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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Captain Comics said:

One thing that really jumped out: The actor who played Felicity is by far the best actor on the show, and by far the best part of the show. It's a shame she won't be back for the last season, but then again, it's pretty foreshortened and won't be set in this status quo. It might be that every episode is on a different world, so it could be interesting regardless of the cast.

I agree. Moreover, Emily Bett Rickards was introduced in the Arrow pilot in a walk-on role as the I.T. Girl for Queen Industries, but made such an impression that she was invited back for more episodes and became a full regular in the cast (with a name!) before the end of that first season.

I don't watch Arrow, except for the crossover episodes, so that's where I know Felicity from, and she is a joy to watch. I tried to watch Arrow after the second crossover (as noted here), but it wasn't a joyful time to watch Felicity, and I didn't stick with it. 

I think I had eight episodes of Arrow in the DVR when we finally watched them. Watched a couple at a time and it was pretty much a chore. I hope they can make the final season less of a chore.

I honestly think it has been a good show. I'm proud as punch that Berlanit & Co. took a second-stringer like Green Arrow and made mainstream audiences tune in. I was honestly astounded -- and delighted -- that in the early seasons it gave us an Oliver Queen so fast and dangerous and Batman-like that I was able to table my own, long-standing skepticism about guys who bring arrows to a gunfight. Stephen Amell -- and his stuntmen and stunt coodinators and choreographers -- was so damned effective that it was plausible that ordinary crooks, crooks with guns, had no chance. It deserves our respect.

But here at the end, the show has run through every conceivable variation of its premise and relationships, and there's nothing more to do but repeat itself. And the creators don't want to do that, and the audience doesn't want to see that. So it's time for it to hang up its arbolester and ride off into the sunset in heroic fashion.

And it appears to be doing just that. It's not just impressive that we fans (and the fanboys in charge) want to do that, but that The CW is willing to say, "Sure, if that's what works best."

I tip my hat to Arrow, which spawned the TV equivalent of the MCU, to Stephen Amell and Emily Bett Rikards for selling us on it, and Berlanti for having faith to stick to comic book concepts instead of TV tropes ... and making it work for eight years.

Berlanti on Arrow and Feige/Favreau on Iron Man are defining moments in the lives of those of us over the age of 30, and we will not likely see their like again before we die. DC readers in 1956 had no idea the Silver Age was beginning, people in the Lee/Kirby years of Marvel had no idea that they were witnessing the creation of a dynasty, but you and I ... you and I have those examples, and we should know what we're witnessing.

We have been in the presence of something that launched a creative movement unprecedented in pop culture. People will write about this and analyze this and immortalize this in centuries to come..

And we were there.

We're watching Another Life, a Netflix sci-fi show starring Katee Sackhoff (Starbuck on Battlestar Galactica) and Selma Blair (Liz in the first Hellboy). It swipes generously from just about every famous SF movie, and doesn't have an original bone in its body. And sometimes the drama is a little contrived and the dialogue hokey. But for all that, we've been entertained enough to keep watching.

Oh, it's also got Tyler Hoechlin, the Superman on Supergirl. He's not a very nice person here. It's also got the chick who was Cisco's interdimensional girlfriend. I can't remember the actress' name or the role she played, but she's one of a spaceship's crew on this show in clothes so tight I'm amazed she can breathe.

I just finished this up last week. As you say it's a hodgepodge of just about every sci-fi movie or show in recent memory. And it's got really bad dialogue and some pretty lame acting in spots as well.  I guess the one thing they did right was set up a mystery that you (kind of) want to know the answer to, and that kept me going to the end.

Is anyone watching Lodge 49? It's back for a second season, and it's third episode just aired. And man, if there were ever a show that feels like it's just for me, it's this. 

Basically, it's about Dud (Wyatt Russell, Kurt and Goldie's son), an injured surfer and ex-pool cleaner who stumbles upon a social club -- the Ancient and Benevolent Order of Lynx -- in Long Beach, California, at a time when the economy is tanking and everyone's lost their social connections. And he finds purpose, and friends, among the members of the Lodge. It's a very loosey-goosey show -- a hangout show, where you're just happy to spend time with these characters, as opposed to one where the tension of the plot keeps everything cranking. And there's this magical realism to the whole thing, where people have dreams and visions, and there might be missing scrolls that contain the secret to alchemy. 

