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What are we watching?


#1

So I see a thread on video games, board games (though that was hella difficult to find) and also books, but nothing on TV! Maybe this could be a place for a “what are you watching/what TV shows do you think don’t get enough love?” thread? :smile:

I’ll start things off.

Things I am watching:
Archer - really funny show that is still entertaining for me. On balance, Archer Vice is a bit better than season 6.
Rick and Morty - “Dan Harmon” was enough to sell me, as I’m a long-time fan of Community (that movie is going to happen, damnit!) but this show is legitimately really excellent and goes to some really dark/interesting places. Get Schwifty can f**k off, though.
Daredevil and Jessica Jones - I’m getting a bit tired of the Marvel movies, but these two Netflix shows have been really fabulous. Daredevil rocked and I’m 2/3 of the way through JJ so no spoilers please! I need to finish it before I figure out my opinion of it, but thus far it’s excellent.
Bojack Horseman - Ooooh look, another animated show and another Netflix show! This show is so funny and bleak (often at the same time) and despite the main character being an anthropomorphic horse, has the most human writing I’ve seen on TV for so long. I think western animation is doing very well for itself right now.
Doctor Who - Not much I need to say here.
Game of Thrones - Ditto.
Breaking Bad - The show I only watch with my girlfriend and therefore watch an episode of once every month or so. It’s there, on my Netflix, calling to me, but I promised I’d be good.

Shows that I think need more love:
Warehouse 13 - yeah it’s goofy, an X-files ripoff and the acting isn’t always great (they try, bless), but the entirely compelling premise kept me coming back every time. It’s worth a watch, honestly and it improved itself over time. The series arcs got better and better.
Avatar TLOA and Korra - this show gets a bit of love but I don’t think it’s received many reviews or coverage. That’s a pity as it’s really excellent and Korra managed to settle on its tone in style (season 1 has its moments but is a bit mixed, season 2 is awful, but endure it because 3 is superb and 4 is very good).

Phew that’s a fair bit, but I hope it gets the ball rolling!


#2

I watch/have watched most of those you mentioned. Some others that I recently watched:

Mr. Robot (Amazon Prime) - caught me with the hype train and the “Best tv show since Breaking Bad”. Yeah, well, it didn’t quite live up to that. There are some interesting concepts and some interesting decisions in the show, but there also blatantly boring and stupid parts. Also, I called the twist from episode one. I’d give it a 6.5 out of 10, but will watch season 2 just to see how they continue it.

River (Netflix) - interesting detective show. I’m fascinated by how many protagonists suffer from rather severe psychological problems. Was interesting, but once again - called the twist after five minutes, called the true murderer after half the show. Basically on my “They always chose the biggest possible tragedy” theory (my theory is that the writers of these shows always chose the murder by thinking “What would be the biggest possible tragedy that could happen?”, if you couldn’t get it from the name).

The seven deadly Sins (Netflix) - It’s an interesting if very classical Anime of “likable boy hides monstrous power inside him, what does it all mean?”

From Dusk till Dawn (Netflix) - Season one was great, haven’t found time to watch season two yet.

Narcos (Netflix) - Set in the time of the big drug lords and especially the life of Pablo Escobar. Very interesting for me, and I’m really glad that long stretches of the series are spoken in Spanish, which makes the whole thing feel more realistic, even if I have to make heavy use of subtitles.

Hannibal (Netflix) - BEAUTIFUL series about everybody’s favorite cannibal. Unbelievable nice choreography, sets and costumes. For the pure joy of the imagery alone this series would be great to watch, but the story is also not bad.

Sense8 (Netflix) - Very good series with very gripping storys and fascinating characters. Hope they can keep it up for Season 2

Fargo (Series) (Netflix) - Didn’t like the movie, loved the series.

Black Mirror (Netflix) - Nice “twilight zonish” mini series about the near future and the impact of (social) media on society.

House of cards (Netflix) - Well, duh. If you haven’t watched this why on earth are you wasting time reading this? Go watch it NOW!

Modern Family (Netflix) - Nice comedy series. We watched it twice, and the wife isn’t usually a fan of comedy stuff like this.

Vikings (Amazon Prime) - Interesting look into the viking world, if a bit bloody.

Crossbones (Amazon Prime) - Fascinating pirate drama with john malcovich as an elderly Blackbeard ruling over his pirate island. Alas, there will be no second season.

