XIPHOS LIST OF APPROVED BINGE WORTHY TV SHOWS
HEY LOOK A NEW POST! NO SERIOUSLY!!!!!!! I know, I know. I haven’t posted anything in awhile but in fairness nobody else has either so I thought maybe, just maybe, if I did it would get the ball rolling again. Let’s hope so!
Well anyway this isn’t going to be a long post. I’m just going to make recommendations for a bunch of TV shows I think are great for binge watching for different reasons. Most I’ve talked about before probably but this is just a post to get my feet wet for writing again. Let me know in the comments any shows I missed which will be many I am sure. One last thing, this isn’t in any sort of order it’s just as they occur to me.
Banshee (Cinemax): This show is nuts. I mean seriously insane. It makes no sense whatsoever but it might just be the most entertaining show I’ve ever seen. The premise of the show is that a convict, with no name yet, gets out of jail after 15 years and heads to Banshee, Pennsylvania to find his partner/lover he took the fall for on a $15 million dollar jewel heist. She is hot and has the diamonds and he wants both back. Somehow, which makes absolutely no sense, the convict assumes the identity of the newly hired Sheriff Lucas Hood (hood get it?) Apparently Banshee city government does not do face to face interviews or use Facetime or Google picture search or any of the basics but what evs.
Anyway what ensues is a gleefully destructive, violent sex and nudity filled romp that is wildly entertaining. Don’t try and figure this thing out just watch, enjoy and have some fun at the gleefully lunatic antics. Along the way there are heists, beat downs, murders, gunfights and a goddamned tomahawk fight in a car. Lots and lots of boning. Banshee is pure entertainment with some of the best most inventive fight sequences this side of a Chinese chop socky flick.
Strike Back (Sky1 and Cinemax): This show is as delightfully stupid as Banshee. It’s allegedly a spy/fighting story centering on two operatives of Section 20 the “hammer” of UK foreign policy. Those operatives are Sergeant Michael Stonebridge of Her Majesty’s Special Air Services played by Philip Winchester (an American actor) and Sergeant Damien Scott formerly with the United States Army Delta Force, that is if such a unit existed, played by Sullivan Stapleton (an Aussie). Never mind that you have an American working deep classified covert operations for the English, something they covered once in a throw away line. Strike Back don’t care why! I wonder why they couldn’t find an English actor for the English part and have the American play an American? See dumb as a box of rocks but good lord is this show a blast to watch. Like Banshee it is gleefully and inventively violent. The boning is near constant and Strike Back is funny as hell. I highly recommend the series because 1. All the actors went through rigorous training led by former members of the SAS and SBS so they actually handle weapons and tactics like they know what the hell they’re doing, which goes a long way with me. 2. It’s just fun to watch since the leads have great chemistry and the show doesn’t take itself that seriously and it likes to play around and subvert the tropes these sort of shows run on. Think 24 but without the somewhat ponderous filler and a sense of humor.
One last point, skip the first season of Strike Back with Thorin Oakenshield and Rick Grimes. That season they stuck close to the book and somewhat dealt in reality and it wasn’t very good. Start off with the wildly rebooted (when Cinemax took charge) season, the fun ones.
You’re The Worst (FX and FXX): Switching gears here to “comedy”. I put that in quotes because while YTW is one of the funniest shows I’ve ever seen, it also deals with some pretty dark topics like clinical depression and PTSD. The show is about the twisted relationship between Gretchen, a hard partying LA publicist who only has one client a super nerdy black rap trio and Jimmy, an English writer with one hugely pretentious but low selling book to his name, who mainly writes articles for magazines. These are two profoundly messed up people and should not be in any relationships let alone with each other. Also their friends and family are just as bad. Yet somehow through all the damage these two sort of make it work a little but not without major problems that lead to to major laughs.
Kudos to the writers in the way they deal with Gretchen’s depression and the Edgar character’s PTSD. Both actors are phenomenal in their portrayals of their character’s mental issues. Watch this show. It is excellent on every level.
