Corey Davies picks out, in no particular order, his TV highlights of 2016. Take a read.
Luke Cage (Netflix)
Despite one lackluster villain in a stupid costume and over frequent use of the ‘n-word’ for my taste; Luke Cage was still a fantastic continuation of Marvels ‘street level’ series in anticipation of the upcoming Defenders series.
Filled with references to the comics and classic hip-hop alike, it’s of the high quality we’ve come to expect from Marvel/Netflix. The series is definitely worth a watch for anyone who enjoyed the previous two shows in the Marvel/Netflix arsenal, Daredevil and Jessica Jones. Luke Cage also drops a few references to the impact of black people in the history of America which served to ground the series in a realistic setting, serving as great juxtaposition to watching someone bazooka a building to the ground in the middle of Harlem.
A series about robot cowboys featuring Anthony Hopkins. If that didn’t do anything for you I don’t know what else I can say; except that the series is clever, engaging and filled with enough tantalizing references to what’s ‘really going on’ to keep viewers on the edge of their seats throughout its ten-episode run.
A reimagining of the 1973 Michael Crichton film viewers will have no doubt seen referenced or parodied if you’ve not seen the actual film; Westworld is one of a plethora of reimagining’s we’ve seen recently that brings a decades old franchise out of storage. Unlike others, Westworld is never overly reliant on nostalgia, instead mostly making veiled references that only the keenest eyed enthusiasts will notice, and probably enjoy all the more for putting in the added effort.
Another series from Netflix, Easy is an anthology series of loosely connected stories about love relationships and sex following several couples. There are a couple of questionable moments throughout and an annoying lack of LGBT men as characters, but no series can be quite perfect and having one try this hard to showcase diversity is a step in the right direction for media representation.
Easy is far and away director Joe Swanberg’s most notable work but despite this he attracts considerable star power; James Franco and Orlando Bloom both make appearances to star in an episode (even two in Franco’s case). Overall, Easy is very much something you can enjoy any number of ways: with enough thought to provoke reflection; enough drama to engage; and enough comedy to make for relaxed watching. This multifaceted nature is much improved by it being an anthology series allowing each episode to be viewed completely differently.
Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency (BBC America and Netflix)
BBC has a long and storied relationship with the fantastic works of Douglas Adams, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency is yet another chapter in this. Based on his lesser known series of books by the same name, this is the second attempt at putting it onto the small screen. Starring Samuel Barnett and Elijah Wood the series follows an interwoven web of stories that move across time and space with Dirk (Barnett) and Todd (Wood) clinging on for dear life as they’re dragged across Dirks latest case.
Anyone who is familiar with Adams’ work will know it’s irrelevant whether it matches up to the source material, and would’ve tickled Adams more if it not only ignored the books but actively contradicted it. Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency (there has to be a faster way to say that) is a fantastic fun from start to finish and goes out of its way to deny any sort of logical thought beyond ‘everything is connected’. It’s a wonderful series for anyone, such as myself, who over analyses everything to have the opportunity to switch off, and let the story sweep you away.
Stranger Things (Netflix)
D&D references; 80’s film references; a wonderful soundtrack; and pseudoscientific sci-fi/horror? Stranger Things was tailor-made for pop culture lovers and is a joy start to finish. Following four kids, a mother and two teenagers trying to get their friend/son/brother back from ‘the upside down’ and a ‘Demogorgon’ Stranger Things is tense, exciting and above all interesting. From a series that is based entirely on pop culture bygones, it’s amazing that it never feels reliant on nostalgia and only ever uses it to accompany and enhance an already wonderful story. It’s no surprise at all Stranger Things was renewed for a second season and I personally look forward to its return (and the inevitable justice for Barb).