TV Shows Viewed in 2018
Completed (To Date)
Viewed: Season 1: Candle Cove
I came away from this first season of Channel Zero feeling a bit...underwhelmed. It's not a bad show by any means, but it failed to pull me in like the best horror shows have managed to do - it's certainly no American Horror Story. The story is a bit all over the place, and it's not as clever as it ostensibly wants to be. Still, the show has its moments, and there's a nice sense of atmosphere which pervades the season. I just don't think that I'll be returning for Season 2.
Viewed: Episodes 1-8
A documentary series which covers a different toy line per episode, The Toys That Made Us is perfect for geeks and casual viewers alike. With each episode running an economic 45 minutes apiece, the show packs in interviews, archival footage and dramatisations, all within a high-energy construction which is rarely boring. It’s impressive to see just how many prominent figures are interviewed, making the series feel totally legitimate rather than something more amateur.
Of course, episodes do vary in quality and interest value. The Star Wars episode should have been twice as long since there is so much to cover, but the "Hello Kitty" episode was a total drag as I couldn’t find anything interesting to latch onto. But hell, the show manages to make less exciting things like Barbie interesting, as there are many amusing stories to be told in relation to the doll’s history. Of course, too, I did come away wishing there were more episodes - I would love to see eps dedicated to Marvel and DC toys, or even Jurassic Park action figures.
This is a worthwhile show that was fun to binge, and I hope to see more in the future.
Viewed: Season 12
As a loyal Trailer Park Boys fan, I was excited to fire up Netflix and check out the newest - and, presumably, final - season. The show has undeniably been on the downturn for some time, as creator Mike Clattenburg departed after the original run, and cast members have been gradually dropping off; from Trevor to Lucy, J-Roc, Cyrus, and more. Still, I found myself having a good time with this latest season, despite John Dunsworth's passing lingering on the mind. It's business as usual for the boys, who find themselves trying not to get in trouble with the law, but becoming caught up in illegal schemes and getting in too deep. The actors are still a pleasure to watch, and they have their roles down to a science. The show may be getting old, but I still laugh when Ricky swears his butt off or mucks up a phrase. The writers also manage to carve out an ostensible ending for the show...before the boys get into more trouble, as usual. I laughed and I was scarcely bored, so that counts for something.
But now it's time to pack it in. With Dunsworth - and thus, Mr. Lahey - gone, this will be my last season. If they decide to make anymore seasons, I doubt I'll watch. It's been fun.
Viewed: Season 2
I enjoyed the first season of A Series of Unfortunate Events more than I expected, and this quality is thankfully maintained into the more polished second season of the show. Constantly introducing fun new characters while retaining the perpetually brilliant Neil Patrick Harris, this Netflix original series will probably go down as the definitive adaptation of the book series, as the show has the breathing room of two nearly hourlong episodes for each novel. Dark comedy abounds and the gothic production design continues to impress, while little notes to Beatrice at the beginning of each two-part episode are a constant source of amusement. There is still some hit-and-miss green-screening, but the show looks cinematic for the most part, with ornate costumes and sets, and it all looks wonderful in 4K with Dolby Vision HDR. The wait for the third and final season reportedly won't be as long, so I'm looking forward to seeing it.
Viewed: Series 1
From the creators of The Inbetweeners, and featuring two cast members from that hit show, White Gold is a downright enjoyable period comedy which hooked me from the beginning. The scripts are sharp and witty, translating to six tautly-edited episodes which constitute this first season, while the period detail looks spot-on. (It cannot be easy to recreate 1980s England on a TV budget.) It helps that all of the actors are appealing and easy to watch, even though James Buckley and Joe Thomas more or less reprise their roles from The Inbetweeners - but since they're so much fun to watch and this is a comedy first and foremost, it hardly matters. A Series 2 of the show was confirmed, but filming has been cancelled after allegations were made against Ed Westwick. All I can say is, I hope it's all sorted soon so I can enjoy another season of this brilliant comedy.
