TV viewing has never been as complicated as it is now. Before, all we had were the free TV channels. Then cable came in to widen our choices and, if you don’t find anything worth watching there, you can watch whatever you want on video through first, betamax, then VCD, then VHS, then DVD.
And now, we have live streaming channels that offer thousands of shows jockeying for position on our screens, not just on our smart TV screens but even on our laptop screens, i-pads or our cellphones. The U.S.A. used to just have three top networks offering shows: ABC, CBS and NBC, plus the public TV station called PBS. But now, the best shows are no longer seen on them as so many other companies offer alternative shows, including HBO, Netflix, Iflix, Disney, Nickelodeon, AMC, Showtime, A&E, Hulu, TNT, Comcast, FX, Amazon, Apple, Lifetime, Adult Swim, MSNBC, The CW, Cartoon Network, SyFy, Hallmark, etc. etc. etc., including news, sports and specialized channels like CNN, Fox News, ESPN, Animal Planet, Discovery, National Geographic, Science, Cooking, History, E Entertainment, etc. etc.
In other words, there’s just no excuse to get bored as not one person can have the power or time to keep up with everything on the air that is worth watching. This is an era where there are just simply too many good shows to choose from, from the comic and the dramatic to the weird, the mind-boggling and what have you, and we have limited time.
There is just a staggering wealth of choices now available to audiences, and mind you, we haven’t even included here our local channels and cable stations. In the estimate of U.S. expert, there were 500 new scripted shows released last year and so many othe reality shows. So many of their actors and creative people are really neck deep with work.
For a senior citizen in his mid-70s like us, it’s so comforting to know that you don’t even have to go out anymore for topnotch entertainment. We’ve seen many of the news show offered by this myriad of channels right on our computer. Many of the TV series we’ve watched, we don’t get to continue after watching the pilot or a few episodes. We quickly lose our interest. But there are some that are truly worth watching as they pushed the genre in new and startling directions. And there’s something comforting in watching limited series as you know you’d be tied down for only a few episodes and it will soon conclude, unlike teleseryes. We’d like to share with you here now some of the most rewarding ones we’ve binged on that may later be considered as classics.
First on our list is “Unbelievable”, a Netflix 8-episode mini-series based on a Pulitzer Prize-winning 2015 news article, “An Unbelievable Story of Rape”, about a series of rapes in Washington State and in Colorado. It’s about Marie (Kaitlyn Dever), a teenage victim of rape who cops doubted and later accused of just making it up and was socially disgraced. Two female detectives (Merritt Wever and Toni Collette) then conduct a painstaking investigation involving other rape cases to arrive at the truth. Superbly acted by everyone concerned, it’s quite heartbreaking and even painful to watch, but just be patient as it’s very compelling and cathartic in the end. We won’t be ashamed to confess that we cried, several times, while watching the show, simply because of the exceptional intelligence and artistry that went into its making.
“Little Big Lies” from HBO, Seasons 1 and 2 - This is soap at its best, splendidly acted by a big cast led by Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Laura Dern, Shailene Woodley and Zoe Kravitz as five wives, all flawed characters, in Monterey, California who are all implicated in a crime involving the death of one of their husbands. Season 2 has Meryl Streep as the mother of the dead husband who wants to find out what really happened to her son and boy oh boy, you can really see the sparks fly as she coruscates in insulting the five aforementioned actresses one by one. Definitely, each episode is engrossing from start to finish.
“Narcos” is one of the best crime dramas based on a true story that we’ve ever seen. There are three complete seasons of 10 episodes each. Season 1 and 2 focus on the story of drug lord Pablo Escobar and the rise of his powerful Medellin cartel in Colombia selling cocaine worldwide that made him a billionaire. It also shows his interaction with other Colombian drug lords and the efforts of the Drug Enforcement Administration to track him down.
Season 1 shows his arrest and incarceration. Season 2 shows his escape from his prison and eventual fall. The whole thing is beautifully chronicled on film, told from the point of view of DEA Agent Steve Murphy (Boyd Holbrook) who is assigned to hunt him down. It’s a real nail-biter. Season 3 shows what happens after Escobar’s death and the Cali Cartel takes over, introducing some new characters. Their business booms with new markets overseas but Pedro Pascal as Javier Pena takes over from Holbrook as their nemesis who brings them down.
There is a spin off series, “Narcos: Mexico”, starring Diego Luna as Miguel Felix Gallardo, leader of the Mexican cartel, but we have yet to see it.