Big Little Lies (HBO) Season 1, Episode 1 – “Somebody’s Dead” Written by David E. Kelly Directed by Jean-Marc Vallée
There is so much television I hear I should watch and with 24/7 streaming services abounding it can quickly become overwhelming. To finally get a taste of all these great shows I will start doing TV Tryouts. Each month I will watch a couple of pilot episodes of series I have been hearing rave reviews about and see if that first episode can hook me to keep watching. Now, an argument you might make is that you have to view the first six or entire first season before a show “gets good.” To that, I say, “I just don’t have the time.” A television series should have strong enough writing that its characters, dialogue, and plot naturally compel me to keep watching. If it doesn’t then that’s ok, plenty of shows for everyone.
Here are the best shows I watched over the course of 2018.
Detroiters Seasons 1 & 2 (Comedy Central) It’s always my luck to get into a show as soon as the network decides to cancel it. That is also true of the best thing I (re)watched on this list which you’ll see at the end. Detroiters is a show co-created by and starring Sam Richardson (Veep) and Tim Robinson (SNL). The series tells the story of best friends Tim and Sam who are running Tim’s dad’s advertising agency after his father ends up having a nervous breakdown and is committed. So the duo goes about creating advertisements for clients that aren’t something you’d see airing outside a local market. However, the show isn’t even really about the workplace; its strengths are the friendship between its two central characters and the highlighting the city of Detroit. The comedy here is not meant to shock you, but it also isn’t without an edge, it’s a wonderful balance you don’t find too often anymore. You can’t help but genuinely feel good after watching an episode.
American Horror Story: Apocalypse (2018) Written by Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, James Wong, Manny Coto, Tim Minear, John J. Gray, Crystal Liu, Adam Penn, Josh Green, and Asha Michelle Wilson Directed by Bradley Buecker, Jennifer Lynch, Loni Peristere, Sheree Folkson, Gwenyth Hordor-Payton, Sarah Paulson, and Jennifer Arnold
The season opens with the destruction of the world. Bombs fall. Humanity is depleted with only the wealthy and their servants surviving in secret bunker sprinkled around the world. The survivors of Outpost 3 while away the days doing nothing and being tortured with adult contemporary music from the 1970s. Then Michael Langdon arrives, an agent of the Collective, the secret society behind the bunkers and possibly the end of the world. Langdon interviews the survivors one by one, searching for some factor unrevealed to the audience. One lowly unassuming servant seems to possess a spark beyond her station, and this intrigues him. However, things go south, and a series of deaths lead to the surprise arrival of some familiar faces of a season gone by. Also, then most of the season is a flashback taking place before all this happens.
Channel Zero: The Dream Door (2018)
Written by Nick Antosca, Alexandra Pechman, Lenore Zion, Lisa Long, Mallory Westfall, Isabella Gutierrez, Justin Boyd, and Angel Varak-Iglar
Directed by E.L. Katz
Jillian has just married her childhood sweetheart Tom, and they have moved into his family home with plans to renovate it. One day they discover a door in the basement that wasn’t there before and appears to be impossible to open. Using saws, sledgehammers, and even a shotgun they find the baby blue door won’t open. Finally, Jillian realizes she can open it without a key, it only responds to her touch. Hidden on the other side of the door is something from Jillian’s past, dredged up by her anxieties over her new marriage and questions of her husband’s faithfulness. A new neighbor is there to comfort her. Her psychiatrist is skeptical of her claims and tries to help her. However, this evil thing is awake, and it is leaving the basement.
The Haunting of Hill House (2018)
Written by Mike Flanagan, Meredith Averill, Jeff Howard, Charise Castro Smith, Rebecca Klingel
Directed by Mike Flanagan
Hugh and Olivia Crain bought Hill House in the summer of 1992 with grand plans to renovate & flip the house as the final stepping stone on their way to building a dream home of their own. The Crains brought their five children to live with them and over the course of the next few months, their lives descended into a nightmare. Twenty-six years later the Crain children are dysfunctional and distant, each attempting to make his or her way through life with little hope. Steve is a famous horror author who lives in denial while Shirley runs a funeral home and always seems on the verge of exploding in anger. The rest don’t fare any better. An event occurs one night that forces them all back together, forces beyond their control as moving them towards a moment of confrontation with their family’s past and their horrors. It is time to come home.
Flowers Season 1, Episode 6 (2016)
Written & Directed by Will Sharpe
There is no fade to black happy ending moment with depression. You keep carrying on, hoping things get better, but with no guarantees. Shun’s story about discovering The Grubbs Family books reflects the one thing that can bolster a person suffering in seemingly unending depression: This is how the world can be, and there are others who feel like you, you are not alone. All we can do in the end is be there for each other, making sure that even someone a million miles away knows you are there for them and you feel the way do as well.
Flowers Season 1, Episode 5 (2016)
Written & Directed by Will Sharpe
Sadness is a painful emotion to express the full experience of to others. Each of our encounters with deep sadness and depression is profoundly personal that it inhibits us from letting others know. These emotions seem to exist outside known language which is what leads to people sound intelligible or merely sobbing, their only avenue of release. Series creator Will Sharpe understands the immutable incoherence of sadness and manages to express his understandings on this state of being with honest humor. In this penultimate episode, characters either reach an explosive pinnacle or find themselves strangled by their condition and unable to speak. Sharpe has stated that Flowers is “comedy with mental illness,” a description that at first may sound merely witty but after you view the series is the very core of everything that happens.