‘Phil’s Quick Capsule Review’ (a nod to legendary comedian Bill Hicks who coined the phrase when he reviewed ‘Piece Of Shit’ movie Basic Instinct)… where a perfect 10 is rarer than a rain free British summer!
Written by Phil Hobden – UK based podcaster, writer and former filmmaker. Part of the All Things Film network…
In these rather strange and troubling times we are living in at the moment it is of course very easy to get depressed and down in the dumps. Many of us are naturally struggling to fill the time in the absence of being able to do normal things – like visit family and friends, go to the pubs, restaurants, theatres or cinemas. So what to do to stave off the COVID19 blues? Some people are playing board games, some are listening to music, others are on their play stations or Xboxes.
However if you are like me (a notoriously obsessed film geek) you may be raiding your dvd/blu ray collection or trawling though Netflix and Amazon Prime in search of some thing to watch. So to help you all out I have compiled a few lists of films and box sets to see you though the coming weeks.
Next Up: Recommended Box Sets on Netflix and Amazon Prime
Hunters (Amazon Prime)
Breaking Bad (Netflix)
Sex Education (Netflix – its a comedy before anyone gets the wrong idea!)
The Walking Dead (Amazon Prime)
Fear The Walking Dead (Amazon Prime)
The Witcher (Netflix)
Designated Survivor (Netflix)
Taken (Amazon Prime)
The X Files (Amazon Prime)
Picard (Amazon Prime)
Better Call Saul (Netflix)
Stranger Things (Netflix)
Star Trek Discovery (Netflix)
The Man In The High Castle (Netflix)
Bosch (Amazon Prime)
Vikings (Amazon Prime)
I’ll be back with more lists to help get you through the current Film and new release shortage!
2019 was another epic year for TV. Game of Thrones ended, Disney+ launched and Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime continued delivering their strong original series. Here’s my lost and the 5 best and a handful of Worst TV shows of 2019…
The Must Watch…
TV Show of The Year:Chernobyl Yikes. Chernobyl was one of the most brutal TV show’s I have ever seen. Charting the full disaster from start to finish , it was disturbing, superbly made and incredible to watch.
2. The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance
In Brief: Damn. The guy that made The Transporter (yup really) knocked this reboot of the cult 80’s film out the park and then some. Dark, brooding and disturbing it defined epic from the start to the finish.
3. The Mandalorian
In Brief: Live action Star Wars FINALLY hits the screen and it’s the Western styled series that we always hoped for. It was also the show that gave us THE most iconic character of 2019… nope not the titular bounty hunter but BABY YODA!!!!!!
4. American Horror Story: 1984 In Brief: American Horror Story hasn’t been essential to me for a long time but 1984, a slasher themed 80’s tribute hit everyone and rather than run out of steam it’s just kept delivering until the end. Superb fun.
5. Mindhunter (Season 2) In Brief: A much stronger year than you’d expect, the second season of Mindhunter felt better structured and put together than it’s initial outting. Dark and disturbing from the start.
Bubbling under: Cobra Kai (Strong second season that expertly revisited characters form the film), His Dark Materials (Strong HBO/BBC Adaptation), Veep (Finished Strong), Watchman (Far better than I expected), Sex Education (Well made fun), GLOW: Season 3 (really fun year), Billions (Still OTT, still brilliant), Our Planet (Epic filmmaking) , Stranger Things: Season 3 (Just outside the Top 5), The Boys (Brilliant odd)
The Must Nots…
Miss of the year: Game Of Thrones: Season 8
In Brief: Look I enjoyed Season 8 of Game Of Thrones , I’m far from one of the haters . But even I would admit that it felt rushed, unpolished and worst of all didn’t earn its shocking resolution. Such as shame as with more time this could have been the best series ever.
Other shows I check-out ion this year: Treadstone (Just wasn’t interesting enough), Fear the Walking Dead (Became unwatchable), The Flash: Season 5 (weak and disappointing)
Phil’s Quick Capsule Review: Summer Of ’84 wasn’t the film I expected. Far from the Stranger Things cash it initially comes across as and even further from the 80’s slash and stalk movie it market’s itself as, Summer Of ’84 is an oddly effective drama thriller that really never veers into horror territory and probably has more in common with Silence Of The Lambs that it does Elm Street. And to be fair it’s better for it. Year it’s not perfect but this is something a little different, a little unexpected and something that throws more than a few curve balls during its sub 100 minutes run time.
Best Bit: The dark ending
Buy, Stream, Avoid: Stream
If You Liked this Try: Stranger Things, Friday The 13th, Silence Of The Lambs
Each week Phil, from Phil’s Quick Capsule Review, takes a look at a different movie or TV related Top Five. This time out: Upcoming/Returning TV Shows
Close but no cigar:Maniac, Better Call Saul, Stranger Things
5 – Ozark The first season of Ozark was a pleasant surprise and will the second series of Ozark about to drop all eyes are on whether it can deliver another killer year.
4 – Jack Ryan A big budget Amazon TV show, this has the promise to finally realise the potential of this franchise.
3 – Fear The Walking Dead Returning for the second half of it’s fourth season, FTWD is on a roll. Taking the series in a new direction, it’s now a much better show that The Walking Dead and well out of it’s sister shows shadow.
2 – Myans MC OMG! It’s a sequel to Sons Of Anarchy, one of the best TV shows of the last decade set in the time frame (which means cross overs!) and featuring Edward James Olmos. I mean what more could you ask.
1 – Game Of Thrones Officially announced for the beginning of 2019, the final series of Game Of Thrones promises everything, Will it deliver? Who knows but man the excitement after a year off is almost unmeasurable.
Phil’s Quick Capsule Review: Fan of the 80’s version of the karate kid? Well welcome to what could well be the best TV show of 2018 so far. Cobra Kia is a funny, clever and , at times surprising return to the world of Hill Valley which delivers in turn both considerable nostalgia whilst managing to connect with a whole new modern audience. At it’s heart it’s a story about family and finding yourself as a teenager, set against the backdrop of the world created by the original film back in the 80’s. With LOTS of Karate. Come on – how could that NOT be cool! A must watch.
Best Bit: The tournament
Buy, Stream, Avoid: Stream (Youtube/YouTube Red)
If You Liked this Try: The Karate Kid, Stranger Things, Scream (TV)
2017 continued TV’s dominance over film. With new shows launching almost weekly on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime it was hit after hit with shows like Glow breaking new ground (well kinda) and the old guard like The Leftovers and Game Of Thrones hitting to put the park. Here’s my lost and the 5 best and The Worst TV shows of 2017…
(Yet to watch Narcos Season 3 or Punisher)
TV Show of The Year: Billions In Brief: Season 1 of Billions was good but didn’t hit “great” for me. Yet Season 2, playing like a suped up cross between Wolf Of Wall Street and Boiler Room just knocked it out the park and then some. Pacier, sharper and rounded, Billions just threw out great episode after great episode and did something really special – made an unlikeable lead character into someone you DIDN’T want to lose.
2. Game Of Thrones In Brief: It’s second to last season Game Of Thrones upped the pace, threw in some major events and introduced the theory of “jet packing”. In truth it didn’t matter. Whilst the storytelling has diminished the action, pace and fun has increased making for a breathtaking run. Oh and THAT ending. Just wow.
3. Stranger Things In Brief: Season 2 fell SLIGHTLY short of Season 1. But that still makes it one of the best shows on TV. With more characters, more back story and more episodes Stranger Things suffered a little from not being as tight as it was last year but by upping the horror it was for sure scarier than ever.
4. The Leftovers In Brief: For a show I quit in Series 1, it’s pretty amazing to have the show end as one of my favourites of the year. But on the back of a knockout season 2, Season 3 pulled it all together in a surreal, confusing and often oblique way. No clear answers were given but there was enough threads to draw conclusions. Beautiful, clever and frustrating.
5. Silicon Valley In Brief: Into its fourth year, Mike Judge’s tech comedy continued it’s impressive recent run with another constant and entertaining season. Whether it can maintain next year with the loss of TJ Miller is another question but for now it’s still one of the best shows on TV.
