Brief Blurbs on Fall TV 2013

I have been so behind on the Fall 2013 TV broadcast season. I have culled some old clunkers and added a couple of new shows. What I have been enjoying however are series made on specialty channels and catching up on TV on DVD.

Here are some thoughts on what I have been up to with my PVR.

The old but not forgotten

Supernatural: I am still watching this, and I am up to date. It is well into its 9th season and the best days are behind it. When it is good it is very funny or scary or both. Often with a classic rock soundtrack that I would never listen to otherwise, yet in this show it seems perfect. When it is not so good, it is confusing in its byzantine mythology (I ignore the details because I can never be completely satisfied) or just plain boring. Overall, the good (chemistry between the eye candy leads) still outweighs the bad, so I am hanging in there. Early seasons are available on Netflix in Canada (finally!). Starting at the beginning is recommended, but I can’t make a strong argument for sticking with it to the 9th season. This show really needs a deadline to wrap things up. I love the Winchester brothers, but it is getting a bit predictable (what, Dean is keeping secrets from Sam, again???) but maybe it is time they got lives beyond the demon hunting.

*

Castle: Still my favourite procedural. Okay, it is my only procedural. I love the chemistry between the leads (Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic). Good mysteries abound and when they are approached with humour, the episodes just sizzle. A glaring lack of forensic techno-jargon is also a bonus. I especially love the realistic portrayals (ok a bit more protective gear in the autopsy sweet would nail it) of the forensic pathologists portrayed by Tamala Jones and Arye Gross. Can’t say I am eagerly anticipating each new episode, but I never feel that I wasted my time. Actually, I save this for watching while I exercise on a treadmill. I am proudly up to date.

both clips are fun and sum up the charm of the show so I embedded both.

*

The Vampire Diaries:I am 2 episodes behind, because it is no longer compelling (pun intended). This show is in a bit of a creative slump. The acting is far better than the material deserves. The days of tight twisty plotting are missed and the hope for their return keeps me sticking with this one. Doubling down on the love triangle themes with more doppelgangers this season hasn’t helped at all.

*

The Walking Dead: I haven’t watched a single episode of the first half of season 4. I plan on binge watching it with my husband soon. I have mixed feelings about this one. It can be interesting at times, but the dialogue is “meh” and the character development is negligible beyond a few of the ensemble. At times I am just hoping a main character will die, because he/she is annoying. But if they kill off Daryl Dixon, I have no reason to watch. If this show got cancelled (fat chance with its stellar ratings) I wouldn’t be too sad. This is another show that can drag on indefinitely with no end game. And it is so bleak and hopeless. That is not necessarily a bad thing if one likes to spend time in the company of the characters. However, with most of these characters, I am not sure that I do.

*

The New but not highly recommended

Hello Ladies: Stephen Merchant (co-creator of the Office U.K. and Extras) is brilliantly funny in conversation with Ricky Gervais and Karl Pilkington on the Ricky Gervais Show. So I had to check out his new HBO comedy series about a group of sad sack singles living in L.A.. This is the cringiest of cringe comedies ever. Every episodes forces me to pause just to gather my nerve in order to continue. It is funny but painful in its depiction of oblivious humiliation. I will return to watch if it get picks up for a second season but won’t shed a tear if it doesn’t. Regardless, Merchant is a great comedic talent and I will continue to follow his career.

*

Almost Human: Ok, ok I lied, this too is a procedural with hints at an underlying conspiracy arc that is ignored in the inaugural 5 episodes (up to date on this one). Futuristic buddy-cop procedural with a Bladerunner android twist is basically what this is. It is worth watching for the chemistry (with a homoerotic subtext) between the 2 leads. Karl Urban (Star Trek’s Dr. McCoy) is the bitter human cop and Michael Ealy (Flash Forward) is the compassionate android. Mackenzie Crook (Office U.K.) in a supporting role as tech support nerd Rudy is an added bonus. Sadly, the women on this show, Lily Taylor in a refreshing role of authority and Minka Kelly as the hot co-worker are underutilized. Still I applaud the diversity of the cast. I probably wouldn’t be watching it if it didn’t star Urban, so I will give it more time. I have liked him since his early days on Xena: Warrior Princess.

*

Sleepy Hollow: I am 2 episodes behind on this breakout hit. I started watching it because of all of the buzz. Frankly, if it weren’t for the charm of lead actor, Tom Mison, I would not have hung on so long. His fish-out-of-water portrayal of Ichabod Crane in modern times is a lot of fun. I find his partner, played by Nicole Beharie, less compelling. I fail to see the chemistry between them that the critics are buzzing about. Regardless, I celebrate this show’s diverse cast and Beharie is adequate as the “Scully” in this X-files-like odd pair of cop and time traveller. Together they help Crane acclimate and unravel the mysteries and hidden horrors that haunt the town of Sleepy Hollow. The plots are bat guano crazy, so I try not to think too hard. Not sure if I will stick this out beyond the first season; thankfully it is a short, 13 episode season.

*

Dracula: I like vampires (admittedly I am a bit saturated) and I like Jonathan Rhys Myers, so I thought I would check this one out. The story is an intriguing twist on the myth. Dracula is trying to destroy the secret order that condemned him to immortality and darkness. The producers have fun spinning this incarnation of the legend, by having Dracula destroy his adversaries’ financial holdings in oil. He returns to Victorian England posing as an American (awful accent, bad choice) industrialist who is promoting a revolutionary alternate energy source.  I like the acting, the diverse cast and the strong anachronistic female roles (vampire slayer/hunter and a medical doctor) BUT boy oh boy if there was an Emmy for most egregious expository dialogue, this show should win.

*

The Originals: This spin-off of the Vampire Diaries is neglected as it sits on my PVR. The reviews have been good but it is hard to get excited over a spin-off of a show that you are no longer enamoured with. I’ll get to it eventually or not.

*

With the end of 2 stellar TV series (Spartacus and Breaking Bad) earlier this year, it has been hard to fill the void. The Almighty Johnsons was a surprising shift in gears tonally from those 2 shows and it managed to find a place in my heart. Alas, nothing that I blurbed about on this page is as dear. I am still looking for the next series that I will fall hard for. I am looking forward to a few shows that start up again in January, Banshee and Girls (and possibly Shameles although it to is wearing out its welcome). I am looking forward to Rectify’s return on Netflix. I also have to catch up on some DVD watching, Justified Season 4 and Misfits Season 5 and I just started The Vikings.

I think it is rather difficult to keep a long running series fresh and interesting. Mad Men is the only show I watch that manages to do this. The secret to a long TV run that I will stick with is complex. It helps to have a cast of characters that I find interesting, somewhat relatable, preferably funny with witty dialogue and a story that rings true yet surprises me. Repetition and predictability tend to creep in after the 3rd season of most shows resulting in a sense of ennui. More and more, I am becoming a fan of the limited run, self contained TV series. It is akin to the serial monogamist. Once the initial magic is over and a pattern of predictability emerges I feel ready to move on.

I am open to suggestions for the next show to worm its way into my heart.

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