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Show of the Day: Sons of Anarchy

12 Jul

I’ve watched Sons of Anarchy over the last couple of months, in drips and drabs and spurts, generally watching a few in a row, and then taking a break between seasons, and it’s probably the biggest TV series backlog project that I’ve taken on in quite a while.  (Downton Abbey, the other series I caught up on earlier this spring was only two seasons, and one of them was especially short).  I temporarily forget the different speed and intensity and blurring together that happens when watching many epsidoes of a show in a row, rather than week to week, year to year.  For that reason, I’ve found people who watch a show marathon-style versus as it airs sometimes come to different conclusions and opinions about series.

I’ve gone back and forth in my opinion of Sons of Anarchy overall.  I’m going to hopefully post another piece or two on the show; this one will be an overview without specific spoilers.  Right now, I feel like SoA is a good show, but not a great show, like the Sopranos, or The Wire, or the Breaking Bads, or Mad Mens of the world.  That’s not really all that much of an insult; those are the very top hour long TV shows of the past fifteen years, and not many shows will match them.  Still, it bears saying.  Sons of Anarchy resides somewhere in the tier of a Boardwalk Empire, or a Friday Night Lights; very good but also flawed enough to prevent them from reaching the pinnacle (I know many people would have my head for not putting Friday Night Lights above these, but that’s a discussion for another day).

Here’s the basic premise.  Main character Jackson Teller (“Jax” for short) is the Vice President and heir apparent of the Charming, California branch of the Sons of Anarchy motorcycle club.

Pause a second:  It’s interesting to note, that the way I felt about the motorcycle club culture in Sons of Anarchy mirrors the way I felt about Dixie mafia culture watching Justified; they were cultures I couldn’t relate to and had absolutely no idea existed.  This contrasts with, say, east cost Italian mafia culture of Sopranos, which The Godfather and Martin Scorsese basically made the go-to organized crime syndicates, and which often take place in New York or other Northeastern metropolitan areas.

So, Sons of Anarchy is a motorcycle club with branches all over the western United States, but the founding and head branch, nicknamed Samcro, for Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club Redwood Original stands in fictional “city” Charming which seems to be having a shit ton of issues for a town of 20,000 people, half the size of the suburban town I’m from.  Charming is in Northern California.  Samcro legitimately operate a mechanic shop, and illegitimately run guns, operate protection rackets, and participate in a number of other profit generating activities, though notably not drugs.  Most of their money comes from their gun trade.  They also run the town, having the sheriff and county police in their pocket, and basically commit crimes openly in the streets with their Sons of Anarchy jackets on with no repercussions.   What’s amazing is that they do all this with only about eight people total in their charter.  But this is how it goes.

Jackson Teller is the son of dead co-founder of the club John Teller, and in the first episode, Jackson finds a manuscript John left him about change he wanted for the club.  His mother, Gemma Teller is now married to the club’s co-founder and current president Clay Morrow.   The central conflict of the show is often between Jax and Clay, and just as often is not.

My quick take early on was to view Sons of Anarchy as an inverse of the Sopranos formula.  Instead of the patriarch, Tony in Sopranos, and Clay in Sons of Anarchy, being the primary character, it as if the heir, which would be, and I’m aware this is extremely loose analogizing, Christopher in Sopranos was the star.  Obviously a lot of things happen over the course of Sopranos that change Christopher and Tony’s relationship, and Jax is already VP when the show begins, higher up than Christopher, but I think as a very basic rubric that approach holds true.  Jax is constantly juggling what’s best for his club and what’s best for his family, as well as how to keep moving the club forward without endangering everything he believe in.

The three main characters are certainly Jax, Clay, and Gemma, but also main cast members are other members of the Sons, and Jax’s high school sweetheart who just moved back to Charming, Tara.  The other Sons include, Seargeant at Arms Tig, an enforcer who is kind of insane, Chibs, a chipper Scotsman who is generally loyal to Jax, Bobby “Elvis” Monson, the overweight long-suffering treasurer, Piney, John Teller’s best friend and Sons co-founder, Opie, Piney’s son and Jax’s best friend, and Juice, the younger Puerto Rican hacker.  The corrupt yet friendly older sheriff named Unser is a fairly important character as is his younger no-nonsense associate who can’t wait to take over and take on SAMCRO. The different members of SAMCRO get occasionally important stories depending on episode, while Clay, Jax, and Gemma have key stories in just about every episode.

