Watched British historical drama TV series by Contributors to Wikimedia projects from Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.

Peaky Blinders is a British period crime drama television series created by Steven Knight. Set in Birmingham, it follows the exploits of the Peaky Blinders crime gang in the direct aftermath of the First World War. The fictional gang is loosely based on a real urban youth gang of the same name who were active in the city from the 1880s to the 1910s.

It features an ensemble cast led by Cillian Murphy, starring as Tommy Shelby, Helen McCrory as Elizabeth “Polly” Gray, Paul Anderson as Arthur Shelby, Sophie Rundle as Ada Shelby, and Joe Cole as John Shelby, the gang’s senior members. Sam Neill, Annabelle Wallis, Iddo Goldberg, Tom Hardy, Charlotte Riley, Finn Cole, Natasha O’Keeffe, Paddy Considine, Adrien Brody, Aidan Gillen, Anya Taylor-Joy, Sam Claflin, Amber Anderson, James Frecheville, and Stephen Graham also star. The programme began on 12 September 2013, broadcast on BBC Two until the fourth series (with repeats on BBC Four), then moved to BBC One for the fifth and sixth series.

I had always heard of ‘Peaky Blinders’, but had no idea what it was about. I decided to watch it after reading that Nick Cave did the soundtrack for it. One of the interesting things was how now matter how many times Red Right Hand was played, it always felt fresh, with versions by Iggy Pop, Laura Marling, PJ Harvey, Pulp’s Jarvis Cocker and L.A. alternative band Fidlar.

As a series, I enjoyed the ebbs and flows, and the various characters. I also liked the way in which it tied in various historical elements and characters, such as shell shock, Wall Street crash, Tuberculosis, Winston Churchill, Jessie Eden and Oswald Mosley. However, I felt that the storyline got somewhat repetitious after a while. One person would die, a new family member would appear. One enemy would be overcome, another would take their place. Maybe this is a product of bingeing six series in quick succession, maybe it is just life. Not sure.

Watched The Umbrella Academy by Contributors to Wikimedia projects from Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.

The Umbrella Academy is an American superhero streaming television series based on the comic book series of the same name written by Gerard Way, illustrated by Gabriel Bá, and published by Dark Horse Comics. Created for Netflix by Steve Blackman and developed by Jeremy Slater, it revolves around a dysfunctional family of adopted sibling superheroes who reunite to solve the mystery of their father’s death and the threat of an imminent apocalypse. The series is produced by Borderline Entertainment (season 1–2), Irish Cowboy (season 3), Dark Horse Entertainment, and Universal Content Productions. Netflix gave seasons 1 & 2 a TV-14 rating while season 3 received a TV-MA rating.

The cast features Elliot Page, Tom Hopper, David Castañeda, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Robert Sheehan, Aidan Gallagher, Cameron Britton, Mary J. Blige, John Magaro, Adam Godley, Colm Feore, Justin H. Min, Ritu Arya, Yusuf Gatewood, Marin Ireland, Kate Walsh, Genesis Rodriguez, and Britne Oldford. The adaptation began development as a film optioned by Universal Pictures in 2011. It was eventually shelved in favor of a television series in 2015, before being officially greenlit by Netflix in July 2017. The series is filmed in Toronto and Hamilton, Ontario.

The first season was released on Netflix on February 15, 2019. In April 2019, Netflix reported that 45 million households had watched season one during its first month of release, thus becoming one of the most-streamed series of the year. That same month, following the success of the first season, the series was renewed for a second season, which was released on July 31, 2020.[1][2] In November 2020, the series was renewed for a third season, which was released on June 22, 2022.

I found The Umbrella Academy to be a quirky series that poses far more questions than it answers. I think that is always going to happen when super humans start jumping through time.

Although I enjoyed the story line, what I liked the most were the characters and their various relationships. In particular, I enjoyed Klaus’ absurdity and Number Five’s old man in a child’s body.

Watched 2021 South Korean Netflix TV series by Contributors to Wikimedia projects from Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.

