AMC has released another original show and I couldn’t be more excited. Put together by the producers of Pulp Fiction and Django Unchained (and if you’re into it, the creator of Smallville) Into the Badlands is set in a dystopian world that is ruled by Barons. Think of them as southern plantation owners. They have banned the use of firearms and rule with armies of skilled fighters called Clippers. For safety and protection, non-Baron/non-Clipper members of the population (or Cogs) must submit themselves to a life of servitude. Nomads run around wreaking havoc through stealing, smuggling, etc.. And I warn you, this is not for the weak-stomached. There are some seriously brutal fight scenes to be enjoyed here and if you have problems with arms, legs, spines, and any other appendage (or even your whole body) bending the wrong way – stay away from this one.
The main character is a Clipper named Sunny. On a routine mission for his baron, Quinn, he finds a boy (M.K.) who has been targeted by a rival baron (well, the widow of a rival baron) for reasons unknown. He brings the boy back to Quinn’s fortress and encourages him to attempt the path of becoming a clipper. Through various events, Sunny finds out M.K. has a secret power which I will call bloodlust. Basically he’s goes apeshit when he sees his own blood – a killing machine. M.K. gets caught stealing and is to be executed but Sunny helps him escape.
This seems like the key storyline but other side plots include: Quinn having issues with his wife and son, Sonny’s separate problem of getting his lover pregnant (it’s forbidden, of course), and figuring out who the hell this widow is and what her plan is. If you are so inclined, there is an excellent recap on AMC’s homepage here.
So what do I think of this show thus far? I’m pretty fucking excited. There are some obvious blemishes so far: dialogue is a bit awkward at times, I’m not sure how I feel about the characters, it already feels like there may be too many storylines to follow, and – let’s just be honest – the whole premise is a lot to swallow.
But I’m okay with all of this. Let’s chalk up the dialogue issues to it being early in the show’s life and that, remember, even some of the greatest shows needed time to develop their voice. The first episode jumped right into the action and I think sacrificed a bit of opportunity to develop the characters and story to really show off the stunning world that was created and the truly exceptional choreography. Hat-tip to Daniel Wu.
Speaking of Daniel Wu, I’m particularly stoked about seeing an Asian anchoring a dramatic show on a legitimately successful network. With the popularity of Glenn in The Walking Dead and the success of Fresh Off the Boat, I think it’s nice to see the “model minority” finally getting the opportunity to sink its teeth it to some more significant roles. If the first episode is any indication, I think Wu has some promise of becoming a sympathetic character. Stiff dialogue aside, there have been some attempts of injecting some humor and vulnerability to an otherwise one-dimensional, tough guy character.
The other characters need some more time to develop but I’m already interested in learning
more about most of them. Martin Csokas seems to have taken lessons from Kevin Spacey in how to be a ruthless, southern gentleman in his portrayal of Quinn. Quinn’s wife and son show early signs of providing another layer of villainy to the show. And I’m really just curious to find out what’s with M.K.’s bloodlust powers are and where they come from.
Another great thing about this show is that it is on AMC. This network knows how to do their shows right. They want the audience to not only watch but immerse themselves into their shows. This one is no exception. Weekly they are releasing a comic on their website that can be read to provide some additional story. It’s not necessary but it certainly adds to the experience. Check out the first comic here.
So what I’m saying is – I’m in. It may not be for everyone but this just happens to live in a cross-section of two of my favorite things: martial arts and New Orleans culture. Yup, this show is shot in the wonderful city of New Orleans, LA. It’s a bit out there, but it’s creative and has been put together by a group of some pretty successful people. Check back weekly for more thoughts on Into the Badlands from yours truly.
Ten Things I Like and Dislike about TV
1 – Rick and Morty. It took me some time but these two are freaking hilarious. I was hooked after watching an episode about inception that included incepting the leader of an army of genius dogs and seeing a Freddy Krueger knock-off being nervous in scare class. Funny stuff.
2 – Flash continues to be an entertaining show. I also appreciate that they’re letting the whole Iris/Barry unrequited love story basically die for a while. Not a typical CW move. Bringing back Tom Cavanaugh as an alternate Harrison Wells has been great. He’s awesome.
3 – I need a full bullet point for this but fucking ZOOM.
4 – Last season Arrow got a little… sucky? I was still watching it but the hot/annoying scale for Laurel was tipping in the wrong direction and Thea wasn’t showing any more midriff. Joking aside, the story was getting a little angsty and high school. Not a good thing. Looks like they’re moving in a new direction here so hopefully we’ll see more interesting baddies and less, “Why don’t you trust me Oliver?” this season.
5 – Grimm is back and similarly to Arrow, it’s nice to see the Juliette issue finally die (pun intended). I loved the character but that story needed to play out. Fortunately, the show hasn’t wasted any time injecting new, mysterious baddies to keep me coming back.
6 – Sideshow Bob killed Bart. Over and over again. Good for him.
7 – Brooklyn Nine-Nine is back and funny again. Last season was a bit weak for me but more Captain Holt and Gina always fixes my 99 problems.
8 – Sleepy Hollow did away with Katrina. I’m a little behind but she was getting annoying.
9 – Shows that I like getting rid of story lines built around lovers’ quarrels. I don’t mind it for a few episodes but a lot of shows I watch had them dominating the seasons like the Golden State Warriors (shameless Dubs plug).
10 – What the fuck Hulu? Adding a no-ads option this late in the game? I would have rather them charge more from the beginning but now it’s just frustrating because I’m not paying you extra to take away the commercials but it pisses me off waiting for that damn circle to complete and I can move on. Something about this just pisses me off for no good reason.