That’s all I can think of for now…


#3

Narcos, Hannibal and House of Cards are all on my list of things I really want to see. Especially House of Cards, which just seems to have fallen through my radar even though I’ve seen and really enjoyed the British version. I’ll have to get on its case ASAP…


#4

Tristan: I barely watch anything anymore, but we’ve been slowly going through Firefly again after playing games on our boardgame nights.


#5
Tristan: I barely watch anything anymore, but we've been slowly going through Firefly again after playing games on our boardgame nights.

May I ask why?

I for one think we live in the golden age of television. Producers and actors have recognized that a tv series is pretty much just a better long form movie. We get amazing stories that could not be done in a movie setting, and with things like amazon prime and netflix we can watch the shows we like whenever we want, how often we want and as fast as we want.

I think we couldn’t have it better…


#6

Just wanted to add that I finished Bojack Season 2 over the past few days and find myself… incredibly frustrated.

The last episode is just a bit weird/bad and the penultimate episode is one I’d heard people raving about. I went in with those expectations and the hype killed it for me, I found it so disappointing as a result and quite predictable. That’s a shame because I think I’m the only person who dislikes the episode and it rather ruined it for me.

As it is, the show seems like a flawed masterpiece - 10 really sensational episode but then it just derailed a bit at the end for me. I’d be curious to hear what other people thought? Staying sensitive to spoilers ofc :slight_smile:


#7

I’m kind of surprised. 6 posts and nobody mentioned The Wire. Can’t let that happen!

Right now I’m watching Fargo, which is awesome even in season 2 (I didn’t expect that), Seinfeld (almost finished with that one, it is funnier than I thought it would be) and The Man in the High Castle which is based on a book by Philip K. Dick, in which the US lost WWII and are divided into a Japanese and German zone. Up to now I really like it.

A shoutout to part of my backlog: Mr. Robot, Outlander, Person of Interest, The American


#8

Man, The Wire has been so long, I hardly remember it. Just that it was awesome. And while we are there, let’s not forget The Shield, the best series about corrupt cops going from bad to worse that you’ll ever watch.


#9

The Wire is a show that I was too young to see when it originally came out. I need to watch that one ASAP. That and The Sopranos.

Would you recommend Man In the High Castle, @Boronian? I’m tempted but have heard mixed things.

If we’re talking shows I’ve historically enjoyed, Battlestar Galactica is really good, with some qualifications: the pace is a bit slow at times and that shows its age more than more modern shows. Also, it gets just… weird at the end.

Also I’m going to keep beating this drum and saying that the BBC’s Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell was excellent - quite easily one of my favourite Beeb dramas recently.


#10

I’m probably watching less TV at the moment than at any point in my life up to now, because toddler. SOME STUFF THOUGH:

I… kind of think I love Empire? I mean, “soapy hip-hop melodrama” is so profoundly Not Aimed At Me but it’s SO bonkers and hurtles along SO fast and Taraji P. Henson gives me life and oh my god it’s just fantastic.

With the sad lamented passing of Parks & Recreation the title of reigning Best Comedy On TV passes to You’re The Worst, which as a sort-of-affectionate study of kind of terrible people is very much Not Going To Be Everyone’s Cup Of Tea but really works for me.

You know what’s great? Pointless is great. It’s a brilliant idea for a quiz show - kind of reverse Family Fortunes/Feud, where instead of trying to guess the most obvious, popular answers to questions you’re instead trying to get the most obscure answers possible - but what puts it over the top are Alexander Armstrong and Richard Osman, aka The Most Congenial Men In The History Of Daytime Television. They’ve done like 850 episodes and frankly they should never be allowed to stop.


#11

Catching up on the nearly faultless Gravity Falls. Recently watched Jessica Jones in a marathon with my sister. Missed two episodes of the marathon and wasn’t lost in the slightest which … I consider that a bad sign. I want to like it. It seems to have a lot of what its doing down quite nicely. But it makes a couple of key missteps that keep it from being more than just watchable, albeit incredibly watchable. It’s one of those funny things where a number of relatively small details keep it on the cusp of a HUGE differential in quality. It’s also a shame it feels the need to be so grim, all the way down to the color palette. It’s kinda like catching five minutes of Supernatural while flipping channels and while I stick around longer (almost a whole season) than five minutes, that feeling never quite goes away.


#12
Avatar TLOA and Korra - this show gets a bit of love but I don't think it's received many reviews or coverage. That's a pity as it's really excellent and Korra managed to settle on its tone in style (season 1 has its moments but is a bit mixed, season 2 is awful, but endure it because 3 is superb and 4 is very good).

