So, Serial Season Two is complete, and in my opinion this season has helped firmly cement the show’s status as the premier podcast available on the internet. The two seasons are entirely individual and separate both thematically and conceptually, but are intrinsically linked by the way in which they enthral and enrapture listeners week by week. Where season one was about the fallibility of the human memory and the piecing together of evidence to form a timeline, this season is essentially a denigration of war and all the baggage it brings along with it. When the synopsis of season two was announced, that it was to follow the story of a solider who walked off his base in Afghanistan and was captured and held hostage for five years by the Taliban, I initially had some trepidations that this story wouldn’t be as tight, affecting and personal a story as the one which I loved so much in season one. My fears were swiftly cast aside however, because although this story is much broader in scope and focuses largely on a war – the influence of which was felt around the globe – the crux of the issue rests upon the mental state of a man who was under severe stress and made a bad decision. Sarah Koenig and her team manage to bring this story down to a human level, despite how deep the fundamental issues of this story go, and that showcases what a talented production team Serial has. If someone had somehow never heard about podcasts before and was looking for a recommendation of where to begin, I would look no further than Serial, the perfect example of what this medium is capable of.
I’m halfway through the sophomore season of Daredevil and I don’t know what to make of it. I love several things about it. Jon Bernthal was born to play The Punisher – his sheer physical presence, his look and his tantalisingly gruff voice all help create the most memorable character on this show to date. The action scenes are tremendous, an impeccably lit and choreographed one-shot fight scene in a grimy corridor and stairwell make for one of the most impressive pieces of action I’ve seen on a TV show. Despite this, there’s just something about this season that makes Daredevil a less appealing show than it was in its first season run, and I can’t quite put my finger on it. Maybe it’s the lack of focal, singular villain, akin to what Daredevil’s first season had in Wilson Fisk and Marvel’s other Netflix show Jessica Jones had in the delightfully disturbing Kilgrave. Here there are antagonists, but no central big baddy behind which we can really love to hate or revel in each and every despicable act that they commit. Maybe it’s just the direction they’re taking this story arch; it all seems very tried and tested when placed against something like Jessica Jones, the narrative of which felt fresh and different, and simply didn’t allow for any breaks in the plot. Or maybe it’s just that I have reached my Foggy Nelson endurance threshold, for I have come to realise that he has possibly gained himself a place upon my illustrious Worst Characters In Television list. I groan every time he makes an appearance on screen, and it is increasingly clear that Matt and Karen have a much better time when he’s not third-wheeling all of their hangouts. Okay, this is probably more of a personal point of criticism so I don’t think I can hold it to the show, but I just thought I’d say it anyway. All in all, I’m going to finish this season, but the first half hasn’t enthralled me as much as the first season did, for whatever reason. Elodie Yung’s Elektra has just been introduced, so I’ll see how they weave her character into the seasons overall arch as these next half-dozen episodes play out.