Completed (To Date)
Viewed: All four episodes
Well, this documentary series is...unnerving and comprehensive. Netflix's latest true crime hit delves into the sordid history of the astonishingly evil Richard Ramirez, a.k.a. The Night Stalker, who terrorised California for several months in the 1980s. Featuring interviews with many key people involved in the investigation, arrest and conviction of Ramirez, the show doesn't leave many stones unturned, and gets especially compelling and riveting from time to the time. Additionally, the archival footage and photographs scattered throughout make this series pretty much definitive. If you enjoy true crime, this one's for you.
Viewed: Seasons 1-5
I actually watched the first season of The Vicar of Dibley many years ago, probably back in high school, but never followed through and watched the rest - which is likely due to the absolutely bizarre structure of the series. Indeed, it premiered with a traditional six-episode first season run (with episodes around 25 mins apiece), but all subsequent episodes are basically hourlong specials that arrived every few years until it ended at the beginning of 2007. Some of the specials arrived in something of a season format, but it's certainly unique for a sitcom - it's closer to Sherlock than Fawlty Towers in this sense. Anyway, so how's the show? Well, it's great. With the brilliant Richard Curtis serving as a co-writer throughout its run, you get plenty of witty dialogue, uproarious belly-laughs and quirky characters, with the ensemble cast committing to their respective schtick 110%. Every member of the main cast is appropriately defined, and there is character development over the two decades that the show was on the air. It's also easy to love Dawn French as the titular vicar; she's a treat. The Christmas special involving multiple Christmas lunches is an annual festive tradition in several households, including mine, and the climatic two episodes perfectly encapsulate the numerous charms of this wonderful show. The show even managed to surprise me with its guest stars from time to time. I did feel emotional while watching the final episode, especially now that Emma Chambers and John Bluthal have passed away - we won't get to see the main cast together ever again. Anyway, I love this show and I highly recommend it if you adore British comedy.
Viewed: All four episodes
At first glance, I was unsure about whether or not the story of Elisa Lam could be stretched out over an entire docuseries, but the filmmakers have pulled it off with confidence. Produced by Ron Howard and Brian Grazer, this is an in-depth look at the history of the Cecil Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles, and a thorough examination of what happened to poor Elisa Lam whose case promptly attracted the attention of the internet. There's genuine intrigue at play here, as the docuseries slowly peels away the layers of this tragedy, and you'll find yourself utterly hooked in no time. The team went to great lengths to get the perspective of everyone imaginable, from the hotel staff to internet sleuths and historians, as well as an internet personality who was considered a suspect and berated endlessly online. The archival footage is fascinating, and the series remains visually interesting thanks to the polished, crisp aerial footage of the area as well as the various recreations and dramatisations of events which transpired during the investigation. Anybody with an interest in true crime should definitely give this one a whirl.
Viewed: Season 3
Once upon a time, Daredevil was pretty much my favourite thing on television - for season 2, I started watching as soon as it dropped, and stayed up most of the night binging through it. But it took me two-and-a-half years to get to the third and final season. Why? Because life was too hectic when it first dropped on Netflix, and then the cancellation plus the end of Marvel Netflix pretty much made me lose interest and it was no longer a priority. But I finally circled back around, and I’m glad that I did because this season is actually excellent. Taking some narrative elements from the comic-book story Born Again, and finding Matt Murdoch where we left him at the end of The Defenders, this is a gritty, extremely compelling season of television which reminded me why I fell in love with Daredevil in the first place. I am getting kind of burned out on the thirteen-episode format, since there is still some filler here (the Karen episode drags) and I would prefer something brisker, but for the most part the show effectively justifies its length without the prolonged extraneous subplots which weighed down the second season of The Punisher. First things first, the returning cast remains excellent (Vincent D'Onofrio is the definitive live-action Kingpin and nobody will ever equal or top it), but it's the new cast that steal the spotlight - namely, Jay Ali as Ray Nadeem and Wilson Bethel as Dex. Ali in particular is a scene-stealer, nailing the draining requirements of his role with confidence, and he's such a magnetic presence on-screen. You feel his fear and his frustration, and you grow to truly care about him. Season 3 also delivers in the action department, and then some. The violence remains vehemently R-rated which is a huge plus, the fight choreography is excellent, and production values never disappoint. This is such a compelling season all the way through; I intended to watch this at my leisure, but became sucked in by the sixth or seventh episode. There's ample momentum, and the sense of hopelessness is incredible - the characters keep falling deeper and deeper into the hole dug by Kingpin. I could go on and on about all the strengths of this season, but rest assured this is quality viewing. Annoyingly, though, it ends with a tease for the future which will never be followed through. I think this will be the final word on Marvel Netflix for me... I don't plan to watch Iron Fist or the remaining seasons of Jessica Jones or Luke Cage.
