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Something to watch tonight: Thursday 16 November
GUEST POST: Chris Schulz on Reservation Dogs
Something a bit different today: a guest post from another Substacker, Boiler Room’s Chris Schulz. Until recently Chris was a culture writer for The Spinoff and one of the best regular screen reviewers for RNZ’s Nine to Noon.
You can keep your superheroes.
You can have your jedis too.
These days, I’m no longer interested in vampires or werewolves or hobbits or dragons or cute green puppets that get around in hover-cots.
If I get a chance to turn on the TV at the end of the day, I’m just looking for one thing.
A good hang.
By that, I mean I’m after a show that invites me into a world I want to know everything about, one that’s populated by characters that feel lived in, real, and alive.
It’s a tough thing to nail. Few shows get it right. The writing has to be spot on, the level of detail inspired.
Weird slang, clever needle drops and occasional doses of surrealism are all key elements to getting a good hang just right.
Atlanta? Good hang
Succession? Great hang.
The Bear? Incredible hang.
But the best hang currently on screen has to be Reservation Dogs.
For two seasons, Sterlin Harjo and Taika Waititi’s experimental series has crafted a world I want to spend as much time as possible in.
It’s no wonder I’ve fallen for it: the show’s four indigenous teen friends Bear, Cheese, Willie Jack and Elora have a love-hate relationship with their small Oklahoma township. It reminds me of my own relationship with my home town, Whanganui.
They have lost friends and family members there. They have committed crimes there. They have run away from home, then returned with their tails between their legs.
Reservation Dogs is a show that can go anywhere. At times, it’s been funny. At other times, it’s been emotional. It can be simple and sweet, or complicated and crafty.
We’ve had to wait waaay too long to get the third and final season (Disney+, we have beef). But it all landed recently and I've been eeking these episodes out like taking tiny bites of a dessert brownie I never want to end.
Yes, just like Atlanta’s third season, Reservation Dogs spends much of its final run jetting off into weird and wonderful places.
There are dream sequences involving aliens and sasquatches.
There are stand alone episodes about the Deer Lady, a vigilante with cloven hooves and a penchant for pie, and for Spirit, a ghost and spirit guide for Bear who's become a fan favourite thanks to his casual attitude and frequent nakedness.
It gets wonderfully wacky. Some have said it’s a sign this season runs out of steam.
I disagree, because it also gets tender and real. In Frankfurter Sandwich, a stand out episode, Cheese withdraws from his friends and is sent on a forest camping experience with his elders.
There, it turns into an impromptu men’s self-care session that ends with a fair amount of blubbering under the stars.
By the time I get to this season's final episode, I might be doing the same.
* In Boiler Room, Chris Schulz keeps an eye on New Zealand'‘ pop culture scene. Recently, he’s wondered why Limp Bizkit sold out Spark Arena, questioned why no one covered two major music festivals, and interviewed the author of a book about New Zealand’s worst ever concert. Sign up for regular instalments here.
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Where to find Reservation Dogs
Aotearoa: Streaming on Disney+
Australia: Streaming on Binge
USA: Streaming on Hulu
UK: Streaming on Disney+
Over at RNZ I’ve just reviewed the latest wacky Japanese monster movie Shin Ultraman (available on Blu-ray and digital).