Sunday, January 11, 2015

TV Series I've Been Watching - Part 21 (and last in this format)

As you know, I have been watching a lot of TV series, some of them good, some of them bad, most of them complete waste of time. As a New Year resolution (yeah, I know, lame) I have decided to create a slot system for TV series. Thus, from now on soon I will switch to a 7/3 method, meaning that I will watch only seven TV shows regularly and reserve three slots for new series, just in order to determine if they are more worth watching than the current ones. If I find a series that needs to go into the magical seven, I have to bump out another. Thus, this is the last post about TV series in this format.

So here is what I have been watching lately:
  • The Legend of Korra - The fourth and final season ended recently. It was a nice ending of an otherwise boring or annoying series. I maintain my opinion that The Last Airbender series was levels of magnitude better.
  • The Good Wife - The story of the legal troubles of Cary Agos is in the foreground, while Alicia's juggling of family, politics and job reaches ridiculous levels. Some interesting moral conundrums are created, but for me this season is kind of unfulfilling.
  • Homeland - The fourth season is focusing on an Afghani terrorist who, with the help of Pakistani intelligence, is wreaking havoc for the Americans. Some interesting dynamics, but far away from the edge of the seat feeling you got from sergeant Brody's story arch.
  • Gotham - I really expected this show to suck. Instead we get solid performances and more or less believable plots. It is acceptably dark for events happening in Gotham, as well. The girlfriend part is really annoying me, but the rest is good.
  • The Honourable Woman - The show is really dark and depressing. So much, in fact, that I couldn't watch it as much as I probably should. I always have issues with stories that show indomitable and incorruptible heroes, but the alternative extreme, where everything is gloomy and hopeless, is not much better. Just as too much fantasy, if you can't affect reality, then it is just as unengaging.
  • The Witches of East End - The series was cancelled before a third season, leaving everything in limbo, with no closure. I think this kind of behavior should be made illegal. No matter how small, the investment of the viewer in a story needs to be repaid. What would you do if you went at the cinema, watched a movie, and it suddenly stopped before the ending, saying that the producers didn't have the money to finish it? Wouldn't you ask for your money back?
  • Tyrant - Weird story, kind of hard to swallow, but interesting in many respects. The show has been renewed for a second season.
  • Extant - The series will get a second season, but I will not watch it. The show is a clumsy cocktail of sci-fi cliches, all thrown together while expecting Halle Berry to hold them together.
  • The Bridge - The series has been cancelled after the second season, while I am still waiting to watch it. I love Diane Kruger, so I probably will watch it someday.
  • Ghost in the Shell - Arise - Solid reboot. Too bad it has only four episodes which pretty much retell the same story. Meanwhile, a GiTS movie is in the works, starring Scarlet Johansson
  • The Strain - the show is pretty good. I kind of dislike the main character, while I totally love Kevin Durand. The series has been renewed for a second season.
  • Longmire - Loved the first seasons, the last was kind of over the top and it showed. The show was cancelled.
  • The Lottery - I've decided, more or less by not feeling like watching it at any time, to stop watching it. I haven't really watched enough of it to make a rational impression, but the pilot totally threw me off. Besides, this show was also cancelled.
  • Manhattan - The show has been renewed for a second season. I have mixed feelings about it. On one hand I like the story, but at the same time I am a bit put off by the fact that is complete fabrication.
  • Legends - The show's concept is a lot cooler than it's implementation. I like Sean Bean's interpretation, but the story is very similar to a zillion cop/government agency shows. They need to focus more on his character, rather than on pointless villains. The show has been renewed for a second season.
  • Outlander - They cancelled it! Good actors, wonderful scenery, an interesting story. A great shame.
  • The Divide - I've stopped watching it after a while, but I can't tell you why, exactly. I will remove it from my watch list. It had been cancelled, anyway.
  • The Knick - Renewed for a second season, this show is great. Good acting, nice depiction of the times, unapologetic critique of pharmaceutical companies and human nature in general. I love it!