Viewed: Season 1
I have to get one thing out of the way first, before I proceed: going week-by-week was a thoroughly wrongheaded approach for this show, at least for the first half of the season. Anyone who isn't a die-hard Marvel fanatic would've checked out after the first two episodes, which are fine recreations of the sitcoms of their respective era, but there's no meaty character drama and the mystery is more frustrating than intriguing. See, when it comes to sitcoms, you can enjoy them week-by-week because they're disposable entertainment. And for shows like Lost, the characters have ongoing stories which keep you intriguing while the central mystery unfolds. But a sitcom mystery with scarcely any weekly continuity or progression? It's tough. Once the show clicks properly into gear after episode four, it's a far smoother watch. But yes, those first few weeks were frustrating for everybody, and Marvel should've done something similar to the second season of The Boys: a few episodes at a time. The first four episodes of WandaVision should have dropped on Day 1. I mean, this is the first MCU entry in 18 months; it was so infuriating to have no actual plot progression in terms of the big picture for so long.
Now... With that out of the way... The season as a whole is absolutely incredible and one of the best things that Marvel has ever produced. The reverent recreations of sitcoms through the years are superb, from the kitschy black & white Bewitched to the mockumentary style of Modern Family. The central mystery kept the show as part of the cultural conversation for several months, as so many theories continued to circulate on the internet about what's happening, why it's happening, and if somebody else is behind the curtain. The show is also far more rewarding once the "real world" becomes part of the narrative; Jimmy Woo and Darcy Lewis are such a great coupling, and a television show can absolutely be made with them as the leads.
There have been MCU TV shows before, all of which have fallen flat, from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (I gave up on it early) to the absolute flop that was Inhumans. This is the first time that an MCU show feels part of the visual continuity of the MCU: from the production values to the colour palette and the quality of the digital effects, this is cinema-grade stuff in every sense of the word, and it never looks cheap or nasty. It never looks like an ordinary TV show, really; it looks like a theatrical motion picture. And it's so exciting that this quality of thing can be experienced at home on Disney+. The final episode amounts to the third act of an MCU movie, and it's replete with exciting action that we're thoroughly invested in because of the character development that came before it (and the episode showing Wanda's backstory is essential and impactful, no matter what some might say). It leads to an emotionally devastating finale that almost brought me to tears.
The MCU TV shows are in great hands and I can't wait to see more. Falcon and Winter Soldier, here we go!
Viewed: All eight episodes
Now this is exactly the kind of show I always enjoy watching. Hello Ladies is a brisk, fast-paced, uproarious sitcom featuring the comedic brilliance of Stephen Merchant, who brings his brand of British wit and awkward comedy to the show. Merchant is perfect for the role, essentially playing an exaggerated version of himself: a tight-arsed, desperate, socially awkward wannabe who considers himself a ladies man, but is seriously lacking in confidence and good judgement. Miraculously, the show doesn't feel overly repetitive despite the formula being recycled in every episode, as Merchant's character of Stuart consistently finds himself in new situations that he manages to muck up. It's worth noting that several people involved in the American iteration of The Office contributed here, including Greg Daniels who directed one of the episodes, so the pedigree is truly excellent here. I laughed out loud several times throughout each episode, which is rare for an American sitcom, and the show also delivers some poignant pathos - we actually grow to care about the characters, which is a mean feat in eight episodes. The ensemble cast is exceptional, as Steve is joined by some gifted comedic actors (Kevin Weisman is a standout). It's a damn shame the show was cut down after one season (and a movie), but it does have an ending and at least it doesn't outstay its welcome. I'll be rewatching these eight episodes for many years to come, and I hope to see more from Steve.
Viewed: All four episodes
Well this was...disappointing. Netflix sets such a high standard with its true-crime documentary shows, but this is without doubt the poorest they've ever produced. Which is a real shame, because the case deserves a comprehensive docuseries, and the potential is pretty much squandered.
You can read all my thoughts here.
Viewed: Season 1
A brand new show from HBO Max, Made for Love is surprisingly good for something I'd not previously heard about. It's not great, nor is it overly memorable, but it's creative and features a winning cast. It's especially fun to see Ray Romano here, who basically plays another exaggerated version of himself...this time as a widower who's in a committed relationship with a sex doll. Since this is a HBO Max series, it's clear that Warner Bros. opened the money purse to make it, as this is an expensive-looking show with strong production values all-round. It's also welcomely brisk, as the first season only features eight half-hour episodes. There's not much else to discuss; Made for Love is sufficiently enjoyable, but not essential TV.
Viewed: Season 1
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier was my most highly-anticipated of the Disney+ Marvel shows, due to the terrific two leads as well as the return of the incredible Daniel Brühl as Baron Zemo, who gets more to do after his debut in Captain America: Civil War. The resulting six-episode debut season (a second season is still up in the air, given the announcement of Captain America 4) is very good for the most part, but falls short of perfection. Some of the niggling problems include incomplete character and story beats (the Sharon Carter angle is tragically underdone; she deserved more development and explication), a somewhat vague central narrative (apparently the original story involved germ warfare, but since the pandemic hit, it seemed in poor taste and was rewritten during the break in shooting), and the fact that the show is simultaneously too "woke" and not woke enough. Expounding upon the latter point, the show is determined to drive the narrative that America is a racist country and yada yada yada, right down to Isaiah Bradley calling Sam Wilson a race traitor if he decides to be Captain America, and a heavy-handed scene during which Sam is racially profiled by police. Such themes were no doubt beefed up during rewrites following the BLM stuff in 2020, which is going to provoke eye-rolls in some viewers while others are going to bemoan that it didn't go far enough in its condemnation of the United States. (Which is why you don't pander to such politics in the first place - try to please everyone, you please no-one.) An even bigger issue is that this stuff isn't even subtext; it's just text, lathered on with the subtlety of a shotgun - Sam's climactic speech is all over the place. I'd be very interested in seeing what the pre-pandemic drafts of the scripts looked like; they might've made for a more coherent series.
But this aside, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier does more right than wrong. The ensemble cast is terrific, from the reliable Anthony Mackie who's an incredible protagonist, to Brühl continuing to impress as Zemo, and newcomers like Wyatt Russell and Erin Kellyman. The action scenes delight in every episode, with the scope of the set-pieces far exceeding what we're used to seeing on TV screens. Indeed, this is an expensive series which stands toe-to-toe with the theatrical movies. (I bailed after one episode of Agents of SHIELD; the cheapness killed it.) I liked seeing the real-world problems of these heroes, such as financial struggles, and the Isaiah Bradley storyline has big potential moving forward in the MCU. There are some powerful images, such as John Walker using the shield to brutally kill somebody in broad daylight, and Isaiah visiting the Captain America exhibit and seeing his story was extremely emotionally powerful.
So overall, there's plenty of fun to be had with this show, and it hits the emotional beats that it needed to hit. But it does have problems.
Viewed: Season 1
So this show...exists. I never got around to watching Haunted, but I was convinced to watch this particular iteration by my housemate. Unfortunately, I didn't love it. There are absolutely some good scenes and moments here, but the overall flow and format of the show just doesn't work for me. Especially since so much effort and money went into recreating these stories, I'd rather just see the recreations of the stories, rather than the flow being broken up by a voiceover or an interview snippet every ten seconds, especially since many of the comments don't contribute a great deal. The actual authenticity of these stories is questionable, which is another reason why I would rather have just watched the recreations. I mean, this isn't a podcast.