There’s your cast of characters and some quick spoiler free information.  More in depth plot discussion will have to wait for future posts.

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Show of the Day: Downton Abbey

12 Jan

I’ll admit, I had no idea what Downton Abbey was about other than being an English period drama until earlier this week.  In fact, I kept reading it incorrectly as “Downtown Abbey” which conjures a very different idea in the mind.  After watching the seven episode first season though, I’m certainly glad I know more about it now.

Downton Abbey is about the residents of the titular location, an estate in Northern England, including both the aristocratic family who run the Abbey, and the serving men and women who make the Abbey run.  A third economic class is introduced in the second episode when an upper middle class lawyer and his mother move into the Abbey because the lawyer has become the new heir to the title and estate after the old heir died in the Titanic disaster.

Downton Abbey is about as British as British gets.  It’s like Gosford Park without the murder.  (Note: I had absolutely no idea it was from the same writer as Gosford Park until I had finished five episodes, but it makes perfect sense.)  One of the essentially European aristocratic core issues at hand is the secession of the estate and title, as well as the marrying off of the three daughters of the current Lord and Lady of the estate.  Downton Abbey takes place at a crucial junction in time at which both love and position count in constituting a match, and the battle between the two occurs throughout the show.

Downton Abbey is a soap opera at its heart, a less serious show than critically acclaimed series of the period such as Mad Men and Breaking Bad.  However, it also deals with the class structure in an interesting, albeit generally unrealistically sunny and positive way.  The lord and lady of Downton Abbey are generally benelovent, but can’t avoid their learned feelings of noblesse oblige.  Even between the Lord and Lady, there are issues, as the lady is an American who Lord Grantham originally married for her money, which was necessary to save the estate.  The men and women of the serving class deal with vastly different problems than the aristocracy, largely, but also some similar programs.  Downton Abbey takes place at a similar time as far more serious show Boardwalk Empire, when the times are changing rapidly, but the characters largely try to change as little as absolutely necessary to adapt.  The biggest rift, aside from class, is generational, as the three daughters, to various degrees, are far more ready to embrace the less stratified world than their parents and grandparents.

I knew I was on board for good when I started rooting for and against characters, even yelling at my TV, and not in the angry at the show way, but in an angry at the characters way.  As far as the rogues gallery goes, Maggie Smith is fantastic as the cantankerous matriarch of the house, mother to the current lord, the Dowager Countess Violet.  She’s quick with an insult and is a protector of all things traditional, proper and conservative in the wake of attempts at forced changes to the social order from outside the estate.  Her foil is lawyer and new heir Matthew Crawley’s mother, who is the one character who is extremely progressive for her generation, and is the only character stubborn enough to not give in to the Dowager Countess, much to Smith’s dismay.

The most villainous characters are probably footman Thomas and maid Mrs. O’Brien, who are constantly scheming to get their personal nemesis valet Mr. Bates fired.  Bates, a newly hired footman at the beginning of the show, harbors some sort of secret, but seems a much better sort than Thomas (just one season of the show has me describing people as a “sort”).  Thomas is cruel to the other footman, William, and constantly flirts with cook’s assistant Daisy who is just about the only character who doesn’t realize that his affections are reserved for men.

Eldest daughter Mary I wouldn’t quite call a villain, but it’s frustrating watching her constant immaturity on display through the first season, as well as the way she treats her youngest sister Edith, drawing every man’s attention even when she’s not interested, just because she can.  Edith reciprocates with immature behavior to get back at Mary.  There are characters to root for as well.  Middle daughter Sybil is by far my favorite of the three (though the  other two have grown on me over time; it’s a sign of a good show when it’s able to make you like the characters you hated at first).  Sybil gets less screen time than Mary in the first season, but she’s the most political and most willing to attempt to break free from the social restrictions of the time.  Lord Grantham is better 1910s version of Tim Allen’s character in Last Man Standing.  Inherently conservative, but well-meaning, he’s caught between all the women in his life, including his daughters, wife and mother.  He wants to do what’s best within the narrow parameters he’s grown up with, but often ends up mediating a dispute between the women and takes a compromise position.  Matthew Crawley, the new heir, is a middle class lawyer, who struggles to fit into an aristocratic lifestyle.  He doesn’t always succeed, but he manages to turn general resentment from the family when he first arrives to sincere affection.

