What I’ve been watching 2

A few months back I did some mini-reviews of Netflix shows I’d been watching (Australian Netflix – some of these series are on different networks in America and Europe). Here are some more short reviews of what I’ve been watching:

Star Trek Discovery

Great sci-fi show set in the movie universe pre-Kirk, with Spock’s adopted sister as the lead. It has a cool twist at the end of the first season.
Rating: B+

Jane the Virgin

Romantic comedy series that parodies Latin telenovellas. Everybody is into everyone! Cool narration, too.
Rating: B

12 Monkeys

Time travelling to save the world from an army and a lethal virus. Really steps up its game from S2 onwards.
Rating: C+

Luke Cage

Excellent street-level superhero series that’s only let down by a dodgy battle in the S1 finale.
Rating: B-

The Expanse

Great sci-fi show based on the books by James SA Corey. A solar system of political intrigue and imminent war, with an alien presence about to change everything.
Rating: C+

How to Get Away With Murder

Gotta love an ongoing murder mystery set on a college campus with weekly episodic legal procedurals.
Rating: B+

Iron Fist

An honourable man with amazing martial arts abilities returns to his company after years missing, but they don’t want him back. The low budget really shows, but this was interesting and handled ‘The Hand’ better than S2 of the Daredevil show.
Rating: C+

Ajin

Japanese anime about immortal creatures living among humans who are captured and experimented on. What happens when they decide to fight back? Gorgeous animation, smart, violent and not for kids.
Rating: B

Daredevil

Matt Murdock is a blind lawyer who becomes a vigilante by night. Very ‘Batman’. S1 is the best of the few seasons available.
Rating: C

Defenders

Team-up of Daredevil, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones and Iron Fist against the Hand’s loopy machinations. Drags a bit. The individual series were better.
Rating: C-

Mars

Docudrama showing the first settlement of the Red Planet, real science commentary offsets the drama. Fascinating.
Rating: B+

Arrow

Superhero Green Arrow takes on crime with a bow and a team. Still going strong after six seasons, but running out of essential characters to kill (and bring back). Also very ‘Batman’.
Rating: C

The End of the Fxxxing World

Two kids on a road trip, one plans to kill the other. Definitely not a comedy (although it’s marketed that way). Mental health issues, murder and abuse. Hard hitting, but sensitive and amusing as well.
Rating: B

Cheers

Steve 🙂

What I’ve been Watching.

No movie reviews this week, but I’ve been watching a lot of Netflix lately (Australian Netflix – some of these series are on different networks in America and Europe). I haven’t found a series on the streaming service I haven’t liked, yet.

Here’s a short sample of what I’ve been watching:

Stranger Things – 1980’s nostalgia and Stephen King homage. Kids on bikes and strange goings on in a mid-west American town. An awesome must see.

Rating: A+

13 Reasons Why – thirteen tapes left by a suicide victim indicting the people who directly or indirectly caused her to kill herself. Gripping and confronting.

Rating: A

Lost in Space – remake of 1950’s TV show, updated. A family lost on another world after a space-borne attack, trying to escape before the planet or their shady companion kills them. A bit slow at times but the character development and Dr Smith make up for it.

Rating: B

Black Lightning – family drama centred around a high school principal who brings his superhero alter-ego out of retirement to fight crime bosses and manipulative secret government programs. Still finding its feet but lots of promise for the second season.

Rating: C+

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency – quirky and out there detective story about time travel, parallel dimensions, coincidence versus determinism and friendship. Wondering what Elijah Wood’s been doing since The Hobbit?

Rating: A

Santa Clarita Diet – mum’s a zombie, and dad and daughter are fine with that. But the zombie virus is making life difficult… Blackly comedic and violent.

Rating: B

Altered Carbon – noir-style sci-fi mystery; the world’s richest man’s murder can only be solved by a reanimated terrorist. Dark, violent and deep.

