Father Gore’s a HUGE lover of television. Not only since the Golden Age of TV, as they call it lately. It’s a lifelong passion, just like film. Doesn’t hurt the past 20 years have gotten progressively better for television, particularly after Oz and The Sopranos on HBO paved the way for hour-long dramas.
2018’s sprouted great new TV shows and several limited series’— even limited runs so good they opened up more seasons, one of which is on this list. There’s drama, comedy, horror, sci-fi, and mixes of a few together in one show.
The list is in no particular order, except the top 5, being absolute favourites of the year.
Without further adieu: dig in!
Many won’t dig the open-ended feel when Requiem comes to a close after 6 episodes. You’ll find it difficult to resist the beautiful Wales scenery combined with pieces of history and also pseudo-history, too.
Lydia Wilson plays Matilda, a classical musician prompted to unearth the truth behind her upbringing following the unexpected suicide of her mother. You’ll NEVER guess where things go from there. Watch— only if you’re ready to not get all the answers and go on a emotional, and, at times, surreal trip.
If you want recaps & reviews, Father Gore has you covered.
This series is currently on Netflix.
Syfy’s done plenty of bad over the years. They’ve truly turned the tides in the past few, from Channel Zero (sadly not getting a Season 5!) to Happy! to this latest space-horror gem: an adaptation of George R. R. Martin’s novella + short story series, Nightflyers.
You get human(/post-human) drama, a space thriller, and haunted house horror. There are many interesting characters, all acted well, and the science-fiction+horror’s bonkers, whether it’s the effects themselves or the scares or the wild technologies available in the not-too-distant future.
If you’ve already seen the show, you can find Father Gore’s in-depth recaps & reviews of each episode right here.
Available on Netflix starting February 1st.
CBS (All Access)
When people hear a story will involve Aleister Crowley and Thelema, even if it’s only tangential relation, they’ll probably imagine a semi-horror drama with nudity and violence and unruly madness. Truth is, Strange Angel manages to use Crowley and Thelema in a way that straddles the lines of wild while staying interesting.
Jack Reynor plays Jack Parsons, a real life rocket engineer and chemist who helped found the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. He was also a disciple of Crowley, whose interest in Thelema was intertwined with his desire to help humans get to the stars. You’ll find all the weirdness here. Reynor’s central performance is so engaging you’ll be whisked away into the life of Parsons, for better or worse.
All those juicy recaps with plenty of historical context are HERE for your reading pleasure.
If you’ve seen the original Romper Stomper film, you’ll know what this series is all about, yet it isn’t a retread of that story, either. This incarnation of Romper Stomper picks up twenty-five years following the film’s events, focusing on a fictional far-right group called Patriot Blue and their leftist anti-fascist counterparts. There are ties to the original, as well as the Russell Crowe character Hando. Without any of that this series stands on its own two feet in an era when these types of shows ought to be made. Fiction can confront our reality. This is fiction that does a fine job at attempting to be raw, open, and honest about white hatred.
Recaps & reviews available here.
Those who know the story of David Koresh will probably find things in this fictionalised limited series they didn’t know before. Taylor Kitsch eerily channels Koresh in his performance, equal parts mesmerising and disturbing. Michael Shannon plays FBI agent Gary Noesner, whose POV helps the audience understand how badly things became divided on all sides during the Waco shootout. If you don’t know anything about Koresh or the Branch Davidians, go in blind, then, if it interests you, do your research afterwards. This series is heavy, and another story that continues to be relevant today.
All the recaps & reviews are here.
The first episode of Counterpart aired at the end of 2017, though the remainder of Season 1 aired in 2018. This sci-fi series came out of nowhere. An innovative story/plot(s) that’ll keep you guessing and keep you glued to the TV.
The story concerns the United Nations keeping a major secret: years ago, our world somehow spawned another world, exactly like our own, and on it exist the doubles of everyone on Earth. Doppelganger troubles, two worlds with different governments trying to co-exist through the Crossing at the U.N’s Officer of Interchange, and more spy-thriller goodness than you could ever handle!