I bounced off TLA the first time my partner tried to show it to me because I couldn’t get past the juvenile dialog; it worked, it made sense, but it wasn’t quite my thing. I caught an episode here and there though and the later seasons were much more watchable. She eventually succeeded in getting me into Korra. The dialog was better, and out of the gate the animation was better. The first season was utterly fantastic. Sadly, it had some world-building problems. As the spirit-world building grew, the world-building stagnated at an already slightly disappointing place and the fight choreography went downhill steadily across all of Korra’s seasons as did the character development. While the moment-to-moment dialog and storytelling continued to do quite well for Korra and the seasonal villains, crucial side characters kept fading in and out and warping inconsistently around the bones of their season 1 storytelling arcs.

That might sound a bit grim, but I want to stress that it was still really good. It’s just you can feel the talent straining under rushed deadlines and low budgets. I don’t know for sure that’s what happened, but I’d bet money on it. It has an unmistakable feel, that pressure. The key thing that makes it really good even after Season 1 despite all this (well, Season 3 makes you almost forget you’re upset about the show forgetting the secondary characters exist, really) is that the high points throughout all of this are really, really high and the low points never fall below average. Maybe in the season 4 finale with the big

robot fight and with the villain’s late-arc being off-kilter
. But that’s pretty much it. Even the disappointing fights are primarily disappointing because you know what they can do with choreography and the lovely animation when they’re really trying, and the emotional stakes of the fights are usually high enough that they mostly get away with it.

The First Avatar sequence is some of the most wonderful animation and animated storytelling I’ve experienced. Beautiful stuff. On par with Secret of Kells, that bit.

So after that went really, really well but I aired what grievances I had my partner noted that most of my complaints are fixed by the preceding show. The art wasn’t as detailed but the same talent was going into the animation. A fantastic martial arts consultant worked with them on the choreography and played out many of the fights on video for them to animate off of. The plot was simpler but the character development richer and more consistent and the overall story richer and more complex as a result.

And … well, I gave it another go. And … yeah. Pretty much all of that. It’s one of the best TV show I can think of. I’m sure there are better ones I haven’t watched (perhaps The Wire :wink: ). But I’ve watched a lot. I can’t think of a show that tells its story better, that knows its characters better, certainly not that does children and growing up better. I can’t think of many shows that hit me harder and made me whoop and bleed for its characters this well. For all of its accessibility to children … the reason its exactly the kind of show you want kids watching is because its among the best pieces of art on television. It doesn’t talk down to kids, merely avoids talking over them. It talks to them quite frankly and with a remarkable integrity. And it says its piece right along with the best of them. Only the best for our kids, I should think. But you can watch too if you want.


#13

My thoughts on Avatar TLA and Korra: The storytelling was much better in TLA than Korra. Each character had their own well-developed character arc. Tales of Ba Sing Se, one of the most well-regarded episodes, is just a collection of short stories, each of them just a few minutes long. Short stories are really hard to write because the author has little time to develop the characters and events, but it works here because of the groundwork already laid by the previous season and a half. By the time Book Three rolled around, the show could deliver some weighty, emotional moments because the audience understood the stakes the characters had.

In comparison, Korra was all over the place. I feel what happened was that, because the creators initially only secured one season, they wanted to deliver a spectacle as big as the TLA in one season. But episodes seem to just jump from plot point to plot point, and plot became more important than the characters. Some character or macguffin would be introduced just in time for the next plot twist. I think in Book Two, Korra did nothing for two episodes except flashback so that the audience has background to understand what comes next. In one of the finales, there was a sequence of scenes that ran like this:

Scene 1 - Korra: “I have a plan.” Lays out plan.
Scene 2 - New character they need to work the plan: "I like the plan, but we should check with the council."
Scene 3 - Council: "No."
Scene 4 - Korra: “Okay, here’s a new plan.” New character: “I will help you with the new plan.” Even though it means abandoning my duties. Let’s also not consult the council.

1729 mentioned Community. In the first 3 seasons of Community, the character Jeff often plays the cool-headed leader who pulls the group together in a crisis (the rest of the time he’s a sly schemer, maneuvering things to his advantage). One of his few weaknesses is that he has unresolved issues from his dad abandoning him and his mom when he was a kid, which is often brought up by his difficult relationship with Pierce. So what happens in Season 4, when Dan Harmon isn’t the showrunner? Halloween episode: Jeff mentions he found his father. Thanksgiving episode: Jeff has dinner with his father, tells him off in a cliche speech, and bonds with the brother he didn’t know about. And this aspect of his character is never mentioned again.

