• Following Us

  • Categories

  • Check out the Archives









  • Awards & Nominations

New Escapist Column! On the Fan Reaction to the Final Season of “Game of Thrones”…

I published a new In the Frame piece at Escapist Magazine this evening. It’s the one year anniversary of the end of Game of Thrones, so it seemed appropriate to look back on the fan reaction to that final season.

The final season is admittedly a flawed season of television. However, that doesn’t quite explain the level of vitriol that it provokes online. After all, the finale was widely enjoyed by general audiences, performed reasonably well at the Emmys and is doing very well for itself in streaming in social isolation. This contrast is interesting, suggesting that there’s something particularly prickly about the final season that alienated its most vocal fans so extremely.

In hindsight, this seems to be the actions of Daenerys Targaryen in the second half of the season. In the home strange, Daenerys ceased to be seen as a “liberator” of the continent, and instead became a conqueror. She did what all conquerors do, raining down death and destruction on those civilisations that do not welcome her. This was all very clearly seeded across the previous seven seasons, but it turned rather sharply against the audience’s sympathy for Daenerys. In doing so, it made the audience complicit in the carnage. One suspects that complicity stings.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

New Podcast! The Time is Now – Season 2, Episode 15 (“Roosters”)

I have had the immense good fortune to appear on The Time is Now quite a lot lately, but was particularly flattered to be invited on to talk about Owls and Roosters, the big “mythology” two-parter in the late second season of Millennium. It’s an honour to join Kurt North for the second part of this conversation.

Owls and Roosters are two of my favourite episodes of television, because they demonstrate everything that Millennium did so well. They’re incredibly densely packed with information, in a way that really captures the sense of modern living – a constant influx of often contradictory stimulae that the individual often struggles to parse or process. In many ways, the second season of Millennium has aged remarkably well, capturing a sense of information overload in a manner that resonates even more strongly today than it did on broadcast.

As ever, you can listen directly to the episode here, subscribe to the podcast here, or click the link below.

Continue reading

New Podcast! The Time is Now – Season 2, Episode 15 (“Owls”)

I have had the immense good fortune to appear on The Time is Now quite a lot lately, but was particularly flattered to be invited on to talk about Owls and Roosters, the big “mythology” two-parter in the late second season of Millennium. It’s an honour to join Kurt North for the conversation.

Owls and Roosters rank among my favourite mythology episodes in the Ten Thirteen canon, largely because they serve as a conscious unravelling of conspiracy theory. It is very common to compare Millennium to The X-Files, and with good reason. There’s considerable thematic overlap between the two shows; in fact, Patient X and The Red and the Black work as interesting companion pieces to Owls and Roosters. Both are stories about the limits of conspiracy, and the idea that entropy must eventually kick in and erode these empires of sand.

However, while The X-Files maintained a consistent belief in a singular unifying mythology, a belief in a single account of history, however convoluted that arc might be, Millennium opted for a more adventurous and postmodern approach. Millennium suggested a world in which all conspiracies were true, in which there were multiple competing narratives of history struggling against one another, with no clear or correct answer. Owls and Roosters offer the culmination of this approach, a car crash of competing narratives trying to account for a period of great instability.

As ever, you can listen directly to the episode here, subscribe to the podcast here, or click the link below.

Continue reading

New Escapist Column! On “Devs”, “Westworld” and Determinism…

I published a new In the Frame piece at Escapist Magazine this evening. Devs recently wrapped up, and Westworld is hurdling towards its season finale, so it seemed an appropriate time to reflect on both of those.

There’s an interesting synchronicity between the third season of Westworld and Devs. Both are stories about tech companies trying to build deterministic models of the world. Although both series approach this basic framework in very different ways, they seem to tap into the same core anxieties. Westworld and Devs are stories about free will and choice in the face of inhuman systems that argues the world could only ever be as it is. There’s something fascinating in seeing these themes boiling to the surface so close together.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

New Podcast! The Time is Now – Season 2, Episode 14 (“The Pest House”)

I am in the middle of a run of appearances on The Time is Now at the moment, and taking the time out to discuss the rare second season episode of Millennium that I don’t consider to be a highlight. I’m discussing The Pest House with the wonderful Kurt North and the fantastic Adam Chamberlain.

The Pest House is an interesting episode. It’s written by the second season showrunners Glen Morgan and James Wong, and plays into some of their interests in the horror genre. It’s very much a celebration of slasher movie clichés, which would be reflected in their projects after finishing up on Millennium – from Morgan’s Black Christmas to Wong’s American Horror Story to their joint Final Destination. However, the episode often feels like a mess of tropes and ideas, at least two different episodes stitched inelegantly together.

As ever, you can listen directly to the episode here, subscribe to the podcast here, or click the link below.

Continue reading

New Escapist Column! On “Better Call Saul” as Fitting Eulogy to the Television Antihero…

I published a new In the Frame piece at Escapist Magazine this evening. Better Call Saul wrapped up its fifth season this week, and so it was worth taking a look at the Breaking Bad prequel.

To a certain extent, Better Call Saul seems like a show out of step with the times. It is set in the early days of the twenty-first century. It has never become the ratings or awards juggernaut that Breaking Bad became. It has a strong critical following, but never truly broke out into the wider culture in the way that Breaking Bad did. None of this is a judgment on the show itself. After all, Better Call Saul premiered at a time that television was already pushing away from those antihero dramas.

However, that status as show that exists at the tail end of a broader cultural trend allows Better Call Saul a greater degree of creative freedom. It offers a reflective meditation on the kind of antiheroes that populated so much of the so-called “Golden Age of Television.” These masculine archetypes are easy to galmourise, even when shows are unambiguous about their flaws. The beauty of Better Call Saul lies in creating an antihero who is harder to fetishise. Saul is not Walter White or Tony Soprano or Al Swearengen. He is a lot more tragic, a lot more pathetic.

This is the beauty of Better Call Saul, the angle that allows the show to feel like a true coda to the kind of stories that dominated prestige television for well over a decade. You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

 

New Podcast! The Time is Now – Season 2, Episode 13 (“The Mikado”)

I was delighted to get invited back on The Time is Now to discuss The Mikado with the inimitable Tony Black.

The Mikado is an interesting episode of the second season of Millennium. In some ways, it represents a conscious throwback to the “serial killer of the week” format that defined so much of the first season. In some ways, it’s the ultimate example of the “serial killer of the week” format, pitting Frank Black against a stand-in for the Zodiac. However, in other ways it feels very much in step with the second season as a whole. It’s a story about information and rebirth, two core themes of the season as a whole. Either way, it’s a highlight in a season full of highlights.

As ever, you can listen directly to the episode here, subscribe to the podcast here, or click the link below.

Continue reading