My TV Update: Summer Catch-Up Edition

by Matthew Thompson

I sort of lost control of my TV-watching around May, so even before my little summer blog break this past month, I wasn’t making many television posts. I have slowly recovered over time and decided I would jump back into the TV blogging game by checking in on a few of the shows that I’ve been watching this summer or just caught up with recently. Here it goes!

Stranger Things (Netflix)

Stranger Things

This new Netflix drama from the Duffer Brothers is a throwback to fiction from the ’80s, with Steven Spielberg and Stephen King being the most common comparisons. It’s a little sci-fi. It’s a little supernatural. It’s a little bit horror. There’s a young girl with abilities, a government conspiracy and hints of a monster lurking in the shadows. They create a palpable atmosphere and develop some genuine, worthwhile mysteries here. Some of the kids can really act and it has an absolutely killer soundtrack. Beyond all that I must laud the pacing. The way the various storylines come together in the last few episodes was rather brilliant and very satisfying. Despite being born in the ’80s, I don’t have a particularly strong nostalgia for the period, but that didn’t stop me from being impressed with Stranger Things. At only eight episodes, it isn’t a big time commitment and an easy recommendation.

The Night Of (HBO)

The Night Of

I finally dove into HBO’s new miniseries The Night Of this past week and… wow! Absolutely riveting stuff. Despite having a good idea where things were headed for Naz as the titular night of progressed – partly because I knew the general premise of the show and partly because you can just feel the way it’s going – the first episode is about as tense as it gets. Numerous times I found my head in my hands or my mouth agape at some of the circumstances that were arising. My eyes were glued to the screen for that initial hour. From there, The Night Of seems to be aiming to look at different aspects of the criminal justice system and how they will affect all those involved in the events of that night, the ensuing investigation and trial. It has been fascinating thus far.

Casual (Hulu)

Casual

This isn’t an important show. It’s one of these light, half-hour dramedies that have become more in vogue in recent years. It’s about well-to-do white people’s casual – hence the name – dating lives. But it is genuinely funny, not always the case with these types of shows. I like the odd relationships shared by the core trio of characters – a middle-aged woman named Valerie, her brother Alex and her daughter Laura. I like the cast from those three to Valerie’s-date-turned-Alex’s-friend Leon to some of the women Alex dates including one of my favorite actresses Eliza Coupe, who I adored in her roles on Happy Endings and Scrubs, as well as Britt Lower from Man Seeking Woman, who I was happy to see in something else. This isn’t a must-watch like the above two shows, but I find myself really looking forward to each new weekly episode now that I have caught up which is the sign of something good for me.

Preacher (AMC)

Preacher

The pilot of Preacher is one of the most insane episodes of television I have seen in a long time. It’s all over the place and pretty wild. While the absurdity of the whole thing remains appealing throughout the season, I found its scattershot nature ended up working against it. Some of that ultimately pays off in the end, namely the old West storyline. Some of it doesn’t though especially given how things are reset at season’s end. I also found myself a little bored during the middle stretch of the season. Still I really like the world here with its angels and demons and otherworldly powers mixed in with typical earthly people and settings. And it is hard to deny it delivers some truly memorable moments – the angel fight in the motel and Tulip’s introduction come to mind for instance. From what I gather, it is only just delving into the comic material as the season ended, so perhaps next season will be more consistent. I got enough enjoyment out of this freshman outing that I will likely be back for Season 2.

That will do it for this post. I didn’t include a few other summer shows I’m watching, like Mr. Robot and Scream, in hopes that I will give them their own post at some point. I should be back with a similar gaming-themed update to this one soon. From there I hope to return to my more typical posting patterns. As always, thanks for reading!

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6 comments on “My TV Update: Summer Catch-Up Edition

  1. I’ve been hearing good things about The Night Of and reading your thoughts on it definitely makes me want to check it out right after I catch up with Preacher. Preacher’s pilot didn’t hold back and it got me hooked. The pace slowed down but it does enough to make me want to keep watching the next episode. I think I have 3 more to go. I’m very satisfied with how Stranger Things closed out the season, it’s one of those shows that I think appeal to a broad audience. It’s got horror but nothing too gory and the strong acting to ground the supernatural elements. Great post and nice to see you are back from your blogging break!

