In this peak TV period, I thought we could use a thread on TV like we do the "Movies I Have Watched Lately" thread. I'll start with two:

ALTERED CARBON: Stupid name for a good sci-fi concept.

In this far future, humans can download their brains/personality/soul/what-have-you into chips called "stacks" that are located at the top of the spine. Nearly everybody has these stacks, and if your body fails you can load the stack into a new "sleeve," or body. The richer you are, the better body you can get. And the ultra-rich clone their own bodies, so they are effectively immortal. They are called "Meths" -- as in Methuselah -- and are just as awful as you can imagine. In the end, the rich win. Imagine that.

The Meth we get to know best is played by James Purefoy (Rome, John Carter, Solomon Kane) and he thinks he's become a god, or at least the difference between him and a god is so minor as to not be important. His stack is backed up every two hours to his own satellite, and if his body dies the stack is automatically downloaded to a clone. But when he is killed in a locked-room mystery in the two-hour window -- he doesn't remember how it happened, because his current stack didn't experience it -- he pulls the stack of a great warrior (an "envoy") who has been dead (and the stack preserved) for 250 years to solve the murder.

There's a whole mythology behind the envoys (as well as everything else -- the show is based on a series of novels) and we constantly see past lives, where the protagonist is usually Asian. We also see his lover and his sister in these past lives, where of course their appearance isn't static, either, so there's a little hurdle at first figuring out who the players are every time the Envoy has a flashback. 

There are some people who think the whole stack/sleeve business is an affront to God, and mark their stacks to not be resuscitated. They are called Neo-Cs (Neo-Catholic) and the cop who is A) gorgeous and B) immediately attached to the protagonist at the hip by the plot is one (or her family is, anyway). The ethics of this technology is explored through these characters.

The rich live up in the clouds, of course, in graceful spires that top out above the clouds, so they don't have to see how the other 99 percent live. which evidently is in Blade Runner. Seriously, Bay City (San Francisco metropolitan area) looks just like that movie, with the constant rain, the explosion of neon signs and people scraping by with food carts and such .

Sex is very straightforward in this show. There's frontal nudity for both men and women. Once I got over being surprised I came to appreciate it. Sex is pretty meaningless in this world, and it's presented that way. Once you get over the taboos being broken, you take in stride and don't think much about it. Which is consistent with how the characters view it. But if you're into boobs, trust that every pair in the cast will be naked sooner or later.

My wife enjoyed this more than I did. The F/X and writing are top-notch, but I found the acting a little substandard. The guy playing the Envoy also played Rick Flagg in Suicide Squad, and his acting varies from bland to blander. His sister, played by a thin Asian actress who's been in a bunch of other stuff I've seen, is even worse. I'm no actor. and even I could tell she was mis-delivering her lines. Purefoy just looked bored with the whole enterprise. The actress who plays one of the Pussycats on Riverdale -- the one that briefly dated Archie -- in in here, too, so you'll probably recognize her.

I enjoyed it well enough despite my misgivings, due to the cool concepts and great future world on display. And, as I said, my wife really liked it.

THE FRANKENSTEIN CHRONICLES: We just started watching this, and have only seen the first three episodes. I like it because I love history, and the show does a great job of depicting 1820s London. I guess. Anyway. It's pretty sooty and poverty-stricken, which is probably true.

The story here is about a "Runner" -- what cops are evidently called -- who is hired by a lord to find out who is killing children and sewing their dead bodies together. This threatens a bill he has in Parliament to make doctoring a profession and regulate it -- putting out of business holistic practitioners, body snatchers, barbers and a host of other dodgy types. 

Our hero is played by Sean Bean (Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship, Game of Thrones), a guy mourning the deaths of his wife and child, evidently from syphillis, which he gave them. So he's not doing so hot, either, as syphillis isn't curable in 1827, when the show begins. 

I'm not really sure how policing works in this age. They don't call themselves police, and they only arrest people when the victim can afford a prosecution. As noted, our protagonist is paid directly by a lord, and a local police station ("court of magistrates") is at his disposal. I know our police at the time were basically escaped-slave catchers, so I find this situation likely. I just don't know the rules of the game.

Our Runner meets William Blake, who dies, and Mary Shelley, who is an integral part of the plot. (She's about 30 here -- Percy Shelley's been dead for 4 years, Frankenstein has been in print for about 12 years, and she won't die of a brain tumor for another 20 years or so.) I'm not sure what her game is yet, but she is clearly lying to our hero.

