Three New TV Shows Worth Watching
As usual, the fall season brings with it renewed hope for our favorite shows and a litany of new ones desperately hoping to garner our attention. 2016 hasn’t had many new quality additions to our collective TV line ups, but there is hope this year thanks to HBO, FOX and, surprisingly, the Sci-Fi channel.
I’ve had a love hate relationship with the Sci-Fi channel for many years. In the last couple, the television channel has managed to pull off a few descent spacey-type television shows, such as Dark Matter, which have been descent, but then also delivers odd attempts at entertainment, such as Z-Nation. While I do like the network’s attempted at bringing comedy into the Zombie/ Horror Genre, the latter is only consumable when the viewer literally plans on spending zero brain power. That’s always been the problem with Sci-Fi originals. They seem like a good idea and nice to look at, but ultimately fail to stimulate the imagination. Aftermath might be the series that breaks Sci-Fi’s streak of lack luster entertainment.
Aftermath is set in a world where a series of natural disasters have devastated the country and triggered the apocalypse of every religion known to man. To make matters worse, it turns out every story of everything that ever went bump in the night is true and have decided to come out of hiding for the end of the world. The series centers around a Midwestern family filled with cliché characters, such as the footfall playing eldest brother, the good twin and the bad twin, but the parents are anything but typical or cliché. The matriarch of the family is a former Air Force officer, who surprisingly is kind of a bad ass, and the father is a professor of anthropology and myth… the exact combination of people you would need to survive a religious apocalypse, someone who knows all the myths and someone to blow up the monsters.
Despite the cliché setup, Aftermath actually does a great job at pulling the viewer into its fictitious world and by the end of the first episode, you do start caring about what happens to the seemingly stereotypical family. The series has a very Walking Dead Season 1 feel to it in terms of a family that is desperately trying to stay together while having to find a new moral center in a world where society has fallen apart. Coupled with the addition of obscure mythological creatures from Native American and the Maori, New Zealand’s indigenous tribes, Aftermath is one Sci-Fi project I hope to enjoy for seasons to come and is worth checking out.
Based on the series of blockbuster movies that began in 1973, The Exorcist is a dynamic and entertaining addition to the franchise that will make even the most stubborn atheist check under the bed before he falls asleep. The show revolves around Father Marcus Keane, a once hotshot exorcist who was so successful at battling the minions of darkness that demons actually feared him. Until he failed to save a young boy from demonic possession. The series kicks off several years later in Chicago where a popular young priest, Father Thomas Ortega, happily leads his band of parishioners and finds himself having an existential crisis when he discovers that demonic possession is more than just a fairy tale. Guided by visions, presumably from God himself, Thomas seeks out Marcus’s help who has retired himself to a life of painting and trying to forget about the soul he lost.
Unlike the movies, which focused on the actual exorcisms throughout the majority of the films, FOX’s new series takes it time to build up the characters who take the form of flawed priests trying to find their faith again, and on the gorgeous young woman who is slowly being seduced into her possession by a demon who delights in having schizophrenic conversations with her. The show is fresh, scary and isn’t afraid to really flesh out the thousands of years of myth concerning Catholic demonology and exorcisms to a modern audience. I always expected that the movies would be terrible, but was always pleasantly surprised at how well done they actually were. I started watching this series with the same level of skepticism and am happy to be proven wrong yet again.
Based on yet another 1973 film, HBO’s Westworld takes place in a not so distant future where artificial intelligence and technology have reached the point where it’s nearly impossible to tell the difference between a person and an android. Westworld itself is a theme park where wealthy clients live out their gunslinger fantasies in a Wild West setting. The park is a hedonistic play ground where the clients can choose to play sheriff, bounty hunter, villain or simply spend their days and nights in the town saloon sleeping with all manner of beautiful fembots.
While the very idea of a park populated by realistic androids whose sole purpose is act out your every whim and desire, may seem tantalizing at first, what would happen if the robots became self-aware? That is question and problem that Westworld explores. The series shifts between the perspective of the androids, the clients and the programmers who are tasked with the maintenance and advancement of the androids. It doesn’t take long or the viewer to realize there is a very dark aspect to this game. The androids have their memories wiped every night, but a recent software update has caused them to start malfunctioning, which results in their remembering all of the terrible things that have been done to them.
The show is filled dramatic irony as the viewer is aware of the change in the robot’s mental states, but the programmers seem to be oblivious as to the extent of the malfunction in their creations. Coupled with a client who is violently obsessed with reaching the game’s “deepest level,” an android who is slowly remembering the multitudes of times she has violently raped and killed, and Anthony Hopkin’s flawlessly delivered monologues designed to make the viewer question what is a person, Westworld is by far the best addition to the 2016 Fall TV lineup.