During last year’s Blaugust I decided to dedicate a whole post to what I had been watching on TV, be it live, via the DVR or through streaming services like Netflix and HBO GO. Though I have touched on things that I’ve been watching via this blog or on Twitter throughout the year since that last post, I thought it would be interesting enough to write about again. Bear with me, there’s going to be quite a few shows on this list, though I will try to keep my descriptions mostly spoiler free.
As I have mentioned in the past, the majority of the shows I watch on television are on the AMC and FX networks, though I have been watching more shows that are on HBO, due to having access to their streaming service, allowing me to catch up on things I missed, or keep up on new shows without having to set the DVR. Netflix has also fully committed to their own original programming, releasing full seasons all at once with instantly lends itself to binge watching — this just so happens to appeal to me. So what am I currently watching?
Halt and Catch Fire – AMC
I spoke briefly about Halt and Catch Fire in that post I linked above. The first season was the origin story of these characters, and how they came to be intertwined. Season two (which just had it’s finale last night) centers around Cameron and Donna (the two women pictured above) and their company, Mutiny. Joe, (picture at far right) has parted ways with Cardiff, as has Gordon (left) and are trying to sort out what to do with their lives. The birth of multiplayer gaming over the Internet along with chat rooms are on clear display throughout season two. I love the retro tech industry tidbits present in the show, along with the real world issues that all of the characters have to deal with. It feels very true to the source material, though I was only alive for 8 years during the 1980’s, so my memory of them is a bit hazy. Still, I recommend this show to anyone who has ever loved tech, be it the hardware, the software, or even just the Internet itself.
Humans – AMC
Humans is a new show that turned up on the network this summer. It is apparently a British TV show that has been ported over to the States. It has a very I, Robot feel to it, albeit with very little action. For the most part it is just centered around the interactions between real humans and “Synths” which are machines that are designed to look just like us, but have the Asimov laws programmed in. Some of the synths are different than others however, as one family begins to discover. The side story revolves around this particular synth and the rest of her “family” — synths given consciousness via their creator, who is now dead. As the storyline has progressed, it appears that more of these synths are present in the world than we know of, but not all has been revealed just yet. As with most AMC shows, if you missed this one, look for it to turn up on Netflix eventually.
Hell on Wheels – AMC
Another show I have been watching since the beginning, Hell on Wheels recently entered its fifth season. It is still based on Cullen’s mishaps while trying to reach the west coast with the trans-continental railroad, though now he works for a different rail company, and is trying to win the race over his former company. The main point of contention now is the Chinese workers, and Cullen’s own issues surrounding the disappearance of his Wife and Child, who were last seen with the Mormons. An old nemesis rears his head, and of course Cullen butts heads with new people in new areas as the railroad continues to move forward. I’m not much for Westerns, but I can’t get enough of this show.
The Making of the Mob: New York – AMC
This new show on AMC is actually a mini-series, in that there shouldn’t be new seasons beyond this one, unless they decide to jump to other areas of the world (I.E. “The Making of the Mob: ____”). The Making of the Mob: New York centers around a handful of Italian and Jewish immigrants who rise from lowly street urchins to criminal kingpins. Every Mafia movie you’ve ever seen, every Sopranos or Boardwalk Empire like show either centers around or has referenced these men, who really lived and died as mobsters. You’ll recognize the names. You probably even already know the story. But the way this show is put together keeps things interesting. Ray Liotta narrates while various actors who are portraying these mafioso act out the life long story of these men. It’s fantastic television, in my humble opinion.
The Strain – FX
The Strain started out last summer with a bang. A cross between a zombie apocalypse and a series about vampires, it was right up my alley. This season looks to be more of the same, with more details being discovered about the Master, creator of all of these zompires, and the backstory between “the Jew” and the Nazis/Master unravels some of the mystery of the present day nightmare. I’m actually behind on a couple of episodes due to recording conflicts (stupid older DVRs not being able to record enough shows at once), but so far it has held my interest just as well as it did last year. If you haven’t watched this show yet (and aren’t squeamish) do yourself a favor!
