“Trapped by Circumstance: The Hopeless Stories You Might Be Missing on NETFLIX and HULU”
(2017, TV-14, Season 1 - 10 episodes approx. 42 minutes, DIMENSION TELEVISION)
Stephen King has truly made a name in Horror for a contemporary author. His stories may not always be the best available for consumption, but he puts interesting material out there so that others can exploit and monetize… and we benefit. His story ‘The Mist’ was a great theme and later made for a terrific film. Now, we have a series. This is not a bad show when consider they creators pulled together a large cast and juggled a number of subplots. There are some questionable decisions made by characters that seemed unnecessary or should have led to more obvious choices. I will say there is enough bloodletting and creative scenarios that lead to disaster that keep you interested in each group’s situation, and for completely different reasons. That is why this at first glance time-waster, since they have cancelled further seasons, will not leave you in ‘the mist’. You will find yourself welcoming it.
(2017, TV-MA, Season 1 - 8 episodes approx. 34 minutes each, 3 ARTS ENTERTAINMENT, CBS STUDIOS)
You want something unusual? You want something never told with the usual approach? AMERICAN VANDAL is your go-to high school, AV Club documentary-style series. I am the first to shy away from high schooler targeted stories but after ‘Freakish’, I must have an open mind for certain offerings. The cleverness of this tale comes with the pacing of the reveals, the smartly edited 30-minute episodes, and no faltering from the young actors that keeps the story moving. Even with the phallic emphasis, making light of true-crime studies, the serious nature portrayed in this presentation comes off with just enough care to have you watching to the end.
(2017, TV-14, Season 2 - 10 episodes approx. 30 minutes each, 3 ARTS ENTERTAINMENT)
To continue on the journey of these unlucky teens, Season 2 struggles. It tries too hard to have ‘spectacular’ reveals. The drama is also amped up to make you feel something for each character, it comes off as a afternoon soap by the time you are done. I am a bit older than the expected audience and I did not fall into the needed empathy to keep me interested. The gore doesn’t help to entice either, they slacked this time around. Of course, the numbers of the original crew dwindled, and the added drop-ins did little engage my curiosity in their particular plights. By the finally episode, I wanted the ‘freaks’ to consume everything.
-- James S. Austin