so much love and so much optimism. If only life could be so consistently upbeat.

November 2016

Goliath (TV)

– strong criminal drama with a frustratingly abrupt and unearned conclusion. Billy Bob Thornton is terrific, and the plot is intriguing and nuanced, but the rushed delivery in eight episodes was totally insufficient and ultimately disappointing.

October 2016

Mr Robot S02 (TV)

– Those people suggesting this season has “nose-dived” in terms of quality, I suspect were just hangers on from the beginning. If anything, by the end of Season 2, I am far more invested in all of the characters and the overarching plot. The series is surreal. Undeniably so. But that’s pretty brave for the creators, and it’s so unusual and unlike anything else we’ve seen on TV, it’s worthy of praise for originality alone. I can’t wait for Season 3 – this season ended with much more suspense than Season 1. I hope they can maintain the standards and ignore the naysayers.

Miracle (TV)

– Derren Brown’s latest live show is far from his strongest. The illusions are few and underwhelming in contrast to his earlier shows and TV performances.

September 2016

Narcos S02 (TV)

– mush less enjoyable than the first season, perhaps in part because of its inevitable conclusion and endlessly smug narration. Thinly veiled American propaganda.

August 2016

Mr Robot S02 (TV)

– Those people suggesting this season has “nose-dived” in terms of quality, I suspect were just hangers on from the beginning. If anything, by the end of S02, I am far more invested in all of the characters and the overarching plot. The series is surreal. Undeniably so. But that’s pretty brave of the creators, and it’s so unusual and unlike anything else we’ve seen on television, it’s worthy of praise for originality alone. I can’t wait for S03 – this season ended with much more suspense than the first. I hope they can maintain the standards and ignore the naysayers.

Stranger Things S01 (TV)

– wonderful, fun, lighthearted and affectionate, this supernatural drama series is everything accessible TV ought to be.

June 2016

Babylon (TV)

– sort of wannabe The Thick of It for cops. Fast paced with an engaging story, but none of the characters are likeable, and the comedy is often too nasty to raise a smile.

May 2016

Marcella S01 (TV)

– a waste of everybody’s time, unaided by the intensely unlikeable hipster crime solving team at its heart. Dreary, convoluted and beyond improbable. Don’t bother.

Line of Duty S03 (TV)

– after a less than exhilarating four or five episodes, the finale packs a punch unlike any other British thriller and offers a payoff that more than justifies the insidious pacing. Performances and scripting are tight, and the direction, at times, is artful. Indubitably one of the best shows on TV. Bring on series four.

April 2016

American Crime Story S01 (TV)

– gripping and well confected courtroom thriller.

The Night Manager S01 (TV)

– wonderfully suspenseful, gripping and hyperbolic le Carré thriller. Perfect as entertainment, even while riddled with flaws and clichés.

January 2016

Jessica Jones (S01)(TV)

– dreary, unlikeable and interminable Marvel comic adaptation. Spectacularly failed to deliver after the high standard set by Daredevil S01.

Making a Murderer (TV)

– Gripping court room true crime documentary. Builds steam to around episode 8, but the final few are superfluous.

December 2015

The Bridge S03 (TV)

– thoroughly entertaining, as always, but riddled with irritating decision-making, poor judgement and irrational behaviour. The show has definitely dropped in quality since its inaugural season, but with the absence of competitors in the genre, it remains a must

And Then There Were None (TV)

– deliciously intriguing Agatha Christie whodunit. Consensus on the killer was formed pretty early, but some red herrings put you off the scent before confirming your early suspicions. A lot of fun! I wish good whodunits were back in vogue…

Halt and Catch Fire (S02)(TV)

– As TV goes, I honestly don’t think it gets much better than this. The character of Joe MacMillan is just unrivalled in complexity and depth. Lee Pace is beyond magnetic in the role, he’s electric, and the writers recognise that and use it beautifully. The storylines are broad, sweeping and powerful, skipping triviality in favour of weighty topics that shaped the computing world and the world we live today. The casting is spot on, the acting stupendous. I only hope that AMC top brass realise that this is shaping into one of the best TV series to have graced our screens. Watch it; laugh, weep and fist pump. This is one of a kind.

