I haven’t had a chance to really delve into the television I’ve been enjoying but there’s so much good TV out there and while working on the millions of projects I’ve had to tackle recently I had the opportunity to binge-watch some excellent brain-candy. It’s all different kinds of shows so perhaps you will find one in the pile that works for you.
Arrow. I went to middle and high school in Rye, New York. About five years ahead of me was a guy named Greg Berlanti. He was an amazing actor and he has gone on to be a super-successful producer for a big chunk of DC Comics’ ventures into television. Arrow is one of his projects, as is Flash and Legends of Tomorrow. Also I follow John Barrowman on Facebook ever since I decided he was the greatest post-watching Torchwood. Now I don’t know nothin’ about comics but because Greg’s name is attached and John Barrowman is on it my interest was piqued. I loved it. It fills the soap-opera / romance / sci-fi deficit you might have. Everyone is crazy-attractive. The villains are villainy. Lots of intrigue. The leads are tormented. The fight scenes are engaging. Occasionally some of these gorgeous people hook up with other gorgeous people. Bond-like gadgets are created. So many secrets are kept. The only complaint I have about the show (and maybe this is because I crammed three seasons over two weeks) is the amount of times a character would say “Are you okay?” and wait for another character’s response in order to move the plot along. I counted four “Are you okay?”s in one episode. I would occasionally yell out “I’M FINE DAMMIT” at my screen in response. Other than that, great fun show. Big fan.
Flash. Same story. I started watching it because of the crossover Flash actors making appearances in Arrow. In Arrow no one has super-powers, they’re all just extremely talented and well-trained. In Flash there was a nuclear explosion and now people can run very fast or control the weather or shoot fire out of their eyes, so if that’s an issue for you then this is not your show. But it’s fun and it’s easy to consume and the actors are charming and engaging.
Daredevil. This is a Marvel comic on Netflix. I seem to have gone on a comic-book kick but it just so happens that some of the most compelling stuff out there right now is comic-book based. I go where the good television leads me. It’s a Netflix series about a kid who loses his sense of sight from a chemical spill but in the process of going blind he realizes his other senses are heightened. He’s a lawyer by day, vigilante by night. This could very easily become extremely silly but it works. It’s very well-written and I was cautious but by the end I was on board. The only person I had a bit of a problem with was the bad guy played by Vincent D’Onofrio. He is my generation’s Christopher Walken. He has some weird speech tics that he has in every role he plays and each time I see him the only thing I think of is Edgar from Men in Black (D’Onofrio’s finest performance to date, IMO). Other than Vincent being a creepy cockroach in human form it’s a good series. I jumped in surprise at least two times.
Jessica Jones. Also a Marvel series, also on Netflix. I think it was greenlit due to the success of Daredevil. I absolutely loved it. First, the lead is a non-traditionally beautiful dark-haired woman, while her best friend (not the lead) is a traditionally beautiful blonde. Second, the lead falls in love with an African-American man and it’s not a huge deal. Third, the fact that several of the characters have superpowers isn’t the crux of the show, it’s about isolation and betrayal and loneliness. And finally, what I realized at the end is the love story isn’t between the lead and a man, it’s about her friendship with the blonde. The love story is about friendship between two women. AND the show was awesome. It was such a change from the usual stuff. I don’t have a problem with the usual Criminal Minds-type programming but I am delighted to see this departure and I hope it inspires more diversity on TV in the future.
The Knick. Wowsers. It’s like my love affair with New York and history hooked up with the best parts of the show House and had a baby. It’s great. The Knick is about a hospital called The Knickerbocker around 1912 in Manhattan. It’s a fictional hospital with fictional stories (although there was a hospital with that unofficial name in New York), but many aspects are based in reality. The sets and costumes and props are rigorously checked to be period-accurate and they are stunning. The main character is a brilliant drug-addicted doctor played by Clive Owen with an ego problem (there’s your House analogy) but it’s really an ensemble cast and they are all stellar. It delves into a lot of tough terrain – race, women’s roles, abortion, religion, addiction, mental illness, the advancement of medicine, etc. – so it’s not a “hey, I had a rough day at work and need to watch something to wind down” kind of show. Plus there is at least one gross medical procedure per episode. But I love it. Stephen Soderbergh directs and I believe also writed on The Knick and it better win a bunch of awards for everyone who works on it at some point in the near future.
Making a Murderer. Hoo boy. This one was tough. It’s a documentary series about Steven Avery. I mean, that’s true but it’s mainly about the tragic flaws in the American justice system, especially if you’re poor, not bright and ostracized by your community. I don’t want to get too into it, if you see it you should go in without bias. But there are some moments where you will feel compelled to throw a brick at the screen due to the complete and utter travesty of a police interrogation technique. Fight that urge. That television was expensive. You will regret smashing it. We all feel the same way.