Not a Marvel super fan by any means. I watch them occasionally as a fun ride. I heard this show is good but I thought they meant for Marvel fans or even comic or super hero aficionados. I did not think they meant it is a good show period. In fact I kinda wished it was not a marvel thing at all because I enjoyed it so much. I loved the color palette. I loved the steep sci-fi angle. I loved the True Detective vibe? I even enjoyed the Marvel ability to not take oneself too seriously. I am also eagerly awaiting season 2 and I am so glad I took a chance on this show.
I enjoyed this unexpected gem. At first I was annoyed at apple tv + cramming shows down my throat. (Between this and Severance perhaps I should trust apple more?) The previews mostly annoyed me and the intrigue did not pull enough interest for me to pull the trigger right away. It took a couple of false starts but I finally gave it a go, I already had a subscription, and I’m glad I did.
I tremendously enjoyed watching the flawed characters doing spy work (i.e. digging through garbage) in a derelict building that is their office. Gary Oldman’s character, farting and not giving a fuck, and cutting down his team at every opportunity was surprisingly refreshing. And I enjoyed the contrast with Kristin Scott Thomas’ clean-cut, proper and prim, MI5 character in her shiny high-tech modern office building. She of course skirts the rules and plays the game just as much but sans the acknowledgment and perhaps with less self awareness? Flawed characters also doing shiny MI5 work, ups the ante and added a nice contrast. Saskia Reeves was another stand-out for me and her character gave a welcome Miss Marple vibe.
The meta storyline connecting the episodes into a season did not interest me at all. For me it was a backdrop for the personal drama and intrigue between the characters and I wish the show-runners did the same. Some of the twists and turns I enjoyed but more than a few were so unrealistic and writerly that they annoyed me and snapped me out of the realism of the show.
I could also do without the love story, and despite so much hullabaloo about the show focusing on outcasts there was still way too much screen time for the young white reasonably attractive male lead while the rest of his team spends multiple episodes sitting in a grungy restaurant. All or nothing, writers! They do give some lip service to that character getting a bit of a knock on his ego at the end of the season, but not enough to counter him being the lead for many scenes.
The setup for season two has me intrigued and I am excited to watch more when the show comes back. I know they won’t, but even more focus on the downtrodden deadbeats would be welcome. On second thought, most of them are are not that interesting, just give me more Gary Oldman and Saskia Reeves.
I cannot believe I did not write about this before, I signed up for Disney+ just to be able to watch The Mandalorian. And I was not disappointed. Growing up I was a Star Trek fan, Star Wars was too much lore, too much like Lord of the Rings in space. More fantasy than sci-fi and the Star Wars fandom did not help my perception of it.
However, I cannot believe I never realized before how much focus there is in the Star Wars universe on visual storytelling. Even if I don’t care that much about the words of the story there is just so much emphasis on amazing visuals. This was recently highlighted for me while looking through a lot of film stills and seeing how well they are composed. Shot after shot, even as a film still, were an amazing stand alone striking visual. Watching the Mandalorian helped me appreciate and reignited an interest in the existing Star Wars canon.
I saw a lot of criticism that The Mandalorian did not have enough story, not enough dialogue, whereas for me the striking visuals with little dialogue were heaven. Watching the first season of The Mandalorian was an awesome experience. I really enjoyed it.
Additionally, there is something amazing about watching people who are good at their craft do their thing. And so it is with the team behind The Mandalorian. There are no rough edges, no rushed edits. The attention to detail is impeccable. The music is amazing. I even appreciated the dedication in paying homage to the existing universe and characters. Attention was even paid down to doing lots of practical effects that mirror the original trilogy which was limited by technology, but now has become a texture of the star wars universe. So many details for newbies and die-hard fans alike to enjoy.
The attention to detail, the references, homages and visuals continued in season two (with a bit more dialogue and story). I also enjoyed the next season, and of course the team tied it all together with a very exciting suprise ending.
You know, while watching this I was just waiting for it to jump the shark. Things kept coming dangerously close to the precipice. While pebbles would fall into the abyss and we stayed relatively on course, I was on board for the ride. But then in the season finale we jumped the shark with flourish, like an olympic diver. It was almost magnificent if it hadn’t ruined a perfectly good sci-fi show. I suppose I should reserve final judgement for season 2, but the flying snake really took the cake for me (spoiler alert! sorry…)
Up until then we had a reasonably good sci-fi meditation, with my fave striking visuals and stark palette that make for good film stills. On occasion it even grappled with some interesting scif-fi fodder and had enough oddball reveals to keep you coming back for more. It was a good ride even if the ending so far, was too much for my liking.
Since this is a journal of sorts, adding this here for posterity, since Westworld was a show I enjoyed, particularly the first season, season 3 not so much.
As a visual maker and processor this show certainly goes under the visual spectacle tag, with a healthy sprinkling of good sci-fi and excellent storytelling (esp, season 1) for the last part.
p.s. there is almost no media I readily re-watch, re-read, re-do, but this is one show where it is a joy to give it a second viewing once all the spoilers have been revealed, to really marvel at the story unfold.