Drama works best when the audience understands why something is important to the characters because it allows us to empathize with them. Introducing and resolving plot points quickly marks them as unimportant.


#14

An excellent read. :slight_smile:


#15

I think that’s part of why the villains work so much better than the side characters in Korra; the show tries to cram in lots of plot which means lots of flipping between Korra and whatever the antagonist is up to (indirectly or, often, directly). We have time to understand them, their idiosyncrasies and why their decisions matter. Some of the side characters that work most effectively do so because of strong vocal performances and a clear and consistent relationship with the story that guides their presence or absence from any given scene–Tenzin is a nice example, I think. Well performed, well integrated, consistent in his motivations and believable in his mild shifts and developments without attempting to steal focus the way Mako and Bolin do.

These latter sorts of side characters wouldn’t read as developing properly even if a better job had been done on that front in the script because they literally disappear from the screen for so much of the show. This would have worked if they had been designed from the ground up to fit into the show as relatively static characters like Tenzin–plenty of successful characters across many mediums operate without anything resembling “development.” But Bolin, Mako, and Asami in particular are setup as protagonists. They’re given moving parts; even if those parts are in different positions in different scenes, we don’t spend enough time with them to get a proper understanding of how those parts transition from state to state and the plot rolls on with or without them so they end up flitting in and out because we’re “supposed” to be hearing more about what they’re up to rather than because they fit. They aren’t jettisoned from the story when they’re used up like a well implemented side character* so I was continually reminded of exactly how starved their development was. They didn’t appear when the plot needed them or when the other characters needed them or when the story needed them; they appeared at odd moments following a very protagonist-y sort of logic, albeit a limp one.

*(though if properly executed, such characters can return in their own sort of way and certainly should feel like part of the scenery whenever we return to them which has a certain low-level of dynamism inherent to it, with the character having simply evolved in the most internally consistent way rather than gotten up to something requiring detailed exploration)


#16
The Wire is a show that I was too young to see when it originally came out. I need to watch that one ASAP. That and The Sopranos.

Would you recommend Man In the High Castle, @Boronian? I’m tempted but have heard mixed things.

If we’re talking shows I’ve historically enjoyed, Battlestar Galactica is really good, with some qualifications: the pace is a bit slow at times and that shows its age more than more modern shows. Also, it gets just… weird at the end.

Also I’m going to keep beating this drum and saying that the BBC’s Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell was excellent - quite easily one of my favourite Beeb dramas recently.

Yeah Battlestar Galactica is really good too.

Another awesome scifi show, pretty old, from the looks outdated but really good story and themes (mostly, there are some strange filler episodes but not many and the story is always evolving): Babylon 5. I didn’t think much of it in the first place. I thought it would be case of the week show like all the Star Trek shows. There are big similarities to Deep Space Nine in regards to the setting so I thought it’d be the same more or less.
Oh, I couldn’t be more wrong.
A friend urged me to start it and it is something every Scifi fan should watch, I think.

Well, I am watching the 7th episode of Man in the High Castle right now. I really like the setting, this alternate history of the 50s. And the story is interesting, I like the characters, there always seems to be another layer to find. But it could have the problem of all mystery shows (and this one is one at its heart I think): You have questions and the answers to them are only coming slowly or maybe not at all. Maybe in the next season or in the one after that :wink: Some people don’t like that. But it is very entertaining and something very refreshing.


#17
lots of really intelligent and engaging criticism

there’s so much good stuff in these posts and I’ve enjoyed reading them but sadly won’t have the time for a while to reply properly, so I’d like to reply to a couple of main thoughts :). I’ll say upfront that I love six of the seven seasons of the shows (with the exception of Korra 2 as I stated above) and I think that Korra and TLA are trying to do very different things. Despite everything I’m about to say, I love these shows. This is all really nitpicking for me.

Korra was indeed quite variable. I found enough in Season 1 to enjoy and a lot in Season 3 to love and season 4 was really great too, but I would agree that the low points were really low. I think jgf1123 nailed it in saying that tone and pacing suffered from the creators not knowing how long they had to make their show and so cramming three seasons of TLA into 13(ish) episodes. I think season 1 to some degree and season 2 to a large degree suffer from that. 2 feels like the creators going “what, we need another compelling bad guy and story? AAAAAAAAA” (also never forget Jinora ex Machina).

