42 Best TV Shows Similar to Chernobyl
Jodie Foster and Kali Reis shine as a pair of detectives investigating an increasingly surreal crime.
In Sara Gran’s Claire DeWitt mysteries, the title character is a brilliant, eccentric detective haunted by the unsolved disappearance of one of her closest friends. Her cases are vitally recognizable and beautifully surreal. When The Infinite Blacktop, the most recent entry in the series, was released in paperback, Gran held a giveaway, including a copy of the book and some fun feelies. On one of those, a pen, the following was printed: “Open your eyes and learn to see that truth lives in the ether.” In the course of thinking about Issa López (Tigers Are Not Afraid)’s excellent True Detective: Night Country, it’s a line that’s been on my mind.
It's the end of 2023. In Ennis, Alaska, the eccentric scientists of the Tsalal research station vanish just as the long polar night sets in. Ennis police chief Liz Danvers (Jodie Foster) and detective-turned-trooper Evangeline Navarro (Kali Reis) know that something is not right. Though bitterly estranged, the former partners share a drive to discover what happened at Tsalal and why. Their need to get to the truth only intensifies after the scientists are discovered in a ghastly, bizarre state—a collective corpsicle, all of them nude and visibly terrified. Continue Reading →
Jul i Blodfjell
When you’re done watching the usual stuff, consider one of these very bizarre attempts at holiday cheer.
When AMC released their holiday programming lineup this year, it seemed like an attempt at a joke: in addition to a handful of aging comedies that have nothing to do with Christmas (or any other holiday for that matter), like Uncle Buck and Caddyshack, the now-ubiquitous Elf was scheduled to air no less than sixteen times in thirty days, and that wasn’t counting the December 2nd “anniversary celebration” marathon. Second to Elf was National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, scheduled to air twelve times. Filling out the remaining time not occupied by Elf or National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation was woeful C-tier fare nobody enjoyed the first time around, like Christmas With the Kranks and Fred Claus.
In the era of streaming, finding Christmas entertainment now requires keeping track of who has the rights to show what special or movie at any given time. Gone are the days of CBS airing A Charlie Brown Christmas every year for decades: now it's under the sole domain of Apple TV+. Its former companion How the Grinch Stole Christmas is available only on Peacock, and all manner of Muppet-related programming is exclusive to Disney+. If the pickings aren’t slim, then they’re disbursed like so much reindeer feed across multiple platforms. Continue Reading →
GREGORY HORROR SHOW
A quick overview of the high highs and middling disappointments in horror this year.
With the social media app formerly known as Twitter now a shell of its former self, horror fans have been forced to return to Facebook to continue such interminable debates as “What does or doesn’t qualify something as ‘horror’?” “What the hell is ‘elevated horror,’ anyway?” “Are remakes inherently bad?” “Have horror movies gotten too ‘woke’?” “Were we wrong for letting women make horror?”
In a year when both David Gordon Green and M. Night Shyamalan released new movies, the horror discourse was especially spicy, and that’s before we get to the really interesting stories, like the surprise viral success of Skinamarink, which, with the way time seems to be passing nowadays, feels like it was released five years ago. Both indie and mainstream horror made daring choices, not looking to appeal to as broad a range of audiences as possible, and treating the genre as a serious art form, as opposed to just a machine that prints money. But the biggest surprise came in October, with the release of Saw X, the tenth film in a seemingly unkillable franchise, which ended up being one of the best, most coherent entries in the entire series. Continue Reading →
Scott Pilgrim Takes Off
The ScienceSaru-produced animated series rebuilds rather than retells Bryan Lee O'Malley's beloved comic.
Late in the final volume of Bryan Lee O'Malley's 2004-2010 comic series Scott Pilgrim (Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour), once the action's done and the hateful Gideon Graves has been slain, protagonists Scott Pilgrim and Ramona Flowers take a moment to process everything. Defeating Gideon meant facing not only the vicious misogynist swordsman but also their respective character flaws (It's telling that one of Scott's key moments is his realizing just how alike he and Gideon are, and by gaining that understanding, he affirms that, yeah, Gideon has so got to die).
