Six Must-See Internet TV Thriller/Action Shows (And Their Movie/TV Counterparts)
By Thomas Chandler
In the good old days, getting to watch a few dozen Colombian drug cartel soldiers blown up or watch a helicopter whizz through the accounting department on the 30th floor of a skyscraper was more complicated. We’d pack the kids up in the station wagon and haul off to the megaplex, where we’d shell out a few Benjamins to watch Sly or the former Governator enthrall us with insane stunts.
While these burly legends’ careers are enjoying a second wave, this ritual is quickly becoming a thing of the past. Television has evolved as a premiere destination for quality action programming, boasting production value and storylines that rival the crop of mega-budget summer blockbusters out there. The only thing that sunk in Battleship, for example, was the box office and critics’ reviews.
This trend is great news, as we we’re getting mighty tired of paying an arm and a leg for a tiny box of popcorn that we’d no doubt enjoy while watching someone lose an arm and a leg while trying to fly a tank. KoldCast TV is leading the pack with this partial slate of six provocative short-form action shows, proving once again that it’s quality over quantity.
Sometimes you want to follow the adventures of someone who isn’t killing people just because he wants to retire somewhere with a pool. The Division balances the scale. Here we have a guy who’s fighting to save his family from a sinister league of shadowy government figures called “The Division.”
Nick Trever, a man who just wants to play with his kid when he’s not working or mourning the loss of his beautiful wife, is sucked into an international scandal involving corrupt senators, behemoth pharmaceutical companies, and ex-military types.
“The Division” has kidnapped his son, claims his wife is alive, and quite frankly, is asking for it. We follow Trever as he tries to set things straight, all the while getting sucked into the mystery of the conspiracy he’s up against.
Cable Counterpart: 24
Movie Matchup: The Bourne Series
Click to watch the first episode of The Division, “Taken”
Sex sells, but when times are tough, clever girls resort to a five-finger discount. In Clutch, a femme fatale pickpocket named Kylie goes head-to-head against the mafia. They’re angry, powerful, and ruthless, yet they face surprising competition against this woman who uses sex and wits to get what she wants. And as if that wasn’t enough to intrigue you, there’s also a fetish dungeon.
Cable Counterpart: Dark Angel
Movie Matchup: Kill Bill
Click to watch the first episode of Clutch, “Your Ex-Lover is Dead”
A great action show requires a complex, compelling, and likeable lead character. You know, someone we can all imagine ourselves as. Hitman 101 has this and more with “John Smith”. He’s on a mission we can all get on board with: killing people indiscriminately for a paycheck and looking good doing it.
We’ve always wanted great cheekbones and the ability to choke someone to death with piano wire. This makes it easy to idolize Smith, but then he gets too deeply involved with a case, and in a profession that demands calculated coolness, the problems start piling up.
Cable Counterpart: Nikita
Movie Matchup: Leon: The Professional
Click to watch the first episode of Hitman 101, “Always the Hardest”
Let’s get real: in action shows, the spectacle is more often than not, less than spectacular. Internet TV shows – and many cable TV shows for that matter – just don’t have the budget to blow buildings up left and right. This is why characters play such an important role in making an action show great.
We’re a big fan of shows that have morally compromised leads, a la Breaking Bad, or even How I Met Your Mother. We get that in spades with Luke 11:17. Luke is a media-savvy preacher with a dark (read: sexy) side. He’s the kind of guy who does not practice what he preaches, which tends to put him in all sorts of dangerous positions.
He’s also the kind of guy that attracts endless amounts of total babes, which puts him in all sorts of amazing positions (read: sexy). This show is as much about action as it is about getting action, and the consequences that await when you do it recklessly.
Cable Counterpart: Dexter
Movie Matchup: The Apostle
Click to watch the first episode of Luke 11:17, “Crucified Between Two Thieves”
You can’t outrun your past. That’s a lesson we’ve learned time and time and Blockbuster late fees again. It’s also a lesson that former P.I. Charlie Madison learns in the worst way after moving to Chattanooga, TN from sunny Los Angeles in The Steps. He’s framed for a murder and soon finds himself being chased down by all sorts of unsavory characters.
Charlie’s new life is made miserable, which means he’s going to have to do something he never intended on doing – fighting back. The Steps is a throwback to old school detective flicks set in an eerily true-to-life modern world filled with good men who’ve succumbed to corruption.
Image at page top is of Anna (Lisa Lynch)
Cable Counterpart: Breaking Bad
Movie Matchup: A History of Violence
Click to watch the first episode of The Steps, “In Hell”
The Puzzle Maker’s Son
The Puzzle Maker’s Son is a tightly plotted mystery about a man who wants to solve his father’s murder using clues left by his father himself. Spooky, right? It’s also oddly relatable, because the more of his family’s past David uncovers, the more he realizes just how messed up they really were. If you can’t relate to that, odds are you haven’t learned enough about your own family.
Taking us at full throttle into the depths of a rabbit hole we never dreamt of reaching, The Puzzle Maker’s Son not only excites using riddles wrapped in enigmas coated with paradoxes. It reminds us that these are metaphors for life, which isn’t always what it seems.
Cable Counterpart: Touch
Movie Matchup: The Da Vinci Code
Click to watch the first episode of The Puzzle Maker’s Son
Ariel Nishli contributed to this story.
Thomas Chandler was born and raised in a small town outside Seattle. He’s currently writing a screenplay about two robots striving to reform the American educational system.