Sunday, May 13, 2018

TV: Into the Badlands

It's rare for a TV show to find its feet right out of the gate. For every series with a stellar first episode and first season, like "Breaking Bad," there are twenty that need awhile to get going.

Case in point: I watched the first episode of AMC's "Into the Badlands" back when it debuted in 2015, and I liked it okay, but I didn't keep watching at the time. Since then, it's turned into a pretty darn good action series:

The show is one part "Mad Max" and one part wuxia, and follows the exploits of a "Clipper" named Sunny (Daniel Wu, also executive producer). Clippers like Sunny are the warrior/bodyguards of a group of feudal Barons in a post-apocalyptic United States. For whatever reason, the Barons have banished guns from their domain, and the Clippers fight exclusively using Hong Kong wire fu and melodrama. Sunny's life changes forever when he meets a boy named M.K., who might have the key to finding a mythical utopia called Azra.

It's a bonkers premise, even for a network whose two most popular shows have "Walking Dead" in their titles, but it's gotten a lot better since that first episode. Season two introduced much-needed comic relief in the form of Nick Frost's Bajie. More importantly, the show's young actors, Aramis Knight and Ally Ioannides, have gotten much better at their craft, and the plots have moved on from the first season's boring political intrigues. The show is now almost a pure martial arts fantasy, and well worth a second look.


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