The Shannara Chronicles – Ultimate guilty pleasure TV

Someone asked me recently about what my favourite films and TV of 2017 have been, and let me tell you, that’s not an easy trophy to give out to just one film and one TV show. I did eventually manage to name a favourite TV show (Legion) in the end, but there was one show that stuck in my brain, crying out to be recognised, that I couldn’t quite bring myself to name as my favourite. And that show is The Shannara Chronicles.

**SPOILER FREE POST**

I have talked a bit about The Shannara Chronicles before, in one spoiler-heavy post from season 1, (where there’s also a brief synopsis of the overall concept if you’re interested) but there’s more to be said now that season 2 is on in the UK. It’s a fantasy series, based on an epic series of books (and epic is the only word for it, when you count up over 20 books set in Shannara!) by Terry Brooks. It’s big and bold, and I am completely hooked by it. It’s not all good though – the show is a bit crap in places, and doesn’t do the best job of hiding that fact. Yet somehow, that’s part of its charm! Hence, it gets the title of ‘guilty pleasure’ TV. I couldn’t name it as my favourite more out of principle than anything else, but it’s definitely up there in my top 5. And I’ve been itching to do a commentary on it. Who knows, maybe it’ll even persuade you to give it a shot?

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The Handmaid’s Tale – Anyone for a cheeky Scrabble?

Based on the novel of the same name by Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale has now come to our screens in the UK – Sundays at 9pm on Channel 4, you’re welcome – and so far it’s been a really intriguing watch.

The central conceit of the show is that humanity has all but decimated the US as we know it, and this has resulted in a “plague of infertility” among the women of the country. Under the rule of their new uber-religious, totalitarian government, those few women who are fertile become Handmaids to the rich and powerful in the militant society, whose only purpose is to provide children for the man and wife the Handmaid is assigned to. This is where we find our heroine, Offred (whose name literally means Of-Fred, the property of Fred, the Commander).

With a mass beating, secret scrabble, and quite possibly the most uncomfortable sex scenes you will ever watch, The Handmaid’s Tale lands us right in the middle of a poignant, ‘what if,’ dystopia.

**SPOILERS AHEAD**

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Legion – Not your average superhero story

Legion is a show with a tantalising premise: David Haller is confronted with a reality check when he is informed that the voices he’s heard in his head his whole life are in fact, not a symptom of schizophrenia, but the inner voices of those around him. He is a telepath.

And though it’s based on a Marvel comic, it’s not like your regular I’m-an-all-powerful-mutant-discovering-my-powers-and-saving-the-world story, the FX production handles things very differently. It’s intelligent, sometimes understated, and (fittingly) completely insane. And I can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s a story of uncovering David’s power, but also the true form of them. David discovers this for himself, along with the team helping him out, and let’s just say things aren’t quite as they at first seem.

**SPOILERS AHEAD**

Legion is set in the same universe as the familiar X-Men stories, but it seems to fit into a place where mutants are perhaps only just being discovered by the people in high places – the government’s ‘Division 3’ are the antagonistic organisation of the show, and they are researching mutants. There are no direct crossovers that I could find between Legion and X-Men, but I’m sure there will be some somewhere.

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Black Mirror – Nothing you see can harm you

Maybe I’m the only one left who hasn’t binge watched all 6 episodes of the new season of Black Mirror, but I watched episode 2 last night. The new season is on Netflix, after moving from its original home on Channel 4, (where currently only the Christmas episode is available to watch).

Episode 2 is titled ‘Playtest’ and follows Cooper, a globetrotting American currently in London, who takes a job testing a new game when he finds himself low on cash. The thrills in store are more than he believed possible, but things start to unravel when Cooper’s mind begins to work against him.

**SPOILERS AHEAD**

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Westworld – Cowboys and Aliens done right

Now we all remember when Daniel Craig starred in the hybrid-that-should-never-have-been Cowboys and Aliens, don’t we? And surely we also remember how well it was received, or rather, how badly it was received? Well, now there’s a new Western/Sci-Fi mash-up on the block, only this time it’s on the small screen.

**SPOILER FREE POST**

Westworld is the latest high spec drama from HBO, combining these two well known and opposing genres in a new 10-part series (showing on SkyAtlantic every Tuesday at 21:00). I only managed to watch the first episode two days ago, so I’m a little late to the party, but boy am I glad I watched it.

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Victoria – Move over Lord M

ITV’s Victoria aired its fourth episode last night at 21:00. The drama follows the young Queen Victoria in her rise to the throne, and how the 18-year-old adjusts to life as Queen of England. The first three episodes I thought were marvellous. The writing was compelling, the acting phenomenal, the sets and costumes enchanting – it was doing everything right. I even heard musings that ITV had successfully found a replacement for the Sunday night slot that had been occupied by Downton Abbey.

**SPOILERS AHEAD**

Last week’s episode was simply brilliant. The mystery of Miss Skerrett continued and there was plenty more drama between Victoria and Lord M. The young queen was heartbreakingly turned down when she expressed her feelings, but we saw a depth to Lord Melbourne’s character when he gave her orchids to wear, and he proved himself to be a kind man. Perhaps circumstance prevents he and Victoria being together, and perhaps he really doesn’t have the feelings for her, but he certainly cares about her. Props to the writer for that development – it was handled with sensitivity and emotion.

But this week, I give no such credits.

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Game of Thrones – When TV does something incredible

I think pretty much everyone who knows me well, knows that I am huge follower of HBO’s Game of Thrones. And they know that I dedicate my Monday nights to watching it (almost) without fail. Tonight, we saw episode 9 of season 6, ‘Battle of the Bastards,’ and there was plenty of excitement building up to it, especially when the show’s track record has been consistent with huge moments and turning points that happen in the, often epic, 9th episode. Needless to say, I was feeling pretty hyped about this one.

**SPOILERS AHEAD**

After having successfully avoided spoilers all day (which I might add, I’m getting quite good at), all I’d heard about the upcoming episode was that it was a big one, and plenty of the cast were singing its praises too. But all of this I’d gathered myself from the teaser shown on last week’s Thronecast. So, I settled down to watch with great anticipation. And then something happened which only happens every once in a while, when TV does something incredible.

Game of Thrones proved to me why it’s my favourite show on television.

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