TV Binging Reviews

I’ve been binging a lot of TV lately, a lot of things I’ve been meaning to get around to, and now I have. I don’t normally write about TV, but there’s a first time for everything. Let’s go!

Image result for hannibal tv show

If Hannibal isn’t one of the best TV shows ever, I don’t know what is. Created and ran by Bryan Fuller (who got his start on Star Trek: The Next Generation and created the renowned Pushing Daisies), the show somehow manages to redefine and expand on one of the most iconic characters in literary and cinematic history. Somehow it elaborates on the mythos, changing what needs to be changed, yet remaining 100% true to the spirit of the characters. I’ve been reading the books lately (in the middle of Hannibal currently), and have seen the all of the films (not counting Hannibal Rising), and it’s quite possible that this show is the best adaptation of the bunch. That’s not to denigrate Jonathan Demme’s The Silence of the Lambs or Michael Mann’s Manhunter, nor even Ridley Scott’s Hannibal or Brett Ratner’s Red Dragon. All interpretations have their merit, but this show excels.

Or at least it does when it’s on point. Season 1 suffers somewhat from the constraints of its procedural format, and Season 3 suffers from being 2 seasons jammed into one, and from its somewhat time-wasting overly-arty ambitions. But Season 2 is one of the finest pieces of network television ever. Its mixture of stylized gore, intense psychological drama, and a Hannibal Lecter mythos flipped on its head is brilliant.

It understands its source material on a deep, meaningful level – the relationship between Hannibal (the enigmatic Mads Mikkelsen) and the troubled Will Graham (the brilliant Hugh Dancy) may more closely resemble Clarice Starling and Lecter’s dynamic, sure, but, without the rights to Silence of the Lambs, it’s an appropriate change. Other characters are fantastic – especially Laurence Fishburne as the best incarnation of Jack Crawford, the most human version. His wife’s death (a subplot cut from Demme’s Silence) humanizes him on a level not seen before. Other supporting characters include Beverly Katz, the best of the FBI side characters, and Dr. Alana Bloom and Freddie Lounds, gender-flipped versions of their book counterparts. Alana is great, despite her rushed romance with Margot. Lounds is phenomenal, better than Stephen Lang and Philip Seymour Hoffman. She feels like a modern journalist, and seems to be the best investigator of any of them.

As a whole, Hannibal is the best possible adaptation of Thomas Harris’s vision. Cut off before it’s time, but with a perfectly satisfying conclusion, Hannibal is definitely worth checking out.

Image result for gilmore girls

Gilmore Girls is a very different show from Hannibal. On almost every level. Gilmore Girls is about 4 things: family, friendship, love, and coffee. Tons of coffee. Mountains of it.

I only recently got into the show, consuming 7 seasons in about a month and a half. A lot, yeah.

Gilmore Girls is like a  warm blanket, it’s comforting, heartwarming, and witty. Oh so witty. Think Aaron Sorkin on cocaine. Imagine if most characters in The Social Network talked as fast as Jesse Eisenberg in The Social Network. That’s what Gilmore Girls is. An Aaron Sorkin rom-com. And it’s fun.

Lorelai Gilmore, a single mother who gave birth at age 16 raises her daughter, Rory Gilmore. We follow their relationship through 3 years of prep school and 4 years of Yale, and the ups and downs of their respective love lives in Stars Hollow, a small Connecticut town full of colorful characters. It’s a show about family, love, and coffee. Lots of coffee.

The first 3 seasons are classic television, season 3-6 suffer from forced drama, and season 7 is a pale imitation of Amy Sherman-Palladino’s style, but contains a few good moments despite how it drags on. A weak ending to be sure. But it would go on to be revived in…

A Year in the Life is exactly as good as it could’ve been. Rory’s characterization suffers from her post-Season 4 unlikeability. Some of the episodes feel unnecessarily long (specifically, Summer, despite some laughs, doesn’t feel entirely necessary). But it’s enjoyable. It’s fun. It’s great.

It’s impressive to see all the cast reassembled (even Melissa McCarthy comes back for a cameo), and the witty banter is perfectly recaptured, everything is nostalgic but not pandering. It’s great.

There are some flaws, the time gap causes some headscratchers (how aren’t Luke and Lorelai married yet?), but the great bits make up for it. Richard’s funeral is heartbreaking, Lorelai telling the story about her father to Emily is one of the best parts in Gilmore Girls history.

A wonderful revisiting of the best New England small town in television, Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life is fantastic.

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