One note before I finish up: The strangest aspect of Downton Abbey is how quick it skips through time between episodes.  In the vast majority of TV shows, a season takes place over a single season or year, with episodes reasonable close together in time to one another.  Downton Abbey defies that convention.  The first episode takes place in 1912, but the show is in 1914 by season’s end, and the second season jumps even more.  This is hard to compute, given my understanding of traditional TV scheduling, and left me slightly discombobulated.  Eventually I was able to just accept that the primary reason for this seems to be to move into certain historical events (World War I!), and that nothing really important happens on the estate during the months we’re not seeing.

Show of the Day: Treme

2 Dec

I just finished watching the second and most recent season of Treme.  I don’t know anybody else who is interested in watching it and while I can’t say I blame them for not knowing better, I feel the need to do a little bit of proselytizing.

Treme is about a variety of characters in post-Katrina New Orleans, picking up a few months after the storm.  I ironically watched the majority of the episodes as Hurricane Irene swept through New York which hopefully made the show more poignant.  I have never met anyone who watches Treme, and I honestly had no interest in the show except for the outstanding reviews it was getting and the fact it was created by David Simon who created one of my favorite shows of all time, The Wire.

If you think The Wire was rather unsubtle about pointing out the dysfunction of the police and the media in Baltimore (which it was), you’ll have to deal with just as much and more of that unsubtlety regarding the mishandling of government money and the obstacles in the struggle to rebuild in New Orleans.

In most shows the main characters are connected by some combination of three bonds.  The characters are usually co-workers, friends or family (co-workers in particular I am stretching to mean a lot – people stuck together in the same physical location, like prisoners in Oz).  In Treme, many of the characters are not related at all to other characters, or at most come into contact with one another once or twice at chance times during the course of the show.  In theory, this approach means there’s a concern about a lack of cohesion in the show and a worry that there won’t be enough time to tell complex and interesting stories about the number of characters that Simon tends to cram in, even with full hour episodes.

In spite of all these potential problems, creators Simon and Eric Overmyer have a gift for storytelling which transcends all the challenges laid out before them.  Even though there’s plenty of relatively heavy handed lessons about the troubles of New Orleans, Simon and Overmyer generally do a good job of letting the characters show these issues rather than lecturing at us.  Even more importantly, via the excellent writing and acting the characters come to life before us and are three dimensional, interesting, and cause the viewer to actually care about them.  The plots continue to take interesting turns.  There’s nothing sudden and exciting like in Breaking Bad, but these characters’ arcs weave in ways that hit the sweet spot of being not always predictable but feeling consistent with the characters.

Like The Wire in Baltimore, Treme examines a number of different facets of New Orleans culture, but instead of the police, the drug trade, the schools, dock workers and the media, it’s the music world, the restaurant industry, real estate development and well, the police and the schools.  Like The Wire, depression is all around at various times, but there’s just enough hope to keep you from getting too down at any one point.  I might even dare to say Treme is more hopeful than The Wire.  Music is extremely important in Treme; almost half the characters are involved with music professionally one way or another.  The roll call of characters include Davis, a goofy DJ, Annie and Sonny, a pair of street musicians, LaDonna, a bar owner, Antoine, a trombone player, Toni, a civil rights lawyer, Janette, a chef, Albert, a Mardi Gras Indian Chief, and his son Delmond, an esteemed jazz trumpeter, Terry, a police officer, and Nelson, a developer.  I know the list of characters is long, but I wanted to give a sense of the occupations.  I’d love to expand, but talking about the characters in any more depth is going to require additional entries.

As much as anything, Treme is a paean to the city of New Orleans.  I was concerned I wouldn’t care for that.  Not because I don’t care for New Orleans, but because I really don’t understand any of the extremely distinctive bits of New Orleans culture which represent major moments in Treme.  I don’t know anything about Mardi Gras or the Feast of St. Joseph or Jazz Fest or anything about the New Orleans music scene outside of Lil Wayne and I thought that would affect my enjoyment of the show.  I was wrong.  The show is very much about New Orleans, but even more than enjoying the show without knowing anything about New Orleans, you can enjoy the show without caring anything about New Orleans.  Simon’s shows are so successful because no matter how important the messaging is to him, all of this comes in second to strong story.

