Since we've had a free month of LoveFilm, we've been watching a bunch of TV shows streaming. Here's some recommendations/reflections:
- The IT Crowd--a hilarious comedy about two male IT workers and their female boss who has been busted down the corporate ladder, left in charge of the IT department. Their offices are in the basement and include something or someone behind a strange door marked "Keep Shut." They have all sorts of corporate and regular life shenanigans. The show is laugh-out-loud funny but a bit sweary, so it's not for the kids. Grown-ups are going to love it, especially geeky grown-ups.
- V, Season 2--back in America I watched the first season of this reboot of the 1980s alien invasion miniseries. Then we were moving and I missed the second season, which I wasn't too worried about because it was a good, not great, show and they killed my favorite character at the end of Season 1. I saw Season 2 available on LoveFilm and watched the ten episodes. It clearly was canceled early though they managed to finish out the story. The last few episodes were all over the place (lots of plot threads abandoned and started with little sense or logic), but the last ten minutes of the last episode was surprisingly good, though I suppose some viewers would not be happy with it. It definitely ended the series and made it worth the wobbly episodes.
- Castle--a fun detective show with the ever charming Nathan Fillion in the lead. He plays a crime fiction writer who teams up with a New York City detective (female, naturally) to do research on how investigations really go. The mysteries are interesting enough though the family drama and comedy makes the show shine.
- Dead Set--a grim zombie satire where the Big Brother production in the UK is overrun with zombies. My full review is here, but let me just say it is not for the faint of heart or stomach.
- Band of Brothers--the ten-episode miniseries following a company of World War II soldiers from their training in America to the battles they fought in Europe. The acting is solid and the story is compelling. I'm usually not a fan of shaky, hand-held camera work--too often I feel film makers want the film to "look real" but the technique is so noticeable (to me at least) that it has the exact opposite effect. There's a lot of shaky camera work here, but the style fits with the chaos of the battlefield quite well (and action sequences in general, hence the Bourne movies are so good while using it). Each episode starts with some interviews of the real men involved, setting up the stories well. Since it's soldiers fighting a war, the show has swearing and battlefield gore. And there's one sex scene, which I guess is a contractual obligation for shows originally on HBO.
- Foyle's War--another WWII show, though this is a detective series set during the early 1940s in Hastings, England. Christopher Foyle is a police inspector with a personal driver and an assistant investigator who was recently injured in the war. Foyle also has a son who is an RAF pilot and features in some of the episodes. The mysteries are okay but too often they highlight vital clues giving away what would in other series be craftily buried in a scene or in dialogue. The real attraction of the show is two-fold. First, the actors are really good. Michael Kitchen plays Foyle with nice subtlety and yet is quite expressive. His driver was drafted from the army, and she too has a great blend of reserve and spunk, making for natural and enjoyable comic relief at times. The other attraction is the period setting, and more so the period plotting. The vintage cars and lifestyle are fun elements and make you believe it is the 1940s. The plots often involve things that happened during the war, like the development of radar or espionage training. The DVDs include special features on the real history behind the episodes.