I have a small time window available that isn't big enough for some of my larger tasks, so I thought I would follow-up on an earlier post on the 2014-2015 television season and see how shows have stacked up.
Rather than go through show-by-show, I figured I'd break them into four categories: the good, the bad, those treading water, and the unwatched.
Boardwalk Empire wrapped up this season with a brilliant final scene to wrap up Nucky Thompson's story hearkening back to his major sins. The Chicago shows (Fire & PD) continue to be solid local procedurals and while I don't have a urge to watch them immediately every week, I really enjoy clearing out their Tivo backlogs every couple weeks. (The "Chopper" episode of "Chicago Fire" is my all-time favorite.) "The Newsroom" wrapped up a mixed note for me, with the overall direction of the show being pretty "meh" for me, but elevating Don to my favorite character in the show, something that would have been unthinkable in the first season.
The Goldbergs continues to deliver solid laughs and remains my favorite sitcom two years running. However, the final "Parks and Recreation" season has been giving "The Goldbergs" a run for the place as my favorite comedy. If Chris Pratt's Hollywood ambitions don't pan out, I'll watch the hell out of a spinoff starring Johnny Karate and his band of ninjas. In the comedic vein, I've enjoyed Discovery's new show "Big Giant Swords" as an enjoyable diversion.
"Arrow" continues to be very solid and has been building upon the original mythology in a very good way, while introducing great new elements (Ra's al Ghul!). I think I enjoyed "American Horror Story: Freak Show" more than other AHS fans, owing to the character design and Jessica Lange's covers of various songs while playing the troubled Elsa Mars. I'm going to miss her on the show in subsequent seasons. I've also been very happy with "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." and the directions that show has taken in exploring the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe than it did last season.
The best new show of the new season has been "The Flash" without much competition. I'm not a DC Comics guy, and when I am, I'm more of a Batman follower than a Flash guy, but the show the CW's built has made me care about Barry Allen and his ensemble more than I thought possible. The show verves into silly territory from time to time, but it's a joyful show that reminds me what it was like reading comics as a kid before the grimdark took over most of the modern titles. Silver Age panache For The Win!
Finally, I'm going to throw SyFy's "Ascension" miniseries in the good column mainly because it's nice to see the network get back to its roots and try some ambitious science fiction once again. Overall, the generation ship drama was a swing and a miss, but if the network keeps at it, they're going to land a solid hit in the mold of "Battlestar Galactica" or "Stargate: Universe".
I'm going to lead this section off with NBC's "Constantine". I've enjoyed the show quite a bit, but I'm constantly reminded what a great show this could be on another network that isn't constrained by broadcast sensibilities. Rumor has it that NBC/Universal may be moving this show over to the SyFy network – if that happens, I'm on board for the next season. The cast of this show is spot-on, we just need to unshackle the writers and allow them to explore some darker territory than a Big Four network will allow.
A similar show is CW's "Supernatural". I'm still watching it out of a sense of momentum at this point. The actors are delivering solid performances, but I feel like the writers' well is running a bit dry at this point. The show has a solid mythology, but it feels pretty tapped out at this point when we're watching stories about Crowley's mother and WiFi ghosts. I think the show needs to steal a page out Vertigo's "Preacher" and have the Winchester brothers explore the last big mystery in the show – where has the Almighty gotten himself to and why?
In terms of comedies, "Family Guy", "The Middle", and "Big Bang Theory" are all treading well-worn territory, being largely formulaic shows at this point. They're the television equivalent of empty calories. Fun to watch in the moment, but there's not much to show for it afterwards.
As for comic book shows, "The Walking Dead" is also more of a habit watch for me at the moment as well. The production is solid, but I just don't really care about any of the characters. "Agent Carter" also joins this middle category for me. I was expecting a much stronger story than we're getting and the schtick about how much being a woman in the 1940's is terrible has rubbed completely raw at this point. I want to see Carter do cool proto-S.H.I.E.L.D. things like track down and deal with Hydra remnants in the post-War era rather than play whodunit around Howard Stark. (We already know how that story plays out from the Iron Man and Avengers films.)
In the reality category, "Moonshiners" delivered a lukewarm season. My main issue with this show is its artifice. It's clear at this point that none of the characters are not actually in any peril of being caught and they're playing skits more than revealing anything new or interesting about moonshining in Appalachia. The only thing really interesting on that show is Tim Smith's progression from moonshiner to a legit distiller. (I'm still irked that I can't get Climax moonshine in Illinois to see how that journey played out.) The same complaint is true for AMC's "Comic Book Men". The show started out solidly when it was about the items folks would bring in to sell or appraise, but the show's now about an item or two every week, then some silly crap that has nothing to do with running a comic shop (such as giving away comics with Ernie Hudson in an ice cream truck). I enjoy the personalities behind the show, but I get so much more out of them via the Smodcast podcasts than this cable show.
Finally, we start out with the worst shows of the season. The largest Razzie easily goes to "Scorpion", which I stopped watching after two episodes. It's hard to create any sort of dramatic tension or interest when the writers can do crap like resolve the plot by dropping Ethernet cables out of flying aircraft. If you're going to have a story somewhat grounded in reality, you have to try and play by its rules.
The other show in the bad category is FOX's "Gotham". My complaints about "Peggy Carter" apply doubly here. Given that we know most of these characters from the Batman mythology, none of them are really in any peril and there's not a lot of drama to be had here. For me there are two good things about this show and they are Robin Lord Taylor hamming it up as the Penguin, and the potential good story that's waiting to turn Edward Nygma from a somewhat sympathetic and eager forensic scientist into the Riddler. (Here's a fun scene with both.) While the set design for the show is first class, I feel like it stumbled uncontrollably in its first five minutes with launching with the Wayne murders. First of all, I don't know who cares about pre-teen Bruce Wayne at this point, and secondly, by offing Thomas and Martha Wayne in the opening, the show missed a solid opportunity for developing those characters to a point where we care about them being someone other than Batman's parents. I'm planning on watching through the end of the season, but I don't see it making my watchlist next season.
At the moment, there are a couple of shows piling up on the Tivo for a rainy day or that break between the regular television season and the summer shows. I haven't watched this season of "Sleepy Hollow" yet – I simply don't have room in my head at the moment for another fictional universe. I'm also holding back on "Better Call Saul" until I watch "Breaking Bad".
Overall, I can't complain too much about this season of television. My quota for solid hours of television each week is being met or exceeded, and I still think we're living in an embarrassment of riches, television-wise.comments powered by Disqus