There is a lot of super-religiosity on this show. Some of it I think is a bit too modern; our hero and his assistant are shocked and totally against it when a street urchin girl says she's pregnant and she's going to "take care of it." I don't know what the attitudes about abortion were back then, but I doubt anybody would give a toss what happens to a street urchin's pregnancy. If our heroes had expressed concern about HER safety I'd buy it -- most people who tried to prevent pregnancies in back alleys up until the 1920s died of sepsis. Anyway, they find her a place to stay that will keep her until the birth. Lucky street urchin!

There's a lot of super-religiosity on display I have no problem with, as it was no doubt mainstream at the time. Not being part of a church would be very suspicious. 

They also have cast as our hero's assistant a black actor. I know that this is almost a necessity now, especially at the BBC, but I have to physically swallow my disbelief every time he's on screen and nobody seems to notice that he is black. I don't know how many black people there were in London in the 1820s, but I imagine whatever that number was they were all domestic help, or in some other subservient position. Here, our black guy is a Runner, a position of authority, and nobody even blinks. I would think he'd be such a novelty among the common folk that they'd turn and stare when he walked down the street in his middle class clothes, and I'd guess no white guy, criminal or not, would suffer being interrogated by a black guy. I just have to pretend he's white for his scenes to work.

I don't know where this is going, but my wife and I are enjoying it so far. Bean's his usual craggy, muttering self, albeit less physical than in previous roles. (He's not getting any younger.) We'll see it through to the end of the first season, anyway.

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Oh, sure.  Anytime you go back to watch something that you haven't watched  in a long time, there are bound to  be surprises.  I wasn't trying to deny the validity of your reactions.  

I had something similar happen when I re-watched Night Gallery (speaking of Serling) a while back. I had completely forgotten the goofy comedy stories that were in that show.

Captain Comics said:

That’s an inarguable observation, Baron, so you’re certainly right. It just struck me as odd that I had zero memory of the lesser episodes of season 1 — to the point where I had to figure out the twist from scratch — and almost total recall of the good ones. 

It was odd enough, to me, anyway, that I felt the need to mention it.

I yield to no one in my respect for The Twilight Zone. When it started I was eleven. I couldn't tell you which ones I saw in their original run, except that I definitely saw "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" (sn 5, ep 22) in first run. It was written by Ambrose Bierce (!) and adapted by its director, Robert Enrico.

As I understand it, when a network or TV station purchases the rights to less than a full run of a show they select which episodes they want. The proven audience-pleasers tend to be selected most of the time. I won't even watch "Twilight Zone Marathons" anymore. I've seen those always-selected episodes so many times I can run them in my head without watching them.

I think bad episodes (not that I specifically remember any) tend to increase in any show that has 30+ or even 20+ episodes.

Any episode of any show I rewatch can either be completely remembered or remembered only as I watch it.

I've only seen The Twilight Zone in reruns, save for "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge"; that one I saw in English class in high school. (As noted elsewhere, I enticed the rest of my family to watch it by pledging to never again ask them to watch the show.)

So I look forward to the annual New Year's Day Marathon on the SyFy channel; I believe they show all of them, eventually, and I gradually have gotten to see them all. 

Like Cap, I have all of The Twilight Zone run available on streaming. It is in a "pile" like my TPBs. Just have to find time.

I think I mentioned this before, but I own a Blu-ray set of the entire series. For months now my wife and I have been watching for an hour on Saturday night while eating takeout. We're close to the end, but it won't be long before the marathon, and we always watch that, too.

The quality of the writing and acting is uniformly high--the best ever, I'd say--but not all of the episodes achieve greatness. There are some with badly dated Cold War politics, for one example.

Just finished Get Back. As a Beatles fan, I thought it was really interesting and fun. A few thoughts:

* It's obvious from the beginning that they miss Brian Epstein (their manager who died unexpectedly). A lot of the bickering seems to come about from a lack of direction and an unwillingness to make decisions. 

* Speaking of bickering, there's much less than I expected. Sure, someone quits the band at one point, but it seems like it came out of left field. For the most part you can see the affection they have for one another, plus they have a lot of fun in the studio. 

* Yoko Ono gets a lot of the blame for breaking up the band, but I didn't really see her doing anything particularly grating, other than speaking up during a band meeting, which she likely should not have done. She is omnipresent though, and seems stapled to John Lennon's hip at times.

