Hi guys, the Man on the Silver Mountain here once again, this time I’m throwing something your way that’s a little different from when I usually turn up to help out the Librarian. As I’m sure she’s told you she’s been busy and more than a little sick.
I offered to help and she suggested I do something a little different with you; a top ten. Apparently you guys like me showing up occasionally enough that she thought maybe you’d like to know what I’ve been watching and enjoying over the end of last year and beginning of this one.
To preface the list, I was originally thinking of kicking off with best five and worst five but whilst I had loads of things I’ve enjoyed the only negatives I could really produce were Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Star Trek: Discovery, two of my favourite franchises historically that have been let down by lack lustre recent additions in my opinion, as a result though this turned into a much more positive top ten, listed below in no particular order.
Black Mirror, Channel 4/Netflix, 2011 – Present
I’m sure a load of you have already been watching Black Mirror. It’s an anthology show in the same vein as the Twilight Zone or The Outer Limits from ages ago and that’s already a big plus in my book as I do love me some varied storytelling. More to the point though I like shows that have depth to them, either in terms of the subject matter they’re examining, subtext and secrets for fans to theorise on, or otherwise just a really solid plot to invest in; Black Mirror covers all three better than probably any other entry on this list purely thanks to its anthology format. Definitely worth a watch in my book if you haven’t already.
The Good Place
The Good Place, NBC/Netflix, 2016 – Present
I love philosophy! I even considered heading to university as a mature student to study it. So when you’ve got a show like The Good Place, that pulls all of the philosophy I’ve enjoyed reading plus some more that I was only tangentially aware of, together as part of a hilarious and concrete plot it’s an instant win for me. Worth watching if you want to be entertained into learning something.
Librarian’s side note – Seb wouldn’t know about this one if I didn’t suggest one day we watch it. I’m so glad we did because we both love it to bits! Sometimes (!) I have good TV suggestions!
Lucifer, Fox/Amazon, 2016 – Present
I’m not at all religious but I find the various myths, legends and stories of religions fascinating, especially when re-worked intelligently into stories that use the resonant core of what made those religions so influential in their times, even up to the present in some cases, but can use that core to tell a different but no less engaging story. This is where Lucifer pops up on my radar, it’s smart, funny and balances the supernatural of the main character literally being the biblical Devil and the mundanity of the individuals he’s surrounded by. I especially enjoy this show for the thought that’s gone into considering angelic and demonic impressions of the universe; they know that there’s more beyond the mortal coil but they still have no real idea about what’s going on as God remains aloof and hidden even from them for the most part. Worth taking a look in my opinion if you want something light-hearted that may give you some stuff to think about afterwards.
My Hero Academia
My Hero Academia, Funimation, 2016 – Present
Now, I’m not really a huge anime fan. I can’t really say whether it’s the art style, the differences between the culture I’ve grown up in and the culture of the creators of most anime, or if it’s just something completely nebulous that will remain forever undefined, but I’ve just found that most anime just doesn’t hold my attention all that well even if more traditionally Western cartoons and animations aren’t a problem for me to sit and binge through. My Hero Academia though kept me hooked from beginning of season one through to the end of season two easily. The characters have depth, the plot examines some really interesting questions like “What does it mean to be a real hero?” or “How would society cope if 80% of the population were superhuman?”, and the pacing of the show seemed really good (unlike old school Dragon Balls Z one fight doesn’t take half a season to conclude). If you’re into anime and haven’t gotten around to watching this yet, or if like me you aren’t an anime fan, I’d suggest checking out My Hero Academia as I feel it has something for almost anyone whilst not forgetting what it is.
Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency
Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, BBC America/Netflix, 2016 – Present
Ah, Douglas Adams, the man who famously wrote Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and who unfortunately passed away in May 2001, left us with more than just that one piece of well-known work. One particular piece was Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, a tale about individuals granted with particular gifts by the universe for reasons no one can really understand. Enter Dirk Gently, one of these special individuals whose gift is to stumble through life solving problems whether he likes it or not. With a great cast including Elijah Wood and a very well-written and consistent script in spite it being written about the innately chaotic nature of the universe, my biggest complaint about this show was that there wasn’t more of it straight away. If you like Douglas Adams or otherwise just want something fun and quirky to watch this is what you’ve been waiting for.
