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Gaming Netflix Originals Reviews Sci-fi/Fantasy TV

Review: The Witcher (Season 1)

Distributor: Netflix

Directors: Alik Sakharov, Alex Garcia Lopez, Charlotte Brändström, Alik Sakharov & Marc Jobst

 Writers: Lauren Schmidt Hissrich, Jenny Klein, Beau DeMayo, Declan de Barra, Sneha Koorse, Haily Hall, Mike Ostrowski

Starring
: Henry Cavill, Anya Chalotra, Freya Allan, Joey Batey, Et al.

Composers: Sonya Belousova, Giona Ostinelli

Genre: Fantasy, Action, Adventure

Rating: TV-MA

Beginning in November 2018, I embarked upon a mission to review the entirety of Andrzej Sapkowski’s Witcher saga, both in celebration of, and preparation for, the Netflix television series that was announced in 2017. My efforts also included the recently translated to English Season of Storms as well as Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales. I burned myself out while reading The Witcher: Video Game Compendium, so I did not have any energy remaining for the Witcher comics (I actually forgot about them). Still, I would recommend the Compendium for those who are struggling to comprehend the differences between the Northern Kingdoms, or if one just cannot get enough of all things Witcher

Overly-handsome Geralt is overly-handsome.

Fast forward to 2019 (or 2020 by the time this review reaches publication), and Netflix’s The Witcher was renewed for a second season before a single episode of season 1 had aired. It is possible to attribute this pre-approval to the fact that the Witcher as a franchise had both book and video game fans alike burning with lust for the series to come to life on the small, rather than silver, screen. Securing Henry Cavill (Superman!) to the roster upgraded the hype train from electrical power to nuclear. All that remains is for us to determine how faithful or deviant showrunner Lauren Schmidt Hissrich is with Andrezj Sapkowski’s source material. 

Content Warning

Who would not want their own set of School of the Wolf silver knuckles?

Those sensitive to mature content should approach the Witcher franchise with caution. This is fantasy for adults. 

An exhaustive content guide detailing what Christians might find offensive would be a novel-length guide. In this space, I will adhere to Netflix’s 2019 television run. To supplement potential gaps, I recommend reading the content guides of our reviews of The Last WishThe Sword of DestinyBlood of Elves, Time of ContemptBaptism of FireThe Tower of SwallowsThe Lady of the LakeThe WitcherThe Witcher 2, The Witcher 3 and Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales to acquire more comprehensive insight concerning the adult nature of this intellectual property.

And this isn’t even the worst thing that happens to the fellow!

Violence: While fans of the video game series might be accustomed to seeing decapitations and dismemberment, the Witcher TV show amplifies the violence with ad-hoc anatomy lessons. At least twice are characters allayed of their colons from wounds inflicted with blade or claw. One character cuts a chunk of flesh from a freshly deceased individual and consumes it. Expect someone to bleed a little in every episode. There is even some early child abuse!

You put your uterus in, you take your uterus out, you put your uterus in, and you shake it all about!

A primary character tries to commit suicide by slitting her wrists. Later, she suffers a hysterectomy without anesthesia. This character endures an excruciating magical surgical procedure that fuses her spinal column, requiring it to first expose itself from her back to correct itself. 

A novice Fringilla Vigo successfully casts her first incantation.

Spiritual: Magic is an expectation in the fantasy genre as much as it is a convention, yet here, Netflix’s Witcher establishes that mastering magic requires a give-and-take relationship with its wielder, making it proximate to the show’s violence. Some spells require the literal life-force of the one who casts; a nose bleed or decayed limb pales in comparison to the ultimate price paid by some mages. 

Those accustomed to “spell-flinging” in D&D might be disappointed to witness how taxing it is to cast a simple wall of thorns, let alone a wall of fire.

Netflix’s Witcher places a heavy emphasis on destiny—not necessarily predetermination, but fatalism. Veneration of a god or gods is absent; gods primarily exist in the form of the occasional interjection. 

Who needs sildenafil in the thirteenth century when there is magic to cure…performance issues. Behold this man’s face—the effect is instantaneous!

