»7th January 2018

Prestige TV


Best title sequence in a long time. I hope you're paying attention.

Oh you have to watch this, oh it's so good. It's hard not to gush about something you love but at the same time there's so much that is so good. There's just not the time. Yes, we are talking about TV shows (how long before it's old-fashioned to call them that, like calling a radio a 'wireless'?) Oh christ, I've made a musing-laden introduction.

There's far too much reverence for shows that are well made. The floor level for good, well made shows is just a lot higher than it was five or ten years ago. It used to be possible to watch all of the big shows and also have time left over for sleep. Now there at any one time over six hundred quality ten-part Netflix/Amazon series starring that actor who used to be in films ten years ago, that actress who you thought was Neve Campbell, and directed by that guy from nineties, which you just. have. to. watch.

The weight of expectation has the potential for ruining the enjoyment of something too. I just could not get into Breaking Bad, or as I like to call it White Middle Class Fantasy Mid-Life Crisis. Yeah it's not the snappiest title. Walter White just wasn't particularly likeable or interesting to me. I got enough of the story by just wandering in whilst Shirley-Ann was watching for the key scenes and just asking her what was going on. Same goes for The Walking Dead. If there actually is a show I like situated in the 16 seasons of 56 episode bore-fests, then I'm not bothered to try finding it.

I had some holiday time booked for the first week of January and with all the important things for the week out of the way I could make some headway on a sort of new year resolution. I don't really do new year resolutions, if something is worth doing it's worth doing right away. Anyway, I decided to start actually watching some of the various things languishing on my 'My List' on Netflix. So far it's been a couple of prestige TV series.


Best character in the show. I hope you're paying attention.

Mindhunter

The pitch: imagine if Fox Mulder didn't believe in aliens and government conspiracies.

I watched this almost in one go, first nine episodes in the first session (a poorly planned Axiom Verge speedrun had a lot to do with that... Yeah, a nine hour speed run...) The last episode this afternoon.

Pros:

It's watchable and well-made, the performances are good, the story and setting is intriguing. Yep, you're watching something by David Fincher.

The absolute best parts of the show are the serial killer sequence killer interviews. Various real-life and lightly-fictionalised serial killers are interviewed by the main characters. You see the evolution of Maincharacter's process of criminal profiling. The serial killers, especially the one based on Kemper are total eyes-to-screen glue. I'd be quite happy if this had been the entire show.

Cons:

The main character just isn't likeable--I really struggled through the first couple of episodes because of this. Yep, you're watching something by David Fincher.

This has David Fincher written all over it. The main character is just as dislikeable as all the other main characters from his projects. Seriously, think of any of his films where you're not thinking 'Christ, what an asshole...' any time the main character is talking.

Here's a way you could have made this worse. Cast Jesse Eisenberg as Maincharacter and tell him 'just do that thing you did on the Social Network.' Maybe Eisenberg was busy or something.

Clichés--again, creaking under the weight of everyone else's glowing praise here--this is a cop show and it's not trying to reinvent anything. I'll describe to you the main characters. As usual I don't think I picked up any of the actual names.


Maincharacter and Otherguy getting chewed out by Hardass for not keeping things by the book or following procedure or something. I hope you're paying attention.

Nitpicking:


I HOPE YOU'RE
PAYING ATTENTION

Dark


There's actually a really helpful scene at the beginning showing each of the characters during the various time periods. I hope you're paying attention.

The pitch: imagine if Twin Peaks was about Donnie Darko.

I really liked this. I actually watched this before Mindhunter, it kind of kicked off the whole 'let's actually watch things on Netflix that aren't The Next Generation.'

Pros:

Really cool, original story. The more clichéd things are generally just frameworks to hang the rest of the story on. Seriously, there's not many time-travel programmes set in quiet German towns, so I can forgive there being an alcoholic (Mindhunter missed that one) cop with nothing to lose who's a loose cannon and plays by his own rules.


There's a spooky cave. I hope you're paying attention.

Cons:

Gob's Wife: I'm in love with your brother-in-law.
Gob: You're in love with your own brother? The one in the army?
Gob's Wife: No, your sister's husband.
Gob: Michael? Michael!
Gob's Wife: No, that's your sister's brother.
Gob: No, I'm my sister's brother. You're in love with me - me.
Gob's Wife: I'm in love with Tobias.
Gob: My brother-in-law?
Gob's Wife: I know it can never be, so I'm leaving. I'm enlisting in the army.
Gob: To be with your brother ...
Gob's Wife: No!

There's a bit of an overload of characters, some of them didn't really feel all that necessary to the story. So I must be officially old now, because all those German teenagers looked the same. Also, do yourself a favour and draw out family trees; because between all the time shifts, identical-looking German teenagers and inter-family conflicts, you're going to need it.

There's quite a few big questions left unanswered at the end of the series. It's not as if there's going to be a shortage of questions leading into Season 2. It really felt like there was an episode missing from the end of the season.


There's a bunch of teenagers. I hope you're paying attention.

Nitpicking



Extar, over, out.

Extar

'Why don't you tell me about your mother...' 'Let me tell you about my mother!'