Category Archives: Television Reviews

Twin Peaks: The Return Review

It’s rare that a TV show can be as entrancing and uncompromising as Twin Peaks: The Return. Even during the early episodes, when viewers were already trying to piece together the narrative and guess where it would lead, I cautioned others to let go of expectations and simply enjoy the show in the moment. David Lynch has always been an instinctual filmmaker, creating art that’s driven more by his own in-the-moment feelings and whims than the requirements of an overarching plot. This is why his work often takes on a sort of dream logic; it frees him from the constraints of reality, letting his work appeal to the viewer on a basic, primal level. He’s a maestro of emotional scene-construction, who’s not so much bad at traditional storytelling as he is completely disinterested in it.

This is why, as Twin Peaks entered the home-stretch of it’s first (only?) return season, I was shocked at just how much was congealing. Major reveals were coming left and right, tying together several threads from the original series (such as Bob, the “blue rose” cases, Major Briggs, the Black Lodge, and even “Judy”) into something resembling a consistent explanation. Even outside of the background story, Lynch seemed to be guiding the everything toward a cathartic, fan-pleasing finale. After 13 episodes straight of Dougie Jones shenanigans (which, for the record, I really enjoyed), Dale Cooper was finally back to his old self. “I am the FBI,” he proudly stated, to the widespread rejoicing of Twin Peaks fans.

Continue reading Twin Peaks: The Return Review

Game of Thrones Season 7 Review

George RR Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” novels are ultimately about balance. As the title suggests, the world is home to two extreme and opposite forces, that of fire and that of ice. Both have been linked to events that caused great damage in Westeros and Essos for several generations, but the hero of the story is the product of a father who represents fire (Rhaegar Targaryen) and a mother who represents ice (Lyanna Stark). Only he can ultimately bond the people of the world to fight off a cataclysmic crisis.

But the same metaphor could be applied to the creative shepherds of the TV adaptation “Game of Thrones”. Original author George RR Martin moves his story forward at a glacial pace, taking plenty of time to seed story elements and character motivations which will pay off at a later time. He has continued to expand his universe with each novel, to the point where the story is so unwieldy that it takes him more than six years to deliver a single book.

Continue reading Game of Thrones Season 7 Review

The Leftovers Season 3 Review

In my review, I called The Leftovers’ second year one of the “all-time great seasons of television.” Almost two years later, those 10 perfectly realized episodes still stand tall over everything I’ve seen, from wonderful character dramas like Better Call Saul to pulp-fantasy fare like Game of Thrones. Few shows since have been as profound, moving, entertaining, deftly written, or hilarious, and none have managed to hit all of those buttons at the same time.

Somehow, with only 8 episodes left to provide an answer for the meaning to life, The Leftovers wrapped with an even more brilliant season of television. It’s a perfect swan song, managing to broaden its storytelling horizon more than previous years while somehow clarifying and solidifying its central thematic question. The degree of difficulty here is astounding, yet you never get the sense that the creators are struggling or being crushed under the weight of the monumental challenge. In the end, The Leftovers tells you everything, or nothing. It just depends on how much you want to believe.

Continue reading The Leftovers Season 3 Review

American Gods – Pilot Review

Adaptations have to toe a fine line with their audiences. On the one hand, one must consider the newcomers first. If the adaptation fails to tell a compelling story on its own merits, then it doesn’t matter how true to the original it is. On the other hand, if an adaptation strays too far from the essence of what made the source material appealing, it risks alienating its base. The first episode of American Gods is a gorgeous, at times fascinating interpretation of the book. It moves briskly, features incredible cinematography, and certainly entertains. And yet, it shows signs of being both too literal in its portrayal of the book, and not quite true enough to what made it interesting in the first place.

A great example comes early in the episode, when Shadow, the protagonist, is turned away by an airport employee. He flashes back to a conversation he had in prison. A fellow inmate tells him about how he once got out, but after feeling disrespected by an airport attendant, he lost control and ended up back in prison. Shadow remarks that perhaps the lesson here is that prison culture encourages a type of behavior which, when applied to the real world, is instead harmful. “No,” the inmate insists. The real lesson is “don’t piss off those bitches in airports.”

Continue reading American Gods – Pilot Review

Westworld Season 1 Review

westworld

Season 1 of Westworld wrapped up over the weekend, finally giving us a clear picture of the show’s reality…sort of. If you haven’t watched it yet, steer clear, because I will be posting spoilers below. However, my opinion of the show after the first 5 episodes is still, for the most part, how I feel now: its mystery was compelling and it has a lot on its mind, but for a show about the essence of humanity, it has a difficult time inviting us to care about its characters on a human level.

Continue reading Westworld Season 1 Review