In the early going, “High Fidelity” (February, Hulu) so precisely re-creates several iconic scenes from the 2000 movie that it’s like watching a painful amateur stage production of a classic play. We might as well be rewatching the film or reading Nick Hornby’s 1995 book. But as the 10-episode Season 1 moves forward, it starts to repurpose the familiar scenes in new ways, and it ultimately justifies its existence.
Voices from the Street” (written in 1952, published in 2007) was Philip K. Dick’s last published novel — finally hitting shelves a quarter-century after his death. One might therefore assume it’s a middling curiosity, but it’s actually an outstanding achievement, all the more amazing because Dick wrote it when he was 24, about the same age as his protagonist and stand-in Stuart Hadley. The sprawling character piece is like a more muscular answer to J.D. Salinger’s “Catcher in the Rye” (1951) — raising the question of why publishers considered it to have no audience at the time — and it also calls to mind modern movies such as “Office Space” (1999) and “The Good Girl” (2002).
Even fairly serious “Terminator” fans might not know about this oddity: There was a prequel movie to “Salvation” – sort of. “Terminator Salvation: The Machinima Series” (2009) is a six-episode web series with video-game animation that functions as a 75-minute movie. Thankfully, it’s not like watching someone play a video game. It’s driven by Resistance pilot Blair Williams (voiced by Moon Bloodgood) and hacker Laz Howard, a.k.a. Ghost (voiced by Cam Clarke), who can disrupt communications signals with a secret code.
With an unusually long gap between new Marvel Cinematic Universe releases, I decided to finally check out “Marvel’s Runaways” Season 1 (2017-18, Hulu). Now through three seasons, it’s part of the young-adult wing of the MCU, and I appreciate that it’s more colorful, sunnier (it’s set in Los Angeles, the opposite side of the continent from most MCU goings-on) and more fathomable than the other YA series, Freeform’s recently canceled “Cloak & Dagger.” It also has an amazing cast, but Season 1 has one big problem at its core.
The idea of zombie fiction featuring great character development and performances was old hat by the time of “Train to Busan” (2016); the Tens were dominated by TV’s “The Walking Dead,” after all. But while the Korean film from writer Park Joo-suk and director Yeon Sang-ho doesn’t break new ground, it covers every inch of the old ground expertly, giving us an elite piece of zombie fiction that steadily plows forward and never runs off the track.
The coronavirus of 2020 is pretty scary, but it’s nothing compared to what theaters scared up in 1995. In addition to “Outbreak,” that year gave us “12 Monkeys,” wherein a virus in 1997 kills off 5 billion people, leading to a post-apocalyptic world where humans live underground in miserable fashion. The film has the grimy production design, stark camera angles and general quirkiness you’d expect from director Terry Gilliam (“Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” “Brazil”), along with a screenplay by David Webb Peoples (“Blade Runner”) and Janet Peoples that’s more confusing than it needs to be.
Roswell, New Mexico” (Mondays, CW) returns with an excellent Season 2 premiere that smoothly reminds us of the threads from the long-ago Season 1 while also moving things forward. “Stay (I Missed You)” is written by showrunner Carina Adly MacKenzie, who continues to tap into the spirit of the original “Roswell” – the small-town haunts, the star-crossed romances, the alien mysteries, the ’90s tunes — while making a show that is often slicker and even better than its forbearer. Even though I love the original series more, I admire the way “RNM” is walking that fine line.
Ilove the fact that there are still some weekly shows on TV (as opposed to all-in-one seasonal drops), but “Westworld” (Sundays, HBO) is not the ideal show for this format. Then again, even when binged, it’s hard to keep all the characters and their goals straight. Still, after a Season 2 that I found tough to get through, I decided to give Season 3 a chance. And the season premiere, “Parce Domine,” is one of the best episodes of the series to date.
In Milton Lumky Territory” (written in 1958, published in 1985) is at first glance one of Philip K. Dick’s lesser novels. It’s among his rare non-science fiction works, but it’s mundane even by that standard, lacking exceedingly weird people and crazy schemes. (A wholesale typewriter quest is a rare topic, but not a crazy one.) Yet it’s one of his most thorough and thoughtful portrayals of a marriage, and ultimately its workaday nature is more of a feature than a bug, resulting in pleasant, non-stressful reading.
The six-issue “Enemy of My Enemy” (2014, Dark Horse Comics) is a throwback to the early days of Dark Horse’s “Terminator” comics. It’s for fans of “The Terminator” as a concept rather than the specific story of Sarah, Kyle and John. But it becomes an increasingly strong character piece from writer Dan Jolley as it goes forward, and by the end, I was ready for more stories about Farrow Greene, a discredited special agent who finds herself joining forces with a T-800.