Not many people I talk to have seen this and some that have said they didn’t like it, they are idiots (yes mum I’m talking about you). The premise of The Leftovers is that 2% of the population just blips out of existence one day (this isn’t a spoiler). You might expect the show to be about trying to find out what happened but it much more about the aftermath of how people deal with it and the characters you meet in the show. I think it’s one of the most underrated series out there.
I compare this to Band of Brothers for the modern warzone, we follow a team of recon marines during the opening stages of the Iraq war. It really highlights the absurdity and impact of war even on professional, experienced soldiers. Its based on a book by Evan Wright of the same name, who was embedded with the unit in real life, so almost everything happened in the actual war and the characters are real people that were on the ground. It’s not all doom and gloom, it’s hilarious but is always tempered by the reality of fighting a war.
For me, TV series’ often don’t live up to the hype. I’m usually told that if I persevere then I’ll love them, which may be true, but to my mind I should be gripped from the start. I watch TV for entertainment, so if it doesn’t interest or entertain me, why would I waste any more time on it?
For that reason a lot of the popular shows pass me by, but there are some that do stand out. I don’t think anything has ever gripped me as much as Lost did (the first couple of series, anyway). I really enjoyed the first series of Stranger Things, but I’ve not yet watched the second series, so make of that what you will. And Homeland is pretty epic, even if it does get a bit boring from time to time. But my first recommendation for a show everyone should watch is…
The Sinner gripped me from the start. I think we got through it in two nights. A second season is in the offing and, though I’m not sure where the story will go as it was pretty well wrapped up at the end of season 1, I’m really looking forward to it. Bill Pullman’s character is brilliant, so fingers crossed he’s the focus.
My second recommendation has to be a comedy. There are so many I could choose, both popular and lesser known, from Blackadder to Flight Of The Conchords, but if I could only watch one comedy series ever again, it would be…
To me, The (UK) Office is the best comedy ever made. A few things came before it in a similar mockumentary style, such as That Peter Kay Thing (also brilliant), but The Office captured the realism perfectly. The first time I watched it was by accident, and I only knew it wasn’t real as I recognised Ricky Gervais from The 11 O’Clock show. I know people have mixed feelings on Ricky Gervais, but irrelevant of that I reckon The Office stands up to anything made before or since.
Probably one of the most famous TV shows of all time now and the first one to set the trend of actually having a decent budget with proper film cinematography and style instead of the usual no imagination ‘lets get this shot over as quickly as possible’ approach to filming most TV had up till that point and I would argue after as well in a lot of cases. The Sopranos was a bit like watching an 80 odd hour version of Goodfellas…and that’s a great thing.
This was no mook of the week gangster show, this was pretty deep, dark stuff that explored a way of life most of us only see in the movies but shows us that contrary to that romanticized version of life in a crime family, the reality is a brutal life full of pain both physical and emotional…and often a short one. There were even explorations of existentialism that I personally have not seen done better anywhere else since. Still, having said that, the show still knew how to entertain us with thrilling story lines and the darkest of dark humour.
A stand out episode for me is simply called ‘Pine Barrens’, directed by Steve Buscemi, the episode focuses on two characters who have a strained relationship in the show and what happens when they get stranded in the biggest wilderness in the state of New Jersey in the middle of winter with only a few condiment sachets for food. It’s brilliant and hilarious. All in all I don’t think there is a dull, filler episode in the entire run, which is incredibly rare.
The Walking Dead
I will never get bored of zombies, I love zombies so much i’d probably marry one. The Walking Dead started off as a comic book roughly ten years or so ago and I really liked it. It was very graphic and brutal in its depiction of the zombie apocalypse, with no character safe from being horrifically killed off at any point. When I learnt it was to be adapted into a TV series I was skeptical but when I found out the guy in charge was none other than Frank Darabont, director of such films as The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile and The Mist, I was pretty excited. 7 years later i’m still loving the bleak, gore ridden adventures of Rick and co.
It’s not a show without its problems, repetition being one of them but for me, i’m still enthralled by it. It is a relentlessly depressing show but i’m into that whole post apocalyptic vibe so it flicks my buttons and also millions of others it would appear as it is still one of the TV shows with the highest number of viewers. I do not recommend this show if you are squeamish about blood and guts however, there have been many occasions over the 8 seasons that have shocked even me with its graphic nature and the fact some of this stuff got shown on TV rather than in a snuff movie. You have been warned.
Sons of Anarchy
Sons of Anarchy follows a 1% motorcycle club based out of the fictional town of Charming. Focusing on one of the club members it looks at his struggle between the club and his family. It’s essentially the Soprano’s but with Motorcycles and a country soundtrack. The show strikes a perfect balance between dark and yet hilarious while still keeping you guessing until the end. The show ran for 7 seasons, with each one getting a little more far fetched, but its definitely worth a watch.
The absolute peak of all TV comedy (along with Only Fools and Horses) has to be Fawlty Towers. It is a masterclass in comedy timing, good script writing and taking it from 0 to obscene in the space of 30 seconds. Although the show is almost 40 years old it still holds up perfectly and I think we can all relate to Basil Fawlty on some level.
Right, there were rules imposed on us this week regarding our blog posts. “Recommend some TV shows, and keep them current”, bollocks to that. I can’t possibly write a blog post about TV shows without mentioning my hero Sir David Jason and of course Only Fools and Horses, the eternal classic British comedy. If you don’t enjoy Only Fools and Horses you are not human, the endless laughs guarantee to cheer you up no matter how hard a day you have had. If you’ve never seen it before, what have you been doing? Just get it watched, they don’t make them like this anymore. All hail Sir David Jason.
Now that is out of the way, I will abide by the rules. Hard Sun, BBC1 / iPlayer. Absolutely gripping, think Luther sequence detective with a dark and secret past, think murders tied to the state, think messed up families, think the world ending and add in a badass main character played by model Agness Deyn. You can watch it all on iPlayer, I seriously suggest you do. I’ll leave the trailer below.
It’s not that I have sex, murder death on my mind but when asked to think of two great TV shows… you just HAVE to watch both of these on a BINGE
Making of a Murderer