Shows that Surprised me
Updated: Apr 14
Recently, I stumbled upon several shows of the speculative fiction variety that have astonished me with how darn good they are. One is an apocalyptic saga based on a video game I have never heard of. Another is a show based on a book by perhaps the best fantasy writer of his generation. The book reads like something akin to a history textbook, but the show…oh, the show. Last but definitely not the least, is a show with an intriguing name and a premise similar to the viral hit Squid Game.
Without further ado…
The Last of Us
The last time I seriously played video games Myth II was still a thing. I just read it was developed back in 1998—wowza! Obviously, I'm not an active gamer, although my sons are Minecrafters (is that a word? If not it should be.). So it shouldn't come as a surprise I have never played nor ever heard of The Last of Us. That is until, HBO started touting their homonymous streaming series.
I was intrigued by the ads, and I'm a huge Pedro Pascal fan from his GoT and Narcos days. Now, I know gamers claim some of the best storytelling out there today is being done in video games. However, not being a gamer, I'm basically unaware of it (a terrible blindspot, I know). So I was a little skeptical that an apocalyptic zombie-esque video game storyline could amount to much. At best, I figured it be another rehash of The Walking Dead (I'm watching the tenth or eleventh season of this on Netflix and boy is it getting old).
OMFG was I wrong about The Last of Us. Someway, somehow the writers of this series breathe new life into the whole apocalyptic zombie drama genre. Partly, it's the amazing acting of the two leads, Pedro Pascal and Belle Ramsey (another GoT alum). They have real chemistry and their budding father/daughter relationship is completely believable. Also, the show takes time to build up secondary characters without sacrificing the momentum of the main storyline. It's really impressive how they do this.
If you have even a passing interest in experiencing a sci-fi horror thriller, The Last of Us is a must watch.
House of the Dragon
I fully expected to enjoy HotD. What I didn't expect is for it to be as good, if not better, than its predecessor, Game of Thrones. At this point, it seems like most everything George R.R. Martin touches turns into television gold. Now, I've read Fire & Blood. It reads like something between a history textbook and a really boring fantasy novel. The television series takes the source material and breathes life into it. If you liked GoT you'll love HotD!
Hopefully, we won't have to wait much longer for Winds of Winter!
Alice in Borderland
Who knew I needed another Squid Game type show? I certainly didn't. If you enjoyed the high-octane dystopian antics of Squid Game, you might enjoy Alice in Borderland, a total creep-fest where people are whisked to an alternative Tokyo and forced to play deadly games.
I'm really surprised how much I enjoyed this one. It has a second season out on Netflix that I haven't watched yet but I plan to. Overall, I find this show even more compelling than Squid Game, because it has a stronger sci-fi vibe.