Viewed: Seasons 1-3
I can't overstate how much I love this show. I'm a huge fan of What We Do in the Shadows and the TV show of the same name, so this was an attractive prospect: a mockumentary series set in the same universe, with the two police officers from the movie. Although I regret not diving into this show sooner, it was mighty satisfying to have three seasons (plus the Christmas special) to binge through over a few days. Right from the start of the pilot, I was in stitches, and I kept laughing out loud throughout the brilliant debut episode. This sheer wittiness, as well as the dry sense of humour, continues throughout the series, and the scope continues to heighten as the Paranormal squad deal with various bizarre threats. Nick from What We Do in the Shadows even appears in one of the episodes, and there are other appearances that'll delight fans of the movie. The writing is razor-sharp and the actors fully commit to their characters; the central pairing of Karen O'Leary and Mike Minogue (using their actual surnames for their characters) is a winner from every angle, and Maaka Pohatu is a hoot as Sgt. Maaka. Wellington Paranormal is side-splittingly hilarious and endlessly entertaining, and I look forward to watching each episode another hundred times while I wait for the upcoming fourth season.
Don't sleep on this series - watch it!
It is not hyperbole to exclaim that Exposed: The Ghost Train Fire is one of the best true-crime shows to emerge in years. In fact, I place it above the majority of Netflix's usual output. Funded and created by the ABC, this is a slick, engrossing, hugely informative miniseries which delves into the 1979 Luna Park Ghost Train Fire in uncompromising detail. Flaunting a dizzying array of interviews with witnesses, victim families, police investigators and more, there's scarcely a stone left unturned. The show also confidently stands toe-to-toe with Netflix production values: the photography is slick and eye-catching, and the visuals are perpetually engaging, with animations, copious archival photos and videos, and even detailed recreations which must have been extremely expensive to stage. It all works together to form a coherent and complete picture, ensuring we can understand the logistics of everything, and providing compelling evidence of the shocking claims throughout. Because, yeah, the claims are genuinely shocking. Watching this show without much in the way of prior knowledge, I had no idea the show was going to get to the place that it did. It provides detailed profiles of the victims, as well as a detailed breakdown of the events of the night and the aftermath, before progressing into the journalistic investigation riddled with twists and turns. The three 90-minute episodes seemed daunting at first, but I just couldn't stop watching, and handily chewed through the series in a single day. It legitimately hooked me, and not many true-crime shows can hook me to this extent. And the fact that these events all took place in my own city is all the more shocking.
My only criticism? ABC's legal department would have had an epileptic fit while combing through the show, and I have no doubt that several things would've been omitted for fear of legal repercussions. It wouldn't surprise me if Netflix tries to acquire the show for its service, especially if the discoveries lead to actual arrests and prosecution. In fact, if this does happen, I'm hopeful that an additional episode or two could be produced which examines whatever happens next.
If you have the opportunity to watch this miniseries, do not miss it.
Viewed: Season 1
The third Marvel Cinematic Universe show in just a matter of months, I liked but didn't quite love Loki, though it is a noticeable improvement over the disappointing The Falcon and The Winter Soldier. Indeed, the show is at least coherent with its storytelling, it doesn't feel like there was any post-production tampering, and it doesn't go heavy on the woke politics. Loki succeeds largely due to the charisma of the ensemble cast, led by Tom Hiddleston who can do this role in his sleep by now, and Owen Wilson whose brand of charm is a perfect fit for Mobius. The show also took me very much by surprise, as I was expecting a series of time-jumping adventures (let's not forget the first promo image showed Loki at a 1970s cinema, something which never happens in the show), but that notion is quashed in the first scene when Loki is taken to the Time Variance Authority, putting the plot into motion. Not everything works, as the third episode is drastically short on momentum and urgency when Loki and Lady Loki work together to escape an apocalypse, and it does occasionally feel like a confined COVID-safe shoot heavy on the green screen. However, production values are uniformly handsome, the show easily looks as polished as the theatrical movies, and the show is charming in spades. The final episode also eschews a major climax/boss battle in favour of something more low-key, setting up the forthcoming second season and the shape of the next phase of the MCU.
