New shows not to miss "Mister Robot" on USA Network
The premiere episode of Mister Robot is online and it was really stylish and fun to watch. It also seems to take greater than usual pains to make the computer hacker/programmer stuff look "right", which pleases the nerd in me. If you like cyberpunk, give this a look.
The lead gives off an electricity, he's sort of reminding me of a young Matthew Broderick, but in a psychotic, Aspie sort of way.
Haven't watched USA network since they ended "Burn Notice", but this looks good, I'm going to follow it a while.
Sci Fi network (I'm not going to spell it their way, curse you, Bonnie Hammer) Has two very-low-budget shows that are (so far) fun and interesting and contain neither ghosts nor wrestlers: "Killjoys" is about space bounty hunters, and "Dark Matter" is about a spaceship crew that wakes up in deep space with their identities erased, no memory of their mission, and they are trying to figure out who they were and who they want to be, while on the run as accused pirates and murderers.
Where Doctor Who had a lot of planets that looked suspiciously like a local gravel quarry, these shows feature planets where everything looks like defunct factories and steel mills. Still, the dialogue is snappy and the plots move along well.
I'm CRAZY about Mr. Robot. CRAZY about it.
One thing I dug is that its primary stylistic influence is Taxi Driver. I normally don't like narration because it can be a crutch for lazy storytelling, but I was listening to this and thinking, "Holy shit, it's God's lonely man!" (DeNiro's name for himself in the Taxi Driver prologue.) Then when somebody speaks to our hero, he looks confused and asks, "You talking to me?" Totally NOT played for laughs, but it confirmed my wink.
It also picks up notes from Terry Gilliam's Brazil -- a labyrinthine conspiracy with banality masking terror, and the hero constantly kept off-balance by not knowing who to trust.
White Collar on USA was genius. Far exceeded Burn Notice for me, although I also liked BN. White Collar was also shot spectacularly, some of the most gorgeous cinematography on TV. New York was definitely a character, and the outdoor stuff was all shot natural light, no nets. An absolute master class in contemporary shooting that calls back to classic values. Anyone who loves visuals and missed this show was missing a great pleasure.
It also took the central trope -- a criminal with a conscience buddying up with the FBI agent with a heart who caught him TWICE -- and turns it into something I've never seen before. The emotional and narrative climax of every show was centered on two very smart guys, leaning into each other across the table, talking through the problem with their heads almost touching. They may have been the ONLY two smart, decent guys on TV. LOL Certainly the only show with TWO smart guys trying to solve problems with their brains, free of any gimmicks about one of them being a savant or something.
We nicknamed the show "Freakishly Handsome," after one of its stars, Matt Bomer, but the other guy was quite good-looking too. LOL But hey, it's Tuesday, freakishly handsome is on! The show just wrapped, but the finale was maybe the most satisfying I've ever seen, so I've kept that episode on the DVR and rewatch it regularly.
Also a delightful, delighful turn with Diahann Carroll as a minor but important recurring character.
I'm gonna start a thread on this, but the most ass-kicking, brain-bending sci-fi-ish show EVER is Orphan Black on BBC America. Season 3 just wrapped, so head over to your favorite streaming service (and do check your cable company's on demand) and TRUST ME, START FROM THE BEGINNING. The central miracle is one actress playing the 5 main characters. If there's been a better performance in the history of TV, I ain't heard about it.
I haven't seen many movie performances match it either, for that matter. It really is a miracle. Tons of great supporting performances from other actors, and a bizarre, compelling story that gets both stranger AND more plausible over time.
The show has also been raising its visual game over the years. Shot after shot in season 3, I kept jumping back and pausing to watch again.
This is actually a very nice time for sci fi-fantasy TV, especially with the just-wrapped season 1 of The Flash on CW as THE BEST COMICS-ORIGINATED PROPERTY EVERRRRRR.
Definitely planning another thread on this. Heart, intelligence, wit, and a jaw-droppingly honorable and nuanced rootedness in the source material. The show also moved unbelievably fast through the central plot/mythology that even hardcore comics fans asked the showrunners to slow down. Entire episodes were moving at movie-trailer pacing. In response, showrunners put the pedal down and moved even faster. If you don't adore this, speak to a doctor IMMEDIATELY. Preferably a psychiatrist.
In any case, start with Mr. Robot. LOL
I liked the pilot for its authenticity - no crazy 24-esque computer beeping with every keystroke. I'm not an IT guy but I work with them and network security is everything.
In the opening 10 min of Ep 2 I was struck by the cinematic 1970's style camera work, editing, music and it really feels unlike anything on TV. While shows like Walking Dead, Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones and Mad Men are all nicely made, none of them feel like the creators were influenced by Taxi Driver-era cinema. There is not much on TV that feels like this. Tim, I'll check out White Collar immediately.
I get a Gibson vibe from this show.
[Mike Cohen] "Tim, I'll check out White Collar immediately."
I meant to mention what to some people will be a deal breaker. Nobody is mean to anybody else. No rape. No profanity. No violence. Not a sociopath or sadist in sight.
I know that some people absolutely despise this kind of television. They only want their TV to be full of that stuff. That's fine. Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad are available for folks who need more humiliation, rape, torture, murder, and descents into darkness and emotional violence in their lives.
LOL No kidding though, I have no idea how people watch those shows. I keep trying and it's like dang, y'all. The inside of my head is horrifying enough as a native. I don't care to go to horrifying places as a TV tourist.
So if things like wittiness, heart, and a general generosity of spirit are a turn-off for you, you won't want anything at all to do with White Collar.