May 9, 2016

hmv recommends... HBO
by Tom
Tom

by Tom Goodwyn

hmv London; 09/05/2016

Bio

hmv.com Editor. Peanut butter, punk rock and pillows.

hmv recommends... HBO

We all know HBO's big hitters, Game Of Thrones, True Detective, True Blood, but there are plenty of gems that don't get the attention they deserve. So, to rectify that, we asked our staff members up and down the country to pick out their favourite of HBO's little-known gems. Here's what they told us...

Banshee: The Complete Third Season

Banshee

By Kirsty Lennox, hmv Westfield Stratford

With a title like Banshee, you'd be forgiven for thinking this was something of the same ilk as Supernatural or Charmed, but it has about as much in common with those shows as chalk does with cheese, it's one of the most visceral and compelling dramas out there. 

The show begins with the death of a new sheriff who was on his way to the sleepy Amish town of Banshee. A charismatic criminal, fresh out of prison, (whose real name is yet to be revealed) witnesses the murder. He spots an opportunity here, and assumes the identity of the fallen cop to see what he can gain from it.

But a short trick turns into a long con and he finds himself tangled in a complicated web of lies. Every fight scene is shown in full, brutal glory, and you're left wondering how many times the lead character can really get back up again. But he does and we hope he keeps doing it for a long time...

Silicon Valley: Season 2

Silicon Valley

By Claire Heywood, hmv Sheffield Meadowhall

Mike Judge, creator of Beavis and Butthead and King of Hill, is the man behind this whip smart comedy and uses his goldmine of experience after working in Silicon Valley himself in the late 80’s for inspiration. The show follows a gang of guys, some of the smartest people in the country, who suddenly become a huge success; trouble is they are just ill equipped to deal with what comes next.

Judge’s latest comedy gives scathing representations of the messianic status that technology gurus have become and the ridiculous aspects of culture that come with it. This is a fantastic, original and easily accessible comedy, you don’t need to be a technophile to get the jokes and it’s got a great storyline to keep you hooked.

The Leftovers: Season 2

The Leftovers

By Dave Baker, hmv Milton Keynes

This is a brooding drama set in a world ull of mystery and emotional complexity, The Leftovers is the kind of show which goes left when everything you've seen for the previous 40 minutes says that it was going right.
Set in a world where 2% of the populous vanished in a Rapture style (and otherwise unexplained) event, the story follows an ensemble cast of characters as they try to make sense of the lives in which they remain.

Its ridiculously talented cast includes Justin Theroux, Liv Tyler, Christopher Eccleston and the superb Scott Glenn, they all deliver typically deft performances, contributing to a swirling, brooding, artistically sound drama that by its very nature is exquisitely unpredictable and provocative.

Show Me a Hero

Show Me A Hero

By Gareth Mekwinski, hmv Blackpool

Although on paper a show about the local government battling with the issue of low cost housing might not seem like a particularly gripping prospect, but Show Me a Hero breaks the mould of political drama.

Based upon the book of the same name, this true life story tackles issues of class, religion, and race with skill and respect. Oscar Isaac, in award winning form, is the nucleus of the plot, his character Nick Wacisko exuding equal parts charisma and vulnerability. The supporting cast gravitate around him, showing the effects of the housing crisis on all the walks of life in the city of Yonkers.

Fuelled with a pulsating 80s soundtrack, the journey of both the city and the characters is handled with expert precision by Crash director Paul Haggis. The issues presented in this show remain as relevant today as when they first occurred; it stands as a reminder of how prejudices can challenge and corrupt anybody. 

The Jinx - The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst

The Jinx

By Claire Heywood, hmv Sheffield Meadowhall

Lusting for another true crime fix? Stories do not come more fascinating than The Jinx. There are two bodies, one missing person and one link: Robert Durst, heir to a multi-billion dollar Manhattan estate empire.
This could be the story of a great fiction thriller movie, except this is real and still on-going. From the director of Capturing the Friedmans and the movie All Good Things (which incidentally is based on the disappearance of Durst’s wife), Andrew Jarecki pulls you in and triggers the super sleuth in all of us. So what happened?"

Bored to Death: The Complete Series

Bored To Death

by Gavin Brown, hmv Worcester

A private detective, a magazine editor and a struggling graphic artist. No, this isn't the start of a joke, it's the three main protagonists of Bored To Death, an idiosyncratic comedy about the off the wall adventures of Jonathan Ames, a Brooklyn writer who moonlights as a private detective and his two main confidants.

The cases he takes on with the help of his friends and a crazy cast of outlandish characters take quirky turns as he tries to navigate life and reinvigorate his writing career through his moonlighting. An original and unconventional series, Bored To Death is an offbeat comedy in the best possible way.

Girls: Season 4

Girls

By Mark Dennison, hmv Yeovil

Filling the gap that Sex and the City vacated, Girls follows the trials and tribulations of four New York based, strong, independent young women in their early 20s.

Written and directed by lead actress Lena Dunham, the series is semi­autobiographical which lends an rare authenticity to the characters, both female and male. A brilliant comedy with a harder edge than most, Girls tackles some tough issues but does it with charm and sass.

