CT's TV CV

Longmire

 

Show: Longmire

Verdict: AMAZING

How much I’ve seen: Four seasons

You should watch it if you like: Westerns or cop procedurals (CSI, NCIS, Criminal Minds, Law & Order, etc)

Where you can watch it: Netflix

There are a TON of cop procedurals out there, and the genre itself is as formulaic as the plot of an episode. So when one breaks the mold, it’s definitely worth …

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investigating.

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Yes, Longmire is basically just another cop procedural, but it has a lot going for it. The show isn’t about a big city police department or a federal agency with a a ton of resources at its disposal. It’s about a five-person sheriff’s office in Wyoming. They have no tech. The title character doesn’t even carry a cell phone. Cases don’t get solved by TV-magic-forensics, or pseudo-scientific profiling. They get solved with investigation, knowing the people & area, and gut instinct.

It’s always annoying when you hear things like “New York City itself is a character!” But if NYC can be a character, then Wyoming definitely is in Longmire. There are some beautiful shots of big sky country in this show. (Yes, I realize “Big Sky Country” is Montana and the show takes place in Wyoming, but it’s filmed in New Mexico, so all bets are off as far as I’m concerned.) Not only do I recommend you watch this show, but I also recommend you watch it on the biggest screen you can get your hands on. A phone, tablet, or laptop screen isn’t big enough to appreciate the beauty of this show.

Of all the ways in which Longmire is unique, I think the most interesting is the large cast of native American characters. From his best friend to his greatest enemy, Sheriff Longmire deals with the native population frequently; maybe in every episode. I can’t think of another show that deals with native American culture, except maybe Hell on Wheels. Jurisdictional issues aren’t typically interesting. In fact, the only plot lines involving them I can think of involve someone somehow having diplomatic immunity and the cops figuring out how to arrest them anyway. Longmire frequently has cases somehow involving the local reservation. People flee to it in order to escape arrest. In at least one case, the criminals were going to the reservation to commit crimes because they couldn’t be arrested by tribal police after they left the scene. What other cop show has that?

I like this show so much, I read a handful of the “Walt Longmire Mysteries” books the show is based on. This is the only show or movie that I can think of that I liked the book(s) less.

If you like cop procedurals and/or westerns, Longmire is definitely worth checking out. If nothing else, watch the first episode and tell me you didn’t at least consider moving to the Great Plains.

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Hannibal

 

Show: Hannibal

Verdict: AMAZING

How much I’ve seen: All 3 seasons

Where you can watch it: Seasons 1 & 2 stream free w/Amazon Prime

The Hannibal Lecter movies never really did anything for me, although I’m not totally sure why. Maybe I need to rewatch at least Silence of the Lambs. … ¯_(ツ)_/¯

Anyway, while the movies never did anything for me, I was (as I think most people are) fascinated with Hannibal Lecter. But not enough to actually get into this show until it was basically too late. This show is incredible and deserving of a much bigger audience than it apparently got, because it was cancelled after three seasons.

I honestly don’t really remember much of the movies – the only thing I can remember well is Ray Liota eating his own brains out of his head in Hannibal (the movie), and thinking that that was cheesy and too over-the-top for the rest of the movie – and I never read the books. So I don’t know how much of the early seasons is canon. But the show starts out when Hannibal is a consultant for the FBI, and advises them on serial killer cases. It eventually ends up covering the stuff in the movie (and presumably the book) Red Dragon, but never makes it to the Silence of the Lambs stuff. (Silence was the “first” Lecter movie released, but not the first chronologically. “First” b/c Manhunter was the real first Lecter movie, but it wasn’t Anthony Hopkins that played Lecter.)

If I had to try to describe Hannibal, I guess I’d say it’s like a combination of Criminal Minds (another show about the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit chasing serial killers) and Dexter (another show with a still-active serial killer as a main character). Although I don’t think that comparison gives this show the justice it deserves, since I think it’s much better than both. Though to be fair, Hannibal burned out (was cancelled) before it could fade away (end after sucking for a few seasons).

The idea of Hannibal consulting on serial killer cases as a serial killer himself is amazing to watch. Particularly when he’s investigating himself. There’s a lot to be impressed by with this show. It’s smart, it’s decadently shot and contains visual effects that don’t exist on TV beyond maybe the opening credits to True Detective, but it’s also brutally violent. It also tries my attention span a little. Sometimes with the weird sound effects and tough to digest visuals it’s easy to lose focus on the show. But maybe that’s part of the plan? There was one scene in the third season I remember, specifically, because it seemed like a fairly mundane, not really important part of the plot, right up until Hannibal drove a damn ice pick into a dude’s temple. The violence was swift and brutal, and you couldn’t see it coming. As a viewer, or as the other characters in the scene. And it fit in perfectly with the pathology of a psychopathic serial killer.

