Posts Tagged ‘TV

04
Oct
14

It’s Pilot Season – 2014

The Fall 2014 television season is upon us. And that means we’re inundated with the worst the networks have to offer. Each year brings us new series; a few will be great, but most will be unwatchable trash. There’s far too many horrible series out there for me to review them all. So, I’ve decided to watch the three pilots that had the most promotional advertising of this season and review them. Please note, my reviews are not necessarily what I think of the entire series, but simply my thoughts on the pilot episode.

Gotham

Holy shit on a stick, Batman! Gotham is Fox’s attempt at cashing in on the tiresome superhero craze that plagues the world. Last year, I complained that doing an Avengers show without the Avengers was an idiotic idea. Gotham is more of the same, as it is a Batman show without Batman. It’s a prequel to the adventures of the caped crusader. And, guess what? It sucks. Nobody gives a fuck about the origins of all these villains. What’s the point? None of them are ever going to die, because they wouldn’t live to face the dark knight. So, there is no tension whatsoever. This is combined with a cheap series of sets that look like they came from the 90s, plus an entire backdrop of CGI just for an extra layer of shit. The writers are trying to make this into long-form series by positing the idea that Bruce Wayne’s parents were killed in a conspiracy, rather than a random mugging. I think they are going to be stretching a thin idea too far. There is no way they can keep this going for multiple seasons and make it good. Not that the first episode was good either. It was a huge hunk of gouda, a slice of the stinkiest cheese imaginable. Everyone chews scenery, bringing in over the top performances which also belong in the 90s.  Continue reading ‘It’s Pilot Season – 2014′

07
Dec
13

Justified Season 4, Person of Interest Season 2

Justified Season 4

Raylan and Boyd, doublemint awesome.

TV shows that can maintain an intelligent and engaging storyline are few and far between. Justified, however, is one of those shows. Each season is just as incredible as the last. This year, things took a slight detour, eschewing the usual central villain and supplanting it with a mystery. The mystery of season 4 is figuring out how a human body and bags of cocaine fell out of the sky. The mystery was fun, but a bit too convoluted for its own good. Watching the series weekly, it was easy to forget the details and get completely lost. Perhaps marathoning the season would make the mystery easier to follow.
All the things I love about Justified are back this season. Raylan is as stoic and badass as ever. Boyd is a creepy and lovable villain. The back and forth, cops and robbers games the characters play are just as intricate as ever. Boyd in particular shows some serious character growth this season, and further cements how fantastically written all of these characters are. Natalie Zea, who played Raylan’s ex Winona, left the show this season to take a leading role on Fox’s so-bad-it’s-hilarious show The Following. Fortunately, she was never really all that intregal to Justified, anyway. We also got the introduction of Bob Sweeney, a local constable played by the always funny Patton Oswalt. Although he’s a guest star, he was a great addition to the cast.
While the characters and story remain as great as always, this wasn’t my favorite season of Justified. I’d say season 3 was my favorite so far. Nevertheless, this was another great year for the series. There’s so much to love here. The recently departed Elmore Leonard would be proud. It’s only a shame more people aren’t watching Jusitifed. It is the best show on TV.
Verdict: Awesome
Person of Interest Season 2

Person of Interest main cast.

Almost all of my gripes about season 1 were corrected in season 2. Mostly, I complained about the focus on the case-of-the-week format, and the casting of Taraji Henson as a lead character. Both of these things have improved in the new season. Taraji Henson stepped up her game and when she acted alongside the other characters, she didn’t get lost in the mix. At times, she shines brighter than the others. I can only assume that she must have read my blog post, and as a diehard Awesomely Shitty fan, she got her act together.
The case-of-the-week format still exists in season 2, but it’s not as annoying as it was in season 1. The cases seem more organically linked together. There is a current running through the cases now that wasn’t there before. While it does still have a large case-of-the-week format, there is an extra emphasis on mythology now, which will carry the series over the long haul.
Somewhat annoyingly in the last episode, Root showed up and kidnapped Harold AGAIN. Although, the stakes were higher and things got crazier with a totally nuts scene where The Machine is one the phone with Reese, pointing out bad guys so he can shoot them. The ultimate reveal at the end of the episode was awesome and nicely set the stage for season 3.
Overall, Person of Interest is turning into a very good TV show. The acting is good, the main storyline engaging, the action scenes fun, and it includes an ever evolving mythology. At this point, its only drawback is the extended 22 episodes season. If it could be compressed into 12-13 episodes, there wouldn’t be much filler, and the series would be non-stop awesome.
Verdict: Good
05
Oct
13

It’s Pilot Season – 2013

The Fall 2013 television season is upon us. And that means we’re inundated with the worst the networks have to offer. Each year brings us new series; a few will be great, but most will be unwatchable trash. There’s far too many horrible series out there for me to review them all. So, I’ve decided to watch the three biggest pilots of this season and review them. Please note, my reviews are not necessarily what I think of the entire series, but simply my thoughts on the pilot episode.
Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD

Yawn.