Squid Game (Korean: 오징어 게임; RR: Ojing-eo Geim) is a South Korean survival drama television series created by Hwang Dong-hyuk for Netflix. Its cast includes Lee Jung-jae, Park Hae-soo, Wi Ha-joon, HoYeon Jung, O Yeong-su, Heo Sung-tae, Anupam Tripathi, and Kim Joo-ryoung.

The series revolves around a contest where 456 players, all of whom are in deep financial hardship, risk their lives to play a series of deadly children’s games for the chance to win a ₩45.6 billion (US$35 million, €33 million, or £29 million as of broadcast) prize. The title of the series draws from a similarly named Korean children’s game. Hwang had conceived of the idea based on his own economic struggles early in life, as well as the class disparity in South Korea and capitalism. Though he had initially written it in 2009, he was unable to find a production company to fund the idea until Netflix took an interest around 2019 as part of their drive to expand their foreign programming offerings.

Finally got around to watching Squid Game. What I liked the most was the exploration and redemption of characters.
Watched Moon Knight – 2022 superhero television miniseries produced by Marvel Studios by Contributors to Wikimedia projects from Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.

Moon Knight is an American television miniseries created by Jeremy Slater for the streaming service Disney+, based on the Marvel Comics featuring the character of the same name. It is the sixth television series in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) to be produced by Marvel Studios, sharing continuity with the films of the franchise. It follows Marc Spector and Steven Grant, two alters of a man with dissociative identity disorder (DID), as they are drawn into a mystery involving Egyptian gods. Slater serves as head writer with Mohamed Diab leading the directing team.

Oscar Isaac stars as Marc Spector / Moon Knight and Steven Grant / Mr. Knight, with May Calamawy, Karim El Hakim, F. Murray Abraham, Ethan Hawke, Ann Akinjirin, David Ganly, Khalid Abdalla, Gaspard Ulliel, Antonia Salib, Fernanda Andrade, Rey Lucas, Sofia Danu, and Saba Mubarak also starring. The series was announced in August 2019, with Slater hired in November. Diab was hired to direct four episodes in October 2020, with directing duo Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead joining in January 2021 to direct the other two. Isaac was confirmed to star at the time; he used different accents to differentiate Spector’s various identities. Filming took place from April to October 2021, primarily in Budapest as well as in Jordan, Slovenia, and Atlanta, Georgia.

It would seem that with The Eternals, Dr Strange and now Moon Knight that multidimensionally is now on the menu.
Watched American science fiction horror Netflix series by Contributors to Wikimedia projects from Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.

Stranger Things is an American science fiction horror drama television series created by the Duffer Brothers that is streaming on Netflix. The brothers serve as showrunners and are executive producers along with Shawn Levy and Dan Cohen. The first season of the series was released on Netflix on July 15, 2016, with the second, third, and fourth seasons following in October 2017, July 2019, and May and July 2022, respectively. In February 2022, the series was renewed for a fifth and final season.

Set in the 1980s primarily in the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana, the series centers around numerous supernatural events occurring around the town, specifically around their connection to a hostile alternate reality called the “Upside Down”, after a link between it and Earth is made by a United States government child experimentation facility. The series stars Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Finn Wolfhard, Millie Bobby Brown, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Natalia Dyer, Charlie Heaton, Noah Schnapp, Sadie Sink, Joe Keery, Cara Buono, Matthew Modine, Dacre Montgomery, Sean Astin, Paul Reiser, Maya Hawke, Priah Ferguson, and Brett Gelman.

The Duffer Brothers developed Stranger Things as a mix of investigative drama and supernatural elements portrayed with horror, science fiction and childlike sensibilities. Setting the series in the 1980s, the Duffer Brothers infused references to the pop culture of that decade while themes and directorial aspects were inspired by the works of Steven Spielberg, John Carpenter, David Lynch, Stephen King, Wes Craven and H. P. Lovecraft. They also took inspiration from experiments conducted during the Cold War and conspiracy theories involving secret government experiments.

