179 Best TV Shows Similar to Game of Thrones
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 →
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 →
The Prime series remains its big, fun, very violent self.
Jack Reacher (Alan Ritchson), the “has toothbrush, will travel” man, has returned to television and not a moment too soon. Reacher Season 2 is exactly the kind of low-commitment viewing one craves as the year ends and the holidays overtake everyone’s lives. While a large, jolly man busies himself filling many of our stockings, who better to enjoy than a large, angry man knocking bad guys out of their socks? Especially when, like this time, it’s personal!
Reacher and Neagly (Maria Sten, back from Season 1 and fully second on the callsheet this time, thankfully) first met when they were members of the 110, an investigative military police unit. As seen in flashback, the group is the last time Reacher had anything approaching a stable group of friends. In the present day, several team members have gone missing, suggesting that perhaps someone is targeting them. Reacher connects with Neagly and the two join up with the only other two 110 members they can find. O’Donnell (Shaun Sipos) is the unit clown and womanizer turned family man and inside the beltway fixer. Dixon (Serinda Swan) is a forensic accountant/warrior who shares an obvious but unconsummated crush with Reacher. Continue Reading →
The AppleTV+ spy series retains its humor but gives viewers its most tightly plotted effort yet.
Slow Horses Season 3 reiterates how the series differs from so many other TV shows. While critics frequently discuss film as a director’s medium, television tends to be more showrunner—and thus writer—driven. While Horses indeed derives many of its pleasures from the writers—the returning trio of Will Smith, Jonny Stockwood, and Mark Denton once again man the pens—each season’s unique tone owes to its single director.
James Hawes made the series’ debut season a workplace comedy where the occasional gun battle might break out. Season 2 darkened or ditched much of the comedy for a bleaker, higher action affair under the direction of Jeremy Lovering. In Slow Horses Season 3, Saul Metzstein doesn’t push the team back into the offices. If anything, Slough House appears even less than in Season 2. However, he does re-up some of the mismatched colleagues’ humor, particularly when it comes to the team’s most recent additions, gambling addict Marcus (Kadiff Kirwan) and drug addict Shirley (Aimee-Ffion Edwards). He also further deepens the emotional stakes with a light touch, adding depth to ever-growing complications. Continue Reading →
The crime drama returns to the Land of 10,000 Lakes and rediscovers its best storytelling self.
Throughout the six episodes of Fargo Season 5 screened for critics, the series isn’t exactly subtle. From opening the season with an on-screen graphic defining “Minnesota Nice” as neighbor attacks neighbor during a school board meeting to Sheriff Roy Tillman (Jon Hamm) staring up at a campaign billboard of himself, the show loudly states its theses at the viewer over and over.
However, it never feels like creator Noah Hawley has lost control of the storytelling. It’s methodically over-the-top. The audience is on a roller coaster, but they can feel the quality of the engineering keeping them on the tracks. In other hands, this approach can feel alienating or blunting. Fargo Season 5 benefits from meeting Hawley’s signature energy with a game cast and impressively insightful art direction. As a result, the series turns in its best offering since Season 2’s near-perfect effort. Continue Reading →
Do we need another live-action Goosebumps adaptation? After a ’90s Fox Kids series and a pair of 2010s films, one would assume that the ground of turning Slappy the dummy and other frightening beings into flesh-and-blood creations has been well-trodden. Continue Reading →
Doom Patrol Season 4 Part 2 dives headfirst into what has consistently been a series favorite topic since the beginning: death. While much of Patrol has pondered what it would be like to live agelessly—essentially without fear of any possible death except the violent and unusual—but still struggle with every other aspect of being human. The members screwed up, had mental issues and physical ailments, struggled with vanity and loneliness, and frequently gave in to any number of self-loathing varietals. They would never age, but they wore their pain the same as the rest of us. Continue Reading →
One of the common complaints about Marvel’s attempts at multiverse storytelling is that it renders everything meaningless. If there is another Ikaris of the Eternals out there—or a possibly infinite number of them—why should one care if the one in front of us dies? Generally, this writer finds the argument unconvincing. If I told you there were infinite versions of your friend out there in the multiverse you might someday meet, you’d still care quite a bit to see your version die in front of you. 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 →
