The Leftovers (TV series)

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Rating: A

How do you write about a show like The Leftovers? The first five episodes of the show were probably the most depressing I have ever watched for some time. Dealing with the lives of the people who lost families and friends in an event called the Sudden Departure where two percent of the global population disappeared- this is definitely no light TV serving. And yet, you stick to it — intrigued, puzzled and more importantly relating to the characters and their often futile attempts at normality and sanity. But as Emily Nussbaum’s review similarly observes, a sudden shift in tone and pace takes place in episode 6 (The Guest) with a focus on one of the most compelling characters of the series, Nora Durst (played by Carrie Coon) and an episode of stolen identity and magical hugs. It reminds me of a Gabriel Garcia Marquez short story—- of surreal events brought around or happening in the most mundane circumstances.

A hard-sell of a show but a satisfying think piece for those who are brave enough to take the plunge.

 

Black Sails (Season 1)

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Rating: B

Just finished the first season of Starz’ Black Sails and in true Starz fashion, there was a lot of violence and sex in the series. But just like Starz’ other shows such as Spartacus and Pillars of the Earth, there is more to these series than gratuitous nudity and unnecessary gore. True, these elements are great ratings bait but beyond that, Starz managed to carve a niche for itself- showcasing bold shows that aren’t completely zombie fodder.

Black Sails is a prequel to Robert Louis Stevenson‘s novel Treasure Island and tells the story of a band of pirates under the command of Captain James Flint and their quarry, Spanish treasure galleon Urca de LimaThe first few episodes, introducing the characters and painting a picture of the Golden Age of Piracy boasts great cinematography and believable effects but doesn’t quite sell the characters quite well. Propelled by an engaging plot and dangling a number of loose ends, the show gets better as it draws to the end of its eight-episode season, ensuring that audience would definitely want to stick around for season 2.

Overall, it’s a good but not great show. I’ve already read a number of reviews and many are in agreement that character development is lacking in the first season. However, reviews grow more positive in the succeeding seasons. And despite the not so stellar turnout of the first season, it has managed to pique my curiosity and I intend to find out what happens in the next season.

 

 

Preacher (Season 1)

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Preacher  developed by Sam Catlin, Evan Goldberg, and Seth Rogen for AMC starring Dominic Cooper is a welcome addition to my list of top shows to watch. A dark comedy featuring a small-town preacher with a dubious past who suddenly becomes a host to a mysterious entity that allows him to literally compel people to think and act in a certain way through speech. Initially half-heartedly taking on his father’s church and duties, Jesse Custer upon discovering his new abilities, realizes that he now has the power to effect actual change to the lives of his flock. Naturally, everything comes with a price and we see him making more problems that actually solving them. In one of the best moments of the show, he accidentally sends a teenager, Eugene Root / “Arseface”, to hell. Throw into the mix, his Irish, vampire best friend, Cassidy who quite literally dropped down from the sky and his extremely capable ex-girlfriend,  Tulip O’Hare and you have a rip-roaring fun show that doesn’t shy from asking questions often skirted by other shows who are often too quick to borrow religious elements but would rather gloss over the tricky parts.

Aside from the great acting particularly from Ruth Negga and Dominic Cooper, the show’s season finale is one for the books. Don’t take my word for it and watch it.

Legion (2017)

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I just finished the first season of Legion, created for FX by Noah Hawley, based on the Marvel Comics character David Haller / Legion and I must say that I now hooked. I had my doubts with the first couple episodes its paltry eight-episode season but I now only have respect for Noah Hawley’s work on this rather difficult Marvel character. The show is praised for its departure from the now all too familiar superhero trope. My initial reservations about the show are due to its rather off-beat humor and quirky sets which I must say takes a couple of episodes to get used to. However, with its questions about the nature of reality and its portrayal of mental illness, the treatment of the show makes perfect sense.

It remains to be seen if the show will succeed in drawing in more viewers for its next season as I am certain that despite the initial hype of the show, may of those who watched the first episodes have not completed the show until its amazing season finale (and enticing mid-credits scene). If you are one of those people, I recommend watching the whole season you won’t be disappointed. If only to see the excellent work that Dan Stevens and Aubrey Plaza deliver on the show.