I watched Season One of Stranger Things a few years ago after getting a downloaded copy. After finally getting Netflix I finally got around to watching the remaining seasons. Having binged all four seasons, although there were aspects that seemed somewhat stretched, such as breaking back into a Russian prison and Jim Hopper being able to wield a sword seemingly without much training, I think that the story line does a pretty good job in tying everything together. What I liked the most was how the series finds balance between the story and growth of the characters. Whether it be Hopper’s human foibles, Steve Harrington’s maturity beyond being a jock or the various recognitions of failed love, there was something relatable throughout. Although each of these characters seem to achieve a heroic feet, none are traditional heroes. As Debadrita Sur touches on in regards to Hopper:

Hopper is no hero, nor is he an anti-hero. He does not embark on a quest-like journey. The first season sees Hopper as the Chief of Police in Hawkins, whose alcohol-fuelled life is spent in a drug daze of despair. Hopper is trying to drown himself in hedonism to fill the void inside his heart. He is pathetic and human. When his childhood friend Joyce Byers comes to him tearfully to investigate her son Will’s disappearance, he deals with it very matter-of-factly by addressing it as a simple missing person case. However, he is shaken by Joyce’s comments about how he would react had it been his daughter. 

Hopper is a tough guy. He punches people before they can respond to his interrogation — the archetypal strong man. But under this tough exterior lies a grief-stricken, unhappy soul. Imagine losing the apple of your eye to a disease where you can do nothing but helplessly watch her fade away. That is exactly what happened to Hopper.

Or as Guy Dolbey touches on in regards to Donnie Darko.

The difference between these modern reimaginings of ‘80s childhood and the stories they homage is their priorities in terms of character. While these classic entries are often ostensibly coming-of-age stories, this is generally approached in the abstract with their journey representing something grander as opposed to digging into the characters themselves.

On the other hand, Stranger Things and the modern It are heavily character-focused with the former especially using its supernatural elements almost entirely as a catalyst for drama. In this sense, Donnie Darko is the missing link between the original texts and their romantic reimaginings, specifically in the approach to the internality of its characters.

For me there were times the series reminded me a bit of Donnie Darko’s eighties suburbia, Harry Potter’s battle of Voldermort and other times of Buffy and the hellmouth, but in the end with the plethora of references and references the series comes out rather original.

Watched 2014-2020 American science fiction television series by Contributors to Wikimedia projects from Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.

The 100 (pronounced The Hundred [2]) is an American post-apocalyptic science fiction drama television series that premiered on March 19, 2014 on The CW, and ended on September 30, 2020. Developed by Jason Rothenberg, the series is loosely based on the young adult novel series of the same name by Kass Morgan.[3] The 100 follows post-apocalyptic survivors from a space habitat, the Ark, who return to Earth nearly a century after a devastating nuclear apocalypse. The first people sent to Earth are a group of juvenile delinquents who encounter descendants of survivors of the nuclear disaster on the ground.

The main characters of juvenile prisoners includes Clarke Griffin (Eliza Taylor), Finn Collins (Thomas McDonell), Bellamy Blake (Bob Morley), Octavia Blake (Marie Avgeropoulos), Jasper Jordan (Devon Bostick), Monty Green (Christopher Larkin), and John Murphy (Richard Harmon). Other lead characters include Clarke’s mother Dr. Abby Griffin (Paige Turco), Marcus Kane (Henry Ian Cusick), and Chancellor Thelonious Jaha (Isaiah Washington), all of whom are council members on the Ark, and Raven Reyes (Lindsey Morgan), an engineer aboard the Ark.

The 100 is an interesting series. In some ways there was a lot of repetition where the same scenarios were raised again and again, but from different perspectives. This came up in regards to nightbloods and sacrificing for the greater good, as well as the place of artificial intelligence. Jason Rothenberg has explained how he actually treated each season as a new beginning:

“For me, every season was designed to be almost like a new show and a new story,” says Rothenberg, who was pitched the series by the CW and wrote the pilot at the same time Kass Morgan wrote her young adult novel, on which “The 100” is loosely based. “I approached it as a feature writer coming into television for the first time, as each of these seasons was a movie broken down into 13 or 16 parts. That’s why the show changes so drastically season to season, which is one of the things I love about it.”