Viewed: Season 11
How thankful I am to have The X-Files back one more time - it’s especially appropriate given the astonishing cliffhanger that the previous season ended on. Once the season resolves the cliffhanger (sorta), it adopts a business as usual stance, running through some exceptional monster of the week episodes as well as some solid mythology eps. So much has happened in terms of technology since this show initially ended, and it’s great to see Mulder and Scully dealing with new threats that weren’t possible 15 years ago. And goodness me, there are some fantastic episodes here - in particular, "Plus One" and "Ghouli" feel like old-school X-Files episodes, while "The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat" is an instant comedic classic. Even the lesser episodes have genuine merit, making this supposedly final season all the more worthwhile. It’s a terrific way to end the show proper, and though I would like more of The X-Files, Gillian Anderson has already said she wouldn’t like to return again.
This show has been a great ride, and I’m glad I took it.
Viewed: Season 5
Season 5 of Brooklyn Nine-Nine is notable for a number of reasons. It not only broke the internet for its genuinely brilliant cold opening involving a line-up of criminals singing the Backstreet Boys, it also threatened to be the show's swansong after Fox pulled the plug following years of declining ratings. Luckily, however, it found a new home and will return for a sixth season. At this point, we can consider any new season of this show a gift, and season 5 is another mightily enjoyable 22-episode run. There are hit-and-miss episodes of course, but I always look forward to a new Halloween heist or the return of Doug Judy, the Pontiac Bandit. It's these touches, as well as the infinite charm of the ensemble cast, which makes this one of the most enjoyable shows currently on TV. Even at its weakest, the show is still fun, and I look forward to each new episode.
Viewed: Season 16
Family Guy is approaching its 20th birthday, and of course the long-running animated show is not as consistent as it used to be, but goddammit I still enjoy the hell out it. This is one of those TV shows that's easily watchable and funny enough, ensuring that I'll always tune in for each new episode. Season 16 is somewhat middle-of-the-road at times, and there is one genuinely awful episode (how do you squander the guest appearance of Ian McKellen so badly?!), but there are still multiple highlights, including the appearance of Vladimir Putin. I know I'll miss this show whenever it's cancelled or original cast members begin to leave, so I'm savouring everything that I can get.
Viewed: Seasons 1-2
The idea of an Exorcist TV show never appealed to me...until viewer response was alarmingly positive, convincing me to binge the only two seasons of this show that will ever exist. This is a dark show, and it manages to create an agreeable connection to the original movie that I simply cannot spoil. No punches are pulled throughout this show; there's gore and violence, while the exorcism scenes are disturbing and unnerving, as they should be. I also grew to really like the show's two main characters. This is an anthology series, with a new story arc per season as opposed to something serialised like The X-Files, but the payoff is outstanding; the final episode of the second season in particular reaches an emotional climax that would only be possible in long-form television format. Unfortunately, despite the anthology angle, the show remains unresolved, as it ends on an uncertain note intended to set up the planned third season. Alas, this is another great show that has been cut down before its time. It's absolutely worth watching!
Viewed: Series 1
The last show created by Little Britain masterminds David Walliams and Matt Lucas before their professional falling out, Come Fly with Me is six episodes of pure perfection. It's a mockumentary which takes the piss out of airport documentary shows, in which Walliams and Lucas use their boundless talent to create several different characters each, including characters of a different race (imagine a show like this airing in 2018). With episodes running a scant 25 minutes each, the show is frequently fast-paced as it moves from one side-splitting scene to the next, and the humour is gloriously un-PC and coarse, which greatly appealed to me. The show is slick to boot, with a believable, lived-in airport setting, while veteran James Bond composer David Arnold was responsible for the score. It's not deep or rewarding TV, but I laughed my arse off and I intend to revisit this one often.