If you haven't watched it, give it a try. It's a gas. 

Yeah, I dig it too. It's a cool bunch of quirky characters--Dud foremost among them--and I like the magical realism. It will be interesting to see if they ever pay off on the promise of that, or just leave it vague and inconclusive.

Rob Staeger (Grodd Mod) said:

Is anyone watching Lodge 49? It's back for a second season, and it's third episode just aired. And man, if there were ever a show that feels like it's just for me, it's this. 

Basically, it's about Dud (Wyatt Russell, Kurt and Goldie's son), an injured surfer and ex-pool cleaner who stumbles upon a social club -- the Ancient and Benevolent Order of Lynx -- in Long Beach, California, at a time when the economy is tanking and everyone's lost their social connections. And he finds purpose, and friends, among the members of the Lodge. It's a very loosey-goosey show -- a hangout show, where you're just happy to spend time with these characters, as opposed to one where the tension of the plot keeps everything cranking. And there's this magical realism to the whole thing, where people have dreams and visions, and there might be missing scrolls that contain the secret to alchemy. 

If you haven't watched it, give it a try. It's a gas. 

For whatever reason, I never watched The Wire, even though everyone I know has recommended it.

So, first season, over the next week or two.

JD DeLuzio said:

For whatever reason, I never watched The Wire, even though everyone I know has recommended it.

So, first season, over the next week or two.

Cool, I'd like to know what you think. I only got into The Wire a few years ago, and saw the whole run of the series. 

The book The Wire: Truth Be Told (by Rafael Alvarez, who was one of the scriptwriters, and David Simon, creator and producer) describes the effort to sell the show. HBO was all about appointment television, about doing something special, about doing something you can't get elsewhere. Its mantra was "This isn't television; this is HBO." And what is more routine, more ordinary, more run-of-the-mill than a cop show?

Well, Simon told them, this isn't going to be an ordinary cop show. We are going to eschew the regular tropes -- chase scenes and shootouts, good guys and bad guys, stock characters like the Harried Captain and The Maverick Who Doesn't Play By the Rules.

(On that last point, The Wire didn't escape having The Maverick Who Doesn't Play By the Rules, but he suffered for it, because he painfully learned he wasn't playing the same game his bosses were.)

What The Wire producers and writers were going for was nothing less than an indictment on the futility of The War on Drugs, and how the way it is being waged wrecks lives -- and an indictment of the institutions that keep it going. Season 1 is about the drug trade; Season 2 is about the port system; Season 3 is about politics; Season 4 is about the public school system; and Season 5 is about the news media. 

The show really hits its stride in Season 3 and Season 4, and has some future stars, such as Idris Elba (Heimdall from the Thor movies), and Michael B. Jordan (Johnny Storm in Fantastic Four, Erik Killmonger in Black Panther).

There's good stuff here. I hope you like it. 

I'm nearly finished Season One, and I really like it. I will probably wait a month or so between seasons, however.

ClarkKent_DC said:

I binged the entirety of the second season of Barry this weekend. My gosh, this cast is fantastic. Bill Hader really shows his acting chops here. Henry Winkler proves himself to be an American treasure. And Stephen Root shines as his usual bumbling self, this time with a bit more of an edge.

If you haven't seen it, Barry is a veteran of Afghanistan who has become a hit man in his civilian life. He ends up taking an acting class led by Henry Winkler, and everything goes haywire, and that's just in the first season.

As long as you're not easily offended, I highly recommend this show.

And I thought I was binging another show, but it turns out it's only had three episodes out...that is, The Righteous Gemstones. So far, they really have the looks of megachurch televangelists down. Especially Walton Goggins as Baby Billy Freeman, whose silver hair and shaded glasses make his appearance match his outrageous preaching.

Danny McBride and John Goodman lead the family of rich and greedy church leaders. That's all I'm going to give away, but it heads down the road you think it would. I'm loving it so far.

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