Rating: C+

Riverdale – Archie, Veronica, Betty and Jughead updated from the comics for the 21st century. Dark, over the top soap opera.

Rating: C+

Ozark – a mob accountant sets up a money laundering business in the Ozarks, failing to realise just what he’s up against. Jason Bateman and Laura Linney are superb in this Breaking Bad-wannabe.

Rating: A

An Unfortunate Series of Events – based on the Lemony Snickett books, this excellent series has an absurdist sense of humour. Neil Patrick Harris steals the show.

Rating: B+

Jessica Jones – hard-ass alcoholic detective superhero from Marvel. Surprisingly deep.

Rating: B+

Atypical – comedy/drama about a high functioning autistic boy, his search for a girlfriend, and his neurotypical family. Enjoyable, but a little stereotypical at times.

Rating: B

So, what have you been watching on Netflix lately?

Steve 🙂

Firefly is back! Or, might be…

Fifteen years ago, a Joss Whedon TV show called Firefly graced the airwaves on the Fox Network. In no time at all, it was cancelled. In no time at all, fans started begging the network to bring it back. In no time at all, DVD sales for the series went through the roof, and have pretty much stayed there. In no time at all (okay, two years), Whedon was able to make a movie sequel to the series, called Serenity, something that had been previously unheard of, for a show with only one season.

So, what is Firefly? (I know you know but I’ll remind you, anyway). Firefly is an ensemble science fiction show about the crew of a Firefly-class spaceship, captained by ex-Browncoat revolutionary Malcolm Reynolds. The crew gets up to mischief and shenanigans in a wild west-style frontier region of space. In twelve episodes, Firefly manages to fit in more characterisation, charm, humour, and intelligence, than most long-term series can do in several seasons.

And people love Firefly. I don’t just mean they love it. I mean they LOVE it. Diehard fans are everywhere, and the one thing they have clamoured for all these years, is to bring the show back to TV.

Years ago, Fox was not keen on low rating series. That’s when Firefly was cancelled. If the series had run today, it would have been given more chances to establish an audience, or would have had multiple seasons on a cable network like SyFy. Recently, however,  networks have been reviving old shows, like The X-Files and Twin Peaks, riding a wave of nostalgia for TV old and beautiful. A few weeks ago, Fox indicated they’d be willing to bring Firefly back, if Whedon were  to run it (the “showrunner” leads the writing team and provides the general direction of the show).

I know what you’re thinking:  for fifteen years the fans have been asking for this, and all of a sudden Fox is saying “no worries”. In a 2013 interview with ComingSoon.Net, Whedon said, “If all the planets align that would be great, but I’m not going to do what I did the first time and move heaven and earth to make it happen.”

So, we may be waiting for longer then we think.

Still, it’s nice to dream. And sometimes, just sometimes, dreams come true.

 

This post seems a bit late, doesn’t it? That’s because I originally wrote it six weeks ago, as part of a uni assignment. It’s has only just been marked, so I can post it, now.  

English spelling, too, not American. Nothing wrong with American spelling, just letting you know.

Sherlocked

(‘So what are you watching?’ Says Alpha Girl.

‘Sherlock,’ replies Beta Max without taking his eyes off the TV.

‘It’s the BBC Sherlock Holmes show with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman,’ I say, my eyes glued to the set.

‘What’s that?’ Says Alpha Girl.

Beta Max and I do a slow double take. ‘You’ve never seen it?’ I say. ‘It’s one of the best shows. Ever.’

Beta max concurs. ‘It’s the shit.’

Alpha Girl watches for a few minutes. ‘I don’t understand what’s going on. That tall guy is a bit of a jerk, yet the little guy just puts up with him?’

Beta Max and I smile at Alpha Girl’s unintended irony.)

 

So, many of you have probably already seen the latest season of Sherlock on cable. I’m just catching up as the DVD set is now available.