Community is a great comparison and as a devout fan of that show it breaks my heart to wonder what could have been. Season 4 is generally disregarded thankfully, but I take your point that it does devalue 5 and 6 in terms of how they follow 4.

But I think Korra has enough to recommend it. It’s flawed but it’s compact and when it nails it, it’s in that “I need one more” category, something I never got with TLA. And I do find TLA has a lot of episodes that blur into one another. They’re entertaining, yes, but there are many episodes that don’t do too much for me and feel like filler/slowing down the pace on a second watch. That said, there are many classics too (Tales of Ba Sing Se, The Storm and The Firebending Masters are right up there and season 2 is almost flawless). TLA regularly packs a heftier emotional punch that Korra ever achieved, but it sometimes takes its sweet time to build up to that.

Regarding what you said Gwathdring, that’s intriguing- I think there are a fair few side characters like Tenzin, Lin and Suyin who are engaging and enjoyable. But I did enjoy the villains a lot more - they managed to be more sympathetic on a regular basis, or at least have understandable goals (contrast to Ozai, whose motivation is textbook “For the Evulz”).

I do think, however, that the creators weren’t quite sure what to do with Mako and Bolin (and Asami to some extent) and wisely towards the later seasons gave them less to do, or involved them in a way that didn’t detract from the main story.

All this said, I can’t recommend the shows highly enough to those who have not yet seen it. I mean, it has flying lemurs and gave us this:

P.S. for anyone who saw/endured the Shyamalan film, do check this out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KHi1zaN0ooc


#18
Another awesome scifi show, pretty old, from the looks outdated but really good story and themes (mostly, there are some strange filler episodes but not many and the story is always evolving): Babylon 5. I didn't think much of it in the first place. I thought it would be case of the week show like all the Star Trek shows. There are big similarities to Deep Space Nine in regards to the setting so I thought it'd be the same more or less. Oh, I couldn't be more wrong. A friend urged me to start it and it is something every Scifi fan should watch, I think.

Well, I am watching the 7th episode of Man in the High Castle right now. I really like the setting, this alternate history of the 50s. And the story is interesting, I like the characters, there always seems to be another layer to find. But it could have the problem of all mystery shows (and this one is one at its heart I think): You have questions and the answers to them are only coming slowly or maybe not at all. Maybe in the next season or in the one after that :wink: Some people don’t like that. But it is very entertaining and something very refreshing.

I will add Babylon 5 to the list, thank you for the recommendation! And as for that point around High Castle, it sounds enough to encourage me to give it a whirl! I don’t mind not having everything resolved as long as the resolution isn’t totally ridiculous (cough LOST cough)


#19

My only regular must watch TV is Only Connect - because I’m sad like that. There is a special pleasure in getting answers right when they’re so bleeding obscure or obfuscated. Its totally supplanted University Challenge as my quiz show of choice.

Recently I have been enjoying Ben Whishaw’s performance (man is very good, generally. I’ve liked him since I first saw him in The Hour) much more than the writing in London Spy, the latest in a long line of BBC spy/conspiracy shows, which they do very well in general. The best of the lot is State of Play, of course. I’m also really looking forward to the return of Line of Duty soon too - police conspiracy rather than spies, but same sort of deal. The two prior seasons have been really darn good, and there is no reason to expect that to drop off. I should look into seeing season 2 of Fargo, too - but I don’t think I could consume it drip fed week by week so I’m waiting for a more easily consumed form.

Other recent watches included Top of the Lake, after only finding out about it because of an Easter Egg in Life is Strange. The show was alright, some nice themes explored well, but it annoyed me a little being a bit loose with the clarity of the timeline, which made it a strange watch. I haven’t managed to get around to the final season of Boardwalk Empire for some reason.


#20

Me and my girlfriend watch an episode of Archer every day. I’m quite amazed how it remains strong even after so many seasons. I think we’re at season 6 now or something and it’s still going strong.

Whenever a new season comes out, we also like to watch South Park. I love how they used to be all about ‘toilet humour’, but became really satirical and make fun of the current topics of the world in a really clever way. I enjoyed the previous season more than I do the current one though.

That’s about it. My girlfriend follows about 25 series at the same time, but those are about it for me at the moment :slight_smile: