So in the spirit of keeping everyone up to speed on the latest and greatest of TV that’s currently floating my boat, I thought I’d start a new feature piece. Its pretty much exactly what it says – a breakdown of what I’ve been watching on a particular week, the good, the bad, and the proverbially ugly. I’ll try to keep these as regular as I can, especially during the crowded winter months! I’ll try to avoid spoilers for obvious reasons on the latest stuff, and anything retrospective I’ll give fair warning first.
So, week 1. Where else to start but the return of the Walking Dead? After the sloooooowwwww and turgid season 7, I for one was really interested in whether AMC would be able to bounce back with season 8. Must say that, for now, given the hype, I’m relatively unimpressed. The production values on this show continue to look comically low compared to the grandly scoped Game of Thrones (which I’m really comparing it to on the basis of its audience size more than anything else), the direction seems haphazard and the plot still seems at odds with itself.
Let me expand on that a bit without going spoilerific on you. To be fair the ‘all out war’ that we were promised does indeed begin with a bang as Rick takes the fight to Negan and the Saviours. Stirring speeches, big action set pieces and calamitous face offs are all present and correct. Unfortunately the production vales make for action that should feel big and grand, but instead feels small scale and constrained. The direction sometimes makes it confusing as to who is shooting at who and from where. Big explosions are filmed but they just look like self contained stunts – you don’t really see the full effect of the damage. The whole thing just feels clunky and looks clumsily shot.
To be frank the prospect of all out war on the Walking Dead never interested me that much anyway. For me this show has been at its best when its kept character at its core, and by its very nature focusing on action removes that element from the equation and takes away the show’s biggest strength. Even though it hasn’t always written characters well, the best Walking Dead scenes for me are always the ones that focused on the journey of these characters and the impact it has on them. Lets hope we get some of that interspersed with the mayhem going forward (albeit not too much like the repetitive arcs of season 7).
Another show I’ve been watching a lot of recently is The Americans. I’ve just worked my way through season 1 and am now midway into season 2. This really feels like one of those fast paced thriller books that you find at the airport – you know the ‘just one more chapter’ books that keep you on the edge of your seat. For anyone unfamiliar, the basic premise is following the lives of two Soviet KGB officers that pose as an American married couple in the Washington suburbs during the early 1980’s Reagan era. I wont say too much more until I post a proper review but if you love spy or cold war thrillers then this is definitely one you need to check out right away. A great premise, tight script and compelling characters are holding my attention in a big way so far, this is one I might have to binge to the end if the quality stays as high as it has so far.
Last week I finished Victoria season 2, which is clearly ITV’s replacement for Downton Abbey in my eyes. For the most part it was an enjoyable season (I’ll post a review soon) and if you like your period drama you could do worse than checking it out. The show borrows liberally from an interesting period of British history, albeit coloured slightly by the recent wave of pro-monarchy popularity that has swept the country in recent years. For this reason I’m also pretty excited for the return of Netflix’s excellent The Crown in December. Which brings me neatly on to Coming Soon.
So there are three major things I’m excited for in the last part of this year. The first is the return of The Crown, as I’ve mentioned above. This promises to be the last season for the current cast as they look to bring older actors into the fray for the subsequent years of Elizabeth’s reign. If you haven’t seen the trailer yet, check it out here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JWtnJjn6ng0.
Another one I’m looking forward to is Netlifx/Marvel’s The Punisher. If you watched Daredevil Season 2 then you probably already know why I’m excited for this one – a brutal take on one of Marvel’s most gritty and exciting properties, this could be something special. Jon Bernthal seems made for this role, the action looks amazing and the tone of the trailer is fantastically dark and grim (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lIY6zFL95hE). If you’re an action fan then this is definitely one that should be on your radar.
Finally, I’m also majorly pumped for the return of the awesome Stranger Things. Season 1 evoked a fantastic tonal mixture of Stephen Kingesque horror, Goonies like adventure and ET like ‘kids running from G men’ feel. I can’t wait to see what the Duffer Brothers (the showrunners) have in store for season 2 – if you like any of the things I’ve just mentioned and you haven’t see this, fill the gap on your sofa and sort it out immediately 😃The trailer for season 2 looks great, so here’s hoping it lives up to season 1 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R1ZXOOLMJ8s.
Right, enough rambling from me. If you have any shows that you’re excited for coming up then please list them in the comments…