Here are a few things I’ve been watching lately.
Flying under the radar comes this recent adaptation of a few early PD James Adam Dalgliesh novels. We’ve seen this character before, played by Roy Marsden (Anglia Television, 1983–1998) and Martin Shaw (BBC, 2003-4), but here comes Bertie Carvel (me neither) in three two-part adaptations of James novels from the 70s and 80s. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to it.
I’ve read a few Dalgliesh novels over the past year, and while I found them enjoyable, I sometimes struggled to see the point. For example, I don’t understand the point of him being a poet as well as a detective, since he doesn’t seem to have much to do with poetry. And he also seems to be one of those detectives who doesn’t do much detecting. Rather, he turns up and things happen: further deaths, people acting irrationally, and so on.
This is quite well done. A bit of period detail and a decent cast.
You can catch Acorn via one of your other subscriptions (Amazon Prime, for example). I got three months for 99p a month. There’s not much else on though. It’s all a bit cozy crime, I suppose, if that’s your thing. Acorn is a bit like Britbox, such as…
Brokenwood Mysteries (Acorn)
This (quite long-running) New Zealand TV series is a bit like their version of Midsommer Murders. It’s set in a small town in NZ, where there seem to be an enormous number of murders committed. The first few seasons have an interesting soundtrack of NZ country music, but this seems to fade away after a while (budget cuts?). Anyway, lead actors Neill Rea and Fern Sutherland are quite watchable, and the show itself is undemanding. The episodes are long, so you can put it on as a kind of mind numbing escapism (which, believe me, I’ve needed lately). And, you know, the New Zealand iccint is niver not hilarious.
The Sex Lives of College Girls (ITVX)
This slightly saucy show is good entertainment, earnestly done, with up-to-date sensibilities which mean it’s less problematic than the title sounds. The central cast are four college room mates who dive into campus (and especially Greek) life with gusto. There’s the rich one who is gay, the other rich one who is black, the poor one, and the Asian one.
It’s quite surprising sometimes in the way it handles issues. These girls like sex, but they also react strongly to unwanted harassment. Which is not to suggest that it’s particularly deep. The scenes are too short and snappy for any real development, and it’s one of those shows where the parallel storylines seem to be running in different time zones. For example, one girl is organising a strike and a protest while another is gatecrashing a party. The editing suggests that both plots are happening at the same time, but they can’t be.
Plot logic aside, it’s a mildly diverting show with episodes that are not too long. Two seasons on ITVX, which is the streaming service that seems to have an identity crisis every few months. ITV Hub and then ITV Player (or was it the other way around?) and now ITVX, which has a new logo but the same old problems.
If you don’t pay the £5.99 a month, you can watch it for free, with adverts, and the ads themselves tend to be the same ones over and over again, which drives you INSANE. On the other hand, I often think there’s very little on ITV that’s worth £5.99 a month. And if you do pay, you sometimes still see adverts, depending on what it is you’re watching. Sigh-o.
But my major complaint with ITVX is that the software doesn’t seem to understand episode sequences. I was watching Stonehouse (bof) a few weeks ago, and after episode one it dropped me straight into episode three. But things are worse with Sex Lives, because you’ll be watching episode 4 of Season 1 and the next thing to pop up on the auto play will be episode 7 of Season 2. I kid you not. And when you’ve manually selected the correct next episode, it will still try to send you to an out of order episode. It’s hugely confusing. One minute the gay character is falling out with a girlfriend because she’s in the closet, and the next she’s openly discussing her sexuality with her flatmates.
Apple TV does a better job of keeping track of your next episode than ITVX itself does.
I tried watching this spy drama, but it was too stupid, so I gave up.