Too Much TV Vol. 1
Feeling overwhelmed by the staggering amount of television on offer right now?
Are people mentioning TV shows you’ve never heard of at parties?
Why is Grey’s Anatomy still on TV?
Welcome to Too Much TV, a new column where I try to save you from the neon claws of modern television.
Each week I watch a ridiculous amount of TV in the name of science but don’t always get to write about each show because I have things to do like tend to many friendships.*
So, each edition of Too Much TV will cover what I’ve been watching and whether an upcoming series or returning show is worth a look or not.
If there are any upcoming shows your keen to hear about, let me know in the comments or tweet to @MrCamW and I’ll try to add them to my watch list.
The Outsider (HBO)
The prestige TV aesthetic of grey, grey and more grey is exemplified by The Outsider.
The Stephen King adaptation, based on the excellent novel of the same name, fits in perfectly with the dour high-quality series HBO excels at making. The Outsider is immaculately shot, acted and drained of colour, but this style is pushing close to parody. Instead of True Detective, think: Boo Detective.
Nobody does tortured souls like Ben Mendelsohn and he’s burdened with misery as a cop in a small town investigating a murder that sets of a chain of tragedies. But this is King, so not all is what it seems and the series captures the struggle between fact and fiction; the major reveal may be too much for some but one of the best elements of King’s story, written after the 2016 U.S. election, which is about coming to terms with the impossible.
Writer Richard Price (The Night Of, The Wire, The Colour of Money) bloats the story with backstories and therapy sessions. With a few changes from book to screen, Price has made a story about the flow-on effect of tragedy a sadder story. Cynthia Erivo is an entirely different matter though. Ervio’s Holly Gibney is the kind of investigator you want to see get her own spin off; she features in four of King’s books so he was already onto something.
The Witcher (Netflix)
It’s a relief to talk about a fantasy series without mentioning that other show with dragons cause this ain’t it.
Netflix’s The Witcher, based on series of books by Andrzej Sapkowski and an even bigger videogame franchise, has the same energy as Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: The Warrior Princess. I mean this with a great amount of respect but The Witcher also feels like an off-brand fantasy costume.
There’s a shoddy appeal to The Witcher with brief flashes of brilliance when it comes its monster mash. Witchers are kind of like monster cops, which is a show I would also watch, Monster Cop and the spin-off, Monster Cop: Miami.
Henry Cavill wears a gigantic wig well and does what I can only describe as big acting. I can imagine Cavill’s agent saying, ‘Henry, this is your chance to do big acting like we’ve always discussed and I’ve written into your contract that nobody can question how big you go.’ Will see this one out but motivation to return for a second season will be low.
Avenue 5 (HBO)
Armando Iannucci goes from a disaster in the White House to a disaster in outer space.
Set in the future, Avenue 5 focuses on space cruise ship that gets thrown off course. The show is split between Earth, where employees scramble to fix the problem, and the cruise ship, where the crew try to maintain order despite being most clueless about the situation.
Iannucci is a master at satirising people in positions of power but Avenue 5 moves the target away from politics and towards large corporations. Herman Judd (Josh Gad) is the billionaire responsible for the space cruise industry, and everything inside the ship and back on Earth is a capitalist clusterfuck. At times, Avenue 5 feels like Veep meets Red Dwarf.
Hugh Laurie is great as the charming but clueless captain and Suzy Nakamura’s f-bombs are devastating. Nikki Amuka-Bird is a standout as the leader of mission control stuck in a nightmare situation and the passengers on the space cruise are made up of a who’s who of funny people from TV whose name you can never remember. There’s a lot of potential here and a chance for Iannucci to make it truly absurd and weird.
Rick and Morty Season 4 (Netflix Australia)
The latest season of Rick and Morty is finally available in Australia and it continues its trajectory of excellence.
Rick and Morty is a series that understands the intricate beats of different genres so well that it can treat them like a sandpit to unleash truly insane storylines. But Rick and Morty is never defined by its pop culture references and acts more like a running critique. One Crew over the Crewcoo’s Morty is an impressive take down of the elements of heist films while Rattlestar Ricklactica upends Terminator.
The guest voice cast in season 4 is out of control (so far) with Sam Neill, Kathleen Turner, Jeffrey Wright, Pamela Adlon, Justin Theroux, Matthew Broderick and Elon Musk. A special mention to Taika Waititi who adds the app obsessed Glootie to his impressive resume.
The series seems to be evolving its conscience (sort of) with creators Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon beginning to come to terms with the hubris of Rick who has become an inspiration for outspoken arseholes; a burden of the show’s fandom.
*friendships may not exist, which is why he is at home watching a lot of TV.