Star Wars news and topics are really at a dearth right now, sans the release of Shadow Fall which I am loving, so I have decided to merge another hobby with this blog: TV Shows. I am always on the lookout for shows that interest me, and my interests vary wildly. I can fall just in love with Downton Abbey as The OC, which, by the way, both are in my top 10 TV Shows of all time. So I wanted to list some new shows to maybe give some people some fun during this pandemic.
5 – Perry Mason
Network: HBO – 9EST
Episode Count: 1
Reminds me of: True Detective, Batman Begins
This is surprising entry into my list, and honestly it came charging in at the last moment and bumped poor Stumptown right off. Which is fitting since they are both noir-ish mysteries. But that is where the similarities end, yes they have the noir connection but Stumptown is more procedural and safe, whereas, Perry Mason is dark, gritty, serious, and serialized. I have long had a deep, deep fascination with Los Angeles, especially during it’s rise as a major city in the last century. I am a huge fan of L.A. Confidential, Chinatown is my favorite Nicholson performance, and I am even a Black Dhalia apologist. On TV – Bosch has been a favorite for a while, True Detective season 2 was facscinating. I am desperate to go to LA to simply check out the sites, such as Angel’s Flight and Chinatown. All of that is to say, Perry Mason is right up my wheelhouse. Honestly, if this had been set in podunk, Nebraska, it would still be an amazing TV show. HBO is known for its prestige, starting with OZ on through Game of Thrones and Perry Mason is no doubt going to continue this tradition.a
OK, let me be clear. This show is not for the feint of heart, especially if you are a parent. The more recent, the worse the first ten minutes are going to be hard for you. Super mild spoiler alert: a young child is BRUTALLY murdered and returned to the parents. It is gruesome and unflinching. The best way that I could describe this show is raw. The second thing that you need to know: this is not the old Perry Mason. That has not to say that is has been “updated,” like another show on this list, but rather set in the Great Depression and is an origin story for the character. The whole crew is here: Della Street, reimagined as sassy and absolutely does not put up with one iota of crap from Perry, and Paul Drake, race flipped to an African American police officer.
This show may well end up at the top of this list in three months. The pilot was gritty, dark, and lived in. Perry is played by Matthew Rhys, whom, if you have seen The Americans, is an immensely talented actor. In The Americans he was an Irishman playing a Soviet posing as an American. Here he is playing a classic TV and book character who has some serious PTSD from World War I and matches the cynicism of today’s world. Do yourself a favor and give this PI a chance.
4 – Nancy Drew
Network: The CW – on hiatus until the Fall
Episode Count: 18
Reminds me of: Supernatural, Riverdale
Now this is DEFINITELY not your parent’s version of Nancy Drew. If I had to compare it to a show, it would be closest to Supernatural, also a The CW staple. Nancy Drew is still a super sleuth who knows what to do, what questions to ask, and where to look. But the town of Horseshoe Bay – changed from River Heights in the novel series – is plagued by supernatural forces and Nancy and her “Drew Crew” often dive in to solve the mystery.
One thing that I am a fan of that most people are not is the serialized story. Most people hate being beholden to a story that they have to stay in order with because, in my estimation, it causes people to pay attention and think, something that is in short supply lately. Nancy Drew makes the conscious decision to serialize from the start with the ghostly murder of Tiffany Hudson and then dovetails into a dual mystery about the disappearance of a young woman named Lucy Sable, who vanished without a trace 19 years prior. The first season does a great job introducing the supporting cast: Ned, George, Bess, and Carson Drew are all old standbys with Ryan Hudson and Ace joining and rounding out the cast.
Nancy Drew may be the spiritual successor to Supernatural on The CW, but it is very clearly a The CW show and as such, has some in common with Riverdale. It has the soap opera flourishes and Nancy’s love life becomes a storyline, but, also, other characters lives also play an important role in the narrative. Josh Schwartz, who created The OC to make his mark in Hollywood and then followed it up with Gossip Girl, executive produces this show and his signature soap opera drama and witty dialogue is clearly present throughout. Newcomer Kennedy McMann infuses Nancy with her signature detective ability but also bullrushes her into the 21st century without any worry. If you are looking for a lighthearted supernatural mystery this the show for you this summer.
3 – Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet
Network: Apple TV+
Episode Count: 10
Reminds me of: It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Community, The Office
I have always been a fan, but not a devotee, to both It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Community. If I caught an episode, I would watch it, and I would no doubt enjoy it. This show caught me COMPLETELY off guard. It was released February 7 on Apple TV+ and I would get regular notifications on my iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV to watch it. Almost like my phone listens to my interests. Crazy, right? I always resisted. Then last month I found myself in need of some serious distractions because outside of my immediate family my life was a shit show to the highest degree. I decided to give it a shot and within two days I had devoured the entire thing.