The Man From High Castle (TV)

– Unfortunately, despite a wonderful concept and vivid realisation of Dick’s parallel universe, this fails on several levels, from clumsy, even bad, scripting to poor, glossy casting choices. Thankfully the story is strong, and some of the actors really command attention (Rufus Sewell, I’m looking at you). Could have been much better though.

November 2015

The Moaning of Life (S02) (TV)

– Karl is incorrigibly loveable. He has grown greatly over the course of his career, and his ignorance is no longer the comedy. In its place, you have his natural and offbeat wry observations. I can’t get enough.

September 2015

Narcos (TV)

– Fast paced (perhaps too fast paced), drug cartel crime thriller charting Pablo Escobar rise and fall from power in Colombia. Sharp acting and excellent direction, it’s a minor pity that the script frequently borders on US propaganda. Terrific TV though.

Veep (TV) (S01-S04)

– My favourite political comedy with a fantastic cast and incisive script. Every episode has moments of comedy gold and whilst the humour is occasionally malicious (particularly re: workplace bullying), it usually redeems itself within the same episode.

July 2015

The Booth at the End (TV)

– an intriguing premise that starves the audience of answers in a way that repels rather than invites. The minimalist format and production smacks slightly of a collegiate project too.

Mr Robot (TV)

– Like early Dexter with 1s and 0s. A twisted and anguished protagonist with an alternative perspective on life. This is a hacker series deservedly praised by laymen and computer nerds alike. A little overly tortured at times, dragging the pace, but overall this is a compelling and novel contemporary thriller, hopefully to inspire a new generation of anarchist hackers.

Halt and Catch Fire S01 (TV)

– found myself a new favourite among TV series. Exceedingly strong performances from the whole cast, a gripping, dynamic plot, and script and direction that will have you laughing aloud before hunkering at the edge of your seat. Terrific show.

June 2015

Zen (TV)

– A playful, whimsical foray into crime for Rufus Sewell. Good fun.

Fargo (TV)

– Wry humour and master villains, this is a gripping crime drama with a lot to enjoy, but somehow it resolves to nobody’s satisfaction.

El Chapulín Colorado (TV)

– old school slapstick silliness in spanish.

May 2015

Banshee (S03)(TV)

– By this stage it’s pretty much more of the same. The novelty has worn off and the flashbacks are getting old. It remains a watchable show, but I’d definitely start looking for something new.

El Gran Hotel (S01) (TV)

– gossipy, trashy, farcical – there is little to redeem this spanish period drama bar its language. If I wasn’t making an effort to learn spanish, I wouldn’t touch this with a barge pole.

Wayward Pines (TV)

– Try hard surrealist crime thriller in the vein of Twin Peaks (it even sounds similar). Dillon is very watchable but the show is tediously try-hard.

Daredevil (TV)

– Extraordinarily violent and gruesome at times, it’s nonetheless a pretty tongue in cheek, light-hearted and entertaining Netflix super hero series. Certainly more compelling than I had expected.

Spooks

– if a feature length episode of the hit TV show appeals in principal, then it will almost definitely appeal in practice, with the usual cast favourites racing against the terrorism clock. It’s slick and fast paced and pretty much exactly what you’d expect.

April 2015

Spiral S01 (TV)

– Gritty and compelling French police serial. A solid series.

March 2015

Nowhere Man S01 (TV)

– Moderately compelling if farfetched and frustratingly dated thriller. Time is better spent elsewhere.

House of Cards S03 (TV)

– Plodding third series of the Netflix phenomenon. A couple of heavy twists, but by and large this is too toned down and lumbering.

December 2014

Salamander (TV)

– Unfortunately, after a relatively promising start, the show breaks down in to a tiresome and poorly paced mess of contrivances and clumsy exposition, even to the point of WWII flashbacks. This is a huge disappointment. Given the hefty time investment it demands, I don’t recommend it.

November 2014

Happy Valley (TV)

– Phenomenally well acted and compelling British TV, a thriller of the calibre that rarely graces our screens. A netflix exclusive allegedly, although it has BBC all over it and oddly shows only on the US Netflix. Don’t miss this, the best British cop series since The Shadow Line.

Detectorists (TV)

– Innocuous, lighthearted and relaxing comedy from Mackenzie Crook and Toby Jones. It’s a relief and pleasure to watch something so gentle.

