The Starz TV show American Gods, based off the Neil Gaiman novel with the same name, asks the question, “What if people brought their gods with them when they immigrated to America? And what if those gods were fighting for scraps of favor from people who were rapidly forgetting them?” The answer is, sexy, brutal, but most importantly, very strange. The gods in question don’t behave in their own stories, so why would the act any different in this tale.
Much like the book, American Gods follows Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle) as he tries to get a handle on the world Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane) has dragged him in to, and what part he has to play in this war everyone is talking about. If the story was just about Shadow and Wednesday it would be a little dry, so thankfully there is a diverse cast of crazy gods to spice things up.
If you were hoping that American Gods would be a straight adaptation of the book, you will be disappointed. The series has taken several detours along its route, and while I am not a stickler keeping things the same between mediums, different forms of media require different forms of story telling after all. In this case the changes are mostly not for the better. Which is a shame since the source material has so much potential. However, the parts they get right are really good.
Also bolstering American Gods is the great cast and Bryan Fuller’s incredible visual style. There is always a good performance or insane set piece waiting in every episode. Well, almost every episode. There are a couple of filler episodes in the middle that kind of kill the momentum, but the first season starts and ends well.
Season one covers about a third of the book, and Starz has promised it is coming back. However, the current producers, Green and Fuller, have been dropped and replaced by one of the show’s writers and Gaiman himself. Which sounds like good news, but who knows how long it will take them to get things moving again. Especially since Gaiman is currently producing the TV adaptation of Good Omens. Regardless, American Gods showed a lot of potential in season one, and I hope it delivers on it in seasons two and three. Whenever they come out.
While Joel McHale’s new show is actually titled The Joel McHale Show with Joel McHale (leaving the door open for a Joel McHale show not hosted by Joel McHale) not The Soup, it is almost exactly the same thing. Except now he can drop an F-Bomb from time to time and Paul Feig hangs out a lot more. Like a lot more (he is now an EP). Watching The Joel McHale Show every week has reminded me how much I have missed The Soup.
I understand that E! got away from its comedy line up, so The Soup apparently had to go, but we all needed something to reaffirm that pop culture was actually as silly as we perceived it to be, and The Joel McHale show brings that back. Once a week, for twelve weeks, and we are already four weeks in. I hope that Netflix sees fit to pick up the Joel McHale show for more than just one season. I am not sure that it is something I can loose again.
It is hard to keep track of the almost infinite number of shows Netflix has, but my wife’s love period pieces combined with my love of light horror made The Frankenstein Chronicles very interesting. Now, if you are from across the pond you may be wondering what the big deal is. This show is from 2015, but due to channels changing and going under and a myriad of rights issues it has taken three years to hit North America, and it is now called a Netflix Original. Of course the main reason to watch this show is to see if Sean Bean’s character can live through it.
The Frankenstein Chronicles takes place in London during the early 1800’s. Which if you were not rich was apparently not a great time to be living in the city. Much like Taboo and a lot of other new grimy period UK dramas, there are not a lot of balls or tee parties in this show. Instead, Sean Bean plays a police officer that patrols the water ways, and one day a child washes up on shore. Which sadly isn’t that uncommon, but in this case it looks like it is several children all sewn together. Not unlike Mary Shelley’s infamous (at the time) novel.
The story and the actors really make this show work. Not to mention the time period makes for a great setting since scientific medicine is just starting to take hold, but it is making the uneducated and superstitious populace very nervous. Unfortunately, you can tell it is a non BBC show. While the costumes and the actors are great, it feels like they are always in the same three rooms all the time. Which is the long way of saying it feels like they blew their budget hiring Sean Bean, but he was worth cash in this case since he carries the show.
If a little blood and Sean Bean don’t scare you, The Frankenstein Chronicles is worth watching. It is interesting, and there are some slight chills and thrills woven deftly in to this tale, as you would hope with Frankenstein being right in the title. Now that Netflix owns it, I hope they pick it up for a few more seasons.
Considering I am not a fan of either the New England Patriots or the Philadelphia Eagles, I was watching this Super Bowl for the ads, and for the most part they did not disappoint (actually the game was pretty great too), but Tide was the clear winner:
It was funny and smart, and they just kept coming. I don’t know how much tide spent on this year’s ads, but all that money was worth it. Runner up had to be Netflix who dropped Cloverfield 3 in an ad, and then started streaming the movie right after the game. I will be watching it this week.
Anyway, congratulations Philadelphia on the hard earned Super Bowl win, and good job NFL for figuring out what a catch is, but more importantly, congratulations Tide for making the Super Bowl worth watching.
Do you like strange stories with kind of a horror bent to them? Black Mirror might be just what you are looking for. Technically it is a series, but every episode is different and has different actors, though there are Easter Eggs and references to other episodes if you are looking for them. If this is sounding like The Twilight Zone or The Outer Limits, you would not be far off.
The biggest difference between Black Mirror and those other shows is that Black Mirror’s episodes all deal with technology gone wrong, or pushed to its limits. Usually social media, but cell phones, surveillance, and other tech are all represented as well. You will question how much you like all your devices by the end of each episode.
For the most part these episodes mostly just make you think about the state of technology in our lives, but some can be hard to watch. The very first episode is famously graphic. It is about a Prime Minister who has to do something unthinkable to save the life of a royal princess. While it never actually shows anything, it is a rough watch. It was kind of like the producers were saying, “If you can get through this, the rest will be a cake walk.”
Not all of Black Mirror’s episodes are great, but most do make you reconsider posting that picture of your bagel, and we are at a time when considering how much we let technology in to our lives is a hot topic for a lot of us, so if you need some ammo for why you think social media is bad, or you just miss The Twilight Zone, give Black Mirror a try.