For recaps & reviews of all episodes as they air, jump over here.
Take some history – of New York City itself, of the NYPD, of mental health and psychology, of murder investigations – and then add in a gruesome series of crimes against young boys doing sex work on the mean streets of 1986 NYC, and you’ve got The Alienist in all its horrifying glory!
Daniel Brühl plays an alienist— a term in the 19th century for those who studied the alienated a.k.a the mentally ill. He’s called in to help with the murdered boys. Luke Evans plays a bourgeois New York Times illustrator. Dakota Fanning has a great role as a secretary to Teddy Roosevelt and the NYPD’s first woman hire. The performances add extra juice to this grim adaptation of Caleb Carr’s novel. It’s the twisting, burning mystery at the core that’ll haunt you.
Better still, TNT decided they didn’t want to stay with a limited series, opting to renew The Alienist for Season 2. Next season will follow Carr’s 1997 novel The Angel of Darkness (another novel featuring the character Brühl plays).
For full analysis & recaps of episodes, click here.
This series is currently available via Netflix.
Another series based partly in history. AMC adapted the Dan Simmons novel The Terror into one of the best historical fiction shows EVER! Frank’s lost expedition is interesting enough. Added to that is a horror story encompassing cultural fears, the British Empire+early capitalism, and the dangerous hubris of men seeking greatness.
No more to be said. Go in knowing little. The episodes are filled with historical detail and terror alike, alongside the stellar performances (MVP = Jared Harris as real life Cpt. Francis Crozier).
Extensive recaps & reviews available here.
Season 2’s already moved into production. They’ll focus on a story about the Japanese interment camps in America during WWII, where a new monster lurks. It’ll feature George Takei acting and lending his hand as a consultant (after all, he lived through the camps himself.)
For Stephen King lovers, Castle Rock is a huge gift box on Christmas morning. The series takes big, heaping handfuls of King’s mythology and weaves it into a whole new vision of his fictional town, Castle Rock. There are familiar names and images, and the Shawshank Penitentiary gets far scarier than it ever did even for poor Andy Dufresne.
Bill Skarsgård gets to play a different King character than Pennywise, though no less creepy, and André Holland puts on a clinic as the main protagonist, whose return to his hometown in Castle Rock brings many ghosts back to life.
Plenty of analysis for each episode over here.
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
A powerfully feminist, funny, and creepy version of Sabrina’s adventures in Greendale? Father Gore was sold from the first 15 minutes. The Yuletide special was SO MUCH FUN, too! Kiernan Shipka embodies Sabrina with all the teen confusion and womanly angst the character deserves. Thank the Dark Lord we’ve already heard Netflix is renewing Chilling Adventures of Sabrina for a couple seasons in advance.
Need recaps & reviews of all the mad shit going on in Sabrina’s life? Here you go.
Father Gore’s Top 5
Favourite Shows/Limited Series’ of 2018
5) Escape at Dannemora
Richard Matt and David Sweat’s Shawshank Redemption-like escape from the Clinton Correctional Facility was a bizarre story once everything unfolded after the morning of June 6th, when Matt and Sweat were discovered missing just after 5 AM.
Showtime and Ben Stiller (in the director’s chair for all 7 episodes) bring the crazy tale to life in Escape at Dannemora. Each episode brings us closer to knowing the three people at the story’s centre: Matt (played by Benicio del Toro), Sweat (played by Paul Dano), and Tilly Mitchell (played by Patricia Arquette, in one of her greatest performances). The episodes are darkly funny, intense, disturbing, and at the best of times they’re almost unbelievable, until you remember it’s all true.
All episodes given in-depth analysis here.
You can shit on Netflix for a number of reasons— one of those certainly isn’t bringing quality content from countries outside of America to the Western world.