The West Wing S01 (TV)

– Such an enormous pleasure to rewatch this. Still one of the finest, wittiest, sharpest scripted TV shows I have ever seen. Every minute is fun and every episode exhilarating.

Secret State (TV)

– Solid political drama series with strong performances all round and a hypercritical script depicting the cosy relationship and interworkings between British banks, businesses and government. Very worth watching, but not quite landmark TV.

October 2014

The Code (TV)

– Gripping, if at times frustrating, Aussie conspiracy thriller. Solid acting in difficult roles, but as is so often the case, the show fails to offer any lovable, or even likeable characters, and consequently isn’t as enjoyable to watch as it could, and should, have been.

September 2014

The Assets (TV)

– An exposition heavy script, transparent story and superfluity of US propaganda mars a show that had promise on paper. Not all that surprising it was cancelled.

A Most Wanted Man

– not since Rubicon was aired on TV has the spy genre been so perfectly depicted on screen. An apt tour de force for Philip Seymour Hoffman’s swansong, devestating though that is, and a hugely successful suspenseful thriller. Just terrific.

The Leftovers (TV)

– Lifeless, po-faced and painfully grave, this speculative dystopian TV drama isn’t short on intrigue, but stubbornly refuses to offer answers or resolution, resulting in an inexplicable world of shock factor scenes, irrational behaviour, and detached angst. I really wanted to like it, but there is very little to like, let alone praise.

August 2014

The Walking Dead S04 (TV)

– mindnumbingly, agonisingly boring with one of the worst season (anti)climaxes to ever precede another season. Bad acting, bad script, worn out ideas. What a shrivelled and dessicated show this has become.

July 2014

Epitafios S01 (TV)

– Audience insulting twists, police incompetence, bad judgements, gratuity and cliches galore mar what could otherwise have been a moderately entertaining, if intellectually challenged, serial killer thriller. Frustration ruins a TV series though, and my God, this show is frustrating viewing! (We’re talking worse than Dexter S07)

June 2014

The Americans (S01)(TV)

– Basic and with a fair number of tropes, this spy thriller still grips, even if at times it’s a little too much American propaganda. Very much focused on the spies rather than their motives.

Southland (S01)(TV)

– Gritty, realistic police show. Strong characters and good acting but perhaps the characters are all a little too unlikeable.

May 2014

Death in Paradise (TV)

– moderately amusing British murder mystery comedy. Silly, very lighthearted, and consequently entirely forgivably hammy!

April 2014

Orphan Black S01

– Infuriating and cliched dialogue and glossy set design undermine multiple strong performances from Tatiana Maslany. It’s a pity the whole show is so shallow, as the clone storyline isn’t novel by a long shot either so it really has very little going for it. This is bad TV, of the type that will get multiple series and entertain families across the globe because it’s “light hearted, fun” and requires dick all thought. Depressing.

Rectify S01

– Refreshingly original premise for a TV drama, but the pacing is off, and as a result, the story progression feels unnecessarily laboured. I will watch Season 2, though I keenly hope that story developments are a little more rapid and enticing. Strong performances all round though, and the novel programming should be commended.

March 2014

True Detective

– Some of the greatest moments of TV, and some that are utterly pretentious. Hits and misses, but mostly hits. The lead performances are astounding and the cinematography is bang on the money. This is well worth watching, I look forward to season two.

January 2014

The Sopranos (S01)

– Hailed as classic TV, and perhaps the best that has aired. In the face of modern masterpieces (a la Breaking Bad/ Boardwalk Empire), I can’t agree with such gushing acclaim, but it’s certainly a good series, albeit a little too formulaic in structure.

Homeland (S03)

– A shocking season of TV, and sadly, brutally uncompromising. I won’t be watching S04; for me this is a conlusion to Homeland, a series which was always Brody’s story. Lewis and Danes are both terrific, though the plot plays fast and loose with chronology.

November 2013

The Escape Artist (TV)

– Better than average BBC fare, and Tennant is fantastic. The plot is inadequately constructed and the resolution and conclusion feel unsatisfying. Why does the BBC repeatedly fail where American networks don’t?

