Best of NYCC: Man in the High Castle, Outlander, & American Gods Shine

Fans gathered from across the country to get a chance to get the first glimpse of first episodes or trailers of new and returning television shows at this past weekend’s New York Comic Con.

From the intensity of Amazon’s The Man in the High Castle to the over the top animated and sometimes vulgar comedy of Netflix’s Big Mouth, the television seasons and trailers of the shows released at NYCC seem to represent a theme of revolution, revolt, and tension coming to a head. If these teasers and spoilers are any hint, we are in for an exciting season of revolutionary art and storytelling on our television or computer screens.

Here’s the lowdown on the four best shows out of this year’s NYCC:

Man in the High Castle

Amazon’s The Man in the High Castle, based on the novel by the same name written by Phillip K. Dick imagines a world in which the Allies lost World War II, and the United States was divided among its victors. The former U.S. is comprised of Japan controlling the Pacific States in the West and the Greater Nazi Reich controlling the East Coast, and a lawless “Neutral Zone” filled with anarchists, revolutionaries, refugees, and convicts on the run around Colorado. Tensions are high, the threat of nuclear war is at an all time peak, and characters discover the power to travel between or glimpse into alternate universes or timelines for a chance to predict or change the fate of their own.

*Spoilers for The Man in the High Castle seasons one and two ahead*

Fans at NYCC were able to screen the first episode of the highly anticipated third season on Thursday evening before the full season was released on Amazon Prime at midnight on Friday, and hear from the cast and producers. The season picks up after Juliana kills Dixon and flees to the neutral zone, Trudy is discovered to be alive and well despite being gunned down in the series premiere (who turns out to be a Trudy from another timeline, John Smith’s son turns himself in to the authorities, and Joe Blake is taken into custody.

Season three focuses on the activities of men and women in the neutral zone and the growing of a resistance movement. It also features new and exciting characters played by African American actors, which makes this show even more of a model television program in terms of representation. Juliana (played by Alexa Davalos daughter of Philip K. Dick)  and Trudy explore alternate timelines, and the producers hint that we will get to witness a lot more timeline-travel this season. Perhaps the most emotional part of the first episode was watching the relationship between John and Helen Smith begin to unravel after the death of their son, and his representation as a hero and a martyr in the Nazi Reich. Tensions are certainly rising in this new season, with the hashtag #revolutionrising being used in all promotions.  Alexa Davalos also shared that the writers were able to use some material from an unpublished sequel to The Man in the High Castle that her father wrote in scripting the newest season. All episodes are now available on Amazon Prime for your binging pleasure.


Big Mouth

Netflix’s Big Mouth season two was also released on Friday and takes a wholly different take on revolutionary changes. Fans at NYCC got to witness the first episode the day it dropped, and hear a panel of creator Nick Kroll, along with John Mulaney, Jessi Klein, Jason Mantzoukas, Andrew Goldberg, Jen Flackett, and Mark Levin.

Fans of Big Mouth know that it focuses on a group of middle schoolers experiencing puberty, and the confusion and anguish that comes with changes in their bodies and new and unfamiliar thoughts that they cannot control. These sexual and emotional thoughts are personified by animated “hormone monsters” that follow characters around once they begin to enter puberty and attempt to influence their behaviors.

The new season is even raunchier and over the top than the last, with more innuendo, jokes, and sexual content. What is actually revolutionary about this season of Big Mouth is that unexpectedly, a television program with a scene of penises playing basketball and endless masturbation jokes is actually pretty…feminist?

The new season explores themes such as female body positivity (with Maya Rudolph’s character singing a soulful song about different types of bodies) as well as the the non-existence and hypocritical nature of the term “friend zone.” It focuses on the concept of shame, with the introduction of a new character, the shame wizard. The contrast between the shame wizard and the hormone monsters normalizes the young boys’ horny feelings and confusion, while also not excusing their perverted or inappropriate behaviors toward the women and girls in their life. It challenges teenage boys to grapple with moral questions and empathy in addition to their newfound sexual feelings. Big Mouth may be vulgar, but it also challenges boys and men to take responsibility for their actions and how they affect others in a society where men are often reduced to hormone monsters themselves, unable to control their own behavior and therefore immune to criticism or consequences.

The new season is available on Netflix now in its entirety for your comic relief needs.


Outlander

The best spoiler at NYCC may have been the very popular Outlander panel, which allowed fans to watch the first episode of Season four a full month before the “droutlander” officially ends. Starz’s Outlander fuses fantasy, science fiction, historical fiction, and romance. It focuses on Claire, an early twentieth-century nurse who finds herself falling through time to 18th century Scotland, and falling in love with a Scottish revolutionary.

*Spoilers ahead for Outlander Seasons 1-3*

Seasons one and two explored Jamie and Claire’s relationship in Scotland and in Europe before the rise of the Forty-five rebellion when the Scottish clans were decimated and Claire returned through the stones. Season three explored their lives apart for twenty years, their emotional return to one another, followed by external forces tearing them apart yet again but also bringing them to sea and into the Carribean, and eventually washing up on the shore of the colonial United States.

Season four picks up several months where season three left off, with Claire and Jamie settling into the colony of North Carolina, and beginning to question what their next move should be. Claire and Jamie decide to settle down and make a home in North America, and not return to Scotland. Jamie decides that if his only biological daughter would be born in the United States, he wants to do what he can to make the country a better place in his own time.

With the American Revolution on the horizon in eight years, Claire and Jamie find themselves in the positions of prophets, knowing the outcome of yet another uprising against the British, and this time *spoiler alert from history class* the British will lose. Outlander‘s new season showcases a literal revolution rising in the American war for independence.

The first episode of season four also touches upon some of the same questions that we are now still grappling with and facing as a society. It shows a wonderful scene in which two male victims discuss the implications and consequences of sexual assault, as well as the ways that post-traumatic stress disorder may present itself in those who have been assaulted. It also shows several conversations between Claire and Jamie in which they discuss the American Dream, and what makes this country so great, while also acknowledging (and in some instances, witnessing first hand) the atrocities that were committed in the name of that dream, such as the genocide and decimation of millions of indigenous people and slavery. The producers during the panel stated that they have no intention of making any political statements within this show, but as they tell the stories of these complex characters, history may repeat itself and art will likely imitate life.

To celebrate the arrival of Claire and Jamie in the “New World,” Starz also featured a large Outlander exhibit at NYCC that was constantly flooded with two-hour lines of fans. Fans had the chance to walk into “Fraser Ridge,” an adorable colonial log cabin, and receive free samples of products created exclusively for the show by some of the United States’s oldest brands.

Outlander Season Four officially premiers on Starz on November 4th.

American Gods

If Outlander was the most generous with spoilers for their new season, American Gods was probably the biggest tease. Starz put on a panel on Friday afternoon with the entire cast, in addition to revolutionary author Neil Gaiman. They premiered the trailer for the second season of American Gods, which we, unfortunately, cannot see until 2019.

American Gods as a novel is a complex and intriguing take on mythology. The (very shortened) concept of the story is that all gods exist because humans believe in them, and they derive their power from worship by humans. Since America is one big melting pot, Americans from all over the world brought their own versions of gods with them to the United States. In recent years, however, the “Old Gods” have often been abandoned by Americans’ worship of capitalism and technology. The Old Gods have been left to either die or to adapt to a new society, as these “New Gods” have staged a coup.

As a television series, American Gods is incredibly well done with a high budget and tons of special effects. It features a diverse cast and crew of talented individuals, and is very true to the novel, with some changes being made to make it current. As the novel was written in 1999, the creators have worked to make the work stay relevant twenty years later through some changes in the New Gods. The show also works to subvert stereotypes in all types of ways, by showcasing strong black and female characters, and by making the gods a little different than expected (like having a giant leprechaun!).

The second season of American Gods will pick up immediately where season one ended, once the main character, Shadow learns the true identity of the man he has been working for throughout the season. Gaiman told fans that this season will follow along the lines of the book, but will not complete the story. This season had all new writers and directors, with the majority of the directors being women. Gaiman assured the crowd that despite having all new writers, the cast worked hard to preserve the integrity of their characters.

Season Two of American Gods boasts more amazing on-location shoots, including the world’s largest carousel. The cast shared that we will meet previous incarnations of the Technical Boy in this season, including the technical boy of the 1990’s that is seen in the book, as well as the telephone and telegraph boy in earlier times. The actors promise that the new season will include a stronger look at the relationship between Shadow and his undead, cheating wife, Laura as Laura struggles to regain both her life and her husband.

And not to worry, there are more seasons to come after this one! Neil Gaiman shared that he will not be on the set of American Gods during the production of future seasons to help with ideas and preserving the integrity of his creation, as he will no longer be busy on another continent with Amazon’s Good Omens.

Unfortunately, Starz has not yet released an exact date for this season, but we can expect it in 2019.

Other Shows to Look Out For

As always, New York Comic Con showcased a vast amount of new television series and seasons, more than we could possibly cover here. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t more amazing shows that you can check out this season.

We briefly got to hear from Natalia Tena and Tom Felton (formerly of Harry Potter, of course!) discuss their new project with YouTube TV, Origin, which is a new and unique sci-fi streaming show. The show is set to premiere on November 14, 2018, and focuses on a group of strangers struggling to survive upon a spaceship headed to a new planet far away.

Another Neil Gaiman panel discussed the new Amazon mini-series, Good Omens, which is set to premiere in 2019. Gaiman worked as a showrunner on this series, which will consist of six parts. It focuses on an angel and a demon working to prevent the coming of the anti-christ and the battle between heaven and earth. David Tennant plays the Demon (Killgrave flashbacks anyone?) and Michael Sheen plays the Angel. This is definitely one we are looking forward to!

Netflix is also bringing back She-Ra, with a new series, She-Ra: Princesses of Power, a spin-off of the 1980’s classic, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe! She-Ra was shown with plenty of power with a giant statue of her and an interactive photo-op experience with her on the main show floor, as well as in a premiere panel where fans received their own She-Ra sword and headband. This new series will probably be a hit among children, as well as their nostalgic parents, aunts, and uncles.

What new TV shows are you excited for in the coming year? Let us know in the comments!

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