Show of the Day: Sesame Street – Snuffleupagus edition

25 Nov

There’s pages and books and so forth that could be written about Sesame Street, a kids show that’s run on PBS for over forty years and which several generations of children, including my own, have grown up with.  That’s way too much to handle in one entry.  Instead I’m going to focus on two moments both revolving around Snuffleupagus which I find particularly interesting.

Snuffleupagus (actually a last name – his first name is Aloysius) is a wooly mammoth-like creature with a trunk-like nose known as a “snuffle” (these are all technical terms).

The first moment is in regard to the ongoing question, which lasted for the first 15 years of the show, over whether Snuffleupagus (“Snuffy”) was real of merely a figment of Big Bird’s imagination.  Big Bird was constantly trying to convince everyone on Sesame Street that Snuffy was real, but there were many who didn’t buy what Big Bird was selling.  By the mid-80s, two camps had emerged – Snuffy believers and Snuffy non-believers.  As part of his attempts to persaude the adults, Big Bird would set up many scenarios to prove Snuffy’s existence, but Snuffy would walk away just before the adults could see him.  Kids and occasional guest starts sometimes saw Snuffy, but Big Bird was at loose ends trying to show the adults.

Eventually in episode 2096, airing on November 18, 1985, Big Bird concocts yet another plan to show the adults that Snuffy is real.  By now, he’s won some support to his side.  Gordon, Linda and Maria are in the Snuffy camp, but Bob and Susan still think he’s  imaginary.  Big Bird’s latest plan is to shout a secret word while Snuffy is present, in this case “food”, at which point the adults will run quickly and see Snuffy.  Bird tries it quickly once, but Snuffy has already run off to tell his mom about Big Bird’s plan.  Determined not to be foiled again, Big Bird assigns Elmo to watch out and ensure that Snuffy does not leave when Big Bird next yells the secret word.  Elmo does his job, hanging on to Snuffy’s snuffle, even as the snuffle goes flying back and forth, and just in time the adults come in and meet Snuffy for the very first time.  The disbelievers are surprised and very apologetic to Big Bird who reveals it was hard on him to know that his friends didn’t believe him.  Eventually all the adults introduce themselves to Snuffy, including Phil Donahue (what could be more ‘80s?) who was on Sesame Street to pick up his toaster from the fix-it shop.

The primary motivation to introduce Snuffy as real to the world was in response to a series of prominent child sexual abuse scandals in the early and mid-80s.  Sesame Street’s writers were concerned that the message they were sending, by having many adults not believe Big Bird, was that you couldn’t tell your parents everything because of the risk that they wouldn’t believe you and that it was better to just say nothing at all.  By showing that Big Bird is right, they were hoping to convey the opposite message, that parents will listen to their kids and that kids should not be afraid to tell their parents anything.  Secondarily, the writers may have been tired of constantly making up new ways for Snuffy to just avoid being seen by the adults.

The second pivotal Mr. Snuffleupagus moment is Snuffy’s parents getting divorced, which is part of an episode which never actually aired (colloquially known as “Snuffy’s Parents Get a Divorce”) from 1992.  Sesame Street doesn’t do “very special” episodes very often, and whether you love the show or not, I think it takes its responsibility with young children very seriously, so when it does an important episode, it’s worth taking notice.  The most notable of these episodes is the death of Mr. Hoooper in 1983 but perhaps the second most is “Snuffy’s Parents Get a Divorce.”  After years of debate, Sesame Street writers decided they wanted to attempt to address the issue of divorce on the program, and quickly decided that it would have to be related to the puppets rather than to any of the adults on the show.  Snffleupagus was chosen and the initial script was passed around to psychologists as well as members of the show’s advisory board.  Edits were suggested to quell the worry that children would think that arguments between parents automatically led to divorce.  The episode was filmed with these edits, but test audiences did not take well to the episode.  Even with the edits, kids still felt that arguments between their parents would inevitably lead to divorce.  They also were confused about whether Aloysius and his sister Alice would ever see their father again, and he was a rarely used character.  Maybe even worst of all, many of the kids watching got the idea that after divorce their parents would no longer love them.

The entire episode was scrapped and replaced with a storyline about Oscar’s brother visiting Sesame Street.  It was a noble attempt, but the writers decided that divorce was outside of the realm of issues they could address to kids of the age Sesame Street is aiming for.

Show of the Day: Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?

