Something to watch tonight: Thursday 18 January
Echo (Dayre, 2023-24)
Producing this newsletter every day – and checking to see whether I am fairly sharing the spoils out among all the various free and paid services – prompts some self-examination.
I have reached an interesting conclusion, and it is that my television (serial storytelling) choices are generally more conservative than my film choices.
Partly, this is because my film choices are dictated much more by what is new and therefore requires my professional attention. TV is much more of a choice, and a choice that requires more negotiation with other members of the household.
Regardless, looking back on what we have been watching since the golden age of Better Call Saul etc. has been the kind of unchallenging comfort watch that television was always known for. I finish work at 10pm on a Friday night and we want to watch something with high production values and not too much to think about. For the last few weeks that has been Monarch: Legacy of Monsters on AppleTV+.
I don’t tend to recommend these shows here because they don’t need my help. The publicity machine will do its job and we happily fall into line along with everyone else.
But, the current retaliation against superhero and comic book stories combined with the fascinating and timely amplification of indigenous stories and storytellers – especially Native American stories – means that the new Disney series Echo is caught between these two conflicting trends and may suffer as a result.
But we enjoyed it and want to encourage you to give it a try.
It’s a follow-up to the 2021 show Hawkeye which featured Alaqua Cox as a deaf (and also physically disabled) antagonist to the heroes played by Jeremy Renner and Hailee Steinfeld.
Echo gives her a back story and a homecoming but it’s important to note that you don’t need to have seen any of the other Marvel shows to pick this story up.
Cox is Maya Lopez, from the Choctaw nation who are now resident in Oklahoma (like the Navajo in Dark Winds and the Osage in Killers of the Flower Moon). Her mother is killed when she is still a child and her father takes her to New York to be brought under the wing of gangland boss Kingpin (Vincent d’Onofrio).
As an adult, she learns that Kingpin orchestrated the murder of her father and in Echo she returns home to plot her revenge.
Why should you watch it?
Only five episodes – a blessing in this day and age.
Her superpowers are ultimately just the ability to channel the strength of her ancestors (which many indigenous people will tell you is par for the course rather than a superpower as such).
The show builds a world that is respectful of (and reliant upon) indigenous belief systems, while remaining lighthearted about them at the same time.
There’s an excellent cliffhangery conclusion which, I guess, is a version of ‘be careful what you wish for’ or ‘every good deed has unintended consequences’.
The music – i.e. the song choices, but I couldn’t find a Music Supervisor credit – is fantastic.
Echo is much more violent than most Marvel or Disney+ shows. Definitely not for youngsters.
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