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So far, this year has brought fans of box sets a whole plethora of excellent TV viewing. With both new productions and further episodes of our favourite shows there's still no end in sight to the range of first rate entertainment on our screens. And just in case you missed any of these little gems, here's a quick list of the top box sets for 2016. Viewing pleasure guaranteed!
Preacher is the rarest kind of comic book adaptation. Despite taking hefty liberties with the original storyline, it still manages to please loyal fans. The long-running comic series stars Jesse Custer as a preacher who discovers he's been given special powers to make anyone do as he says. The comic book then has our (anti) hero wandering around the country. The TV show however sees Custer settled in a town called Annville, and this is the major difference between the two plots.
Garth Ennis, creator of The Preacher admits his brainchild was always going to be difficult to adapt for TV audiences, but the production does well to capture the tone and the spirit of the original. Season one may have ended on a bang, but season 2 is already in production.
Most TV dramas concerned with hacking consisted of some geeky guy (or gal) hammering away at a keyboard. Not this one. Reportedly whistle-blower Ed Snowden's favourite TV show, Mr. Robot is as fast-paced as it is inventive in plot and has critics and fans alike calling it the best ever depiction of cyber-crime and hacking ever brought to the screen. Our hero Elliott (played by a fantastic Rami Malek) is the brilliant cybersecurity expert who gets tricked into helping a group of anarchists, led by the mysterious Mr Robot. Their goal? Nothing other than to bring about the end of capitalism!
Season one and the currently available season two, have been greeted with universal acclaim. “... edgily exciting stuff" says the Telegraph, and with a "brilliant, boldly complex" protagonist in Elliott, whose paranoia and general social anxiety is matched only by his technical genius.” Season one finished with a game-changing revelation about Mr Robot himself, and season two promises another mind-boggling twist reckoned to change the way us avid viewers see life, the universe and yeah, everything!
The Man in the High Castle
The Guardian has some pretty clear advice for viewers curious about The Man In The High Castle, “Not only should you watch it, you should binge watch it!” Based on the idea that the Germans won the Second World War, this tantalising show has been adapted from Phillip K Dick's 1962 novel of the same name.
Set in a dystopian United States in 1962, America has been defeated and divided into two by the Japanese in the East and the Germans in the West. The story tells of Julia Crain and her boyfriend Frank Frink, who both get caught up in the throes of an underground resistance group in a world where secret police and double agents await around almost every corner. And then there's the mysterious film reel which seems to show an alternative timeline where it's actually the Allies who win the war. Essential, nail-biting viewing guaranteed to get you on the edge of your seat.
A huge hit in its native Spain, (where it is titled Vis A Vis) Locked UP has drawn over 3.5 million viewers and earned Maggie Civantos three awards for her performance as Macarena, who faces seven years in prison after being framed by her boss. Called by some critics the Spanish version of Orange is the New Black, there are indeed some similarities; not least the blonde, middle-class protagonist.
And while some of the storylines are downright outlandish, (inmates boiled to death, buried treasure and pet scorpions etc.), the show also features evil guards, dangerous gangs and threatening lesbians it has all we have come to know and love in any women-in-prison drama. But as the Evening Standard warns, "don't go expecting a largely breezy comedy-drama here. This is intense, tough, bloody, violent, and graphic." Now available on Walter Presents, Channel 4's online streaming platform.
Set in India in 1932, during the last days of British rule, Indian Summers shows us the colonial elite living the high life in tropical replicas of their beloved homeland. But as any history buff will know, the party isn't going to last forever--the independence movement is growing with angry young Indians thirsting for their freedom–by any means necessary.
And while the show is most definitely a period drama in the best British tradition, it comes with a refreshing 21st-century focus on the native population suffering under British rule. Neela Debnath writes in The Independent, “(Indian Summers) is not just a sumptuous period drama, it's a gripping and unpredictable thriller.”
Beautifully costumed and shot, the show's real star is Julie Waters who according to The Wrap is, “such a treat to watch that nearly every scene she's not in is dull by comparison". Despite critics loving this, a faltering viewership meant the cancellation of the third series. But one and two are available online at All 4. Defo worth watching!
The latest in a line of collaborations between Jody Hill and Danny McBride, the show is the story of the rivalry of 2 vice principals (Neal Gamby and Walton Goggins) locked in a power struggle with each other. A rare US attempt at the kind of 'cringe comedy' the UK has long since perfected, Vice Principals pulls no punches. McBride and Goggins are totally unsympathetic as they lie, cheat and manipulate in their quests to dominate the school and bring down their common enemy--Dr Belinda Brown—the school principal.
Esquire puts it like this, "… the show's abhorrent protagonists are a satisfying slap to the face in a TV landscape where 'likeability' is often the order of the day.” And goes on to say, “It doesn't want you to love its characters," writes Jacob Hall. "It only wants you to watch, mouth agape, at how far these men can go." Now available on Sky Atlantic with catch up.