5 – Westworld

 

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HBO runs the TV world, this is a known fact. Through classics The Wire and The Sopranos, to current behemoth Game of Thrones the network has set the television programming bar very high. If any readers out there don’t have HBO access – stop looking at this immediately, climb out from under that rock, and sign up right now. In fact, message me I will happily provide my roommate’s log-in info/credit card number. But seriously the network’s reputation is beyond established, so much so that I gladly check out any new show they pump out with very little arm-tugging. Thus obviously, like many, I was intrigued (while watching the also-terrific The Night Of) when I saw the first few ambiguous advertisements for a new show.

 

 

Westworld depicts a theme park in the future, in which wealthy ‘customers’ immerse themselves in a virtual Wild West setting. In this world, the real-life visitors indulge in their wildest fantasies while interacting with artificial beings (“hosts”) who are meticulously programmed to play different supporting roles in this alternate universe. Paying visitors of Westworld cannot be harmed and often engage in behaviors that would be deemed wildly inappropriate and unacceptable in the modern world. By employing space-age technology, the creators of this amusement park watch from above (or below) in fancy laboratories. Breaking down each interaction and story line played out before their eyes, the creators tweak the hosts and western-setting any way seen fit. Of course, things do not go as planned and the hosts start to act out of character as unruly visitors push the park to its limits. The distinctions between the hosts and visitors (and real vs. fake) will seemingly only get murkier and one can only assume more chaos will arise.

 

The show combines drama, western and science-fiction themes to one incredibly well-produced story. It should be noted that the backdrops and scenery in the show are equally spectacular. The acting is superb, with Ed Harris KILLING his role as the resident bad guy and Anthony Hopkins (Hannibal Lector) still showing sharp acting chops as the eccentric creator of Westworld. There’s a variety of other famous-ish actors in the first couple episodes, including my personal favorite cameo from Its Always Sunny’s Liam McPoyle. No need to be intimidated by the brainy android/sci-fi concepts, as the show plays out the story lines become clearer. I know it’s hard to get a real grasp thru two episodes of a show, but the 1:45 run-time of the premiere and subsequent episode paved the groundwork for what is sure to be another HBO masterpiece.

 

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A mega-franchise kick-started by a 1973 film of the same name, Westworld is the latest HBO venture that has sent shock-waves across television communities just two episodes deep. Westworld is one of the many brilliant creations of the late, great writer Michael Crichton. Crichton, clearly obsessed with futuristic/obscure theme parks, was the award-wining writer of the Jurassic Park series. Obviously kidding with the first part, but the similarities between Jurassic Park and Westworld are definitely apparent. If you are the kind of person who considers themselves a television aficionado, or have just the tiniest sliver of a brain, you need to see this show ASAP. It’s not too late!

 

Westworld airs Sunday nights at 8pm CT on HBO

 

 

 

 

 

Photo Credits – HBO.com , Collider.com

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