Thursday, September 26, 2019

TV Roundup: Semi-Inaugural Edition

Hard to believe, but this is actually the first TV Roundup post I've written that isn't completely about Black Mirror. Sure, I've talked about what (non-anime) shows I've been watching in numerous Status Update posts, but I've never devoted an entire post solely to them - until now. So, here we go! (Oh, and tread carefully, for there will be spoilers.)

Stranger Things
We start off with a show that, back in May, I said that I had yet to check out. Then, on the eve of their Season 3 premiere in July, I decided, "okay, maybe I'll give it a shot now." And hoo boy, am I glad I did. Here are some actual things I said out loud to my TV while catching up on the first two seasons:

"OMG this show is so good!" (~174 times)
"The awesomeness-per-second ratio of this show is completely off the charts" (~57 times)
"Why hasn't anyone told me about this before? Oh, right - they have" (~90 times)

So, now I understand what all the buzz was about. After finishing Season 3, I read that the show had originally been rejected by fifteen different networks, mostly because it had - in the words of the late, great Blake Snyder - a "Double Mumbo Jumbo" element; i.e., two different magical elements happening at the same time, which in this case means Eleven's powers running alongside the whole paranormal thing. Well, needless to say, I think it works just fine. If you haven't seen this show yet, I strongly recommend you stop whatever it is you're doing - and yes, that includes reading this blog post - and go watch it.

The Boys
I have to admit, I wasn't familiar with this show's source material beforehand. Shame on me, because this show (so far, anyway) is so, so good. There were a few elements that normally would raise some eyebrows among literary critics, like the "fridging" of Hugh's girlfriend Robin and the one-in-a-million-chance park bench meeting between Hugh and Annie, but as I watched some more, I realized that all of those moments were actually part of the satire - or, at least, they appeared to be. Either way, it doesn't matter, because the whole thing is incredibly watchable. The one thing I noticed that the show does especially well is conflict. Lots and lots of conflict between characters in every scene, which helps to propel things along. Definitely not kid-friendly, but great fun for adult fans of dark - very dark - comedy.

Speaking of dark, this show - one of the live-action Japanese dramas I mentioned a couple of weeks ago - is a darker spin on the usual "body swap" tale (Freaky Friday, etc.) that delves into subjects like bullying, suicide, and body image issues. There are also some fun comedic elements as well, though, like when - spoiler alert - the four lead characters embark on a complex switching scheme that requires each actor to portray the other characters in turn. Rated TV-MA, it's not a show for kids, but I think that mature teens could handle it well enough.

The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance
The "dark" theme continues! If, like me, you're a fan of the original The Dark Crystal movie from 1982, then, like me, I'm sure you were pretty stoked when you heard that this series - a prequel set before the events of the film - was coming out. And I'm also sure that you (like me) finished watching it weeks ago, and that you were completely blown away by it. Right? Right. Man, was it good. Even if you're not a fan of the film, I would highly recommend checking this out. Great writing (despite a couple of small hand-wavy parts) and even greater artistry that remains faithful to Jim Henson's original vision while still pushing way past the boundaries of what you would expect from what is essentially a fancy puppet show. I think I saw somewhere on the Internet where someone described it as "Game of Thrones with puppets." While not quite that extreme, it - spoiler alert - definitely doesn't pull punches in the body count department. Also, the ending - spoiler alert - may not have been quite what people would have been expecting, leaving ample room for more seasons (to which I say: yes, please.) Oh, and if you haven't done so already, make sure to check out the feature-length documentary The Crystal Calls - Making The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance. Trust me, it will blow your flippin' mind.

The Good Place
And that brings us to a series that I randomly stumbled upon some time ago while sifting through the innumerable choices on Netflix. I watched the two available seasons, enjoyed them, and wondered when the third was going to come out. Only then did I discover - because apparently I live under a rock - that this was actually a network TV show on NBC whose third season had already concluded! Fortunately, I was able to catch up with it recently, and am now anxiously awaiting the fourth and final season which will premiere tonight.

Coming up next week: a status update on the SPSU (Second Player Shared Universe)!

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