Even though the popularity of Friends has reached a fever point and only continues to grow, the "backlash" likewise grows evermore as contemporary "woke" audiences try to imprint their impossible-to-please 2021 sensibilities on a show that's thirty years old. However, I watched Friends non-stop when I was younger, and I watched the last few seasons week by week, leading up to watching the finale when it aired. It still has a special place in my heart, and I won't let the sudden hatred sway my adoration and love for this show. Of course, we all wish that there would be a Friends movie or a feature-length special, but, then again, nothing would ever live up to the hype or the expectations. The next best thing is this reunion, which gets the six leads back together, along with a host of guest stars and the show's creators. I'm not quite sure I needed James Corden as the host, but there is a lot of fun to be had with this reunion nevertheless; we get plenty of behind-the-scenes stories, bloopers, discussions, B-roll footage and more. Naturally, it was never going to be enough to fulfil everyone's expectations: we didn't need a Lady Gaga cameo or the unrelated guests talking about their love for the show, I wish the guest stars actually had more substantive appearances, and there are many more guests who should've appeared (c'mon, where's the actor who played Emma? Or Ben? Or Chandler and Monica's children?). In other words, we all wish this could've been Snyder Cut length, but what we have is definitely satisfying and entertaining. It's also unexpectedly moving, as the emotion of the cast is infectious.
It was hard to ignore this case when it first went to trial, as the media were all over it, and the media continue to sporadically report on Michelle Carter. It seemed black and white at first glance - Michelle talked her boyfriend into killing himself and is culpable for the suicide. I didn't know there was much more to the story, and was, therefore, intrigued by this HBO documentary series which takes an intimate look at the case. This documentary isn't biased, nor does it feel like propaganda to persuade a certain point of view, and I found the further details of the case absolutely fascinating. And even though I knew Michelle went to prison, I hoped and prayed she would be found innocent and set free. This is a compelling, exceptional documentary miniseries that must be watched by anyone who appreciates true crime.
I heard about this case following the release of the podcast, and the notion of a television adaptation was immediately intriguing. Even more intriguing was the calibre of the cast here: Alec Baldwin, Christian Slate, Kelsey Grammer, a grown-up AnnaSophia Robb, and others. Happily, I can report that this six-episode miniseries is excellent and compelling viewing with slick cinematic production values, smart writing and top-notch acting. Joshua Jackson confidently nails the titular role, portraying him at various stages throughout his life to astonishingly convincing results (the make-up is basically invisible, I was stunned). Plus, Christian Slater hasn't been this confident or energetic on-screen for years - this is easily his best role this century. Dr. Death hooked me from the start and it was extremely difficult to walk away from the television. That is the mark of a fine TV series. Highly recommended.
Viewed: Series 1
Bloods is fluffy, disposable British comedy which is perfectly sufficient for those in the mood for such a thing. It's not exactly memorable, nor is it witty enough to sit alongside the best Britcoms in history (Fawlty Towers, The IT Crowd, Garth Marenghi's Darkplace, etc), but it is enjoyable and amusing, which is just enough to warrant a recommendation. It's nicely made, with handsome production values, while the cast confidently carry the odd-couple comedy and there are some recognisable actors in bit parts. Not great, but it's not bad either.
Viewed: Season 5
Even though some viewers have criticised certain episodes of this season, Rick and Morty nevertheless remains rock-solid and reliable entertainment for my money. Indeed, with only ten episodes per season, this doesn't feel like a rote or paint-by-numbers animated show which is produced purely for the money. Dan Harmon is a storytelling genius, and there are plenty of high-concept stories throughout the season. It's also just really, really funny, and the show's manic energy scarcely lets up. The first three and last three episodes of this fifth season are undeniably the best, with the two-part finale a particular standout with ramifications that will be felt in future episodes. We still have another five seasons, at least, of Rick and Morty to look forward to, and I'm stoked that we finally have some security for this excellent series.
Viewed: Season 8
And thus, one of my favourite sitcoms has finally come to a close after eight seasons and a lot of uncertainty. Indeed, every year, I used to frequently search for renewal news, and I was so happy when the show was quickly picked up by another network after Fox unfairly cancelled it. But the deck was stacked against this show due to the events of 2020. Suddenly, cop hatred hit an all-time high, slogans like "Defund the Police" were pushed, and people online were even bemoaning that Brooklyn Nine-Nine follows a group of cops. I got extremely nervous when I heard the news that the first few scripts for the eighth season were being binned in response to the political climate, as I feared what the show might become. Indeed, completely ignoring 2020 and continuing as normal would anger people, but heavy-handed social commentary would also alienate people...