Looking: Season 1

Looking

By Niall Jeffrey, hmv Inverness

This is a show about life, love, and what it takes to make friendships and relationships work in the modern world. The insecurities and character foibles displayed by the main characters are and should be universal across all sexualities.

The best television should hold a mirror up to life and have us recognise ourselves in the characters and events on screen. That Looking manages to do that, while being by turns hilariously funny and devastatingly emotional, is nothing short of miraculous.

Veep: The Complete Fourth Season

VEEP

By Meena Natsumi, hmv Milton Keynes

From Armando Ianucci, the master behind the iconic political satire The Thick Of It, comes the Emmy Award winning show Veep.

Starring comedic veteran Julia Louis-Drefus and a cast of extremely talented actors; Tony Hale, Anna Clumsky just to name a few, Veep is a monster hit of 'laugh-a-minute' one liners and rapid fire dialogue so smart, that you must watch it on repeat viewings to fully appreciate every nuance of intellectual writing that goes into this show.

Based in the American's Presidential Office, where Louis-Drefus's Vice President Selena bumbles and executes cringe-worthy solutions for real political situations, this show will make you cry with laughter and is a refreshing delight. 

The Newsroom: Season 3

The Newsroom

By Robert Gilroy, hmv Inverness

The Newsroom is about a fictional newsroom dealing with real life events, from the acclaimed creator of The West Wing, Aaron Sorkin delivers one of televisions finest series. Jeff Daniels stars in one of his best roles as Will McAvoy (the role for which he won his Emmy) the lead anchor of the nightly news who decides to deliver the news his way.

This show is one of the most exciting and engaging dramas in long time, with an all star cast and one of the greatest intro scenes ever created, a must see for all television fans. 

Vinyl: The Complete First Season

Vinyl

By Wayne Bailey, hmv Hanley

It's 1973 and the gramophone is king. Who better to tell this story than two men who most definitely lived life to its fullest in those years? Martin Scorsese and Mick Jagger have teamed up to reimagine these halcyon days for HBO.

Tiis is more than just a love letter to their youth though, this is a scathing look at the darkest corners of the corrupt music industry. Shown through the eyes of a passionate record executive, Richie Finestra's 'American Centenary' label is rapidly sinking, and he is crumbling under the pressure of finding the next big thing.

His story is a furious mess of tensions: what sells and what is right for his artists, what feels good and what is right for his family. This is all masterfully presented with some signature Scorsese swagger, all wrapped up in a soundtrack and set design that is so authentic, you might expect a young Jagger to step on screen at any second. We've got the feeling that the record has only just started spinning for this thunderous new series...

Togetherness: Season 1

Togetherness

By Robert Gilroy, hmv Inverness

Togetherness is a charming offbeat drama- comedy, telling the story of four adults dealing with life in their 30s. The series focuses on a struggling married couple, Brett and Michelle who get new housemates when Tina (Michelle's sister) and Alex (an aspiring actor) move in with them.

The show offers a realistic insight into the trials and tribulations of adulthood, from relationships to family to sex and growing old. The series allows the comedy to come from the natural places and awkward moments fund in real life. Togetherness is one of the finest comedies on television right now and while treading old ground, it has something we can all relate to.

Olive Kitteridge

Olive Kitteridge

By Wayne Bailey, hmv Hanley

You'd be forgiven for assuming that a mini-series about a small-town maths teacher might be too humble to be interesting, but Olive Kitteridge is a stirring, generation-spanning portrait of a complex woman.

Formidably portrayed by Frances McDormand, Olive is an icy, abrasive, but good-natured lady whose psychological struggles contaminate her closest relationships. These dysfunctional relations are cast in an unsparingly genuine light, where the trials of love, loss, betrayal, and mental health are explored without cliché.

Buoyed by the delicate, restrained cinematography, this entrancing production reappropriates a Pulitzer prize-winning novel into a peerless depiction of the human condition; one that you won't soon forget.

The Knick: The Complete Second Season

The Knick

By Teyam Peyrie, hmv Bristol Cribbs Causeway

The Knick is textbook TV brilliance. Soderbergh’s almost fly-on-the-wall directing style works perfectly in transporting the viewer to a morbid 1900s New York operating theatre where troubled surgeon John Thackery (Clive Owen) battles death, disease and his own personal demons on a daily basis.

The flawless attention to detail and at times gruesome drama of the show is a no-holds barred ride through the early days of medicine in a city at a time of turmoil, it's not the easiest viewing at times, but viewers that stick with it will be rewarded with a sincere, emotional and clever show that’s every bit as sharp as Thackery’s scalpel.

Ballers: The Complete First Season

Ballers

By Robert Gilroy, hmv Inverness

Ballers is a comedy about the lives of American football players and their agents featuring a great star turn from Dwayne Johnson, who stars as Spencer Strasmore an ex-player who now works as a handler. The series offers an insight into the lives of these professionals (both their on field antics as well as their interesting off field lifestyles...) 

In the same vein as Entourage, Ballers is an interesting and dynamic look at one of the world's richest sports. Featuring a great supporting cast as well as ex-professionals, this is a great series for both fans of American football and those who aren't.