Tis the Season

Posted on November 27, 2013

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ABC

  • Betrayal: I haven’t heard anything about this show since the upfronts. I did some digging (ie, I ran a Google search), and much to my amusement it’s become a “limited series.” I’m amused because back in May I said that this was barely a miniseries, and was certainly not a full series. It’s going to complete its 13-episode run starting in January. Then it’s going to be replaced by an 8-episode espionage miniseries.
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D: This has become the show that geeks like me complain about. There’s lots of promise there, but they need to live up to that promise soon. One thing I hear people talk about is how Joss Whedon has turned shows around before. The trouble is, Joss Whedon created this show and is an executive producer, but he doesn’t work on the show day-to-day. His brother does. Joss may step in soon, but really this show needs to deliver better characters, more compelling stories, and better direction, and quickly.
  • Lucky 7: This was another idea that could have been a great movie or miniseries, but could not sustain a full series. Considering how fast it was cancelled, I don’t think the execution lived up to the idea.
  • Once Upon a Time in Wonderland: None of my geek friends talk about this show. As a result, I formed my judgement back in May, and have never watched an episode. It’s still on the air, so some of the Once Upon a Time fans clearly follow it.

ABC Family

Not many people realize this, but ABC Family occasionally runs some pretty interesting genre television. We were big fans of Kyle XY, for example. This year, I caught a spin-off from Pretty Little Liars (Exactly the sort of show you would have to pay me to watch), called Ravenswood.

In Ravenswood, two people come to the eponymous town. They meet three local high school kids, and then one of the two newcomers dies. Except there’s something supernatural going on in Ravenswood. After every war, veterans return home who believe they should have died during their war. Then five teenagers die. It’s always five. So what’s going to happen to the surviving four? And how is the dead girl able to return as a ghost?

My wife came home and asked me why I was watching a soap opera. So that’s kind of what you can expect. A primetime soap opera with ghosts and supernatural events. What can I say? It’s a guilty pleasure.

NBC

  • The Blacklist: Every week I watch, and every week I swear I’ll stop. I have no idea why the FBI let’s Raymond Reddington (James Spader) get away with what he does. He’s a criminal. They know he’s a criminal. He keeps committing crimes, and yet because of some list of super-criminals, the FBI leaves him alone. The trouble is, none of the criminals seem worth the FBI’s continuing effort. There was, briefly, an interesting sub-plot involving Tom Keen (Ryan Eggold) possibly being a spy, but it resolved too quickly. The show has given us the cliche that I feared, Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone) is Reddington’s daughter. Then they threw in a mystery group that is surveilling her. It’s like potato chips: You know there’s better food, but once you start, it’s hard to stop.
  • Ironside: Cancelled. This one I actually tried to watch, and it just didn’t excite me. The original show relied on Raymond Burr’s gravitas and his ability to use experience and intelligence to put together the clues gathered by his team of detectives. This show had Ironside out gathering clues and then physically intimidating suspects. In the original show, Ironside was a Chief of Detectives who was forced to retire because of the injury that paralyzed him, and then works as a consultant. In the new show, Ironside was a police detective despite being paralyzed. I think if it had more time, it might have established itself. However, I agree with the criticism that Blair Underwood is too physical a presence to be confined to a wheelchair.
  • The Michael J. Fox Show: Every week, I watch it and enjoy it. They address his Parkinsons directly, with both humor and compassion. They spend a lot of time on strong, positive, messages about family. I rarely laugh out loud while watching, but I smile and keep tuning in every week.
  • Dracula: My big complaint about this was that Dracula was an American bringing the Industrial Revolution to England. Turns out, the marketers hadn’t paid enough attention to the premier. Dracula is Dracula, the oldest vampire. He’s disguised himself as an American. He goes to Britain precisely because the Industrial Revolution started there, and the Order of the Dragon is making all its money in industry. The Order murdered Dracula’s wife, and he is out for revenge. So, basically, if you are willing to forget Bram Stoker’s Dracula, you’ve got a TV show with vampires and a rich mythology, set in 19th-Century England. Surprisingly watchable.

CBS

  • Hostages: It gave me great satisfaction when the marketing leading up to the premier started emphasizing that it was a miniseries. That’s because my biggest complaint was, again, that the story was unsustainable for a long period. And also because I’m an insufferable know-it-all, for which I apologize (over and over again). CBS is home of the procedural, thanks to CSI and NCIS. This just looks like more of the same. I have no idea why I would watch it, but apparently a lot of people do.
  • Intelligence: The marketing for this show is ramping up, as it is a mid-season replacement. I’m starting to get drawn in, as I predicted, even though it’s a shameless rip-off of at least two other shows I can think of.
  • The Crazy Ones: Well, it’s still on the air. Maybe it found a human heart to its comedy after all.

Fox

  • Almost Human: The start date for this series got pushed back, so we’ve just seen two episodes. Yes, as one critic pointed out, it is (so far) a re-hash of ‘80s and ‘90s scifi cop shows and movies. It can definitely coast only so far on the charisma of its stars, Karl Urban and Michael Ealy. However, their chemistry is great and so far it’s a fun ride. Still watching.
  • Sleepy Hollow: My wife caught an ad for this that showed one of her favorite actors, Clancy Brown, in it, so we watched. This show really embraces the crazy nonsense with gusto, which makes it fun. There are still things about it that irritate me, but I suspect this is the next Buffy or Supernatural. I now hope that it will run forever, but we need more Clancy Brown ghost/memory appearances!
  • Dads: Oh, my God, does it pander. The two bright spots of the show are Veronica (Brenda Song), and Edna (Tonita Castro). If they cancelled Dads tomorrow, those two would have work within twenty-four hours. In fact, I can easily see a spin-off centered around Edna. I love every scene she is in. Even my wife, who has a very low tolerance for stupid comedies, finds laughs in this show. Better than I expected.
  • Brooklyn Nine-nine: I am very tempted to binge watch this show, since the critics like it so much. Apparently it’s smarter than it looks. Notice that I’ve only been tempted so far, and haven’t actually done it.
  • Enlisted: This mid-season show has only just started its ad campaign. I still plan to check it out.

The CW

  • The Originals: The CW, never a font of originality (see what I did there?), made this spin-off from The Vampire Diaries. Didn’t care in May, don’t care now, haven’t watched it.
  • The Tomorrow People: I have mixed feelings about this show. On the one hand, the special effects are pretty good. I wish the people who choreograph and film their fight scenes would teach the folks over at Agents of SHIELD some things. On the other hand, it’s kind of dumb, and it’s full of blandly pretty people. Fortunately, on this third hand I just grew, the pretty people are pretty good actors and have interesting characters.

Conclusion

So there you have it. Some things that would not have gotten my green light have been cancelled, some of changed their marketing message, and some are running strong. I’ve definitely found some fun stuff to watch, and I hope you have to.

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