As much as I enjoyed the general story and the evolution of the characters, there were some aspects of storytelling and world building that felt somewhat circumspect. In the beginning we have supposed monsters in the water and deformed beasts, yet they seem to magically disappear beyond Season 1. In the beginning Bellamy has seemingly embraced a life of debauchery, yet this seems to quickly wane. Another niggle is the ability to magically traverse between so many different biomes so quickly to me felt odd. We jump from desert to rainforest to ice all within a days driving distance or a few days hike, especially as the series went on. (This is all made somewhat absurd with the discovery of the worm holes.) Also the various chance discoveries, such as the Second Dawn bunker and that there is a second nuclear holocaust coming. Maybe the reality was not always the point or strength of the show, instead it was all about the maybes and what ifs associated with the environment, technologies, society and identity. As Richard Harmon discusses in regards to her character, Murphy.

“I definitely had worked quite a bit playing a certain type of character for years,” Harmon says. “Always bad guys. This show gave me the opportunity to expand what I can do as an actor because I never thought I would play a hero. Here I am seven years later and Murphy is trying his darnedest to do the right thing. People can change, it’s just hard.”

In the end I think Maggie Fremont captures it all best in her discussion of the conclusion of the series:

So much happened in seven seasons! And I didn’t even get into all those City of Light shenanigans or the cannibalism-in-the-bunker situation or the fate of our precious Lincoln. Just know that if you stuck with The 100 for all seven seasons, you have seen some things.

Watched Vikings (TV Series) from Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.

Vikings is a historical drama television series created and written by Michael Hirst for the History channel, a Canadian network. Filmed in Ireland, it premiered on March 3, 2013, in Canada. The series concluded on December 30, 2020, when the second half of the sixth season was released in its entirety on Amazon Prime Video in Ireland, ahead of its broadcast on History in Canada from January 1 to March 3, 2021. A sequel series, titled Vikings: Valhalla, premiered on Netflix on February 25, 2022.

Vikings is inspired by the sagas of Ragnar Lodbrok, a Viking who is one of the best-known legendary Norse heroes and notorious as the scourge of Anglo-Saxon England and West Francia. The show portrays Ragnar as a farmer who rises to fame by raiding England and eventually becomes a Scandinavian king, with the support of his family and fellow warriors. In the later seasons, the series follows the fortunes of his sons and their adventures in England, Scandinavia, Kievan Rus’, the Mediterranean and North America.

I recently watched all six seasons of Vikings. I found it an entertaining series, the exploration of people and a particular period of time. The story line seems to include so many threads, the invasion of England, Francia, expeditions to the Mediterranean, Iceland and North America, engagement with the Rus all tided together into a few lifetimes. This departure from history is something that Shane Cubis explains:

Even when Vikings is portraying real-world events, it’ll often take the opportunity to shift them back and forth through time by a few decades or centuries. For example, when Ragnar and co. raided the Lindisfarne monastery back in season one and kidnapped Athelstan? That was 793.

Skip forward two seasons for the big Paris assault? That was 845 – half a century later. Alfred the Great took the throne in 871. And as we already said, Rollo was Duke of Normandy – from 911 to 927. This is like Gough Whitlam also being the driving force behind Federation, the Republic Referendum and the Postal Plebiscite.

What is most ironic is the argument that ‘Vikings‘ themselves are a fictious invention. As Alex Woolf suggests, “There was no such thing as a ‘Viking’ in the medieval period”.

The construct of the ‘Vikings’ conflates and blurs the distinction between eighth- and 12th-century pirates. Tenth-century kings based in Dublin and Christian rulers such as Cnut, all of whom lived in very different societies, had different belief systems and political and economic objectives. Each of these contexts needs to be dealt with on its own terms and not within a 19th-century construct that has more than a hint of racist essentialism to it. It is high time that historians, both academic and popular, ditched the Vikings as an outmoded and dangerous way of thinking. The Vikings never existed; it is time to put this unhealthy fantasy to bed.

