📺 True Detective: Night Country comes 10 years after the first season, if you can believe it has been that long. It is a different show for a different time now: the atmosphere of confusion, uncertainty and dread from the original is still there, but so many other things are different that it is a bit of a stretch to have them share the True Detective title. A few spoiler-ish observations:
- Like the original, there is an actual real-world solution to the murder mystery. Unlike the original, which had a slight layer of the supernatural added on top, Night Country has supernatural tendencies up top, down below, and everywhere in between but somehow leaves out any of the Lovecraftian horror that would have been perfect for the setting. Oh well.
- Night Country had too much vagueness in some key aspects for me to be fully immersed: What kind of pollution, exactly, is threatening the town that is able to cause so much misery but also… speeds up thawing of the permafrost? And how could those substances, whatever they are, possibly speed up studying bacteria?
- Jodie Foster and Kali Reis are as good of a couple as McConaughey and Harrelson were in Season 1, if not better, but True Detective is not only about dysfunctional cops partnering up in barely inhabitable locations.
- When I saw that the season was set in Alaska I was hoping for some more callback to H.P. Lovecraft. Sure, At the Mountains of Madness was set at the other pole, but dark horrors lurking deep beneath the ice would have fit perfectly with the season’s premise. Alas, nonsensical mentions of time being “a flat circle” and people “asking the wrong question” were the only artifacts brought back from 2014.
- The intro sequence was the only time I tolerated a Billie Eilish song.
If nothing else it made us start watching Season 3, which we hadn’t noticed at all when it came out in 2017. It looks promising!
📺 Silo, Season 1 is the first show I finished watching on AVP and all I could think about after the last episode was how very appropriate that Apple would be the one producing it — I’ll write no more lest I spoil it. Highly recommended, especially for fans of Fallout 3.
📺 I have high hopes for the fourth season of True Detective. There is no one better to play a detective in an ice-cold town than Jodie Foster. And the frigid, sunless setting pairs well with the Arctic weather we have been having. Now if only the murder mystery itself actually went somewhere.
It was a good year for television! Or for my clearing the backlog, as some of these came out years ago:
- The Last of Us, which I have to thank for making my wife interested in something video game-related. Because Pedro Pascal is in it, to be clear, but I’ll take it.
- Severance would have been even better if played at 1.25x. The office party scene was masterful, though, and at the right speed.
- Slow Horses, Season 2 and Season 3 were the best 12 hours of live-action TV this year.
- Ted Lasso, Season 3 was a disappointment the more I think about it, so I try to think about it less.
- The Bear, Season 2 was the opposite of Lasso and I look forward to Season 3.
- Guy’s Grocery Games was a bad habit which we broke shortly after I wrote about it.
- The Afterparty, Season 2, which was… fine, but a bit too West coast for my taste. Unlike…
- Only Murders in the Building, Season 3, which hit just the right spot. The soundtrack is still a hit with the family on our rides to school.
- Adventure Time: Fionna and Cake was the perfect sequel to the original.
- Bodies were a nice surprise, although Primer (2004) is still the only one with time travel that makes sense.
- The Great British Baking Show, Season who-knows-which had some of the “worst” contestants to date — quotation marks here because they were all good both in personality and baking skills — but some of the best moments, so one of the better seasons overall.
- Scavengers Reign were the best 6 hours of any TV this year. Not for everyone, to be sure, but I hope it will be for enough people for their flaky Warner/Discovery corporate overlords to order another season.
Last year’s list is here.
📺 Scavengers Reign (2023) was hands down the best six hours of streaming I saw this year. It’s Adventure Time for adults; Saga for television; Fantastic Planet for the 2020s; and, yes, all in the Moebius style that influenced Miyazaki’s Nausicaä… so much that it’s probably the first thing that will come to mind after seeing the first few scenes.
But Scavengers Reign is not a mishmash of those, but a new and distinct work all of its own, with a better soundtrack and better voice acting than anything that’s come before. Highly recommended.
📺 Continuing my write-about-it-before-you’re-done-watching series, I would like to turn everyone’s attention to Scavengers Reign. Six of 12 episodes in, and it’s the best thing on TV so far this year. Between that and Across the Spider-Verse, 2023 has been stellar for animation.
📺 Three episodes in, the third season of Slow Horses is the best one yet, and also the best live-action series I’ve seen this year (with a nod to Only Murders…). Fun fact: that theme song which sounds awfully lot like it was sung by Mick Jagger was sung by — Mick Jagger!
📺 The Great British Baking Show has punched up its competitors' affability this year, to the detriment of skill. It was the right tradeoff!
Side note: I have a hard time squaring Britain’s supposed decline with this show. If only other countries could decay so gracefully.
And the best one hour of anything I’ve seen this year just came out on YouTube: Kurzgesagt’s 4.5 Billion Years in 1 Hour video. Good television isn’t dead, but is it television?