Thursday, June 16, 2016
2016 Summer Pitch Your Show - Part C (Halt and Catch Fire - Lady Dynamite)
Welcome back to the third installment of the 2016 Summer Pitch Your Show article. Previously we covered everything from 12 monkeys to Grey's Anatomy. This segment will focus on shows H-L with the last two segments coming on Friday and Sunday. (We're skipping Saturday.) To keep the articles readable, I have limited nominations to 2-3 per show. I am truly sorry if your nomination is not in here. Know that I appreciate your time and pitches. Making the choice of what went into the articles was difficult. As always, the link to the spreadsheet with all the pitches is below. There was some confusion about this earlier so to clarify, any show that received even 1 pitch is included in these articles. However, if a show got more than 2-3 pitches, not all of the pitches are in here to save space. That's why there is a link to the spreadsheet so you can see them all.
As always the goal is for you to find something interesting to watch during the summer hiatus. If you do, please leave a comment below. I know those who worked hard of their pitches will appreciate hearing from you. Also if you were unable to get your pitches in before the deadline, feel free to add them in the comments as well. Just remember that any show starting with L-Y may be coming in future segments.
***Nominated by Milo BOK - One of the most underrated shows on AMC, this series is perfect for any fans of the likes of Mad Men looking for their next period drama fix. It boasts a great cast including Lee Pace, Mackenzie Davis and Scoot McNairy. Using the boom of personal computers a backdrop, this show can be enjoyed by people who know the hardware and those who don't. It makes use of some fantastic characters, including some great female ones which really come into their own in Season 2. Oh, and throw in the excellent soundtrack and you have a brilliant series that really deserves a wider audience.
***Nominated by ADC - Halt and Catch Fire is a character-driven drama focusing on the personal computer industry during the 80's. Rather than simply tell a story within this setting like most period dramas do, the show is interested in diving into the minds of the people who played a central part in one of the most important decades of the digital revolution. The second season is about the early days of the internet/dialup, exploring ideas such as online gaming and the general vision of a world "connected". All in all, it is a very well written and directed show with an incredibly talented cast and a killer 80's soundtrack. Personally, I'm even drawn to its intro, which evidently got an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Main Title Design last year.
***Nominated by Ackerr - Whatever that title means, the key word is FIRE. Imagine it big and fierce. That's what this show is about. Oh, and dudes in early 80'ss, who made PCs and programs. However the real deal is in what it takes to push it: the limits of imagination, seeing what doesn't even have a word yet, and then building technology beyond limits of available materials. Pitiful computers from 80's in archived photos we don't bother looking at, hardly ever felt more powerful and magical. Same as those who worked on them. The main characters all have flaws and unlimited possibilities at hand, all at once. Where it will lead? I loved the last scene from the pilot episode when a minor PC company becomes an IBM delegation, the embodiment of power to decide what's right and wrong in this world. They come to crush those who they came to. But, they don't know that, the key word is FIRE. Each season is a complete "startup" story; the third will air this year I think.
***Nominated by Luana - You know when you just want to be entertained and watch something that makes you feel good? For those moments Heartbeat is perfect. It is a medical show, and it has the typical drama, but it has so much heart as well (no pun intended). I have to say the pilot felt a little bit forced, especially the main character’s personality, but that washes off soon. To be fair it was cancelled, and it did end in a cliffhanger, but that really didn’t take the fun out of it.
***Nominated by Milo BOK - You like Westerns? Look no further than Hell on Wheels. This series follows the race to build the first Transcontinental Railroad. Starring the likes of Anson Mount, Colm Meaney, Common, and Dominique McElligott, this excellent series doesn't hold anything back. Although it is a slow-burn at times, it still makes fascinating viewing that uses a great cast to tell a captivating story and even features a great soundtrack.
Coming to an end this summer after five seasons, Hell on Wheels looks set to get a proper finale and as a result now would be the perfect time to catch up. Making use of some great drama and a wide variety of characters, this show isn't afraid to go through them as quickly as Game of Thrones does and is another overlooked AMC series that's really worth your time.