18 Nov

When I was young, though not so much anymore, geography was my bag.  I styled myself an expert, winning my elementary school geography bee in 5th grade, and I was captivated by both the Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego series of games, which I dominated (well, the Where in the USA version – the Europe version was still kind of a nightmare) as well as by the game show, which aired on PBS, a network I watched my fair share of a kid without cable.

The show was hosted by Greg Lee, whose main claim to fame aside for this job was voicing the principal on Doug.  The contestants were kids from 10-14, old enough to be familiar with geography but young enough for some answers not to be obvious (though who am I kidding, myself, and I’m sure many others, had their peak of geographic knowledge around those years).  At the beginning of an episode, the other primary recurring character, The Chief, would announce which one of Carmen’s gang did the stealing and what landmark they stole.  Carmen generally was hands off herself – she had removed herself from day-to-day theft operations and was simply masterminding, perhaps in an attempt to make it more difficult to tie her to the crime (though the RICO statute probably made it more difficult).  Unfortunately her talents for crime were not matched by her talents of picking out quality associates, with incompetents like Patty Larceny, Vic the Slick and twin team Double Trouble working for her.  There were also more out-there minions, such as Robocrook, which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like, and Kneemoi, a shape-shifting alien and space outlaw.  The Chief is portrayed by Lynn Thigpen, who tragically died in 2003.  She had a number of film and TV roles, but I knew her best outside Carmen for her role in The Warriors as the radio announcer (“Stay tuned boppers”) in which you don’t actually see anything other than her lips.  She was a regular on early ‘2000s show The District.

The show consists of several segments.  First, general questions which moved into a “lightning round.”  The contestants would then watch an animated “phone tap” sketch in which Carmen would talk with the episode’s thief, (the segment  seems to possibly violate some serious fourth amendment rights (it is not revealed whether there are warrants for these wiretaps)).  When contestants correctly answered questions they received not points, but “ACME crime bucks.”  I’m still unclear on exactly what those crime bucks are redeemable for, and why a detective agency would have its own currency.  Next is “The Chase” while contestants answer questions while trying to ascertain where the thief is hiding out.  After this, one contestant is knocked out and the remaining two play the next round which is Carmen Sandiego’s version of Clue – they most locate the loot, the warrant and the crook (loot and crook I get – I have no idea why the warrant would be hidden).  The first contestant to get all three wins, and moves on to the final round.

The final round is the map round, in which the winner is asked to place markers with sirens on the top in specific countries within a continent (or in the first two seasons states within the US).  For example, if the continent is Asia, Lee would name Indonesia, and the contestant would keep trying until he correctly placed the marker on Indonesia on the map or pass.  Unfortunately for some contestants, not all continents are created equal.  Getting the US was a relative slam dunk compared to getting saddled with Africa.  Could you point out Burkina Faso on a map?

Apparently a German version was produced with the far catchier title of agd um die Welt – Schnappt Carmen Sandiego! or “Chase Around the World: Catch Carmen Sandiego” which sounds far more action oriented.

The most enduring legacy of the show may be a capella group Rockapella’s theme song, which was played at the end of every episode.

Before the theme, Lee would always command – DO IT ROCKAPELLA! (skip to 6:40 for the song, but start earlier if you want to enjoy a rare Africa map win)

Show of the Day: Sherlock

11 Nov

I do look forward to writing about some shows that I haven’t seen yet, but until then I’ll feel free to write some occasional glowing reviews for shows that I think everyone should give a chance.

In this case, it’s the BBC’s Sherlock, a modern day adaptation of Sherlock Holmes, taking Holmes and Watson to the 21st century without losing the feel of the original stories, which is no mean feat (though taking place a century before animated program Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century).  British TV is a whole treasure trove of television with which I’m not entirely familiar.  I’ve dipped my toe in occasionally (Extras, Peep Show) but there’s so much more (I’ve just watched the first episode of Dr. Who, and I hear great things about Luther and Spaced) that I haven’t even given a try yet because these British shows find their way out of mind since it’s hard to read about them unless you specifically look for them.

I’ve only seen a handful of the Jeremy Britt Sherlock Holmes (The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, technically) which was filmed from 1984 to 1994, but I’ve always liked them, and they were extremely straightforward attempts at capturing Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories.  Sherlock is a little bit more loose but I think bigger Holmes fans than I (and I’ve read a number of the stories) would still appreciate the adaptation.

