Whilst it’s somewhat of a cliché to say that we’re currently in a “golden-age of TV”, it would be foolish not to rejoice in the fact that our only gripe with TV is the shear consistency of its high quality. The fact that it’s become a cliché is a blessing. Let’s be honest, being bored of the greatness that surrounds you is preferable to being bored of the crap that engulfs you. Enjoy it whilst you can, because they are not long, the days of wine and roses.
At any rate, here are some things I’ve been watching over the past few weeks.
Rick and Morty – Season 3
Having watched series 1 and 2 on a loop, I was very much looking forward to the much anticipated series 3. Being on this side of the proverbial pond has its disadvantages (and advantages, naturally), but with regards to accessing the first episode of Rick and Morty‘s new season when it surprisingly “dropped” on April Fool’s Day earlier this year, it became a somewhat of an nuisance. Nonetheless, I bided my time and waited, in the hope that, eventually, season 3 would become available. Then Netflix started uploading each new episode a week after each episode was broadcast. Jurassic Park.
The show’s third season has taken a step in a new direction in terms of tone and structure in relation to the previous two. Firstly, I would argue that this series is less funny – which isn’t a criticism. It’s become somewhat more serious as it explores the psyche of Rick Sanchez, and his relationships with his grandson Morty, and his daughter Beth to a much greater extent than it did in seasons 1 and 2. Whilst the first two seasons left little szechuan sauce-dipped nuggets here and there for fans to savour, like Charlie Bucket and his first and only Wonka bar, this season bases its entire story arc around these ideas. Don’t misunderstand – there are many funny moments throughout this series, it’s just that the moments of existential darkness and domestic turmoil that peppered the previous series have proliferated. The show has become more mature and complex (well, as mature and complex as a cartoon about inter-dimensional space-travel and dick-jokes can be).
I should also contextualise series 3 by the rise of its now insatiable fan-base. Firstly, there’s this now viral meme that mocks a specific contingent of Rick and Morty fans for being pretentious, obnoxious douchebags (the type who thinks anyone who dislikes Rick and Morty is simply too dumb to understand it). Whilst there’s no doubt that there’s a toxic portion of the fan base who think they’re geniuses for being a fan of the show, the meme has somewhat evolved, unfairly I might add, to paint every fan of Rick and Morty this way.
The obnoxious portion of the fan-base couldn’t be more visible when it came to the recent now-infamous Szechuan sauce “scandal” wherein McDonalds remade the 1998 Mulan sauce, in a limited amount, to monopolise on its renewed popularity due to the first episode of season 3 that was broadcast back in April. Underestimating the shear demand and turnout for eager Rick and Morty/Szechuan sauce fans, packets of the sauce quickly ran out, resulting in hundreds of people – some having travelled idiotically for hundreds of miles – baying for blood, chanting “WE WANT SAUCE!” at the bewildered and tired minimum wage McDonalds workers; an image whereby one can’t help but to recall Bill Hicks’ sentiment from Rant in E-Minor where he describes humanity as being “a virus with shoes”.
Due to the length of time between series two and the new series, I decided to refresh my memory and re-watch the last few episodes of the second season. At which point, I realised that, when I watched season two when it first became available, I had stupidly thought at the time that episode 10 was the finale, and not bothered to check in the following week. As a result, before diving into the newest season’s episode, I had to watch the last two episodes of the prior season.
Throat-clearing over, the series picks up where it left off in the story. The muted, grey colour palette is back, and so is the visually striking cinematography – whereby character’s faces are shot up-close, but to the bottom-left or bottom-right of the screen – which somehow makes characters look simultaneously claustrophobically enclosed as well as, due to the excess of the background within the frame, desolate and alone in monochrome void.
The cocktail mix of socio-political themes, computer/hacker jargon, psychological surrealism, the unreliable narrator paradigm, and the inner workings of economic subterfuge by a large, faceless conglomerate might be a bit too much grain with the grappa for some, and will cause headaches for others (alcohol analogies aside, read Kingsley Amis’ chapter on hangover cures in his amusing book Everyday Drinking. Personally a pint of orange and lemonade with ice works for me). However, the arrival of Bobby Cannavale’s character Irving has peaked my interest, and rid any doubts I had upon entering the news series about the show’s direction. I’m all in.
I’ve only just started watching this series (which has caused somewhat of an excitable buzz online) and so can’t speak of the development of the series as a whole. However I can say that, so far, I am intrigued thus far.
The story follows a clean-as-a-whistle, idealistic FBI agent called Holden during the late 1970s as he dives into the grimy, malevolent world of serial killers, in order to understand and develop criminal psychology (which was in its early stages at that time) to solve present and future cases.
The series was produced and directed by David Fincher, although anyone acquainted with Fincher’s body of work will immediately see that his fingerprints are all over it. As excellent Youtube Channel Nerdwriter1 noted in his recent video How David Fincher Hijacks Your Eyes, Fincher takes extra attention to follow the characters’ movements – no matter how minute, which – considering the premise of the show – is particularly congruous as it emphasises a rather cold and meticulous attention to detail, perhaps emulating the analytical nature of the FBI agents, and yet, as Nerdwriter1 says in his video, this cinematic choice paradoxically – or as Christopher Hitchens would say “ironically” – also makes the story very personal and intimate, as it focuses and hangs onto every small movement the protagonists make.
In short, from what I’ve seen so far, things look very promising.