Bubbling under: Veep (funny as ever), Better Call Saul (captivating stuff) Fear The Walking Dead (now MUCH stronger than The Walking Dead), Mindhunter (Top Notch stuff from David Fincher), House Of Cards (Bloody good, even with all the issues), Line Of Duty (Proving the UK can still smash it out the park), GLOW (brilliant fun), American Gods (Insane), Star Trek Discovery (the makings of something special), American Horror Story Cult (One of the strongest season yet)
Miss of the year: The Walking Dead
In Brief: Second year running! Falling from one of the best shows on TV at its height, The Walking Dead has been on a massive decline the past two seasons which culminated with a recent run of episodes that took on and then royally botched the All out War Arc from the graphic novels. Add to that the recent ‘death’ of a major character (which would have meant MUCH more if it had been earnt), some terrible editing and increasingly poor production values (save for the VFX) and you have a show so far from it’s good days that it mostly now exists to be ‘hate’ watched.
Shame because in the right hands this show could have been unstoppable.
So 2016 continued the golden age of television, outstripping it’s movie counterparts and delivering more essential must see content than any other medium: even with so many great shows either ended or in their twilight years. So here’s my run down of my 5 favourite TV show for 2016… with a few nearly rans for good measure.
(Yet to watch Narcos Season 2 or Luke Cage)
TV Show of The Year: Westworld In Brief: With a Nolan attached, THAT Cast and all the money HBO could throw at it Westworld could still have been a catastrophic flop BUT it wasn’t. In fact it was revolutionary. Yes Westworld is THAT good. From it’s complex plotting to it’s cinematic visuals, Westworld was a remake done right. It’s just a sham we have to wait until 2018 to get the next part of the story…
2. Stranger Things In Brief: Every so often a show or film comes from nowhere and captures the imagination of a generation, becoming a cultural phenomena along the way. Stranger Things was THAT show. The Spielberg/ Carpenter influenced style reminded everyone who lived through the 80’s how good the decade was (and how ripe it is for material like this), whilst the narrative, effects and performances kept people coming back for more. With Season 2 production started, the Duffer’s have a mountain to climb to reach these heights again.
3. Game Of Thrones In Brief: Once again hitting the Top 5, Thrones continues to be one of the best things on TV and season 6 was a real highlight. From the reuniting of certain siblings, to the death of one of the most hated characters in the show Thrones stepped outside the constraints of its source material, picked up the pace, delivered several WFT moments and gave us a view on the future to come. In short: Winter is coming. And so are Dragons
4. The People Vs OJ Simpson: American Crime Story In Brief:Who saw that coming? A TV recreation of one of America’s most infamous trials starring a forgotten DTV Oscar winner alongside John Travolta and Ross from Friends, from the guy who made American Horror Story? It couldn’t work. But it did. In spades. And man was it good, delivering one of the best episodes of TV in 2016. Gooding Jnr delivered as the narcissistic OJ but it was Sarah Paulson as Marcia Clark that stole the show. If you missed it then you missed out for sure.
5. Silicon Valley In Brief: Into it’s third year, Mike Judge’s tech comedy delivered it’s most constant and entertaining year to date. Yes it’s throw away stuff but it’s damn funny with it. It’s also sharp as a tack satire on the stupidity and excess of the Tech hub of the world with a convincing cast and cracking scripts.
Bubbling under: Jessica Jones (another high quality Netflix/ Marvel TV show), High Maintenance (as surreal as comedy gets), Vice Principals (biting dark comedy), Veep (continued to graft another strong year), The Night Of (Started well, dropped of a bit by the end), Better Call Saul (even stronger than last year), The Flash (ended season 2 strong and began Season 3 with a bang), Ash Vs The Evil Dead (still delivering)
Miss of the year: The Walking Dead
In Brief: It wasn’t a BIG miss but the let down of Season 6’s ending (yes THAT cliff-hanger) after the Glenn fake out followed by a mostly lacklustre Season 7 so far has, for the first time, left me loosing a little interest in Rick and his crew. The show is far from done for sure and there are still some great ideas and moments (Negan when used correctly is awesome) in it but overall it’s lost something this year and could be the sign that the shows lack of end game is starting to bite them.