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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A few days ago I watched the entirety of G.L.O.W. Season 2 in one night. I find the show interesting for a number of reasons, not least being that I watche the original syndicated show back in the 80's. A few thoughts:

* Some nice introductions to some new characters in this one, particularly Russell the camera man.

* The characters experience a fair amount of growth, which is nice to see, and they aren't all likeable all the time either.

* The 80's music references are all over the place time wise.

* It's interesting trying to figure out which characters are meant to correspond to which wrestlers. So far I've only identified two of them.

* Not as many wrestler cameos, but the ones that are there are really fun.

* The eighth episode is meant to be a representation of the actual show, and it's pretty funny.

Overall, it's a very good series, and I would recommend it.

I"m not much of a wrestling fan, Randy, but I have been interested in GLOW. Glad to hear your thoughts about it.

Just finished Ghoul, an Indian production on Netflix. It's a three-episode story set in near-future India, which has reacted to sectarian violence by settling into fascism. (I am assuming this is fiction, but certainly the filmmakers have a political point to make.) Our naive young hero thinks she's a patriot until she meets her colleagues at a torture/execution black site, where she is assigned out of the security/military academy.

It's essentially a horror story, as one of the prisoners summons a ghoul (from Arabic folklore), which wreaks havoc on prisoners and guards alike. There's an element of The Thing in that the ghoul takes the form of the last person it has taken a bite out of, so everyone is suspicious of everyone they haven't seen continuously since it all started.

It's all a bit ambiguous until midway through, then the audience is convinced of the ghoul -- or at least our heroine is. It all bears close watching, because nobody outside the bunker thinks anything supernatural happened. Pretty good, and I'll bet dollars to rupees that we will see the lead actress again.

We also watched Fallet, a Swedish-UK production, a police procedural dramedy. Our heroes are a trigger-happy, gung ho Swedish policewoman and a bumbling, too-passive English policeman, both on the verge of being fired, teamed together on the death of an Englishman in Sweden. The humor isn't broad -- it's more situational and personality-driven, rather dry at that. The drama isn't too dramatic, although there is an occasional moment of concern. It's just a pleasant show, and I recommend it.

We also watched Paranoid. It's a pretty straightforward police procedural from UK where we're supposed to get attached to the various police to get emotionally invested. I didn't, really. Indira Varna (Ellaria Sand in Game of Thrones) is the only one I recognized, and I was glad to see her -- she's always good -- but her character is irritating. She plays it so well that eventually I just wanted her to shut up and go away. And there was a German police officer with blue contact lenses that made her eyes instantly arresting and gave her an elfin look that was always welcome. But overall I'd give it a "meh."

I finally finished Babylon Berlin last night (it's on Netflix, in case anyone wants to check it out). I thought the last couple of episodes really paid off. Terrific climax, and a nice little "one that got away" twist at the end. I got a kick out of singer Bryan Ferry (of Roxy Music) appearing in a cabaret scene. I heard his voice and thought, "that sounds like Bryan Ferry," and sure enough it was him.

I recently started American Horror Story from the beginning (I kept hearing good things about it, but didn't want to jump in several seasons in). All of the seasons are available on Amazon Prime, and I think they also recently got added on Netflix. I enjoyed the first season very much, a haunted house story with an interesting twist: the house has generations of ghosts, everyone who ever died there. They're capable of manifesting to the living at will, and physically acting upon them (although that part is a bit inconsistent). Since each season has its own story arc, I'm looking forward to a new story in the second season.

American Horror Story, as you said, has a different story arc each season. Actually, each season is unrelated to the other seasons with rare slight exceptions. A number of the cast members play entirely different characters each season. Starting with season one was a good idea, IMO. I'm interested in your thoughts on the subsequent seasons.   

Last year we watched 19 seasons of Midsomer Murders. Still waiting for the latest season to become available.

Law & Order: Criminal Intent was a terrific show. Many people never heard of it. I feel sad for them.

Alexandra Kitty said:

I binged a mere 13 seasons of Midsomer Murders in one shot...resulting in me learning how to play the theremin...I still want to binge watch the entire Law and Order and L&O:CI in one shot...

Captain Comics said:

15 seasons ... is a LOT!

This week I managed to binge both seasons of Goliath on Amazon Prime. Good cast with very interesting characters. Two seasons which make up two different stories/cases. Not everything wraps up the way you'd want it to, but it's pretty darn realistic in that way.

Oh, and I almost forgot, I am binging my way (by an episode or two a day) through the first two seasons of Arrested Development. This show is still brilliant.

I find myself happier when I cut off my personal AD continuity right there, otherwise the overall package becomes a lesser thing.

Ah, yes, thanks for reminding me about Goliath, WSI had forgotten the new season came out. I enjoyed the first season quite a bit, and was pleasantly surprised that they went ahead with the second. 

Right now I'm watching Psych, which is a show you can't take it to seriously, the creators certainly don't. I love how they will reference something that happened in the earlier seasons. The characters will remark how they do the same thing every week. They have fun theme episodes, like the Twin Peaks one, or Chinatown. Just a fun show in general.

Wandering Sensei: Moderator Man said:

This week I managed to binge both seasons of Goliath on Amazon Prime. Good cast with very interesting characters. Two seasons which make up two different stories/cases. Not everything wraps up the way you'd want it to, but it's pretty darn realistic in that way.

THE PRISONER: Before I left on vacation I finished Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea with the intention of beginning Land of the Giants when I returned. But my visit to Portmerion, wales has put me in the mood to watch The Prisoner. I may even start a discussion before I get too far in (two episodes so far).

I went through the first seasons of a couple of other Amazon series.

Jack Ryan: I really liked this series a lot, and you can see that Amazon put a lot of money into it. I thought the story was well done, and really liked the actors. Wendell Pierce, who plays Jack Ryan's boss, has a bit of Bunk (his character from The Wire) in him. The villain's plans don't seem too implausible either. The main problem I had is it seemed that John Krasinski was trying so hard to not be "Jim", I wanted him to show a face that wasn't quite so serious all of the time.

Forever: A comedy starring Maya Rudolph and Fred Armisen. For the most part...not funny. Although I did like the character Mark. He provided the most consistent laughs. This is an 8 episode season, and it takes 2 full episodes to truly set-up the premise. Not recommended. 

Travis Herrick (Modular Mod) said:

Forever: A comedy starring Maya Rudolph and Fred Armisen. For the most part...not funny. Although I did like the character Mark. He provided the most consistent laughs. This is an 8 episode season, and it takes 2 full episodes to truly set-up the premise. Not recommended. 

I like Maya Rudolph, a lot. Fred Armisen, I can take or leave. But those two didn't help themselves promote this show in their appearances on the Emmy Awards on Monday night. Every time they showed up, they sucked all the air out of the room. 

ClarkKent_DC said:

I like Maya Rudolph, a lot. Fred Armisen, I can take or leave. But those two didn't help themselves promote this show in their appearances on the Emmy Awards on Monday night. Every time they showed up, they sucked all the air out of the room. 

I agree. It was funny to them. It reminded me of many of the SNL skits over the years that were green-lighted because the writers thought they were funny when they weren't.

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