March 6, 2015 by Wayne.
Welcome back to culture club!
This time round, we’ll be looking solely at TV shows.
For all my fave TV shows, check out my Taste Profile list.
Rick & Morty
The pilot was rough, as pilots usually are. I came away from it thinking it was a typical gross-out comedy with liberal splashes of absurdity. By the 4th episode, though, I was openly raving about it being one of the best shows I’d ever watched. And it still is. If anything, the tail end of season 1 featured increasingly stronger episodes.
Amidst the shock factor and fucked-up humour are jaw-dropping scenes that will linger on in your mind for a very, very long time.
It’s co-created by Dan Harmon and features the voice talent of Earl Lemongrab.
Is it a sequel to the movie? An interpretation in serial form? A homage, perhaps?
As it turns out, it’s all the above.
Fargo is equal parts chilling and hilarious, leading to an incredible season-contained effort worthy of all its numerous accolades. The acting is on-point from everyone involved, the shots are gorgeous, and the directing impeccable. Where True Detective relied on Lovecraftian mythology for its ominous mood, Fargo turned instead to incisive writing and compelling characterizations. And boy oh boy, does it succeed.
Fargo’s seasons are more like mini-series (thus the True Detective comparison), and I really wonder what they’ll do for the next one. Meanwhile, I have the glorious first season to rewatch and enjoy.
Nathan For You
Uproariously hilarious. Some episodes literally left me shaking with laughter.
It’s about a bloke called Nathan Fielder who graduated from one of Canada’s top business schools with really good grades. Now, he’s using his knowledge to help struggling small business owners make it in this competitive world. In the most batshit crazy ways possible.
And the best part? This isn’t a parody of reality shows, with actors and elaborate sets. These are real shops. Real business owners.
When it comes to deadpan, no one does it better than Nathan.
The end is near for this wonderfully crafted drama, but Don and co aren’t going gently into the good night. Mad Men has gone from strength to strength and if the trend continues, we’re set for a swashbuckling finale that’ll stand alongside the best final seasons out there (looking at you, Breaking Bad).
Mad Men is a period piece. Well, kind of. I’d say it’s more of a character study – a reflection of humanity through the mirror of time. Because boy oh boy does it cover a lot of ground. Gender equality, sex, ego, the human condition – what doesn’t it delve into? And it does it all with the kind of lush cinematography and pitch-perfect acting that could stand alone even without the incredible script.
Suffice to say it’s one of my favourite series of all time and I’l be very very sad to see it go.
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
I’m writing this a couple of days after the second season has resumed, and good god what a way to resume. The last two episodes see Agents at arguably their best form so far – and that best form is so far away from the turgid first 3/4 of season 1, it’s not even funny anymore.
Yes, AoS started very, very poorly. Not quite Gotham-level bad, but it did hit those lows at times. Then the Winter Soldier tie-in happened, and things stepped up a notch. Several hundred notches, in fact. After Winter Soldier, every subsequent episode got exponentially better, to the point where it’s currently one of my favourite still-airing shows.
I’ll admit, I was one of those who bemoaned the entire concept at the start – why do we even need an agents of SHIELD? How compelling could it ever be, in a universe with established superpowers?
Well, if you were like me, trust me and give it a shot. It’s not just great as a standalone series, it’s heavily interconnected with all the ongoings in the MCU. You wanna see the first planted seeds of the Civil War? The first Inhumans reveal? It’s all here, b.
Bob’s Burgers got off to a pretty rocky start.
No, wait, that’s not exactly true. It was never particularly bad at any point in its five seasons, but it’s hard to argue that the first couple of episodes were anything better than lacklustre. I didn’t have to force myself to continue (the way I did with, say, Parks & Rec) and neither did I see it becoming anywhere as good as it currently is.
Because, yeah, it’s pretty fucking good now.
I look forward to every episode knowing I won’t be disappointed because I never have been. It’s genuinely one of the best animated shows out there, which is an astonishing accolade when you consider that we’re pretty much in the golden age of animation (okay, and TV at large too). There’s the experimental(-ly insane) Rick & Morty, the shows that hide great thematic depth and mature backstories behind nostalgic animation like Adventure Time and Gravity Falls, and the irreverent hilarity of Archer. Amongst many others, of course. And yet, despite all that, Bob’s Burgers manages to stand proud.
And beyond that, it’s actually getting better. Now that they’ve fleshed out the characters, the writers are eager to take on more creative license and explore different types of stories – the greatest evidence of which is the two-part finale of season 4. Add to that the fact that it’s been consistently hilarious since around midway of season 1, and that it’s had an almost P&R heart to it since the beginning, and you have the recipe for one of the best animated shows out there.
The miniseries that set article-sites ablaze.
Now, I don’t think the last one or two episodes of season 1 lived up to the promise of the first few, but that isn’t to say it was bad. I loved the ending, for starters. But I do think the ambiguity of the story/genre at the start of the season was one of the best points about TD. Let’s be honest, the whole creepy/mystical/what even is this? vibe played a huge part in driving interest for the show. Once it became more of a procedural, it traded the mystique for the more commonplace narrative tension.
In the end, I’ll remember season 1 more for the acting than the writing. McConaughey and Mr. Rampart have some stellar turns throughout the season and made for supremely captivating viewing.
Alex had me hooked from the get-go. The opening sequence of Gravity Falls is one of my favourite opening sequences…ever.
GF balances paranormal conspiracies with some top-rate humour, and the results are always great. Season 1 was a fantastic attempt at fleshing out an astonishing amount of mythology without ignoring character development. GF is going from strength to strength and season 2 is already promising to be even better than the first.
Season 1 was painful at times.
But season 2…well. Season 2 was truly amazing. Despite being bombastic, hammy, and hilariously over-the-top dramatic, viewers were treated to a Deathstroke saga that’s probably the best live-action comic adaptation yet.
The current season doesn’t quite hit those heady heights yet, but it’s getting there. The show is developing the idea of Ollie’s actions rippling far beyond what he originally envisioned and – if nothing else – it’s still awe-inspiring to realize that an autonomous Arrow-family even exists.
It turns out the live action Arrow series is a dream come true, even if I never actually had the dream.
For my full list of favourite TV shows (of all time), see:
Taste Profile – TV shows