So it took me a week or so, but I finally found a TV show on the internet that I really enjoyed:
It's on Amazon Prime, and while it isn't perfect (there's a plot hole or two), it's still pretty damn good. It's set on a remote Norwegian island in the arctic in a small community of people who are rocked after a gory murder takes place, which I suppose makes this series Nordic Noir. But what starts off as a standard police procedural gets way weird and eventually crosses genres into horror, with a touch of science fiction.
Obviously, the setting is cool in it of itself (much of it was filmed in Iceland), and the mystery/horror element is also great, but the show really shines with its characters. I got particularly interested in the sheriff, who has so many different relationships with people on the island that we get a nice multi-faceted perspective of him (could that be used as a writing technique, maybe?). I really enjoyed how Richard Dormer played him. The investigator, DCI Morton, was also fun as a sort of Sherlock Holmes archetype, played by Stanley Tucci, who's always excellent.
Anyway, I thought I would recommend Fortitude because it's one of the better TV shows I've seen in a while. I finished it yesterday, and I can't stop thinking about it, which is usually a sign of good story. I hear there's a season 2 coming out next year, and I hope it's as good (though my expectations for season 2 of anything these days is fairly low).
Let me know if you have any Amazon Prime recommendations. I would love to hear them. I also enjoyed the show Fleabag, especially since it focuses on a female friendship, which you almost NEVER see on TV. But other than that, I haven't found a lot.
Of course, with NaNoWriMo upon us, any TV recommendations are going have to wait until December anyway. But when December rolls around and you have some more time (if you're participating in NaNoWriMo), you should definitely check out Fortitude. It's binge-able, but not compulsive. Just a really nicely balanced show.
Confession: I am a sucker for a good couple to ship.
I am such a shipper, it's embarrassing. A lot of my favorite comic books, tv-shows, movies, etc. were more or less based on the fact that I shipped some obscure fictional couple. Let's list them, shall we? In approximate chronological order:
Batman and Catwoman (From the old Adam West series.) It's the earliest memory I have of wishing two characters would get together. I spent a lot of summers at my Grandparents' house watching old reruns of this show, hoping each episode would feature Catwoman (or Batgirl, who was equally awesome and had the sweet motorcycle).
Batman and Catwoman (Batman Returns). I was pretty young, but I still shipped them. No doubt the cartoonishness appealed to me.
Batman and Catwoman (From Batman the Animated Series - sensing a theme!) Ok enough, yes Batman is pretty hot, and when you add him to the equally hot Catwoman, it's pretty fucking awesome.
Gambit and Rogue (X-men) So doomed! So frustrating! Technically, I got into this pairing like most 90's kid did - through the animated series, but I thought this comic book illustration was en pointe. Rogue by herself was awesome (I want her powers), Gambit had an undeniable sex appeal, and then when you threw these two southerners together and added some reluctance on Rogue's part (cause, you know, she might kill him), it was pretty hot.
Conan and Jezmine (Conan the Adventurer) What can I say? Jezmine got to throw ninja stars. Who wouldn't love her? Conan was alright. This was shipping for lack of many other options (there were like, four characters in this show - tops).
Indiana Jones and Marion Ravenwood (Raiders of the Lost Ark!) There was no one more attractive than Harrison Ford in his prime. Plus, Marion was a bad ass, AND she got to wear a pretty white dress too. Talk about my ideal fictional avatar.
If we're going to talk Harrison Ford, then we have to mention Han Solo. I came around to Luke Skywalker later in life, but when I was a kid, Han and Leia were my jam (Star Wars).
Mulder and Scully (The X-Files) I was introduced to this show fairly late by the first movie, which has some pretty heavy shipping themes. Ironically, I think it was actually the X-Files where the term "shipper" comes from. That show had one of the earliest internet fan-bases, and those who hoped for a Mulder/Scully pairing were termed "relationshippers," or just "shippers" for short. The more you know.
Krycek and Marita (The X-Files). Cause I grew up and realized that it was more fun to be a bad guy. There was really not enough information on these characters, but I found that to be part of the appeal. You could make up some pretty epic fanfiction between those two, and set it in Russia!
