Adventure Beast (Netflix)-Bradley Trevor Greive (AKA
BTG) is a field zoologist who is so enthusiastic about animals, that he
regularly gets mauled and nearly eaten by them on an episodic basis and
does so with effective zeal. In other words, he's a pretty zany
character and the actor has an easy time selling the part. After all,
the character is heavily based on the actor who is an ex-Australian
military paratrooper and naturalist who has appeared on Animal Planet
series such as Fear Island: Fortress of the Bears and Nature's Strangest
BTG is joined by two extremes as his side kicks: Overly timid field assistant Dietrich and exuberant niece Bonnie. Both push the extremes of their characters for great comedic effect.
Each episode is set in a different ecosystem with solid plotting and has a semi-educational nature, as BTG spews animal trivia like he has tourette's syndrome. On the whole, it's mostly a lot of fun. HIGHLY RECOMMEND
Pentaverate (Hulu)-Mike Myers plays separate members of a secret cabal of five highly influential people who secretly control the world or some junk. Myers also plays a washed-up reporter investigating this titular cabal as his last big scoop. Pretty much the only non-Myers characters are Keegan Michael Key (and later Ken Jeong) as the audience surrogate who is inducted into the Pentaverate mid-series and they’re both pretty refreshing additions because we can only watch Myers ham it up so much.
Through four episodes, I’m thankful there aren’t as many characters as gross as Austin Powers’ Fat Bastard or midget humor (AKA Mini-Me) as Mike Myers has been known to go overly blue before.
The thing is I want to like Myers: His versatility on Saturday Night Live and his commitment to a comic concept is pretty admirable, and in some ways he’s pioneered comedy. However, even if he’s safely veering away from gross, the series still runs out of steam. For the deep dives that Myers does into certain topics like Eastern mysticism (The Love Guru) or, in this case, conspiracy theories, there’s a tremendous laziness in the world-building aspects of the show. Instead, it feels like an excuse to do impressions.
Winning Time (HBO)-Possibly my favorite show of the year. This docudrama about the beginning of the Magic Johnson era is apparently completely detached from the historic story. At the same time, maybe it's better in this age of hyper scrutiny to just throw an honest attempt at documented history out the window and rely more on the "based on a true story" moniker at the start of each episode? The advantage is that it allows producer Adam McKay to tell the most exciting story his imagination can muster and it's pretty damn exciting.
Being Erica (Soapnet, available on Hulu)-A woman goes back in time on an episodic basis to readjust her life so that she can’t be a failure. Let’s first clear this up: Is she really a failure? She’s 32 and unmarried and didn’t use her high-powered degree but is pretty independent anyways. Can we stop with the single-shaming?
The show is a mix of Hallmark Channel female-centered wholesomeness (with Erin Kapluk ably filling in the plucky female protagonist) and the kind of thinky what-if scenarios that populate good low-stakes science fiction.
One last thing to note: Plot congruity might not be this show’s strong suit as the butterfly effect is treated extremely casually here. The kind of scrutiny that fans have deployed on Marty McFly’s time-travelling would just not work here.
Flight Attendant, S1 (HBO)-Loved this black comedy about an impulsive flight attendant who's one-night stand leads to Breaking-Bad-levels of terror as the FBI, crime lords, and an enigmatic assassin are after her. The show’s efforts to evoke horror through quick-take psychological flashbacks (a bit like Homeland’s opening credits) fall a little short, but most of the show manages a lot of moving parts well. Shows where characters are trapped in humongous illicit messes of their own making are plentiful on TV and this is narrowly unique, well-paced, and enjoyable enough to stick out of that pack.