A week in film – 2016, week 25

Well, the bubble was going to burst eventually. After two educational, brilliant weeks of discovering a bunch of movies I should probably have already seen, I’ve watched a grand total of zero films this week – old or new. I’ve barely watched any TV, either. It’s been one of those weeks where I’ve both been really busy and, when I’ve got the time, far more in the mood for reading. In other words, it’s going to be one of those really short, uneventful posts where there’s not a lot to report. Sorry, guys.

It is worth mentioning that I’ve decided there’s no better time than the present to pick up Friday Night Lights again. Reminded of it by an Empire list of readers’ 50 favourite TV shows of all time, I went back in to where I’d got to on Netflix – apparently only episode three, which isn’t the progress I thought I’d made. Still, apparently leaving months between the first two episodes and the third was enough to leave me slightly adrift, scrabbling a little to catch up and remember these characters I’d barely met before. Then again, this wore off fairly quickly, because while there are a lot of characters, I’m still at the point where they all seem pretty straightforward and can be put into the boxes associated with high school sports dramas – the underdog, the jock, the coach, the girlfriend. I’m hoping it’ll get a little more nuanced with time – I doubt it’d have the reputation it did without that – but for now, it’s pretty emotionally wrought and engaging because of it. Just got to keep going with it.

Another show I watched because of its appearance on that Empire list (I am very easily influenced) was The West Wing, revisiting ‘Celestial Navigation’ because it’s still series 1 – early enough for me to dip into before embarking on another proper rewatch soon – and because it’s one of the most enjoyable episodes I can remember. The West Wing always did structure really well, using an episode to span a week in anticipation of a vote, or showing the end point before flashing back to how it happened. ‘Celestial Navigation’ has the framing device of Josh explaining a ‘typical’ day at the White House before a group of students, with flashbacks to a pretty disastrous day for him and CJ (‘I had woot canaw!’), and phone calls from Sam and Toby lost in Connecticut. I love ‘Celestial Navigation’, not least because of its structure, and any episode where Sam and Toby have to bicker for significant chunks is a great one in my book. It may even have been the episode which got me properly hooked on that show, but honestly it’s so hard to tell any more because I only remember them all as good.

Otherwise, though, it’s been standard fare. Supergirl is my last superhero show left standing before new seasons start in the autumn (thanks, UK scheduling) and because I’m still a week behind (thanks, general ineptitude) I’m only on the penultimate episode. I do really like Supergirl, and while I don’t fully understand the relationship between Max and Cat, I did enjoy that this episode took the opportunity to switch up the usual trio and replace Jimmy and Winn with those two. This episode is dark, too – as all (bar the two I’ve just mentioned) of National City’s humans are under a Doctor Who Christmas special-esque trance, Non uses them as creepy mouthpieces and general puppets in a way which is actually pretty unsettling. The return of Alex and Hank is nice, too, although it does feel like quite a lot happened in that story very quickly. I get the whole point of leaving stuff unanswered until the season finale – and while I wasn’t sure at the time, this episode would not have ended like that were it not setting up a cliffhanger for the final episode – but there’s that, and then there’s neglecting to explain anything much at all. Supergirl did border on that this week, which is troubling, but I’ll leave judging the arc until I’ve seen the whole series. As for the individual episode, it’s got its moments (whoever wrote the Cat Grant line about Harrison Ford is a meta genius), but let’s be honest – it’s nowhere near as fun as ‘World’s Finest’.

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