It could be argued that this is really an issue with how we talk about the whole medieval period:

The thing about history, though, is that much of our understanding of the past isn’t settled fact. Clark no longer believes that his estimate of 150 days, made early in his career, is accurate. “There’s a reasonable controversy going on in medieval economic history,” Clark told me. He now thinks that English peasants in the late Middle Ages may have worked closer to 300 days a year. He reached that conclusion by inspecting the chemical composition of fossilized human remains, as well as through evidence of the kinds of goods that urban peasants in particular had access to. These factors suggest that they may have lived more materially luxurious lives—eaten much more meat and other animal products, specifically—than usually estimated, suggesting that they had higher incomes than would be possible at the era’s common daily pay rates if they didn’t work most days of the year.

The problem is that boxing things and putting labels can help provide a sense of understanding and control, no matter how false that might be.

Watched The Witcher – 2019 fantasy drama television series from Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.

The Witcher is a Polish-American fantasy drama television series created by Lauren Schmidt Hissrich, based on the book series of the same name by Polish writer Andrzej Sapkowski. Set on a fictional, medieval-inspired landmass known as “the Continent”, The Witcher explores the legend of Geralt of Rivia and Princess Ciri, who are linked to each other by destiny.[9] It stars Henry Cavill, Freya Allan and Anya Chalotra.

The Witcher feels somewhere between Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones. It focuses on Geralt of Rivia, a witcher. His complicated edict that he does not kill out of fear, but rather to save lives, reminds me of The Punisher and his justifications.
Watched 2015 American web television series from Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.

All episodes of the first season were released on Netflix on April 10, 2015, while the second season was released in its entirety on March 18, 2016. They were met with positive reviews. In July 2016, the series was renewed for a third season, which was released on October 19, 2018. A spin-off series, centered on Bernthal’s character Frank Castle / Punisher and titled The Punisher, was ordered by Netflix in April 2016. On November 29, 2018, Netflix canceled Daredevil. Daredevil, along with the other Marvel Netflix series, is set to leave Netflix on March 1, 2022, following Disney regaining the rights to the series. D’Onofrio and Cox would reprise their roles as Wilson Fisk / Kingpin and Murdock in MCU productions produced by Marvel Studios, starting with Hawkeye and Spider-Man: No Way Home (both 2021), respectively.

I came upon Daredevil after watching The Punisher. I did not really know much about the characters, but really liked the moral questions raised throughout.

Daredevil excels as a moral masterpiece because of its plethora of characters, each one with a unique set of motivations, worldviews, and principles. As a devout Catholic, Matt Murdock struggles to maintain his faith in a life that pushes him deeper into a world of violence and death. Foggy Nelson is an upcoming lawyer torn apart between his devotion to his best friend Matt and serving the oppressed in his community and his own personal ambitions for his career and family. Karen Page attempts to find meaning in a life that keeps being haunted by the past she keeps running away from. The stories of these three, along with those around them, weave together in a way that keeps you thrilled for the next episode yet leaves you asking more questions.

One of the things that I liked is the way in which the series developed characters, such as Wilson Fisk. It is interesting to compare this with the portrayal of Fisk in Hawkeye. Disney’s Marvel series’ definitely have a different feel to those developed for Netflix. They are often a shorter run and do not necessarily build out the characters and plots in the same manner.

Watched Suits from Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.

Suits is an American legal drama television series created and written by Aaron Korsh. It premiered on USA Network on June 23, 2011, produced by Universal Cable Productions. It concluded on September 25, 2019.

Set at a fictional New York City law firm, it follows Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams), who uses his eidetic memory to talk his way into a job as an associate working for successful closer Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht), despite being a college dropout who never attended law school. [1] It focuses on Harvey and Mike winning lawsuits and closing cases, while hiding Mike’s secret.[2] It also features Rick Hoffman as neurotic financial lawyer Louis Litt, Meghan Markle as ambitious paralegal Rachel Zane, Sarah Rafferty as Harvey’s legal secretary and confidante Donna Paulsen, and Gina Torres as the firm’s managing partner, Jessica Pearson.

