I took a break from my film blog this year. Went a little wild on the dancefloor! Well, dad style dancing at many live events. Still, I managed to watch a few films, however, I mainly kept to television series. Writing them down has made me realise I saw a serious amount of telly. Here they are, if you are interested, in no particular order. Feel free to comment on ones you have liked or recommend ones I missed. Be warned this is a big post!…
Attack On Titan
By far, one of the greatest anime series I’ve ever seen. Crazy creative original writing and storytelling. Constant twists and turns, character build up and story arcs of untold heroics and bravery. No character is safe from the carnage, however big or small. Making the surprise deaths of Game of Thrones feel like a Jackonory story. Ok, it’s Japanese manga, so expect lots of screaming and some over dramatic scenes but my gosh it’s a non-stop binge fest. It’s on Funimation and I watched 90 odd episodes in 3 weeks. It pretty much took over my life LOL. Final season coming early 2023. It’s been quite the titanic ride.
Severance on AppleTV is well worth a £5 hit n run subscription. (Gone up to £6.99 now I see) Wonderfully creative and well written science fiction thriller/drama. It’s has a nice and chilled pace that grips you with it’s compelling script and character development. I’d put it with other interesting thought provoking mystery series like Utopia (OG UK version), Devs, The OA, Westworld etc. Telly to make your brain work. Easily one of the best debut series of the year.
The Bear on DisneyPlus is, smack in your face, infuriating at times. Way too many jumping edit cuts, screaming and extreme close up’s of pores and sweat and angry broken sleepless faces. However, under the chaos of this Chicago based beef sandwich shop drama is a good heart. Takes a few episodes to get there and I couldn’t make my mind up if I actually liked it or hated it at first. I ended up binge watching it. Also, very nicely, kinda wraps the story up in it’s run.
Terror in Resonance
Japanese animated mini series from 2014. A story of two mysterious young friends that might have a connection to a series of devastating terrorist attacks across Tokyo. It has a foreboding deep sadness throughout. It’s a excellent story which probably doesn’t quite hit the high that it could of if only it had a few more episodes. Still worth your investment. If you like anime and not seen it, I definitely would recommend.
Haven’t read Lee Child’s book series. Though did like the 2012 film with Tom Cruise as Reacher. Even if his stilts couldn’t bring him up to size. The sequel Never Go Back was really wack. This TV series adaptation got a great Reacher in Alan Ritchson. Off the bat he felt like the character people wanted. And people rate this series high. I liked it, don’t get me wrong but it’s way over hyped. The acting and situations were ridiculous at the best of times. The final shoot out was hilariously comical. It was good to go towards my Amazon subscription charges. No doubt I’ll be watching season 2.
Anyone who knows me knows I like a Cold War drama and Slow Horses with a slight curveball of very dark humour is perfect. Slough House is a dumping ground for MI5 misfits and fuck up’s. A kind of purgatory until HQ feels like they can return, if ever. Head of house is the experienced intelligence officer Jackson Lamb (Gary Oldham). A chain smoking alcoholic with no social skills and hygiene issues but of course, brilliant at his job. I like to think of him as George Smiley (who Oldman would play in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy in 2011). The spy master had hit rock bottom and rather than retiring ended up terrorising MI5 misfits til the end of time. The last episode of season 2 is on Friday. I can’t wait.
I don’t know how they did it but season 4 could/might be the best one so far!!?? And I don’t think people saw that coming. It was really kind of epic. With some feature length episodes in there too. It was dark, exciting and beautifully edited and put together. Lots of stand out performances but Sadie Sink‘s incredible acting really took it to another level. Hoping that the next season will be the last. It needs to be wrapped up, especially how old some of the cast has become. S4 was perfection.
Highly anticipated story of what Obi Wan was up to on Tatooine prior to R2D2 and C3PO landing on the planet and bringing Luke to the force. Ewan McGregor reprises his role as old Ben. The story was all there, should of been an easy big hitter but someone didn’t have the balls to say no to the script writers and producers. As the script is so bad and ridiculous on many levels. Which didn’t help the actors at all. I gotta say the Darth and Obi Wan fight was done extremely well and Hayden Christensen darkside moment was truly sinister and awesome. Of course, I watched it all, I’m a big fan but spent every episode hitting myself in the head wondering why it wasn’t like The Mandalorian.
