In the spirit of it being a quiet-ish news day (there is some noteworthy news though... read on. You're not wasting your time here, I promise), I thought it'd be good to start the week with my personal top five shows of 2022 so far. Hopefully it inspires some of you to check out what I think have been exceptional shows.

Minx [HBO Max]

This HBO Max half-hour period comedy is set in the mid-1970s during the rise, so to speak, of magazines for women that included naked pictorials of men. Some of these magazines were aligned with the feminist ideology of the time, which is very much the approach of this show with an idealistic stridently feminist editor working with a team of old-school porn mag publishers to push this new vision of what a magazine could be. What makes the show great is the dynamic between Joyce (Ophelia Lovibond) and Doug (Jake Johnson) who are both approaching the magazine from different perspectives. She has integrity, a vision, and something specific she wants to say, while Doug is out to make some money and is willing to step over whatever moral quandry is in his way. Their relationship has strong echoes of Sam and Diane in Cheers. The show is funny, brash, and has more on-screen peen than any other half hour comedy in the history of TV.

Irma Vep [HBO]

Another HBO show, this is from respected director Olivier Assayas. And is, kind of a remake of his 1996 film of the same name. It is about the European production of a TV series based on the classic French vampire serial Les Vampires. An American movie star, played by Alicia Vikander, joins the production looking for an artistic escape from American commercial product, while also trying to contend with a relationship that just went south. But that's just the entry point into the show which is really a series of small vignettes about the production, such as an ongoing plot about a skeezy actor who insists his part needs more context (but he's really just angling for a sex scene with his ex-girlfriend who is also an actor on the show). The show is funny, hugely pretentious, and very, very watchable. It won't be for everyone, but for those who dig it, it'll be among your favourite shows of 2022.

1883 [Paramount+]

Expectation completely hobbled 1883 from episode one, but also worked heavily in its favor by the final episode. At first, it wasn't clear there was a whole lot of value to the show. Billed as an ongoing show about the descendants of the family in Yellowstone and their move across the old west to Montana, the show seemed like a trifle. What I hadn't expected from the show is that at every turn the show was very willing to absolutely 'go there' and do what it needed to in terms of showing the brutal reality of migration across the US back then. No character was safe from unexpectedly being horribly murdered, drowned, brained, burned, etc etc. And then by the final episode where the cast was maybe 1/50th in size of what it was from in that first episode, the show completely leant into what was a shocking final episode for a show that was apparently a limited series all along.

Who knew TV still had the ability to surprise?

Slow Horses [Apple TV+]

The sales pitch for this is easy: It's a John Le Carre style British spy thriller, but with a cast of characters who populate shows like The Thick of It and Veep. The show is a drama with some VERY funny dark and dirty dialogue. It's an absolute treat. Season one is an easy-to-binge six episodes with a second season due by the end of the year. Seasons three and four are greenlit and expected to film back-to-back soon.

Evil [Paramount+]

I feel like I bang on about this show a lot in the newsletter and feel awkward doing it yet again, but here goes...

Evil continues to impress season after season. We're just a few episodes into the current season, but it continues on at the same high standard as previous seasons, so I am more than happy to let it sneak into my 2022-so-far list.

In a lot of ways, Evil feels like a throwback show to the dark horror network shows of the 90s like The X-Files, Millennium, and Profiler, but it layers in its own distinctive visual style and storytelling to make it feel not just contemporary, but far more unnerving than any of those 90s shows. The real point of difference is that the show will never rush a scene or episode, nor will it pace itself in a way that feels like other TV. It is rare to be ever truly scared by filmed entertainment, but this show knows how to get under my nails.

Stranger Things finale talk

With two super-sized Stranger Things episodes debuting over the weekend, finishing up the 4th season of the show, I find myself in a difficult position: I haven't seen the end of the season. I quite literally fell asleep last night 20 minutes shy of the end.

With that caveat established, these articles seem interesting... I haven't actually read them though. If you see me out and about over the next 24 minutes, please avoid any and all Stranger Things talk. Actually, just cross the road and don't make eye contact. Thank you.

  • What the Stranger Things finale means. Could adulthood be the real Upside Down? Read: New Yorker
  • What's really at stake in the finale? What does it mean for the series moving forward? Read: The Ringer
  • Joseph Quinn, who played new character Eddie, has some ideas about how he will return in the 5th season. Hmmm, that doesn't sound like it bodes well for Eddie in the episode I haven't finished... Read: Radio Times
  • Netflix experienced network outages when Stranger Things debuted the new episodes. Read: Dark Horizons
  • Todd Haynes says his short film Superstar will see release - but that release isn't being actively worked on. You'll recall that the film was a stop motion film about Karen Carpenter, told using Barbie dolls. Read: Indiewire
  • Late and long working hours are said to have contributed to a car crash involving crew of the upcoming Muppets Mayhem series for Disney+. Read: Deadline
  • NBC has picked up recently-cancelled Magnum PI for two additional seasons. Read: Deadline
  • HBO has cancelled The Time Traveller's Wife. Read: THR
  • The cast of UK detective drama MacDonald and Dodds want a holiday special. Read: Radio Times
  • BBC First has confirmed it will debut new episodes of Beyond Paradise (the Death in Paradise spin-off) in Australia, in line with the UK airing.
  • The Real World Homecoming: New Orleans participant Danny Roberts is a gay man living with being HIV positive. He told producers he wanted to see that reflected in the show. So why did the show never even mention it? Read: LA Times
  • Ten Year Old Tom has been renewed for a second season by HBO Max. Read: thefutoncritic
  • NBC Universal is shutting down the linear Olympic Channel after a 5 year run. Read: Deadline
  • Why Women Kill has been cancelled by Paramount+. It had been renewed for a season 3 in December, but that isn't happening now. Read: Variety
  • Why are young people wearing suits to go see the new Minions movie at the cinema? Read: Pedestrian
  • Sigourney Weaver will play a 16 year-old Na'Vi in the new modern classic Avatar: the Way of Water. I think we all know what I will be wearing to see it at the cinema... Read: Dark Horizons

That's it for today. Sorry the newsletter was a bit later than usual.