Better Call Saul (AMC): Raise your hands if you were like me when you heard they were spinning off Breaking Bad’s comic relief into his own show and thought that was a stupid idea. Well I’ll eat crow on that one because BCS is better than Breaking Bad. Yeah I said it. Come at me BB fan bois. I will destroy you all. BCS is exquisitely well made and the choice to focus on James McGill, who eventually becomes Saul Goodman, works on so many levels it’s astonishing how great the series is. Bob Odenkirk is fantastic. He owns every scene. Also great are Rhea Seehorn as Jimmy’s old lady Kim Wexler and Michael McKean as Jimmy’s uber successful brother Chuck who has some paralysing mental issues. As great as everybody is, it’s Jonathan Banks, who reprises his role as Mike Ehrmantraut, who is flat out a fucking god among men. He is one goddamned acting machine in BCS. The S1 episode titled Five-O, where he tells how he ended up in Albuquerque, is a gut punch of acting/writing brilliance. It might be one the best if not the best acting I’ve ever seen. The incredible part of the scene is that it’s mostly just a guy sitting in a chair, in a darkened room, telling a story. Then again in S2 episode 10 called Klick, Odenkirk delivers an equally great performance so I guess it is a toss up.
Mad Men (AMC): Do I really need to rhapsodize on the greatness of this show? No I don’t. Just go and watch already. Everything about MM is fantastic. The writing, the set and costume design, the acting and direction. I am hard put to think of another show, outside of Better Call Saul, that consistently hits the ten ring of perfection for every facet of production as well as Mad Men did over the course of its 7 seasons.
Game Of Thrones (HBO): HAHAHA just kidding. That show sucks dragon balls. I just wanted to troll its fan bois and to hear the steam coming out of Jarv’s ears. He might actually stroke out from anger over this.
Z Nation (Sci-Fy): This is Skiffy’s entry into the world of the Zombie apocalypse and by god it is entertaining as hell. ZN is miles better than The Walking Dead because it has actual entertainment value. Z Nation also joyfully and without any shred of shame or guilt rips off and liberally makes fun of TWD and steals set pieces and ideas from every post apocalyptic movie ever made. Jesus is this show entertaining and it shouldn’t be. It has all the hallmarks of a Sci Fi channel disaster written all over it. ZN sports a no name cast, a cheap sci-fi $1.50 production budget, a generic eastern Washington State filming location that they try and double for every state in the union and fail at miserably. However the show had one great central idea. What if the hope for humanity is embodied in a craven bullying sociopathic convict that needs to be transported from upper New York state to the last functioning CDC lab in California by a bunch of regular Joe’s. That means crossing 3000 miles of zombie and feral human infested landscapes. Z Nation is a fun watch.
Wynonna Earp (Sci-Fi): Another show from Skiffy that shouldn’t work at all but does. Is it good? Not technically. It’s just hugely tongue in cheek and fun. Like Z Nation, Wynonna Earp has everything going against it. A no name cast, sterile Canadian filming locale, Saskatchewan I think, no budget, etc. However they managed to craft a fun story of Wyatt Earp’s train wreck of a great-great-granddaughter having to kill demons her great-great-grandaddy first killed as humans who managed to crawl back up from hell. I forgot to mention they are stuck within the boundaries of the town of Purgatory. Wynonna Earp ripped off Supernatural in the form of a Colt that kills demons and the Demon trap from season 2 that stuck escaping demons in a large swath of Kansas if I remember right. The lead chick who plays Wynonna makes the show. Her younger sister, the re-animated Doc Holiday and the female deputy are also good.
KillJoys (Sci-Fi): I smell a trend here! This is Sci-Fi’s third entry on the list. KillJoys is about three hard partying living on the edge bounty hunters (Reclamation agents) that work for the independent interplanetary organization known as The Reclamation and Apprehension Coalition. RAC agents are collectively referred to as “Killjoys”. The RAC is sort of an interplanetary police-like force and occasional assassins. In this part of the universe the social structure is made up of the royal ruling families, the “corporation” and the RAC. Killjoys has action, political shenanigans, conspiracies, big ideas and great fight scenes. I really like this show, highly recommend it.
Longmire (A&E): Ok I admit it. When I heard about this show five years ago I wrote it off as some sort of goofy fluff from A&E that has Starbuck in it and that’s a deal breaker for me, I can’t stand her. So I wrote it off and forgot about it. Then over the last few years I started seeing great reviews for Longmire. People in my offline world were talking about how good it is and the icing on the cake is that people around this place began heaping praise on it. So one rainy weekend I decided to give it a go. Over the course of the next couple of weeks I tore through all five seasons of Longmire because it was excellent TV.
Longmire is about Walt Longmire, sheriff of the fictional Absaroka County in western Wyoming right on the Montana border. By my estimation Walt’s county is probably the most violent crime ridden place in the world per capita. That’s because Wyoming is, I believe, the least populated state in the Union yet its crime rate is astronomical.