Holmes is portrayed by an actor with the most British of names, Benedict Cumberbatch (his middle names are Timothy Carlton, which could be an extremely British person by itself).  Watson is portrayed by Martin Freeman who played Tim in the original The Office and Arthur Dent in the film version of A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (and will star as Bildo Baggins in the 2012 Peter Jackson adapation of The Hobbit, giving him key roles in adaptations of three of Britain’s most treasured literary works of the last century or so).  Instead of typical dramatic hour long episodes, the BBC produced three 90 minute episodes each structured around one mystery.  These mysteries are not taken directl from Holmes stories, rather they’re combinations of stories modernized for the present time.  Watson, for example, is a veteran of the Afghanistan war.  Holmes constantly uses modern technology such as texting or GPS or other computer related help, keeping up with Holmes’ devotion to the latest technology, albeit a bit different than the latest technology in the early 20th century.

I watched all three episodes with bigger Sherlock Holmes fans than I and both of my friends noticed allusions and references everywhere to various events in various stories.  The mysteries in each were compelling and delightful, but importantly, for a show like this, they were enjoyable aside from just wanting to know what happened and who did it, adding replay value.  Both actors and the excellent writing foster a compelling relationship between Watson and Holmes.  Compared to the ongoing Guy Ritchie Sherlock Holmes franchise with a dashing action hero Holmes, Sherlock, though it takes place a hundred years in the future, is more faithful to the spirit of the original Holmes stories.  It does exactly what the best indirect adaptations do; modernize or put an interesting spin on beloved source material while keeping the elements of what people loved about it in the first place.

It’s a relatively small time commitment for a show of very high quality, a worthy investment of time all around.  It was so successful that it will be back for three more hour and a half episodes early next year.

Show of the Day: Cowboy Bebop

4 Nov

As people who actually know anything anime go, I don’t really know very much at all.  As people who know nothing about anime go, I know a relatively fair amount.  I watched very little until I was in college, only a little bit of what was on Cartoon Network’s Toonami or Adult Swim, mostly Dragonball Z.  I started watching it when it turned out a good number of my college friends were high ups in our school’s anime club.  I never got into it the way the most devoted club members were, but every once in a while a show would come along that captivated me, and I would download it and watch the rest.

Anime, unsurpsingly to me, is like most television.  There’s a lot of it, some of it is bad, most of it is mediocre, and some of it is very good.  That said, some of it is easier to get into for people who aren’t into anime or even animation than others.  Some are more approachable series for novices to dip their toes in the japanimated water.

If there’s one series that from my limited anime experience, but my ability to appreciate learning to become an anime fan, would serve as a good opening note, it’s Cowboy Bebop.  Many animes have a limited number of episodes, which makes for relatively easy viewing, and Cowboy Bebop has a mere 26 (of course, some, like Dragonball Z with 291, are the exact opposite).  It’s a space western, in the spirit of shows like Firefly (which it preceded), which is basically what it sounds like – a show with a western feel in terms of wide open spaces and lawlessness but set, well, in space.  It’s only loosely serial as  most episodes stand on their own, with the exception of a few at the beginning and the end and a couple in between.  It aired in 1998-99 and features four main characters, two bounty hunters, Spike and Jet who travel around space on missions, and Faye, an attractive gambling addict and fugitive, and Ed, a young computer hacker girl, who join the ship later.

Cowboy Bebop is an action adventure show, and the plots are accessible and interesting, with a mix of comedy, action and drama.  Generally each episode features the gang trying to capture one bounty, complete with pratfalls and dangers along the way.  The major on-going plot involves Spike and his relationship with his ex-Crime Syndicate partner Vicious (yeah, that name should probably be a sign you’re not dealing with somebody great).  The animation style is relatively similar to American animation for an anime.  This is largely not coincidence, as the style is geared towards looking distinctly American, though a bit old-timey, with a 1940s and ‘50s film noir feel.  The theme sequence, displayed below, is also fantastic and has received praise on its own regard.

As someone who hasn’t watched an anime series almost since college, I shouldn’t really be advocating anything to do with anime, but one of the benefits of this blog is that I’ve pored over lots of TV I’ve watched over the years and put aside, remembering some shows I haven’t thought about in years but loved.  I’ve also tried out new TV I probably wouldn’t have given a chance before.  Basically, if you’ve never given anime a chance and you’re at least ever so slightly interested, Cowboy Bebop is a very good way to go.