Thursday, November 03, 2016

Self-indulgent TV bollocks (part 62)

My least popular blogs are when I talk about my US TV watching habits. I find this quite ironic because they tend to be the ones I really enjoy writing. Whereas my music reviews tend to be the most patronised - the last Sand album review has been looked at by over 1000 people, the last TV round-up by less than 50. I would like to think my music is far more eclectic than my TV, but...

Anyhow, here's a quick charge through what's being watched (in whatever spare time I might have).

The Strain: at the start of Season 3 I was ready to call it a day. It reminds me of a 21st century reworking of the 1980s series V but with 'vampires' rather than alien lizards. By the end of the second series there were few redeeming qualities and just about every character in the show was instantly dislikable. The wife seems quite keen so we persevered and by the midway point of this, apparently penultimate, season it was still badly acted with dodgy horrid characters, flawed people and many other criticisms, yet something had become slightly unhinged about it. The special FX are what makes this 'work' because, plot wise, it has more holes in it than the entire premise of The Walking Dead, which it seems to be mimicking slightly. With half the cast dead, a small tactical nuke been set off under NYC and one at the Statue of Liberty - creating night during day - a conclusion is almost within reach. I kind of hope the six-part final season will be the end of it. I won't really miss it, but like a car crash it is hard to look away.

People of Earth: it's a dramedy about alien abductees or 'experiencers'. We watched the pilot and were impressed enough to carry on watching when #2 arrived. It's a bit like Third Rock From the Sun meets the X Files and it has an 'indie' feel about it even if the talking deer is obviously a prosthetic. It also reminds me a little of Brain Dead, the 13-part stand alone series about alien ants taking over Washington, DC. Much promise, worth watching.

Son of Zorn: Did you like Thundercats? Are you now over 40? This is about a real life 2D animated character who leaves his world to visit his son in the 3D world. There's something slightly amateurish about it and most definitely cheap, but I laughed so much at the pilot episode - especially the end - that I'm committed to at least half a dozen more. You just have to imagine an episode of He-Man set in LA with added absurdity and comedy misogyny.

Channel Zero: is from SyFy, but, really, don't let that put you off. It has been likened to Stranger Things, but trust me, Channel Zero is much more creepy and a damned sight weirder even if it's let down by patchy acting from some of the characters. It's centred around a TV show that only kids can see called Candle Cove and seems to feature a monster that collects children's teeth. It suffers from the usual SyFy quirks - low budget, Canadian sets, more ambition than ability - but it's also probably the second weirdest thing on TV at the moment.

The weirdest thing on TV at the moment appears to be the stylish, sexy and mesmeric Falling Water. It's about the prophetic interconnected dreams of a talented muse, a corporate fixer and a NY detective. What is dream and what is real tends to blur and, honestly, three episodes in and I couldn't tell you what it's about apart from the fact some people are dying, some aren't who they claim to be, some are hiding alternate realities in their head and some of them might not even be real. I expect it will be cancelled because not enough (American) people will 'get it' but when Twin Peaks comes back next year it is going to have to be very very very weird to out-weird this.

[Incidentally both Channel Zero and Falling Water feature actors who both played plot fodder in The Strain.]

We're well behind on the new series of Shameless (which many know is my fave TV show of the last decade), but I reckon we'll watch it, along with Mr Robot season 2 and the new Walking Dead in box-set like chunks, when the winter and Christmas breaks come along. The same will apply to something called The Expanse, which was another SyFy series but has been picked up by Netflix and has had some of the best ratings for those purveyors of shit 'sci fi' in years. Someone I know who has watched it says it feels a little like Babylon 5 (which might be damning it with faint praise) and is surprisingly well written and acted. We shall see.

We're also watching other stuff: Agents of SHIELD which is a mixture of odd and strange at the moment with its new look and embracing of the 'supernatural'. I've never been completely emotionally involved in this series despite thinking Clark Gregg's Phil Coulson is a fine lead character and the new harder edge still seems to be missing a beating heart. Ghost Rider is quite cool but I really don't see why he's even in it.

The Luke Cage mini-series ended up being a bit poor, tbh. Unlike Jessica Jones, which often left you wondering how it was going to make it to 13 episodes, Luke Cage felt like three episodes stretched out into 13. It ended up being less fulfilling than the second season of Daredevil, which just felt like a series of intros for other shows and a finale setting up the next season - this Marvel/ABC/Netflix collaboration seems to have embraced Stan Lee's 'illusion of change' ethos too well.

Which brings us to the most enjoyable 41 minutes on telly at the moment (not the best, just the most enjoyable) ...

I don't know if the 5th episode of the 2nd season of Lucifer will be as much of a game changer as it is made out to be, but what was already the most enjoyable piece of crap TV seems to have developed a 'soul' and suddenly this very daft crime procedural has taken on a very sinister and serious direction. The 5th episode was seemingly the most important in terms of plot than anything that has gone before, with Tom Ellis ripping through the set with his best performance so far and moving the heaven and hell story way beyond what was teased about. It's beginning to remind me of the best horror shows of the 90s and 00s, especially the way the plot takes second place to the crap 'main' story. I struggle to see how this show can continue in the vein it currently has now that the bar has been set so high and the set is littered with fallen or dead angels, a humanised Mother Nature, and a demon developing a sense of honour and love. God is sure to turn up at some point and from the way he is talked about, he'll probably be played by Larry David. I'm sure they won't change the format too much, but it's going to take some believable writing to just carry on the way it was, which might end up being a curse.

Time constraints mean that I don't get half the chance to watch as much as I once would have liked to have watched and I do like to read, listen to music and go out into the cruel and xenophobic world.

2 comments:

  1. I'm surprised The Strain is still going; everyone I know who watched it said it was shite after two or three episodes, so the fact that it's got to three series is astounding.

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  2. The thing about the Strain is despite how awful it is, it is a weird play on the genre, but is just inhabited by horrid characters who do stupid things. In many ways it's the antithesis of TWD in that you can't wait for various lead characters to die and you would kind of root for the Stragoy (or whatever they're spelled) if they weren't such a goth-like villain. It's crap, utter shite, but it kind of fills a void that sometimes needs filling... or something...

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