Ghoul is a terrifying bit of Arab folklore transposed into a post-modern setting in a dystopian India where fascism rules. A new recruit – so loyal to the current regime she even turned in her own father as a potential terrorist – must go to a top secret military detention centre to help interrogate an especially dangerous dude. The use of Arab stories and folklore makes this a unique treat. If you’re a horror lover, do yourself a favour and dig into this short, spooky series.
All three episodes recapped, reviewed, & analysed here.
3) Sharp Objects
Father Gore picked up Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects in 2008 while waiting in an airport bookstore. It looked cool: a razor blade image on the cover with the title inside its silvery body. The story’s macabre and full of wonderful feminist rage brimming below the surface. The characters are rich and unnerving in the best ways.
Every episode of HBO’s adaptation is slow burning mystery at its most intriguing. The atmosphere will suffocate you, and the soundtrack’s infectious. Amy Adams and Patricia Clarkson, as well as young Eliza Scanlen, are so perfect in their respective roles, their power’s undeniable in every last scene. And that ending? OH LORDT!
Recaps & reviews here, if you’ve already watched.
If not, WHY ARE YOU WAITING? GO! NOW!
2) The Haunting of Hill House
One misconception non-horror fans and even some horror fans have is horror must be scary to be good. Horror isn’t ALL about the scares. Sometimes it’s about dread, or an unknowable sensation of fear. Sometimes it’s about a steady sense of unease, an atmosphere of tension or suspense. There are many things that make horror what it is as a genre. Mike Flanagan understands this so deeply and completely he’s up there (in this critic’s humble opinion) with people like David Cronenberg, H.R. Giger, Clive Barker, Stephen King, and other artists, across all mediums, who have their own definable brand of horror.
The Haunting of Hill House is like the culmination of everything Flanagan’s already done, mashed together in a modern retelling of Shirley Jackson’s amazing Gothic novel. He has all the terror and the more corporeal horror. He drives all this with the story of the Crane family, each of whom experiences grief in a different way in the face of tragedy. The performances are outrageously good— all of ’em. Flanagan tells an emotional story that’s some of the best dramatic horror in film or television. For horror fans who don’t expect their genre to fit in an easily labelled box, The Haunting of Hill House will chill, thrill, and, if you’re not a piece of granite, spill a few tears.
Loving Jim Carrey’s not a generational thing. There are plenty of people, of all ages, who dig him, and with his recent satirical political paintings he’s gained a whole new following. All the same, Father Gore was born in 1985, and one of his first introductions to the funnyman was his Ace Ventura character, along with many re-runs of In Living Color. He was an idol immediately.
Jump ahead a couple decades. Father Gore is 33. Carrey’s older now, too. He’s on a different leg of his career, questioning the place and purpose of fame in life. In comes the Dave Holstein creation Kidding, starring Carrey as Jeff Piccirillo a.k.a Jeff Pickles a.k.a Mr. Pickles, the host of a children’s TV show. This is dark comedy at its blackest pitch. Like art imitates life, one of the themes of the series is the intersection of real people’s lives + the scorching power of fame, allowing Carrey to explore things he thinks/feels in his own life. There’s a sense of metafiction at play. The show’s excellence isn’t only that, though.
Kidding is willing to look at serious topics like divorce, the death of a child and how parents deal with the aftermath, how parents relate to their children on a personal level, the grief kids experience, and much, much more. The darkness compliments the hilariousness. Carrey’s joined by Judy Greer, Catherine Keener, and Frank Langella, and they’re all spectacular. There are moments to make you cry, just as much as you’ll laugh and, occasionally, drop your jaw at the writing’s beautiful audacity. Plus, there’s 6 episodes (out of 10) of Michael Gondry’s visionary directing and cool puppets and Olympian Tara Lipinski. How could you NOT watch?
All the episodes are recapped & reviewed here with plenty of existential & nihilistic commentary.