My recent illness found me incapable of doing anything but lying on the sofa (or a hospital bed) and suffering. It was worst in the early stages, when a non-stop headache made every waking moment a misery. I’m still not 100% now, and must spend part of the day reclining, but every day I thank God I’m not the me from a few weeks ago. That was awful.
So what do you do when you can’t do anything? You watch television, of course. In the last three weeks I’ve watched more television than I have in the last fifteen years. This is not a thing I’m proud of, but you do what you have to to get through. Pleasantly, there is more than enough TV available on Netflix to keep one occupied until Kingdom Come, more or less, so finding something to watch is never a problem.
What follows is a general rundown of the television shows I’ve binge-watched lately. Despite my illness, I watched them with a clear head and an eye for quality. There may be some minor spoilers here and there, but if you’re a grown-up, you can deal.
Black Mirror: Progressive millennials love this show. (I don’t look down on millennials like many Gen-Xers do; our military is filled to the brim with millennials and it’s the greatest fighting force on Earth.) It’s supposed to be a Twilight Zone-esque program focusing on technology running amok and its effects on society. Mostly science fiction with some horror and satire elements. Produced in the UK. Decent special effects, decent acting. It’s horrible. Unwatchable for anyone who isn’t stuck in a hospital bed. Imagine what scares your least-thoughtful progressive friend the most about something like social media, race relations, or surveillance cameras, and Black Mirror has made an episode about it. Every episode is predictable, tedious in its preachiness, and unbelievably dreary. This is what happens when the humorless, identity politics-obsessed social justice crowd makes TV for other humorless social justice warriors: a bland, pathetic, intelligence-insulting mess that gets by on intention over substance. Avoid at all costs. It’s possible that my recovery would be going faster if I hadn’t subjected myself to this waste of time.
Safe: After Black Mirror I wanted to watch something with some complexity. Safe, a suburban mystery-thriller, looked interesting: a murdered teen, a dad looking for his daughter, family secrets, some law enforcement intrigue (who doesn’t love that). Not only that, but I’d be treated to Michael C. Hall of Dexter fame aping an English accent the whole show. So it was a shoe-in. Overall, I liked it. Oh, the plot only moved forward because the characters made some inexplicable decisions, and Hall’s English accent was entirely unnecessary, but it was decent. Keeps you watching if you don’t want to think too deeply. If nothing else, watch it for Nigel Lindsay’s portrayal of Jojo, a wealthy, buffoonish business owner: he’s hysterically funny and steals every scene he’s in. They wisely use him in small bits, but he makes the role invaluable.
Fauda Season Two: You’ve seen season one, haven’t you? If not, you are in for a treat. It’s a show about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that tells the story from both sides. The Palestinians are portrayed accurately: evil, amoral, and disgusting, but it’s fascinating to see them justify their atrocities and how they carry them out. The good guys, the Israelis, are depicted as being in the IDF’s Duvdevan Unit, a counter-terrorism force. (Several years ago I worked with Garrett Machine, a former Duvdevan Unit member, on an instructional video on Combat First Aid.) The show’s a fascinating look at the Middle East, at life in the Palestinian territories, and life in Israel. I highly recommend both seasons.
Altered Carbon: Sci-fi action. I couldn’t make it through the first episode. Nothing made sense, everyone behaved stupidly, and I didn’t care about anything that happened to anybody. James Purefoy couldn’t even save it.
More reviews in Part Two.