Defiance – SyFy
Defiance is sort of a guilty pleasure of mine. When the series started I only knew it as the TV tie-in to the MMO, and I had actually purchased the MMO during a sale. Then it went free to play, and I lamented the loss of my $5. The game wasn’t really my cup-o-tea, but it did get me interested in the TV show, so I went back and watched the first season. I watched the second season last year and still enjoyed it. This year, I’m watching the third season and have come to realize a couple of things. 1. The show is pretty damn hokey. The acting is good at times, sub-par at others. 2. The effects can be great, or terrible. This is typical of TV shows, but I don’t understand the lack of continuity between scenes. It appears that scenes that are fully CGI look better than those that only have a little CGI in them. The storyline is fairly similar to other science fiction shows I’ve watch in the past, though it refreshing to have a post apocalyptic world that isn’t infested by some sort of other-worldy creature, and is instead populated by aliens (who by proxy are partially responsible for the current state of the world). The aliens are all just humanoids though, so it lacks the creativity of some of the better Sci-Fi shows out there. Either way, I’ll continue to watch this show til it ends most likely.
Ballers – HBO
I happened to catch preview for both this show and the next one I’m going to talk about while watching Game of Thrones earlier in the year. The Rock isn’t necessarily a go-to actor for me, but the appeal of this show was in being able to take a peek into the lives of football players, however dramatized this might be. Ballers centers around Dwayne Johnson’s character, who is a retired pro football player, and is now working as an agent for new players. He spends most of his time trying to maintain relationships his clients, working through his own issues with potential brain damage, and bailing people out of trouble. There really isn’t much else to it, but I’ve rather enjoyed the show so far.
The Brink – HBO
As I mentioned, previews for this show were floating around back when Game of Thrones was on air. This one is about current day political climates, with Jack Black starring along with a host of other actors you’ll recognize. Black plays the part of an employee at a US Embassy in Pakistan, while a slew other other characters intertwine in political scandal. It’s light-hearted and fun, and I’d recommend it to fans of this type of satire.
True Detective – HBO
I didn’t see the first season of True Detective when it aired, but as I have said, HBO GO is great for catching up on stuff you may have missed. I ended up watching it on a whim, as generally speaking I find Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey to be good actors. The plot was solid, the acting was great, and I was sold. I wasn’t aware however, that the show was designed in the same way as say American Horror Story, where each new season focused on a whole new storyline. I was expecting a continuation of the first season, and instead we get Colin Farrel and Vince Vaughn taking part in a whole new tale. First off, I have to say that this season started very slow, but it has picked up and become more exciting. Secondly, it’s refreshing to see Mr Vaughn in something other than a comedy. He’s actually a pretty good actor, despite being in some shitty movies in the past. It’s been good stuff, I recommend it.
That’s what I’ve been watching as of late. There have been quite a few new and recurring shows that have already ended for the year though, so I thought I’d share those as well:
Game of Thones – HBO
Of course I watched season 5 of Game of Thrones. I am anxiously awaiting season 6, which is supposedly going to be the last season, but we shall see. Having never read the books, I’m not sure where this season ends up where the narrative is concerned, but I can attest that I haven’t been nearly as offended by additions or subtractions to the story line as the book followers have been. Nor do I take issue with the graphic nature of the show. I knew what I was getting into as soon as I started watching the show, and I understand the concept of spectacle fueled viewership. Regardless of your feelings on the issue, one thing GoT does is gets people talking, and that’s never a bad thing (even if we’re talking about bad things).
