Greetings! The streaming wars are in full throttle during the pandemic and it seems like every service is overloaded with content. How can you chose the right streaming services and shows? I’ll try to give you some help. Binging the wrong shows can make boredom worse, but there’s plenty of good content available at reasonable prices. Here’s my second round of streaming recommendations. Good luck!
This Stephen King adaptation is a fascinating mystery with a big emphasis on time travel. The protagonist travels back in time to prevent the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Usually, altering history reaps consequences and this situation isn’t an exception. Will the future have positive or negative outcomes if Kennedy survives? This show gives an interesting perspective on potential chain reactions. 11.22.63 is a Hulu miniseries and an easy binge.
I know STARZ is less popular than many streaming services, but it has a lot of good content. American Gods is a very unusual and creative fantasy that showcases ancient deities who are trying to regain power in a technological, nihilistic, and secular world. People have forgotten them, but it doesn’t mean the Gods are extinct. This show is crazy, bizarre, cheeky, and innovative. I’ll admit, this show has some writing issues, but it’s definitely a fun and unique experience.
This comedic drama is a fantastic HBO exclusive with great characters and a lot of depth. Viewers will laugh, cry, gasp, and scratch their heads. The main character is a former soldier who currently works as a hitman. He also dreams of a life in theater, despite having minimal talent and training in acting. At first glance, this show might appear stupid, but it actually has a lot of substance, dark comedy elements, and an excellent performance by Bill Hader as Barry. This show has endless shades of gray and the other characters have questionable elements as well.
I temporarily subscribed to Apple TV+ to watch a war film titled Greyhound, so it seemed like a good idea to watch Apple’s small library of streaming shows. Defending Jacob is a deeply emotional and troubling crime drama that would be a nightmare for anyone who’s a parent of a teenager. A boy named Jacob was accused of murdering another teenager and it’s really hard to uncover the truth. Is he guilty or innocent? Even if Jacob isn’t a murderer, he has serious issues that need to be sorted out. I certainly don’t envy his parents. Expect a lot of twists and a constant list of questions to appear in your head.
This exclusive on Amazon Prime is great for action fans The titular character is a young woman who was genetically engineered and trained to be a mercenary. Another soldier rescues her from the research facility and raises her as his daughter. The plot isn’t particularly complex, but it’s interesting and straight forward. This show has plenty of exciting action scenes and brisk pacing. It’s a very easy binge.
Netflix provides a lot of guilty pleasures. Hemlock Grove is a comedic drama with a solid mixture of supernatural and horror elements. It reminds me of True Blood. Hemlock Grove is trashy, entertaining, darkly comedic, sensual, and pretty interesting. If you enjoy vampires and werewolves, this show will probably be appealing. Just sit back and enjoy the show without overthinking every detail.
Home Before Dark
Apple TV+ has a very impressive library of shows, even though the selection is tiny. Home Before Dark rides the line of the YA genre quite well with a solid mystery, cliffhangers, and a broad list of suspects. It’s surprisingly mature, but still accessible to the entire family. A young girl in elementary school has a natural talent for journalism and plans to uncover dark secrets from a cold case that’s being covered up by the entire town. Home Before Dark has shades of Nancy Drew and enough intrigue to keep the audience guessing.
Are you looking for shock value? I think we all need something to keep us awake during the pandemic. Hunters is a bizarre and entertaining show that blends dark comedy, drama, and action in an alternate version of 1970s America. Nazis have infiltrated the United States and are planning a strategic takeover. However, a group of Nazi hunters are breaking up the regime through espionage and haphazard violence. The character tropes and violence are over the top, but that’s part of the show’s charm. I find the tone inconsistent, but it’s still worth a binge on Amazon Prime.
This show might be one of the most unusual viewing options on HBO Max. The Leftovers is a post-apocalyptic drama that focuses on mankind after a percentage of the human race mysteriously disappeared in thin air. Now the remaining people must cope with their loss and unanswered questions. Tension is pitting everyone against each other and it seems like mankind is losing their minds. It’s a great show, but also very dark and cerebral. I wouldn’t recommend this show for everyone, but it will definitely satisfy a niche crowd who are looking for a unique experience.
