Pop Culture

Currently Watching…and (Guiltily) Not While Grading…

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The Affair (Showtime): Every critic has commented about this particular drama’s play on the Rashomon effect — the same story told via different, even contradictory vantages/narrators, which serves to reinforce the concept of the “unreliable” narrator. We’re given a basic storyline: two wildly different married people, Noah and Alison, meet and have a torrid, lasting affair that has drastic effects upon everyone involved. It’s the kind of storyline where everyone has secrets, and we can’t seem to gauge the truth — the accurate vantage — from anyone whatsoever, which is what I find riveting about the series. During the first season, we were treated to only Noah and Alison’s perspectives. The second season, however, includes the viewpoints of the (now-ex) spouses, Cole and Helen, as well, granting us further subtle secrets and lies. It’s damned fine drama, and the acting from the primary four — Ruth Wilson (Alison), Dominic West (Cole), Maura Tierney (Helen), and Joshua Jackson (Cole) — superb.

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The Leftovers (HBO): I was on the fence about the first season of HBO’s version of the Tom Perrotta novel. The apocalyptic premise is intriguing — 2% of the worldwide population just mysteriously disappeared, leaving their loved ones in a perpetual state of despair and anguish, some of them even resorting to madness. We’re introduced to the small town of Mapleton, New York, where the local police chief, Kevin Garvey (played by the multi-talented Justin Theroux) and his family have been dealing with the aftermath of the “Sudden Departure” and its effects upon their community. I wasn’t particularly keen on the characters until the last few episodes during the town’s (and Kevin’s personal) dealings with the ever-silent, cigarette-puffing, white-clad cult of the nihilistic Guilty Remnants. The darker the show got, the more involving it became.

The second season’s first couple of episodes have since sucked me right in. It helps that we’ve moved along with Kevin and his (revamped) family to a different place entirely where they may start over — the Texas town of Jarden, where, supposedly, none of its residents had “departed.” The (quite literally) rumbling, shaky town has us meet a handful of new people, including the neighboring family-with-strange-secrets — fireman John Murphy (played by Kevin Carroll), who seems to be quite a dangerous force within the town itself; Dr. Erika Murphy (played by the fantastic Regina King), who’s perfectly aware that Jarden holds inexplicable phenomena; teenaged son Michael (Jovan Adepo), who sells “blessed” lake water to the tourists and mails the (truly) odd letter or two to the local mystic who perches like a greying Jesus up high on a platform overlooking the town centre; and teenaged daughter Evangeline (Jasmin Savoy Brown), “Evie,” a character who is just outright fascinating to me. Evie, supposedly epileptic as we’re told, has odd, brief blackouts and spends quite a bit of her free time swimming with her close friends in the local lake, a place that seems awfully… otherworldly…so much so that even scientists are interested in its contents. There’s an even stranger moment, a brief scene straight out of The Wicker Man, where we get a fleeting glimpse of Evie and her friends running naked through the woods. It’s totally random and more than a bit unnerving. Anyway, if the second season keeps up with those darkly surreal undertones, I’ll be sticking with it all the way.

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Joker

Gotham (FOX): I’d say it was a guilty pleasure, but why should I feel guilty about watching a television show now entirely dedicated to the rise of Batman’s nemeses? All of the cast is magical together, everyone from the iron-jawed Ben McKenzie as Police Chief James Gordon to Sean Pertwee as the beloved and (apparently) badass butler, Alfred Pennyworth. However, since season one, I’ve never been more impressed with the kids here. Whoever found the adorably catty Camren Bicondova to play Selina Kyle, channeling a young Michelle Pfeiffer…and the likes of Cameron Monaghan as the blatantly Joker-esque Jerome Veleska…deserves some serious casting awardage.

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Limitless (CBS): Wasn’t a big fan of the Bradley Cooper film the show’s based upon because it didn’t seem to go anywhere with its fun gimmick — a drug that opens up some crazy cerebral potential in its user. As a television show though, the gimmick seems to work. It doesn’t help that Limitless premiered around the same time as Fox’s Minority Report, and both shows involve “special” people helping out the law and order. However, while Minority Report has a wonderfully diverse cast, none of them were as quick to hold my attention as Jake McDorman as superdrug addict Brian Finch. It helps that Finch’s character is so charismatic, such a likable smartass, one can’t help but join in his addiction to garnering some serious super-smarts.

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The Walking Dead (AMC):  Of course, TWD has been more than a little touch-and-go. As with many successful television shows, there are bound be episodes one loathes (for me it was the entirety of season 2 minus the Carol and Daryl moments), and other episodes one loves. Still, TWD’s character developments have been quite something to witness (CAROL, anyone?). While I’m not a big fan of the overt Ricktatorship happening, I still find myself engrossed in their post-apocalyptic deep South — scary humanity, scary undead humanity, Michonne’s swordplay, and all the rest.

