Camp is king in TV Land this week, with the triumphant return of RUPAUL’S DRAG RACE and a violent, sexy mermaid drama from Netflix. Comedians trying to “fix” the world’s problems… not so much. Enjoy our thoughts below in this week’s TV Round-Up!
THE FIX (Netflix)
Do you like British quiz shows? No? What if it were awkwardly married with a TED talk and had an unfunny improv baby? Still no? Well then, what do you want? Who knows! Certainly not Netflix’s new, original unscripted series THE FIX that has miraculously failed to be entertaining at all, instead falling into the “annoying and slightly confusing” category. Jimmy Carr hosts a rotating cast of comedians that split into teams to discuss a current topic and then plan a way to “fix” it somehow. Comedians trying to figure out how to solve the world’s problems already seems like a tenuous premise, but put into practice, it is just painful. The discussion portion of the episode goes on for far too long—if they stuck with just having an opening monologue and then setting the teams to their task, it might become enjoyable, but as it is, it’s over 15 minutes of comedians desperately trying to make their failing jokes sound like natural conversation patter, constantly marked by Jimmy Carr’s very obviously fake laugh that sounds like a walrus horking up a party horn. The topic tackled in the first episode is “Social Media,” a topic that is fairly innocuous for the current affairs of the world. The list of episodes reveal that they do tackle bigger topics such as global warming and the opioid crisis, but with the jokes about something so innocuous as social media going over like lead balloons, I can’t imagine that attempting to make humor from the gun debate or immigration is going to be anything but awkward and a little painful. If you were planning on checking this show out, do yourself a favor and check out THE GRAHAM NORTON SHOW instead. [Anna Mansager]
RUPAUL’S DRAG RACE: ALL STARS 4 (VH1)
As if All Stars 2 wasn’t enough to live up to, RUPAUL’S DRAG RACE: ALL STARS 4 comes hot off the heels of a tense Season 10 (#butterflygate) and the gag-worthy crowning of Trixie Mattel on ALL STARS 3 (#ShangelaWasRobbed). The All Stars seasons have a strange blessing and curse in the world of RuPaul. On one hand, the cast is pretty much always fantastic. The contestants are vetted, seasoned, and ready to rock. On the other hand, All Stars is tasked with reinventing the formula and delivering wig-snatching surprise twists while remaining true to the spirit of the main series and at least trying to come across as “fair.” With this said, ALL STARS 4 seems off to a flying start after its first episode on Friday. It delivered on the promise of the cast. We have Valentina back and fully embracing her villainous self, absolutely destroying a Spanish-language lipsync as part of the talent show. We have Trinity still managing to delight and surprise, proving she has even more to give after placing top four in Season Nine. Latrice and Manila are back competing as individuals instead of a team. Farrah found her damn station. The kickoff talent show is diverse and fun as usual, with talents ranging from flag-twirling to kabuki dance, a strong reminder of why these queens are here and what they have to offer. Overall, a pretty standard first episode—a strong start with plenty of room for surprises to come. [Kate Brogden]
Murder! Savagery! Exposed human flesh! Netflix wants to prove to HBO that the student has become the master when it comes to belligerent showcases of sin. TIDELANDS busts open with naked eye-gouging followed promptly by a prison brawl, and the pace keeps up throughout the pilot. As exciting as it is stupid, this eight-part Australian drama stars an upsettingly gorgeous bunch of water-breathing siren-humans called Tidelanders who’ve found home in the fishing village of Orphelin Bay. The mythical premise belies the more grounded central plot surrounding the recently imprisoned badass Cal (Charlotte Best) and her efforts to reconnect with her family by joining her brother’s drug smuggling operation. Her brother Augie (Aaron Jakubenko) gets his supply from the Tidelanders, who just sexy murdered one of his homies for spying on a late-night skinny dip. At first, this all comes across as the dumbest crime drama of all time, but the resolute focus on hot monsters that want to kill and/or fuck people is more akin to TRUE BLOOD or later seasons of GAME OF THRONES. While constantly treading the fine line between campy thriller and fetish porn, TIDELANDS holds charming rewards for those willing to not think too hard about it. [Dan Blomquist]