Walt Longmire is a good sheriff in that he sometimes bends the rules to get the job done but not in an immoral way, he just plays a bit loose with rules to get the right outcome. Walt is dogged and determined and has a keen sense for justice. Walt is played with perfect laconic Gary Cooper-ness by Aussie actor Robert Taylor because American actors are all girly boy pussies which to be fair doesn’t make them much different from the general populace.
Longmire is a very well made show. I was surprised by just how good it is and I highly recommend it. In fact it is so good I can even put up with the smirking ‘I am tougher than everybody’ presence of the chick version of Starbuck. She plays deputy Vic Moretti, a transplant from Philly who is on the run from her own past.
What also makes Longmire good besides the beautiful New Mexico countryside, which looks nothing like western Wyoming because Western Wyoming is just prairie, is the presence of Chavez y Chavez himself, Lou Diamond Phillips. LDPPPPPPPPPPPPPP!! He’s always a welcome sight to see and instantly raises the bar of any movie or show. LDP plays Henry Standing Bear, a life long friend of Walt’s who is a fixture in both the Cheyenne and white communities. Standing Bear like his namesake is a protector type and looks out for both Walt and his native people.
The other thing about Longmire that floored me is that they took on the problems of Reservations, both the inflicted kind and the self-inflicted kind, and didn’t shy away or make excuses or try and wish them away. It was refreshing to see a program that didn’t come with any bullshit Hollywood fuckwittery soap box grandstanding like usual. Hmmm…I think I need to do a full review of Longmire to do the show justice. There are some ideas and people like Chief Mathias of the Tribal Police and Jacob Nighthorse a former AIM member now a casino builder that I would like to explore. Both characters are emblematic of the challenges faced in the Reservation system. Also I need to cover THE FERG! who is a totally awesome deputy but not in the conventional sort of way.
I saved this one for last because I know I am going to take a huge ration of shit for it but I say bring it on bro! BRING IT ON!!!!!!
Outlander (Starz): Yes this show is based on a time travel chick lit book. Yes it has a whole lot of ‘lovey dovey’ stuff aimed at the XXers. Yes it is costume porn. Yes it is appointment fangirl TV for middle aged house fraus and The Gay. However does that all mean it is bad? Well yes usually but in this case no and Outlander is really a very good show. Like I said above Outlander is a time travel show that splits between 1945, 1743 and 1968. (So far there are 2 more season planned at least.)
Outlander starts off in 1945 in the Highlands Scotland in the town of Inverness where we meet Claire Randall, an English veteran combat nurse in WWII played by fetching Irish lass Caitriona Balfe, who is on holiday and trying to reconnect with her husband, Frank (Tobias Menzies) who served as a desk bound intel officer for the SOE. Frank chose Inverness because he is obsessed with family genealogy and has a man crush on his ancestor the supposed hero Captain “Black Jack” Randall (also played by Menzies) who served “heroically” in the Highlands.
Claire in WW2 was for all intents and purposes a doctor/ surgeon and had some harrowing experiences on the front lines of Europe. Her training and experience in The Deuce served her well after she is hurled back in time to 1743 after visiting the sacred druid stones of Craigh nu Dun. Claire is dropped right in the path of Capt. Randall and boy howdy he is your classic mustache twirling (if he had one) English Red Coat villain. Claire’s virtue is saved at the last minute by a traveling group of Highland clansmen including the hunky mystery ginger warrior Jamie McKenzie.
This last minute reprieve launches Clair on a trajectory, along with super beau hunk Jamie, to try and stop the looming disaster that is the Bonnie Prince’s Rebellion. These two goof balls are probably the worst two people in the history of the world to try and stop the bloodbath of the Highlanders at the hands of English Regulars’ muskets and bayonets on the moors of Culloden.
During the run of the show Claire and Jaime have all sorts of run ins, commit crimes, flights, fights and boning from the Highlands to France to the moors of England. All in service of trying to stop Culloden Moor.
The show has beautiful cinematography, beautifully chosen filming locals, great costumes, well staged fight scenes and tons of nudity. If you can hack the first four episodes of S1, which I admit almost did me in because it was all chick stuff about love and crap, you’ll be OK. Starting at episode 5 they switch it up and start dealing with the nuts and bolts of the Bonnie Prince’s Rebellion and that’s where it starts to get good and interesting. I really like Outlander and highly recommend it. For the married dudes you can watch with the old lady and get points for watching a costume drama love story that still has shit tons of nudity and fights. Added bonus there are a bunch of side characters that are hilarious, that is, after you get use to the heavy Highland burr.