A bloody and violent Korean TV show takes the world by storm. But can it live up to the hype?
What’s The Show?Squid Game.
What’s It All About, JG?Somewhere on an island off the coast of Korea, contestants who are in various desperate situations due to debt and poverty are driven to compete in lethal games for the amusement of a bunch of rich assholes. Yeah, that’s pretty much it.
A series set in Berlin, Germany in the late 1920’s – that can only end well, right?
What’s The Show?Babylon Berlin
What’s It All About, JG? The series is set in Berlin during the dying days of the Weimer Republic, where Inspector Gereon Rath has arrived, fresh-faced and slightly innocent, from Colonge who is sent on assignment. He’s there to try and take apart an extortion ring – it very much doesn’t just so happens to be his father that’s being extorted – aided and abetted by Charlotte Ritter, one of the police clerks trying to make her own way past the inherent sexism of the era in a time when women were finally starting to make progress in the workplace.
A trickster god, multipe timelines and a Disney budget – what could possibly go wrong?
What’s The Show?Loki
What’s It All About, JG? After (well, during) the events of Endgame, the trickster God Loki manages to escape with the Tesseract and finds himself in an alternate timeline. There he is taken in by the Time Variance Agency, an organisation that exists outside of normal space and time who help to regulate the “one sacred timeline” by ensuring one version of history is always running as it is “meant to”. Since this version of Loki is a time variant, everyone’s favourite troublemaker has a choice – either face being pruned form existence as a variant or assist in fixing the timeline in order to prevent an even bigger threat. That means we get six episodes of various differing amounts of things, during which we learn that the TVA is a bit of a fraud and the Time-Keepers who are meant to run the place are entirely fictional. The whole thing ends with the reveal of He Who Remains, the real power behind the throne and gratuitous set-up for the upcoming slate of Main Range movies. Oh, and the inevitable post-credits thing which makes it clear Loki’s getting a second season.
What could scream “entertainment!” more than the worst nuclear disaster in history?
What’s The Show?Chernobyl
What’s It All About, JG? Whacky, zany adventures down at the old мама и папа power plant! What crazy shenanigans with the crew get up to this week, as they try to prove the superiority of Soviet technology? Uh-oh, that’s a lot of flashing lights, Anatolay! What you done this time?! Alternatively, one of the most bleak, powerful and moving dramas ever put together, as the HBO/Sky miniseries explores exactly what happed before, during and after the nuclear explosion at Chernobyl power plant in 1986.
Korean sci-fi and some groundworks – a recipie for success!
What’s The Show?Tunnel
What’s It All About, JG? It’s a Korean series from 2017 about a detective who, while pursuing a murder suspect in 1986, is transported forward in time thirty years via the titular tunnel. Upon arrival he takes the place of another officer with the same name – Park Gwang-ho – and bluffs his way into his life. That Park Gwang-ho was also a police officer, so Our Hero gets partnered up – in the police sense – with Kim Seon-jae, a contemporary detective who’s investigating a serial killer whose modus operandi is the same as the one Gwang-ho was pursuing when he got caught up in all this. It’s a sort of reverse Life On Mars, in other words, with the detective going forward in time not back, a bit of culture-clash comedy, a genuinely compelling case at the core of the show, and a bunch of soap-opera antics to keep us amused while that main plot ticks away. Will Gwang-ho be able to catch the serial killer and return to the love of his life back in 1986?
A revival of a revival of an original – can that possibly work?
What’s The Show?The Equalizer.
What’s It All About, JG?Well, back in the dim and distant days of the 80’s, when bubble perms were acceptable and day-glo was somehow alright to wear for a night on the town, Edward Woodward defended the lost and in-trouble of New York City who had no-one else to turn to. It was all exceedingly 80’s, with a moody synth theme tune, grubby locations and ice-cool Robert McCall as played deadpan-straight by Woodward. Then, in the dim and distant days of *checks date*, erm 2014, the series became a movie, starring ice-cool Denzel Washington as Robert McCall – in other words it was exactly the same. But wait! Now, in the dim but extremely present day of 2021, we have a third go-around, this time starring Queen Latifah, as ice… no wait, that’s not it. She’s exceedingly cool but the ice has gone this time out, instead playing Robyn McCall (no relation) as someone who’s driven to help people but is also balancing a family life at the same time. It is, in other words, every bit as 2021 as the original series was 80’s.
What’s It All About, JG? It’s a Canadian sitcom about a Korean-Canadian immigrant family who run a convenience store in Toronto. It’s all very traditionally sitcom-y, with the patriarch of the family, Appa, running the titular store and family life revolving around it. That family life includes a n’er-do-well son trying to make things right after a spate of petty teenage crime led to a rift between him and his father, a loyal daughter trying to do the right thing by her family which trying to assert her independence, and Umma, the matriarch who, at least on the surface, feels more grounded yet can spin out just as easily as anyone else given the right circumstances. In other words, it’s a family sitcom. What that summary fails to do, though, is sum up how unutterably charming and delightful the show is. Which may be a bit of a spoiler for what’s coming up…
The MCU comes down to earth with its first Disney TV show.
What’s The Show? WandaVision
What’s It All About, JG?Following the events of Avengers: Endgame and the death of Vision, Wanda retreats into a world of comforting sitcoms, generated by her extraordinary power. This means that a “hex” has been placed over the town of Westview and its inhabitants become her puppets, while out in the real world agents of S.W.O.R.D. attempt to discover what’s going on with the weird red glowy thing that’s covering a town in New Jersey. Turns out Wanda is generating sitcom episodes every “week” in a different style, while Agnes – revealed as Agatha, replete with her own theme song – is trying to steal Wanda’s chaos magic, which means everything ends in different coloured fireballs being slung around.
What’s It All About, JG? Good question. It is, technically, a science-fiction series which is based on the artwork of Simon Stålenhag, a Swedish artist who specialises in painting largely bucolic, slightly old-fashioned landscapes into which technology intrudes. It’s straightforward retro-futurism, in other words, and if a series of paintings sounds like an unlikely basis for a sci-fi show it nevertheless finds a way to work. Across eight episodes we encounter the inhabitants of Mercer, Ohio who live near “The Loop”, a hazily-defined piece of technology that allows the impossible to happen. The series explores the characters of the town in separate but overlapping stories, sometimes connecting with other characters or plots, sometimes not. The series is utterly uninterested in building either traditional arc-based narratives or technobabble science-y explanations for the events that occur, instead investing in its characters and what they go through as a result of events or occurrences caused by The Loop. If that all sounds odd – it is.
Round and round and round they go, where they stop nobody… cares
What’s The Show?Snowpiercer
What’s It All About, JG? Based on the movie, based on the graphic novel, Snowpiercer tells the story of the last human survivors of an environmentally-devastated Earth who circle the globe in the titular Snowpiercer, a train of a thousand carriages. The train contains everything people need to survive but is riven with tensions, alliances, bigotry and shifting loyalties. It’s all a huge analogy for the class system, capitalism, systemic oppression and the way that human beings react when forced to come to terms with who they are. Sounds great, right? What a shame, then, that instead of that we get a bog-standard detective show where someone gets killed, someone has to investigate, turns out its some rich bitch who had a crush on her bodyguard or something and…. oh who cares.