UNBINGEDStreaming services, cable TV and Primetime television are fighting for your viewership now more than ever. UNBINGED is here to help you weed through it all, with reviews of the latest shows that highlight what we love, what we hate and what we love to hate-watch, too.

Climate crisis, food insecurity, political corruption and unrest … the end of the world has never seemed closer. And what better way to capitalize on this growing fear than on TV? From global annihilation via the undead and alien invasion to technology’s terrifying and very real takeover of humanity, small screen shows are playing on our fears for entertainment’s sake, and finding big audiences doing so. This week, UnBinged examines apocalyptic TV shows Black Mirror, Walking Dead: Dead City and Secret Invasion, and tells you what’s worthy of your precious time on earth.

Black Mirror- Season 6 (“Streamberry”)

After a long hiatus in which real life seemed to use previous seasons as a playbook, Black Mirror returns to Netflix with their unique vision of contemporary horror for the modern age. Created by Charlie Brooker, early episodes of Black Mirror explored the corruption of society through unchecked technology, illustrating how advancement can bring out the best in science but the worst of humanity.

Black Mirror’s central premise, that development and dependency on technology will eventually bring the downfall of society, merges Neo-Luddism with the Twilight Zone, it’s always deliciously dark. But in this sixth season, the modern-day thrills and chills are a bit muddied as the episodes seem more concerned with twists than the nightmarish anti-tech messaging that often left viewers in a state of shock.

The best episode of the season is “Loch Henry,” which follows two aspiring filmmakers (Samuel Blenkin and Myha’la Herrold) who focus on a local serial killer in rural Scotland. The sinister surprises and dark turns of the story, which also skewers the public’s interest in true crime, are reminiscent of classic Mirror episodes “Shut Up and Dance” or “White Bear” in which a person is destroyed by a singular discovery.

Another standout episode includes “Beyond the Sea,” in which two astronauts (Josh Hartnett and Aaron Paul) make use of replicas while spending years away from their family. When one astronaut loses everything in a horrific tragedy, his partner attempts to find a way to comfort him. It’s an episode that pulls on the heartstrings before ripping them out entirely in one ghastly moment of rage.

Not all of the episodes are great. Some lose their way, and feel like second-rate monster of the week endeavors, while others come off as goofy parodies of the series itself. Though entertaining, they just don’t carry the weight we’ve come to expect from the prestige anthology.

The season opener, “Joan is Awful” pokes fun at streaming services’ reliance on exploitive reality TV and just how far they will go for fresh content. On “Streamberry” (which is eerily similar to Netflix’s in logo and opening audio “ta-dum” sound effect) a sneaky contract agreement gives the producers carte blanche to make content out of the lives of its audiences.

Clever premise, but outside of interesting celebrity turns (Salma Heyek, Annie Murphy) we’ve seen the idea in South Park episodes, and quite frankly, better.  It isn’t breaking new ground or shocking, even if it did get some buzz on Twitter and via a website in which viewers can create their own “Awful” promos (by signing a scary fine print contract).

The uniquely depraved moments and easter eggs of Black Mirror still exist, but with less frequency and far less impactful. Some episodes still represent the series’ vision, highlighting the malevolent elements of humanity and how they’re heightened by technology, but others are just these days, typical TV.

The Walking Dead: Dead City (AMC)

Before the corpse of The Walking Dead even had a chance to cool, The Walking Dead: Dead City rose from its grave. Featuring the once-feared Negan (Jeffery Dean Morgan) and his one-time victim and all-around badass Maggie (Lauren Cohan), the former enemies now must play nice if they hope to survive their next big menacing misadventure: New York.

The unlikely duo team up as they head out to the Big Rotten Apple to find Maggie’s kidnapped son Hershel (Logan Kim), who was taken by a man known as The Croat (Željko Ivanek), an unhinged former comrade of Negan’s who branched out and made Manhattan his own little murderous romping ground. And for bonus funsies, there are also marshals on the hunt for Negan who connects with a small group of survivors who help with the cause.

So, new psychopaths, new enemies, new communities, new cities, and the same old walkers. The problems that plagued the original Walking Dead series – aside from the plague of zombies – was that it became repetitive and formulaic over the years. A small group of survivors creates or finds a new community; internal strife consumes said community (power struggle, cannibalism, a narcissistic leader with a troubled past); community is torn asunder allowing zombies to ravage; survivors move on to dismantle or destroy a new community;  and the cycle comtinues.

The Walking Dead became a bit of a zombie itself in its later years. And while Dead City seems to break a bit from the litany of its predecessor, it still features many of the same elements. Interest in the series might be revived by the promise of decomposing tourist attractions, but Dead City is obviously a show for die-hard Walking Dead fans only, depending heavily on people knowing the history between the two leads.

If you’re a fan of the franchise who stuck with the show over the years through thick and thin — then a trip to New York might be a fun jaunt. Just don’t expect Dead City to breathe any new life into the undead.

Secret Invasion (Disney+)

The groundbreaking comic-book story arc that made readers doubt the identity of every character in the Marvel universe has finally made its way to Disney+. Secret Invasion once again asks audiences, “Who do you trust?” But in this case, the question is a bit more far reaching. Do you trust Disney to handle this important storyline? Can Nick Fury defeat the deadly forces battling against him, like the over saturation of the superhero market?

First introduced to the MCU in 2019’s Captain Marvel, the shape-shifting, homeless Skrulls have been waiting patiently for new digs as promised by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), but after several decades, they can wait no more. The once-affable species is now house hunting on planet Earth, posing a serious risk to mankind. They have infiltrated the ranks of major world powers, forcing Fury to return to Earth and battle the threat.

Fury has seen better days and isn’t the same man he was since “the Blip,” when Thanos erased half the population of the universe, Fury included.  He’s older, he’s slower, and he’s without his elite fighting force. But he’s not alone. Helping in the fight is partner Maria Hill (Colby Smulders) and Skrull BFF Talos (Ben Mendelsohn), while Emilia Clarke pushes her own agenda as a Skrull secret agent G’iah and Oscar-winner Olivia Colman demonstrates a new level of scary as MI6 agent Sonya Falsworth.

The draw here is Jackson as Nick Fury, his first time in the driver’s seat in almost two decades in the MCU. He is, without a doubt, the most beloved part of the Marvel universe. But his charisma and charm, of which there is plenty, can’t help Secret Invasion overcome superhero slump as the project takes itself just a bit too seriously in a day and age when humor is what is needed to overcome both Marvel exhaustion and Disney’s tendency to take a beloved property and beat it into the ground.

Secret Invasion has serious star power and the story will probably have lasting effects on the MCU, but for some, it might prove to be a middling affair. It’s worth a watch for action Jackson in his first MCU starring role, but it’s probably best to wait until all the episodes are available for one straight binge.



















































































































































































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