ThePopHub’s Best tv of 2018

Another year, another mixed bag of television that saw everything from The Walking Dead and it’s spin-off Fear The Walking Dead kill off some of their main characters, a Bachelor walk away without choosing anyone to love, cooking show My Kitchen Rules run for almost half of the year, A former Olympian win Survivor, the return of classics Roseanne (now re-branded as The Conner‘s) and Murphy Brown in present day reboots, not a single episode of Game of Thrones air on our screens,  and a handmaiden give birth solo in the snow.    

Check out my list of the shows that I could not get enough of in 2018.

TELEVISION 2018

Fear The Walking Dead – FOXTEL

Time jump!  Yay!  Nick (Frank Dillane) and Madison (Kim Dickens) killed off!  Boo!  New survivors!  Yay!  The June (Jenna Elfman) and John Dorrie (Garret Dillahunt) budding romance!  Yay!  Morgan!  Boo!  A lot of ups and downs this year for Fear but this fourth season proved the be the one of the shows best to date.

American Horror Story: Apocalypse – FOXTEL

They literally shoved almost every past AHS season into this single season and yeah, the time jumping between pre and post apocalypse made things hard to follow but getting our witches back, including swamp witch Misty Day (Lily Rabe) AND Jessica Lange returning as Constance Langdon…ahh, it was a good season.  Honorable mention goes to the haircuts Evan Peters (as Jeff Pfister) and Billy Eichner (as Mutt Nutter) sported.

Playing for Keeps – Network Ten

So yeah, the ratings for Network 10’s new AFL drama Playing for Keeps were a bit shit but that said, this little Aussie Footballers Wives-esque show was scandalously steamy enough to keep me coming back week after week.  A dead football player, cheating, lies, scandals, paparazzi’s and closeted AFL player were just some of the juicy story-lines for Playing’s premiere season.  

Sharp Objects – FOXTEL

There’s slow paced television and then there’s HBO’s dark and dreary Sharp Objects that REALLY pushed the limits of just how minimalist with information each episode could be as it propelled itself forward to its conclusion.  Thankfully there was ridiculously strong performances from Amy Adams and Patricia Clarkson to make the whole thing work

 The X-Files – Network Ten

It took me a while to make my way through all ten episodes of The X-Files‘ eleventh season, not because it was a hard watch, but because there has been just too much to watch this year!  That said, season eleven provided some of the best stand alone episodes the show has seen for some time with episodes like Plus One, Rm9sbG93ZXJz and Familiar which showcased the literal best of The X-Files and the unusual and frankly…oddball cases they investigate.

Greys Anatomy – 7Flix

Seriously, season fifteen has been all about Levi Schmitt (Jake Borelli) and his journey of self discovery that is leading him to a sweet romance with ortho doc Nico Kim (Alex Landi).  The whole thing, including Borelli is just too cute.  Plus, Levi’s sun sword speech in the fall finale was like the one single moment this year in television that caused me to bawl like a baby.  Uber feels.

Bodyguard – Netflix

‘Edge of your seat’ is the ONLY way to this fantastic terror-drama that follows police officer David Budd (Richard Madden) as he finds himself delving deeper and deeper into a widening web of political drama where bomb threats and assassination attempts become daily fare.  You’ll be hooked within the first ten minutes.

Big Mouth – Netflix

Season one was so wonderfully vulgar and downright crude it wasn’t possible for this very adult animated comedy to go any further, then season two dropped.  It was just as brash and ridiculous and even more shockingly funny.

Schitt’s Creek – Netlix

It’s virtually impossible to pick one single standout thing from this years season of the hilariously funny creation from stars Eugene and Dan Levy.  From Patrick (Noah Reid) serenading David (Dan Levy) with an acoustic version of Simply the Best to Alexis (Annie Francis) reuniting with former bae Ted (Dustin Mulligan) to the weekly hi-jinks Moira (Catherine O’Hara), Johnny (Eugene Levy) and Stevie (Emily Hampshire) would get get into there is always something to laugh at, feel for and literally love.

