As the gaping maw of the internet requires ever more content, TV “channels” continue to proliferate, via newer players like Amazon, Netflix, and Yahoo!; even TV originally made by or for foreign markets, can now be easily picked up and shipped to your local screen. Here are a few shows I’ve enjoyed recently.
(1/2 hour; 8 episodes)
Other Space is a sci-fi comedy from Paul Feig (Freaks & Geeks, Bridesmaids) streaming on Yahoo Screen!. It follows a crew of losers who are sent out on a mapping starship, and are flushed through a wormhole into an alternate universe of adventure and danger; unfortunately, they are far too immature and self-centered to adequately deal with their situation. And like Soylent Green, Hell remains (other) people: in this case, your fellow incompetent and stir-crazy crewmembers.
Intentionally low-budget by design (though many of the the external space shots look surprisingly decent), this riffs on old sci-fi TV and movies, as well as extrapolating current technology and social media trends into the future.
It also stars a couple of Mystery Science Theater 3000 alums (as the ship’s burnout over-the hill engineer, and his robot assistant/pal). Fans of MST3K/Star Trek/Red Dwarf, as well as of Feig’s previous work in which insecure people just kind of hang out and rip on each other, should enjoy this. Starts off a little wobbly, but is going solid by episode 3, and just keeps getting funnier to the end.
(1 hr; 12 episodes)
This one is a British-produced series that is shown in the US on a newish cable network called Pivot. It is set in a remote Arctic multinational island community (modeled on Svalbard) where white bears and dark secrets far outnumber the approximately 700 residents.
I am loath to say too much about this one for fear of spoiling it, except to say that it is paced to dole out its information sparingly, methodically, and addictively. Stanley Tucci, Christopher Eccleston, Richard Dormer, Michael Gambon, and Luke Treadaway are among some of the more familiar (to this American viewer) faces among its large cast.
If your cable system doesn’t have it (check on VOD), you can download it on Amazon or iTunes; I’d advise against settling for watching it on any low-quality streaming sources, since the cinematography, direction and sound design are all stunning.
(1 hr; 6 episodes)
Another UK series, it’s about a shadowy, murderous, near-all-powerful cabal that controls world affairs, and the young people who come into possession of a fabled graphic novel that may hold the keys to stopping them. This one is slated for a US remake from HBO and David Fincher. But don’t wait for that, it already has loads of paranoid atmosphere, black humor, stylish action, and fantastic cinematography.
It IS, however, hyper-violent, so if that sort of thing bothers you, Utopia may not be your cuppa. HD episodes all seem to be available on YouTube. (UPDATE: I’m not seeing all eps there. Apologies.)
Header image by Paul Townsend from Bristol, UK [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons