Recent TV

I imagine all of you are going to be watching a lot more TV in the next few weeks. If you're looking for recommendations, may I direct you to my reviews tag, where I have written a lot of these micro-snark summaries.

Moving on:

I Am Not Ok With This: it's basically "Impulse" as a comedy with 20 minute long episodes. Pretty funny. A fine entry in the burgeoning "unwanted superpowers in a mundane world" genre.

BTW, watch "Impulse" again, it was so, so good.

High Fidelity: This is amazing. I was a huge fan of the Cusack movie, and this is even better. It's nearly Fleabag.

Harley Quinn (movie): This was really fun! It's basically Margot Robbie's Deadpool, down to the backstory: "Actor plays a great character in a shitty movie, becomes possessed by that character, becomes executive producer of their own movie of that character, which completely nails it."

Harley Quinn (cartoon): This is the greatest DC cartoon series ever made. It had not occurred to me that what was missing from these stories was lots and lots of swearing. But it is. It really, really is.

Johnny Mnemonic: I watched this in the theatre recently. I'm pretty sure this was only the second time I've seen this, and the first time was in the theatre for its first run. I hated it at the time: not only was it a poor example of the nascent cyberpunk genre, I found it just a really poor pastiche of Gibson's books, which I loved the shit out of. But watching it again, in 2020 (the movie is set in 2021), it's... better. Today, it's more about a 1995 vision of the future, so it's just retro kitch, more about the past than the future. I was kind of into it for about the first half, and then it goes pretty flat. The acting is poor, even for the genre-standards of the time. Honestly, when your best performances come from Henry Rollins and Ice T, what are you even doing? Nothing against those gentlemen, I enjoy their work, but they're not exactly what you'd consider heavy hitters.

Why would you even watch this when you could be watching Strange Days instead? Strange Days is the only Gibson adaptation we will ever need, even though it wasn't actually an adaptation of his work, except in only the important ways.

Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist: Woman starts hallucinating elaborate musical numbers. I really wanted to like this... but I could not. It's a fun idea, and it's in the same space as Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, but first of all, the songs are just... bad. Like, "bachelorette party at karaoke" bad. The choreography is fun but the song choice just so schlocky. Also the office-drama subplot is intolerably poorly written. This seems to have been written not only by someone who has never managed anyone, but possibly someone who has never had an office job, or possibly any job at all.

Briarpatch: Small town noir-ish murder mystery. It's fine so far.

Danzig's Verotika: I was unable to prevent myself from clicking on this car crash. Wowwwwww this is like, what if "Suicide Girls" was a series on Cinemax in 1992.

No subtitle has ever subtitled more accurately.
Devs: This seemed like it was going to be some stupid "Silicon Valley" story, but it's not, it's a very, very simple corporate murder story -- but it has pretensions of depth through its soundtrack of overwrought Kubrickian shrieks. As we pan across a hideous open-plan office done up in a "Trump's Shitter" color scheme, listen to the howling and buzzing from 2001's "Monolith reveal" or "stargate" scenes. What are you even doing. The sound design is cool and all but it's really wallpapering over the fact that there's not a lot here.

Avenue 5: BRB self-isolating with Incompetent Captain Dr. House. This is very, very funny!

October Faction: It's basically Supernatural as a high school drama if their dad hadn't left. So it's "All about fambly". The first half of the season is kind of a test pattern, but once they get around to doing the obvious turn of, "Maybe the real monsters were the friends we made along the way", it gets somewhat better.

Locke and Key: I could almost paste the October Faction review here.

Altered Carbon 2: Snooooore. See my previous review.


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13 Responses:

  1. MattyJ says:

    I'd say that Devs is very Alex Garland-y. He's certainly got a schtick. I kinda like the schtick so this is working for me so far.

    With the disclaimer that I have never read a Stephen King book, I liked The Outsiders. It's held together mostly with great performances from the actors but might be worth watching for some.

    Okay, back to the Friends marathon ...

  2. ennui says:

    if you describe 'I Am Not Ok With This' as what-if-Carrie-was-a-teenage-lesbian-superhero, you can get a sense of how much better it could have been.

  3. I've been watching Kingdom and loving it. Very much a Game-Of-Thrones vibe, but in ancient Korea. It has political intrigue, literally zombies (not blue walkers), and a different perspective on the genre than most things I've seen.

  4. Waider says:

    I read an interview with Gibson years back where he observed that the US release of Johnny Mnemonic was a Sony movie, not a Bill Gibson movie, and that the Japanese release was closer to what he had in mind. Being a young IT professional with spare cash I promptly ordered the Japanese release from Amazon Japan. It's probably not actually much better, but it's the only version I've seen. Honestly, I really liked the whole "cyberspace" bit with the data glove and the would-now-be-just-regular-VR headset; I thought it was a better depiction of the sort of noodling approach you might take to breaking into something online than a lot of other attempts.

    (because despite whichever Matrix movie it was, noone /really/ wants to sit through someone running a ssh exploit...)

  5. Aracan says:

    I quite liked Johnny Mnemonic at the time, if only for that brilliant "I WANT ROOM SERVICE!!!" moment.

  6. Rich says:

    I'm glad someone enjoyed Avenue 5, because they seem to have edited out all the funny bits in the two episodes I saw.

    • Yeah, I kept trying to get into it but it was just... bad. Nonsensical. And corny.

    • DenverDave says:

      RE: Avenue 5: It's a really strange build for 30 min episodes, but once the momentum starts, it's a bizarre 'laugh-out-loud at how horrible people are' dark ride. It's hard not to draw parallels to the phony nature of just about everything in our culture.

      RE: Zoey's: Barely could watch 1 episode.. kind of a horrible tie-in to try to get people to buy music again? Unsure.

      RE: Briarpatch: Liking this as a follow on from Mr. Robot - same depth of flawed characters and interesting twists.. less weighted on tech.

  7. Moofie says:

    I would add three more shows: Deutschland 83, Coupling (the British version), and Cowboy Bebop. I rewatched Cowboy Bebop recently and it is as good as I remember, Coupling is a little more sitcom than I remember, but still very funny.

  8. Spike says:

    I rewatched Strange Days not that long ago. It's amazing how well it holds up. Despite being 25 years old and set 20 years ago, it doesn't feel dated. The only glaring thing is the reliance on land-lines. At least they auto-transcribe voicemail. ;-)

  9. Pinback says:

    Until The End of the World was released on Blu-ray by The Criterion Collection, early this year. I watched the first disc a few weeks back, and am looking for a focused night to finish off the second.

    I picked up The Holy Mountain in that same order. That was fun, if for no other reason than the 'What is this!?' questions my spouse asked while I was watching it.

    Yeah, physical media is passe, but it is nice to not be tying up the bandwidth you're using for WFH.

    Looper was an enjoyable re-watch. CBGB was an enjoyable re-watch. Passengers was a good watch-with-the-spouse movie, for the $3.49 the DVD cost.

  10. Jason Kaczor says:

    Finally binged Mr.Robot from start to end. Not bad - the 'tech' was good, but could have ended better, felt like a bit of a cop-out.

    Devs - only on E2, so - not bad, "atmospheric", which I forgive many things for.

    Some from 'crapple' (don't ask me how I watched these, but it rhymes with hit-or-rent):

    Amazing Stories (2020) - meh, only watched the pilot so far.

    For All Mankind - Top notch, excellent - highly recommended.

    See - So overworked, pretentious, stupidly unbelievable and ultimately - boring.

    The Outsider - not bad - worth watching.

    Avenue 5 - loving it.

    Picard - meh, I had hoped it would be better.

    Treadstone - well, initially I thought... nice execution within the "Jason Bourne universe"... But, after about 3 episodes, I began to question things... If all of these sleeper agents require constant supervisory 'handlers', how is that efficient from cost-benefit analysis? Can't the handlers who are also living as 'normal people' just execute missions as needed without the burden of activating a sleeper who may wig-out or be essentially random? At some point, the number of handlers reaches ludicrous levels - sure, it is black-book budget, but seems like too much overhead - the more people in the mix, the greater the chance that something is going to leak.

    The Boys - very very good.

    Hunters - interesting, well done, worth watching.

    Westworld S3 - waiting for the whole season to finish airing.

    Fargo - What the heck! Delayed? - if it was supposed to premiere "now/soon", shouldn't it already be "in the can"?

    Black Sumer S2 - huh, I thought it was supposed to be released this week - but apparently filming had just begun - so... delayed.

    OTOH - I have noticed that speeds of file downloads have increased dramatically this week - thanks everyone for staying home and seeding...

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