The pandemic has curtailed a lot of TV filming, and Netflix has begun canceling even successful shows over delayed production. But amazingly, there’s still an awesome amount of TV on the air worth talking about. With spoilers ahoy, let’s do just that.
I am unabashedly a fan of three shows coming to the end of their respective seasons this month: “Star Trek: Lower Decks,” “Lovecraft Country” and “The Boys.”
Some Trek fans feared that “Lower Decks,” being an animated comedy on CBS All Access, would make fun of “Star Trek.” There may be a little of that — I mean, as much as I love the franchise, some Trek cliches are pretty big targets — but it’s obvious that the show is a love letter to “Star Trek.”
The show focuses on lower-ranking officers who work in the lower decks, keeping the ship running while the bridge does all the heroics. Ensign Beckett Mariner is super-competent enough to have her own command by now, but is so rebellious that she would probably wash out of the fleet if her mother weren’t secretly the captain. Her opposite number is Ensign Brad Boimer, who is enough of a kiss-up to be irritating, but earnest enough to be endearing.
HBO’s “Lovecraft Country” is not at all what I expected it to be, and I’m not really sure how to pigeonhole it. But I love the heck out of whatever it is. The show was initially described as Black veteran Atticus Freeman traveling through New England (H.P. Lovecraft lived in Massachusetts, and set most of his stories there) in the 1950s with his girlfriend and uncle in search of his missing father, battling both Jim Crow and elder gods. Turns out the central mystery was solved early on, there are few elder gods and many minor magicians, and it’s not a roadshow at all.
But the racism is still there, and with Black characters as our firm POV, it’s the one constant threat. This is really brave storytelling, and a refreshing change from period shows that pretend racism never existed, and cast Black actors in roles they couldn’t possibly inhabit at the time. (Looking at you, “Cursed.”) The finale of Season 1 airs Oct. 18.
Finally, “The Boys.” What can I say about a show that drives a speedboat through a whale, which makes you laugh and groan at the same time? That satirizes superhero tropes, but never forgets the terrifying fascist subtext of the genre? That does, in fact, deal with superheroes, but keeps its eyes glued to the little people who are deluded followers, victims, collateral damage and, when it comes to the titular characters, almost as bad as the bad guys?
Wait, I know what to say: Watch “The Boys” immediately. It’s a superhero satire that has a lot to say about human nature and our current culture, as well as being a darn good story. The finale to Season 2 airs Oct. 9 on Prime Video, and a third season is already in the works.