Killing Eve – SBS

A beautiful, soulless assassin who travels the globe while being hunted down by Sandra Oh?!  Count me in!  Killing Eve‘s classic cat and mouse tale re-imagined with female leads offered up powerhouse performances from both Sandra Oh as MI5 security agent Eve Polastri and Jodie Comer as restless assassin Villanelle.  While Eve slowed a bit in the middle episodes of the season, the tension between Eve and Villanelle is just too good to look past.  

Survivor : Champions Vs Contenders (Network Ten) and David Vs Goliath 9GO!

Our very own version of Survivor pitted every day Aussies against a bunch of *mostly* well known Australians which created another great season of the show that was never short of shocks.  Survivor Benji however takes the cake for creating two of the most gasp worthy moments – his blindside of Sharn, convincing her to play her idol for herself, resulting in big player Matt Dyson’s exit and, well I only need to say one word – NACHOS.  

Meanwhile American Survivor (currently airing as of writing) has brought forth some unlikely big players such as socially awkward robotics scientist Christian and Kentucky based public defender Nick though it was the tribal council that involved publishing CEO Natalie Cole’s exit that has provided one of the most iconic low-key exists in recent Survivor history.  “Natalie….can I have your jacket?”

Black Mirror: Netflix

Technically, Black Mirror’s fourth season dropped in 2017 but like two days prior to the new year so i’m placing it in this 2018 list.  And once again, the anthology series put forth a selection of mind bending and truly intriguing episodes including the very very very excellent USS Callister, the highly terrifying Metalhead and this season’s answer to the ultimate episode Black Mirror episode San Junipero – Hang The DJ

Honorable Mentions:

The Handmaids Tale (SBS), Insatiable (Netflix), How to Get Away with Murder (7Flix),  911 (Channel 7), Wentworth (Foxtel)

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Can ‘The Conners’ Survive Without Roseanne?

Lecy Goranson and Sara Gilbert in The Connors.  (c)ABC

Can Roseanne survive without Roseanne?  That’s the one big question on everyone’s tongues when it comes to the Roseanne rehash titled The Conners.  When Roseanne returned to screens earlier this year, it did so with a major political vengeance and brought in millions of viewers.  That version of the show retained its original biting humor and comedic look at working class living and offered a touching nod to the original. 

Then Roseanne went on a ambien induced twitter tirade that saw her make offence and racist comments about former Obama administration adviser Valerie Jarrett and suddenly ABC cancelled the show and cut all ties with its namesake thus leaving an entire staff of cast and crew suddenly out of a job.

The news also meant that here in Australia, Channel Ten pulled any unaired episodes off its schedule.

So as it goes, that didn’t last very long and show made a quick return to our screens, now titled ‘The Conners’ and did so without Roseanne allowing instead the series to land safely on the shoulders of John Goodman, Laurie Metcalf and Sara Gilbert.  Yes, Roseanne is gone and without adding spoilers, how she goes and the ripples it causes, continue throughout the first four episodes.  But don’t assume that’s the new tone of the show.  Roseanne’s absence causes the first episode to go to some dark places as Dan comes to terms with just what happened, how it happened and who was responsible but the overall tone remains the same blue collar family comedy, just with less political/pro trump propaganda that littered Roseanne’s reboot season.

As noted, Goodman, Metcalf and Gilbert come front and centre to take charge while Lecy Goranson (Becky) continues to improve with each and every episode.  It’s just a shame that Michael Fishman’s DJ Connor is kind of tossed to the side like an unwanted salad that came with your parma.  As a staple from the original series, he kind of had to be there but aside from his war veteran wife and daughter, Fishman retains the least amount of scenes of the core cast per episode.  

So long story short….The Conners works incredibly well without Roseanne.  There is an absence though you’re not distracted by it.  No beat was missed from Roseanne to The Conners and it’s a testament to the entire returning cast and crew who became unemployed off the back of one single cast member.