The biggest negative to this show is how graphic it is. I was floored when I realized this show aired on network TV! It feels like a Showtime series, but it’s on NBC. I have a pretty high tolerance for graphic violence on TV, and even I got close to the limits of what I was willing to subject myself to watching at one point during season two.

This isn’t really part of the review, but it’s related: I found this video on Boing Boing the other day. It’s the same scene from Red Dragon acted out by three different sets of actors for Manhunter, Red Dragon, and Hannibal (the show).

Recovering the Mindset from Matthew Morettini on Vimeo.

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Mr. Robot

 

Show: Mr. Robot

Verdict: AMAZING

How much I’ve seen: Season 1

Where you can watch it: Airs on USA, but the season just ended. The last five episodes are available to stream here.

This show had me from jump street. As soon as I saw the MR. ROBOT title screen of the first episode I knew I was watching something special. Imagine if Fight Club was about a group of Anonymous-style anarchist computer hackers, rather than a group of anarchist soap makers. If you liked Fight Club, you’ll almost certainly like this show.

I was surprised at how good the technobabble was too. It’s so common to see shows get that wrong. I think the details were a little off, but the terminology itself seemed good. (For example: they correctly referenced 256-bit AES encryption, which is a real thing; and they said it’s practically impossible to crack in any reasonable amount of time, which is also true as far as people outside the NSA know; but the attack was to encrypt financial records when they were already in a system. It makes no sense that they encrypted all the copies rather than destroying them all.)

I was surprised at how intrigued I am by the character of Angela. I was not expecting to care about her character at all, but her development through season 1 was really interesting, especially the scene in the shoe store in the last episode.

I will say, like Bloodline, I’m worried about season two. I hope this isn’t too spoilery, but the plot was completely resolved. They don’t have the element of surprise anymore either (although I saw that twist coming from the pilot).

Added bonus for me was that I recognized several shooting locations, because I’ve been at/in several of them.

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Bloodline

Show: Bloodline

Verdict: AMAZING

How much I’ve seen: Season 1

Where you can watch it: Netflix

Bloodline is a Netflix original series about a family who owns a resort in the Florida keys, and all hell breaks loose when the oldest son returns home.

This show sucked me immediately and I watched the whole season as fast as I could. I can’t recommend it strongly enough. The entire first season released on March 20th, and was renewed for a second only 11 days later.

I will say that I am a little concerned about season two. The way the season wrapped up, it would be so easy for that to be the end of the Rayburn Family story. If this show was like True Detective or American Horror Story where each season stood on its own, I’d be less worried. As it stands, I don’t know how they can keep up moving forward. But don’t let that keep you from watching season one. Even if the rest of the series turns out to be bad, season one is still worth the 13 episode time investment.

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Battle Creek

Show: Battle Creek

Verdict: Pretty Good

How much I’ve seen: Everything (Cancelled after Season 1)

Where you can watch it: The last 4 episodes are on CBS.com

I really wanted to like this show and I did eventually. The first 4 or 5
episodes were not very good, but it picked up a bit towards the end.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough to save it; it’s already been cancelled.

You’d think if the creators of House and Breaking Bad made a show together, it’d
be a massive hit, but it just didn’t work in this case. I was disappointed to
find out that, beyond the opening credits and some B roll, none of the show was
actually filmed in Michigan.

I will say that the casting of the two main characters is absolutely perfect.
Dean Winters as a guy envious of the FBI agent next door, and Josh Duhamel as
squeaky-clean “Mr. Perfect” FBI agent is just exactly right. I can’t imagine
anyone being better for either part.

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Black Mirror

Show: Black Mirror

Verdict: AMAZING

How much I’ve seen: All of season 1, most of season 2

Where you can watch it: Netflix

Holy crap this show is good! So good that I had to recommend it before I could
even finish catching up. There have only been 7 episodes so far but they are so
intense and thought-provoking that I can’t watch more than one in a day.

The closest thing I can think to compare this show to is The Twilight Zone. It’s
sci-fi and each episode is its own self-contained story. The focus of the show
is technology and our relationship to it. Like all good sci-fi it makes you
wonder about today, even though the story takes place tomorrow.