FIELD OF STREAMS goes from the page to the screen to a stream
Welcome to Field of Streams, Cinapse’s weekly guide of what’s playing on your favorite streaming services. What’s new on Netflix and Amazon Prime? What do we recommend on Kanopy, Fandor, and Shudder? We’ve got it all. From curated top 5 lists to reviews of our favorites available now… it’s here. We built it for you, so come and join us in the Field of Streams.
TITANS (HBO Max)
My adolescent comic book reading focused on two main titles: The Legion of Superheroes and The New Teen Titans. While the former has languished in the basement of DC Comics, the later actually got its own show in Titans. I’m not familiar with all of the CW DC series, but this one feels like the TV-MA version of those: violent, filled with cursing, and pretty dark.
While it doesn’t exactly follow the iconic storylines from the Marv Wolfman/George Perez issues, it does take some of those plot points and characters as jumping off points for the story.
Much of the drama centers around Dick Grayson a.k.a Robin a.k.a. the ward of Bruce Wayne and parter of Batman. At this point in his career, Dick is trying to find his own way, and that means an eventual turn to the persona of Nightwing, but during the first season of Titans he’s still a very conflicted Robin. It can’t be easy living with The Dark Knight.
On the other end is Rachel Roth who will become Raven, the daughter of some more-evil-than-evil demon who’s really just a young girl at heart. She’s got powers she can’t control and a past she’s unaware of. As the team assembles around her, they all become enmeshed in what’s sure to be high demonic drama. This is enjoyable comic book fare.
THE EXPANSE (Prime)
Space opera. Two words that really shouldn’t go together, but when it comes to The Expanse, they surely do. Starting off as a Syfy joint before moving to Prime, The Expanse has used the book series to fuel several seasons of speculative fiction that’s smart, compelling, and pretty fun.
The jumping off point is a universe where Mars is a co-superpower with Earth while the Outer Planets are treated like lower-class colonized scum. The tension therein gets set off when a mysterious alien virus makes its way onto the scene.
Thomas Jane plays a throwback character, Miller, who’d be better suited to 1940’s Los Angeles than a space ship, but it works. The rest of the crew of The
Rocinante slowly comes together with complementary skills but a lot of conflict to go along with them.
This is one where the books will still be worth reading for their world building, but the characters hold down the fort for this binge-worthy series.
If the Fargo television series wasn’t enough to prove it, Legion certainly makes the case for Noah Hawley being one of the most creative minds in the genre. Based on a Marvel character, yet never overlapping with the MCU, Legion is a trippy ride down a road littered with super powers and insanity.
The cast here is nothing short of tremendous. Dan Stevens might be the weakest link as the lead, but he’s still amazing. (Cousin Matthew, he’ll always be.) Rachel Keller follows her turn on the second season of Fargo with her role here as Syd Barrett. (Did I mention music plays an important part in this show?) Aubrey Plaza just Plazas all over the place in ways that are always too much and never enough. Jemaine Clement and Jean Smart are the most amazing couple that don’t even live in the same dimension. Yeah, things get weird.
Soak this one up as there are only 27 episodes. But starting over at the beginning will always be an option.
HANNIBAL (Netflix, Prime, and Hulu)
Hannibal the television series is notable for its intrinsic qualities, but more than anything, it further highlights one of the most compelling characters ever created in literature or film. From his initial depiction by Brian Cox in Manhunter to the iconic portrayal by Anthony Hopkins starting in Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal Lecter is sublime.
I’d like to make a case for him being The Ultimate Man. Let’s leave the violence and cannibalism aside for a minute. He’s well educated with spectacular professional credentials in the world of healthcare. He appreciates the arts, most especially the Baltimore Symphony. He’s in robust health, and extremely physically fit. (See: all the brutal killing.) And the man is essentially a Michelin-starred chef in the kitchen. Truly, what more could one aspire to?
Tongue-in-cheek aside–whose tongue and whose cheek?–Bryan Fuller’s Hannibal inhabits that same world we’ve come to know and love from author Thomas Harris, but this time set in a past before Hannibal has revealed his true self. Not only that! He also befriends Will Graham, the ur-Clarice Starling. Hugh Dancy is perfect as a troubled Graham, and Mads Mikkelsen has all the qualities of a good Hannibal. The visuals in this series are truly unforgettable. We’re talking Midsommar level. You don’t forget a human totem-pole easily.
In “The Golden Era of Television,” there are still shows that manage to up the ante of what can be considered work made for the small screen. Without hyperbole, the hour and a half episodes of Sherlock are better judged against full-budgeted movies than against anything typically seen on TV.
Sure, it’s a British production and seasons are only three episodes long, but each one should be enjoyed like a film, complete with plenty action and narrative arcs to boot. But in addition to that, there is the series aspect of it all as well. Characters grow, reveal themselves, change due to present and past trauma. And those recurring characters. Hoo boy.
It all starts with Benedict Cumberbatch in the titular role. His combination of snooty, brusk, and brilliant really, really works here. Martin Freeman as Watson is at least as good, frustrated by his boss but supportive in the best way he can. And there has to be a good villain or two, and Andrew Scott’s Moriarty almost steals the show. I don’t know how this actor isn’t in more Hollywood flicks.
With a season five on tap for 2021, now’s the time to get caught up on Sherlock. It’s the logical thing to do.
There are countless services to explore and great things to watch on all of them. Which ones did we miss that you would suggest to us? And, as always, if you’ve got thoughts on titles we’re missing out on or new services to check out, leave a comment below or email us.
Till next week, stream on, stream away.