  2. I have to check out The Night Of. I’ve heard it’s really good and your description makes it sound it’s right up my ally. I’ve watched two episodes of Stranger Things and I’m enjoying it so far.

    I completely loved Preacher and how utterly absurd it was. These episodes were more of a prequel to what happens in the comic book. I read the comics years ago when it came out and I need to get them out again to refresh my memory on things. I thought the casting was very good (Cassidy is perfect!). The old west scenes could definitely be confusing for anyone who is not familiar with the comics since the connection was revealed so late. Really looking forward to next season and seeing how much more absurd it can get!

  3. I finally got around to Jane the Virgin. FANTASTIC. Great writing. Great everything. I was blown away and pretty much plowed through two seasons on Netflix.

    I didn’t like Stranger Things. It was all the stuff I hated in one show. I stopped watching but went back after all the hype became over-bearing. I came of age in the 80’s so I remember it well. The show is not for me. And personally I didn’t think those kids could act. Maybe that’s just how kids sound… like whiny little brats. I guess I just couldn’t identify with it.

    So then I tried The Get Down. 70’s New York. Blacks and Latinos. rap music. Should be up my alley. I got 5 minutes into the second episode and just couldn’t watch anymore. Here is a show about music with the worse music. And I like Baz Luhrmann… a lot. This was made by people who have no idea about the time period or the city. So annoying.

    I didn’t like Preacher either but I stayed with it and I’m kind of glad I did. It swung back and forth between annoying me and being pretty cool. I’ll watch season two. I wasn’t a fan of the comic. I had a friend who was all into it and kept trying to get me to read it. I couldn’t get past the boy with the ass face.

    I haven’t even heard anything about the other two shows from HBO and Hulu. I’ll check ’em out. Loving Mr Robot again after they revealed why it’s been so weird for the first half of this season. I should have realized. I figured out what was going on in the first season pretty early but this one I didn’t get. I kept trying to figure out which character wasn’t real. And this last episode was the best of the season so far. Still a great show.

    • Glad to hear you loved Jane the Virgin! You how much I enjoy that show, so that is awesome news to hear. I didn’t like The Night Of quite as much as the season went on, but it is still worth a shot I think. I’ve definitely been enjoying Mr. Robot again this season as well. It’s quite different, but still very cool.

      I just subscribed to Amazon Instant so I’m hoping to try out a couple you recommended on there soon in Mozart in the Jungle and The Man in the High Castle. I’ve also recently started Halt and Catch Fire on Netflix which I think I recall being another favorite of yours (sorry could be mixing that one up!). Should be a very Mel-inspired month of TV for me as I catch up on these!

      • Halt & Catch Fire is one of my favorite shows. They just came back with a third season. The Man in the High Castle is phenomenal and I can’t wait until it comes back. And Amazon just piloted a new The Tick. Watch it and vote it up so they can make more. I love the way Amazon does their pilot season and just puts it up to a vote. The best thing this season is The Tick. I’m hoping everybody votes for it. Mel month sounds cool. I was completely blown away by Jane. The writing is fantastic. I was addicted to it so quickly. It was like crack. So funny and so layered. And I love the way it makes fun of itself. And I love the way they make you fall in love with the flawed characters. Petra is my favorite character. Love her. She’s so tragic. And Jane’s father is another one. The layers make it one of the best written shows on TV. It was made to binge watch. And the grandmother, don’t get me started on the grandmother. She understands English perfectly. Nuance, idioms, sarcasm. She gets it all. And still only speaks in Spanish. I love that. Seriously, after two episodes I was already thinking it’s one of the best shows on TV and it stayed consistently good for two seasons. And the girl still hasn’t had sex. (and she’s hot too) Impressive.

        • Oh man Petra is my favorite as well with Rogelio close behind. Another thing I love are the captions and narrator. Those both crack me up. Such a cleverly constructed show. I’m going to add The Tick pilot to my watchlist as well.

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