Binge-watching is one of the great luxuries of the 21st century, but it does come at a certain cost.
In my previous post about TV, I discussed the shows I’m currently watching. However, one thing about them that I neglected to mention is that they’re what I’m currently watching, not what’s currently airing.
Indeed, of the five programs, one’s next season isn’t starting until spring, two are on mid-season hiatus, one as of this moment has yet to be renewed for a second season, and the last one went off the air fifteen years ago, so I’m watching the DVDs on my laptop.
What’s more, of the five, I’m down to currently watching only one (the old one), having caught up with and or completed the latest season of all the others.
Which is to say, I’ve run out of shows to watch and need more.
The collection on deck
A commenter on my previous post mentioned she only watches one show at a time.
I’m not like that. Rather, I like to have a collection of shows on the go so I can choose what to watch according to my mood at any given time.
Some days, I’m utterly burned out and just want to be passively entertained without having to think too hard or engage my higher emotional centres. Other times, I want to challenge my brain, while during others still I want to laugh or be inspired, or want a show to contain an aesthetic or ethos of something I’m writing about.
The five shows I’m currently watching thus aren’t all the shows I’m watching period. Rather, I’m got an entire other set on deck to keep me (pre)occupied while I wait for the first set to return.
What I like about it: Strong female characters; futuristic setting; tough moral choices (in reference to the list of characteristics I like best in TV shows from my previous post)
I’ve written a bit about this show before, but in case it’s not clear, allow me to emphasize this point: this is MY SHOW – the one I’m awaiting the most eagerly; a guilty pleasure I’m not even all that guilty about.
I’m not even sure how this came to be so: I don’t usually go for YA shows and the premise of this one was utterly preposterous: 100 juvenile delinquents on a space station orbiting an Earth wracked by nuclear war decades ago being sent down to the surface (with very few provisions) to earn exoneration for their crimes by determining if the planet is survivable.
And yet, by about the fourth episode, I was utterly hooked. The thing that’s so great about this show is that there’s so much depth to the main characters.
They are constantly tapping into different parts of themselves as they struggle to survive the various enemies of this land they believed was uninhibited but most definitely isn’t, and those other sides aren’t always what we’ve come to expect.
“Good” characters we were trained to like have done horrible things; “bad”, troublemaker characters have turned heroic and dependable while other heroes have become committed and hard and hurt themselves in the process.
Plus, the show contains awesome female warriors, a cool constructed language of post-apocalyptic, slangy English, and a fair bit of diversity that makes this futuristic portrayal of North America seem more believable.
Returning to air: January 21
What I like about it: Historical setting; unscrupulous characters
I started watching this show the moment it appeared on Netflix and finished the entire series in about two weekends.
I just loved it: it’s a high-budget epic full of all the features of a good historical yarn: political wrangling, secret plots, family drama, warring nations, swordplay, murder, sex, betrayal, beautiful locations, beautiful costumes, and beautiful people.
The plot is based upon the historical writings of Italian explorer Marco Polo during his time in the court of Mongol King and conqueror Kublai Khan. Ironically, I found the show’s mild-mannered, eponymous character the least interesting aspect of the show.
What did it for me was the khan’s court – so different from that of European historical nobility, yet at the same time so similar. As well, the character of the Lord Kublai himself – ruthless yet cultured; arrogant yet inquisitive; magnanimous yet resolute – was a true standout.
Returning to air: Summer 2016
What I like about it: Thinking characters; socially-awkward characters; complex plots
Is there anyone who doesn’t like this show?
I mean seriously; I’m not one of the Cumberbitches or anything, but Benedict Cumberbatch’s portrayal of famed detective Sherlock Holmes – pathologically intelligent, sociopathically arrogant and ignorant of the niceties of normal social discourse and interaction, yet showing regular glimpses of humanity and heart – is just masterful.
I love the pop-ups and often rapid play of events used to reveal to workings of Holmes’s odd, ever-turning brain. As well, I enjoy the subtle ship tease that often occurs between Holmes and Watson as a shout-out to fan culture.
The show is also full of subtle British humour that plays out in Holmes’ relationships with all the prominent characters in his life – Watson, Mrs. Hudson, Mycroft Holmes, Lestrade, Moriarty, and the extraordinary Irene Adler.
Returning to air: January 2017 (although a special episode aired in theatres and on PBS on January 1)
What I like about it: Strong female character; futuristic setting
I learned about this show from a banner ad online, which conventional wisdom claims don’t work. And yet, it resulted in me tuning in every Friday to follow the exploits of three witty, hard-working space bounty hunters navigating the unstable politics and exploitative classism of a distant system of terraformed planets.
Leading the team is Dutch, a sexy, high-level hunter with a mysterious past. Even more mysterious is her abusive former that she previously escaped who suddenly wants her back for some unknown purpose.
Companion to Dutch is her sidekick, John – a smart-talking, fun-loving, dyslexic mechanical genius who reminds me a bit of the character Star-Lord from the movie Guardians of the Galaxy.
The show itself reminds me of a cross between Guardians of the Galaxy and Firefly, and while still unsigned for a second season, ended season 1 on a cliff-hanger with many story questions unanswered.
Season 2 has since been locked down, so I’m interested to see how the plot continues to develop.
Returning to air: Sometime in 2016
What I like about it: Historical setting; absurdity of real life; singing
And now for something completely different. No, it’s not Monty Python, but is nonetheless rather similar to their Holy Grail movie in being a medieval musical comedy.
Galavant is a disgraced, heartbroken knight on a quest to reclaim the love of his grasping lady who left him to marry an evil(ish) king. Joining Galavant on the adventure are his (mostly) devoted black sidekick, Sid, and Isabella, the self-proclaimed “ethnically hard to pin down” princess of the land the king and Galavant’s lady have conquered.
This show is hilarious and the songs are top notch, composed by Alan Menken of Disney fame. The show pokes fun at a lot of tropes found in medieval shows, such as how everyone is usually white, how the questing life is portrayed as perfectly companionable and clean-smelling, and how as it’s usually the king who is malevolent and demanding and the queen his hapless victim.
Returning to air: It already has as of January 3. Off to go watch!
What shows are you waiting to return to air? Let me know in the comments.