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What do more shows make? More fun! Obviously. Yes, the US has started pumping out some more new shows now we’re entering October, which makes I actually have something to write about instead of whinging the whole time.

I’ve actually tried a few new shows, but my tolerance threshold has been sharply reduced by Covid so I didn’t get as far watching more than a few minutes of them.

Squid Game (Netflix) seems to be the show all the cool kids are talking about right now. It’s a Korean drama that involves some childhood playground game called ‘the Squid Game’ that has absurdly complicated rules about getting into a zone and holding the zone and pushing and pulling and stuff.

All grown up, one of the players has a gambling problem that means he steals money from his mum. And then he gets called to play the same game as an adult, but with a few heavily modified, possibly lethal rules.

I didn’t get far enough to decide whether I liked it or not. It could have been the new Saw, in which case I’m glad I didn’t watch it. It could have been the new Parasite (2019), since there were aspects of the guy’s home set up that reminded me of the con-family’s home. Either way, it almost certainly wasn’t for me, judging by the trailer.

Also on the quick for the chop list was One of Us is Lying (US: Peacock), which seemed basically to be like a lethal version of The Breakfast Club (1985). Adapted from the novel of the same name by Karen M McManus, it follows five high school students who enter detention, where one of them dies under suspicious circumstances and an investigation ensues.

I’ve seen The Breakfast Club. I don’t want to watch the murder mystery young adult version. The programme also had me annoyed almost from the point I saw the poster for it. Bah! Kids!

But I did manage to watch all the way through to the end of two new shows.

CSI: Vegas (US: CBS)

Facing an existential threat* that could bring down the Crime Lab, a brilliant team of forensic investigators must welcome back old friends and deploy new techniques to preserve and serve justice in Sin City.

Rob says: ‘It’s nice to see old friends’

A limited series follow-up to CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, this sees a lot of the original (read: popular, alive, available, financially interested) show’s cast reunited for what can only be described as a very numpty, CSI: Miami plot.

Here, the now blind Jim Brass (Paul Guilfoyle) is attacked in his home by a killer, who’s been hired by someone with a grudge against the forensics lab. He lures back Sara Sidle (Jorja Fox), who teams up with the new crime lab nerds to investigate the mystery, which turns out to be linked to a kidnapper Brass put away. That in turn links in more former crime lab bods, including by the end of the episode Gil Grissom (William Petersen) – it’s not a spoiler if it’s in the main titles!

For the most part, this is the Sara show, pleasingly enough, as she mills about being shown the ways of the new lab and what advances have been made in forensics since her day, by new lab boss Paula Newsome. It all feels very backdoor pilot to a revival of the show, rather than just a limited series, but given that the new cast are some of the worst actors I’ve ever seen in a TV show, even an American TV show, even the Brits (Mandeep Dhillon), I doubt I’ll be tuning in for that, even if Sara and Gil stick around.

It’s all massive sci-fi nonsense, of course, and the attempts to create some new nerds with moderately different personalities from all their nerd predecessors is reasonably flawed. The plot, as usual, involves violence to women, women being abducted, etc, which is pretty distasteful. There’s various side-mysteries that need to be solve on the path to solving the main mystery.

Yet, it wasn’t bad. Seeing the old cast again was pleasing and Fox shows she could have been a decent TV lead if only she’d been given her own show. I might stick around for episode two, because my mother in law is a fan of the original and she might well like it. Let’s see what she says once she’s seen the first ep.

* An existential threat? Does Jean-Paul Satre have a knife at their throats?

Ghosts (US: CBS)

A young couple, whose dreams come true when they inherit a beautiful country house, only to find it’s both falling apart and inhabited by many of the deceased previous residents.

Rob says: ‘A decently funny adaptation of the BBC original’

This may sound familiar to you, given it’s based on the BBC show of the same name. However, since I largely gave up on UK TV about five years ago, it was all new to me.

And I quite enjoyed it!

Again, stop me if you’ve heard this already – or maybe it’s been artfully constructed to be as different from the original as possible – but while the story’s not that fresh (haunted home, young couple move in, ghosts are upset, but then one of the couple turns out to be able to see them), the show at least does something fun with the different ghosts and the couple.

The ghosts both represent ages past. Each ghost largely therefore represents a different minority group who was oppressed or another group with horrific prejudices; the newer ghosts understand tech better than old ghosts and so on.

So we the rich woman who runs the house having a hatred of the Irish, a gay Civil War soldier, a Black Southern flapper-singer, a 90s Wall Street broker with horrific misogynistic tendencies – all the way back to the Vikings and native Americans, in fact. Wall Street broker can go on about Tara Reid’s movies, old ghosts only know about movies, older ghosts still have to be reminded that’s theatre that’s projected while the oldest ghosts don’t know what projection is. You get the idea.

That formula actually lends itself though to some quick, sparky dialogue and self-deprecating dialogue that shows that no matter what era you’re from, there’s winners and losers, the bigoted and the enlightened for the time – who now look a bit backward. There’s also the occasional (but only very occasional) bit of horror, just to add a little bite to the meal.

The cast are all solidly funny. Rose McIver (I, Zombie) knows how to do supernatural and funny in her sleep, but to her credit stays awake and provides a good anchor point for the whole thing. Utkarsh Ambudkar (Free Guy) is capable of better but isn’t hugely subtle here; all the same, he provides a suitably strong counterpoint to McIver.

I really enjoyed the first episode, so I’ll be back for more.

The regulars

The regulars list is back down to two shows. For one week only, because it was the last episode of The Cleaner last week, with Greg Davies bumping into the woman (This is England‘s Jo Hartley) he’s been pining for since she dumped him on his 30th birthday: ‘The One’ of the title. As usual, it’s a two-hander with Davies generously giving Hartley as many zingers in the script as he gives himself.

But it’s also a poignant piece about growing old but not quite being old yet, moving on, deciding (or not deciding) what to do with your life and working out who is genuinely The One, with the episode title also presenting a pleasing ambivalency: Hartley is Davies’ ‘one’ (who got away) but is she ‘the one’; is he the ‘one’ she should never have left or is he ‘the one’ she escaped from; and is Davies’ ‘the one’ actually someone else and he’s been so hung up on the Hartley that he’s never realised that maybe there’s another ‘one’.

Although it has the least acting pyrotechnics and jokes of the series, for my money it was the best.

Only Murders in the Building also turned in the finest episode of the season so far, with the episode that (more or less) explained the show’s whole mystery. But with one character deaf, it was largely played out both in ASL and in near total silence, beyond the simulated sounds a deaf person might hear – the noises from their own body. It was a genuinely well done piece of TV that actually managed to integrate all the previous episodes together and make sense of them, too.

Don’t watch this unless you want to be spoiled, BTW, but it’s a pretty fascinating look at how they shot the whole thing. In particular, how will deaf viewers watching the episode know when it’s gone silent?

But what did you watch?

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The post What have you been watching? Including Ghosts and CSI: Vegas appeared first on The Medium is Not Enough.

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