Like many others, the pandemic and sheltering in place has left me with more than the usual amount of spare time. Mostly I’ve been catching up on some reading (making some decent inroads into my shelf of shame), but it’s also given me some time to watch some of the many new(ish) TV series while they’re still pretty fresh – usually I’m years behind on this kind of stuff. For example, I only watched The Wire about a good decade after the first season was aired. (The last few major series I watched somewhat close to their original release times were the Sopranos, Mad Men and Galactica– and I still haven’t seen the last seasons of the latter two).
So I finally decided to take advantage of the pretty extensive IPTV package we pay for with our internet and land-line, which includes HBO on Demand – basically the equivalent of HBO Max over in my corner of the world. Besides Watchmen, which I covered in greater depth a few weeks ago, here are my thoughts on a few other series I’ve watched over the past few months:
*heavy sigh* I really wanted to like this, but mostly it’s been kind of oddly disappointing. It’s really got a lot going for it, though. The basic premise – an interplanetary cruise ship that gets knocked off course slightly, so it’ll take 3 years instead of 8 weeks to get back home – is pretty solidly funny. The cast – including Hugh Laurie, Josh Gad, Suzy Nakamura and Zach Woods – is top notch. And there are so many funny bits in each episode. But as a whole, they never really seem to gel for me. If the second season ever gets released, though, I may still watch it in the hopes that it’ll get better.
I saw this getting recommended all over the place, so I gave it a watch. On the whole, I can’t say I liked it very much. Granted, a show about a killer for hire (the titular Barry, played by Bill Hader) decides he wants to make a career switch to acting after a (botched) assignment in LA, is kind of darkly humorous. And I liked the first few episodes well enough. But after a while I found it a bit of struggle to sit through them (although I did soldier on to the end because so far there are only two eight-episode seasons). To some extent, I just found it hard to stay interested in a series in which the protagonist is a blithely remorseless killer, but there’s also some individual aspects that made me say, “Wha, huh?” (e.g., the romance between Henry Winkler’s character and the police detective, the occasional strokes of good fortune that Barry has that keep him from getting completely busted, or the little ninja girl in the second season). A third season is apparently in the works, but I doubt I’ll be watching it.
Damn, I so loved the first season, but I’m not as enamored with the second (which is currently stalled at the ninth episode). Although every single episode is extremely well made and compelling, the last few have left me vaguely dissatisfied – mainly I think I just want the show to move on from the various members of the team dealing with their personal problems and start interacting more with the wider world (so far, only Cyborg seems to be doing that to some extent). Also, the story arc involving the Chief and his daughter made less and less sense to me as the second season progressed. Hopefully that’s something that gets resolved/explained satisfactorily in the coming episodes, whenever they may appear.
Great fun. It’s kind of like My So-called Life (probably the only teen angst show I’ve ever liked) but with superpowers. Yeah, it’s not very original, there are some clichéd aspects to the storytelling, but I found the series thoroughly enjoyable. It’s mostly light-hearted, but also has it’s serious moments. The casting is great, especially Luke Wilson as a middle-aged Pat Dugan/Stripesy (er, sorry, I mean S.T.R.I.P.E.), and, of course, the very bubbly and likeable Brec Bassinger as Courtney/Stargirl.
It’s still ongoing, with seven of the ten episodes released so far, but I just had to mention it because it really lives up to the hype: the horror is genuinely horrifying and unsettling, and the treatment of underlying themes (especially racism in America) is equally unsettling and thought-provoking. And it’s so damned good!