***Nominated by Leo Wyatt - Many people seem to think that Homeland is one of those slow paced and prestigious dramas that always win a lot of awards but the truth is the show is kind of the opposite of that . First of all it tells the story of bipolar CIA agent Carrie Matthison who suspects that Nicholas Brody, a Marine who recently returned home after being MIA for 9 years ,is a terrorist. It's fast paced and even though sometimes it slows downs, it never becomes boring. Written by some of 24's executive producers ,the writers manage to avoid the major problem that all terrorist shows seem to be facing, one note villains. The show doesn't believe in black and white but puts its characters in a grey area where all of them are carefully developed so viewers might also show sympathy for the bad guys. Aided by a tour de force performance from Claire Danes, Carrie Matthison manages to shine throughout the series . She might not be the most likeable protagonist and some of her actions might shock viewers but what Danes showcases is the flaws the character has . Carrie is clearly flawed and unlike other shows which present characters as perfect stereotypes, Homeland doesn't shy away from that. The same can be said about the portrayal of Nicholas Brody by the exceptional Damian Lewis. The tension created by the question of whether he is or is not a terrorist really takes the quality up a notch. All in all, Homeland is an excellent show that is definitely worth your time.
***Nominated by Missions - Homeland was bound to be amazing when it appeared in 2011, the year where so much great television was born. I don’t think I will be able to top Omabin’s pitch from last year, but all I can say is that “Homeland” is event television for me. It focuses on a CIA agent named Carrie Matthison, who also has to deal with being bi-polar. They fight against terrorism, especially after an American marine, Nicholas Brody, is found 8 years after he was presumed dead. The big question is: Did he turn? That’s what season 1 focuses on. Words cannot even describe how excellent this show is. The acting is incredible, led by the astonishing Claire Danes and Damian Lewis who give raw and outstanding performances. The supporting cast, including Mandy Patinkin and Morena Baccarin, is amazing as well. I started watching this show after I saw Game of Throne’s fifth season, looking for a show that could do things so huge that airing on network television would not be possible and I am oh so glad I chose Homeland. It’s intense from start to finish. And with intense I mean to the point where I was screaming at my television or was soaked in sweat because it was so exhilarating. The writers manage the build up to major events that are so unpredictable they leave you shocked for days after. Therefore, the show dominated awards in the first two seasons. Four seasons later, I still adore this show though. It has taken a new path, but it is still so brilliant and so relevant that your eyes will be clued to the screen for twelve hours a year. I binge-watched the first 4 seasons last summer and did not regret it. So, if you want mind-blowing acting and twists, event television, and brilliant character development, then it is time for you to watch Homeland before it returns in January 2017.
***Nominated by Pablo - Many dropped the show after the lackluster season 3. I urge you to give it a second chance since season 4 picks up the pace and tension, making for incredibly compelling storylines in a complex landscape in which no one is truly good or evil, which makes for mind-bending television. For those who are willing to give it a chance now, Homeland handles tension in superb ways. You never fully grasp how it is going to play out, leaving you intrigued as you follow complex, fully realized characters as they follow what they believe in. Though characterization of non American characters can be seen as clichéd or broad, Homeland still manages to give nuances to its characters and it pushes its storytelling to unexpected places. Give it a shot; at the very least you'll be entertained.
***Nominated by Luana - Kevin Spacey shines as a cutthroat politician trying to make his way to the White House. That alone would make this show worth watching, but it has a lot more going for it: the acting overall is great, the writing is brilliant and the directing is stunning. If you like political drama, you will love this show and if you don't usually like that, you will probably love this anyway.
***Nominated by Vasiliki - The acting alone is enough to recommend it. Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright are just amazing to watch. It's a political drama situated in the US, but honestly it could be in any country in the world. The series shows us the deception, scheming and lying behind every politician's smile, promise and hand shake. This show is a real eye opener.
***Nominated by Luana - This show is one of the best comedies I've seen in years. For those who didn't see it at the time and then thought it was too late, I'll tell you this: HIMYM never gets outdated, at least I don't think it will in a very long time. It tackles matters of love and friendship in a very funny and often relatable way. They are lovable characters that will make for great company, and even conversation topics if you share it with someone else.