The Expanse, Syfy/Netflix, 2015 – Present
Who likes their really hard sci-fi? I do, and The Expanse is a great way to indulge my want for it. Set in our solar system a bit of a way into the future after humanity has colonised out as far as the asteroid belt, we follow three individuals as they traverse the difficult landscape of a solar system on the brink of collapse and chaos. I particularly how season one sees the characters we follow slowly find one another and how then the second season has a lot of fun with these well developed and fleshed out characters that we’ve been watching in isolation up until then. It tackles issues around class, political control, corporate interests vs those of the people and many others but does it in a way that’s neither particularly heavy handed nor so easy as to treat the viewer like a moron. If you like your more realistic zero-G scenes and like your solar system-spanning conspiracies this one’s for you.
Altered Carbon, Netflix, 2018
I love the cyberpunk end of sci-fi. Blade Runner is in my top five movies alongside movies like Cloud Atlas as well that has its cyberpunk moments in it too. I’m excited for more news on Cyberpunk 2077 and apparently so are a lot of others too. I haven’t seen the new Blade Runner sequel yet something I NEED to do but just haven’t had the time to get around to it just yet. So whilst I wait for an opportune moment to find my way back to Blade Runner how best to fill my time that with another sci-fi/cyberpunk show that gives us a grim but potentially possible vision of the future where human bodies are interchangeable, death is no longer an issue and rich corporations and their owners basically run the galaxy? There isn’t one; that question was purely rhetorical. With a great cast, a great looking world, an AI run, Edgar Allan Poe themed hotel, lots of nudity, violence and dystopian future vibes this is one that anyone can find something to enjoy in whilst the engaging murder-mystery-with-a-twist unravels before you at a good pace whilst establishing the universe and setting up for season two easily.
Rick and Morty
Rick and Morty, Adult Swim/Netflix/Comedy Central, 2013 – Present
I have no doubt that most of you have watched this, I know the Librarian has talked to you guys about Rick and Morty before too, but I couldn’t escape adding this one on here. Considering this started out as a weird, satirical rip-off of Back to the Future, kicking off with a lot of cheap and shocking gags that were perfectly delivered, this show’s grown after season three into a much more cohesive story but without losing much of what it gained from season one and two. I know some people didn’t like the lack of certainty in the show from season one and season two where things seemed a little disjointed due to the universe-hopping nature of the show but especially after some of the big reveals and events in season three, I’d recommend going back and sticking with season one and two to get to season three as it all starts to fit together a bit more interestingly now. Otherwise, if you’re already into the show I’m preaching to the choir.
Sense8, Netflix, 2015 – 2018
The show from the Wachowskis that Netflix cancelled due to costs and lack of engagement on its second season despite it being so good and wrapping up so many things from the first season. Set in the modern day with a very limited sci-fi element in terms of the sensates themselves (individuals who are psychically linked as a cluster, able to communicate and share experiences over any distance) this is a show that contains a collection of stories from many perspectives all elegantly intertwined around a main, conspiracy plot. Considering that after the backlash from the fans over the shows cancellation we’re going to be getting a feature-length episode to tie off the remaining story arcs from season two, now’s a great time to go and watch the first two seasons.
Thor: Ragnarok, Marvel Cinematic Universe, 2017
The only movie on this list because I don’t usually find myself watching movies, I don’t tend to have time to dedicate up to three hours or so compared to an hour for an episode of a TV show. I had to include the most recent Thor on this list though because the Thor sub-franchise within the MCU has had a rough time. Thor was an origin story, it did its job but wasn’t anything particularly special. Thor: The Dark World was mostly connective tissue for both the Avengers movies and as something to play with on the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D TV show for an episode or so. So with that said Thor needed some care and attention and he got it in spades from director Taika Waititi. Humourous throughout but still allowing for a plot built more around the vulnerabilities and humanity of the characters involved rather than the purely godly, super powerful nature of the characters AND still including all the connective tissue required for Avengers: Infinity War and beyond this movie was very well crafted. If you’re a fan of the MCU and haven’t seen this yet, aren’t really a fan of the MCU but want a superhero themed laugh, or if you’re somewhere in between I would recommend Thor: Ragnarok as a movie to have a fun couple of hours watching.
And that’s my list, I could go into honourable mentions but I think this list is long enough already. What are your opinions on the things I’ve been watching? Part of the fun of watching stuff like this is having a chat afterwards and I know your Librarian would love to know your thoughts.
In the meantime though if you’ve enjoyed going through the list, and maybe even watching some of my suggestions, I’d love to hear and if you’d like more from me find me on YouTube. Thanks for reading, I hope to hear from the Librarian if you guys enjoyed any of my suggestions.
What have you loved watching recently? Hated any of Seb’s picks? Loved each and every one? Leave a comment down below!