Now that Fall is upon us, we can use some perspective to look back upon the new shows we watched in the Summer. As such, this week’s edition of TVEnthusiast’s Top 10 Tuesday, focuses on the new shows of the Summer 2015 TV season.
10. Fear The Walking Dead
AMC’s spin-off to their monster hit series The Walking Dead, explored a different angle of the zombie apocalypse. In the original series, Rick Grimes was in a coma during the initial onset of the apocalyptic outbreak. Fear the Walking Dead spends its time exploring the breakdown of society that Rick napped through. The series, set in Los Angeles, also used its concepts to tackle current race issues in America.
09. The Brink
The Brink is a dark comedy in which its cast of characters must contend with a looming crisis in Pakistan. Each season of the series aims to tell a different crisis featuring the same cast. Among the cast of characters is Jack Black as an employee of the US Embassy in Pakistan, and Tim Robbins as the Secretary of State of the United States. The series is, in essence, about people who are good at their job, but find themselves contending with the worst possible scenarios of a crisis.
SyFy’s fun space bounty hunter series, Killjoys, borrows a lot from the Joss Whedon classic Firefly. That is fine by me. Firefly was an amazing series, and while Killjoys isn’t quite at that level, it has many of the same fun elements we enjoyed in Firefly. With a western-esque space setting, a cast of loveable rogues, a heartless corporation controlling the galaxy, and a large conspiracy brewing in the background, Killjoys hits all the notes it needs to hit to be a very enjoyable ride.
07. Show Me a Hero
This HBO mini-series from The Wire creator David Simon masterfully shows many angles of a complex low income housing problem in Yonkers, New York. Show Me a Hero stars Oscar Isaac (Ex Machina) as Nick Wasicsko, the real life Yonkers City Council Member turned Mayor who reluctantly ended up as the face of a horribly unpopular court mandated development. The series can be a bit slow and cumbersome for some, but I found the complex issues at play to be incredibly interesting and surprisingly relevant.
06. Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp
Wet Hot American Summer was one of my shame movies, a movie I had never seen, despite having every reason to have. As a huge fan of the 1990s sketch comedy series The State, not watching Wet Hot American Summer, which features many of the same cast and crew, felt like a sacrilege I was committing. When the Netflix prequel series was announced, I decided to rectify the situation, and a week before the series dropped, I did. Wet Hot American Summer is absurdest comedy at its best, and the series prequel, First Day of Camp, is about as true to the original as I can possibly imagine.
05. Dark Matter
The other big SyFy space series with a cast of lovable rogues fared a little better than the previous on this list. From Joseph Mallozzi and Paul Mullie (the various Stargate TV series), Dark Matter begins with a compelling hook. 6 people wake up on a spaceship with a cache of weapons, heading towards a mining colony. Unfortunately, all 6 wake up without their memories. They soon find out that they are all less than respectable people, and must now struggle with the new found morality that comes from a blank slate. In the background, Dark Matter creates a world in which multiple large corporations control everything in fierce, but quiet, competition between each other. Our crew winds up deeply entrenched in the machinations of these corporations.
This British remake of the Swedish series Real Humans, explores a world in which robotic assistants, called synths, have become commonplace in society. Synths are used as our caretakers, our companion replacements, and even as our prostitutes. In this world, a family comes into possession of a stolen and reprogrammed synth. This synth, however, is different from the others, as it possess free will. The synth in question is one of 4 synths that, together with the half synth son of their creator, is perpetually hiding their existence from society. Humans explores what it means to be human, when in many ways, the actual humans are seen as the least humane.
I was excited about Narcos upon first hearing about the series. It wasn’t the premise, the setting, or even the track record of its home, Netflix, but rather the casting of Pedro Pascal, who had just come off of an exceptional run on Game of Thrones. Upon watching the actual series, it wasn’t Pascal’s DEA agent that grabbed me, but rather the performance of Wagner Moura as the infamous Colombian drug lord, Pablo Escobar. The series moves at a ridiculously fast pace as we dive deep into the world of the Colombian drug cartels in the 1980s. It is almost like watching a documentary, as the narration quickly fills you in on so many interesting tidbits about the war on drugs, and the people in it. While we are educated in narration, the story beautifully develops before us. Corruption, betrayal, revenge, violence, sex, and an ever developing chess match between the DEA and the cartels. We get it all, and we get it all on both sides of the war. We spend as much, if not more, time with Escabar as we do with the DEA, and we experience both the good and bad of both sides.
This highly divisive series from the Wachowski siblings made a dedicated fan out of me after 4 episodes. Some love the series, some hate the series, I loved it. The key to enjoying Sense8 is to take your enjoyment from the character stories, rather than the overarching plot, which is, admittedly, messy. Almost like an anime, Sense8 is all about heightened emotions and scenarios that inspire amplified dread and fear, as well as hope and love. Sense8 is not gritty, it is not realistic, even outside of the science fiction elements of the plot, the series is not grounded, it does not explore the unrealistic with realism. Some will find this aversion to reality as a hindrance to their attachment to the series, I, however, was drawn into the heightened emotions on display. Sense8 was beautifully filmed in 8 countries, with characters from around the world visiting each other through a psychic link. It is in these moments, when our characters are connecting to each other, that Sense8 really shines. In essence, Sense8 is about acceptance and love, its characters struggle with their own circumstances which threaten loneliness, but the series shows that a larger connection to others around the world, can be made.
01. Mr Robot
The first episode of Mr. Robot launched a month before the series officially premiered. By itself, the episode could stand as a cool little film, but the series managed to expand upon and honor the strengths of the pilot throughout its 10 episode season. I have written quite a bit about Mr. Robot. I always use the same phrase, that Mr. Robot is, in essence, Fight Club. This is, in no way, a bad thing. I am not saying that Mr. Robot rips off Fight Club, but rather that Mr. Robot stands on equal ground with Fight Club, channeling everything that made Fight Club great, to weave a similar story that aims at a new audience. Surprisingly, many of the themes of Fight Club have become concerns of society once again. Huge wealth disparities, for example. As such, Mr. Robot is almost like a modern remake of Fight Club. The primary difference is that Mr. Robot focuses on hacker culture, while Fight Club focused on the plight of generation X. Thankfully, Mr., Robot is remarkably true to the culture it covers. The hacking in Mr. Robot feels real. This isn’t Felicity Smoak (Arrow) fast typing magic hacking, this is real Linux code, and social engineering. No 3D graphics to convey the excitement of hacking are to be had here, instead we get the drama around the hacking, the lives of people that are exploited to gain access, for example. Mr. Robot started strong, and stayed strong, throughout, as our favorite new series of the Summer 2015 TV season.
What did you think of the Summer 2015 TV season? Do you agree with us? Do you disagree? Tell us in our comments, and stay tuned to TVEnthusiast for more coverage of all of your favorite shows.