Locke & Key
Dark fantasies seem to be a staple on Netflix and this show is one of their better selections. I don’t know if Locke & Key is faithful to the comic book series, but it’s a great binging experience with cool fantasy elements, a splash of mystery, and a series of interesting conflicts. It’s following the vein of Stranger Things and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina with kids who need to save the day from evil forces. Something escaped from another dimension and it has plans for our world. I can tell this show is revving up for a second season.
The Morning Show
It’s another strong drama on Apple TV+. The Morning Show focuses on a morning news show and various chat actors who were affected by sexual misconduct in the workplace. One male news anchor took advantage of female coworkers and it eventually torpedoed his career. This show focuses on corruption, cover ups, people who look the other way, and individuals who want to change the status quo. It’s hard to make huge changes in an industry that has operated a certain way for decades. The Morning Show is powerful and topical, but it might be a tough watch for certain viewers.
Netflix cancelled their Marvel shows a while ago, but you can still binge each series. The Punisher is a brutal action series that’s quite faithful to the source material. It’s not just a bunch of brainless violence. This show has deep character development, criminal intrigue, and plenty of drama. It has a slow start, but the pacing gets better along the way. If you enjoy Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Watchmen, The Boys, and other gritty superhero shows, The Punisher should be up your alley. Get ready for bone crunching action scenes!
This show is surprisingly good with a refreshing take on the superhero genre. It has a dramatic, but less dark tone than the adult comic book shows. A young boy is inexplicably developing strange powers and he doesn’t understand how to control them. His mother is a single parent who’s struggling to protect him in this uncertain environment and it seems like another supernatural being is hunting them. It’s not like the Marvel films, but I would recommend this show for younger audiences and people who prefer less nihilism in their superhero IPs.
Netflix has its share of weird little gems. Russian Doll is a comedy that traps two people in an endless time loop. They relive the day continuously and it doesn’t seem like anything can break the cycle. Together, the odd couple must figure out a solution, which probably meanS looking deep within to sort out personal issues. This show is really entertaining and witty with plenty of substance. It’s a well written show that’s quite a bit different than most streaming exclusives. You’re probably thinking it’s just another take on Groundhog Day, but Russian Doll has quite a few original ideas.
If you like the post-apocalyptic genre, watch this show. See takes place in a distant future, long after the entire human race became blind. Now humans are living in primitive tribes and wage war on their rivals for resources. Two children have the rare gift of sight and they’re huge targets to predators. A wayward family must go on a long journey to find allies, which might include other people who can see. This show can be slow, but it’s original, interesting, and very different than most dystopian shows. It worth a binge if you’re planning to use Apple TV+.
I’m not sure if this supernatural drama makes sense, but it’s definitely unique and an easy binge. A couple lost their baby and are using a doll as a coping mechanism. They even hired a nanny for the doll. But it gets even weirder because a real baby shows up in the crib one day! It’s like their child never died and the nanny probably has supernatural connections that influenced this mystical appearance. After that, everything becomes insane. I like this show, but it probably won’t appeal to everyone. It has many ambiguous elements and really weird supernatural occurrences. Check it out on Apple TV+ if you want something different.
This Netflix original involves time travelers who are trying to prevent a post-apocalyptic future. It’s a well rounded show with interesting characters, plenty of action, drama, and good sci-fi elements. Travelers moves at a breakneck speed without being rushed or confusing. This show seems to have a less convoluted approach to time travel, mostly because it focuses on the task at hand, action set pieces, and conflicts between the characters. If you bore easily, Travelers will probably keep you entertained.
It’s always nice to see a different type of setting. Treme takes place in post-Katrina Louisiana and it focuses on the individuals who are trying to rebuild, cope, and move on. It’s mostly a drama, but the show has several humorous moments as well. The screen writing and acting is very strong, giving the show a lot of depth and thought provoking elements. People handled the Katrina disaster in various ways with some methods less productive than others. If you want to check it out, tune in to HBO Max.
