TV Blurbs: fall – winter 2012-13

I have been busy watching a lot of TV lately (Damn you Netflix). So I thought I would borrow from a technique that I like from Dave over at Flickers and do some blurbs on the stuff I have been engaged with over the past few months. I will try not to spoil anything.

Banshee: I have only seen one episode of this new series but it shows promise. It is a noirish tale set in small town Pennsylvania Amish country. There are assumed identities, a brutal crime lord, a 15 year old heist – gone – wrong – driven – grudge. Oh and because it is a Cinemax production, there is lots of foul language, gratuitous nudity and graphic violence. What more could I ask for? OK, I can live without the last 3. But a protagonist with a dark past assuming the role as town sheriff, that, I cannot resist. Antony Starr (from New Zealand) continues a tradition (started by Andrew Lincoln in The Walking Dead) that establishes that one does not have to be an American to convincingly portray a small town US sheriff. I hope it continues to build on an intriguing first episode.

Downton Abbey: I have watched the entire 3rd season. So I will not be including spoilers. This show is seriously exhausting the good will it banked over a fun 1st season. There is minimal character development, a bloated cast, implausible soapy, repetitive, predictable and trivial plot lines. All in all this is terribly bad writing; it is hard to believe that Julian Fellowes is an Oscar winning writer. But it is beautifully shot and well acted and who can resist Maggie Smith as the Lady Dowager and her razor sharp wit. It seves to fill the hole in my heart that can only be patched by a period drama. And strangely enough I still care about what happens to the characters, just not as much. So I will not be chomping at the bit when season 4 starts airing early next fall in the UK. I will probably skip the PBS broadcast and wait to watch on DVD or Netflix. Or maybe not at all; if something better comes along to fill the void.

Revenge: This is getting really silly in its soapy twists. It is only barely tolerable, as long as I ignore any plot line that involves the Stowaway bar and its idiot brother owners. To call Jack and his brother Declan too dumb to be alive is an insult to corpses. But I still love Madeleine Stowe’s Victoria Grayson’s withering looks and it is perfect stuff for a brisk walk on the treadmill.

Supernatural: I still really enjoy this show. It remains a fun mix of fun, pathos, horror and humor. Those crazy Winchester brothers are still keeping the world safe from demons, now for 7 and 1/2 seasons. It never gets old. Ah brotherly love and demons, a perfect combination.

The Vampire Diaries: Considering this show is aimed at a teenage audience, at the 4th season mark, it has maintained consistently imaginative plots that leave me guessing, witty dialogue and it has convincing character development (Julian Fellows should watch this to see how it is done). This is super fun to watch with my daughters. I can live without the love triangle silliness. Thankfully there is enough mythology that goes beyond that.

Merlin: This show is good to watch with the kids; but I am glad it is airing the last season. Young Merlin is still secretly saving young King Arthurs’s bacon. When will Arthur accept that not all magic is evil? Hopefully, for Merlin’s sake, he will by the time the series concludes. I am sorry to see that Bradley James (Arthur) got dental work and “fixed” his charming slightly crooked smile. See what I mean here. I am also glad that my employment prospects do not depend on my teeth looking like everyone else’s in the industry.

Misfits: Good writing is good writing. I am 1/2 way thru season 4 and all the original cast has moved on and still this extremely low budget show never fails to entertain. It is dark, it is crude and vulgar and keeps my children awake as my husband and I laugh so loud we have to pause the disc to collect ourselves.

MI-5 (aka Spooks): I discovered this BBC spy thriller on Netflix when I was wondering what else Richard Armitage had done.

I was a bit disappointed at first, because Armitage’s appearance in this long standing series began in series 7 (out of 10). But then again, British series – maximum 10 episodes, perfect number. My disappointment was short lived. All the performances were amazing, and I just rediscovered Rupert Penry-Jones (Persuasion 2007).

I absolutely love the tense morally ambiguous tales. This show starts episodic but becomes serialized over time. Even if I don’t follow every plot point and it doesn’t really matter. There are no virtuous heroes here. The stakes are high and so is the body count. I try not to get too attached because I knew going in that some of the lead characters get killed. When they do get offed, I still gasp and shout “Nooooo” and quickly wipe away the tears. This is mostly a serious drama with dry barbs of British humor snuck in for those of us paying close attention. This is an excellent spy show. My only regret is that I am almost finished. And then my husband wondered why the cable company warned him of our impending monthly usage limit. Mea culpa! Damn Netfix!

Arrow: I started watching this because my husband expressed interest and our neighbor recommended it. It is a reworking of DC’s Green Arrow superhero, so no arm twisting was required. I started to watch it mostly for the hero’s frequently shirtless abs, but the writing and acting was better than I expected. I have doubts about its sustainability, as this genre gets repetitive quickly. I’ll stick with it for now. As an added bonus it has John Barrowman (Torchwood, Dr. Who) in a shady role; he is always fun to watch.

Castle: I am pleasantly surprised that this has stayed fresh after the “will they or won’t they” tension disipated last season. I loved the meta Supernova Con episode, where Detective Beckett embraces her inner sci-fi fan girl geek and Castle teases her mercilessly.

The Walking Dead: What a change from last season’s “talk, talk, talk.” Finally our zombie apocalypse survivors actually do something. There is lots of gruesome zombie death. Is it still a death when the Walking Dead are put down for good? I love the new characters and the ongoing ethical dilemmas one must face during a typical apocolypse.

Once Upon A Time: The first season on DVD was a blind buy at Costco, based on some word of mouth and a serious lull in stuff to watch. We as a family had just finished watching the excellent The Legend of Korra, we were vulnerable for something to watch together. Sigh, the kids like it, I only watch it for Robert Carlyle’s performance. The stories are predictable and humorless. The acting and dialogue is pretty bad (so hard to believe that Jane Espenson from Buffy is associated with this) and it takes itself too seriously. I cannot recommend this to anyone over 13 years old.

The Facts of Life: Yes, that 80’s dinosaur, I am surprised at how much my daughters and I are enjoying this on DVD. It really holds up well for a show that is 30 years old.  ACK, I suddenly feel ancient. I think that you can glean much about someone’s personality by knowing whom their favorite FoL character is (mine is Jo). My husband would rather tear his eyeballs out than watch.

I am looking forward to the return of Girls, Shameless (US), Being Human (US) and most of all, the final season of Spartacus, War of the Damned. January is such a busy month, sigh.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Lesley
    Jan 22, 2013 @ 22:02:54

    Facts of Life?!?! You? Really? What?

    Have you checked out The Almighty Johnsons? It’s on Space, 2nd season now.


    • dvdiva
      Jan 23, 2013 @ 12:35:46

      Yes FoL is partly nostalgia and partly the fact that I cannot stand watching iCarly/Jessie/ other current sit coms aimed at my daughters. It is common ground that I would not revisit alone. The stories are presented in a way that they enjoy and I can tolerate. We have had discussions about gender roles, race roles, disabilities, homosexuality, teen pregnancy, suicide, peer pressure, anorexia, hypersexuality and we are only 1/2 way through the 3rd season. Who knew it would stand the test of time.

      I know nothing about the Almighty Johnsons but will look into it. Is it something you enjoy?curious about?

      Suggestions are always welcome. Thanks for commenting.


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