Viewed: Season 3
For its third and (unfortunately) final season, Ash vs. Evil Dead remains one of the funnest television shows in recent memory; a goofy, uproarious horror-comedy series which maintains perfect reverence to the movie trilogy which spawned it. Bruce Campbell continues to have a ball as Ash, hamming it up and delivering jokes with spot-on comedic timing. The writing is as sharp as ever, too, and even the introduction of Ash's daughter - which threatened to compromise this season's sense of fun - actually works. Not to mention the gore and splatter effects are terrific, while the final episode goes bigger in scale for a memorable climax. There is something of an ending here; it feels as if the creators took the chance to tie up some loose ends and create an endpoint in case the show was not renewed (it was in danger of being cancelled for some time). Nevertheless, the way it does end is highly frustrating, setting up another season that will never happen but would have been amazing to see.
With three seasons under its belt, I can only be thankful that this show actually happened. Rather than another movie, we got 10+ hours of Ash kicking Deadite butt and cracking jokes along the way. I'll definitely be buying this season on Blu-ray, and watching this show for a long time to come.
Viewed: Series 1&2
Fans of The Mighty Boosh seeking a spiritual continuation of that quirky series should look no further than Noel Fielding's Luxury Comedy, which is one of the funniest, quirkiest, and most pleasingly random British television shows to hit the airwaves in some time. Having said that, it certainly will not work for everyone; some people will probably find it utterly impenetrable and bizarre, which is an understandable reaction. But for those of us with the required sense of humour, this show is a total hoot. Each season has its own distinct identity, too; Series 1 is basically a plotless kids' variety show pitched for adults with fucking weird content throughout, while Series 2 develops into something of a Britcom, though it contains plenty of strange vignettes and non-sequiturs. It's hard to say which season I prefer, but I'll definitely be revisiting this show a fair amount. As I said, it just worked for me. I couldn't stop laughing.
Two seasons, twelve episodes. You can afford to check this one out.
Viewed: Season 1
Jack Ryan exceeded my every reasonable expectation. I was interested in the show due to my liking of the source material and some of the prior Jack Ryan movies, but I had no idea it was going to be this riveting or outright enjoyable. Presenting an original story with no ties to any of Clancy's novels, this season focuses (what else?) on contemporary terrorism, paying mind to Islamic fundamental terrorists which keeps the show feeling relevant and modern. Admittedly, Jack Ryan isn't exactly thematically deep and the narrative is fairly black and white, but I don't care - the series is more enjoyable and exhilarating than more dialogue-driven TV shows, with big action set-pieces scattered throughout the eight-episode run. Speaking of eight episodes, it allows for tauter storytelling, though the length of each episode does vary from 45 minutes to an hour depending on the content. This is an adult show to boot, and it's never visibly neutered by the demands of television - there is swearing and violence when the occasion calls for it. It just serves to make the show more enjoyable and immediate. Furthermore, real money was spent to bring this thing to life. The scope is tremendous; Ryan globe-trots from U.S. to Yemen, from Paris to Turkey. Set-pieces take place inside hospitals and railway stations, and even in a massive refugee camp. Production values consistently impress, making this look more cinematic than most TV shows, and more expensive than the last big-screen Jack Ryan adventure (sorry, Kenneth Branagh).
On top of everything, Jack Ryan really pulls you in. I binged the final six episodes back-to-back in the course of one evening, because I was enjoying it so much and wanted to see what happens next. Yes, we ostensibly know that good will triumph over evil, but we don't know the cost, especially since the show does daring things. Also, for fans of the novels, several characters make an appearance; not only Jack's future wife Cathy, but also Jim Greer, who was played by James Earl Jones in the Harrison Ford flicks. John Krasinski, meanwhile, makes for a pitch-perfect Ryan - he effectively conveys the intellectual abilities of the role, and he looks believable as a man of action, using his wits as well as physical weapons.
I need more of this show in my life. I'll remain a Prime subscriber as long as this show is being made.
