10 Best Releases From AMC+ Network

The Spool Staff

Far North

The New Zealand crime dramedy can’t wrangle its disparate tones into a satisfying whole. In some ways, Far North offers viewers three shows in one. There’s the harrowing tale of a quartet of Chinese women, Bi (Xana Tang), Jin (Xiao Hu), Hui (Nikita Tu-Bryant), and Ling (Louise Jiang), trapped in a boat off the coast of New Zealand. They’re under the thumb of Cai (Fei Li), a capricious crime middle manager whose corner-cutting and incompetence have left them stranded and facing death by dehydration and starvation. Unfortunately, rescue is almost as unpleasant a prospect as dying. To be saved, Cai demands they either “pay” for the rescue by sinking themselves deeper into debt and servitude or killing one of their own. On the mainland, a different kind of crime story is unfolding. A group of less-than-competent criminals working for Blaze (Fay Tofilau) believe they’re about to get the score of their lives. Employed by her to take in the meth the Chinese women are transporting, they think it’ll be as easy as loading up a camper and driving it a few towns away. Alas, between the delays and their lack of skills, complications rapidly arise. Continue Reading →

The Vanishing Triangle

The Vanishing Triangle takes its name from media shorthand for an approximately 80-mile area in Eastern Ireland. For almost 20 years, from the late 70s to the late 90s, the Triangle suffered through several unsolved crimes. The victims, women ranging from teens to in their thirties, disappeared at an alarming rate. Additionaly, several murders of women in the area during the period were frequently linked in the press. Some speculated a serial killer's (or serial killers's) involvement, but the Gardaí—Ireland’s national police—never made such a declaration. As The Irish Times noted, “the ‘vanishing triangle’ phenomenon [is] a media creation rather than a Garda theory.”  Continue Reading →

Anne Rice's Mayfair Witches

AMC’s newest installment in Anne Rice’s ‘Immortal Universe’ may not blow you away, but it’s intriguing enough to warrant a longer look. With the Disneyfication of mainstream television, it’s a relief to know that some networks are still willing to take a risk on a less well-known franchise. While not as much as a household name as its predecessor Interview With the Vampire, Mayfair Witches presents a slowly unraveling southern gothic, whose promise far outshines its performance.  Continue Reading →

Interview with the Vampire

When I got to my first advanced writing course in college, our professor, a large woman with a positively terrifying intellect, asked us all to tell the rest of the class what our favorite book was. I, at barely 19, told a room full of adults that I loved the writings of Anne Rice more than anything. I’d read and reread The Vampire Chronicles many times since I was fifteen, and the Lives of the Mayfair Witches since I was twelve. To say these books had a significant impact on my adolescence and young adulthood is an understatement. In those pre-internet days, I’d satisfied my love of storytelling by filling entire notebooks with my Anne Riceaverse Fan Fiction. It’s what made me want to be a writer. So you can imagine how mortified I was when Professor Arl, barely holding back an eye roll, told me that, yes, Anne Rice was very popular with teenage girls but was—at best—escapist beach reading.   Continue Reading →

Better Call Saul

Better Call Saul is a tragedy. From the beginning, it focused on a rough-edged, yet decent man whom the audience knows will one day become an unrepentant merchant of death and destruction. What makes it so tragic, beyond the known destination, is that the series is riddled with missed exits. Time and again, Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) faced situations where -- if he’d just pulled back from the brink, if he’d only taken his lumps instead of wriggling out of them, if he’d simply chosen not to push things too far -- all of this could have been avoided. Continue Reading →

Moonhaven

What is it about living through cataclysmic times that makes us crave apocalyptic entertainment? Are we just clinging to the hope that humanity gets plucky and figures shit out before it’s too late? AMC’s new sci-fi adventure Moonhaven, an uneven but…well, plucky creation of Peter Ocko tries to answer just that. Set some 200 years in the future, Moonhaven shows humanity at two very divergent stages. While things like climate change, war, famine, and plagues continue to rage on unchecked on the Earth, it’s forever Opposite Day on the Moon, where a small chunk of humanity has been living under the protective eye of IO, an artificial intelligence tasked with helping those people fix Earth, somehow. Continue Reading →

Ragdoll

The Ragdoll Killer of the new AMC+ series may be meticulous in making a cadaver assembled from several bodies. They may have been painstaking in their planning, in the series of clues they left behind. Unfortunately, Ragdoll lacks the same level of rigorous attention. Continue Reading →

Kevin Can F**K Himself

The formula isn’t a new one: the hot, hyper-competent wife who gave up her master’s track to marry the boorish, underachieving man-child. Just add three cameras and some annoying in-laws/neighbors, and you could be watching King of Queens, Everybody Loves Raymond, or (God forbid) According to Jim. Some shows have put a unique spin on the formula, the most successful being Gloria Calderon Kellett’s One Day at a Time reboot. But overall, when you see a three-camera sitcom, you usually know what you’re getting. It’s like gas station coffee or dinner at Applebee’s. It’s just there. Continue Reading →

Dispatches from Elsewhere

Jason Segel gives us an energetic journey with compelling characters to balance a campy premise. About halfway through the first episode of AMC’s Dispatches From Elsewhere, Simone (Eve Lindley), one of the main characters, exclaims: “I don’t know what’s going on, but it’s freaking fun!” This phrase just about sums up this new show, created by and starring Jason Segel. While Dispatches is scripted entertainment, it's based on the documentary The Institute, which explores the hybrid alternate reality game and performance art piece by Oakland based artist Jeff Hull. From 2008 to 2011, Hull “inducted” thousands of people in the San Francisco Bay Area into the Jejune Institute. He created multiple “episodes” for inductees to participate in, giving them missions with instructions as silly as dancing at a phone box to things as grand as leading a parade. Segel moves the action from San Francisco to Philadelphia but retains the ridiculous and almost cult-like nature of its source material in depicting the on-screen Jejune Institute and its rival the Elsewhere Society. In the first episode, we are introduced to Peter, an average joe working a dull job. Intrigued by flyers with nonsensical adverts for dolphin communication and human forcefield testing, he calls a number and is invited to an office building downtown. He’s soon roped into a world of intrigue just below the surface of our everyday world, where two entities, the corporate Jejune Institute and more radical Elsewhere Society, frantically search for Clara (Cecilia Balagot), a mysterious inventor whose talent promises to liberate humanity from societal shackles. Continue Reading →