***Nominated by Pablo - I'll make a very odd recommendation going forward with this series: either skip the ending or find spoilers about it to avoid being disappointed, and thus you can look at HIMYM through a new and maybe better lens. I'm still bitter about that ending. I'll probably hate it forever, but I couldn't stop nominating the show. Aside from the end, it is a magnificent comedy series with so many hilarious jokes, amazing storylines, and so much character development that I think it is still a worthy ride. Very few times I have seen a multi-camera comedy become something so engaging, poignant and all around standout. Beware of the ending, but HIMYM is not its ending; it's the whole ride that counts.
***Nominated by Missions - If you want mystery, shocking twists, brilliant acting, fast pacing, a tight plot and interesting characters, then HTGAWM is the perfect show for you. It follows the brilliant law professor, Annalise Keating, played by the phenomenal Viola Davis, who chooses 4 students every year to work for her. This year however, she chooses five students, who are Wes Gibbons, Connor Walsh, Michaela Pratt, Laurel Castillo, and Asher Millstone. The pilot starts with a flash-forward in the woods at night, where these five students talk about burning a person’s body, whose death they were supposedly responsible for. They did not know that when they were chosen to be Annalise’s helpers, it might not have been the best thing that would ever happen to them as they all initially thought. On the contrary, that’s when they embarked on a journey of danger, deception, insanity, and, of course, murder. This show mixes serialized storylines with procedural court cases so perfectly that they both go on at the same time. They do however tend to do more serialized storylines, especially in their sophomore season. The flash-forwards will intrigue you since they always lead up to the mid-season where we see all pieces of the puzzle, and that’s when it especially gets explosive. Viola Davis leads this cast and is an absolute acting goddess. I have never seen such amazing acting by a female actress on television. She goes so deep into Annalise’s feelings that when she is hurting, the viewers are hurting.
Of course, this would not be possible without an amazing script. The writers develop the characters so well that it is shocking. In the first season they introduce the characters, but in season 2 we finally learn some of their back stories, and we hence understand many of their actions, which brings me to another point. Every single plot device in season 1 is connected to every single one in season 2. Whether it is a character’s action or a plot twist, it’s all connected. Without the happenings in season 1, many things would not have happened in season 2 and that’s just brilliant. The twists are so shocking that you will fall off your couch and the storyline is so fresh and intriguing that you could watch it for hours. Binge-watching this show might just give you a heart attack. This is my favorite show on television at the moment. I just love all the characters and intrigue every single week and hope more people try this show. After watching it, you will finally understand what all this excitement and enthusiasm is about. It’s only 30 episodes, and the summer is a perfect time to catch up before season 3 arrives and delivers another batch of shock value. Let Viola Davis slay your television!
***Nominated by Andrew - It's a very well written show with an amazing cast and so much drama with so much plot. Simply amazing!
***Nominated by Milo BOK - This is the best comic book related show on TV right now, and, sorry The Walking Dead, it's also the best zombie series around. Charming and funny with some excellent comic-relief timing from the lead actors, all of whom have perfect chemistry, iZombie is a brilliant show that's probably the best on the CW. It makes use of a unique zombie twist to tell a really awesome story, using the police procedural as a starting point to evolve into some brilliantly fun episodes, including the amazing season finales.
***Nominated by Suzanne - Want to see a woman making literal brain sushi, having visions and solving crimes? Then this is your show. Our zombie, Liv needs brains to survive but after eating a brain, she takes on some personality traits of her… well, her meal when it was alive and Rose McIver does it deliciously. Don’t worry though; Liv is merely eating murder victims. It’s a win-win: she doesn’t have to kill people to survive and crimes are solved. iZombie is a retelling of the zombie mythology with cleverness and humour. Let’s not forget to give credit where it’s due. Although very different, the show is an adaptation of a comic.