There are a few candidates for Scott's actual finest hour in Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour. His after-action conversation/reconciliation/renewal with Ramona is my pick. Bryan Lee O'Malley/Oni Press.
As Ramona says, change is one of life's constants, which applies to Scott Pilgrim's ventures into new mediums. Edgar Wright's thoroughly enjoyable movie shifted around characters and reworked some of Scott's flaws. The colorful, impeccably soundtracked, hair-tearingly difficult Ubisoft-produced video game ramped up the goofy save for one particularly pointed ending. And now, with the Netflix animated series Scott Pilgrim Takes Off, creator O'Malley—joined by co-writer and co-showrunner BenDavid Grabinski and animation studio ScienceSaru (with episode director Abel Góngora) have changed things up yet again. Rather than retell Scott Pilgrim as it's been since 2004 (a story already told, with riffs, as a comic, movie, and video game), the creative team opts for something more radical. It's a work as much in conversation with the Scott Pilgrim that came before as an adaptation. Continue Reading →
The Fall of the House of Usher
The most gripping moment in 2022’s Academy Award-winning documentary All the Beauty and the Bloodshed is when members of the now disgraced Sackler Family, whose pharmaceutical company manufactured and marketed the highly addictive painkiller Oxy-Contin, are ordered to attend a virtual hearing in which they're confronted by families who had been impacted by the drug. Listening to tragic stories of accidental overdoses, birth defects, and young men cut down in their prime due to a prescription medication that had been promoted as safe and non-addicting, the Sacklers could not look more bored, even slightly annoyed. It’s a chilling reminder that extreme wealth often results in a loss of empathy, if not one’s entire soul. Continue Reading →
In 1983, a group of crooks broke into a vault at the Heathrow International Trading Estate in London, patrolled by Brink’s Mat security conglomeration. The Brinks company was already famous for a famous robbery, one that was carried out in the '50s in the North End in Boston, an incident that turned into a charmingly strange movie by William Friedkin in 1978. Continue Reading →
Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty
There’s no denying Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty remains entertaining in its second season. There’s no denying that its panoply of digital tricks holds the viewer’s attention, whether what’s on-screen is a scrimmage gone awry or a father meeting his child for the first time. But does that mean it’s good? Continue Reading →
The 2019 adaptation of Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s 1990 novel Good Omens was a charming show that succeeded in translating the book’s strengths and weaknesses to the small screen. It was clever like the book, with an ingenious plot (what if there had been a mix-up at the hospital and the Antichrist went home with the wrong family) that parodied The Omen while conjuring an apocalyptic tale all its about an angel and demon whose millennials-long rivalry grew from mutual antagonism, to grudging respect, and finally admiration and even a kind of love. But it also carried over the book’s weaker elements, its wonky pacing, plurality of uninteresting characters, and the fact that the first two thirds of the story is essentially table setting for the final third. Continue Reading →
What We Do in the Shadows
Season 5 of What We Do in the Shadows premieres tomorrow, and you might have some difficulty parsing that it’s already there. Many sitcoms tend to run out of steam by season 5 (you’ll note that exactly when Fonzie jumped the shark), resorting to dropping plot arcs without explanation, swapping out established characters for newer, less interesting characters, setting up tiresome romances, and relying on gimmick episodes, like flashbacks, clip shows, and musicals. Despite its supernatural premise, What We Do in the Shadows still follows much of the standard sitcom structure, so it’s a minor miracle that it’s still the freshest, funniest half-hour show on television right now, without anyone having to put on a fat suit or get stuck in an elevator. Continue Reading →
The Witcher returns for its third season, Henry Cavill’s final run as Geralt of Rivera, Witcher, before Liam Hemsworth steps into the White Wolf’s big boots. Showrunner Lauren Schmidt Hissrich introduces yet another tonal shift to the series, which has suffered a bit of an identity crisis since its bombastic first season. After the uneven season two and the head-scratching prequel spinoff Blood Origins, Season three takes a step back from intricate political intrigue to deliver a more straightforward narrative. Continue Reading →
