Watch: One Piece
This anime series has been running since 1999. To date, there are 575 episodes which have aired and it shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon. Having watched many anime series, I’ve often preferred stories with a definitive end, so I was cautious about starting to watch One Piece for this reason. Well, I’ve just finished watching episode 120 and I’m not bored. In fact, I want to keep watching. Even the filler episodes (written mostly by the author of the manga, Eiichiro Oda) are watchable, allowing the world and minor bit characters to develop. The series is about Monkey D Luffy, a young pirate who decides to become King of the Pirates. In order to do so, he has to obtain the legendary treasure One Piece. Luffy gradually builds a crew of interesting characters around him and they go off on wild adventures together. Action-packed, often hilarious with the occasional tug at the heart-strings, I’m glad I’ve invested the time I have so far with this series.
Watch: Boardwalk Empire
Now in its third season, Boardwalk Empire has become one of my must-watch TV series. I’m not going to deny the fact it is a slow-burn series. Story arcs can carry across seasons and there’s a deliberate pacing to many of the plot lines. HBO never spares any expense and Boardwalk Empire is a truly gorgeous series, from the set design to the pale, washed-out wardrobe choices for a number of characters. The third season just aired its penultimate episode, proving to me this show can switch intensity gears at the drop of a hat should it need to without any loss to the writing, direction or impetus of the characters. Outstanding performances and superb casting virtually across the board ensures this prohibition-era drama should continue for years to come.
The latest entry in the Bond series, after the lacklustre Quantum of Solace, Skyfall attempts to re-ignite the brand much like Daniel Craig’s first outing as 007 – Casino Royale did. Skyfall comes very close to doing this and the choice of Sam Mendes as director was a good one. Several nods to the Bond of old will please enthusiasts, and an exceedingly camp-yet-terrifying turn by Javier Bardem as this entry’s ne’er-do-well may be worth the price of admission alone. At times it felt I was watching ‘007: The Dark Knight’ as parts of this film are thematically similar; a seemingly irrepressible force of evil that makes our hero face his limitations and question his raison d’etre. This Bond outing is ensuring we’re right in the thick of our modern timeline, with references to YouTube and lightly handling the presence of global terrorism. Goodness me, MI6 is even held accountable for their actions! While this is a far cry from the hyper-reality Bond of yore, and that may not sit well with long-time fans, this may be the only way Bond can be a viable franchise for the future.