As it stands, the show tries to do both in its eighth season. There are several episodes in the classic mould, but other episodes attempt to deal with politics in a completely unsubtle fashion. The lowest point of the season, and the show overall, is the debut episode of the season which reads like it was written by a Twitter bot. The episode fails at comedy and fails to provide a meaningful social commentary, rendering it completely useless. A couple of other episodes aren't as poor, but the way it preaches to the audience feels like an after school special. So, yes, this is an uneven season, which is disappointing for the end of this great show. However, the good episodes are really good, including the return of Doug Judy, the Pontiac Bandit, which is a funny and poignant episode. The two-part finale, luckily, sticks the landing, providing a chaotic, uproarious and emotional last episode that hits all the right notes with confidence. I'm going to miss this show, and I'm going to miss looking forward to a new season every year, but it is going to be rewatched for many years to come. I'll just skip a few episodes of this last season during rewatches.
Now, how long do we have to wait before talks of a reunion special or movie start to come up?
Viewed: All seasons (in the form of Da Ali G Show Remixed)
Sacha Baron Cohen created and nurtured three iconic characters in Da Ali G Show which continue to exist in the public consciousness: Ali G, Borat, and Bruno. It all started here, when TV shows could get away with this level of political incorrectness. This show is hilarious and fearless in all the right ways, with Cohen trolling as many people as possible using his different characters. Cohen's improvisational skills are staggering, and he continues to stay in character and say hysterical things no matter how negative an interviewee's reactions might be. I mean, he even interviews Donald Trump, who clearly doesn't want to be there and makes a bolt for the door the first chance he gets. This show is very rough around the edges, of course, and not everything is successful, but I laughed frequently and loudly while watching this series. I can't wait for the internet to rediscover certain scenes and moments, and absolutely lose their collective minds over how offensive they are.
Viewed: All five episodes
I can't say my expectations were high for Dug Days in the first instance... But then I found out about the original Up actors reprising their roles, and saw a few selected clips online which instantly piqued my interest. I'm happy to report that the resulting show is a worthy successor to Up, and a terrific series in its own right. With Pixar luminaries overseeing the writing and directing, and with Disney sparing no expense on the cinema-worthy animation, Dug Days - which amounts to barely 50 minutes in total - is the fun and funny TV series that we all needed in 2021. I laughed out loud consistently, and the gags are well-earned. This is the type of show that kids and adults can enjoy equally. I loved seeing the late Ed Asner play Carl one last time, and the final scene of the last episode is especially poignant due to Asner's passing. I wasn't prepared to cry, but the last scene got me. It's a wonderful send-off that doesn't tarnish the legacy of Up, and I just wish that Disney recorded a second season before Asner left us. If you love Up, set aside an hour to binge through this collection of hilarious shorts.
Viewed: Season 1
An overnight sensation which has become one of Netflix's most-watched TV shows, Squid Game is an excellent South Korean thriller series brimming with gorgeous visuals, intense set-pieces and complex character relationships. There are obvious parallels to existing movies and TV shows like Battle Royale or The Most Dangerous Game, but Squid Game definitely feels like its own thing with its own unique identity and execution. It's also a satisfyingly culturally specific show, allowing viewers to get a glimpse into the type of games played by Korean children. Acting is top-notch across the board, and I get a headache when I consider the logistics of including over 400 performers on a single set, especially during the pandemic. It frequently looks expensive rather than cheap, and it's easy to get drawn into this world and these characters. Squid Game is a slick and compelling series, and despite a couple of slow-moving episodes (the fifth episode in particular), there's not much in the way of fat. Nine episodes is perfect for this story, and I'm glad that Netflix didn't try to persuade an extension to ten episodes for the sake of a tidy figure. If there is any more of this show, I'll gladly watch it - I'm invested now.
Dave Chappelle is one of the all-time greatest comedians in the industry, and this new Netflix special shows that he hasn't lost his touch. I haven't laughed this hard or this consistently at a comedy special since his equally brilliant Sticks & Stones back in 2019, which still makes my face hurt from laughing no matter how many times I watch it. Dave has the guts to push the boundaries of comedy and isn't scared of offending anyone (the controversy speaks for itself), but this special is also genuinely touching towards the end. The Closer is excellent, and any fans of Dave's comedy need to check it out immediately.
