Wednesday, 20 November 2019

Lately I've Been Watching

More mini TV and film reviews, mostly stuff I've seen on Netflix and Amazon Prime.  

For more in this series, please click here: Lately I've Been Watching

Comedy Series: Extras (both seasons, and Christmas special)

5 stars plus ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Yes of course I've seen this before, more than once, but I've recently watched the whole thing again, and loved every minute.  Even more so than The Office, I think.  The cameos by the famous people are marvellous (I particularly liked Robert de Niro and Orlando Bloom, and David Bowie's song), but it's Andy Millman's 'journey' from desperate extra to fame-chasing TV star through to disillusionment with the whole celeb culture that is the real genius.  If you've never watched it, you MUST.

Film: The King

4.5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

About the early years of Henry V, ending in his return from Agincourt.  I loved that it didn't seem 'Hollywoodised' or sensationalised at all, rare for historical fiction these days; it's actually quite low key.  Timothée Chalamet is an unusual and inspired choice for Henry; I thought he was perfect.  The lead-up to and the battle itself made it worthy of 5*, but I've taken a half star off because I think the beginning would be quite hard to understand if you didn't already know who all the people are, and their histories.

I very much appreciated the realism of the settings, and, thus, the picture of how the ordinary people lived in those days, too.  Most definitely worth watching!

Mock Documentary: The Magician

4.5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

The forerunner to Scott Ryan's terrific Mr Inbetween; a camera follows around Australian hitman-for-hire Ray Shoesmith.  If you love the series as much as I do, you'll want to see this too.  Horrendous, sad and funny, all at the same time. 

Series: The Crown(Season 3)

4 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

After a lacklustre first episode I enjoyed this as I did the other two seasons, not least of all because of the historical aspect (I was born in 1959, so remembered events, clothes, attitudes, etc).  Olivia Colman plays the queen so well; I particularly like how the relationships between her and PMs Wilson and Heath were portrayed (and Wilson's comment about her being a secret leftie!).  A Twitter friend mentioned how much older she looked than the queen would have looked then, but my mother was exactly the same age, and I remember her looking very similar when I was a child; in the 1960s, styles for women over thirty-five were so ageing and, mostly, quite unflattering.  Those terrible hats!

I was less impressed with Helena Bonham Carter as Princess Margaret; she seemed more like a pantomime version of her.  She's too old in the face, too fat around the middle (I've googled pictures of Margaret, aged around 40), and too lacking in class and style.  Vanessa Kirby was a far better choice.  On the subject of that marriage, I notice that Armstrong-Jones is portrayed as a perfectly reasonable chap in this season, (though played by the gorgeous Ben Daniels, so I'm not complaining) rather than the feckless, faithless swine of Season 2.   Charles and Anne I thought were very good; most interesting to see how damaged he was from an early age, and how, like his great uncle, he is probably unsuited for monarchy, at least in the old sense.  This made me wonder what he would have thought then, had he known he would still be the Prince of Wales in his 70s.  Also like the chap who plays Prince Phillip.

I noticed how the format has changed; each one now deals with an 'issue' that is neatly resolved by the end of the episode, with some sort of emotional epiphany on the part of each character.  Not sure about this; seems a bit contrived, in particular the one about Prince Phillip's mid-life crisis.

One more negative: not keen on some of the too-modern language used; phrases like 'Here's the thing', and Prince Phillip describing Anne as 'a royal' - surely that was something that started to be used by the tabloid press in Diana days?  The queen saying 'Not on my watch'?  I look forward to what comes next, though, especially how the whole Diana debacle will be addressed.  

NB: Fans of Mr Mercedes will enjoy seeing the man himself as Roddy Llewellyn!

Series: Fringe

2 stars ⭐⭐

Watched one episode of this X Files type show made in 2008.  That was enough.  The plot wasn't bad but the plot developments and character stereotypes are hackneyed and the dialogue so clichéd that several times I guessed the next line, and was almost spot-on.  Waste of excellent actors like Kirk Acevedo and Lance Reddick, though it has to be said that Reddick always plays the same part.  He usually gets better lines, though.


  1. Thanks, Terry. I've only seen 2 episodes of The Crown, and look forward to the rest. And now I really must watch King, and revisit Extras, which I never watched all of before. I think I'm going to have to give up work, because otherwise I'm never going to fit in all of this great telly!

    1. Well, you can forget The King and Extras until you've at least seen to the end of Season 5 of TWD. But then of course you have Season 6, which is my very favourite of all of them....

      We're actually watching The Office again now, too!

  2. I just finished watching The Crown, so I came straight here to read your review.

    Overall, I agree with you on almost everything. I think Olivia Colman is doing a brilliant job, but you would know that even better than I would. As much as I think Helena Bonham-Carter is an extraordinary talent, I don't like her as Margaret AT ALL. Not from the beginning of this season nor at the very end. It's not her per se, I just don't think it was good casting. I FAR preferred Vanessa Kirby.

    This season, I far prefer Tobias Menzies to Matt Smith's Prince Philip. I also really liked Josh O'Connor and Erin Doherty as Charles and Anne.

    I also noticed that the format had slightly changed and each episode was devoted to an issue. Of course, the one that you felt was contrived, about Prince Philip and the astronauts, I found quite touching. My reason probably goes way beyond this episode or having anything to do with The Crown. I just thought there were some important life lessons in that episode that I related to.

    I am a fan of Emerald Fennell and liked her as Camilla. And yes, it will be interesting to see what they do with Diana next season.

    Lastly, the language thing was something I noticed in random places, and I totally agree with you on that.

    Great review. Fascinating to hear what you had to say after finishing Season 3.

    1. A lot of people say that Olivia Colman's accent is wrong.... Claire Foy's was better. As for HBC, what Drea says in the comment below sums it up perfectly!!!

  3. I've just binge watched the Crown and am half way through season 3. I don't like H B-C's Princess Margaret just doesn't feel right. I keep waiting for her to shout 'Off with their heads!'.

    I loved the King...was glued to it from start to finish, it just wasn't long enough.

    1. You're absolutely right - that perfectly describes how HBC plays PM!!!

      Yes, re the King!!