It’s been another classic year for TV series. To tear myself away from my laptop for food and water, let alone work, has been nigh on impossible but I’ve cancelled my subscriptions for a few hours to give you my highlights of 2018...
Castle Rock gives Stephen Kings fictitious Shawshank prison it’s own series and as one would expect there is all sorts of strange goings on. A boy is found in the depths of the abandoned prison, people are dying against a backdrop of strange temporal phenomena… The only man who can reverse this is Henry Deaver, returning to his hometown after many years. And Deaver finds himself embroiled with many characters and stories of the King Universe. The show was written by King himself and produced by J.J. Abrams. (Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Star Wars: Episode IX.)
The Haunting of Hill House
Creepy, scary haunted Hill House? Shortly after its launch, rumours circulated on the internet that the series was one of the most terrifying ever. So much so that viewers had passed out from the horror of it all. So don’t say I didn’t warn you. The story revolves around 5 siblings who are forced to confront their childhood experiences in Hill House. And have a guess what happens next? Right, they are haunted by ghosts! Woooooooooooo.
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
Finally the Coen brothers board the series-train. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs gives Liam Neeson, James Franco, Tom Waits and Tim Blake Nelson the opportunity to don cowboy hats and boots for six adventures on the American frontier. The first episode follows the story of Buster Scruggs, a singing gunslinger followed by James Franco as an incapable and comic thief. From here thinks turn darker with Liam Neeson playing a grizzled theatre impresario and Tom Waits as a solitary gold prospector.
The End of the F***ing World
Boy meets girl in this rite of passage series. What could possibly go wrong? Well, when one of them is a teen-moustached, psychopath in waiting, quite a lot. Clear your diary for a few days and prepare for a binge watch!
Here and Now
American Beauty’s Oscar winning screenplay showed that Alan Ball had the talent to scratch away the superficial veneer of American society and expose what lies beneath. His serial debut, Here and Now, tells what at first seems to be an American family history with Holly Hunter and Tim Robins cast as a kind of middle class “Brangelina,” with children adopted from Liberia, Columbia and Vietnam. They even have time after scouring the world for adopted children to have a biological child. So far, so good. But when one of the siblings starts having hallucinations their perfect family world starts to unravel…
Okay, the title sounds more like something for star trek addicts but set faces to stunned, the Alienist refers to criminal psychologist Dr Laszlo Kreizler (Daniel Brühl,) in this period psycho-thriller. Brühl’s character is asked by Theodore Rooselvelt to assemble a team to solve a series of particularly gruesome murders of young male prostitutes. Not convinced? Maybe Luke Evans and Dakota Fanning as the other members of the unconventional team setting out to solve the murders as well as a script by Drive writer, Hossein Amini and direction by Jakob Verbruggen of Black Mirror fame.
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
Archie Comics’ teen witch is back with Kiernan Shipka as Sabrina Spellman. (Geddit?) But now things are way more complicated. As well as boys and maths homework she has to deal with evil witches and even the devil who are intent on threatening her family and mortal friends – while trying to keep her true identity secret. A scary and beautifully made reboot of the cult character.
In the distant future mankind has cheated death: Using a memory chip a persons consciousness can be recorded and transferred to newly created bodies allowing one to live for centuries…well provided you’ve got the cash for it. Central to the story is Takeshi Kovac, a felon convicted of a mere 250 years in prison who is revived to solve a murder case for the powerful and almost immortal Laurens Bancroft. What follows is an unholy mess with great cinematography, gallons of blood and acres of naked flesh. What else would you expect from Game of Thrones director Miguel Sapochnik?
Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams
Dystopian outlooks have been all the rage since George Orwell woke up one morning and said, “I wonder what it’ll be like in 1984?” But even Mr Orwell couldn’t have imagined Donald Trump, could he? Sci-fi guru Philip K Dick took over the reins of the dystopian-pony and his book of short stories written over fifty years ago provides the title and inspiration for this series. Never heard of Philip K. Dick? Blade Runner, Total Recall, A Scanner Darkly, The Man In The High Castle all sprang from his (pretty dark i imagine,) mind.
Wild Wild Country
The tiny settlement of Antelope Oregon is rocked to its core by the arrival of Indian Guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh and thousands of his followers. A new city with hotels and even a casino is formed around the cult and the practices of free love and orgies are powerfully at odds with the conservative and Christian farming community. What follows is the record of the struggle between these polar opposite communities. The story is so well told that i had to watch all six episodes in one sitting. You really couldn’t make it up.
It’s every Fathers nightmare. Teenage daughter Jenny goes to a party and then disappears. No one knows where Jenny is. Tom Delaney, her widowed father begins an increasingly frantic search for his daughter and in doing so uncovers the lies and intrigue that lie behind the façade of small town life…
Three students from working class backgrounds find themselves at the most prestigious and expensive private school in Spain: Las Encinas. They soon find themselves out of their depth in a world of arrogant rich kids, parties, drugs and sex. And then someone is found dead. Who is the murderer? The new kids? Or was an old score settled here? A successful mix of Gossip Girls, Dead Girls are Not Lying and Pretty Little Liars.
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