The Marvel and DC universes have expanded into the territory of television with several small incursions. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, Lucifer, Legion, Legends of Tomorrow, and Gotham have either been off-beat explorations into well-known properties or original perspectives on well-established universes. The thing is, though, all of these shows have stayed within a few degrees of their original genre. Even Preacher, which adds a tinge of what I refer to as the “AMC quality” (some perfect blend of drama and action, character study and story arc), keeps to the dramatic side of the genre-spectrum. While I’ve personally been a fan of the more comedic comics, a la iZombie, they are a rare find on television. DC has found a way to add to it.
Here’s a show I’ve never mentioned in the same paragraph as a DC property: Better Off Ted. The offbeat, nearly fantastical series that’s on every Netflix Top 50 list worth its salt seems to have inspired the newest DC entry. Powerless is a straight-up comedy that takes place in one of Bruce Wayne’s companies that attempts to improve people’s lives through technology. Alright, the plots are similar, but what else could they share? The art direction, the writing, and the general tone of the series were all so similar, I spent twenty minutes trying to find shared producers and writers. There were none.
Better Off Ted has been a favorite of ours at Tonight’s Watch, which puts Powerless between a soft spot in my heart and a hard place in my criticism. Will it measure up and go a full two seasons without getting axed, or Ben Queen’s fourth series be Powerless to stop it?
Reboots are in fashion. It’s quite possible the machine that consumes existing novels and plays for the small screen has run out of fodder and is beginning to cannibalize its most successful excrement. Okay, it’s more than possible. It’s likely.
This isn’t meant to disparage the art of adaptation, though. Television tends to mirror society, and society tends to repeat itself in cycles; in short, television has its own cycles. One Day at a Time addressed the issues of its time by exploring the challenges a single mother faces in the only tone that would be palatable to middle America: comedy. One Day at a Time—currently—throws race into the mix of issues to address by writing the family as Cuban. As far as television goes, this counts as progress. Progress, at any rate, is a good thing even if it is only coming One Day at a Time.
Sometimes a police procedural does not highlight law enforcement. Elementary focuses on Sherlock Holmes, a private detective; Monk centers on the titular Adrian Monk, another private detective; and Lucifer stars Satan himself as a consultant to the LAPD. Ransom follows a similar formula by bringing a consulting negotiation task force to the table.
Let’s see if CBS is worth paying for Ransom.
Freeform, formerly known as ABC Family, has been around for almost exactly a year. Shadowhunters was the first installment in the programming schedule, and it’s been performing quite well, despite its resounding critical “meh.” Shadowhunters, if you’ll recall, was originally a book found in the “Young Adult” section of your local Barnes & Noble. Hunger Games, The Maze Runner, and Divergent are all examples of the genre that has found its place instantly and simultaneously in all forms of storytelling. It seems a book can’t be written without a three movie deal carbon-copied beneath the publishing contract. Beyond, though, breaks the mold.
Beyond will be the channel’s second entry in original programming. How original is it? Totally original. This show has not been ported in from some haphazard comic book, nor was it the continuation of a novel series that the young men and women of America could not get enough of. Beyond reminds us that, sometimes, the small screen is more than a stage for poorly written adaptations.
In order to see what more television has to offer, you’ll have to look Beyond.
Halloween is a tradition rich holiday. Decorations, trick ‘r treat, and costumes remain comforting constants in our time. Second only to Christmas in marketability, due to easily identifiable and exploitable themes, networks make sure to produce several Halloween specials during the season. The most popular and longest running traditions American television has to offer of this variety would be The Simpsons “Treehouse of Horror”.
“Treehouse” is as much of an institution in this country as The Simpsons itself. Just because something is an institution, though, doesn’t mean it will be good. Many people find inconsistency in the quality of the past few seasons of The Simpsons, and this includes the hallowed Halloween Special. This year, The Simpsons celebrates it’s 600th episode and 27th “Treehouse of Horror”, so I sat down and watched every “Treehouse” to bring to you the top 3 episodes, as ranked by yours truly.
During the past few years, we’ve seen increasing success of internet-based shows. Yes, providers such as Hulu, Amazon, and Netflix are thriving off of their original series’, but independent productions have been proving the “Kevin Smith Dream” can be achieved. Remember Kevin Smith? He produced, directed, edited, starred in, and wrote his own indie movie, Clerks, then received backing by major studios for his follow up work. That’s the goal.
High Maintenance achieved said goal, having begun on Vimeo (YouTube for industry folk), then getting picked up by HBO (TV for rich folk). Ben Sinclair and Katja Blichfeld, the creators of the show, weren’t exactly newcomers, though. Blichfeld had been a well-respected casting director with access to a wealth of talent in New York. That kind of leg up makes all the difference in this world.
Let’s see if High Maintenance is worthy of its buzz.
When asked what my favorite genre of film or television is, I would never land firmly on an answer. Star Wars, Star Trek, and Doctor Who belong to Sci-Fi, and so Sci-Fi tickles my brain. I grew up with Dungeons and Dragons and other role-playing games based in fantasy, so Fantasy has stuck to me since my formative years. Then you have Rocky, Top Gun, and Die Hard all residing in the Action genre, which is broad enough to cover the rest of my favorite genres, as well. Quarry, though, falls into my favorite sub-genre: spy fiction.
Well, sorta. Quarry contains as much drama as it does action. While the plot centers around a Vietnam vet who must pay off a war buddy’s debt by becoming an assassin, the series also handles heavy topics like racism, marriage, PTSD, and other moral hot-button topics and quandaries from the ’70s.
Let’s dig a little deeper into Quarry.