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.
To clarify, the Lost in Space Robot is the one on the right. The one on the left is Robbie the Robot. Robbie is the one who was in Forbidden Planet, The Invisible Boy, and has appeared on the Twilight Zone and many other TV shows as well (including two episodes of Lost in Space). Actually, I like both of these designs; easily my two favorite robots ever. The same man designed both of them (or, at least, the man who designed the LiS robot had a hand in desinging Robbie).
"...my wife is kinda "meh" on it."
Encourage her to stick with it. (There are only 10 episodes.) Report back here when you've finished all ten and we'll discuss the season one ending.
I didn't mean that to sound so... brusque.
Tracy finished Penny Dreadful yesterday.Next up is season two of Westworld, and The Frankenstein Chronicles after that.
We're caught up on Lost in Space, and my wife warmed up to it considerably. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and still have the theme song running through my head now and then.
As to the ending, they are one robot short of having the "classic" lineup. Needless to say, I expect the robot to return -- he's an intrinsic part of the show. It's inconceivable to continue watching and never hear "Danger, Will Robinson" again.
I thought it was a nice touch that when Will asked the robot what he wanted to term his art, there was some distraction and the robot said "Danger!" Then later, when the gang is looking at the real life version of the "art," someone says "what is it?" and Will whispers. "Danger." Nicely done.
I was impressed with the acting. The two girls are clearly adults pretending to be teenagers -- the actress playing Judy is 24 -- but the little actor playing Will did a fine job. That's unexpected, as child actors are usually awful -- the younger, the worse. Don West is a delight; much better than the authoritarian jerk on the original. And the actors playing the parents don't have much more to do than look realllllly worried, but they do it well.
Oh, and Parker Posey! What a fantastic performance! I hated her within the first few episodes. She was so convincingly sociopathic and self-centered and such a terrific liar that I wanted to punch her myself. Backpfeifengesicht.
I agree with everything your said. I think of what we’ve seen so far as “season zero” because it gets us to the point of a family “lost in space” in a more realistic fashion. Why would Alpha Control have sent a single family to colonize Alpha Centauri in the original? Perhaps the Jupiter 2 was the first of a whole fleet of ships.
I really like the family dynamic of the show. The relationship between and among the children and each other and the children and their parents is an absolute bond. It is particularly notable because Judy is (biologically) a half sibling, not related to John at all. Toby Stephens is not the father Guy Williams was, but he does his best. His wife is kind of emasculating, but understandably so. The Judy/Don relationship is much more interesting than the original ever was.
I hope it’s not as long between seasons as Stranger Things.
Agreed! In every way, this show has been thought through, and hangs together well.
Watching Occupied. Norwegian show. Reflects current politics, from a Euro-perspective. Fascinating, so far.
We are three or four episodes into the second season of Westworld.
We are also bout 10 episodes into the third season of the original Lost in Space. Whereas the third season is far superior to the second, some campiness has managed to sneek in. there are (slightly) more episodes of Lost in Space than there are episodes of Star Trek, but it occurs to me that just about every episode of LiS has a ST counterpart. For example, ST has an episode about life-like androids, LiS has an episode about life-like androids; ST has an episode about space-hippies, LiS has an episode about space-hippies; and so on.
Good God, Occupied has gotten good.
Watching Dark now. German show. Sehr gut!
It's difficult to keep up with, as there are four major families presented in three different times. When you hear a name you have to remember who did what at three different ages.
But once you do ... you'll freak out. Or as they say on the show, "Ich bin ausfreaking!"
Some have compared it to Stranger Things, and that's not a bad comparison. It's a difficult, dangerous, terrific show that makes you work to keep up.