It feels like only yesterday when I wrote last year’s ‘Little Screen’ entry, but here we are for another year with a look at what has me excited for 2016!
Note: Will probably contain light spoilers.
The Man in the High Castle
(Historical|Alternate History|Sci-fi?|Based on a book)
Although I came away very impressed with the first season, it took me a long time to get into this show. I came very close to abandoning it about 1/3 of the way through, but boy, am I glad I stuck with it.
So what was the problem? 1) Super slow build, and 2) the characters.
Without going into specifics, the first 1/3 of the show has the two main characters chilling in location A, while the rest of the story (i.e. the parts we’re interested in) are happening… well, not in location A.
It’s kinda like the early days of Danerys’ arc in Game of Thrones. She’s away from all the ‘fun stuff’ going on. Now imagine if 90% of season one of GOT focused only on her storyline while teasing you with brief snippets of the Starks and Lannisters… see the problem?
Fortunately for High Castle, the characters came back from location A and, for me, the show finally started. But that was only half of the problem. Let’s talk characters.
Specifically, let’s talk favourites. For me it’s Obergruppenführer John Smith (big baddie), Chief Inspector Kido (big baddie), and Trade Minister Tagomi (goodie).
My least favourites? Everyone else—especially the MAIN characters. Now, this wouldn’t matter so much if the above baddie characters were anti-heroes and we were supposed to be ‘rooting’ for them, but I don’t think this was the writers’ intentions.
The main goodie characters are completely unrelatable to me. I find myself having no sympathy for them, and instead enjoy the scenes with the baddies instead—Trade Minister Tagomi being the sole exception.
I honestly can’t tell whether this is bad writing, bad casting, or bad acting. I used to wonder a lot about that in the early days of the show. Now it simply doesn’t matter. I’ve latched onto the well-written characters of the show, and they happen to be baddies.
The story itself? It’s really, really good and not corny in the way you might expect an alternate history-set show to be. There’s a lot of unanswered questions running throughout the season, which I like, and you’re left desperate for a season two. At least I was.
So despite my earlier concerns (and my rambling about the show) The Man in the High Castle remains one of my favourite shows from last year. Definitely recommend. (And a second season is on the way!)
(Sci-fi|Adventure|Space|Based the books)
Unless you’re super new to all-things Kai Taylor (in which case, Hi!) you should know that I’m a big sci-fi fan. So when I first heard that Syfy was making a new space-based show, I got very excited. And when I heard that it was based on a series of books, my excitement went even higher. And when I started watching the show, my reaction was… meh.
Wait, what? My reaction was ‘meh’?
For a show set in space?
For a show with spaceships and space battles?
Ouch. What went wrong?
First of all, it took me a long time to get into The Expanse. In fact, I kept on noting that it was just like The Man in the High Castle. Unfortunately, it ended up much worse.
For me, it wasn’t until the last three episodes did I feel like the show ‘clicked’ with me and I started to enjoy it. Why the long delay? This will sound familiar: 1) Super slow build, and 2) the characters. Even now I’m still so-so about many of the main characters. I find it really difficult to emphasise with any of them—not a good sign when they’re the primary devices used to pull you into the story.
So what do I think of Season 1? As a whole, I’m impressed by quite a lot of what I saw and enjoy the underlying story, but it took way too long to get there. Again, it isn’t until the final three episodes does the story start to come together. Sure, there’s some exciting moments leading up to then, but there’s also a lot of filler too.
Syfy have already commissioned a second season, but I have to wonder how long this show will continue beyond that—especially since it’s supposedly a very expensive show. Hopefully enough people waited it out until the end of season one and found some satisfaction in tuning in (like I did), but how many gave up halfway through?
I’m looking forward to season two. I just hope that the faster pace of the last few episodes were the beginnings of a trend, and not random flukes.
Dark Matter: I wrote about this one separately in another post, but to briefly rehash things here, I’ll state that this is the show I’m most eagerly awaiting this year. If you haven’t watched the first season so far, I highly encourage you to do so.
Game of Thrones: I’m pushing this show into the binge-watch queue. I still enjoy watching it, but its mighty slow pacing leaves me wishing I could fast-forward through entire scenes. Saving the next season for a binge-watch sounds like a good idea.
Hell, maybe I’ll save the next two seasons. Spoilers be damned.
The Last Ship: Its second season was one of the more entertaining shows I watched last year, but it didn’t quite reach the high of season one. The story was still good, and I’m definitely tuning in for season three, but the plot felt weaker. Also, there was less Rhona Mitra this time around (which makes sense given the story) but her character was so good in S1 it was an unfortunate regression.
Side note: Those accents damn near killed me. Which accents? The English baddies. Naturally.
Here’s some shows that I mentioned in last year’s post but for one reason or another, never got around to finishing them:
Homeland (new season): Watched episode one, but didn’t go any further. Why? Decided to binge-watch months ago and simply forgot about it. This one’s in the to-be-watched queue.
Sense 8: Similar to Homeland, I watched only the first episode of this. The story didn’t resonate much with me and I wasn’t too concerned with any of the characters. The reviews say to keep watching and friends have said the same thing. I’m putting this one in the queue too.
Heroes Reborn: Haven’t started this one yet and I’m kinda reluctant to. I really, really loved Heroes when it was on (BIG emphasis on its 1st season), but I’ve heard not-so-great things about this reboot-that’s-not-a-reboot. I wouldn’t want Reborn to tarnish any of those good memories from the early days of the series. But hey, maybe it’s worth the risk…
Phew! That took a lot of words. More words than were probably needed but we got there in the end.
While I’m still lamenting the lack of Hannibal this year, 2016 looks pretty promising. Several new shows are getting a second season, and all the others on my radar have been renewed. And beyond the shows I’m looking forward to, I have a healthy to-be-watched queue as well.
2016 should be an entertaining year.