  • Doctor Who - What are you doing, Capaldi?! I think this season of Doctor Who was the most boring and pointless of them all. Even the Christmas Special was bad. Something has to be done, if it goes like this, Doctor Who will take another decadal hiatus.
  • Forever - It is difficult to reject this series outright, because I really like the actors. However the story itself is completely boring. Other than this quirk of the main character that he cannot die, the show is a standard cop thing. You know who else cannot die? Deadpool! Isn't that slightly more interesting? Also the show is likely to get cancelled.
  • Hysteria and Hand of God - I love Ron Perlman, but that doesn't mean I liked the Hand of God pilot more than the one from Hysteria. Unfortunately Hand of God will probably get picked up for a series, while Hysteria does not.
  • Haven - It becomes increasingly difficult to give up series as you watch them for more and more time. Unfortunately for Haven, which was never good to begin with, the time has come for the "mother of Audrey/Mara" to appear. When family members appear in a story, it usually means they've run out of ideas. The fifth season will get some extra episodes in order to give viewers closure, afterwards it will probably get cancelled. See? This is how you do it when you know you are cancelling a show!
  • Z Nation - This SyFy clone of The Walking Dead should have sucked ass. Instead, it is a low budget yet fun show, with a lot of tongue in cheek and also original ideas. Who would have thought SyFy could do something entertaining? If you divide entertainment value to the show budget, Z Nation clearly wins over The Walking Dead.
  • Madam Secretary - Oh, the level of obnoxious American propaganda and overall stupidity of this show is off the charts. I refuse to watch this filth. And it appears it will get renewed as well. Ugh!
  • Sleepy Hollow - The second season has just started. This show will never be good, just admit it. Its value is purely guilty pleasure.
  • The Driver - A BBC One miniseries about a cab driver recruited by the mob, starring David Morrissey and Colm Meaney. The story is not new, the acting is good, but the show... just doesn't do it for me. Sorry.
  • Arrow - Oh, Marvel is doing something interesting. Their "phase 3" operation involves spamming the big and small screens with series and films about Marvel superheroes. Now, Arrow is not a great show, and everybody knows it, however they started doing crossover episodes with another new show, The Flash, and probably some of the story ideas will be found or hinted about in the films. Already some things that happened in Captain America movies are found and expanded upon in Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D and Marvel's Agent Carter series. Standalone, Arrow went in the "friends and family" direction, which I despise and personally think it means they lack any original ideas. I know that there are some comics that need to be taken into consideration when creating the scripts, but still.
  • South Park - South Park sputtered lately, going from meh! to really funny from episode to episode. The Fremium episode, for example, was really cool. I remain a fan.
  • Stalker - Another police procedural with a twist. I kind of like it, but I wouldn't recommend it, if you know what I mean. The show focuses on stalkers, with the small twist that the main character (and member of the task force that fights them) seems to be one himself. Too bad that they broke the tension on that one. I think I like it because of the lead actors.
  • Marvel's Agents of Shield - Yes, I know it's an acronym, but I am tired of typing S.H.I.E.L.D. all the time. The show is pretty good! It does go into the whole "dad and mom" territory, but not too much. I will continue watching it.
  • Marvel's Agent Carter - Another Marvel TV show, this time about agent Carter, the girlfriend of Captain America. Set in the 1940's, it also has to deal with the sexism of the period. Sexy actress, some interesting characters, this shows promise.
  • Our Girl - This is an interesting series, concerning a young girl that joins the British army. She has to deal with a stupid and petty but well meaning family, fighting in the Middle East and also a love triangle (what else when a woman is concerned?). No, seriously, it's better than Twilight.
  • Tim and Eric's Bedtime Stories - In an era where big budget horror TV series abound, here is this minimalist standalone episode show. And it is fucking scary! The episodes are very short and involve usually similar worlds to ours. No special effects, monsters or whatever, but the subjects are really unsettling and powerful. A must see!