Viewed: Season 4
I've been a loyal Better Call Saul watcher since the beginning, always tuning in from week to week, and often pouncing on it the minute it's available to watch. As far as I'm concerned, the only shortcoming of this show is that we only get ten episodes a year, with each season slipping further into the year. (Hopefully the early Season 5 renewal means we won't be waiting as long.) Season 4 switches gears for the show, moving into the next stage in Jimmy's life, and even moving ahead ten months during the course of an episode's opening sequence. The likes of Mike and Gus are allotted bigger roles in the proceedings, with the show laying suitable groundwork and acting as a true Breaking Bad prequel. The narrative never exactly moves forward quickly, and the show does focus on ostensibly monotonous details, but it's gripping viewing more often than not, thanks to top-flight technical specs and performances that are 100% committed in every frame. Odenkirk isn't getting any younger, but his portrayal of Jimmy/Saul is sensational. But it's Rhea Seehorn as Kim who really gets to come into her own here. She's always been great, but she keeps getting more to chew on as the show progresses. The season finale is a showstopper; it's replete with standout sequences, but the last scene is truly one for the ages.
This is the first time I haven't been anxiously checking on the show's renewal status throughout the season. I cannot wait for Season 5. It might be smart to end the show after its fifth season, but I'm also selfish and want as much Better Call Saul as I can get. This is the best show on television right now.
Viewed: Part 2
The most interesting and agreeable thing about Part 2 of Making a Murderer is that the filmmakers acknowledge the complaints about the first season pertaining to leaving out certain pieces of evidence against Steven Avery. We then get to watch Avery's new lawyer, Kathleen Zellner, absolutely deconstruct the evidence that several online commentators said proved Avery was guilty. Moreover, we get to watch Zellner deconstruct EVERY piece of evidence used by the prosecution in Avery's original trial. This made Part 2 more engaging than the previous season, though it's every bit as infuriating. I was admittedly reluctant going into Part 2 knowing that Avery and his nephew, Brendan Dassey, are still in prison, but the post-conviction efforts are absorbing to watch despite the foregone conclusion. Especially if you were a fan of the first season and have an interest in the case, this is essential viewing.
Viewed: Season 1
So this show kind of emerged out of nowhere, like most of the best Netflix shows. Coming from new horror wunderkind standout Mike Flanagan (Ouija: Origin of Evil, Oculus), this show is nothing like I expected - and it's all the better for it. Rather than a more generic horror series, the show takes its time developing all of the characters into three-dimensional human beings, and the result is actually more poignant and sad than outright scary. In fact, the scariness takes a backseat to the drama, though there are certainly some amazing set-pieces, and the make-up and SFX work is top-notch. Although not always fast-paced or engaging, it is rewarding because it takes its time. Indeed, the payoff for certain things gave me goosebumps, particularly once things kicked into high gear at the end the fifth episode, and then the sixth is comprised of extended single takes. The finale too... Wow. This show creeped me out and moved me. It must be seen.
Viewed: Season 8: Apocalypse
Well, this is quite a season. Widely announced as the much-anticipated (by the fans) Coven/Murder House crossover, "Apocalypse" also manages to bely such a simple label. Indeed, it would be simple enough to concoct a flimsy story to combine the two, but the writers instead developed a truly complex time-travelling narrative which is not always successful, but is nevertheless rewarding. The bait-and-switch after the first few episodes is one for the ages; the season starts as something ostensibly new and unrelated before bringing in returning characters and doing a complete 180, electing a narrative trajectory that nobody saw coming. The payoff when the Coven characters return is so enormously satisfying, though I do kind of wish that with a narrative like this, they kept the crossover aspect a secret as the effect would have been amplified a hundredfold. (I envy those who watched the season blind.) The standout episode of this season is "Return to Murder House"; a one-off which checks back in with the characters from the first season (still my favourite season) and provides some closure. It's fan service of the highest order, but it still fits with the season's narrative as opposed to feeling truly shameless and forced.
"Apocalypse" is good, a few niggling flaws aside. And I'm not sure about anyone else, but I sure am happy that AHS is now only 10 or 11 episodes per season. The stories are leaner and there's less filler.
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