* There were probably too many people in the studio, as it seemed like many hangers-on were present. 

* Some of their arguments reminded me very much of scenes from This Is Spinal Tap. 

* They set themselves a pretty daunting task, as it seemed as if they came to the studio with no songs written and only two weeks to pull an album together. 

* I was surprised by how much screwing around there was in the studio. It seemed like they couldn't stay focused mucb of the time. 

* Something else that showed the camaraderie between them was that when George and Ringo showed up with new song ideas they were very much encouraged and given help by the others. It had long been suggested that George was frustrated with the others because they kept shooting down his song ideas, but there was nothing like that here. 

* Billy Preston was huge. It seemed like when he showed up that they all got much more focused. Still a lot of screwing around, but stuff got accomplished. 

* They really wasted a lot of time and money in the studio. Sure, it was their studio, but screwing around meant having to spend more on salaries.

* Seeing the rooftop concert in it's entirety surprised me. I hadn't realized that they performed several songs multiple times or that a number of the live recordings ended up on the album.

* Ultimately, I think what broke up the band had more to do with a lack of business sense and poor decisions (getting involved with Allen Klein for instance).

Highly recommended, especially if you're a music fan. 

Randy Jackson said:

* It's obvious from the beginning that they miss Brian Epstein (their manager who died unexpectedly). A lot of the bickering seems to come about from a lack of direction and an unwillingness to make decisions. 

* Ultimately, I think what broke up the band had more to do with a lack of business sense and poor decisions (getting involved with Allen Klein for instance).

I saw the original Let It Be film in the mid Seventies at a second run movie house. It was nice to see the group at work in the studio along with the legendary roof top concert but overall the film had a very down feeling to it, due perhaps to their break up still being fresh in our minds. Peter Jackson and crew did a fantastic job of restoring the look of the footage as well as giving us a more balanced view of the sessions.

I've read comments from George Martin, Geoff Emerick and Eric Clapton who all said how great things were between the group when they were making music. The rift over business dealings and the hiring of Allen Klein seem to be the true breaking point. I have to think Brian Epstein would have made a world of difference in what happened with the Beatles during the late Sixties/early Seventies.

Randy Jackson said:

They set themselves a pretty daunting task, as it seemed as if they came to the studio with no songs written and only two weeks to pull an album together.

I haven't watched this yet, but with all of their talent doing this in two weeks was not insurmountable.

I have been reluctant to watch it, afraid it would be depressing. Sounds like it might not be.

Also, the wife and I binged Cowboy Bebop. Despite the reviews (which were vicious), we loved it. But Netflix must have listened to the reviews, because they canceled it after one season.

I would not call it depressing. There are moments that are less fun particularly if you know your history, but by the end things are going in a good direction.

As far as Cowboy Bebop goes, I'd recommend watching the original anime. I didn't watch the live action, but I know a major complaint was that they attempted to adapt the anime without considering how it was originally very carefully crafted. Not to mention there were a number of things they simply couldn't adapt (one of the advantages of animation for stories like this is that there are few limitations of what you can present). 

You can watch the original on a number of streaming services, including Netflix. 

They did get enough done in terms of creating songs, particularly if you consider they were also writing songs for Abbey Road at the same time. It was more the logistics and decision making--stuff they'd never really done before--that bogged them down. 

Richard Willis said:

Randy Jackson said:

They set themselves a pretty daunting task, as it seemed as if they came to the studio with no songs written and only two weeks to pull an album together.

I haven't watched this yet, but with all of their talent doing this in two weeks was not insurmountable.

I have all of the Beatles' movies (etc.) on DVD except Let It Be. It flew in under my radar and now it's no longer available. I've seen it often enough that I remember it very well, though. You wanna talk depressing? Let it Be is depressing. It is nothing less than a documentary of the Beatles slowly breaking up. Get Back is not that, though (at least not part one, which is all I've watched so far). With (what was it?) 60 hours of footage, someone could probably edit it together in such a way as to support any narrative (i.e., a film documenting the break-up of the Beatles). But Get Back provides a far better snapshot of the Beatles at this point in time than Let It Be ever did. I never knew about the two-week limit they had set for themselves. It is fascinating to watch the songs come together out of nothing. Get Back has changed my perception of this time in the Beatles' career but it did reinforce one belief I have long held, namely, the Beatles didn't need to break up; what they need was a vacation

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