What to Watch: BBC’s “Bodyguard” Packs Tension, Action and Stereotypes

And a new Adam Sandler stand-up special isn't that special.

October 26, 2018 5:00 am

Welcome to What to Watch, in which we cover the best shows, movies and series out right now, both on networks and streaming services. Prepare to table all other TV shows for at least six hours while you binge what has become Britian’s most talked about drama series in over a decade. 

Bodyguard (Netflix)

BBC’s Bodyguard is one of the highest rated UK series in the past decade, second only to Doctor Who‘s 2008 Christmas special. Watch the opening 20 minutes of the first episode and you’ll understand why.

Bodyguard stars Richard Madden (Game of Thrones and the current rumored successor to Daniel Craig’s James Bond) as Andrew Budd, war veteran turned protection agent to British Home Secretary Julia Montague, by played a calculated Keeley Hawes (Line of Duty). Montague, whose position for those unfamiliar with British politics covers immigration and domestic security, is looking to bolster her political power House of Cards style, and will use Budd, a sort of war hero, to do so. She’s also largely responsible for sending troops into wars in Iraq and Afghanistan—wars that have given Budd PTSD and caused him to question the integrity of his country. Budd’s confusion only grows as his loyalties to various government departments are strained and crisscrossed when he’s thrown into the middle of this national conflict. Budd is torn between his personal ethics and those that bind him to his job, leaving viewers on edge as they watch him be emotionally tortured by friends, coworkers, and his own damaged mind.

But beyond the reasonably complex Budd and Montague, Bodyguard relies heavily on unbelievable stereotypes to portray terrorists, ex-wives, and assistants, who all serve as props surrounding the two leads’ interpersonal drama. Budd’s brow remains in a constant furrow as he struggles to be an emotionless, loyal guard. The only time he shows emotion is when he’s confronted with live terrorists, which thankfully in this case happens quite often.

Bodyguard takes working for a boss you don’t agree with to the nth degree, and even throws in a few literal bombs for added shock value. It’s a contained story much like The Americans about small figures playing large roles in an even larger conflict. Sticking with this show pays off as layers of Budd’s psyche are stripped away in an environment that makes even this viewer increasingly stressed. In lieu of dynamic characters, the heart-pounding action scenes showcase Madden’s and Hawes’ acting chops and make the show the steamrolling hit of 2018.

Adam Sandler: 100% Fresh (Netflix)

We can agree that Netflix specials are usually great, right? So I’m not saying Adam Sandler is bad here, but 100% Fresh is one of the weaker specials on the streaming platform. The show is a self-curated highlight reel of multiple performances from his tour, often cutting to an original song in lieu of actual transitions. The format of rapid-fire jokes and songs that allow Sandler to simply narrate a funny situation without producing a punchline grow old.

However, Sandler is relaxed and unassuming on stage, and seeing him crack jokes without an exaggerated idiocy or man-baby voice is refreshing. In between bathroom jokes and songs that managed to grow on me just a bit by the end, Sandler opens up a little. His jokes about fatherhood and old age do a better job making the superstar comedian personable than when he’s dropping one too many casual f-bombs. Is Adam Sandler funny? Yes. Is Adam Sandler funniest when performing stand up? No.

Married at First Sight: Honeymoon Island (Lifetime)

My suspicion that Married at First Sight is a satirical riff on ABC’s Bachelor franchise only grows stronger with the former’s new spinoff: Honeymoon Island. A cheaper version of The Bachelor spinoff Bachelor in Paradise, this unfortunate show comes at the height of the British Love Island’s American popularity. I’m well aware you might not know of any of those shows, which makes you either extremely smart or devoid of peak reality TV, depending on who you ask. This is what happens when execs try to one up each other in producing the most insane reality shows ever just to see if people will actually go on them for 15 seconds of camera time. If there’s anything we’re learning from the creation of Honeymoon Island it’s that there are at least 16 people out there who will. I’m not taking this show seriously (nor should you), seeing that’s it’s another series in which dating is all but skipped over. I wonder why dating is so despised and being single is painted as the most horrible curse fate can incur. I mean, these people would rather go on what may be the most embarrassing reality show after MTV’s NEXT to supposedly “find love.” 

The Guest Book Season 2 (TBS)

Vacations are rarely as simple as a casual “getaway.” When the rest of one’s worldly responsibilities are shed, the personal issues we pushed down to get through the day come bubbling up like a sunburn. The Guest Book, written by Emmy award-winner Greg Garcia of My Name is Earl fame, depicts this harsh reality and brings in some of comedy’s best actors to play the guests. Season one, which is worth watching but not necessary before watching season two, revolved around cabin owners Vivian (Carly Jibson) and Eddie (Eddie Steeples). To begin the second season the couple move to a beachside town where they now host guest at a cute little cottage. The first episode’s guests are a couple trying to reinvigorate their marriage despite the husband’s VR addiction. It’s an overused gag that can only go so far, but guests to come include Pete Davidson, Will Arnett, and Martha Plimpton with Kimiko Glenn as a recurring character. These people are FUNNY, and ensure that The Guest Book is too. 

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