Television Show Review: Fortitude: Season 1

Fortitude Season 1

Fortitude: Season 1 created by Simon Donald (Fifty Fathoms Productions, Sky Atlantic, Tiger Aspect Productions) Starring Sofie Gråbøl, Mia Jexen, Luke Treadaway, Richard Dormer, Verónica Echegui, Björn Hlynur Haraldsson, Nicholas Pinnock, Elizabeth Dormer-Philips, Darren Boyd, Sienna Guillory, Johnny Harris, Jessica Raine, Michael Gambon, Jessica Gunning, Stanley Tucci, and Darwin Brokenrbo. In Search of Isolation I’m often caught in two minds. One side of me wants to live at the heart of it all. City life means an unending conveyor belt of restaurants, concerts, and can’t-miss events. Every block offers a new city park and the concentration of human habitat allows for many friendships and communities to prosper. But, on the other hand, there’s a draw toward solitude. The bustle of… Read More →

Television Show Review: Master of None: Season 1

Master of None Season 1

Master of None: Season 1 created by Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang (3 Arts Entertainment, Netflix, Universal Television) Starring Aziz Ansari, Noël Wells, Lena Waithe, Eric Wareheim, Kelvin Yu, and Todd Barry. Literary Comedy Upon hearing the question, “What is it about?” how often are you able to give a concise summary of a show? The plot, more often than not, drives such a discussion. The chemistry teacher turns to cooking meth. A handful of families wage war against each other to take hold of the iron throne. Comedy, though, tends to abstain from plot-heavy storytelling. Some shows tell stories in long narrative arcs, but many also use a handful of situations to generate comedy. These sitcoms remove character complexity,… Read More →

Television Show Review: The Man in the High Castle: Season 1

The Man in the High Castle

The Man in the High Castle: Season 1 created by Frank Spotnitz (Amazon Studios, Big Light Productions, Electric Shepherd Productions) Starring Alexa Davalos, Rupert Evans, Luke Kleintank, DJ Qualls, Joel de la Fuente, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Rufus Sewell, Arnold Chun, Rick Worthy and Carsten Norgaard. In Praise of Imagination May we always promote and encourage imagination. The young child proclaiming “choo choo” as he pushes his toy train around the house often loses his creativity when the mandates of life require the squashing if the imaginative spirit. For me, the best stories often emerge from an imaginative foundation. The genre of magical realism best encapsulates my preferences. It takes life as we know it and alters it slightly to better explore… Read More →

Television Show Review: Making a Murderer

Making a Murderer

Making a Murderer created by Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos (Synthesis Films, Netflix) Starring Steven Avery. Behind Bars I haven’t spent much of my waking tine daydreaming about what it would be like to live my life behind bars. Prison remains an ethereal concept. I know “bad” people are there; I realize a disproportionate number of inmates emerge from low socio-economic status. In truth, I don’t proceed on a daily basis with any level of fear about breaking the law and the corresponding need to do time. Aside from a riveting story of true crime, Making a Murderer renders me apart because of the way it portrays systemic issues in the judicial system that can lead to broken outcomes seeped… Read More →

Television Show Review: Fargo: Season 2

Fargo Season 2

Fargo: Season 2 created by Noah Hawley (MGM Productions, FX Productions) Starring Kirsten Dunst, Patrick Wilson, Jesse Plemons, Jean Smart, Ted Danson, Jeffrey Donovan, Rachel Keller, Nick Offerman, Brad Garrett, Kieran Culkin, Bokeem Woodbine, Angus Sampson, Cristin Milioti, and Zahn McClarnon. Layers and Layers The best stories blend a gripping narrative with intriguing themes that ride underneath the surface. While the plot piques your interest and encourages you to tune in next week, the themes in the undercurrent provide a rich tapestry of human experience. I recently read an article on Kendrick Lamar that explores this very concept. In his tune, “King Kunta,” Lamar frequently references a yam. On the surface, the yam flows with the rest of the lyrics… Read More →