Boardwalk Empire S04 (TV)

– Whilst maintaining a standard well above average, this series is the first to really drop the ball. The key storylines are dull comparative to previous seasons and the most compelling and intriguing characters are all overlooked: Arnold Rothstein, Al Capone, Meyer Lansky, even Eli. It’s as if the writers tried to tackle too many storylines and only succeeded in finishing one or two – the boring ones. Hopefully S05 will pick up the pace.

Hannibal (2013) (TV)

– I really tried to like this. Mads Mikkelsen is a terrific actor, but this show is just agonisingly bad. The script is weak at best, shoddy at worst. All of the actors are coasting. Gillian Anderson hasn’t played a different role since… ever, and every episode seems to be an attempt to shock. The colour grades and sfx are stylised to distraction whilst the plot itself fails to flesh out any kind of compelling, plausible thrills or drama, and is consequentially surprisingly boring. The fact that practically everything Will says suggests that Hannibal is the killer, and everything Hannibal says has a murderous subtext, leaves you wondering how an entire team of “FBI behavioural experts and profilers” can be so unfathomably oblivious . This is like starting Dexter in season five; bad and poised to plummet further.

Elementary S02 (TV)

– more or less as titled. Highly entertaining for the most part but too often formulaic and reliant on the usual procedural pseudo-science of cable TV. Johnny Lee Miller is a gem though, wonderfully eccentric.

The State Within (TV)

– After a slow start, this conspiracy thriller soon picks up pace and fires on all cyclinders, keeping you utterly gripped. Brilliant BBC Drama.

The Book of Daniel (TV)

– Another promising series cut off before it had time to fully flourish. Hugely enjoyable, warm, light hearted and often laugh out loud funny.

October 2013

Firefly (TV)

– An original sci fi, amusingly scripted and directed with warm characters. A little too procedural for my tastes, but definitely a good watch.

Dexter (TV) (Series 7)

– Insipid, interminable. The worst season by a substantial margin, saying something given that the show has been plummeting in quality since season four, a great pity after such an excellent and promising opening back in season one.

September 2013

Top of the Lake

(TV) – Despite the hype, even with top (if not novel) performances, this falls short of an entertaining series. Mildly curious at best, mind numblingly boring at worst, the acting and cinematography cannot save a fundamentally uninteresting drama.

The Fear

(TV) – Another excellent role from Peter Mullan. Implausible and inadequate in comparison to US equivalents, but nonetheless better than average British viewing with an original premise at its core.

August 2013

Arrested Development S04 (TV)

– an ambitious return to the classic TV comedy sees plenty more laughs and ludicrous story arcs. Perhaps not on a par with the first three seasons but definitely a must watch all the same.

The Returned S01 (TV)

– original premise (albeit based on the 2004 film with the same name), mystery and intrigue keep you hooked even when the script and acting fall apart. Fingers crossed the writers know where they’re going with it. It has some dangerous similarities with Lost.

April 2013

Broadchurch (TV)

– excellent whodunit in the style of The Killing with phenomenal performances all round. The conclusion is faintly predictable a few episodes too soon and one or two strands are left unresolved, but all things considered, this is a well above average mystery drama that comes highly recommended.

Boardwalk Empire S03 (TV)

– superb. Perhaps the best season yet. A few stray story lines, but what an unforgettable climax.

November 2012

Brotherhood (TV)

– Slow burning, but top quality television. Performances all around are outstanding, right down to the minor roles.

October 2012

The Hour (TV)

– British television of a rarely excellent calibre. No Shadow Line, but nonetheless an intelligent and well conceived spy drama.

September 2012

Californication season 5 (TV)

– enjoyable as always. Sex and comedy pretty much sums it up.

Case Histories (TV)

– fairly bland but great performances, especially from Jason Isaacs

August 2012

The Shadow Line (TV)

– remarkable for British TV. Episode two features one of the best chase sequences I’ve ever seen.

Inside Men (TV)

– Stylish and compelling, but it reaches a shamefully unsatisfying conclusion.

Revenge (TV)

– one of the worst shows I’ve bothered to watch to it’s end. Learn from my mistake.

The Bridge (TV)

– compelling and enjoyable but reaches a frustrating resolution.

Derek (TV)

– Poignant and beautifully witty. A reminder that there is much more to Gervais than the press credits him with.