Monday, January 19, 2015

Modern TV: a very short review

We've been watching some very good TV recently.

A few that stuck out to me:

  • Vera follows Detective Vera Stanhope, following the books of Ann Cleeves. It's set in Newcastle, England, and it is wonderfully compelling. It's gritty yet human, and the sights and sounds of Newcastle fit the show perfectly.
  • The Fall is a police procedural set in Belfast, Northern Ireland, as an English policewoman is brought in to take charge of a case that has gone cold. The astonishing thing about The Fall is its pace: it takes two full seasons, about 15 hours of watching, to tell a story that many other shows might spend 90 minutes on. By really slowing down and digging in, the series becomes riveting; you simply cannot stop watching it once you start.
  • Jack Taylor is a strong show made from the books of Ken Bruen, set in Galway, Ireland. The character of Taylor is heart-breakingly self-destructive, but oh! the shows are so strong.
  • Longmire is based on Craig Johnson's Sheriff Walt Longmire books. It's set in rural Wyoming, on the Wyoming / Montana border (though actually filmed in New Mexico, I believe), and although the lead character is good, what makes the show is the superb richness of the supporting characters and cast.
  • In Plain Sight is sort of a one-woman show. Mary McCormack plays Marshall Mary Shannon, an inspector in the Witness Protection Program who is stationed in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Again, the wild west feel of the show is great, but we've also grown to love the supporting cast of this show, even through its rough edges.
  • Continuum is a fascinating Sci-Fi Channel show that riffs upon the time travel concept with some great writing and an interesting plot. It's got it's flaws, but we've certainly enjoyed it.
  • Orphan Black is another fascinating science fiction show, with a completely different plot. Most of the attention gathered by Orphan Black is hard to reveal without spoiling it, but the reality of the show is completely timely and believable, leading to lots of interesting discussions while you watch.
  • The League is a comedy about a group of friends who stay close by participating in a fantasy football league. But that gives such short shrift to a wonderfully funny and human show.
  • And Community is simply the funniest show you've never heard of. At least 5 laugh-out-loud moments in every 30 minute episode; great writing combined with a cast who clearly are having a delightful time with the show.

A friend commented to me recently that he barely watched movies anymore, because the TV series quality has become so high.

Perhaps it's just a burst of activity, but it's nice to get such great entertainment at the touch of the button at the end of a long hard day.

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