a new golden age of television around the year 2000, and if it dwindled any, 2013 just jump-started that sucker back to life. I spent the last couple of weeks catching up on two of three shows that prove my point. Binge away, but please do so responsibly.
1. The Americans. I don't really have to tell anyone much about The Americans. I think we're all aware of its existence at this point. The publicity behind this show stopped short of skywriting, but just barely. What I can say is that it was worth hyping. This is a show about Cold War espionage, marriage, and the '80s that somehow makes all three compelling. It also takes a tired genre and makes it fresh, surprising and interesting.
2. Rectify. Expectations are key for this show, so don't expect a lot of jaw-dropping action or mystery, at least all at once. It's about a man trying to gain footing in reality after being on death row for twenty years. Stuff happens beyond that, but like my friend Brandon put it, "It's a slow burn." Don't expect a lot of courtroom drama or detective work, but do expect great cinematography, insights on human nature and a portrayal of beauty and ugliness that the word "juxtaposition" can't even begin to describe. It's fitting one character alludes to Flannery O'Connor, because the biblical imagery reminded me more of her writing than anything I've seen on T.V. or in film. This isn't exactly compulsive television, but it's unique and just the right amount of beautiful and disturbing to make for great visual storytelling.
3. Orphan Black. I just finished watching this season, and I really can't tell you much about it without ruining the entire show. It's on BBC America, so I guess I can tell you that. Even mentioning the genre might give too much away, for crying out loud. Let's just say this has great character moments, a sense of humor, and surprising ways of getting characters out of seemingly inescapable situations. It starts with a "simple" case of identity theft, and launches from there. This does have plot holes big enough to drive a double-decker bus through, such as why no one seems capable of skipping town when they're in danger, but the acting, characters and cheesy fun are good enough to make up for it. The lead especially is worth watching, because, well, I don't want to spoil it. Sit back and enjoy the next evolutionary step in pulp storytelling.