Rob McElhenney portrays Ian Grimm who is the head of a mobile video game studio. He is exceedingly self centered, yet brilliant. The show revolves around the studio but mainly focuses on Charlotte Nicado’s Poppy Li (in a true breakout performance) trying to reign in Ian’s creative genius and David Hornsby’s David Brittlesbee trying to reign in the office. Both spectacularly fail and it is hilarious. I do not want to give any plot away since it is only a 22 minute show with ten episodes. So I want you all to enjoy the 200-250 minutes you will get to spend with these characters with all of the enjoyment and sense of awe that I did. I will, however, tell you that during the final episode of the season, a special quarantine episode, there is one scene with Ian and Poppy that reinforces why, despite his obvious flaws, you root for Ian.
One last thing, this show is heavy on crassness. There is absolutely zero nudity but there is some hardcore cussing going on.
2 – Star Wars: The Mandalorian
Episode Count: 8
Reminds me of: Star Wars, Dollars Trilogy
Oh, c’mon, you knew this was coming. But I bet you did not think it would be number 2. Honestly, it is a testament to the number one show that it bumped this masterpiece down. I truly believe that, along with Star Wars Rebels, this is some of the best Star Wars storytelling that has ever been told. And for a fan for the last 34 years, that is saying something.
If your father was a fan of Sergio Leone’s Dollars Trilogy, as mine was, you will see an abundance of similarities between The Mandalorian and the Man with No Name. Starting off with the fact that . . . They have no name. Although we do learn The Mandalorian during the series, he is, by all accounts, The Mandalorian. Which let’s be frank, is saying something. I mean, we have seen A LOT of Mandalorian in Star Wars: Boba and Jango Fett, Sabine Wren, Fenn Rau, Pre Viszla. And yet, this foundling is THE Mandalorian.
Jon Favreau made a bold and insightful choice when he chose to split up the directing duties amongst a diverse group. The payoff was that each episode felt like a mini-movie and had a distinct vibe of the filmmaker who was directing it. The best example was Bryce Dallas Howard’s episode. She has mentioned that a movie that made a huge impact on her life was Jurassic Park, she currently is the female lead of the Jurassic World franchise, and you can see the clear homage when the AT-ST emerges from the forest to when the Tyrannosaurus Rex emerges for the first time in Jurassic Park. There are tons of fan nods throughout this series that does not distract from first time viewers, but hard core fans definitely appreciated. The best praise that I can give this show is that it was something that the Star Wars fandom did not destroy right away. That in and of itself is a testament to how good it was.
1 – Stargirl
Network: DC Universe (also shown on The CW three days later)
Episode Count: 6
Reminds me of: a mashup of the best the MCU and Arrowverse could imagine
Wow. This show is something else. I do not know what I was expecting when I started watching this. I assumed it was Arrow for the teen crowd. Holy moly was I wrong. Something that burned me out on the Marvel Cinematic Universe and, also, the Arrowverse on The CW was that it became so dreadfully dour. Everyone is so concerned with RESPONSIBILITY and ANGST. Seriously, go watch Captain America: Civil War – it’s like an emo episode of Riverdale. Everyone is so dour. By the third season of Arrow the same thing was happening. Superheroes had turned into super duds.
Into this arena comes Stargirl. A super heroine WHO WANTS TO BE A SUPER HERO. Who would have thought it? She takes it seriously but she is also a teen. So she is going to make mistakes. FUDDY DUDDY ALERT: you watch any show on Disney and the parents are MORONS – it is such a blatant nod to children, hey we get you, your parents are the worst. Stargirl takes that, and Courtney Whitmore definitely has some moments where she thinks she is right, and turns it on its head. Courtney’s mom is a working mother, whom she loves, and her stepdad, Pat, is the one who rears her in the superhero ways. She understands that he has been there and has experience that will help her. She still does things that go against him, but usually she has to learn from that mistake.
It would not be a super hero show if there was not a team. Again, Stargirl separates itself here. Whereas Arrow had Team Arrow and the Flash had his crew and the MCU had the Avengers, Stargirl introduces the little known Justice Society of America and its members Wildcat, Dr. Mid-Nite, S.T.R.I.P.E., and Hourman. DC had to dig deep into the vault for these guys but we, the viewer, are all the richer for it. The villains are actually menacing, as they are adults. The stakes are very real as in the third episode the main villain kills one of Stargirl’s friends to make a point. Start watching this series and in no way will you be upset.