I’ve been thinking about what I can blog about, having once again been lured away by my other social media mistress, Twitter.
I’ve got a few topics ‘in the bank’, as it were. A bit on dwarfs (the Warhammer, not the circus or primordial kind) and a piece on writing in the labyrinth (the intellectual, creative kind not the one with Bowie in as the Goblin King doing his dance, magic dance). They keep glaring at me, these two, from my drafts folder. Well, glare all you like pal, I’m not going down that road yet.
I also considered writing something about the fantastic artwork that’s been released recently on a trio of Horus Heresy projects I’ve been working on (two down, one big ass mutha to go), and genuinely wanted to do that but my Mac wouldn’t play ball with the pictures (that is to say it was being rubbish, or, more likely, Sky Broadband was, and they were taking a freaking dog’s age to download. Bah!).
So, here we are with a back-up topic. It’s all about entertainment and, not wishing to be self centred but, hey, this is my blog and so a certain amount of self centring – that even a word? – is to be expected, specifically my entertainment.
Lately, I’ve been a little big crocked with a dodgy back (it’s bronchitis related, some to do with me almost coughing my ribs apart – read about it on Twitter). I’ve been staying in more than going out (oh yeah, writing a novel to a tight deadline will do that to you too) and so the small screen has become my world as far as entertainment goes.
A while back, I wrote a piece on the blog about damn good television and proceeded to divvy up the shows I watched into discrete categories based on what I thought about their production values, story, acting and so on. I suppose this is the spiritual sequel to that post.
My frustration is this: to the casual observer, it might seem like we’re in a golden age of television. Production values and the greater access and availability (financially speaking) on special effects, plus the fact that lots of Hollywood actors that don’t frequent the silver screen so often are getting in on the act, means TV land has never been rosier. Or has it?
Take Sky Atlantic’s offerings, for instance (oh, and Sky and Fox are totally leading the way as far as great TV is concerned at the moment). Apart from Games of Thrones and Madmen, I can’t think of another show that I really, really look forward to watching on this uber, stellar channel of kings. Arguably, it’s TVs top dog as far as shows are concerned and has shedloads of money it can throw around to get the very best.
Both those aforementioned shows (which are great, in my opinion, combining great story telling, characters and production values together) are back in April, so thank crimminy (still trying to bring it back) for that. But what else? Okay, I’ll confess that Boardwalk Empire is worth putting on a never miss too. Let’s check out the more recent line up of new shows… Vegas. I had high hopes for this and still do enjoy watching it. Dennis Quaid and Michael Chicliss (sp?) are great leads and that guy from the god-awful Terra Nova is pretty good too, but something is missing. I like ‘period’ stuff, and Vegas in the ’60s should be awesome (I loved X-Men: First Class) but it doesn’t seize me like Madmen or GoT does. What else? Well, there’s The Following. Now that show had some promise, aside from Kevin Bacon who isn’t great in it, but has become more and more ridiculous as it’s gone on and now I’m starting to lose patience with it. And if someone doesn’t punch that annoying nanny-turned-nut bag in the face soon I may just switch off in protest.
Sky’s got a pretty big slate at the moment, lots of new stuff or shows that are still in their first season. Unlike Atlantic, this is mainly bubblegum but here’s where they’re winning the war. Arrow, for instance, has grown from a fairly episodic slightly dodgily shot hero show to something with a deeper, more interesting storyline that really draws on some cool, fan-pleasing aspects of the DCU. More of that please.
Admittedly on Sky Living, another show that has surprised and impressed me is Elementary. Holmes’ purists aside, this is a great detective drama and delivered convincingly and entertainingly by Lucy Lui and Johnny Lee Miller.
Switching my gaze to other channels, 5 has the rather silly but still rather good, Person of Interest. Not a big fan of Calviezal (sp?) in this role, he doesn’t quite convince me of his badass credentials with fairly crap fighting skills and a raspy voice, but still it’s very entertaining and the rest of the cast and story telling make up for JC’s shortcomings. Again though, it’s bubblegum.
I look forward to the return of Supernatural, of course I do, but that shows is getting on in years and running short of ideas. I’ll like it but I won’t love and follow it with the same vim and vigour as I did at the show’s creative apex of seasons four and five.
Then there’s True Blood. Let’s face it, this show has always been ridiculous, it’s unashamed about that but I’ve been watching the season 5 (?) rerun on Sky One and it’s just shit. Seriously, I am not sure I can take much more of Sookie Stackhouse’s nonsense. It’s a bit like Ally McBeal in that you really aren’t pulling for the main character at all but are actually much more invested in the secondary ones.
Ripper Street was a nice diversion on the BBC. Really enjoyed that, and our British Broadcasting Corporation should be investing more in shows like this with shorter runs and syndicating the bejesus out of them. That said, even Ripper Street was a little ropey in places but was carried along by strong performances from it’s three male leads. Looking forward to seeing more of that, though.
Currently, my other half loves Nashville and Smash (when it returns), both musical shows like Glee but for adults (less singing in Nashville, admittedly) and both these shows are in the early days on their life so hopefully they’ll continue to develop.
So, why is it I am feeling so jaded? Well, a lot of older shows in their fifth, sixth or successive seasons are showing their age in terms of the plots and characters. I used to love Dexter and that seems to be falling off a cliff as well. Most of these hardy perennials of the TV world jumped the shark long ago (The Following did it in its first season, during episode 3 or 4) and are kind of paddling for dear life. Running out of air and life, methinks (no more mixed metaphors, I promise).
Bubblegum is alive and well, chewy as ever, but the really compelling stuff, the I cannot wait to see it because my world depends on it stuff is tough to find. And it’s tough to see what’s going to replace those shows that once occupied these vaunted positions when they were new and still interesting.
There is one exception, I think, and that’s The Walking Dead. Man alive (or dead, I suppose), who would’ve thought a zombie-based show could be so compelling. I hear that Zombieland is getting a pilot/season too, which should be fun. But TWD is such a good show, even in its third season and getting better.
I could name a slew of other great shows that are still running but a little on fumes, if I’m honest. I always loved (and still do, like an old teddy bear with one eye missing and its stuffing coming out) Sons of Anarchy but I’m not desperate to see it each week like I was. The Killing is another example of a show that had a great opening season (if a little teasing at the end) that really didn’t pick up much (if at all) in its second outing.
So, to the future then. Revolution? Hmm, not sure – a bit like Last Resort, I have a feeling this will end up being ephemeral pap. That Shield show I keep hearing about? Dunno, super hero type stuff does tend to struggle a bit and how on earth can it match up to Avengers? Da Vinci’s Demons? Looks like it might be cool, I suspect it’ll just be a Spartacus clone (oh, and I should really mention Spartacus as an enjoyable romp. Loved Vengeance and I’m enjoying War of the Damned but glad this is the last season).
It could be the fact I’m feeling grumpy because my back aches and I haven’t drunk enough coffee this morning, or it could be that TV land needs some fresh ideas and less conservative, lowest common denominator money men to help make it happen. Oh, and no more f**king vampire shows, please. Every time I see an advert for Twilight and the final chapter in that heinous movie franchise and think about the lagoon of crap it has deposited on the world because of its very presence, I shed a little tear of pain and anger. It’s very confusing.