What is the collective noun for a bunch of series? A fiction? A stream? A numbing? A time-suck? A profit? There must be one. In any event, there has been a number of series I’ve plowed through, but haven’t felt they needed a separate write-up, so I’ve collected them here. It is a broad range of subjects and providers in no particular order.
Warrior Nun – An imperfect, but engaging fantasy series that got me to check it out through its title alone. But, as it turns out, they hit the jackpot with some of their casting (though not all). Alba Baptista drives the series, coming across, in a positive way, as a young Ellen Page and very credible American. She’s joined by a few solid, and relatively unknown, supporting actors like Kristina Tonteri-Young, Toya Turner, and Olivia Delcán. The plotting is often weak or ill-researched, but the effects and some of the battles are pretty well executed. And the dialogue is often amusing. I’m actually looking forward to seeing what comes next…even if I curse them for a massive and cheap cliff-hanger ending to the season.
Perry Mason – overlaps heavily (and unfavorably) with City of Angels. It covers the same period of time and with similar nods, but it simply doesn’t manage to capture the era in the same scope. Oh, and yeah, it is only Perry Mason in title… this show just didn’t know what it wanted or needed to be. Couldn’t stick with it despite the cast and my love of murder mysteries.
Crossing Swords – South Park meets Lego. Almost enough said, but I was surprised to see the silly antics and crazy storylines actually form a seasonal arc. For all the insanity, there is a purpose…well, OK, at least a shape. I couldn’t really binge this show, but it was a fun distraction to fill in 22 minutes when needed. And the voice talent is pretty surprising.
Love, Victor – There are a number of solid moments and concepts in this series that make it a sweet and clever spin-off of Love, Simon. But, honestly, it doesn’t earn its stripes, but I’ll get to that. If you haven’t heard of this story, it explores the struggles of Michael Cinimo in the title role coming to terms with himself, similar to Simon in the source material, but with more challenges. Rachel Hilson (This is Us), George Sear (Alex Rider), and the somewhat over-the-top Anthony Turpel (The Bold and the Beautiful) fill out Cimino’s inner circle and focus.
To its credit, the show isn’t quite all rainbows and butterflies…Cinimo’s family is a bit screwed up and the world isn’t a perfect place. It’s simplified, to be sure, but it keeps it from being ridiculous. It also provides it some grist to grind on for the series length with multiple layers on the subject of relationships and love. And the easier resolutions provide hope to their target audience.
However, I do have one, not so little, issue with the story. Our hero Victor, while really capturing the confusing nature of growing up, is depicted as falling for Hilson’s character by getting to know her while really only lusting for Sear’s Benji without much sense of who he is. Realistic? To a degree, but it cheapens the inner struggle and diminishes the message that both attractions are real and equal. And it also costs them any credibility in the season one, inevitable, finale. Which was truly a shame as it could have really had a solid season with a little more effort on the writer’s part.
Killing Eve (1-3) – I never wrote up this series as, frankly, it was getting more than enough press. My thoughts were completely unnecessary. However, having recently completed the third series, I was struck by how the plot has evolved each year. I was impressed with the evolutions of Fiona Shaw (Mrs. Wilson) and the addition of Harriet Walter (Black Earth Rising) in particular. Not that the rest aren’t great and fun, Ken Bodnia (The Bridge) has some particularly wonderful moments, but I’m doing this as a drive by. The third outing is definitely a shift in presentation and tone, but I still find the story pulls me in and the disintegration and remaking of Sandra Oh’s (Last Night) Eve and Jodie Comer’s (Doctor Foster) Villanelle fascinating. I’m very curious to see what comes next and if they can sustain it; but I’m also hopeful that they’ll wrap it up soon and let it enjoy a completion. It can only be milked for so long without completely devolving or getting boring.
Upstart Crow – Such great, silly, and very clever fun. In fact, the series only improved as it went along. From one of the minds that helped birth Black Adder, comes this great social satire through the lens of Shakespeare’s life. With a solid cast and tight writing (and wonderful nods to the canon itself) this is one of the better half-hour concept comedies I’ve seen…if nothing else for the impressive scripts.
Cardinal (series 4) – This could well be the end of the series, though they’ve left a nice trapdoor to keep it going. Previous series were good and interesting, but not brilliant. With this fourth outing, the writing has suddenly gelled even as they wrap up some long arcs that began with the first episode. This is, by far, the best written and delivered tale so far. I’m hoping they get to continue with the stories and these characters, but I wouldn’t feel left hanging if this was the end.
Before We Die – Another Scandinavian police procedural, yes, but definitely with its own unique set of characters and the dark malaise that hangs over all that genre. It starts with a strong statement and quickly knots up the characters into an intriguing tangle that unspools through the series.