The Crowded Room
Danny Sullivan (Tom Holland) sits in interrogation. He's been picked up for a seemingly random shooting on the busy streets of New York City. He insists that his friend Ariana (Sasha Lane) fired the gun, but the police can’t find her. Nor can they locate Danny’s Israeli landlord Yitzhak (Lior Raz). Worse, when they start digging, they find a pattern of people disappearing around the young man. NYPD Detective Matty Dunne (Thomas Sadoski) feels confident the department has accidentally brought in a serial killer. To prove his point—and find the victims—he brings in his ex, Professor and Psychologist Rya Goodwin (Amanda Seyfried), to conduct a series of interrogations. Continue Reading →
I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson
It’s difficult to explain to an average human the madness that is I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson. You could say it’s a sketch comedy show that combines surrealist imagery, social satire, and existential dread into tiny bursts of joyful chaos. Or you could point to the title. Every sketch--usually three to five an episode--features a character that’s so annoying or goes against social norms in such extremely inappropriate ways you want to scream at them to leave the room immediately. Continue Reading →
The theme music is gone. Continue Reading →
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
When a show enters its final season, it has an opportunity to decide what it really wants to say. And what The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel wants to say is this: For all her tenacity, Susie (Alex Borstein) genuinely cares about the people in her orbit, especially her first client. For all that he's been a presumptuous prick, Joel (Michael Zegen) has become a better man. For all his professorial condescension, Abe (Tony Shalhoub) realizes how wrong he's been about so many things. And for all her immense talent and unflappable air, Midge (Rachel Brosnahan) must and will scratch and claw to get the chances denied her because of her gender and prove that this isn't just a phase; it's who she was meant to be. Continue Reading →
One of the biggest downsides of making such gorgeous, sprawling fantasy television epics is the agonizing wait between seasons. This is acutely felt at Amazon, in particular, as they seem to have cornered the fantasy television market. Fans are already gnashing for a new season of big-budget offerings like The Wheel of Time, and Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. Of course, no show has suffered more for the delays than Carnival Row Season 2. Season 1 aired in 2019, an interminable wait for any dedicated viewer. Continue Reading →
Grief hits us all differently. For therapist Jimmy Laird (Jason Segel, also one of three Shrinking creators), the death of his wife led him to a year-long bender. The audience encounters him on his last night of drinking, drugs, and sex workers whom he pays not for sex but just to hang out with him. His neighbor Liz’s (Christa Miller) repeated pleas to stop waking her and her husband Derek (Ted McGinley) in the middle of the night with his “parties” finally break through. Continue Reading →
Mayor of Kingstown
When last we left Kingstown, MI, the town was recovering from a brutal prison riot that left plenty of guards and scores of prisoners dead. Mike McLusky (Jeremy Renner) has proven nowhere near the adept fixer his deceased brother (Kyle Chandler) was. The town paid the price. Continue Reading →
The Patient’s Dr. Alan Strauss (Steve Carrell) is a man of ritual. One can tell it from how he cuts his fruit, interacts with clients, and even walks through his home. The deliberate editing from Amanda Pollack and Daniel A. Valverde in the pilot help emphasize this point. Ritual upon ritual surrounds him. Continue Reading →
Armageddon was never just a movie. Beginning with its much-coveted Fourth of July Weekend opening, to its (now typically) Bayhem-infused Super Bowl commercial, through its screening of fifty minutes at Cannes and bizarre feud with Roland Emmerich’s Godzilla (literalized in the film) over which movie would be the biggest of summer 1998, Armageddon positioned itself as nothing less than a pop-cultural event. It was the most expensive movie Disney had ever produced, starred Bruce Willis in his prime, backed him with a suddenly white-hot Ben Affleck, and was directed by blockbuster wunderkind Michael Bay. Add to all that the escalating success of 1997’s Lost World, Men in Black, and Titanic, and there was the sense that this would be a movie for the ages. Which it was. Kind of. Continue Reading →