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)
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)
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.
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.
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!