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Critical reviews of U.S. TV shows
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Summer 2016

Posted by The TV Critic on 10 August 2016 | 2 Comments

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I'm still watching TV of course but nothing has blown me away recently.

Mr Robot had a great pilot which promised a psychological thriller. But I don't think that's what its going to become. By the end of Season One it already felt like Elliot's mental state had become a plot device. His voice overs descending into Mohinder territory at times. I'm not writing the show off. I very much like the topic it's tackling. Very few shows present an alternate-present narrative where governments and businesses have to react to their plots. Rami Malek is excellent as are several of the supporting cast. But I smell twists and nonsense rather than dark exploration of the mind ahead.

Daredevil does many admirable things but isn't quite a good show. Matt's constant efforts to not kill put morality in the spotlight in a way that most shows don't bother with. But at the same time the amazing levels of violence around him make his arguments a bit flat. If Electra and Punisher didn't kill his enemies then surely he would be dead by now? That violence is also numbing when no fight ever has serious consequences. By presenting a very adult comic-book show I think the producers have exposed why comics are aimed at kids. Serious moral questions can't be explored when you have to keep stopping to pulverise faceless members of the Hand.

I've read a couple of reviews of Preacher and neither of them mentioned the most obvious problem with the show. We are given no reason to care about the three main characters. Zero. They aren't evil. But they are all killers. And despite his efforts to care for his flock Jesse comes across like he's glad that Genesis is in him so he can save them and be done with it. I don't think we're even given much of a reason as to why Cassidy likes Jesse either. They just become best friends after one fight. Again its a comic book adaption which struggles to translate to TV. It's a hard thing to do. But as I have a passing familiarity with the comic, I also think this adaption has come much too late. 

The comic was written in the mid 1990s when the idea that God was missing and anti-heroes should rule was fresh. Not only are we now swamped in foul-mouthed, morally-compromised, anti-heroes. But the idea of God going missing in 2016 just doesn't feel the same anymore. It doesn't sound sacriligious or intriguing. It sounds silly. To be blunt I think those looking for a show filled with sex and violence aren't even looking for God. Issues of faith now feel tinged with the kind of sadness that The Leftovers explores so well. 

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  • Interesting thoughts, and glad to see you're still going to record some opinions every now and again.

    I think Mr. Robot is beautifully composed and filmed, but I do think some of it's twisty/gotcha tendencies bring the show down. I've watched through both seasons, and found the Season 2 finale particularly anti-climactic.

    I love Daredevil, though. Maybe it's simply because I grew up on Marvel comics, but I'm loving this era of superhero entertainment (particularly the Netflix shows...can't wait for Luke Cage this Friday!)

    I can't wait to read your thoughts on Stranger Things. I geeked out on that as well and I'm totally drinking the Kool-Aid.

    Posted by Brando, 26/09/2016 8:17am (3 years ago)

  • Haven't seen Stranger Things yet?

    Posted by Joe, 03/09/2016 9:21am (3 years ago)

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