Guys, there is SO MUCH GOOD STUFF ON TV THESE DAYS. And 2015 is shaping up to provide some of the best content we’ve ever called in sick to binge watch.
Here’s a quick roundup of what Ryan and Doug are watching, and what we’re most excited about.
Premiers April 1o on NETFLIX
EXPECTATION LEVEL: 10
RYAN: JUSTICE FOR MATT MURDOCK!! There’s no question, Marvel is doing it RIGHT. Absolutely no one is better at crafting a cinematic universe than these guys. But when it comes to network TV shows, the results have been decidedly “meh”. It’s not their fault; being aired on a traditional network comes with a long list of stuff you’re not allowed to do, and a cadre of lawyers hellbent on making sure you don’t have any fun even trying. I mean, the best thing about Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was that they took a midseason break and brought us the FAR superior Agent Carter. So when it was announced that they were partnering with Netflix to bring us a slew of new shows, Daredevil being the first, it just made sense. All the traditional “You can’t do that on Television” rules fly out the window, and I think we’re going to see a true-to-form, Frank-Miller-esque story that this character deserves.
DOUG: I don’t get giddy, but when Marvel recovered the rights to Daredevil, I’ll admit I was pretty happy, on the nerd scale. You see, I always liked Daredevil. Even as a kid before Frank Miller took on the Man Without Fear, there was something about his less over-the-top nature that appealed to me. Of course, Frank Miller’s take on Daredevil, especially the Born Again story arc, put it in a whole new category, and the trailers for the new show are hitting all the right marks in capturing that same vibe. It’s gritty, filled with shades of grey, where good people may do bad things, and vice versa.
While I enjoy many of the Marvel properties on the big and small screen to varying degrees, they ARE comic books on the big screen. Daredevil feels like the logical extension to Captain America: The Winter Soldier, in that it suggests a more grounded reality, like it could be happening in our world, as opposed to some of the more far flung flights of fancy. But that’s just me.
2: ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK (Season 3) #SorryNotSorry
Premiers JUNE 12 on NETFLIX
EXPECTATION LEVEL: 7
RYAN: OITNB is a strange show for me. Not quite a guilty pleasure, not quite blow-me-away-great, but never disappointing. I’m hard-pressed to think of a single episode I would call anything but “Good”, but I have the same issue when trying to find one I’d call “Great”. And all the elements are there; an outstanding ensemble cast, anchored by Kate Mulgrew playing the deceitful, vengeful den mother, and the brilliant call of casting Laverne Cox in her role as a transgendered woman in a women’s prison lets some real, actual humanity shine through. The show’s greatest fault, though, is its creator; Jenji Kohan’s “everything happens for a reason” writing style was right at home in the ticky-tacky world of Weeds, but just seems out of place in a show about race, survival, love and loss. The running backstory mechanic is fantastic though, and I’m excited to see how Season 2’s cliffhanger plays out.
DOUG: I really don’t have much to add to what Ryan said. I think we’re of the same opinion through and through. It’s enjoyable enough, and has some great moments, but I don’t LOVE it.
3: TRUE DETECTIVE (Season 2)
Premiers JUNE 21 on HBO
EXPECTATION LEVEL: 8
RYAN: Remember when HBO was KING?! I do. I remember the Larry Sanders Show, The Sopranos, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Six Feet Under…a golden age when HBO was making the best content on TV. But in recent years, HBO has gone the quantity over quality route, cramming the network with a little bit of everything in the hopes of appealing to everyone, rather than focussing on doing a few things really, really well. With this in mind, it’a feat that True Detective even got made, and an even greater feat that it was an unqualified hit. Creator Nic Pizzolatto wove a narrative through character development and time shift techniques that can only be called brilliant. It’s a shame they show lost its teeth near the ending though; the explanation of the villain’s “Green Ears” and the way-too-predictable final showdown have the stench of a first-time show runner caving to studio pressure all over it. Still, True Detective marks HBO’s return to brilliant and unique storytelling, and Season 2 has all the potential in the world to surprise us all, all over again.
DOUG: I loved the first season of the show, and the existential crises of the main characters as they played out against a southern Gothic type murder mystery. I’ll admit that the whole hunt for The Yellow King had me going, and I was hoping for a more supernatural ending, but ultimately the show pulled back and gave us something more human than we expected. So much for all that theorizing over pints at the pub, not that they weren’t fun. From the trailer for season 2, it’s hard to say exactly what kind of story it will have.