Silicon Valley – HBO
Silicon Valley started up last year but I wasn’t paying attention. I noticed that it was on after GoT this year though, and so I went back and watched the first season, then kept up with the second. The story follows one man’s life, where he works for a huge company (that feels a lot like Google or Apple) and ends up creating a program or algorithm (I can’t remember which) that allows for compression that is outrageous and great for streaming. This leads to him creating a startup, where an oddball cast of characters helps him to live the dream. Hilarity ensues. If you’re interested in tech, startups and like goofy friend comedy, this one will be up your alley.
Turn – AMC
Turn is another show that started last year, and that I continued watching this year. It’s a historical piece (though the accuracy could be debatable) following the story of one man who gets involved in a spy ring. He’s on America’s side, but the British occupation and Revolutionary War are taking place, so being caught as a spy would get you killed. He walks a thin line between his spy games and pretending to be in service to the British, and though it’s playing on patriotism that only Americans will appreciate, it still tells a great tale.
Better Call Saul – AMC
A spinoff of the ridiculously popular Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul failed to hook me until a few episodes in. I suppose I was expecting something more akin to Breaking Bad, but in the end this is a show that is only loosely related. The main character Saul was lawyer to the main character from BB, but this is his origin tale. He starts from humble beginnings, uses his backhanded nature to get ahead, and starts to build a reputation as a first class lawyer. How this will eventually lead to him meeting Walter White and becoming the lawyer to criminal kingpins remains to be seen, but rest assured I’ll continue to watch it.
I also wanted to take a look at some upcoming shows that I’m looking forward to:
Fear The Walking Dead – AMC
I know, I know. There’s already a Walking Dead TV show, so why does there need to be another? That was my immediate reaction when I first heard about this “companion show.” Apparently the only difference between Fear The Walking Dead and the original The Walking Dead is that it takes place in Los Angeles, and centers around different people during the same zombie apocalypse. Being the sucker for zombie stuff that I am, I will be checking this out later this month, but I’m still waiting with baited breath. I have low expectations, so perhaps they will be met. But I don’t see this show being better than the original.
The Walking Dead – AMC
Speaking of The Walking Dead, seaons 6 returns this October. Some familiar faces have turned back up, and there looks to be more conflict happening within the new compound the group has found themselves in. This is bar-none my favorite show on TV, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. The key is that it’s not really about the zombies, but about the human confrontation that I so regularly talk about. I love the drama, even if it’s sometimes needless (though less so since Lori kicked the bucket).
American Horror Story: Hotel – FX
American Horror Story and I have a strange relationship. I have watched every episode to date, though I have become less and less thrilled with the show in the past couple of years. I love the fact that the same actors come back year after year, though they all play different roles and each season is based on a different horror tale. However, after the murder house and asylum seasons, things have gone down hill. I wasn’t thrilled with Coven. I disliked Freak Show altogether despite watching the whole thing. I was prepared to write the series off, but Hotel sounds like it’s ripe for horror, and I’m going to give it another shot. I just hope it turns out better than the last couple of seasons.
Fargo – FX
I watched the first season of Fargo last year and loved it. I hadn’t seen the movie, but I understand that it’s based off of that, which is in turn based off supposed real world events that happened in Minnesota. Either way, the actor who played Bilbo Baggins in the Hobbit movies and Billy Bob Thornton put on a great show. From what I have read the show has found a new Fall time slot, and this season is supposed to take place further in the past, detailing other bits and pieces of the backstory. So I don’t know what to expect but I hope it’s as good as the first season.
The Bastard Executioner – FX
The only things I know about The Bastard Executioner is that it’s written by Curt Sutter, who also wrote and starred in Sons of Anarchy. I enjoyed the hell out of that show, so I assume this will be entertaining as well. Curt is in this show, along with his wife, Katie Sagal, and it’s set in medieval times. It’s set to show up this fall as well, so I’m going to give it a whirl and will report back on it at a future date.
Now that I’m nearly 3,000 words, I think I’ll count this post as done. If you made it this far without skipping anything, I congratulate you. Oh, and check out Blaugust over on Anook.