There may have been others, but these were the couples I shipped the hardest, while other characters may have had fleeting, but unstained appeal. (Robin and Batgirl, for instance. I need more interaction!)
Then it kind of falls off for me. I don't know, maybe I grew up, and it got harder to care about the love lives of fictional characters. Or maybe there haven't been many good new ones in a long time. Most of the TV I see these days is strangely heartless, even cold. Everyone says we're in the "golden age" of television, but it's all so serious. I'm dying for a good romp with a decent couple that just refuses to get together.
Finally, if we're going to discuss shipping, then I feel obligated to mention Harry Potter, but personally, I never understood all the Harry Potter pairings. To me, those characters seem almost asexual, so I have no idea where the appeal of a Harry/Malfoy, Hermione/Snape, or Lupin/Tonks coupling comes from. But then again, I'm sure there are plenty of kids out there who wouldn't understand my love for Batman or Krycek. It's generational, I'm sure.
Who do you ship?
Have you seen Stranger Things yet?
If you haven't, maybe you should click over to Netflix and get started on that. I'll wait.
Stranger Things is a Netflix original series, which is like a cross between classic Spielberg movies (e.g., E.T., Goonies, and Poltergeist), Resident Evil, and a dash of Stephen King (who also recommends it). It's the tv show/movie I've been wishing someone would make for the last 15 years.
It's set in the eighties and totally nails that vibe. Do you remember flying around on your bike, feeling like you were the king of your neighborhood? This show is basically built on that premise.
Mind you, It's not perfect, and if I had one criticism it's that it sometimes strayed from homage to outright ripoff, but it's not a huge issue and I wasn't put off by it. There's a fine line between acknowledging your influences and plagiarizing, and I think Stranger Things pulled it off.
So if you like sci-fi, and you enjoy old Spielberg movies, seriously, do yourself a favor and get started on Stranger Things.
I've been struggling to finish my latest Aubrey/Maturin book (it's been a total slog) and Stranger Things was such a good reminder that I should pick up a fun sci-fi novel next. I deserve it.
When we moved out to the country, we had to give up our internet along with other city conveniences, like brunch, and trash pickup. There's also no cable where we live, so no TV either. Yes, a satellite dish would solve both of these problems, but it just seemed like more trouble (and money) than it was worth. Plus, I kind of liked not having the constant distraction of TV and internet constantly beckoning me.
When we left Durham, I think we'd just finished watching the 4th season of Game of Thrones. It's never been my favorite show, probably because I'm not a big fan of high fantasy in general, but I watched it anyway because it was an addictive soap opera.
Post-internet, I continued to follow GoT by reading recaps during breaks at work. And honestly, the recaps were almost as good, if not better, than the show itself. They also saved me a hell of a lot of time, and told me what I already knew: it's just a soap opera. Not great art. Just a story built on cliffhangers and melodrama.
Anyway, I've been visiting my parents this week and working from home at their place so I can hang out with them in the evenings. Last night they asked if I wanted to watch the season finale of GoT with them, knowing that I haven't been watching the show for the last two seasons. I said sure, why not. I felt pretty up-to-date from the recaps.
And you know what? I understood everything perfectly. Having watched the first few seasons to get myself acquainted with the characters and setting, I was perfectly able to follow along after missing TWO SEASONS of the show by reading episode recaps alone.
And my parents? They had one question, which they repeated throughout the episode:
Thankfully, I was there and able to fill them in.
So can I suggest you save some time by cutting out at least one show from this "golden age" of television and following along with TV recaps instead (if you must)? It's what I did with Downton Abbey, and it's what I'm doing now with Orange is the New Black.
And no, I have no FOMO about it. I just ask myself, when I'm on my death bed, will I care that I never watched seasons 3 and 4 of OITNB? Will I even care if I skip half the recaps? All of them? Remain totally clueless about how Downton Abbey even ended? Nope. I don't think that's going to be on my mind when I die.
I just think there are better ways to spend your time than watching upscale soap operas. Like reading a book, or writing one. Like maybe for once, we should take a break from consuming so much entertainment/media/art, and take a stab at actually creating some.
Writer, editor, scientist.