I love shows that are well written, well acted, well produced and well…bloody good. Sherlock fits that bill. It’s a modern day take on the Sherlock Holmes stories of Arthur Conan Doyle, written by Stephen Moffat (current show runner on Dr Who, another brilliant show) and Mark Gatiss. Sherlock is up to it’s fourth season (fifth if you count last year’s movie fill in). Cumberbatch and Freeman have busy schedules, so they have to squeeze the series in between movies.

Benedict Cumberbatch’s Holmes is a quick-witted, super smart sociopath, who basically treats everyone he knows like a doormat. This includes his long suffering housemate, Martin Freeman’s Dr Watson, who writes about their cases via an online blog. They solve crimes.

Sherlock has a huge fan following. And so it should. It’s funny, smart, gripping television.

And with new seasons sometimes taking several years to get here, and Moffat indicating that the show might not continue, enjoy it while you can.

Season Four is a cracker. If you haven’t seen it yet, then you don’t know what you’re missing.

 

(Alpha Girl, is now ensconced on the lounge between us. I’ve pulled out the DVDs for the previous seasons, and we’re watching from the beginning.

‘Sherlock is so nasty to Watson,’ she says. ‘I like him.’

‘Thought you would,’ I say.)

What the Frack? (“Battlestar Galactica” frack, not the process of injecting liquid at high pressure into subterranean rocks)

I had a few things on my mind today.

Firstly, the good news:

I’ve been watching The Newsroom, a quality HBO television show created and written by Aaron Sorkin, creator of the series The West Wing and writer of the movie The Social Network. If you’ve ever seen anything written by Mr Sorkin, you will know that he writes intelligent, complex, nuanced, and eminently watchable television. His writing always has something important and relevant to say about politics, public policy, legal rights, advocacy, ethics and morality. If only the show was still on the air to comment on the antics of the current American administration.

The Newsroom is brilliant. Watch it on DVD or stream it.

And now, the bad news:

I’ve been reading a book by Josephine Cox, called Midnight, which I downloaded for free from iTunes. I’d never read one of Miss Cox’s books before, and I have to say I’m very glad I didn’t pay for it.

This is one of the worst pieces of writing I have ever seen. This is an author who has written over 50 high selling books, yet writes like an amateur.

One of the great rules of writing is “show, don’t tell” – this is because writers should (and rightly so) assume readers are intelligent people, who can understand plot and character motivation based on scene, dialogue and context. Ms Cox likes to re-state what has happened or what the character is thinking, even though it has previously played out in the scene. She writes overly melodramatic, soap opera-style dialogue. Her characters are two dimensional and clichéd, and often change personality from one chapter to the next. Ms Cox loves the overuse of adverbs, and telegraphs the plot such that there is no need to actually finish the book (which I will, because I don’t like starting something without finishing it). The story is packed with filler; it’s drawn out, tedious and boring.

I’m not sure what I expected from Midnight, certainly not writing and editing that makes me fume every time I sit down with it.

To the weather:

Australia is in the grip of a heat wave and we’ve just been informed that New South Wales will suffer power outages tomorrow because the grid can’t handle (or more correctly, the energy companies have not planned for) increased energy use across the country. I guess they forgot that people like to stay cool. And run things like refrigerators.

So, climate change isn’t real, huh? I guess it will solve my employment woes. I can help build sea walls – I hear they’ll be in demand, soon.

And in human interest news, today:

I’m feeling needlessly sorry for myself, with self-esteem hitting an all-time low. I guess life isn’t working out the way I want it to and as a result my brain is having a hissy fit.

As a privileged white male, protected by his country’s social security and Medicare safety net, I have no right to complain or feel bad about my particular position. There are people all over the world with circumstances far worse than mine, both mentally and physically,  ravaged by war, famine, disease, starvation, natural and man-made disasters, and political agendas.

But I’m selfish, so there. It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to.

So, what the frack was on your mind today?

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