Westworld

In 2017, artificial intelligence (A.I) is now apart of everyday life, from restaurants, to cars, to phones. Westworld (based on the 1973 film of the same name by Michael Crichton) delves into how A.I can be used to fulfill humans every desire – and the repercussions of that.

Westworld, HBO’s latest blockbuster series is centered on a futuristic amusement park of the same name. It is set in the indeterminate future where Doctor Ford (played by the always excellent Anthony Hopkins) and his team have created an adult playground full of eerily realistic AI robots “hosts.” Who are immersed in numerous faux 1800’s wild west storylines to entertain the parks “Guests”. Wealthy humans who pay up to 40,000 a night to indulge in their every desire with the “hosts” from sex, to murder and for some, love. The series begins with a few interlocking storylines, the employees of the park, the hosts, and guests of the park. The employees, like Bernard and Therese are divided between supporting Doctor Ford and its corporate company of Delos who just wants to use the hosts intellectual property. In the park the story focuses in on hosts Dolores and Maeve who are starting to think beyond their storyline. Park guests include the mysterious and sadistic “Man in Black” and new guests, soft spoken William and his spoiled soon to be brother in law Logan.

The plot is obviously quite complex and it takes a few episodes to start to piece together all the storylines. The plot is a bit slow moving which is countered by the distraction of the top quality production and setting. The A-list roster of actors really help to enhance the series however the cheesy and basic dialogue is a bit disappointing considering the caliber of actors (Anthony Hopkins, Ed Harris, Thandie Newton) who could have taken the story and Westworld realm even further. Like Game of Thrones, Westworld also deals with the struggle of having so many storylines that the character development gets delayed or is sped up rapidly to go along with all the other storylines. This creates a bit of confusion for the viewer as well as creates quite a few plot holes.

By the end of the season the foreshadowing (and reddit theories) was enough to clearly see where the second season is going to head (also the fact that it was conceived by the creator of Jurassic Park), which makes me intrigued at the plot but I honestly don’t know if I’m invested enough in the characters and their stories to continue to watch.

Westworld is available to stream on HBOGo and HBONow with subscription

 

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Search Party

I’m breaking away a bit from my normal streaming go-to’s to highlight one of my favorite shows I saw in 2016 – Search Party. Which to most everyones surprise did not appear on HBO, Netflix or Amazon; but TBS. TBS did take a play the digital streaming giants and released series one all on the same day to binge watch, which was exactly what I did.

Search Party centers around twenty-something brooklynite Dory and her friends in their search of their casual college acquaintance Chantal Winterbottom who goes missing under mysterious circumstances. Dory (Alia Shawkat of Arrested Development fame), in the midst of a quarter life crisis ends up becoming obsessed with finding Chantal. She then convinces her pushover boyfriend John, and narcissistic best friends Elliot and Portia to join her in the detective work. Along the way Dory joins up with a mysterious (and maybe sexy) private detective, and a potential cult.

As the series develops you realize that the main purpose for Dory isn’t finding Chantal, but for Dory to find out where her life is heading. She’s stuck with a non passionate relationship, has no career direction, and her close friends are raging narcissists. Twenty-something Brooklynites Portia and Elliot perfectly encapsulate the Brooklyn hipster millennial stereotypes with a hilarious self-awareness. The writing has a certain subtly about it that I find extremely relatable and not over the top. Like Broad City, the show also uses real New York landmarks and restaurants to add to the hip authenticity and setting. What the show does amazingly well is smoothly mixing the genres of hipster comedy with a film noir detective procedural. The use of an haunting (electronic) score by Purity Ring and great editing and stylization the show manages to instill a spooky mood of the potential dark forces at work. The mysteriously edited teasers at the end of each episode lends itself to binge watching.

Search Party is funny, mysterious, and painfully self-aware from start to finish. It is a refreshing comedy that also highlights the emotions that many twenty-something millennials feel during these confusing post-college years. It is wonderfully acted without being too over the the top and showcases a lot of truly hip Brooklyn locales. Search Party has already been renewed for a second season and I can’t wait to see the next mystery Dory and her crew has to solve.

Search Party is available to stream on TBS.com with a login to a cable provider