We are currently living in the golden age of television.
In terms of quality and variety, audiences have so much to choose from. Go out for a drink with your buddies and the most common topic of conversation will be the latest TV series you just binge-watched—Game of Thrones, Stranger Things, Narcos, Better Call Saul, and The Walking Dead. The list goes on and on. Pag medyo lasing na, aamin na rin yung nanunuod ng Till I Met You ng JaDine.
Westworld, the newest show from HBO, should be the next talk of the town. The pilot premiered last October 2, and it is the biggest premiere for the cable network in the last three years, with 3.3 million viewers tuning in across all platforms. It's still a far cry from GoT's outstanding numbers (23.3 million viewers per episode last season), but if the first episode is any indication, Westworld may very well be HBO's next big hit. But what is it about exactly?
1) The show is mainly about androids
Anthony Hopkins plays Dr. Robert Ford, the man who designed Westworld
The original Westworld was actually a 1973 movie by Michael Crichton, the best-selling author of Jurassic Park, and creator of the TV classic, ER.
The story revolves around the concept of a theme park, where high-paying customers can immerse themselves in the Wild West and interact with highly intelligent robots who are convinced that they are real people. Each robot has its own backstory and motivation, engaging freely just like real people would.
2) Westworld lets you live out The Sims, Grand Theft Auto, or Red Dead Redemption
Those childhood dreams of riding horses, lassoing bandits, or being like Clint Eastwood in spaghetti westerns, are all possible in this utopia. Westworld plays out like most open-world games in recent years.
The only rule is that robots can't harm humans. Other than that, one is free to do anything the heart desires...and that's where it becomes interesting (and scary). Spend all day screwing prostitutes at a whorehouse if that's your cup of tea. Rob a bank and massacre everyone in it if that's more your speed. Basically, terrorize its inhabitants. Westworld is not just a theme park for the rich, but also a playground to explore a person's depravities.
3) Sounds fun right? Sure (until it isn't)
The great thing about these machines is that they get rebooted every day, like Lucy in 50 First Dates. Memories of "livestock" (as they are called in the park) only last for a day. Even if you blow off the head of the local bartender, he'll simply smile at you when you return.
Of course, people behind the theme park are always out to upgrade their attractions, configuring them to appear and act more human. But what happens in the event of a glitch? What if one day the robots reboot and start to recall the horrible things that occured yesterday? What will happen when they can finally fight back?
4) It boasts a stellar cast and crew
Westworld is produced and partially directed by Jonathan Nolan, brother of acclaimed director Christopher Nolan from the Batman film series. Jonathen actually co-wrote The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, and Interstellar with his brother. Star Trek and Star Wars' director J.J. Abrams serves as an executive producer, ensuring the material is in capable hands.
Anthony Hopkins, who plays Westworld genius Dr. Robert Ford, leads a great acting ensemble. Jeffrey Wright (Angels in America, The Hunger Games) portarys Ford's right hand technician-programmer, Bernard. Evan Rachel Wood is Dolores, a farmer's daughter robot programmed to fall in love with gunslinger Teddy (James Marsden). Veteran character actor Ed Harris plays the mysterious "Man in Black," who is being poised to be the villain of the series.
5) Is it the next GoT?
Fans and critics alike have been searching for the fantasy drama's heir apparent. None of the ongoing shows come close in terms of scale and cultural relevance.
Although obviously too early to tell with the mere pilot, Westworld has the makings of a hit series. Aside from being ultra-compelling, Game of Thrones is known for being quite graphic when it comes to violence and sex. Among the themes of Westworld is human morality, so expect the same elements to make their way sooner or later. And if anything, the budget of $100 million dollars for a 10-episode season already exceeds that of its predecessor.
The mix of production value, superb acting, and engaging plotline puts this science fantasy show in an outstanding position for crtical and commercial acclaim. Stay tuned.