This show might not be sophisticated or complex, but it’s an entertaining watch on Netflix. V Wars is a post-apocalyptic series with a heavy emphasis on action. A virus is turning people into vampires at lightening speed and the protagonist appears to be completely immune. Hopefully, the human race will hang in there long enough for a vaccine. A show called The Strain had a similar premise, but that one was gross. If you’re looking for something fun, action packed, and less complex than some shows, I recommend V Wars.
Honestly, this show is just trashy fun. The first season originally aired on the Lifetime channel, but it was cancelled and then renewed on Netflix. You is a thriller that focuses on a stalker who’s trying to cleverly insert himself in his victim’s life. This show is creepy, interesting, and told through the stalker’s point of view. Don’t worry. It’s not trying to make him look sympathetic. I actually find it clever in a weird way. The show is creepy because I’m sure this type of situation happens in real life sometimes. You is basically a glorified prime time soap opera, but it’s still good popcorn fun.
That should be enough content to keep you busy for a while. I would say Netflix and some of the other major services are smart choices for today’s world. Also, you might want to try Apple TV+ for a single month. You don’t need to keep paying for it continually, but their limited number of shows are very good and worth a binge. I’ll give you more film and game coverage in the upcoming weeks. Eventually, I’ll start blogging about sports again. Many sports teams are resuming their season without audiences and it might be worth a discussion. Keep watching for my content and I’ll give you another fun post next week. Be safe and take care.
Good evening! I’m sure many people are playing games at home because we’re still social distancing and finding safe ways to stay entertained. Both experienced and new players eventually find a series of issues that affect the quality of their gaming experiences. Some games are simply better than others. I can recall specific games that would be excellent if they didn’t have a few fatal problems. Every gamer is different, but I’m sure we all have some recurring pet peeves. I’ll list my pet peeves in games below.
Games are becoming increasingly bigger and more complex. Open world environments make games feel immersive, creative, and cinematic. Even linear games are more sophisticated today. That means a good road map is essential. Otherwise, you’re going to spend hours running around lost. Most games have maps and objectives to follow, but they’re not always clear. The Batman: Arkham games and Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order would be masterpieces if they had better maps. I remember being dazed and confused regularly in those specific games among others. I can think of very few elements that ruin the gaming experience more than bad road maps.
I believe clunky controls are a cardinal sin in gaming. Awesome games allow the player to control the characters and gameplay with ease. The controls can be either simple or complex, but they shouldn’t be particularly frustrating to learn. Fluidity makes the gameplay better and it can be a problem if movement, aiming, combat, and other basic elements are hindered by terrible controls. When enemies attack, you should be shooting them instead of the floor or ceiling. Bad controls are common in survival horror and some players think it makes the experience more frightening. I just think it makes the game seem broken and undeveloped. It’s also a smoke screen that makes a dull game appear scarier.
Bugs and Glitches
Technical issues are pretty common in modern games, especially AAA titles with huge environments. However, some games have an excessive number of bugs and glitches that make the experience almost impossible. Bethesda is one of the biggest offenders, but other companies are guilty too. You can get stuck in walls, start floating around in the air, fall through the ground, or experience other freaky situations. Sometimes you can’t progress through a level because a certain area will never open up. I’ve also seen games crash or freeze entirely. Rage 2 and Vampyr crash almost every thirty minutes. Usually, I give up when a game crashes too many times or has an excessive number of glitches.
Extreme Difficulty Levels
I know many gamers want a really intense and difficult experience. It makes them feel powerful with a huge adrenaline rush. I’m not that type of gamer. Excessive difficulty is just frustrating. The market has a ton of games and I can always find something with better accessibility. A good game should be accessible to everyone, not just professional gamers or people who want an ultra challenging experience. That’s why most games have a variety of difficulty levels, including easy, normal, hard, and others. I think the Dark Souls and Wolfenstein games are insanely difficult. Even their easy settings are pretty extreme. I would say pleasantly challenging is the sweet spot. Games shouldn’t be too easy or hard.
