It struck me today I wanted to talk more about the TV shows I’m currently regularly watching, and a hint of those I’m looking forward to in the near future. And if we’re living in a golden age of television, in the middle of the autumn season, it seems a perfect time to do so. In alphabetical order…
Officially the only show in our house that Mrs Llama makes me close the doors and windows to watch to avoid traumatizing the neighbours & their children. I say they’ve got to learn about booze filled sweartastic spy-fi fiction at some point. We’ve agreed to differ. Potentially after I muttered “Holy shit-snacks” under my breath. Possible high point in this show remains (possibly) the Bob’s Burgers crossover…
Or as it’s referred to by me Arra’ (in my best mockney accent). Green Arrow’s never been a comic book favourite of mine (despite his years of association with my favourite Green Lantern), but this show really grabbed me when I started watching it early in its second season (the Wife was away from home for long periods of time and I wanted something I could watch that she wouldn’t care about). At times it’s a bit shlocky, but most of the time it delivers on the money comic book action and snappy dialogue. Not to mention fabulous fan-boy squee moments for the long time DC fan that I am. Also getting Constantine on it in S4 may have made my year (bring him back!). Oh, one tip – don;t mention the words “Thea Queen” in Mrs Llama’s hearing…she may explode. Also, my love for John Barrowman grows each time he appears in this show (which so far this year has been not enough!).
The Big Bang Theory (More4)
I came to this before it got really popular, and as a geek I rather like the multiple nods to my life style, experiences and people. Honestly, I could identify people I’ve known/know just like Leonard, Sheldon, Howard and Raj. And the girls, even Penny. I can certainly remember a number of ‘hot’ non-geek girlfriends standing around at LARP/gaming events over the years, looking equal parts baffled, pitying and annoyed. At it’s best this show was tightly scripted and delivered, but now it seems to be rather circling the drain and I hate to admit it, but this season I’ve been reading my tablet more than watching the episodes. Mrs Llama seems to enjoy it still, so I’ll be sitting through it for now, but it’s a pale shadow of its hey day, especially now Ross and Rachel…sorry Penny and Leonard have gotten married.
The Blacklist (Sky)
I’m a James Spader fan from Boston Legal days, so this show easily had me hooked in with it’s Alias/24/Chuck/Burn Notice kinda vibe. And it’s certainly delivered in terms of a thrill ride with reversals of fortune and unexpected twists. For me, while Spader is most certainly the stand out star, it’s Ryan ‘Tom’ Eggold who keeps impressing me – from his early phoenix-like transformation, to his current undercover exploits. Solid, enjoyable, exciting – and generally over all too soon each week. And if you’re very, very lucky, Spader will deliver one of those monologues that only he (and Frank Underwood) can.
Bob’s Burgers (Comedy Central)
As a long time King of the Hill fan it’s frustrated me no end that this family centric, realistic (well compared to say Simpsons, Family Guy and American Dad) animated comedy hasn’t been shown over here. Thankfully it is now (all be it from S3…what about S1&2 eh?), and even more shocking, Mrs Llama loves it too. Currently I can’t wait for my weekly double bill of the Belchers, and it might just be the show I’d binge watch if it was on a streaming service. But as it isn’t I have to accept a double helping each week.
Half way through watching this, months after everyone else. Difficult to watch as Mrs Llama finds it all too scary so I have to wait for her to be out. A damned (see what I did there) shame it got canned, as Matt Ryan is totally convincing in the role. And given it’s adapting the Damnation Crusade storylines from the early Hellblazers I know so well, I’m really pleased by how they taken the plotlines and run with them. If Preacher can be half this good an adaptation, I’ll be happy. Still, at least they let him finally smoke on Arrow.
Doctor Who (BBC)
Yes. Obviously. I think I’ve said more than enough about this over the years, and my life long love for the show. I’ll just say here that I love Peter Capaldi in the role, S9 has been stunning and just as I came to love Clara… she went and faced that sodding bird. Probably the major argument for me in favour of the TV licence.