Premieres Thursday, 22 November From 7.30pm with a Double Episode on Network TEN

Get to Know the Grey’s Anatomy Interns in B-Team Spin-Off.

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The current batch of Grey’s Anatomy interns have been around for a while now but we’re finally getting to know a little more about them in a Grey’s spin-off series!

That new batch of doe-eyed wannabe doctors that we first met back at the beginning of Grey’s fourteenth season are finally getting their own back story in the form of mini-webisodes titled Grey’s Anatomy: B-Team, created to bridge the span between the show’s fourteenth and fifteenth seasons where our interns become a stronger fixture with the established doctors.

The six, two and bit minute long episodes take us back to their very first day at Grey/Sloan Memorial with each episode taking point from the view of different interns, helped along the way by familiar faces including Owen Hunt (Kevin McKidd), Alex Karev (Justin Chambers) and Miranda Bailey (Chanda Wilson) who almost recreates her very first meeting with Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) in the pilot of Grey’s Anatomy with this new batch of interns.

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Jake Borelli stars as intern Levi ‘Glasses’ Schmitt  Photo: ABC

While we’ve already gotten to know Sam (Jeanine Mason) via her romantic past with DeLuca (Giacomo Gianiotti) and Levi Schmitt (Jake Borelli) who was given the nickname “glasses” after his glasses fell into an open patient mid-surgery, the rest of the interns (Sophia Taylor Ali as Dahlia, Alex Blue Davis as Casey, Jaicy Elliot as Taryn and Rushi Kota as Vik) are given some screen time even though it’s in a limited format.

It’s just a shame that this spin-off (directed by Grey’s own Sarah Drew AKA April Kepner) is offered in such small doses.  Two and a half-odd minutes is not long enough to really get our Greys juices flowing and we’re left wanting more.

No word as yet on when Season fifteen begins on our screens.

Grey’s Anatomy B-Team is now available to stream on 7Plus.

Why Netflix’s Great News is Your New Binge Worthy Show

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Briga Heelan and Nicole Ritchie star in Great News now streaming on Netflix Australia

To kick this review off, I’ll just start off my saying Great News is…well…GREAT!  Low-ball comedy here from me but Great News comes to us from trusted stock in the form of Tracey Wigfield, Tina Fey and Robert Carlock – all familiar names to those who knew and loved (and still love) 30 Rock.  

The pedigree of those behind the scenes shines through in the cutting yet hilarious take on life behind the camera on The Breakdown, a nightly news program broadcast from New Jersey where executive producer Greg (Adam Campbell) has to deal with egotistical and old-school co-anchor Chuck Pierce (John-Michael Higgins) and his millenial co-host Portia (Nicole Richie) while news producer and lead character Katie Wendleson (Briga Heelan) is trying to vie for meatier stories to work on all the while dealing with her helicopter mom Carol (Andrea Martin) who has just been hired as an intern.

But don’t think that the mother-daughter relationship that plays between Katie who is dying to earn more respect and responsibilities at work and her overbearing mother Carol who has found her way into Katie’s work life as an intern is your usual sit-com fare as the snappy and quick witted script pushes this work place comedy into territory seen in Arrested Development (and of course 30 Rock) and the gone-too-soon Ground Floor and Cougar Town.

Martin’s Andrea, who has been out of the workforce for decades has been hired (out of spite by Greg) to be Chuck Pierce’s intern who, in similar age to Andrea, is struggling to keep relevant in a fast moving, technological era where news stories are delivered via Snap Chat and Facebook and becomes increasingly worried his age and lack of ability to keep up will be the end of his reporting career.  And I quote “Like, who is Snapchat and is he one of the Minions? And are they all Pokémen?”

The biggest shame surrounding Great News is the fact it only survived two seasons before being cancelled by NBC only to find a new life in the world of on-demand television on Netflix.