I knew this was a much loved comic book hero though I’ve never read or knew the back story. Moon Knight is a interesting concept. With the excellent Oscar Isaac playing the hero character with two alter egos. One, Marc, a hardened American mercenary, the other, Steven, a bumbling Brit historian. All connected to an Egyptian moon god called Khonshu. It’s a bit Indiana Jones and overall is good fun but as always with a lot of Disney stuff, it just losses itself and gets a little wet!
Love Death & Robots
This was Season 3 of this brilliant collection of short stories. Giving artist’s a creative platform to unleash a narrative that has Love, Death or Robots in the theme. The two best ones this season I thought were Bad Travelling and Jibaro which featured some of the most original art design and movement I’ve seen before.
What can say about The Boys! Garth Ennis comic book series on paper should never be turned in a TV series. It’s just so wild and outrageously un-pc in the most incredible insane way. But somehow the showrunners got to channel all the essence in a workable television show and it is glorious. Season 3 is a shockingly brilliant build on the last two amazing story runs. Homelander once again is the driving force of unpredictable madness and Antony Starr plays him to perfection. The Frenchie and Kimiko relationship is sweet, Queen Maeve is so smoking hot and having Soldier Boy turn up just added yet another bit of icing on the cake. Oh my days! Then they drop the Herogasm episode!!! “Ooi”
The Umbrella Academy
I’ve really enjoyed the first two seasons of this dysfunctional family of messed up supers comic book adaptation. Whereas the third series had some great moments, it ultimately lost itself on so many occasions that it became a right old mess of moan. Even my sweet adoring Allison Hargreeves (Emmy Raver-Lampman) was too moany for this here wolf to be infatuated with! Though, I’m sure she’ll whisper a rumor in my ear and I’d be at her beck and call! Still, I’ll be looking forward to tune in for S4 if it happens… (Edit, fourth and final season has a green light.)
You’ll need to drink a gallon of Red Bull to be on the same page as this animation madness. It’s high-octane action as a street kid works his way through gangsters and modification obsessed thugs and freelance mercenaries. It’s pretty wild. I was pulled in by the animation style that greatly feels like the old school drawings of classics like Ghost In The Shell and Cowboy Bebop just pimped up with today’s animation techniques. It’s also works well as a mini series with well written story arcs and twists and turns. If you like that sort of thing, Cyberpunk is pure entertainment.
The third and final series to Ricky Gervais’s jointly depressing and uplifting comedy drama. The first two seasons were excellent. This one was ok. Felt weird dropping characters out of the series with no explanation. Esp Sandy (Mandeep Dhillon) disappearance who’d been kinda fundamental to Tony’s (Gervais) journey. I read that scheduling issues with her had caused the drop when getting cast in the American TV series CSI:Vegas. It was good bittersweet end wrapping up the story. Looking forward to what he comes up with next?
The Terminal List
Big budget amazon series starring Chris Pratt as a Navy Seal seeking vengeance after a rather disastrous turn of events on a supposedly well planned mission. Based on a novel of the same name written by Jack Carr. It’s well made and high quality. Great to have a Hollywood star happy to jump onboard a TV series. It’s pretty good all round but I felt it got too predictable in the end. Still nice to get my Prime Video subscription fees working for their money!
Inside No 9
There’s really nothing so constantly awesome that lands each year and feels like an event. Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith anthology series is another of those series I have to save till my daughter is home from Uni so we can watch together. The mix of comedy, horror, thrills and drama and seeing what character each of these two talented creative artist with appear in. Wigs and beards and different demeanors are as exciting as the twists and turns of the short stories. Some of the twists might be lost on non-british viewers due to nostalgia element of a few stories, like, “Mr King” and “Wise Owl” but still, the weirdness, will be a deep joy I’d say. If you like the macabre that is…
Ghosts is a beloved series for me and my daughter. We always watch it together. Working our way through series 4 as I type. From the team behind the original cast of Horrible Histories and Yonderland. It’s just a beautiful mellow, funny and charming comedy series with a bunch of characters you could never get bored of watching. I hear it’s been remade and recast in America. I couldn’t ever imagine anyone else playing those parts. I may one day bring myself to watch a few episodes but surely it would seem so wrong! Anyone of my stateside friends given the remake ago?