Television Show Review: Nathan For You: Season 3

Nathan for You Season 3

Nathan for You: Season 3 created by Nathan Fielder and Michael Koman (Abso Lutely Productions, Blow Out Productions) Starring Nathan Fielder. Reviewing Humor We experience humor subjectively. The line of dialogue or aesthetic experience that produces whimsy in one person might cause a blank stare in another. Some laugh at physical comedy and others laugh at puns. Some laugh at the Big Bang Theory and others chuckle at The Office. So when a critic approaches reviewing a comedy, the humorous aspect often drops away. What else can you say than, “It’s funny?” For me, Nathan for You represents the pinnacle of humorous television. I laugh constantly during its run time. But I also recognize that my humor differs from almost… Read More →

Television Show review: The Leftovers: Season 2

The Leftovers Season 2

The Leftovers: Season 2 created by Damon Lindelof (Warner Bros. Television) Starring Justin Theroux, Amy Brenneman, Christopher Eccleston, Liv Tyler, Chris Zylka, Margaret Qualley, Regina King, Kevin Carroll, Jovan Adepo, Jasmin Savoy Brown, and Carrie Coon. *SPOILER ALERT FOR PREVIOUS SEASONS* So That You Might Believe What are the parameters of your belief? In a post-modern society, many might not consider belief to be a warranted pursuit. But, in truth, we all believe something. For the rationalist and the naturalist, that faith might connect to scientific pursuits. For others, belief might correspond with a person—the savior of a certain group, or the benefactor of another. And many channel belief into an organized religion. But at its core, faith is required… Read More →

Television Show Review: Chef’s Table

Chef's Table

Chef’s Table created by David Gelb (Boardwalk Pictures, City Room Creative) Starring Dan Barber, Massimo Bottura, Francis Mallman, Niki Nkayama, Magnus Nilsson, and Ben Shewry. Getting Philosophical Upon entry to my preferred academic institution, my parents provided ample pressure to study business. I understand the position. What is college if not a place to earn a degree to set yourself up for consistent success? Unfortunately, my passions—at the time—orbited separate academic pursuits. Even though I have a passion for business, my reasoning for avoiding its study remains consistent. The study of business, at its core, is a normative practice. It tells you what to do and what not to do; if you can master the complicated functions, you have the… Read More →

Television Show Review: BoJack Horseman: Season 2

BoJack Horseman Season 2

BoJack Horseman: Season 2 created by Ralph Bob-Waksberg (Netflix, Tornante Company, ShadowMachine Films) Starring Will Arnett, Alison Brie, Aaron Paul, Amy Sedaris, and Paul F. Tompkins. Surprisingly Human Can you recall a tag line? Any tag line. Seriously. Not many are memorable. There are the classics, like “Just Do It.” But for the most part, tag lines represent vanilla pudding. While most tag lines provide bland descriptions of a good or service, some stand out for distinct reasons. Animal Planet, for example, has the tag line, “surprisingly human.” It’s a good tag, albeit a little odd. It attempts to draw the connections between our quadrupedal brethren. It also fits considering the myriad of reality television now residing on the channel…. Read More →

Television Show Review: Fear the Walking Dead: Season 1

Fear of the Walking Dead Season 1

Fear the Walking Dead: Season 1 created by Dave Erickson and Robert Kirkman (AMC, Circle of Confusion, Symbound, Valhalla Entertainment) Starring Kim Dickens, Cliff Curtis, Frank Dillane, Alycia Debnam-Carey, Mercedes Mason, Lorenzo James Henrie, Rubén Blades, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Sandrine Holt, and Colman Domingo. I Know Too Much It’s odd to know more about a show’s universe than the characters do. Structurally, most stories—whether on the page or on the screen—provide the rules for engagement. These cues let the reader/viewer understand the kind of story they are perceiving and they set expectations for what lies ahead. These rules point out the hero and the villain. They suggest what you should find funny and what should be serious. And, they dictate expectations… Read More →