With the year almost over and after the new TV-Season in the U.S. has finally had its proper start, we take a look at three new and exciting shows amongst network, cable and streaming services.
The SyFy channel in the U.S. had kind of a rough time over the past few years. Misdirected leadership, leading to the cancelation of many beloved and successful shows and franchises, a focus on low budget productions like the infamous Sharknado and a shift of content to wrestling and cheap action has lead to a diminishing profile amongst fans of science-fiction or fantasy. But after a lot of shifts in the executive positions of NBC Universal’s genre channel, SyFy seems to go back to its very successful roots.
One of the many new and promising shows that came out of this is The Expanse, an adaptation of James S.A. Corey’s bestselling series of books set 200 years in the future of our solar system. Mars has been colonized and is now independent from the U.N. government on Earth. Stations in the asteroid-belt have been established to mine resources for the two planets. But political tension is rising with Earth and Mars in a cold war and the people living in the belt exploited by the two superpowers. After the Canterbury, a freighter bringing ice from the rings of Saturn to Ceres Station in the belt, follows a distress call by an unknown vessel, only the first officer and a small crew remain. On their way through the system they get pulled into a deep web of conspiracies, possible alien life and political intrigue.
And after so many disappointments from SyFy’s most recent shows, this is a breath of fresh air for a network that made the incredible EUReKA, Warehouse 13 and, last but not least, Battlestar Galactica. And the latter is what it feels like the most, focussed on interesting characters and their struggle to survive in this vast and hostile universe. A second season is already on it’s way with a release in February 2017.
Game of Thrones can’t go on forever. Something we realized more than ever this summer with the announcement that the show will only run for two more, shortened seasons through 2018. Now what HBO? There has to be a new hit show around the corner. Well, I don’t think that it’s Westworld, yet. But the shows launch and first half of the season is very promising.
Westworld is centered around the very special western-theme-park of the same name. Inhabited by lifelike robots, guests can partake in an huge number of interactive narratives all around the huge park. From bounty hunting, over lots of different criminal activities or just immersing yourself in this grand illusion. The hosts, as the androids are called, have their memories wiped after the end of their story, wether they died or reached the end of their scripted cycle. But soon after the show kicks in, things start to go seriously wrong, some hosts start to remember their past „lives“, others suddenly stray from their path, and a mysterious man in black is on a bloody quest to reveal a secret hidden deep within the park.
Thriving on it’s wide range of interesting characters, Westworld might become HBO’s new hit. But it isn’t yet. Some strange design choices, illogical character decisions and few plot lines that were just dead on arrival make this a promising launch with a few important kinks to work out.
I know, I know, I’ve banged on about how I think Netflix is the true way forward for TV in the 21st century. But being practically forced to talk about their great shows again just points at what i meant before. Stranger Things is an homage to to 80s thriller and horror films, drawing inspiration mainly from the works of Stephen King and John Carpenter while not forgetting the works of body-horror legend H.P. Lovecraft.
Hawkins, Indiana, 1983: After playing Dungeons & Dragons with his friends, 12-year-old Will Byers vanishes mysteriously on his way home, after being attacked by a dark, insidious monster. While the towns sheriff Jim Hopper investigates the case, Will’s friends are determined to find him themselves. While following their leads, they meet a psychokinetic girl who claims to have Will’s location. As the four kids start to uncover the truth, a sinister government agency tries to cover up their own operations that are apparently related to Will’s disappearance, the psychic girl and the evil lurking in the shadows.
The show’s dark atmosphere, a great ensemble cast with likable characters and child-actors, as well as a kick-ass 80s soundtrack make this one of the most dreadfully dark takes on the psychological horror that was previously popularized by the likes of Stephen King or George Romero. But just as in gaming, TV and Film has kind of lost touch with the word „subtlety“. And that’s what Stranger Things thrives on. The Monster doesn’t get thrown in our face with swelling music, it’s hiding in the void, striking unseen, making the anticipation even more horrifying. Something a lot of horror stories could take a lot of inspiration from.
Beitragsbild: Kevin Wendlandt
Bilder: SyFy, HBO, Netflix