Go West Young Man

I just finished up the first season of Westworld, the new saga by HBO based on a dated Michael Crichton movie from 1973 where robots at an amusement park go wild and kill guests (reference the Itchy and Scratchy Land Simpsons episode….’We need more Bort licences plates’) and let me tell you, it is the next great TV show that everyone will be (or should be) talking about. It is up there with Mr. Robot, Better Call Saul, and the grand-daddy of them all Game of Thrones.

So what makes this show so good? Well, I don’t want to give away anything in the show, but it combines intrigue, overarching mystery, existential issues such as human consciousness and what it means to be alive, and interesting surprises that are within the confines of the story’s environment. Oh yeah, it has Ed Harris and Anthony Hopkins, so there is a quality to the acting as well.

The mastermind behind this reboot of Westworld is Jonathan Nolan; Christopher Nolan’s brother who helps co-write all of Christopher’s stuff. There must be some gene in the Nolan family that enables them to tell an amazing story. I mean just about every work from these blokes is thought-provoking, interesting, intricate, yet tight. They also have this great ability to throw a twist at you, almost fool the viewer, yet you don’t feel tricked or ripped off. It is all consistent with the story. A very delicate balance the Nolan boys seem to get right every time.

But here is an issue I have with shows formatted like this; is it better to watch them all at once or every week? The issue with all at once is it is hard to wait on the sideline for all the shows to air and it is even harder to avoid all the spoilers floating around on social media. But when you see the shows once a week, you forget some of the story lines and the natural flow of the storytelling is compromised. Either way, after you watch a season, you hit a literal brick wall (and by ‘literal’ I mean ‘figurative’) at the season finale and you have to wait over a year to see how things proceed.

What a gyp that is!! This format echoes the time of Dickens, where they publish a few chapters of a book monthly and there would be constant cliffhangers to guarantee future interest in the story. Yes, TV has been doing this for years (who shot JR, who shot Mr. Burns, will Fonzie literally ‘jump the shark’, and I mean literally this time), but now they are making worthwhile shows (better than movies in most cases), so now we actually care about the result of these cliffhangers. Not fair TV. Not fair.

Oh yeah, and this format also inspires a feeding frenzy of fan theories dispersed all across the interwebs. ‘I think Jon Snow is the son of Tyrion’, or ‘I bet Mr. Robot is a communist’, or ‘I am sure Anthony Hopkins character is a robot lesbian’. Just stupid nonsense spewed around like a Breitbart front page. Let’s just enjoy the damn shows people and chat about the quality instead of predicting the future with our pet theories.

But I do think there are more than one park in Westworld…………….