***Nominated by Emma - Jane the Virgin is a dramedy about the lives of three generations of Villanueva women. It’s based on a telenovela so there is no escaping the common tropes of the genre but the show embraces its roots and isn’t afraid to poke fun at itself. Yes, there is a love triangle but it’s one of the few on television I’ve seen use an overdone trope effectively. Each person in the triangle is well fleshed out and has storylines outside of the triangle. I know love triangles are an automatic show stopper for some but if you consider the other positives of the show, you may just find that they far outweigh the negatives of love geometry. So what are these other positives? Well, there is a diverse, award winning cast, a snarky narrator, fully fleshed out and complex characters with noticeable growth, enough family heart and humor to soften any cynic, and writers who value a cohesive story and have clearly thought out the entire season. If none of the above has convinced you to check out Jane the Virgin, then you leave me no choice but to use my trump card…we have Bridget Regan. That’s right; the brilliant performance behind Dottie Underwood from Agent Carter is on this show as another smart, pull-no-punches woman. So there it is, heart, humor and Bridget Regan. Head over to Netflix to stream S1, S2 should be out soon and S3 will premiere this fall after Supergirl on Mondays.
***Nominated by Kate Sidwell - Over the past couple of years Jane the Virgin has quickly become one of my favorite shows! The cast is outstanding and hilarious with such range they can get you from laughing to crying within seconds. The cast is enhanced further by the great writing and stories they are given. Although storylines are sometimes farfetched, it's part of the charm of the show and it's always fun to watch. Love triangles can typically be the most annoying part of some shows but Jane the Virgin manages to make it one of the best parts of the show. Jane's love triangle is incredibly well-written and believable, and personally, it took me a whole season to decide who I wanted her to be with because I kept switching back and forth. So much about this show is unique but I especially love the style of narration, which makes the show super easy to watch and eliminates almost all awkward exposition (one of my biggest pet peeves!). Although the overall concept of Jane the Virgin sounds a bit strange at first, I promise that once you actually see it for yourself you'll be hooked. If you love a fun, cute comedy with tons of heart then Jane the Virgin is a much watch for you!
***Nominated by Folie-Lex - “Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell” is a BBC 7-part miniseries based on a book by Susanna Clark of the same name. The story takes place in the 1800's in England and war torn Europe in a slightly altered reality where the only tangible difference is magic is real. It follow the lives of the only two active English magicians as they set themselves on a “mission” to restore magic to England through the trials & tribulations that unfold from this endeavour. That their respective schools of thought seem to be diametrically different only adds to the controversy and adversity of the story’s set up. Oh! Also there is a pretty spiteful fairy king making things all the more hard for them and everyone around them.
Full disclosure: I’ve read the book and I looooooooved it. It’s a huge dense thing, with little annotations and stories within the bigger frame story and a long parade of a myriad of characters. A very big part of the narrative is world building. I know it sounds boring, but it really isn’t! Regardless, I felt that because of the nature of the book any adaptation would either fall really short or absolutely do the material justice. No middle ground. I’m glad to say that this project falls under the latter category. The show spends the appropriate amount of time on the world building and the mythology, as well as delving into the characters' personalities and motivations. For the “purists,” it doesn’t really deviate from the narrative of the source material much and has made only the appropriate adjustments to move the story along so that it can work properly in the TV medium. The production value is impeccable, the CGI & VFX top notch (and not just by “UK TV standards” either... it’s really good), the casting is pretty spot on, and the acting pretty amazing. I highly recommend it to people who love fantasy and/or period shows, but in my opinion the story also has quite a mass appeal.
***Nominated by Tuna - Lady Dynamite's first season just came out on Netflix in late May and I didn't know much about the show until I watched the trailer. After I watched the trailer I knew I would be hooked on the show. The show centers on Maria Bamford as a fictionalized version of herself as she goes through her life as an actress/stand-up comedian while coping with the daily struggles of bipolar disorder, which she has in real life as well. The show is insane and weird and quirky but that is what makes Lady Dynamite so unique and special. I instantly fell in love with Maria's character, who is so sweet and adorable and eccentric that it is basically impossible not to love her character. Lady Dynamite uses flashbacks to show the viewer her back story and to gain insight into her relationships with her family and friends. While Lady Dynamite is mainly comedic, it is not afraid to dive deep and really show the negative effects of having bipolar disorder. It also shows Maria at her worst. If you like weird, quirky little shows with a lot of heart, then I guarantee that you will love and appreciate Lady Dynamite for what is.
Don't forget to keep checking back for more Pitch Your Show nominations this week. We've got plenty to come and hopefully you'll find new shows you are interested in checking out. If any of these inspired you or if you have something to add to the pitches, please hit the comment section below.