12 January 2019

Stephen's TV Chocolate Box 2018

It's January, so it's a good time for me to reflect on the things I watched last year on television (TV shows, movies). And just a reminder, the best chocolate in the box for 2017 was Breaking Bad (which I finally got around to bingeing, after everyone else on the planet). Needless to say, there were a few Bertie Bott's farm-dirt flavored chocolates in 2018's box, and they were duly spat out. So, on to the good ones:

Dark Bittersweet 

I watched a handful more episodes of Black Mirror and its self-contained tales of technological terror, and it's still as great as ever. If you don't know this show, it's like the Twilight Zone, if Rod Serling had been British, on serious narcotics, and obsessed with messing with your head. Best episode in 2018: "Metalhead" — because it was taunt and tight, gave no ducks, and was in black and white (because at the end of the world there will be no color left).

Almendra de chocolate 

El Ministerio del Tiemo (The Ministry of Time). I like history, and I like science fiction. This show (3 series, 34 episodes) came out of Spain and put the two together. The premise of the show is that the Spanish government has a top secret division that has the facility to travel back in time; and their job is to put things right when historical events go astray, e.g., Salvador Dali painting a cell phone, the Spanish Armada actually defeating the English, Alfred Hitchcock getting kidnapped at the premiere of Vertigo. The show has a lot of humor; there's even a reference to the US having its own facility to travel in time: The Americans call it a "Time Tunnel." (Time Tunnel was one of my favorite TV shows when I was a kid.)

Nougat Nutty 

The Lobster. I like weird movies. And they don't come much bat-shit weirder than this one. If I told you the premise of this movie, you'd think I was nuts. Watching it, at times, reminded me of the first time I saw David Lynch's Eraserhead. Stars Colin Farrell & Rachel Weisz. Filmed in Ireland.

Salted White Chocolate

The Terror (1 season, 10 episodes). History mixes well with many genres, and here it's thrown into the icebox of the Arctic Circle along with horror. In the mid 19th Century, two ships, one of them called The Terror, set out from England to find (and chart) the Northwest Passage in the icy waters between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. The two ships, and their crews, were never seen again. All completely true. This show (based on a doorstop-sized novel) speculates (fictionally) on what happened to them. And it isn't pretty. I read a review someplace of this show that described it as "beautiful and horrific." Yep. This was without doubt the best thing I watched last year. Great cast, good script, fantastic design, music, and photography. And very scary... Terror? Oh, yeah.

Peppermint Crème

The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (first season) also had some nice writing, a great cast, and great art design (60s retro cool). It's about witches, if you didn't know. A friend of mine described it as Harry Potter dipped in acid and silly putty. If you're of the Christian persuasion (and don't have a robust sense of humor), this show might not be for you.

Other tasty treats in 2018: Stranger Things (season 2), Death in Paradise (first 5 seasons), Tientsin Mystic (season 1), Frankenstein Chronicles (season 2), The Detectorists (seasons 1 & 2), Atlanta (season 1), The Bletchley Circle (seasons 1 & 2).

So, what were your favorite TV treats in 2018?

And happy watching in 2019! I hear there's a TV adaption of Catch-22 on the horizon (a favorite book of mine from my youth).



  1. Since I'm not into getting scared that much - got enough of that as a child - my favorites are humor. Often dark humor.
    The Kominsky Method
    Hannah Gadsby's "Nanette" (and if you don't think that's a wild ride, you have not seen it yet - funny, harrowing, haunting, I got up and APPLAUDED at the end of it. In my living room.)
    Russell Brand's "Rebirth" (I never thought that much about him until this...)
    "What About Dick" - written by Eric Idle, with himself as a piano, Tim Curry, Russell Brand, Tracy Ullman, Bobby Connolly...
    The Meyerowitz Stories (New & Selected)
    And we continue to work our way through the Detective Montalbano series.

  2. Hey Stephen--Welcome back!!

    I also liked The Lobster, but have not yet watched the other shows you mentioned. I did read the (as you said, LONG) novel The Terror, and loved it, so I'm pleased to hear that you liked the show--that's next up for me, to be watched.

    I haven't seen many movies this year that really thrilled me, except maybe The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, but I watched one last night that was seriously creepy: The Autopsy of Jane Doe. I recommend that one. I've not yet seen Green Book or Vice, but looking forward to those. As for TV, I liked the new seasons of Stranger Things and Ozark, and I'm eager to see the next version of True Detective.

    Thanks for the recommendations!

  3. For me it was Marvel's "Daredevil" on Netflix. It ran three seasons & is now cancelled.

  4. Hi Eve, I'm one episode into The Kominsky Method; I'll watch anything with Alan Arkin. And I've been meaning (for a long time) to take a look at Detective Montalbano.

  5. Hi John, it's good to be back (once a month). The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is already on my list, and I'm now going to take a look at The Autopsy of Jane Doe. And yes, I think we're all awaiting ST3.

  6. Hi Elizabeth, I have to report that I've yet to watch anything from Marvel, movie or TV. :(

  7. I just finished The Kominsky Method. I would happily watch Alan Arkin read the phone book. But this show is much better than that. "You talk to one ghost and suddenly you're in a Yiddish production of MacBeth."

    Last week I mentioned rediscovering "The Sandbaggers" and stumbling on "A Very Secret Service." I don't hink I have watched any of the other shows you mentioned.

  8. Hi Rob, Secret Service is in my queue (as per reading your post a couple of weeks back).


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