Easy and Boring
The other end of the spectrum also happens. Some games are very easy, rudimentary, and dull. Games usually become dull and repetitive when they don’t pose a challenge. Even games for children should have some challenges. Kirby Star Allies is cute, but it becomes repetitive and boring right away. Whereas Yoshi’s Crafted Island is also simple, but it’s more creative, fun, and less repetitive. Simplicity is fine, but developers need to find something special to keep players engaged.
Some players care about the plot and others are more preoccupied with the gameplay. Neither approach is wrong. It’s just a matter of preference. I prefer a combination of good storytelling and gameplay. It makes the experience more interesting, entertaining, and substantial. Honestly, I’ve seen games with better stories than the average blockbuster movie, including The Outer Worlds, The Last of Us, God of War, Red Dead Redemption II, and Horizon Zero Dawn. That’s why a poor story can affect the experience. It seems like the majority of games should be a little more evolved today. Bad stories make games boring, generic, and forgettable. I’ve seen plenty of exceptions, such as the entire Resident Evil series, but it just doesn’t work for most contemporary games.
Way Too Long
A lot of players will disagree with me on this one. I’m not a fan of games that take weeks or months to finish. The majority of casual gamers don’t have that kind of patience or time. People have jobs, families, hobbies, social lives, and other commitments. That means excessive amounts of time shouldn’t be dedicated to finishing a game. I’ve also seen games that were too short, but excessive length is a more typical problem. Open world games are very enjoyable and developers can get carried away. Periodically, I stop playing a game because it will take forever to complete. Fallout 4 and The Last of Us Part II are a couple of my favorite games, but I still haven’t finished them.
Have you every been blackmailed by a game? Some games have loot boxes that require real world money. Basically, they’re prizes, weapons, characters, levels, and upgrades that can be purchased separately. Occasionally, loot boxes are mandatory to level up a character, obtain certain weapons, or even finish the main story. You want to finish the game? Pay an extra twenty-five or fifty bucks. I don’t mind if loot boxes have superficial items like new outfits, in-game currency, extra ammunition, etc. However, loot boxes shouldn’t be mandatory. Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite requires an outside purchase to obtain almost half of the playable characters. I’ve never played Star Wars: Battlefront II, but it also had a huge controversy about loot boxes.
After a while, everything looks the same in certain games. The gameplay, missions, enemies, and everything else are just reused. The experience becomes pretty boring when a game lacks variety and creativity. I recently noticed this problem in Devil May Cry 5. It’s a fun game with a hack and slash system, but the overall gameplay never changes. You just run through the levels, kill enemies, and fight bosses to progress. Wash, rinse, repeat. In fact, all of the Devil May Cry games look the same. They have very similar combat, enemies, missions, weapons, etc. I like the series overall, but it would be nice to see a little ingenuity.
Outdated Character Issues
Stock characters, stereotypes, and archetypes are commonplace in games. That’s fine, but it’s nice to see variety periodically. I like characters with depth, relatability, personality, and complex backgrounds. Many characters in video games are under developed, bland, and just archetypes that are used in various franchises. Most game villains are also very one dimensional. I’ve noticed additional character issues. Bad voice acting is a common problem that’s completely outdated for today’s standards. It’s also not unusual for female characters to be overly and needlessly sexualized to please male gamers. Basically, I regularly see all kinds of outdated character issues. The situation is getting much better, but it still happens sometimes.
Okay, my fellow gamers. What are your biggest pet peeves in video games? We all have them. Perhaps, I have unrealistic expectations or maybe you agree with my complaints. Tell me about it in the comment section. What do the best games have in common? I’ll probably cover that topic in a separate blog post soon. Thanks a lot for visiting. Please, be careful, wear a mask in public, wash your hands frequently, and stay home if you’re sick. We’ll get through the pandemic together and it will pass much quicker if people are careful. That’s all for now and come back again next week. Bye!
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