On January 30, 2018, the series was renewed for an eighth season although Torres, Adams and Markle all left the show,[3] with Katherine Heigl joining the cast as Samantha Wheeler. Recurring characters Alex Williams (Dulé Hill) and Katrina Bennett (Amanda Schull) were promoted to series regulars.[4] The show was renewed for a 10-episode ninth and final season on January 23, 2019, which premiered on July 17, 2019.[5][6]

The more Suits went on, the more I was engrossed in the storyline. There is something about the mix of characters. Sometimes you want to hate Harvey’s arrogance, while other times one can not help cringe at Louis’ antics, but at the end of the day there is always a sense of forgiveness.
Bookmarked TV series (Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.)

Marvel’s The Punisher, or simply The Punisher, is an American television series created by Steve Lightfoot for the streaming service Netflix, based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name. It is set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), sharing continuity with the films and other television series of the franchise, and is a spin-off of Marvel’s Daredevil. The series is produced by Marvel Television in association with ABC Studios and Bohemian Risk Productions, with Lightfoot serving as showrunner.

I did not read comic books growing up, but I had a friend who was obsessed. He would draw endless sketches of various characters, such as Wolverine, Venom and Aliens. One such characters was Punisher.

I jumped into this series wondering where these outliers fit within the wider Marvel universe. Along with films like Venom, Punisher is significantly more violent and complicated anti-hero. It is a strange experience to celebrate murder.

One of the things I loved about the series were some of Frank Castle’s dry quotes, such as:

I didn’t murder them, they died from terminal stupidity.


Watched Review: WandaVision sticks the landing with a very Marvel-esque finale from Ars Technica

But the rumored major cameo failed to materialize, despite two post-credit scenes.

Jennifer Ouellette reflects upon the ending of WandaVision by providing a summary of the series and what maybe next. Personally, I found it hard going in the beginning, however was soon sucked in. I liked how Shirley Li captures it:

Perhaps what made the series feel so singular is the fact that it was strangely undefinable and uncategorizable. It was neither sitcom nor drama; it was both a self-contained project and the gateway to the next phase of a larger franchise. That ambiguity meant that viewers had seemingly endless material to discuss: Some critics focused on the storytelling, while others concentrated on discussing the state of television and film, an impulse that may have been egged on by WandaVision being an extended homage to sitcoms and TV history. It was intentionally meta and experimental, an “in-between” work that, with its weekly rollout, operated as neither traditional TV nor a bingeable streaming series. “The show is a love letter to the golden age of television,” the head writer Jac Schaeffer said last year. “We’re paying tribute and honoring all of these incredible shows and people who came before us, [but] we’re also trying to blaze new territory.”

The Take also provide a breakdown of all the contextual references (HT Jason Kottle.)

Watched Power (TV Series 2014– 2000) – IMDb from IMDb

Created by Courtney A. Kemp. With Omari Hardwick, Lela Loren, Naturi Naughton, Joseph Sikora. James “Ghost” St. Patrick, a wealthy New York night club owner who has it all, catering to the city’s elite and dreaming big, lives a double life as a drug kingpin.

I felt that Power sat somewhere between Boardwalk Empire and Breaking Bad. My concern all along was the reality of the story. Maybe the seemingly seedy world of drug dealing and running a night club provides cover for this, it sometimes seemed a bit far fetched how things tied together. Beyond this, I think that the questions that the show asked about character and identity were interesting, especially in regards to truth and reality.
Watched The Handmaid’s Tale (TV Series 2017– ) from IMDb
Season Two of The Handmaid’s Tale had this strange tension the whole time. Where season one set the scene, season two builds on this. Whether it be finding the cracks or challenging assumptions, as a viewer you are left wondering what next, yet never quite surprised at the monstrosities.