Check out the trailer below:

Great News season one is now streaming on Netflix Australia

New Soul Calibur 6 Game Mode Revealed Plus DLC Character

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Tira announced as new DLC Character

In some exciting news released out of the Bandai Namco camp regarding their upcoming Soul Calibur VI game, custom character creation is back, not only for arcade and versus modes but also along with a new single player game mode called Libra of Souls.

Being touted as an updated Chronicles of the Sword from Soul Calibur III (which has easily been the best mode ever to come out of the Soul Calibur series) that will see your custom created character (made from a selection of sixteen races including mummies, skeletons and automatons) go on a quest to stop “a new evil mastermind” from gathering the Soul Edge shards. Characters from the main storyline, Chronicle of Souls, as well as other players’ custom fighters will appear throughout Libra of Souls.

Matches in this mode will also have their own specific rules that Bandai Namco says will let players shape their own path.

Custom fighters from Libra of Souls can also be used in online casual and ranked matches.

Check out the reveal trailer below which also offers a look at some of the customization that will be available.

Also announced is fan favorite Tira, who will be making a return as a standalone DLC purchase or free for those who have pre-ordered the season pass.

SOul Calibur 6 is set for release in October

 

Series Review: 9-1-1 on Channel 7

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Let’s be real here.  Those cop/doctor/fireman procedurals flooding the airwaves right now, would not really make for exciting watching if the emergencies they were attending were not of major grandeur.  A bomb in chest of a man, multiple plane crashes, a 20 story apartment building on fire with no fire exits….it’s rudimentary that the bigger the emergency, the bigger the show (no matter how outlandish) and that’s what new show 9-1-1 is aiming to do – except most of the emergencies featured in each episode are based off actual real-life events.

Created by the minds of Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk  (American Horror Story, GLEE, Nip/Tuck)  this ‘first responders’ drama takes the most insane “what could possibly go wrong” horrors and amps them up ten fold to offer up some of the most skin crawling, “ewwww” ensuing and spine tingling emergencies.

Let’s just say a new born baby flushed down a toilet in the series opening episode (written by Murphy, Falchuk, and showrunner/co-creator Tim Minear and directed by Murphy series regular Bradley Buecker) isn’t even scraping the surface of what’s to come.

Along with the freakishly outlandish scenarios, 9-1-1 is fitted out with a dream cast of core characters including Angela Bassett as tough as nails cop Athena who is dealing with some home life dramas, Peter Krause as fire station captain Bobby Nash who is a recovering addict with a family secret he’s not telling anyone (well just yet), Connie Britton as 9-1-1 responder Abby Clark who is struggling to balance work and looking after her ailing mother and Oliver Stark as the rookie rule-breaker firefighter who may or may not be a sex addict.

The day jobs of these characters see them often intertwining with one another though Britton’s 9-1-1 call centre responder Abby Clark is virtually cut from any real involvement until she forcibly inserts herself into the life of young firefighter Buck.

Of all our heroes personal struggles, I found Krause’s Bobby Nash the most difficult to swallow with his former addict status sending him to the local priest to confess his sins on a regular basis.  It does takes five episodes of this sullen and private Bobby to finally reveal just what is causing him such depression and that reveal in itself is quite shocking and heart breaking but once revealed and dealt with, is quickly swept under the rug and never mentioned again.

For the most part, 9-1-1 seems to offer up a somewhat even balance between the  daily emergencies our heroes deal with and the personal struggles waiting for them at home though a note I took down while watching the first few episodes read “get back to the life saving action!!” – not to say that the home life aspect of our heroes was boring.

9-1-1 starts Wednesday August 1st, 8:30pm Channel 7.

 

Could the Wave 2 FRIENDS Pop! Vinyls Be Any Cooler?!

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The first wave of FRIENDS Pop! Vinyls released back in 2016 remain a collectors favorite even though the wave has now been vaulted and prices on the secondary market have sky rocketed (around the $90 to $110 price point).