The Flash (Sky)
Okay, if I had to cut this list of current shows down a bit. Flash would stay on it. If I had to cut it down to less than 5 shows. Flash would still be on it. If I had to choose between it and Doctor Who…arg…don’t make me, I’m not sure I could honestly choose. And given the latter recently made a nod towards Cisco in The Flash’s naming of villains…well there’s hardly any separation between the two (even less with spin off Legends of Tomorrow starting Rory ‘Rip Hunter’ Williams as a time-traveler). This show manages to outdo its parent show Arrow by being fast paced (naturally), action packed (of course), tightly plotted (indeed) and with scripts that just zing. Helped along by a great cast, and an awful lot of fan-boy content, that they manage to carry off with aplomb. I love this show, and it’s a real high spot of my week watching it. Just so long as Prof Ivo stays dead and ‘Vibe’ keeps far, far away from Detroit, I’m sure it’ll run and run. And I’ve not even mentioned Tom Cavanagh’s scene stealing Harrison Wells (both of him).
Have I Got a Bit More News For You (BBC)
Now in its 50th season it might be a format that’s creaking, wheezing and groaning more than the TARDIS in a heavy fog, but there are still quite a few weeks when this show still manages to be the cutting edge of satirical comment in the UK. That we don’t have more intelligent but funny shows like this and dross like Strictly…don’t get me started on the bread & circuses argument again. It might never quite hit the heights of the Angus era again, but 80% of the time well worth the watch. And then there are the weeks Paul/Ian just coast on autopilot. Wish they’d just show the longer version as it hangs together better when it’s a little rawer and less packaged.
Jessica Jones (Netflix)
I may be wrong but I think David Tennant is playing an evil version of the Doctor in this show. I’m only 5 episodes in, but that’s my conclusion. While not quite as sublime as Daredevil this show is still one of the strongest parts of the MCU by a long way. I just can’t shake the feeling that Jessica reminds me of Mrs Llama in some ways – the determination, stubbornness and the jeans addiction more than the PTSD after being mind-controlled though. Another definite candidate for the ‘just one more episode before I go to bed’ catagory.
Justice League (Unlimited)
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (Sky)
If only Panorama or Question Time could be this coherent. This show is very much something I wish we had an analogue of in the UK. Since the end of Jon Stewart on the Daily Show, and Colbert’s defection to chat show hosting, this remains my primary USA centric satirical show…all be it with a surprisingly excellent crusading journalistic bent. It generally manages to make me laugh and explode with rage in equal measure at the inequities of the world. And obviously it’s never better as when fellow Brit John turns his lens back on Queen & Country. I remain eternally fascinated by how other cultures view us here on our tiny, parochial island. Also the theme tune was my ringtone for the best part of a year. If you’re not watching this – you should be.
Orange is the New Black (Netflix)
Mrs Llama started watching this a while ago, but decided after a half dozen episodes that it was “too samey”. I’ve just started watching it, and frankly I’m loving it. Funny, dramatic and touching – and as a long time veteran of Prisoner Cell Block H fills that hitherto unremarked on ‘Women’s Prison’ hole in my life.
Er, maybe I should rephrase that! Anyway the cast is great, but my stars is Captain “Red” Janeway the best thing in this in a country mile. I can almost forgive Kate Mulgrew for STV:Threshold. Almost. I’m only halfway through the 1st season at the moment, so this one should keep me occupied for a few months to come yet, which is great, as I’m really enjoying the characters and plotlines, and I remain surprisingly unspoiled about most of the plot. Not all mind you, but enough!
Peep Show (Channel 4)
I was a latecomer to Mark and Jez. In fact I’d more or less avoided watching it over the years, pegging it as one of those comedy for trendy people. Then I saw a show or two…and realised how wrong I was. Hence in the gap between S8 and S9, I’ve watched all of the available episodes. At least twice. And also brought Mrs Llama around to appreciate it (she’s less than keen on embarrassment based comedy normally). Worryingly she’s started to identify traits of Mark that she shares, which may case me (and I’m not sure about this) as Jez. Lord I hope I’m not Jez, but I do own a military-camo jacket that wear an awful lot…
Les Revenants (aka The Returned) (More4)
This show is usually watched in my house in a double bill with the Walking Dead. One set of zom…walkers will devour you, and the others will stand around looking morose and making deeply existential statements while hanging around the Lake Pub or the top of the (broken) dam. It is very, very French, deeply mysterious, utterly unactionpacked (yes, even more talking than TWD S2) and moody as hell, and I love it. Victor remains the creepiest child on this or any other planet, even if he has gotten a little taller in S2. And Lena…oh Lena… I do hope they manage to wrap up the storylines without giving everything away this season! Anyway, best watched late night or before dawn for the correct ambiance of despair coupled with flashes of hope. I just wish they’d kept the French title.