4: GAME OF THRONES (Season 5)
Premiers APRIL 12 on HBO
EXPECTATION LEVEL: 7
RYAN: Sometimes production value matters. GoT is easily the most ambitious thing on TV, and has been for 4 years. They’ve got armies. They’ve got a massive universe inhabited by dragons, giants, wildlings, Direwolves, kings and queens. They shoot in locations all around the world, from frozen tundras to arid deserts and everywhere in between. It would be a monumental, epic undertaking if it was a movie, where shoots last around a year. But for a long-running TV show? It’s completely crazy! But, magically, it works. While I love this show, I have to admit, I’m getting just a little weary of it; the forever march across Westeros towards the Iron Throne seems to have no end. Probably because there isn’t one. But I’m not gonna stop watching, obviously; it’s easily the best produced show on TV, and probably the most ambitious project ever on the small screen. It’s mind blowing in its scope, and the storytelling is on par with its reduction. Plus, there’s motherfucking DRAGONS.
DOUG: A couple of years back, when HBO announced that book three would be told over two seasons, it looked like the show might not overtake George R. R. Martin’s novels. Thankfully, season five will condense books four and five into one season.
Ryan should be happy about this, as books four and five have a lot of walking in them. I mean a LOT. They also introduce characters that, from a larger story arc perspective, will probably not be relevant to the ultimate conclusion. The series has made deviations from the books on more than one occasion, and always rightly so, condensing where needed, and expanding in others. I just can’t wait till the final season when we find out BLANK and BLANK are actually BLANK, and BLANK all of Westeros.
5: ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT (Season 2) (5, including FOX)
Premiers TBD on NETFLIX
EXPECTATION LEVEL: 9
RYAN: Brian Grazer recently confirmed that Arrested Development is coming back to Netflix for another 17 episodes…sometime, and I can’t wait. AD has always been one of those shows that is almost impossible to pin down. Too smart to have mass appeal, too derivative to be called unique, too campy to be taken seriously; it’s like you had a rich Aunt give you a Febergé Egg on your birthday. It’s beautiful, and valuable, but you can’t possibly understand its meaning and you have no idea where to place it in your house since it would be wasted on a bookshelf between a Stormtrooper action figure and a model of the flying DeLorean from Back to the Future 2. So when someone smart comes along and says “I’ll buy that if you don’t want it”, that’s exactly what you do…unless you’re a dick, in which case you hand it over for a chunk of cash but make sure they’re not allowed to talk about how it was made or where it came from originally.
…this analogy is getting a little confusing, but to sum up, Netflix = SMART and Fox = Dicks. Now that Netflix has taken the show well past its shitty legal problems, it’s going to be SO fun to see what’s next for the Bluths. Bring it on.
DOUG: On this one, I’m with Ryan. The first Netflix season while good, was somewhat jarring, and they did some experiments with jumping around in time that made the first few episodes somewhat annoying to watch as we waited for the long game to pay off. It was never not smart though, and having everyone back on board, just tell me when it starts.
6: BETTER CALL SAUL (Season 2)
Premiers early 2016 on AMC
EXPECTATION LEVEL: 10
RYAN: If you haven’t seen Better Call Saul yet, get the hell off the internet and get watching. It’s incredible. Set in 2002, it follows James McGill, a passionate but generally worthless lawyer, and his progression from honest-to-goodness working class stiff to Saul Goodman, the Benchvertising sheister that ends up keeping Walter White and Jesse Pinkman out of jails and morgues. Bob Odenkirk is a master here, and Vince Gilligan respects the shady version of Albequerque he’s created perfectly, all of which helps keep Odenkirk firmly rooted in his element. Fans of Breaking Bad will notice tons of easter eggs along the way, from big ones like Mike as a pivotal character in Jimmy’s path to the dark side and Tuco as his first run-in with a really, REALLY bad guy, to tiny things like “JPi” graffiti on phone booths, Jimmy’s street address being on Juan Tabo road (making him and Gale neighbours) and…well I don’t want to give anything else away, but when you get to the finale, just keep this moment fresh in mind:
It’s killing me not saying anything about the finale’s climax, but suffice to say, all backstories are sewn up tightly and the show has masterfully prepared everyone for Jimmy to evolve into what he evolves into. Breaking bad was arguably the best TV show ever made, and in the running for best story ever filmed, and BCS is shaping up to be every bit as worthy, not as a successor, but as a companion.
DOUG: If you haven’t watched season one, go do it now. That is all.
EXTRA NOTE: COMMUNITY (Season 6)
Dear Yahoo, why isn’t Community available in Canada? If you want to be like Netflix, remember that this IS the internet. I know there’s different ownership issues… Maybe you should put it on Netflix outside the US, if it’s presenting an issue…
Did we miss anything? What else should we be watching this summer? Let us know in the comments and we’ll add it to our list.