The original character releases were more character specific than episodic specific with Monica in her chef whites, Ross with pet monkey Marcel, Joey and Chandler with ‘chick’ and ‘duck’, Rachel in her Central Perk uniform and Phoebe with her guitar.

That’s all about to change with the recently revealed wave 2 of the FRIENDS Pop! Vinyls which are heavily episodic specific and perfectly iconic for each character.

First up in Chandler Bing (Matthew Perry) from the season 10 episode 11 titled “The One Where the Stripper Cries” which offers an 80’s college-era flash back with Chandler rocking a Flock of Seagulls inspired hairstyle.

 

Next in the line, and from the same episode, is Ross Geller (David Schwimmer) also in flashback form with his tight perm and matching mustache holding an episodically identical pamphlet for their band “Way, no Way!”

 

Also from this very same episode AND flashback is the third in the line, Rachel Green (Jennifer Aniston) rocking high hair, garish outfit and plastic red drinking cup.

Moving onto a new episode is the next release, Joey Tribbiani (Matt LeBlanc) from season 3 episode 2 (and one of my personal favorite episodes) “The One Where No One is Ready” where Joey, frustrated with Chandler’s antics, wears ALL of Chandlers clothing.

Season 9, Episode 24 “The One in Barbados: Part 2” get’s the Monica Geller (Courteney Cox) treatment with Monica’s god-awful braids, gotten in an attempt to deal with the high humidity in…well Barbados.

Last up is Phoebe Buffay (Lisa Kudrow) sporting her Supergirl outfit from Season 8, episode 6 titled “The One With the Halloween Party” where Phoebe causes the break-up of her twin sister Ursula’s engagement to Eric played by Sean Penn.

 

These new wave of pops are pretty epic with incredible detail for the hardcore FRIENDS fans though the only thing I can pick up on is with Monica’s hairstyle which is evened off at one length versus her varying braid length as seen in the episode.

Are these going to be on your must-get list?  Sound off in the comments section!

Watch this space for release dates and pre-order details!

PS – I’m totally devastated we still haven’t got a Fat Monica Pop! Vinyl who I think was much more iconic and memorable than corn-row Monica!

First Look: Barbie Signature X-Files Scully and Mulder Dolls

It’s been 20 years since Mattel released the first ever X-Files Mulder and Scully Barbie gift set featuring the spooky duo in conjunction with the very first X-Files movie, all the way back in 1998.

There were two versions of the gift set produced, the first and rarer version, was quickly pulled from shelves because it was deemed that Scully’s hair was too long and promptly replaced with a second release with shorter hair.

Fast forward 20 years later and the first images of new brand new Mulder and Scully Barbie Signature dolls have leaked online showcasing brand new sculpts of the duo made specially for this release.

Each doll is packaged separately and while not 100% confirmed, may seem to include some points of articulation.  Both are dressed in screen accurate outfits from the show along with ID and FBI badges,

Slated to release later this month, one of the Scully dolls has already appeared on eBay (where the images came from) so it can’t be too soon before we see them hit our local retailers!

Case Pre-Order now up at Entertainment Earth!

Same Same but Different for Cycle 24 of America’s Next Top Model.

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Cycle 3 winner Eva Pigford and Nigel Barker return this season of Top Model

Tyra is back ya’ll!  The face and name associated with America’s Next Model has snatched back the hosting gig out of the lingering grasp of last years host Rita Ora and is making a change (but not really a change) to the modeling competition reality show she has hosted for all but one of the 24 cycles.

Now onto cycle 24 (yes 24!!) Tyra is back and smizier than ever, joined by Paper Magazine editor Drew Roach , model Ashley Graham and celebrity stylist Law Roach as judges.

Kicking Rita Ora to the curb, Tyra set out to put together the ‘most diverse group of models ever seen on Top Model’, taking it back to an all female casting call, removing the age limit of 27, bringing in more than one plus-sized contestant and throwing in the ability for any girl to be cut at any time seen fit by Tyra and her co-judges.