Holy fuck, we start right out the gate with a major shitfest. Even on paper, Agents of SHIELD sounds like a horrible idea. An Avenger’s show without the Avengers in it? What could go wrong? Recently, Fox picked up a show for the 2014 season that would feature Gotham city without Batman. People started making fun of it immediately and/or bemoaning how terrible an idea it is to do a Batman show without Batman. And you know what? Those people are absolutely right. Nobody gives a fuck about Gotham City without Batman. So, why would we give a fuck about SHIELD without the Avengers? The reason The Avengers was a massive hit was everybody wanted to see Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, and Hulk together on the big screen. I guaran-fucking-tee you that nobody said, “Ooohhh I can’t wait to see Agent Coulson and some other nondescript guys in black suits!” And that is exactly what Agents of SHIELD is. It’s a generic spy/sci-fi series about a bunch of nondescript guys in black suits. Watching it is painful. You just keep thinking, wouldn’t it be cool if Iron Man just blasted through a wall and started kicking some ass? But it’s not going to happen. Instead, we see a bunch of non-superheroes acting like a bunch of idiots. Thanks guys, if I wanted to see that, I could watch any other genre of film or television. From a conceptual standpoint alone, this series failed miserably.
01
Feb
13

Fringe – Season 5

Season 5 title screen.

Fringe Executive Producer and Showrunner J.H. Wyman said this about Season 5, “My biggest concern was telling an authentic, honest story that I could stand behind, and that I would feel I was giving the fans the love letter that I think they deserve.”

Well, if the final season was a love letter to the fans, then the final episode was a gigantic fuck you.

General Thoughts

After watching the final moments of the show, a show I have invested years in, I couldn’t help but be furious. I wanted to smash something. Seriously. Wyman took a damn good season, a damn good series, and crushed it in a few confusing, contradictory final moments. He did two things: 1) he fucked up because he insisted on using time travel while failing to understand its logistics, and 2) he fucked up because he doesn’t give a shit.

Continue reading ‘Fringe – Season 5′

08
Dec
12

Justified Season 3

Raylan knows how to kick back, even while shooting bad guys.

Justified has shown a great amount of depth and progression each year it has been on the air. The first season was largely plot-driven, but managed to utilize interesting characters to its advantage. It could be slow at times, but it was never boring. The second season improved on the first in various ways. The story became more character-driven, and each person affected the plot in their own way. Nothing felt contrived or forced. The third season managed to mesh what worked in the first and second seasons, and create something unique and memorable.

Continue reading ‘Justified Season 3′

16
Jun
12

Alias Season 5 (Bonus Alias Drinking Game)

Alias Season 5 cast.

Alias probably should have ended with Season 4. Rewatching it, you can see that just about everything was resolved. “The greatest power”, the evil Elena Derevko, was defeated. Nadia did not survive fighting Syndey, thus fulfilling Rambaldi’s prophecy. Irina more or less got away, but in a suitable manner. Syndney and Vaughn got engaged. And Sloane redeemed himself to become good. Or at least as “good” as he could ever be. The final two episodes looked as if they had been written to be a series finale. It should have just been over at that point. But they got picked up for Season 5, so they ended things on a ridiculous cliffhanger, and kept on going.

Season 5 is strange for a lot of reasons. First, Jennifer Garner is clearly bored with her role at this point. Scene after scene, line after line, she is phoning in her performance. Second, Michael Vartan, who played Vaughn, left the show. Naturally, the best thing to do is kill his character. Yeah, why not? There’s no point in letting a character, whom we’ve enjoyed for four seasons, live. Third, Nadia turns out to have survived but is off the show, anyway. Fourth, Greg Gunberg, who played Weiss, left the show, as well. This leaves us with a cast including Sydney, Jack, Dixon, Sloane, and Marshall. Fifth, Jennifer Garner got pregnant and, while the show already required a lot of suspension of disbelief from the viewers, people were not going to accept a pregnant spy jetsetting around the world and kicking peoples’ asses. So, the series had to bring in some new recruits.

The two new characters are Rachel Gibson and Tom Grace. We are introduced to them through a series of episodes which go on for way too long. They could have each been introduced in 1-2 episodes. But we get so much boring backstory that half the season is wasted getting them up to speed. This makes matters worse when the season is abbreviated at 17 episodes.

Because they took so much time setting them up, I got the sense that Alias was going to make them the main stars of the show. Since Jennifer Garner was so bored at this point she was either going to quit outright, or just become a background character. Or the other possibility was that Alias was meant to conclude at the end of Season 5 and then immediately spin-off into a new series with Rachel and Tom as the leads with Jack, Sloane, Dixon, and Marshall reprising their roles.