Viewed: Series 1
I'm a huge fan of Matt Berry and I love The Toast of London, so Snuff Box seemed like an obvious blind spot that I needed to address. Consisting of only six episodes which aired all the way back in 2008 before the show was axed, Snuff Box is fun and funny, with sketches and plot progressions that will make you believe Matt Berry and Rich Fulcher were doing all sorts of drugs during the writing process. Various clips from the show have gone viral across the internet (particularly Berry trying to help women before finding out they have a boyfriend and reacting badly), and it was a blast to see these clips in context at last. Not that there is much context, to be fair - the show is a collection of loosely connected skits with some musical numbers thrown in for good measure, and that's part of the inherent charm. I laughed frequently and I look forward to revisiting this in the future.
Viewed: Season 10
Admittedly, I've been losing interest in American Horror Story for several years now, and the seasons have always been decidedly hit and miss, though the previous season - 1984 - was a standout. Season 10, or Double Feature, is arguably the worst season so far, and it became something of a chore to get through. The first few episodes are strong enough and feel like good old-fashioned AHS, but from the sixth episode onwards, it's a downwards spiral. The concluding episode for the first story is a disaster, and the second story is boring beyond all belief. I get what the intentions were, as the second story is a '50s-inspired aliens B-movie, but the execution is frankly disastrous and I only kept watching because my housemate was into it. Honestly, I kept hoping that she'd forget it was on and we'd never speak of it again.
Viewed: All four episodes
With the slick, polished production values of a Netflix docuseries (why the hell didn't Netflix snag this instantly?), and featuring tonnes of archival footage & photos, in addition to interviews with a variety of participants, this is a borderline definitive profile of Jim Jones and the events leading up to the Jonestown massacre. The series delves into Jones's upbringing and initially starting his own church, examining how he manipulated people into joining his People's Temple...and then not letting anybody leave. His terrifying tactics are revealed, and the appalling mistreatment of members is discussed. Yet, you grow to understand what the fanatics saw in Jim Jones and how they were ensnared in his trap. The wealth of archival material is truly astonishing, showing Jones's (fake) healings, his sermons, the construction of Jonestown, and the events when Congressman Leo Ryan visited Jonestown - which directly prompted the tragedy. It's astonishingly comprehensive, though a few details were left out that I previously learned from the Casefile podcast on the case (the peaceful life at Jonestown before Jim came there full-time, the extensive "White Night" drills when people were fooled into thinking they were drinking poison, and the food situation got so bad that bugs infested it and people didn't even want to see what they were eating, just to name a few). Nevertheless, this is highly recommended viewing for anybody interested in true-crime documentaries.
Viewed: Season 1
I'm a massive fan of 2010's MacGruber and I've constantly watched my Blu-ray over the last eleven years; it's a contemporary cult comedy classic that I recommend at every opportunity. After years of sequel talks, the announcement of a sequel in the form of a TV show got me extremely excited, especially as it reunites the three leads (Will Forte, Kristen Wiig and Ryan Phillippe), while original director Jorma Taccone also returned as a writer and director. The resulting eight-episode season is not quite as great as the movie, but it's a solid continuation all the same, and it's a thrill to see Forte playing this role once again. Rather than a serialised show in the vein of MacGuyver, this is just a four-hour movie that has been cut up into half-hour episodes, so there is filler and it's not always on-point, but there are more pluses than minuses. There's action, I laughed out loud several times, it still looks cinematic, and (thankfully) it's free of woke political grandstanding. Indeed, it would've been easy to use this as another platform to demonise "straight white men" once again, especially since MacGruber is such an idiot, but the makers of the show, fortunately, avoid such an angle: Mac is still the hero, through and through. There is a set-up for Season 2 that I pray will occur (no cliffhanger, though, which I appreciated), but given the cult status of the MacGruber property, we'll have to wait and see.
Viewed: Season 9 (Danger Island)
I fell off the Archer wagon several years ago, losing interest because Archer is still in a coma and the disconnected seasons became less interesting. Hearing that Archer finally comes out of his coma in the eleventh season prompted me to catch up, and so I've made my start. Danger Island is neither bad nor great; it's simply a sufficiently entertaining distraction, with the writers using established characters and using them in new situations they could never attempt in the main storyline of the show. I laughed a few times and I can't get bored of seeing these characters, but I can't say I was ever enthralled - I didn't even necessarily binge it, as I only watched an episode here and there. I'm looking forward to getting through to the eleventh season; everything else honestly feels like homework.