Strange things are afoot at Hawkins, Indiana…
We can be heroes…
Welcome to Hawkins…
Stranger Things is the latest Netflix production to have taken the world by storm. As a new feature I will be reviewing a new episode every day for the next 8 days. I am watching the episodes in real time so please no spoilers from future episodes. With that in mind, please only continue reading if you have already seen the episode and you don’t mind spoilers yourself. Enjoy!
2016 has already been a terrible, awful year for the human race but a surprisingly decent one for music, film and TV. Below are the 10 best things of 2016 so far.
DISCLAIMER – As always, I am only one man so there is plenty of stuff I haven’t seen yet, most notably Deadpool and Vinyl. Don’t treat me too harshly.
Despite my undying love for films, we have now reached a stage where the quality found on TV is actually far superior to 90% of offerings churned out on the silver screen. Since running through my top ten favourite shows of 2015 in November, I have discovered a plethora of other top notch shows. Here are ten of them:
10. Master of None
Reboot Chicken? Nope business as usual…
It may have been tempting for Robot Chicken creators Seth Green and Matthew Senreich to make something a bit more linear for the new audience these Star Wars specials were likely to attract. Instead of being more focused however, the Robot Chicken Star Wars specials continue the animated sketch show format and the zany humour. Unfortunately the hit and miss nature of Robot Chicken remains as well.
That being said the Star Wars specials are probably Robot Chicken‘s finest hour. It has always been a niche show so it is no surprise that they chose to shine a light on some of Star Wars more minor but still beloved cast members.
The main recurring characters here are Admiral Ackbar, Boba Fett and Emperor Palpatine and nearly every sketch involving that trio lands. A lot of the other stuff is forgettable but the musical numbers surprisingly work really well in a show that has had mixed levels of success in that area.
Robot Chicken has always been a bit of an acquired taste but there is no doubt they are passionate and knowledgeable about all areas of pop culture and it is this warmth for the subject matter that makes the Robot Chicken Star Wars specials a success.
4. Family Guy (256 Episodes)
Why It Was Good: When Family Guy hit in 1999, it found the middle ground between The Simpsons traditional sitcom setting and South Park‘s more offensive, challenging world and became a pop culture phenomenon.
Whilst never quite as good as The Simpsons or South Park, Family Guy was arguably funnier than either at its best.
Best Moment: Family Guy exists in a world of quick fire gags, so classic episodes are slightly hard to come by. Despite this, the Star Wars episodes are a genuinely wonderful achievement.
Why It Is Rubbish Now: When a show relies almost entirely on one liners and cutaways there will inevitably become a time when the jokes dry up. Family Guy has no story line to fall back on, so after 256 episodes it has become akin to watching a crap sketch show.
To be fair the current series has been a slight return to form but after the shitshow that was Season 13, Family Guy literally couldn’t have gotten any worse.
3. Soccer AM (700+ Episodes)
Why It Was Good: Let’s get one thing straight. Tim Lovejoy is a cock. Despite overseeing Soccer AM‘s peak years (because people are stupid), it wasn’t until Max Rushden took over in 2008 that Soccer AM hit its stride and became more than just a juvenile football show.
Being a Cambridge fan, Rushden understands the lows and lows of being a lower league football fan and brought an everyman quality to a show that had previously come across as blokish and smug.
Best Moment: Max Rushden being shopped by Jack Whitehall as a night club sleaze was truly magical – ‘So Rushden slinks in with two Jaegerbombs and is just like ‘ooh… unbelievable teckers!”
Why It Is Rubbish Now: Soccer AM has always been an excuse to stretch a football highlights reel to two hours but Max Rushden held it all together by not taking himself or the show too seriously. Lovejoy was the complete opposite end of the spectrum but at least he was something. New host John Fendley is a plain Muller Rice, the box of Cornflakes in the multipack, the pack of fruit in the happy meal…
2. The League (82 Episodes)
Why It Was Good: The League is supposed to be a show about Fantasy Football and when it stuck to those parameters it was without a doubt one of the funniest shows on TV. Any show that can boast Seth Rogan as one of the least funny characters definitely has something going for it.
Best Moment: *SPOILERS* Kevin’s utter shock and horror at losing the Shiva in the last minute culminating in him telling his child to ‘shut your face’ is a joy to watch.
Why It Is Rubbish Now: Where shows like It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia and Parks & Recreation expanded their universe and reaped the benefits, The League seems to have forgotten why it was so good in the first place. This year’s season has been the worst thing I have seen on TV this year, truly awful.
1. The Walking Dead (75 Episodes)
Why It Was Good: A relatively good cast, breathtaking special effects and a strong story line ensured that The Walking Dead was hailed as one of the best TV shows of the year when released back in 2010. Season 1 was brilliant, Season 2 seemed to drag at the time but I would take ten episodes on the farm over ten minutes from one of the later episodes hands down, and Season 3 was strong as well.
Best Moment: *SPOILERS* All of the first season was brilliant (Come back Merle!) but The Walking Dead peaked in the penultimate episode of season 2 as Shane and Rick finally faced off.
Why It Is Rubbish Now: Where to start… The remaining cast have either been around so long that nobody cares if they live or die or they are totally interchangeable zombie fodder. The plot is slow, predictable and incredibly repetitive and the recent shambolic handling of Glenn’s storyline was indicative of how out of control the writers of The Walking Dead have become.
It is an incredibly big ask to stretch a zombie apocalypse out over 75 episodes and many years and The Walking Dead has undoubtedly failed to remain captivating.
Other Shows That Became Rubbish:
- Community (but then it became good again)
- Penny Dreadful
- Robot Chicken