Television Man | Aidan Morgan

Reservation Dogs

“Old Man TV/ that Old Man TV/ he cancels series/ after I find them/ he keeps on streaming/ he just keeps streaming on” —Paul Robeson

Friends, frenemies and horse jockeys: I am tired. Have you ever been so tired that your eyes feel like cardboard cut-outs? So tired that every word you utter sounds like a screech but is probably a whisper? That’s how tired I am.

Don’t get me wrong — my fatigue has nothing to do with the hours of sleep I’m getting (although those hours are never enough). Instead, I’m tired of the constant onrush of television shows, their relentless desire to appear on networks and streaming services, their trailers and their teaser trailers and their teaser teasers and their phantom suggestions that travel the slipstreams of night and whisper into my exhausted ear:

“This fall, dragons fight the fight of their lives… in court! Dragon Lawyers, coming soon to NekBlips.”

That’s going to be a show, I guarantee you. The modern television landscape has become a plane of infinite probability in which any show that can exist, will exist. And it will be dumber than you thought.

But there’s some good stuff out there if you shake off that fatigue.

Band Apart

For example, Reservation Dogs (Disney+/Hulu) is now in its second season. An Indigenous-created-and-run comedy-drama, Dogs follows the aimless lives of a group of Oklahoma teens on their reservation as they… do crime. Not do crime. Have visions. Learn something about themselves. The show is hilarious and it’s been renewed for a third season.

Quinta Brunson’s Abbott Elementary (Disney+) follows the Office-style mockumentary format in a resource-starved and largely Black Philadelphia school. It’s one of the funniest and most heart-warming excoriations of the American education system’s cruelty I’ve ever watched. It’s also now in its second season. Highly, highly recommended.

Despite entertaining highlights, most of the Disney+ Star Wars shows have been a nostalgia vortex, pulling characters and storylines into its Skywalker-themed mise en abyme. Who can escape the dead-eyed darkness of those nostalgic pressures?

After three episodes, the answer may be Andor.

A prequel to a prequel (2016’s Rogue One), Andor follows the titular character, played by Diego Luna, as he gradually shifts from a charismatic con artist operating on the fringes of the fringes of the Star Wars universe to a principled but ruthless operative of the Rebellion.

Andor is the best-looking Disney Star Wars television show to date. Instead of relying on the LCD wall known as The Volume, Andor is shot largely on real locations and soundstages, which lends a realism that previous shows could not match. In addition, Tony Gilroy’s scripts are compelling and subtle, giving Andor the exact blend of sophistication and entertainment that a contemporary Star Wars show needs.

Mighty Morphin Power Ringers

The Rings of Power (Prime Video) is dreadfully dull. No amount of money can rescue this misbegotten attempt to graft professional screenwriting techniques to Tolkien’s mythology, and I intend to watch no more than every episode and possibly the featurettes. ■