It’s been a pretty big week at Decider. Co-founder and editor Kevin Perry decided to leave the site to focus on other things. I owe a lot to Kevin, since he offered me the opportunity to write the streaming guides. Kevin and Steve have been great at letting me experiment with the format and highlight ridiculous things I’ll never watch, like The Ant Bully, as well as write a tribute to EMMY WINNER (yay!!!!!) Laura Dern. How great is Laura Dern? This might be one of the highest ratio of highlights to list guides I’ve written in a while. I was going to do five, but the last batch of Terrace House episodes drop on Tuesday, and I have to do right by Guy and Niki. I’m currently watching The Good Place and Parks and Recreation, so my viewing schedule is pretty busy right now, but I need to get ready for the return of all my favourite shows. It’s going to be a busy time.
It’s as if September walked up to me and asked “Would you like to watch a Mike Schur show?” knowing that the answer would be yes. Yesterday brought the gift of Parks and Recreation, and next week we’re getting The Good Place. I’ve seen a few episodes of the first season, and I’m glad it’s becoming accessible. It would have been nice if the first season was available BEFORE the season two premiere, but it’s not really something to complain about.
We’ve also got premieres and finales galore. I’m intrigued by Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams, and the last of Regular Show drops next week, as well as a preview of the new PowerPuff Girls event about a mysterious fourth PowerPuff Girl. Fall/Spring TV hasn’t even started and I’m already behind on The Deuce and Outlander. I feel like there was more I wanted to mention this week that I wasn’t able to highlight. I haven’t watched any of Bates Motel, but the final season is going up on Netflix, and I also would have liked to highlight either First They Killed My Father or My Transgender Summer Camp. There’s a lot of good content this week, and I’m excited to eventually see it six weeks from now.
Hey, BoJack Horseman is back. I hear people like that show. There’s some great new content this week, mainly Parks and Recreation, one of my favourite shows of all time (and it’s going to be on Stan, my favourite streaming service). But I have to wait until Thursday for that one, so I’m watching Greenhouse Academy. I was hoping it would be some sort of environment show, but the synopsis Netflix sent me said something about challenges, so I went to the media site. It’s a teen show about a ridiculous selective entry private school with riddles. There are elements of camp, but if this show wants to be good it needs to embrace the camp. I’m tweeting about the show, because it doesn’t warrant a full post at this point. If you see me write about it again, it’s because there’s something worth saying. This is what happens when I have to wait for my CW shows to come back.
Writing a synopsis for Parks and Recreation was more difficult than I expected it to be. I love this show, and it’s impossible to fit all of my feelings into some short paragraphs. I got to mention its awards (and lack thereof – Amy Poehler never winning an Emmy for Leslie Knope is the greatest of Emmy Injustices), and that it’s a show about community and positivity that’s just as funny as joke a minute sitcoms. I warned potential new viewers about the rough first season. I would have liked to fit in a sentence or two about “Fancy Party,” but that episode is so perfect that you just need to let people experience it for themselves.
The other big thing is that both The Deuce and season three of Outlander premiere on Monday. Television is coming back, and I’m not remotely ready for it. I haven’t even finished Outlander season two.
If you follow me on Twitter, you may have noticed that I sometimes like to quote Game of Thrones headlines and guess what the article’s about before I’ve read it. There was a little jealousy on my part that I wasn’t writing about the show weekly, because I think I could have done a good job, and I also hadn’t sold a pitch in nearly a year. It’s difficult to know what editors will like, and when you have trouble selling pitches, self-doubt creeps in.
This essay is really important to me because I’ve been thinking about the male-heavy production team since season four or five. I didn’t start watching Game of Thrones until after the third season had aired. I’d seen the pilot previously, but the amount of nudity put me off. When I did a blogging experiment to watch the first season (on my old blog, I’m not even sure if that still exists), I discovered that I loved it. I watched the first three seasons by Christmas of 2013 while I was listening to the audiobook for A Game of Thrones, and finished reading ASOIAF (just the published ones) by the time season four started. Over this time, I became invested in Sansa’s story, as an entitled teenage girl became a survivor.
Season four was when I was able to get into the discussion around Game of Thrones, which happened to have that scene with Jaime and Cersei in the crypt. I started to pay more attention to diversity in production, and how it can affect what happens onscreen. Then season five happened, and the possibility of Sansa going to Winterfell instead of Jeyne Poole was exciting until it went to the place everyone expected. This is a show I love dearly, and I don’t think loving a show means you can’t criticise it.
I spent a week working on this piece while I was also working full time and volunteering at the Melbourne Writers Festival (which has been great, hopefully I’ll write about it during the week). I didn’t really think about anything other than Game of Thrones for that week and I just worked on one piece. The people who cover the show weekly, whether through writing and/or podcasts put a lot of effort into what they do, and now I’m not sure whether this is something I’d want to cover on a weekly basis. It puts things in perspective. I’m glad to have written something about the show, and also a little glad it’s over for another season.
Sometimes I think I’d like the streaming to slow down a bit, but then I remember what July was like. There are some great things happening with new episodes of Rick and Morty being sort of fast-tracked on Netflix, and the new season of Wet Hot American Summer (I unfortunately didn’t receive screeners for this one). Comrade Detective seems to be the weird kind of thing that I would love, and SBS OnDemand is bringing us the second season of Fortitude next week. I remember writing about it once or twice. Then I never watched it again. Speaking of SBS OnDemand, I saw the first episode of Farang last Friday at Video Junkee, and it was really good (I don’t like it quite as much as Below the Surface). As for Stan, I didn’t get to mention Black Sails or the Werner Herzog collection, which shows how packed August will be. Now I have some television to watch.
Welcome back to my Whodunnit? coverage. I’m covering one episode of this mystery reality show per week as a writing exercise, with some analysis and sleuthing of my own. You can find Episode 3 here, and my friends Regan and Liam are covering the show over on their podcast. Once again, I’ll leave the premise up to the killer, before we get into episode specifics:
You’ve all been personally selected to play my diabolical game of life and death. Your job: stay alive long enough to discover who I am. You can only do that by being the best at solving the crimes I put before you. Fail, and you may be the next to die.. here are the rules. Following each murder, I will offer you the opportunity to investigate one and only one of the following areas: the crime scene, the victim’s last known whereabouts, or… the morgue, where you can examine the corpse in a more private setting. Take a moment to decide which of the three areas you wish to investigate. Give careful consideration to your choice. Take a look around. The killer, I’m afraid, is among us.
NOTE: Do not check out that Twitter account if you don’t want to be spoiled, I’m not linking to it. I spoiled myself for the show. A couple of weeks ago I found out who won, and I just found out who the killer is, so from now on the mystery envelope will be all about the setup. I’m still interested in how the show is structured, especially in regards to how the other contestants identify the killer, so we’ll see how that goes.
Last weekend I attended Series Mania at ACMI, where I saw the first two episodes of Below the Surface, a Danish thriller from the people behind Borgen and The Killing. The entire series is about to premiere on SBS OnDemand as part of its Crime Time collection. A couple of notes: this is a brief review – I’ve only seen the first two episodes, and I don’t want to spoil anything, but I also don’t know if the show sticks the landing. The other is that I didn’t take note of the actors’ names, so I’ll be going by character names when I remember them. I didn’t take any notes until the Q&A with Kasper Barfoed after the show. On with the review!