Night owls and insomniacs will tell you it's special being awake while most of your family, friends, and community slumber. How sometimes weightless and creative you can feel when everyone else strives for that healthy rest. They’ll also often tell you how lonely and frustrating it can be. Wandering your home or the world outside all alone because their bodies’ circadian rhythm actually makes sense. 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 →
The Wheel of Time
Big-budget fantasy lovers have reason to celebrate this week with Amazon Studio’s The Wheel of Time Season 2's debut. With some careful tweaking by Showrunner Rafe Judkins, Robert Jordan’s epic fantasy of feminine magic and quests of destiny came to life in an impressive if uneven first season. Now, the stakes are higher, the dangers subtler, and the ever-expanding cast of characters more compelling. 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 →
Survival of the Thickest
In 1995, way back last century, I went shopping for a dress to wear to my cousin’s wedding. Accompanied by my mother, it soon became apparent to us both that I, both a big and tall girl, wouldn’t be able to buy a dress in the Juniors section. My options eventually whittled down to one adult black velvet dress that, while the saleswoman assured us was totally chic for weddings, nevertheless showcased to the world that I could not fit into a fun or stylish dress for someone my age and that’s rough. It’s very rough. 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 →
Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan
Generally speaking, we avoid personalizing our reviews at The Spool. This isn’t the early 2000s. No one needs to know about my journey to my couch to watch Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan Season 4. That said, please allow me a brief personal indulgence that I promise will prove illustrious. In an effort to get ahead of deadlines, I watched the season’s six episodes in a day with a plan to write the review the next day. However, by the time I sat down to write that review about 26 hours later, I realized I had to watch the whole thing again. In a day’s time, I had forgotten too much to write a review in good faith. 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 →
Walt Disney Animation Studios: Short Circuit Experimental Films
This year's first program of Chicago Critics Film Festival shorts focus on the dark side of family, community & living with mental illness.
The films in the first program of shorts at this year’s Chicago Critics Film Festival all concern those mythic American values of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” And they do this in both content and form. Though these films never exceed twenty minutes, they are unbounded examples of the human imagination.
We open on the “happy family” of Nicole Daddona and Adam Wilder’s deliciously unsettling The Mundanes. This surreal nostalgic PSA about the ideal American family is a delightful work of surreal suspense. What begins as a richly designed comment on the facelessness of the perfect family in the white nostalgic imagination soon amps up into an amusing work of comedy horror. Unspeakable delights feed the happiness of the Happy Family. You can bet ambrosia salad won’t be the most unappetizing thing on this 50s-inspired tablescape. The Mundanes serves up a sensational visual style and keen directorial perspective on a silver platter with a healthy helping of disturbing social commentary on the side. Continue Reading →
Ghosts of Beirut
Throughout the near-240 minutes of Showtime’s Ghosts of Beirut, the four-part espionage thriller introduces dozens of characters scattered across the Middle East. CIA agents, Mossad operatives, and various members of the Islamic Jihad Organization all get time within these four hours of television. Creators Avi Issacharoff and Lior Raz attempt to give all perspectives in this story, including that of terrorist Imad Mughniyeh, the central figure of this story, and so, the series consistently remains too limited. Continue Reading →
The Muppets Mayhem
It’s hard to do something genuinely awful with The Muppets. Yes, it's true, even if The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz certainly gave that a try. These pop culture icons are so innately endearing in their personalities and so fully realized as glorious puppets that figures like Kermit the Frog or Gonzo feel extremely real. Whether they’re shilling for coffee, reciting the words of Charles Dickens, or realizing that life truly is a filet of fish, The Muppets are irresistible. Continue Reading →