Friday, 3 October 2014

Weaning off the blue meth....

'Fair City omnibus, kill me, kill me now'

People are always asking me for new series' to watch, and when I suggest something delicious like True Detective or Fargo, they’ll come back to me in a week or so and ask for another. Nowadays we consume television shows at an alarming rate and if you’re not watching something we’d have to take up reading on a Monday night. So, here are three series’ I really enjoyed lately. Hopefully you haven’t seen them yet!

1) Utopia - An E4 production that went somewhat under the radar. The first series is stylistic, violent and equally hilarious. Four comic book nerds meet over an internet chat room, arranging to meet up and discuss the lost manuscript of a cult graphic novel called Utopia. When a relentless murderer and psychopath tracks them down, the foursome realise they’re in way over their heads.

Utopia is unusual in the way that it is so bright and vibrant yet dealing with extremely dark themes. The characters are well developed and the show creates a top ten villain in Neil Maskell’s character, Arby (Kill List, The Football Factory). The plot is intricate and well researched but the second series couldn’t contain it’s plausibility, although it still displayed moments of brilliance. It’s hard to define the genre of the series - somewhere in between sci-fi, mystery and black comedy. Either way, it’s completely original and well worth a watch.

2) The Leftovers - 2% of the world’s population disappear into thin air. Three years later, the survivors attempt to cope in a much changed and tense world. Cults have formed and religious nuts prevail as the world can offer no explanation for the disappearances. Police chief Kevin Garvey tries to keep order in his town while his family grow further apart.

An unusual sci-fi that keeps you watching week by week. Some episodes are stronger than others but it’s great to see something different being made. I wrote before about sci-fi films working well when they are essentially love stories (e.g. Perfect Sense, Another World) and The Leftovers is no exception. Of course there are several facets to the series but when the supernatural elements become more of a back drop to the story and the drama occurs around family relationships, we get something more meaningful than a film solely focused on an alien invasion, for example. As always with sci-fi films, the less definitive answers we are given, the better. Stick with this one. Episode 3 is exceptional in my opinion. 

3) Silicon Valley - From the writer of Beavis & Butthead and King of the Hill, Silicon Valley is one of the funniest TV shows I’ve seen in years. The characters are what makes the show special as we follow five guys competing against bigger fish with a web startup company. Set in Palo Alto, California, the home of America’s largest tech companies, the show references the stories of Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg, creating a world where everybody is trying to be the next young Bill Gates. 

Silicon Valley is a show that perfectly balances comedy and plot - the story is always driving forward while each character undeniably grows on us. By the end of the first series, it’s hard to pin point who your favourite character is. Relevant, excellently written and made in a simple yet effective style, you will go through Silicon Valley in a weekend. The last episode of the series was, in my opinion, one of the funniest half hours of comedy I’ve seen. I can’t wait for the second series.

- by Gavin fitzgerald

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