Podcast Review: HBO’s Westworld.
We saddle up the horses and check out HBO’s Westworld’s first season in advance of it returning to the air.
Since we kicked the tires on HBO NOW for our boxing special, we decided it was a good as time as any to check out its latest hit series, Westworld. Starring Anthony Hopkins, Ed Harris, and a supremely talented ensemble cast, Westworld updated a classic sci fi movie into a television experience that quickly filled the void left by Game of Thrones and their long layover between seasons. Nate and I team up to give our impressions of the series, a discussion of creator Michael Crichton’s film history, and a brief run down of the original film.
In the near future, there is an amusement park that can give you the adventure of the Old West without any of the risks. Populated by android hosts indistinguishable from live humans, the park lets you fight, shoot, and romance without any moral compunctions. Everything seems to be going like gangbusters until a new software patch starts allowing the hosts to remember their countless past lives…and they’re none too happy about how they’ve been treated by their human patrons.
The History of Westworld. (Timestamp- 1:37 )
We delve into the original movies, the aborted mini-series in 1980, and the larger cinematic works of creator Michael Crichton.
Episode 1: The Original. (Timestamp- 7:05 )
HBO lives up to the promise of earlier series like Rome and Game of Thrones be delivering a version of the American West that is gorgeously crafted. The first episode introduces you to most of the android hosts and a few of the human gatekeepers who keep them running. While much of the episode is intriguing window dressing to get you hooked, there is enough plot and plenty of visuals to make returning to Westworld a pleasure.
Episode 2: Chestnut. (Timestamp- 12:27 )
In the second episode, we start to see more of the behind-the-scenes sausage making of keeping a park full of androids up and running. This episode really recreates the creative stamp of Michael Crichton’s science fiction without being a slave to the original. We also get more of Ed Harris’ anti-hero Man in Black who is trying to find the center of the simulated world and Anthony Hopkins’ enigmatic creator-figure who is playing a dangerous game with the whole of Westworld.
Episode 3: The Stray. (Timestamp- 19:15 )
The weakest of the first episodes, we finally get some humans into the park. Logan and William are coworkers who are there for different reasons. Logan wants to raise hell while William wants to reinvent himself as a simple man. Their journey highlights the moral questions involved with treating androids like either slaves or saviors. It’s a bit on the nose and is saved by a large arc involving Thandie Newton’s host character, a bordello matron who is slowly regaining memories of her past lives. Oh, and by James Marsden getting murdered in every conceivable way in the Old West.
Binge or Purge? (Timestamp- 26:30 )
We both heartily recommended a binge. Westworld is visually impressive, excellently cast, and walks the fine line of being delightfully depraved. As a fan of the original or a newcomer to the park, you’ll be entertained by what HBO has cooked up. Hopefully we won’t have to wait two years between season 2 and season 3!