Barrel Time: watching bad TV

Mare of Easttown (Sky/Now)

Set in Shit Town, USA, this Kate Winslet vehicle from HBO needs to have an emissions test. In a small town with absolutely nothing to recommend it, down-in-mouth/heel/dumps detective Kate juggles a miserable home life with a miserable job. A girl went missing a year before and the whole community thinks she bungled the case. Another girl turns up dead and an outsider from the Shit County Sheriff is called in.

It doesn’t start well: in the first ten minutes, there are three different “as you know” conversations, which stink up the place. You know this is being presented as a starry, prestige drama, but it’s serving up the same old cop show clichés, and by episode three you’ll be shocked to hear that Kate is off the case. And you might want to be sitting down when I tell you that in episode four she continues to work the case. Even though she’s been told not to! I know.

Anyway, the other big name in the show is Guy Pearce, a “writer” who has “just moved to town” and “shows an interest” in Kate. Do you think he might turn out to be the killer?

Jesus, but America looks like a grim place to live.

Intergalactic (Sky/Now)

This show is so stupid that I’m ashamed to admit watching any of it. It’s a science fictioner set in the future and I can’t be bothered to explain the little bit of world building there is. The producers clearly have nothing but contempt for the audience. The entire set-up is designed to get a Dirty Dozen in charge of a stolen space ship. So the first couple of episodes are like Con Air in space, and then it settles into being a sweary Blake’s Seven only with even worse storylines and dialogue. They’re searching for somewhere called Arcadia, which destination puts me in mind of the ‘Dryland’ of Kevin Costner’s expensive flop Waterworld. And you know it might have been mildly interesting if the Dirty Doz were all women: but clearly at some point someone chickened out, and so there are two men.

There’s a character with a tongue, one who kills people with her dreadlocks, someone who calls himself a pirate, a disgraced/framed cop, and a witchy woman with no Don Henley in sight. They’re all bullied into line by a sociopath who makes nothing but bad decisions. It’s deeply stupid, plotless, senseless, with dialogue as clunky as three wardrobes falling downstairs. In one episode there are so many people screaming I almost looked up at the screen.

The absolute worst aspect of it for me is the exaggerated swearing. They lean heavily into each FUCKing, which is more or less every line, so that they sound like a bunch of Year 9s who just learned to swear. It seems obvious that the actors feel the need to compensate for the terrible script/story, so they make the most of the words they understand.

The Flight Attendant (Sky/Now)

This one isn’t bad, and luckily it’s not too many episodes, so it’s in the goldilocks zone. The story of a barely functioning alcoholic flight attendant who finds herself caught up in a murder-and-maguffin plot, this is a vehicle for Kaley Cuoco, which makes you wonder why she wasted her time in Big Bang Theory for so long after it wasn’t funny anymore. We’ve seen the blackout drunk waking up next to a bloody corpse before, but it’s the execution of this, with its disturbing flashbacks and conversations with the dead guy that makes it snap.

Ms Cuoco carries the show with a high energy nuanced performance as a woman who has been running from her childhood memories for her whole life and literally cannot stand to be alone with her thoughts. There’s a strong supporting cast too, though I can’t be bothered to look up their names.

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