Well boys and girls, it’s that time again.
10:20 on a warm Las Vegas night, with yours truly sitting in bed, laptop at hand, and with absolutely nothing to write about.
Well, that’s not entirely true.
The great state of Nevada is presently attempting to blow nearly a million dollars building an execution chamber (seeing as how a grand total of zero people have even been executed in the past decade). While there still seems to be some conflicting reports on whether or not the funds have actually been approved, I’m going to go ahead and leave this little petition right here to get that money spent on literally anything else:
But that’s all I’ll say about that.
Folks, you know my stance on the death penalty. At this point, I don’t know that there’s anything left for me to say about it.
Let me instead talk about something flippin’ pleasant for a change.
Now folks, while we here at this blog have adopted the term “Culture War Reporters”, I imagine that over the past few years it’s been made pretty clear that we have our own agenda here. And for the record, I’ve got no guilt saying that. Part of why we’re here is to promote that which we find noble, true, and constructive, which is my cue to crowbar in my picks for the best tv of the year.
Rick and Morty
Returning for a second season on July 26th, Rick and Morty is the animated sci-fi comedy brainchild of Dan Harmon, creator of Community. And just with his ill-fated original project, Rick & Morty has seen a meteoric rise in popularity. And while part of me is still nervous about a similar Community style burnout, Harmon and his crew may very well have found their venue. Following the adventures of Morty and his mad scientist uncle, the show delivers us disjointed, surreal, madcap episode after madcap episode, with enough elastic reality for the stories to get as crazy as possible without ever really feeling like they’re losing their original charm. And as dark as the show gets (and we’re talking about some pretty black humor right here), Harmon still manages to insert a substantial amount of depth and surprising thoughtfulness to balance things out. You’ve got about a month folks- go get caught up.
How such a beautiful and brilliant series got stuck with such a ****ing stupid name will be a mystery not even the elegantly flawed protagonists of the show will unravel.
I mean seriously, how was that not a working title that someone just forgot to change?
Anyways, HBO’s True Detective, while initially receiving flack for being slow, wound up being one of the most staggering works of 2014. Gorgeously cinematic, subtly acted, and engaging with everything from local politics to the nature of evil and man’s greater purpose within the universe, True Detective wasn’t so much a tv series as it was a movie- broken up only to spare the viewer’s soul from the crushing weight of existential crises. While season 2 is generally believed to be a stand-alone story, if it’s even half of what it’s predecessor was, it’ll still be well worth waiting till June 21st.
Speaking of intelligent, soul-crushing explorations into the very heart of darkness, British series Black Mirror is rumored to be returning this year. Of course, being a British series, that most likely means there will be three episodes airing sometime between the fall and the implosion of our sun into a black hole. Nevertheless, the show’s almost worth the suspense (almost, I said; get it together, British TV). While described by most as a modern incarnation of classics like The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits, Black Mirror is less of an incarnation than it is the next stage in evolution. Largely addressing our relationship with technology, Black Mirror‘s soft science-fiction speculations are eery both in their dreadfulness and in their possibility. This is what science fiction was always meant to be, and while again ranging from “eesh, that was kinda heavy” to “I’m going to sit in the shower and cry now”, they’re damn near flawless. Check ’em out.
I’ll admit that I’m kinda breaking my own rules here. As a general rule, I try to tout more obscure series- things which I don’t think are getting the attention they deserve. And while I have sang the praises of NBC’s Hannibal before, I’m going to do it again.
Based (comparatively loosely) on Thomas Harris’s iconic series and titular character, Hannibal offers us the gripping cat-and-mouse game of FBI consultant Will Graham and his mentor/therapist/chef-of-questionable-choice-in-ingredients, Hannibal Lecter.
While there’s no shortage of points in favor of the series, more than anything it’s the visuals that’ll haunt you. While most shows out there would be content to stick to linear and lurid graphics (forensics shows, I’m looking at you), Hannibal is comprised half of cryptic conversations full of double-meanings and stunning dream sequences, as surreal as they are beautiful. You’d better start your marathons people, it’s returning next Thursday.