Viewpoints

The Amazing Adventures Of The Sofa Spudniks

Published: Wednesday April 9, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Wednesday April 9, 2014 MYT 8:44:55 AM

Homage to HBO

HBO series also pushed boundaries where the subject matter is concerned. No better example than Big Love comes to mind. The show dealt with the rather prickly topic of polygamy by telling the stories of a Mormon family in Utah.

HBO series also pushed boundaries where the subject matter is concerned. No better example than Big Love comes to mind. The show dealt with the rather prickly topic of polygamy by telling the stories of a Mormon family in Utah.

The spudniks just can’t get enough of shows from the award-winning cable network.

MY love affair with Home Box Office, I do believe began quite morbidly, Six Feet Under to be exact, more than a decade ago. The Alan Ball television series was none like I had seen before, and it was ironically refreshing and vivid, despite its gruesomely run of the mill subject matter – death.

I watched the Fisher family religiously as they ran their funeral home in Los Angeles, and lived out their extraordinary lives with their eccentric friends, family and lovers, each week a death always preceding the life that burst out in tremendous colour via the very talented ensemble cast of Peter Krause, Michael C. Hall, Frances Conroy, Lauren Ambrose, Freddy Rodriguez and Rachel Griffiths – many who have gone on to have really successful television careers.

It was one of those TV programmes that always drew high ratings and got voted as an all-time top TV show, and won lots of awards. I remember thinking even then that HBO was light years ahead of others.

To be honest, even before that, I’d been watching Sex And The City, and when The Sopranos came around, my jaw literally dropped and I had to go to great lenghts to find ways to get my hands on the show as it was not shown on local TV in those dark ages. Oh wait, we still live in those times.

More recently, my teenage children have held a torch for series such as True Blood, which leads me to assume that these programmes appeal to a large cross section of society. Not just me and my kids, of course; HBO series and movies do get consistently high ratings, win awards and earn critical acclaim year in, year out.

And it’s not just the series, the comedies and movies and miniseries – three jump straight to mind, Behind The Candelabra, Mildred Pierce, Temple Grandin – are in a league of their own really.

More recently, I became an ardent fan of Game Of Thrones, sucked into the worlds of George R. R. Martin, and again, the television series featured an excellent cast and superb film making.

Almost too large for the small screen, therein lies the beauty of all HBO’s pickings. They buck the trend, they put to test the morality of the times (past, present, future, zombie, mafia, vampire), they feature excellent ensemble casts and they are shot and directed par excellence.

All of these traits were once more laid in concrete through the masterpiece first season of True Detective, starring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson.

I can’t tell you enough how impressed I was with this crime noir eight-parter.

Writer Nic Pizzolatto’s ideas are to die for, his script begs to be savoured over and over, and over (I kept hitting rewind so I would hear each word, digest every phrase, feel the ideas as they swirled in my head, my heart ... yes, I am gushing).

Since Season One was outstanding, my appetite has been suitably whetted.

Pizzolatto had also thought of having a company of actors who would take on different roles each season but that idea, for some reason, didn’t stick.

I would have given an arm and a leg to have seen that happen – for McConaughey and Harrelson to team up again in a different dynamic, oh man. Regardless, I am a fan. HBO, you’ve got my vote. – AMC

Ah, True Detective. The show that made me look at Matthew McConaughey in a whole different (and positive) light – as a dramatic actor capable of much more than the rom-coms he has been known for.

And pairing him up with Woody Harrelson was just pure magic.

I never would have guessed how great an actor Woody Harrelson would turn out to be when I first saw him in the 1980s sitcom Cheers.

But Harrelson has proven to be golden in every film and TV series he’s been in – even when he guest starred in season three of Will And Grace, he stole the show!

HBO’s True Detective is, as Ann Marie says, a fabulous show with top–class storytelling and, more importantly, interesting characters – Colt and Marty, you’ll never find two men like them.

Flawed, deeply layered characters who pack a punch – this has come to be a staple in HBO shows. Characters who aren’t likable or attractive (emotionally and/or morally) but who are compelling nonetheless.

At this juncture, I have to mention my all-time favourite HBO shows The Sopranos and The Wire. The Sopranos presented us with a plethora of interesting characters, not many of whom were very nice or likable but they had us invested in their individual and collective stories ... for six seasons (and counting, for there are many fans who still debate the meaning of the series finale).

And The Wire. Gritty, hard hitting and real, this crime drama had so much resonance even though it dealt with lives of people in the city of Baltimore, Maryland.

Corruption, sabotage, crime – the show revealed a city falling to ruin because of its flawed institutions. This show is where Idris Elba’s star shone the brightest to date, in my humble opinion.

Apart from its characters, HBO series’ also pushed the boundaries where subject matter is concerned.

No better example than Big Love comes to mind.

The show dealt with the rather prickly topic of polygamy by telling the stories of a Mormon family in Utah.

It managed to present the subject plainly and fairly, without any trace of judgement or stereotype.

I admit the show’s subject matter sometimes made me feel uncomfortable (revealing to my own surprise my conservative ways), yet, I found it relatable because it really was just a touching story of love and woe in a family (albeit a very complex one).

Nowadays, there are many other American TV channels that produce strong character-driven shows that push the boundaries: Showtime, for example, with Homeland, Dexter, Nurse Jackie and Weeds; FX with Sons Of Anarchy, Justified, Damages and Nip/Tuck; AMC with Mad Men, Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead.

But I tend to think it all started with HBO.

There wouldn’t be a Don Draper, or dare I say, Walter White, without Tony Soprano.

There may not have been a series like Girls (though not shown locally) if not for Sex And The City (which, though terribly passe now, was ahead of its time back in the 1990s. And no, it wasn’t all just about shoes and clothes and men).

HBO is 42 years old this year and like everything born in 1972 (ahem), I see only good things ahead! – SI

Tags / Keywords: Opinion, Lifestyle, TV, Sofa Spudniks

More Articles

Filter by

Homage to HBO

9 April 2014

The spudniks just can’t get enough of shows from the award-winning cable network.

Attention: One of our columnists is bored of watching the telly

12 March 2014

This Spudnik is bored with what’s on TV. Will the new crop of shows reignite her passion?

How these new TV series measure up

26 February 2014

A lone Spudnik produces a report card of sorts of these (relatively) new TV series that were much hyped about even before they aired.

Hell in the kitchen

12 February 2014

The Spudniks cook up their own character teams for a challenge in the kitchen with Gordon Ramsay.

advertisement

Recent Posts

advertisement