SAS Rogue Heroes
When you get past the out of era music choices and brash, slightly over the top characters you will enjoy this fun and wild BBC series. Recreating tales of the inception of the SAS during WW2 using the real accounts and splices of original training footage embedded into scenes. It is based on factual events that were explored in Ben Macintyre’s book with the same title.
This was a 6 part spin-off series of the British classic prison comedy Porridge with the brilliant Ronnie Baker reprises his role as Fletcher. Now I hadn’t seen or had forgotten about Going Straight. The life of Fletcher when released from Slade’s prison and tries to go straight on civvy street. He lives with his daughter Ingrid (Patricia Brake) who is dating his old cell mate Lennie Godber (Richard Beckinsale). The series received high praise and probably would of gone on for another series but sadly Richard would die at the young age of 31. It wouldn’t of been the same without him. It’s on Youtube here and I so thoroughly adored watching it.
Sleeper hidden gem of a drama. This Australian drama is centered around the pressures and infighting of TV newsreaders on a network in the 1980’s. Booze and cigarettes and shoulder pads. It stars Anna Torv who lead the X-Files type series Fringe. The wonderful thing I enjoyed about this series is being set to actual historical news events. With most episodes having them embedded in the story arcs. Australians are always great at a good melodrama and this is no exception. Series two starts in the New Year. It’s on the iplayer at time of writing.
Series 4 even though it’s confusingly called season 2 with the first two series retitled Top Boy – Summerhouse by Netflix. It’s a ridiculous idea to split them as they are continuing story arcs that take away the highly emotional connection between the two. That being said, it was great to have Top Boy back however, I didn’t think this season was that strong. It’s got silly, tries to be too big. What makes the show so good is the drama around Summerhouse not galavanting around the world with big gun battles and silly plot lines. Superb acting and characters still, with Sully (Kano) always stealing the show. Looking forward to S5 if they do it as things will be different!
Mortimer & Whitehouse: Gone Fishing
The IMDB blurb sums this show up. “After life-changing heart surgeries, good friends Bob Mortimer and Paul Whitehouse embark on a relaxing yet epic journey around Britain, eating great food and attempting to catch some of the nation’s iconic fish.” Two comedy legends from my youth, joking around, bickering, falling over and generally having a giggle and a middle-age moan here and there. It’s has a beautiful pace to it. It’s pretty much the same episode over 5 seasons and it’s perfect for it. I’m not even into fishing. There’s a xmas special too, not seen it yet.
I’ve really enjoyed The Orville. I watched all three seasons back to back. Made by the Family Guy dude, Seth MacFarlane. Takes a little while to get passed the Peter Griffin voice but when you do it’s all cool. A live action homage to Star Trek. First season is more jokey but then it starts being a whole lot more with some really great storylines. There’s a take on the Borg and also a spin like go at Joan Collins episode of original Star Trek “The City on the Edge of Forever“. Dare I say it’s much more inline with Next Generation and OG Star Trek than most of the newer stuff? I never watched it before as I assumed I’d hate it. LOL. Plus didn’t get the name! The Orville? Then it was explaned, it all made sense, doh! I should of known. Orville Wright, one of the aviation pioneers, The Wright Brothers.
It’s Matrix, Tenet, Westworld and Ready Player One all mixed into one. Time travel, avatars, The Sims all weaved into a twisty tale. Thrown in is enough little new tech sci-fi nonsense to keep me entertained. And I have no idea how they have made Chloe Grace Moretz look tall. Superb start and then each episode begins to get lost up its own arse. Such a shame. I got one episode to go, almost don’t know if I’ve got the willpower to watch it. Ok, I know I have to for closure…
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power
What can I say! Everyone went nuclear on this series. A prequel to J. R. R. Tolkien classic book series The Lord of the Rings. It’s nowhere near the awesome quality of the epic TLOTR film trilogy but it’s not far removed from the wackness of The Hobbit trilogy drawn out nonsense. I understand if you are a scholar of the Tolkien appendices notes and not happy with what was added. I also understand the amount of money spent for a totally lacklustre and mediocre offering. Still, with all that said. I kind of enjoyed it. Never once, during the production build up, did I expect it to be any good and went in uncritical and looking for an hour of lush visuals to escape in, once a week. I know there’s lots to moan at but generally I didn’t care and just watched it for what it was. As everyone got their knickers in twist about beardless lady dwarfs and short haired elves and Lenny Henry doing a crazy hybrid twang of Brummie and Irish! None of that bothered me. Prince Durin IV had some fun scenes with his elf friend Elrond. (Esp loved the table bit) Best of all I liked Arondir yet I do hope they expand on his character next season and also sort the writing out. It felt like another case of no one having the balls in production to speak up and say “Have you really thought this out?“
House Of The Dragon
Went into House of the Dragon, a prequel storyline to Game of Thrones, with little expectation. Happy to say I fell instantly transfixed with this fantasy drama. Smaller scale world to GOT which leads to a more bickering family drama which happen to have dragons in. Paddy Considine was by far the central driving force of the series. Wasn’t over keen on the time jumps that replaced main characters with different actors. But, generally, this was a superb, dialogue driven drama. However, look into it too much and you realise it’s an expensive remake of Eastenders, what with all the family feuding and ridiculous over the top drama! Tee-hee.
For All Mankind
This is another of those reasons’ I had to drop a few quid on a months subscription to the big apple!! (AppleTV is an arse to navigate.) I love space stuff, I love Cold War stuff but I’m not a big fan of alternative, what if, history stuff. For All Mankind is a wonderful exception to this. Mainly because they do it so well. Season one starts off in 1969. The moon landing. Slight spoilers for the opening episode. It pans around Americans watching Armstrongs “One giant step” but they all look a bit moppy! It’s not until the grainy video and crackled voice comes through and….. It’s a Russian voice! What’s amazing about this series is the way little details change. America is now much more driven to fund NASA. Space travel is accelerated. Today’s news and historical events are still there but changed slightly or taken a different path. Technology is pushed even further into the future. Season two is set in the 80’s and season three in the 90s. Another plus point is the makeup department. The aging process for the cast is not far off perfect at times. I’m halfway through season 3 as I type and will be finished before the New Year.
Oh Andor! This was everything I wanted in a Star Wars series. Featuring actual set design and pacing. Rather than that ridiculous slow running and oddish feel to certain scenes when they use StageCraft. A truly magnificent piece of technology but don’t have run scenes. It works with The Mandalorian because of the Cowboy and Western feel, slow walking, moody atmosphere and open landscapes. Anyhow back to Andor. Retro future tech back in full effect. Keeping it inline with the OG Star Wars. A prequel to a prequel. “In an era filled with danger, deception and intrigue, Cassian (Diego Luna) will embark on the path that is destined to turn him into a Rebel hero“. Andor is going to be two seasons that run straight into Rogue One (2016) which itself ran directly into A New Hope (1977). Episodes 1-3 and 4-6 work well as mini films leading onto the 6 episode final. Which has fan-gasm nods to THX 1138 (1971) George Lucas’ first film. It has it all for me, proper geek-out mode. It’s more a drama, thriller set in space. To be honest you could watch it without seeing any Star Wars before. So excited for the next installment, please be next year, pretty please, not 2024!! Note – stay for the after credits on final episode for a little visual treat…
No way anyone got time to read all that so I decided to add the pictures. Make it easier to scan. Note to self, if I ever do another year TV series wrap at the end of 2023! For the love of god Mikey write them up slowly throughout the year! Don’t do it all at once! Hehe.
Happy New Year and wishing you all the best and a great and happy 2023.
Big love. Mikey Wolfman