My Quarantine Watchlist 2: Secret of the Ooze

My Quarantine Rewatch Playlist

Stack of pure goodness

Okay, quick summary of the shows I decided to rewatch during writing sessions, or when I just need to wrap myself in something comforting because the world is collapsing and the attempted solutions, at least where I am, are premature and dangerous so can I please just play Civilization 6 and watch John Reese and Eric Finch save some innocent New Yorkers? I do one disc of each show then rotate.

Here’s the list and why I love it.

Person of Interest

The cast at its peak.
Image: Warner Bros

The basics: Eric Finch (Michael Emerson), or so he calls himself, created a computer that can scan all cameras and electronic communications to predict acts of terror, but it predicts all violent crime. Finch recruits ex-special forces operative John Reese (Jim Caviezel), or so he calls himself, to prevent the crimes the government considers “irrelevant:” violent crimes involving average citizens. With help or hindrance from two NYPD detectives, and eventually the delightfully dry Agent Shaw (Sarah Shahi), Reese and Finch try to protect whoever they can… while also getting caught in a shadow war over surveillance, cyber-warfare, and the emergence of AI.

Why I love it: I mention Person of Interest a lot when discussing my beloved Lucifer, because they share one major quality: using the familiar structure of a case-of-the-week to lure you in before the switch gears to what the show is really about, which in the case of Person of Interest is a paranoid technical conspiracy thriller about emerging AI and the surveillance state. I discussed this with series star Amy Acker, who’s just a delightful person, and she confirmed that’s what creator Jonathan Nolan (who now runs Westworld) was doing.

Michael Emerson is one of TV’s most engaging actors, and he is fascinating as the highly secretive Finch, and Caviezel works great as his agent in the outside world, handing out ass-kickings and shooting a lot of shoulders and kneecaps.

But we also have Shaw, who turned to CIA wetwork when her medical career was stalled by her… mild psychopathy. On the surface, she seems like a government-programmed killing robot, but there’s a lot more to her than that. She does have emotions, even if they’re buried deep down… and when she taps into them, it’s very moving. She was perhaps the best addition to the show’s cast and mythology, other than Reese getting Finch a dog.

There’s also Lionel Fusco’s journey from corrupt cop blackmailed into assisting Reese back to a good man and key ally; Detective Joss Carter’s crusade against the NYPD’s corrupt cop mafia HR; the evolution of Reese and Finch’s nemeses from organized crime figures HR and ruthless mob boss Elias to privacy-based “freedom fighters” Vigilance and Chinese-funded private intelligence agency Decima, who are out to build their own AI, but without The Machine’s conscience; and Root (Amy Acker), a mercenary hacker whose near-religious devotion to The Machine often complicates life for Finch (who she sees as an equal) and Reese (who she sees as a well-trained chimp Finch keeps around)… and definitely for Shaw (who she sees in a much sexier context than she does the boys).

I love this show, it’s a great ride that knows how to keep things moving.

Also I’ve never watched past late season three, for… stupid reasons, and I’ve heard the trend of “Every season is better than the last one” kept going to the very end, so I’m excited to finally confirm that.

Leverage

Sometimes bad guys are the best good guys.
Image: TNT

The basics: Ex-insurance investigator Nathan Ford (Timothy Hutton) leads a team of top criminals he used to chase: violence expert Eliot Spencer (Christian Kane), computer prodigy Alex Hardison (Aldis Hodge), con artist Sophie Devereaux (Gina Bellman), and cat burglar Parker (Beth Reisgraf). Hitter, hacker, grifter, thief. Together, they run cons on corrupt corporations on behalf of their working-class victims. Basically they’re con artist Robin Hoods with delightfully conflicting personalities.

Why I love it: It’s like 65 bite-sized Ocean’s 11s. Is that not enough? Each episode they pull a heist against a memorable character actor that always ends in a satisfying takedown.

Plus show heads Dean Devlin and Amy Berg excel at character-driven adventure comedy series. Look at their follow-up, The Librarians, about a disparate group of misfits brought together to protect a secret repository of magical items. And by “look at” I mean “go watch,” it was also delightful. The Leverage team is such a fun bunch; gruff Eliot, proudly nerdy Hardison; seductive chameleon Sophie; and adorably crazy Parker, who shares elements with Agent Shaw.

This show is just a good time.

Chuck

Lord we may never deserve Zachary Levi.

The basics: Chuck Bartowski, lowly tech support worker at electronics chain Buy More, gets the entire combined intelligence of the CIA and NSA downloaded into his brain, making him a walking computer of covert intel, able to spot any spy or plot when they trigger a “flash” in his brain. Guarded by CIA agent Sarah Walker and gruff NSA operative John Casey, Chuck keeps the world safe from terror… all while still overseeing the lacklustre staff of the Buy More.

Why I love it: In an age of complicated anti-heroes like Don Draper and Tony Soprano, Zachary Levi gave us one of the most inherently lovable protagonists in 21st century TV. He’s hilarious, he’s heartbreaking, his life becomes more and more complicated because he simply can’t not do the right thing. Levi is stellar, and the rest of the cast is great too, even if one of them became a right-wing tool when the show ended.

The spy action works wonderfully, the ensemble is great, I love this show to its core.

Scrubs and Doctor Who

This section got very long, because I love Person of Interest but never get to talk about it, so I’ll just bottom-line these two.

I started listening to Fake Doctors, Real Friends, Zach Braff and Donald Faison’s Scrubs rewatch podcast, and decided to watch along with them. Then once I started rewatching Scrubs I couldn’t stop.

And it’s been a couple of years since I last did an Overthinking Doctor Who post, and I’m now four series behind, so I thought I get back into those. But instead of picking up where I left off, I went aaaallll the way back to 11th Hour and the debut of Matt Smith, Karen Gillan, and the oft-overlooked Arthur Darvill. I blame the tweetalong Doctor Who rewatches for this.

Next page: Watching things on a dare

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