23 Dec 2019

Tony Stamp's TV picks

From Afternoons, 2:07 pm on 23 December 2019

Tony Stamp is taking a look at the shows you might choose to binge on during the holiday season – including The Witcher, The Expanse and Mr Robot. 

The Witcher is based on a fantasy series of books by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski. To set the premise, Stamp describes it as a bit of Dungeons and Dragons, or Swords and Sorcery type of story.  

He discovered it via the popular video games based on the story.  

“Evidently, it is this hugely successful franchise and this TV series has just been released to Netflix, they’ve already greenlit season 2.  

“If you’re a casual observer you’d say this is Netflix trying to cash in on the popularity of Game of Thrones and I don’t think you’d be completely incorrect in making that assumption. 

“I think it aspires to compete with Game of Thrones, I think the budget is huge but I don’t think it’s anywhere near where as big as Game of Throne’s was, I’m basing that mainly on how the series looks … It’s sort like watching the same show but it’s been shrunken down.” 

However, Stamps says some parts are hard to be decipher if you’re not knowledgeable on the full story, just like with the first episode Netflix synopsis: “Hostile townsfolk and a cunning mage greet Geralt in the town of Blaviken. Ciri finds her royal world upended when Nilfgaard sets its sights on Cintra.” 

“I watched the first episode last night, most of it disappeared from my brain as soon as it entered, maybe that will change going forward but I just found it slightly impenetrable," Stamp says.

Superman star Henry Cavill is the lead and it’s likely his charming visuals will appeal to the demographic, Stamp says. Although, he notes Cavill has an interesting delivery that follows the character in the video game with a gruff voice. 

“It started really promising, the first scene has him fighting a big monster, that is the idea behind the show, is that he’s a monster hunter. I was like great, I’m on board, but as I say then it gets into this sort of palace intrigue and all these characters I’m not familiar with and I kind of lost interest, having said that I’ll keep trying.” 

The Expanse Season 4 

This is another series that’s based on books by Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck. It was first launched on the SyFy channel in America as space epic set in the future on Earth, Mars, and The Belt - a civilisation based around an asteroid belt. 

Stamp says the show focuses on humans and how they’ve been colonising planets. 

“Watching it feels a little bit like The Wire – famous HBO series that was set it in Baltimore – except how The Wire painted a picture of Baltimore, this sort of paints a picture of all these different planets and how they interact with each other.  

“It is a science-fiction set in space, so it is a little bit silly and a little bit Star Trekky, but it also has a mind to sort of talk about these broader societal issues and gets into the nitty gritty of this stuff.” 

Stamp says he appreciates the amount of detail that’s gone in creating the story and although it may seem dense at first, it’s a gripping story once you get into it. 

He lists the superb acting from Samoan-Kiwi Frankie Adams – who has previously featured on Shortland St - as one of the reasons people should watch. 

"I think she is far and away the best thing about this series, she is such a good actor and her character is just so dynamic and she’s the person on the screen that your eyes are always drawn to.  

“The best thing is that everyone else has these American and British accents and she’s in there with her broad as Kiwi accent … and it sort of catches your attention.  

“She’s also deadpan in her delivery, like a lot of Kiwis are, but very expressive with her face. She’s sort of like the tough guy of the show.” 

The series can be watched on Amazon Prime. 

Mr Robot Season 4 

Stamp says he’s stayed loyal to the show – featuring Rami Malek and Christian Slater - and continued watching, although others may have fallen off the bandwagon after Season 1.  

“Rami Malek in particular is doing amazing stuff, he’s such a good actor and its great he’s getting accolades for movies but I think he’s really at home in Mr Robot.” 

Stamp says the series is definitely worth watching, even for those who fell off, it’s worth getting back into. 

The show is about to come to an end with a final double episode on 23 December. You can tune back in on lightbox