I talk current television here and there in passing on Twitter, but I thought – for the fun of it – I might throw you all some currently or recently running recommendations that you may not have been given before (depending on your TV prowess).
So, without further adieu, here are eight running or recently released shows you need to watch.
Based on the book by Steven Gould, Impulse the television show and Impulse the book share very little – but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a good show. Centred around a young woman named Henry Coles, it follows her stitched-together family through the aftermath of a rather traumatic event. That event shapes their lives and their town, and ultimately leads to a revelation about Henry and the world itself.
Impulse is a roller-coaster ride of emotion, twisted up with some science-fiction and much-needed world-building (especially if you haven’t read the books or seen 2008’s Jumper). That said, and despite its similarity to the books and Jumper movie, it’s a standalone title.
(PS; If you read the books, read them in order! You can’t just skip to Impulse.)
Taboo is based on… well, I believe it’s based on historical events from the past – including The East India Trading Company’s bid to take over the China tea trade.
It follows a man who returns home from Africa, having seen and done things many men would not be proud of or welcome. After what we initially assume is just a nasty event, he returns home with money to take up respects at his father’s funeral. That’s where shit truly goes sideways however, as it’s revealed that there are corporate wheels turning that would require this man to give up something he’s not yet found – or else.
A true hidden gem, Taboo is worth watching just for Tom Hardy’s raw and visceral portrayal of James Delaney; the man willing to go further than any other, in more ways than one.
Based on a book series by Diana Gabaldon, Outlander follows a nurse who – upon being reunited with her husband after the second world war – has to reacquaint herself with her marriage. On her second honeymoon of sorts to her husband’s ancestral homeland, she stumbles upon a secret… witchcraft exists, and so does time travel.
Thrust unexpectedly back over a hundred years, the main character must find a way to survive in a world definitely not like her own. But that’s not even the half of it, as that’s just where things get interesting! I don’t want to spoil it for you, but this show has lots of great qualities and just finished its third season. If you’re looking for a good bit of emotional drama with a twist of supernatural, this is a good choice.
(PS; I haven’t read the books yet, but I assume they’re probably gold too.)
Ah, the unusual story of Shadow Moon; a rather oddly named man who is released from prison early due to a death in the family. That’s just where things get started though, as on his way home the man meets a rather odd individual named Mr. Wednesday who might have supernatural abilities, and just so happens to be there (and know) when Shadow needs a helping hand.
A very weird show built around a very interesting concept, American Gods is a story of people and those they worship. It’s a story of war and hidden worlds, and it’s also bloody amazing. If you’re not watching it, you should be!
Pulling fairly heavily (but not completely) from the book from which the show is named, Altered Carbon is the story of Takeshi Kovacs; the last of an elite type of soldier called an Envoy. These Envoys used the futuristic life-extending technology of “cortical stacks” (basically digital replacement brains) to hop between “sleeves” (bodies) as covert operatives fighting for the cause of a revolutionary named Quellcrist Falconer.
Only now, Takeshi is coming off storage after being sleeve-deathed in an epic battle, and thrust over a hundred years into the future at the bequest of a three hundred year old magnate who was killed – only to be revived from a backup, and left without any memory of his death. The job he has in mind for Kovacs is as his own personal murder detective, and in exchange he’ll get him pardoned.
If that’s a lot to take in, I get it; but the show does an amazing job of throwing all this at you quickly and cohesively. The futuristic aesthetic, Kovacs’ well-developed personality, Joel Kinnaman’s perfect portrayal as his main sleeve in the future, and the story line threads they’ve lifted from the book all come together to make something slightly different than Richard K. Morgan’s original story… but still great in its own right.
Closing up its third season tonight with a two episode finale, The Expanse is probably my favourite television show right now. The characters, the realistic portrayal of the laws of the universe (aside from where the protomolecule is concerned), and the amazingly layered storytelling offer the science-fiction escape I’ve been waiting for since the Stargate series went off the air.
The Expanse, at its heart, follows a rag-tag group of generally moral individuals (minus Amos) who band together in the wake of a disaster in order to survive and find out the truth. Complicating all this is a secret project with the potential to destroy the universe, and a political mess spanning three factions (Earth, Mars, and The Belt – a spread out but numerous people who live in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter).
That might not sound very interesting, but this is a series I could not stop watching or reading. Writer James S.A. Corey (pen name of Ty Franck and Daniel Abraham) did an amazing job with the books, and though the show doesn’t match them exactly it does a great job of bringing us the universe and core plot that was originally intended.
If you’re not watching The Expanse, you should be. It moves to Amazon for Season 4!
Based on an Australian movie about a boy named “J” who ends up living with his grandmother and uncles when his mother dies, Animal Kingdom soon rares its teeth as we see that this extended bit of the boy’s family are a bunch of professional thieves. Does he fit in and join up, or get pushed out? His world is a complicated place on its own, and secrets are abound in this series.
Animal Kingdom is action-packed and has something for everyone adult in the room.
Drawing from the legendary tales of Ragnar Lothbrok and his family, Vikings is a historically set (but not completely accurate) show about conquering the world – or at least, that’s how it starts. As thing evolve a deeper set of motives and paths show themselves and our main characters start to see things in themselves and others that will help to shape the world as we know it today.
Featuring a well chosen cast, a great method of handling foreign speech (the Viking language is almost always portrayed in English unless other languages are present), brutal battles, historically-influenced events, and some very interesting plot points, Vikings is one you shouldn’t miss out on.
So that’s it for recommends this time around, but I’m sure I’ll do another of these in the future. I tend to watch a lot of television, so I’ve probably got a fair few more you haven’t seen. 😉