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Fargo (FX): The first season was darkly hilarious with traces of Coen all over. Martin Freeman as henpecked-turned-psychopath insurance salesman Lester Nygaard and Billy Bob Thornton as the satanic chaos-maker of a hitman, Lorne Malvo, were absolutely pitch-perfect in their roles. However, the standout was relative newcomer Allison Tolman as Molly Solverson, a sweet-natured, sharp as a tack police deputy struggling to solve crimes alongside the imbeciles she’s forced to work with after the murder of their sheriff.

Season two seems to be in line with season one, covering the plotline of the case that Allison’s father, Lou Solverson (played in season one by Keith Carradine and in season two by Patrick Wilson), played a hand in solving. The tenor feels the same — darkly hilarious with characters that are just weird and wacky. Hopefully, the second season plays out as well as the first. So far though, so good.

 

NOTE: Any other recommendations for the fall season at all would be most welcome, of course, and thank you very much for assisting in destroying any semblance of a social live I may (or may not) have.

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13 thoughts on “Currently Watching…and (Guiltily) Not While Grading…

  1. I’ve gotten sucked into watching “The Affair”… Odd, cause that’s just not the typical thing I’ve ever sought out to watch. With Gotham I was expecting something of a dark and gritty noire crime drama and less the insane thing that it’s become but I’ve become more addicted to the crazy thing. I enjoyed this season’s premiere of The Walking Dead but I’m gonna admit that I’m developing some zombie burnout. Of course, I’m all over Fargo. I love reading these kinds of enteries from you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! I ought to have added in more, but I thought I’d just comment on what’s on right now. Really enjoyed Mr. Robot, for example, but Jesus Christ, I wish those sorts of wacko, hallucinating characters would stop listening to the Pixies’ “Where Is My Mind?” (Kevin in The Leftovers…SAME THING!).

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      • I’ve not managed to catch Mr. Robot yet (lol the auto-correct on my lack of smarts phone wanted Robot to be “toboy” —is that even a real word?). I’ve been pretty lax with my TV watching lately. There’s a lot I want to watch and never seem to catch. I’m either working too many evenings or the mini-mes are fighting over the remote.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I find myself with stacks of papers in front of the box (and I really should stop it and just clean my damned desk). Also, I grew up with limited television available, so it’s great to be a grownup, paying for my own (outrageous) cable bills, making those sorts of choices.

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      • We certainly have more options now then when I was a kid. Back where I’m from and back then basic cable was about 4 or 5 other channels in addition to the networks. Now I pay for a lot of cool digital stuff so the boys can fight over the remote lol. It does seem that the last few years has seen a higher caliber of show emerge, especially on the pay channels. TV interests me a lot more than movies nowadays. Most of them seem to have cost a zillion dollars to make with a hundred super heroes each falling all over each other. One of my big guilty pleasure shows was Hannibal and naturally it got cancelled lol. There’s a lot I’m looking forward to next year (especially The X-Files revival).

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  2. Your cable bills must be truly monstrous right enough. I wasnt even aware of half of these! So cheers, very glad to have read. The movie limitless is my all time favourite trash movie. I seriously enjoy watching that thing time and time again. I know you’ve said you’re not a fan there. Will have to check out the series. And they’ve moved in the leftovers- cool. Where is my mind is also on the end of fight club where he may or may not be hallucinating the business district being demolished!

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    • I think it’s now a staple, that Pixies’ song, ever since Fincher’s film. I’ve now caught it three times — in the Leftovers, Mr. Robot, and in Eli Roth’s horrid version of Funny Games, Knock Knock — like a staple to signal the madness. Anyway, regarding my cable bill, it isn’t so bad, really, since I’ve a package deal that includes internet as well (had I not included everything, it would’ve been hella expensive for each add-on). Hope you enjoy the new season of The Leftovers and the new series, Limitless (since you loved the film…it’s better, I think). Thanks for commenting/checking this out as ever!

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      • I was vaguely interested in watching knock knock. Funny games US was good. Bully is my fave Michael Pitt film. It’s really great. I have a package too. Its not ever cheap but still don’t get the shiny new series’. If you like documentaries may I recommend the ‘decline of western civilisation’ series, or rather part 3, which is the only one Ive seen so far- last night. Best thing Ive watched in many months.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Knock Knock was ever so stupid and pointless and boring. For all the riffing he gets for being too over the top with his films, Eli Roth seriously held back, which I think hindered the film (that and the awful acting by the two female leads and Keanu Reeves).

        Will have to check out the docu series (part 3)–Have heard of the series itself. Not usually into documentaries, but I find myself watching one from time to time.

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