Sexuality: Before finishing all eight episodes, viewers will become well-acquainted with a main character’s breasts. Her toplessness is treated with such nonchalance that in one scene, she intimidates a man by chasing him around a room while bare-chested—her body language implies that if sexing her up was his wish, she would have allowed it. Comparatively, a one-shot of a topless prostitute hanging out in bed with Geralt is innocuous as are the nude garden nymphs in Episode 1. The orgy scene in Episode 5, which those attentive to the trailer noticed, is tamer than “orgy” might  imply, where the participants over-exaggerate their gyrations; yet it is still an orgy. 

Jhodi May’s Queen Calanthe is a total bro. And that’s why they call her the Lioness of Cintra.

Suffice to say, this show marks the first time I have been treated to a sex scene involving a hunchback. Unlike HBO’s Watchmen, there is no full-frontal male nudity, bt there are at least three pairs of glutes. Booties come in pairs, right? Or does the plural only apply to the cheeks? Hmmm….

If a dwarf appears in a fantasy show and he cannot cuss the paint of the walls, the audience is being patronized. Here, Yarpin Zigrin ain’t bad.

Language/Crude Humor: The titular character’s catchphrase is “f**k,” setting the tone for the caliber of language one should expect. At a feast, a certain bard sings “The Fishmonger’s Daughter,”a song concerning cuckoldry, seduction, and other colorful euphemisms concerning adventures of the sexual kind. When dwarves appear, expect invectives more creative than the bard’s. 

An enraged Toruviel aep Sihiel cannot decide who she wants to thrash first.

Racism and Bigotry: Netflix’s Witcher adheres to the books’ conflict between humans and non-humans, or what Hissrich calls “species-ism—humans vs. elves vs. dwarves vs. gnomes vs. halflings vs. monsters and so forth.” The second episode, “Four Marks,” adapts Sapkowski’s short story “The Edge of the World,” where Filavandrel aén Fidháil of the Blue Mountains appears and outlines why the elves hate humans so much—because the humans hated them first. In a related scene, a human woman abuses a dwarf, and he takes his revenge by stabbing her. All of this functions within the backdrop of the Witcher…and yet, the show references several instances of humans and elves engaging in interracial sexual congress.

I included this shot for no other reason besides the fact that this unnamed character is the first elf the audience sees.

Positives: Despite all of the mature content, fundamentally at its core, the Witcher series is about camaraderie, friendship, and family. What at first is a bard’s professional curiosity concerning a witcher becomes a genuine relationship despite the taciturn witcher’s predilection for solitude—also a professional habit. One could argue that a queen endangers her entire kingdom for the love of her granddaughter. A barren woman jeopardizes her career and reputation in pursuit of remedying her barrenness. 

Hissrich (bottom right) and her team are “The White Flame Dancing on the Barrows of [internet trolls.]”

The criticism of modern fantasy has escalated over the past twenty years for its lack of diversity. That is not a problem here—a genre rectification that Hissrich and her writing team addresses with intentionality. Melanin is poppin’-a-plenty!

Review

“Go ahead. Make my day.”

I am excited to take on the challenge of reviewing Netflix’s The Witcher (2019) in anticipation of capturing the attention of fandoms distributed across three categories of media: video games, books, and television. As I know that each fandom maintains different expectations for the show, I will try my best to appeal to all three. I hope the result is more than satisfactory to everyone.

Book Fans
Geralt carries his swords in his bag as often as he carries a (1) sword on his back.

Hissrich’s frequent tweets and participation on Reddit AMAs demonstrate her dedication to both the Witcher as an intellectual property, and also her pursuit of creating something that everyone will enjoy—not just book fans. I believe said fans will enjoy, as I did, her expanded focus on the fall of Cintra, as well as Yennefer’s (Anya Chalotra) life before, during, and after her life at the sorceress’ academy at Aretuza. Like the books, the show does not bother explaining the phenomenon known as the Conjunction of the Spheres which resulted in the arrival of humans and monsters alike on the unnamed Continent. From this approach, Hissrich justifies the existence of brown characters where our brains might strain to accept them due to our conditioning in the genre to expect white humans, elves, and dwarves and dark(ie) trolls, orcs, and other undesirables. I am hoping that the reception of Netflix’s Witcher will normalize diversity in high fantasy so that it becomes commonplace rather than extraordinary. 

Eithné, queen of the Dryads.

Fans of the Witcher books already know that this show is an adaptation of Sapkowski’s first two texts. While he did not publish those short stories in chronological order, we established the chronology ourselves. I think that executing a non-sequential narrative is fine as a literary methodology because multiple close readings for discerning the fine details of a work is part of the fun. However, I believe that TV fans will agree that time-skipping is difficult to follow on the small screen, especially when every episode shows rather than tells that it is performing this work.

I was looking forward to a showdown between Geralt and Istredd for Yennefer’s hand as per the short story “A Shard of Ice.” Instead, the blue-eyed Istredd mans-up.

Book fans will be perplexed to see the first episode of this production portraying the fall of Cintra since this event takes place in the last short story in The Sword of Destiny, “Something More.” The show then doubles back to before Ciri’s birth to the betrothal of her mother, Princess Pavetta, in Episode 4, “Of Banquets, Bastards, and Burials,” an adaptation of the short story “A Matter of Price.” It is not until Episode 5, “Bottled Appetites,” or the adaptation of “The Last Wish,” do the timelines between Geralt and Yennefer align, and only more than halfway through the season does Ciri’s flight from her conquered kingdom make sense in the grand scheme of things.

I was not expecting to see Vilgefortz of Roggeveen in season 1. He is described in the novels as good looking and talented. Ok, double checkmark. That’s the best I can say for him because book-readers already know.

In Netflix’s Witcher, additions to and departures from the books are to be expected. In an attempt at explanation, I wonder if Hissrich adjusts the chronology of the events found in the books to establish Ciri and Yennefer as major players immediately rather than as additions to Geralt’s entourage of characters. In exchange for splitting time equally between three characters, Hissrich writes a story that will be disconcerting for book fans, and confusing for TV watchers and gamers. Even as the episodes skip around, the amount of time that passes between events is unclear. Mentions of Jaskier’s crow’s feet, for example, are not adequate clues to discern the days, weeks, months, or years, especially as different character trajectories overlap. I think it is unfair, if not cheating, for Netflix’s Witcher to assume that viewers (already) know more than they should. For that reason, Netflix’s Witcher is better upon a second viewing. 

Hissrich did not have to, but she managed to fit in Coral, and she even looks like she’s born of the Skellige Isles. Nice nod to Season of Storms!

I am glad to see the short story “The Eternal Fire” excised from the series as I find it doltish, yet I lament that “The Grain of Truth” and “A Little Sacrifice” are missing. I would attribute their exclusion, again, to Hissrich’s dedication to featuring multiple protagonists. Despite this realization, I would have preferred more exposure to Geralt since the novels (which will be the topic of Season 2) progressively shift away from him.

TV Fans
Freya Allen’s Ciri will frequently look shell-shocked in this season. I hope Allen is up to the task for a more dynamic character.

Welcome to the Witcher fandom! I am sorry, almost ashamed, to admit that this show is not the Game of Thrones killer that I thought it would be, and I blame the aforementioned disjunctive narrative. Still, those looking for a good balance between exposition and action will get plenty here. This show typically doubles-down on everything. Where there is exposition, two characters will enjoy this treatment in two different locations; if a sword fight breaks out, another fight takes place simultaneously elsewhere. In other words, the payoff is worth the anticipation. Once the timeline debacle settles down when Geralt and Yennefer meet, Netflix’s Witcher entertains thoroughly. 

Anya Chalotra’s interpretation of Yennefer surprised me even though I wish her hair was as wild as Triss’. It’s as though they swapped heads.

A principal reason for the show’s success is its acting. When Henry Cavill joined the team to play the main character, Geralt of Rivia, fans who have been tracking his career since even before The Tudors knew he could pull off a medieval character. But then we learned that he put on his best Doug Cockle impersonation because Cavill is a gamer, and he absolutely nails the essence of Geralt from the games and the books. I was ambivalent about Anya Chalotra as Yennefer at the cast reveal, but the Indian-British actress exudes not only Yenna’s saltiness concerning her plight, but also plenty of sass. If you Googled “Joey Batey,” you would not expect his glum mugshots to metamorphose into the vivaciously gregarious Jaskier (“Dandelion” to English readers and gamers alike), but if you want to witness virtuous acting Batey nails it! I was not impressed by Freya Allen’s Ciri, but this is because her character is still a child. We can return to her in Season 2. 

I thought it too early to introduce Cahir Mawr Dyffryn aep Ceallach, but how else could Hissrich explore the escape from Cintra without the knight with the winged helmet? More sinister than I imagined him to be, we know he will be humbled eventually.

Even the second-tier of characters impress, especially MyAnna Buring’s Tissaia de Vries and Jodhi May’s Queen Calanthe. Buring embodies the austerity that I would expect from the rectoress of Aretuza, her shrewdness a weapon as formidable as her magic. May appropriately whoops and hollers, and her raucous depiction of Queen Calanthe lives up to a name such as the Lioness of Cintra. Not settling for a mere warrior-queen, May plays a convincingly conniving ruler right up until destiny claims its postponement. Also, shout-out to Adam Levy; I have not seen him since his role as Peter in A.D. The Bible Continues, and I am glad to see him getting work. However, his cadence is so reminiscent of his biblical character that I was never convinced he became instead the druid known as Mousesack.

Even Geralt wonders why Mousesack did not bother to drop his depiction of Peter.

Unfortunately for you, Netflix’s Witcher fails at explaining what a witcher is. Only in the last episode does Geralt ask a key character a rhetorical question concerning if they know what is done to boys so that they might gain a witcher’s eyesight—the keyword “might” referencing the Trial of the Grasses, which only three out of ten survive. What is the Trial of the Grasses? The show does not say, but it does disclose that a Geralt’s—and by association, a witcher’s—heartbeat is four times slower than a normal human. Once, Yennefer asks him to describe the nature of the minor spells he can cast; gamers and book readers will know that they are called Signs, but you, only familiar with what you see and are told on the screen, will not know what they are and how a witcher can draw from the Power to cast them. You will see, but will not know why Geralt drinks witcher’s elixirs. 

Burning’s Tissaia is on point.

But that is okay, because when Geralt grows pale and his eyes turn black, you know that something is about to go down! In this regard, you will be hard-pressed to find a pathetic effort in the show’s special effects. From the introductory scene with Geralt fighting a kikimore to the choice of using a combination of puppetry and CGI for the Striga, I never had to suspend disbelief because of Netflix’s budgetary prudence. I do wish that with additions such as the expanded story of Yennefer, Hissrich would have added a few more monsters for us to see Geralt fight. At any rate, I have to give a nod to Tim Aslam for the costume designs, sometimes needing to prepare Cavill multiple shirts because his buffness would stretch the leather!

Gamer Fans
Triss Merigold does not even appear in the short stories, but Hirssrich wanted to provide some fanservice, including the freckles. No red hair, though. Triss in the books has chestnut hair.

I saved the best for last, right? Just kidding! The reason why this section is last because you are arguably as familiar with the Witcher franchise as the book readers, though most of your knowledge comes from what happens after the books. Whether or not the TV adaptation is your first exposure to what precedes the video games, you too are in for a treat! You will get a modernized reenactment of Geralt’s battle with the Striga, and the first half of the Witcher 3 mission, “The Last Wish,” as a call-back to the original short story.

I know that the games influenced Hissrich’s vision because Triss’ involvement with the case of the Striga seems to pull from the first Witcher game.

You will love Sonya Belousova’s interpretation of the video game series’ theme song, “Geralt of Rivia.” “Linked by Destiny” samples heavily from more video game songs than I can recall. “Yennefer’s Theme” even reminds me of the folkish sound of a Heroes of Might and Magic town. 

When he’s not acting, Joey Batey looks like he hates life. Perhaps that is why he makes for a fantastic Jaskier/Dandelion: the role brings BOTH actor and character to life!

In fact, Belousova’s animation of the Witcher universe by way of music is masterful. Of course, fans have been going wild over “Toss a Coin to Your Witcher,” and justifiably so—it is an amazing song. Joey Batey likewise demonstrates his talents in “Her Sweet Kiss.” “Song of the White Wolf” could very easily replace “Geralt of Rivia” as the theme song. 

Conclusion
One of my favorite characters, Borch Three Jackdaws accompanied by his Zerrikanian guard, Téa and Véa.

As I have said, Netflix’s Witcher is not the GoT killer that I thought it would be, and I blame the triple-nonlinear narrative disrupting the flow of the show. I mention this again because it is so vexing that Netflix has produced a post-release timeline due to this universal criticism. I will add another: the show spends considerable time explaining how mages make magic from chaos. This is only to Yennifer’s benefit, which makes her appear to be the star (pun intended) rather than Geralt. While the Witcher franchise has always been reticent about making Geralt out to be a hero who overcomes impossible odds, season 1 ends on an anticlimactic note. Book and gamer fans will be back for season 2, but I am uncertain if there is enough here for TV connoisseurs to return. 

Okay, so maybe there is a firewall after all….
Categories
Dramas TV

Review: Live PD

Genre: Reality, Documentary, Crime
Rating: TV-14
It may not be very geeky — there are no spaceships or wizards — Live PD has quickly become a national phenomenon, showing what cops face all across our country with very little editing. The show follows multiple departments in several states, both rural and urban, and all sorts of calls are featured.

Content Guide

Spiritual content: Very little; while some of the officers and deputies they follow are Christian — I remember one deputy telling a DUI suspect to lean his head back and look up at those beautiful stars God made during a field sobriety test — overall there is pretty much no discussion of spirituality.
Violence: Quite a lot. Suspects who resist may be involved in physical fights. Tasers are common, as are firearms. Shots are rarely fired, but it does happen.
Language/crude humor: Most of the profanity is bleeped out, but some make it through anyway, such as S***. Crude humor is occasionally attempted by suspects.
Sexual content: Cops are involved in dealing with prostitutes and other sexual crimes, occasionally “adult toys” are discovered while searching a person, vehicle, or residence.
Drug/alcohol use: Drunk and high suspects are among the most common encountered.
Other negative themes: Numerous references to pretty much every crime in the book, from speeding to homicide.
Positive Content: With all of the above, you might be thinking this show is nothing but negative. But those things are just what the men and women who pin a badge on their shirt every night have to deal with. The true stars of the show, the officers and deputies are shown doing what they are called to do: Help protect innocent civilians not only by dealing with lawbreakers, but also responding to accidents and medical calls. Sometimes the cop is the first one on the scene and needs to take immediate action to save a life.

Storyline

“America, this is your ride-along.” Those are the words that introduced the nation to what has become a TV phenomenon. At a time when there’s been a very vigorous debate about policing in our country, Live PD (or LivePD) shows what cops see on a nightly basis on a near-live basis; there is a delay built in so they can bleep certain words or quickly switch away from overly disturbing scenes such as accidents involving children or scenes that may be too gruesome for a “regular” cable channel. During the show, commentary is provided by legal and police experts from a studio in A&E’s New York headquarters.
The departments followed vary; at the beginning there were six, but they have since increased to eight. Only one of the original departments is still being shown, that being Richland County (around Columbia) SC. Some departments have dropped out, and new ones have joined. This map shows both past (blue dots) and current (red dots) departments.

Presentation

Live PD shows us near-live coverage of actual officers (for brevity’s sake, I’ll be referring to police officers, sheriff’s deputies, and state troopers all as “officers”) during some of their busiest times: Friday and Saturday nights. During the show, they switch back to the studio and occasionally the control room for commentary and updates from analysts.
The main host is Dan Abrams, who is also the chief legal affairs analyst for ABC News, pictured standing on the left in this photo. The permanent analyst is Tom Morris, Jr., who is a crime reporter and has been a Washington, DC police officer. He is seated on the right in the photo. The third man in the center is Sgt. Sean “Sticks” Larkin of the Tulsa, OK Police Department. Originally one of the officers followed by Live PD, he became such a fan favorite he was brought in as a semi-permanent analyst and stayed even after the Tulsa PD dropped their association with Live PD. Occasionally they give Sticks a weekend off and bring in another officer (or sometimes two) who’s become a fan favorite on Live PD. Together, these three give an analysis of what just happened, explaining terms that may not be familiar to most viewers and discussing why the officers did what they did.
In order to fill times when nothing TV-worthy is happening live, A&E will show pre-recorded and edited events from the departments they cover, with a note in a corner of the screen indicating it happened earlier. They also take advantage of slow moments to show three special types of segments, each with Tom Morris handling the narration. The first is their “Crime of the Week,” typically featuring body or dash cam footage of a notable police event in a department they don’t ride with. The second is a “Wanted” segment where they feature a person police are seeking urgently, generally for a serious crime; these come both from departments they ride with and those they don’t. The third and arguably the most important is the “Missing” segment, where they partner with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) to highlight a case of a missing child. NCMEC Media Director Angeline Hartman is shown via video giving the details of the case. Both the Wanted and Missing segments have had success in finding the people in question, and those are announced on later shows.
Live PD has developed a huge Twitter following who have taken the name “Live PD Nation” and who have started “watch parties” where groups of people will gather at a designated place to watch the show together. Recently, some departments are beginning to sponsor their own watch parties as well, which also serve as community outreach. The fans on Twitter have even helped officers with some of the cases shown live, usually in the form of spotting something thrown or dropped by fleeing suspects the pursuing officer didn’t notice — probably because they were focusing on catching the suspect! The word goes out Twitter and either the department itself sees it (I believe all of the currently featured departments have Twitter accounts), or one of the people in the studio will see the tweet and relay the information to the department. Another instance of Live PD Nation coming to the assistance of officers happened recently when a pickup with a, shall we say, distinctive rear window decal was found abandoned in the snow after an apparent slide into a pole. People in the area recognized the pickup on TV and informed the department where they could find the owner.
Live PD has also spawned several spinoffs: The first one was called Live PD: Rewind which is an hour of the best parts of an episode. Later, they added Live PD: Police Patrol, which features incidents previously shown live with a short commentary from the officer(s) involved afterward. On the Lifetime network, there’s a show called Live PD Presents: Women on Patrol focusing on pre-recorded clips of female law enforcement officers, some of which are from departments not shown live on the main show. Finally, the most recent spinoff is Live PD Presents: PD Cam, hosted by Sean “Sticks” Larkin, which showcases dash, body, and sometimes helicopter camera footage from departments also not usually shown on Live PD.
One thing many fans complain about is the bane of American TV: Commercial breaks. While we understand A&E needs to pay the bills to keep the cameras running, sometimes they pick times during high excitement moments to go to the ads. Perhaps someday some company will offer to sponsor the show with minimal or no commercial breaks as long as their name is mentioned often.
Though much of the coverage is definitely what you might call “gritty,” there are a few bright spots. One that comes to mind is when Richland deputy Kevin Lawrence pulled over a couple of college kids and found drugs in the car. Engaging one of the suspects in conversation, he asked the young man if he could make it onto the Dean’s List that semester. The young man said he could if he worked hard at it. Kevin then made a once-in-a-lifetime deal with the suspect: If he could make it on the Dean’s List, Kevin would drop all the charges. I’ll let Kevin explain what happened himself from his Twitter account:

In summary, I believe Live PD is doing a lot to help inform the debate on policing in America. Rather than short, edited clips, we get to see a lot more of the story and the background, often beginning to follow the action when the officer is still in the car on the way to the call. We get to see what both sides were saying and doing long before it’s all over for good or ill. This is not to say every officer in America is a saint; there are people in every profession who really shouldn’t be in it, and law enforcement is no different. What Live PD is doing, however, is highlighting the good that peace officers in America do every day and night, from pulling victims from accidents where the car is starting to burn, to administering Narcan to overdosing victims, to getting stray animals back home. And yes, arresting the bad guys so they can’t hurt innocent people. Whether or not you’re a supporter of law enforcement, watching even one episode of Live PD is almost certain to be educational. You might just find it fun to ride along with cops and wonder, along with the rest of us, what’s going to happen next.
Categories
Community Podcast

GUGcast: Special Episode – 22 Questions

Find us on PodbeanApple PodcastsGoogle Play, and Spotify!

We have a very special first episode of 2019! We play a few rounds of what we call 22 Questions. Joe returns and joins the fun. We will be resuming with the regular format next week. We hope you enjoy the show.

 

MORE INFO

Send us your questions!
[email protected]

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Categories
Articles TV

Our Favorite TV Shows Of 2018

Isaiah Kaufman

Netflix has been making a significant push with its original content, and 2018 has been another great year for the platform. It’s difficult to pick just one series from among the many strong debuts, but if I had to point one out the nod would go to Bodyguard. The opening thirty minutes set the pace for the entire season, accomplishing something many suspense thrillers fail to reach. I don’t want to give anything away, but there were moments while watching where I genuinely believed my hair might go gray prematurely. Bodyguard also brings up some significant themes, both political as well as those close to home. If you are into suspense, intrigue, or police thrillers, this is the show for you. The first season is made up of six episodes, and they move rather quickly despite being an hour long each. This show is definitely not for younger audiences.

Armand Azamar

With how hectic my life can be, it isn’t so much what my favorite TV show is as much as this is what TV show I choose to watch.
For me, it is Netflix’s Daredevil. I’m so satisfied I decided to watch and review that series. The cinematography is beautiful, the actors capture the characters, and the storylines are engaging. The writers do adjust certain story elements, so it isn’t exactly like the comics. But as this is a different medium, these changes work.
I have yet to watch Season 3. A lot of my friends and reviewers have raved about it. This brings to the discussion the issue of its cancellation. This came as a shock to many fans. But, in light of the new streaming service coming from Disney, the cancellation is understandable from a business standpoint for Netflix. It goes to show how much competition and money play a major part in the production of our favorite media.
In spite of this recent controversy, I still highly recommend Daredevil. Some have suggested it is better the series “ended” on a high note, instead of dropping in quality. I’m hoping there will be some revival of the series, possibly on Disney’s new streaming service. The reality is Marvel may do a soft reboot. Nevertheless, it will be interesting to compare the Netflix version with any future incarnations from Marvel/Disney.

Noel Davila

2018 was an amazing year for television. The rise of subscription viewing services has lead to a competitive atmosphere where services like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, HBO, and the like battle it out to win audiences over by providing premium, engaging, and simply entertaining television shows. This trend of excellent TV provided by these television studios has exponentially grown over the last few years. 2018 brings the culmination of this growth as superb shows flood our small screens.
Deciding on my favorite show of 2018 is no easy task. We were lucky enough to be showered with an abundance of excellent shows such as ABC’s “This Is Us,” Netflix’s “Daredevil,” HBO’s “Westworld,” and Amazon Prime’s “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”. The sheer number of shows available allows for a torturous internal conflict in determining what show lands at the top of my list.
After careful consideration, Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” is my choice for favorite television show of 2018. As I debated with myself on which show would claim the title, I kept turning to The Handmaid’s Tale and how Hulu has exceeded in every aspect of storytelling in a serialized format. By combining excellent writing, cinematography, direction, sound design and editing, and acting, The Handmaid’s Tale excels in every discipline to breathe life into the world it has created. The Handmaid’s Tale submerges the viewer into its world and has them on the edge of their seat every episode.
With multiple awards and nominations, The Handmaid’s Tale has cemented itself as one of the most popular and critically acclaimed shows in this ever-growing market of subscription-based television services. Even with the seemingly countless amount of shows available to consume, The Handmaid’s Tale easily rises to the top.

David Fernau

This was honestly a very tough decision for me, as there are so many good candidates (some of which I intend to write about in 2019). In the end, however, I kept coming back to Blue Bloods. It’s been on for several seasons, but I just started watching it this year thanks to the recommendation of a friend.
Any show that features a family dinner at which grace is said in every episode catches my eye right away, but it’s much more than the story of a multi-generational Catholic family. Each of the members of the family has a different role in law enforcement: Henry, the patriarch, is a retired old-school cop and former commissioner. Frank is the current commissioner and thus his two sons’ boss. Danny, the eldest son, is a detective and the youngest, Jamie (short for Jameson), is a beat cop. Frank’s daughter Erin is an Assistant DA, and the middle son Joe was an officer who was killed by a dirty cop before the beginning of the series; his absence is often mentioned.
Each member of the family, therefore, has a different perspective on law enforcement, and that’s where the show really shines. You have Danny or Jamie arresting a suspect and then Erin explaining the problems with their case, for example. Or Jamie, the by-the-book cop, has a problem and Danny, who Frank says walks right on “the line,” comes up with a suggestion that doesn’t fit with Jamie’s morals. Or sometimes Danny’s methods bring a case to the attention of Commissioner Frank who has to balance being a father and being the Commish. Often these discussions take place at the weekly family dinner mentioned earlier, which makes it one of the most interesting scenes in each episode. Siblings squabble, sometimes leaving the table in anger, but with Frank and Henry’s guidance, they always make peace somehow.
For always offering multiple viewpoints on some very contentious issues of our day, and making it clear we can disagree and still be family (something also applicable to Christians and our brothers and sisters in Christ), Blue Bloods stands tall as my favorite show of the year.

Lexi Tucker

I’ll preface this by saying I watch a lot more anime than I do traditional TV shows. However, I do have a few faves I’ve been following over the years that are still going strong. My #1 show for 2018 would undoubtably be Better Call Saul. It seems like whenever TV comes up in a conversation, “Have you seen Breaking Bad?” is the must-ask question. For the record, yes, I’ve seen it. If you haven’t, I highly recommend it. Better Call Saul serves as a prequel to the hit series, detailing shady lawyer Saul Goodman’s (real name Jimmy McGill) past. This year the show is in its fourth season, and I can honestly say it just keeps getting better. Bob Odenkirk makes it so hard to dislike McGill and the slimy tactics he uses to get things to go his way. Rhea Seehorn gave a standout performance as fellow lawyer and Jimmy’s romantic partner Kim Wexler this season. It’s very clear Jimmy is starting to have a negative effect on her ethics, and I can’t wait to see how their relationship plays out next year.
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Community Podcast

GUGcast: Episode 129 – Not About Boxes

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This week, we talk about Bosskey Productions shutting down, the trailer and details of The Predator movie, and the crazy end to the spring season of television. In the twitter realm, we answer a question on which video games have brought us a spiritual experience.

Gaming

Bloodstained prequel game coming soon
https://www.gamespot.com/articles/classic-castlevania-style-prequel-to-bloodstained-/1100-6458890/

Bethesda confims Rege 2
https://www.gamespot.com/articles/bethesda-reveals-rage-2-trailer-with-games-first-t/1100-6458919/

Bosskey Productions shuts down
http://www.ign.com/articles/2018/05/14/boss-key-productions-shuts-down-radical-heights-servers-will-remain-online-for-the-near-future

Movies

The Predator reportedly features different versions of the creature
https://screenrant.com/predator-2018-movie-new-creature-design/

DC’s Birds of Prey to start filming in 2019
https://screenrant.com/harley-quinn-movie-birds-prey-filming-crew/

Paul W.S. Anderson casts Milla Jovovich for Monster Hunter movie (Why?)
https://screenrant.com/monster-hunter-movie-milla-jovovich-cast/

T.V.

Jon Favreau’s Star Wars series takes place before Force Awakens
https://screenrant.com/jon-favreau-star-wars-tv-series-timeline/

Last Man Standing picked up by FOX
https://screenrant.com/last-man-standing-fox-revival/


Brooklyn Nine Nine cancelled then renewed
https://screenrant.com/brooklyn-nine-nine-season-6-2019-nbc/

All shows being renewed and cancelled
https://screenrant.com/network-tv-show-cancellation-renewal-2018-abc-cbs-fox-nbc-cw/

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