Parks and Recreation (Amazon)
Another show I’ve come to late (indeed after it’s finished), which is currently filling in the ‘Easy, watchable, comedy’ choice when myself or Mrs Llama can’t agree what to watch or fancy something lighter of an evening. Yes, Lesley Knope is annoying…but that’s the point, right? The rest of the ensemble cast is great, and as a big fan of the (US) Office it’s great to have something rather in the same vein. Usually has me hooting with laughter more than once an episode (and not always at Chris Pratt leaping over a fence/into a pit etc).
Robot Chicken (Comedy Central)
How can I not love a show where people use toys to mock SciFi shows and culture. A bit like Python – some sketches are brilliant. Some are terrible and go on for weeks. Thankfully the whole show is so brief that’s rarely a problem. Fingers crossed they show the DC Heroes special shortly over here, as previous ones have been excellent. A good show to stick on when I can’t think what I want to watch before I head to bed! Also there’s no truth I’ve been keeping my own pet chickens away from watching this!
Forgot this one first time around! South Park’s been one of those shows that when it first came on, I watched a bit but was never really in to. Although I still consider the film one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen at the cinema (especially THAT opening song). But in the last decade I’ve found myself watching it more and more, and realising just how sharply satirical the show has come – far outstripping its more bawdy infancy. The last couple of seasons in particular have offered one of the most powerful examples of popular critiques of the neoliberal consumerist, media-obsessed culture we in the west exist within. And it’s still incredibly funny (and possibly more so). CtPa Town & pretty much anything Randy Marsh gets involved in especially. Long may it continue to tweek the nose of authority and celeb obsessed culture!
Let me rephrase that, before Mrs Llama arrives to slap me. I love Supergirl in the comics ever since she died in COIE (my first exposure to her), but mainly thanks to Peter David’s immortal run on her title in the 90s. Hence I was hoping this show would rock. And then I saw the trailer…and my grin became a little more strained. Okay it’s far from terrible, and it may yet surprise and dleight me, but right now it’s one of those shows I watch when I’m doing something else. I’ll probably give it the whole season…maybe…but not sure if it’s renewed if I’ll watch on to another season. Which is a shame as Melissa Benoist is utterly nailing Supergirl’s characterization…she just needs some better scripts/plotting. And also don’t get me started on super-handsome-stud Jimmy Olsen!
Toast of London (Channel 4)
I thought I was the only person watching this on the planet for the first season. Far too rude for Mrs Llama, but I thought it was hilarious, weird and refreshing – not to mention being somewhat of a terrible thespian myself, there’s a kinship twix me and Toast that drew me in. Then it won an award, and I realised other people could see how great this show was. Sure dark, possibly deranged and even disturbing. But never staid nor formulaic. Well done Matt and Arthur. But not you Clem Fandango!
The Walking Dead (Fox)
There have been times when I’ve asked myself do I want to keep on watching a show that at times can be bleak and unremittingly depressing as TWD. And then Carol goes on another of her knife-centred rampages and I remember why. I’d be hard pressed to say whom is my favourite character at times, as they’re all pretty flawed portraits of humanity…but then, that’s hardly a surprise when we’ve seen what they’ve gone through. Despite the odd dip, and Carl centric plotline, this show seems to be currently going from strength at the moment. If I could just shake this tune out of my head… Sorry Bryony!
You, Me and the Apocalypse (Sky)
With a cast to die for (Rob Lowe and Mathew Baynton especially, but not exclusively), this is a black comedy that is definitely getting more into the darker regions of funny as time passes. End of the world comedies aren’t new, but this show is weaving a fabulously tangled and yet interlinked story around a group of (seemingly at first) unlinked strangers in the face of Armageddon. There’s only a couple of weeks to go, and I’m looking forward to finding out just how everyone ended up in that bunker (no spoiler, they tease more each week). This is the sort of stuff BBC or Channel 4 should be producing…but have missed the boat. Highly recommended and surely in line for an award nod somewhere sometime?
Coming Soon (or what I’m looking forward to in 2016): Legends of Tomorrow, Better Call Saul (S2), Luke Cage, Preacher, House of Cards (S4), Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (S2), The Man in the High Castle, Outlander (S2) and probably rewatching all of Breaking Bad over the Christmas break.
Is it too soon to start frothing about the new Star Trek show too?