Regardless of what the original plan was, about halfway through the season, ABC announced that Alias would be cancelled. This actually worked in the series’ favor because they decided to scrap whatever plans they had, and tried to end the show on a high note. The writing of the second half was a definite improvement. The stories became better. The episodic “getting to the know you” crap of the new people was jettisoned in order to refocus back on resolving the stories of the show’s original characters. The conspiracy stuff and Rambaldi prophecies came front and center once again. The writers had several loose ends they wanted to tie up, and tried their damnedest to make it happen.

Everybody from Alias

Fortunately, they did a pretty good job. The second half moves along at a good clip. Characters who hadn’t made an appearance in a long time (e.g. Anna Espinosa, Sark) returned for a couple of episodes in order to have their stories completed. Bradley Cooper even came back to guest star in one fairly strong episode. After Sydney had her baby, she was able to go out on missions once again, and the old style of show came back. The only thing that didn’t work was the return of Vaughn.

Clearly, Vaughn was supposed to be dead. That much is obvious based on how he got his body turned into Swiss cheese by machine gun fire, and then he died and had a funeral. But then guess what? LOL SURPRISE EVERYONE IT TURNS OUT VAUGHN WAS ALIVE AFTER ALL AND WAS JUST IN HIDING LOL! I suppose this would have been acceptable had Sydney not known about it. But no, it turns out that Jack and Sydney somehow planned for Vaughn to go into hiding until it was safe. They both knew he was alive the whole time. Well, for Jack this could have flown, but for Sydney it makes no fucking sense. She spent many scenes bawling her eyes out, sometimes in the privacy of her own home, and this ruse doesn’t jibe with what happened. If she knew he was alive, she wouldn’t be weeping at home alone. That part was handled so badly, it certainly made it clear that the writers have been shooting from the hip on Alias for a long time. There was definitely never an overarching plan for the story.

In the end, however, they managed to resolve things nicely. Sloane got a fitting end; he got to achieve Rambaldi’s endgame (which he spent 30 years trying to do) but did not get to enjoy it. Jack’s death seemed sort of unnecessary but his ultimate sacrifice worked within the context of the final episodes. Sydney and Vaughn had a nice resolution to their relationship and were finally granted peace. Irina got what was coming to her. Lastly, Sark, who I always enjoyed as a fun villain, got away and continued to be a nuisance. All in all, a decent ending to the series. In fact, the final three episodes were phenomenally good. They were a definite highlight amongst the series as a whole. Too bad they weren’t so good they made up for the extremely weak first half of the season.

When I set out on this rewatch, I figured Alias would not have aged gracefully. On the contrary, it has stood up surprisingly well. It isn’t perfect. The acting is good but not great. The special effects are cheesy. Sometimes the plot makes no sense. But overall, there is a lot to like. The main story is strong and has an actual ending. The characters are likable. The action scenes are fun despite being ridiculous. The spy aesthetic may not be realistic, but at the very least it is entertaining. Overall, this is a TV series worth revisiting.

Verdicts:

Season 5 – Average

The Series Overall – Good

Here’s something to get you in the mood for the Alias drinking game.

Bonus: Alias Drinking Game

Drink every time

  • Sydney gets emotional (two drinks if it happens during a mission).
  • Sydney beats up a guy twice her size.
  • An agent gets caught/seen by a security guard.
  • An agent trips the security system.
  • The target/bad guy/contact is in a night club.
  • The target/bad guy/contact is a Russian.
  • Someone gets double-crossed.
  • Someone gets kidnapped (two drinks if they are also tortured).
  • Somone uses a fake accent.
  • The special effects look really cheesy/cheap.
  • Jack does something badass.
  • Weiss says something sarcastic.
  • Marshall gets nervous/stammers (skip this one if you don’t want to black out).
  • Someone says, “Your plane leaves in one hour.” (or some variation of that)
  • Someone says something mean to Sloane.
  • Someone mentions Rambaldi.
  • Someone uses the word “endgame.”
  • The background music is something slow and soulful.
  • A main character is about to get shot by a bad guy, but the bad guy gets shot by someone else who is off-screen.
  • The episode ends on a cliffhanger.
20
May
12

Fringe – Season 4

Fringe title screen.

I’m not exactly sure how to describe season 4 of Fringe. Season 1 was pretty good, although the early episodes were bland and directionless. Seasons 2 and 3 were totally awesome as they focused on the war between two parallel universes. The third season ended with a powerful episode and a massive cliffhanger. Given that Fringe had been firing on all cylinders for two full years, it was probably an impossible task to keep up that level of writing for a third consecutive year. The writing is still good, the acting top-notch, and the ideas interesting, but it just doesn’t live up to the quality of the material that came before it. Season 4 could have continued to expand upon the series mythology, but instead it was bloated with a lot of needless filler. I suppose if I was hard pressed to use a word to describe this season, that word would be: squandered.

Continue reading ‘Fringe – Season 4′




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