Couch Potato

When he's supposed to be doing other things, chances are you'll find Mike Kilpatrick watching television instead. He styles himself on comedy hero Jim Royle, loves a laugh, enjoys a cry and if it's on the box he will share his opinion on it too. Whether you want it or not

Netflix branches out but still scores

10:00am 28 Aug 2015

MIKE KILPATRICK

I reckon I must have an addictive personality... In the past it's been food, games, techology, music, Twitter - and now it's binge-watching of television.

The first shows I remember obsessing about in this way were 24 and The Sopranos, less than 15 years ago now. Phone calls were ignored, dishes were stacked, conversation was limited. It was like being single but without the crushing loneliness - Tony Soprano and Jack Bauer were my friends, damn it!

It shows just how fast things move these days - The Sopranos boxsets were VHS and the watching of an episode of any show with an internet connection would have required a two-day wait and a risk of infecting your computer with all sorts of ills.

Now it's at our fingertips, on our televisions in an instant. On our laptops and tablets. And on our phones. It's so ubiquitous that you can sit on the toilet and watch HD movies. Apparently. So I've heard. Not me. Obviously. Ewww. Well, that one time. Okay, maybe a few times.

My latest love is yet another Netflix original, but this one is a little different. Club de Cuervos popped up earlier this month and who knows how many times I flicked past it without thought. Last night I was browsing, doing anything to avoid watching Struggle Street, a documentary that's been described as 'poverty porn' about people struggling in a Sydney suburb.

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Fear The Walking Dead plods along in debut

07:19am 25 Aug 2015

In these days of recycled plots, remakes and relative risk aversion it's no surprise that US cable channel AMC would use the jewel in their crown, The Walking Dead, as the basis of a spinoff.

So yesterday, after many months of build-up and mere moments after it aired in the US, Fear The Walking Dead was beamed into New Zealand homes on Sky's premium SoHo channel.

And for the first 55 minutes of its hour-long debut the only zombies were those slavishly looking at their screens, waiting for something, anything to happen.

To say the first episode of one of the most anticipated shows of the year was slow moving would be something of an understatement. But maybe that's part of the joke? In lieu of any zombies on screen, the pace of the show generally moves along like a stumbling, brain-dead shell of what it could have been. Thank heavens for the last few minutes.

After a brief, frenzied drug-hazed intro in which Nick Clark (Frank Dillane - Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince) finds his friends dead, covered in blood or eating one another we settle into what was essentially a story that's been told many times, about dysfunctional families.

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Broad City proves to be an amazing trip

08:30am 21 Aug 2015

In my round up of the best shows of 2014 I made a brief mention of Broad City. That was based on a stellar first season of the offbeat, uncomfortable and hilarious comedy from Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson.

Thankfully season two, which began airing last night on Comedy Central, doesn't fall into the sophomoric trap of some shows and its excellent standards have been maintained.

Glazer and Jacobson play two 20-something women dealing with life in New York City - but it's not about the magical, it's about the mundane. It's about dentist appointments, picking up packages, being attracted to the neighbours, scoring weed, trying to stay cool in a heatwave and so much more.

And it's done brilliantly. There are shades of The Office in the show, those parts when you almost turn off the television because you feel almost too embarrassed or are cringing too much to be able to fully enjoy. But those moments work with the genuinely funny parts to create a cohesive and unique look at the lives of (fictional) Abbi and Ilana.

The highlight of last night's episode was Abbi's relationship with Male Stacy (Seth Rogen - Knocked Up, Superbad). In the midst of a heatwave, Male Stacy is cooking for Abbi, while the pair sweat profusely, discomfort growing by the second.

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Sneaky Pete continues television revolution

09:00am 19 Aug 2015

The television revolution continues unabated with Amazon making yet another pilot available to watch on their website for free - and it's for a show which seems near certain to get picked up for a whole season.

The giant web retailer, at various points during the year, put up pilot episodes and encourage you to vote and comment after watching. Based on the feedback a decision is taken about whether to produce a full season.

It's a unique way of managing the risk associated with creating a new show and has already given us Transparent, starring the wonderful Jeffrey Tambor (Arrested Development) which Kiwis can view on the Lightbox platform.

At the beginning of this year I also reviewed The Man In The High Castle, a pilot based on a Philip K Dick novel that was subsequently given a full season order.

While we await further adventures from an alternate history in which the Nazis won the war, you should kick back and enjoy Sneaky Pete, an impressive effort involving some well known names in the business.

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Gloriavale doco leaves too many questions

10:30am 14 Aug 2015

I think documentaries are a much under-rated art form. Two of my favourite films of all time Enron - The Smartest Guys in the Room and TT3D: Closer To The Edge are masterpieces.

Lately I've also seen the fabulous What Happened, Miss Simone and Salt Of The Earth - each giving me a look at a world that I didn't know but left me feeling I had been educated. And both moved me beyond expectations.

The same can't be said for Gloriavale - Life and Death which aired this week on TV2.

reviewed a previous documentary about the Christian community from the same makers last year and this is the line that still sticks in my mind:

"I'm just torn as to whether publicity for a cult like Gloriavale is ever appropriate. If all we do is watch and say nothing then probably not."

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