From here, we’re back to the usual Top Model fare with the annual ‘casting session’ where a random selection of girls are trotted out, interviewed and are then to present the judges with one of their own photos from their over-filtered Instagram or a previous photo shoot.

Cut to an actual photo shoot on the grounds of Greystone Mansion in Los Angeles featuring some elaborate couture outfits where we get a quick glimpse at some of the girls who straight-up outshine the others, a quick cut of some of the girls who struggled and a runway walk to determine the 14 finalists making their way into the model mansion.

Once inside the mansion, our models true colors start to shine and the ‘normal’ girls are identified and hushed away while the cray cray ones are singled out for ‘editing purposes’ such as 19 year old Idaho native Liberty could have been our front contender for the ‘unstable one’ classification as the gushes about her political support for Trump, but it’s loose cannon Liz and sapsorrow Brendi who get singled out as the troubled ones in the season – and..as you will quickly see….rightfully so.

This cycle 24 offers a few ‘Flashback Friday’ feels to it with former judge Nigel Barker coming back for a shoot along with cycle three winner Eva Marcille (Pigford) returning to recreate one of her most memorable shoots from her cycle.  There’s also contestant Erin, who at 42 years of age looks flawless and brings all her 90’s model glam to each and every of her shoots.

In reality though, there is never going to be anything new within the world of Top Model.  We’ll pick our favorites, they’ll do some photo shoots, they may or may not make it to the finale, we’ll watch with glee as some of the girls literally meltdown right in front of our eyes and the group will segregate themselves into ‘bitchy’ and ‘not that bitchy’ groups.  There’s tears, tantrums, walkouts and Tyra – but did we ever really need anything more from Top Model for it to be classed as our guilty pleasure?!

And as always, the make-over episode is the one to watch!  It comes pretty early on this season too and will see one girl literately loose all her hair – and still look stunning.

America’s Next Top Model begins June 26th, 8.30pm on Fox8.

‘Evil Genius’ – Netflix’s Newest Must-Watch Crime Series

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Brian Wells moments before his untimely death – Netflix

The True Crime genre love that has been drawing in viewers for some time now from Making a Murderer to The Keepers and The Staircase among others, has a new must-watch show featuring one of the most bizarre cases ever documented.  Evil Genius: The True Story of America’s Most Diabolical Bank Heist recently dropped on Netflix and the four part documentary has enough of all the right genre ingredients for it to be binged in a single sit and leave us wanting more.

At the very base of this case is the town of Eerie, Pennsylvania and a pizza delivery driver named Brian Wells who robs a bank with a working walking cane gun (it’s literally something out of James Bond), a note demanding $250,000 – and a collar bomb around his neck.

After obtaining less than $9000, Wells leaves the bank, is apprehended and while waiting for the bomb squad to arrive, dies when said collar bomb explodes in one very graphic and horrific scene that has traumatized me since viewing. Moments after Well’s shocking death, it’s discovered he was on a scavenger hunt, following a map and instructions in order to defuse the Saw like collar bomb.

The web of this case begins to expand when one of Well’s co-workers mysteriously dies only days later and two people – Bill Rothstein and Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong – enter the fray with a third dead body sitting frozen in Rothstien’s chest freezer.

This fascinating case features master mind criminals, red herrings, crazy theories and law enforcement bungles – just as others in the genre have – but unlike those, the focus on the judicial system is just a haze as the unusual circumstances within this case are just too outlandish to not be put front and centre.

Of the two criminals in this case, Diehl-Armstrong is the only one still alive and the only one to actively communicate with director Trey Borzillieri about Well’s case and the ever expanding landscape that surrounds it.

Check out the trailer below:

Evil Genius is streaming now on Netflix Australia/New Zealand.

p.s – for fans of the genre’, the compelling The Staircase is coming to Netflix along with three all-new episodes starting on June 8th!

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