  • Black Dynamite - The second season doesn't seem as funny as the first, but still a lot of fun and makes me learn many things about the American 70's
  • The 100 - I couldn't make myself watch the second season. That probably means that I feel it sucks. However I still might watch it...
  • Constantine - A series based on the Constantine comics and film. Keanu Reeves has been replaced by a skinny British wanker with illusions of grandeur. Actually, the character is a bit more layered than that, but not by much. I had high hopes for the show, but I have to admit that it is subpar and I don't like it.
  • Star Wars Rebels - At first I really hated this animated series. I thought it was too childish. Then I realized that the entire Star Wars franchise is made for little children. Really, this settles the Star Wars/Trek debate for me: the intended audience ages are slightly different, in the sense that Star Trek contains elements that have meaning for adults, as well >:-D.
  • Ripper Street - Ripper Street got cancelled, then got revived by Amazon Prime, and it is now at season 3. I have to admit that the direction of the show feels strained right now. I hope it picks up pace, because I really loved the first two seasons
  • State of Affairs - Another series that tries to be apologetical to the US foreign policy, it portrays romantic comedy star Katherine Heigl as a CIA executive, married to the son of the US president, who is a black woman, and that has dark secrets threatening to get revealed. I couldn't watch more than two episodes. It is just as surreal as her romantic films: all nice and pink, unless it's about non-Americans. They are bad!
  • The Shadow Line - Dark British police/political thriller, it is a miniseries, meaning it ends without having "seasons" and it is pretty amazing. Good acting, interesting story. It came highly recommended and it didn't disappoint.
  • Babylon - The series had an interesting pilot a while ago. I liked it, now it got picked up as a series. I want to watch it, but I haven't started yet.
  • Marco Polo - a series about the explorer Marco Polo, left by his father at the court of Kublai Khan. I like the actors and the show. The story is also interesting, showing the Mongols as more than invading horseriding barbarians, instead a nation covering half of China and with expansion intentions covering the entire known world.
  • The Newsroom - The third season was short and it was meant to give some sort of closure to the ending of the show. However is was so horribly weak, especially the last episode which was made out of fragments of the first two seasons episodes, that I ended up hating it more than I was already hating it. Good riddance!
  • The Librarians - Horrible show, trying to serialize an obscure film that wasn't that good to begin with. Don't watch it!
  • Scorpion - Leaving aside the alleged basis in reality that the show has, it is another cop show, with "geniuses" helping the FBI. Unlike Numb3rs, which had the same idea, this show is not very good at all. Characters are difficult to empathize with and the whole "normal mom helping the helpers" thing is just... offensive.
  • The Musketeers - You will close your browser window in anger for wasting you the time to read so far, but... I like this show. It is silly, has little to do with Dumas' creation, but I enjoy watching it. It probably has to do with the generously endowed beauties that seem all to like D'Artagnan
  • Elementary - I really like both Lucy Liu and Johhny Lee Miller, but this show has gone to shit. Having nothing to do with deductive skills now, it turned into yet another police procedural, with brilliant people helping the police.
  • Broadchurch - Haven't yet started watching the second season - yes! there is a second season. One that is not the Gracepoint American redo starring David Tennant. I believe Tennant has to feel a bit Doctor Whoish when he is starring in both the American remake and the second season of the original... BTW, Gracepoint got cancelled!
  • Ascension - A SyFy miniseries, in the sense that it has only three episodes per season, it involves a ship that was clandestinely sent to another solar system by Kennedy! At first I was all "what?! How can anyone even think of it?", but then the reason for it all got revealed. It also features a *really annoying* little girl that has mental superpowers and, what else?, a government conspiracy. Once you get the hang of it, it is pretty nice and the human branching from a 1950's United States is a nice twist. I am awaiting the second season. Tricia Helfer is almost as cool as in BSG
  • Banshee - The third season started and it is just as satisfying as the first two. I don't know what sort of human button this show pushes, but I love it and have absolutely no idea why.

Now all I have to do is choose 7 series out of this list and implement my resolution. This list alone contains 50 series and I haven't been including new series that I haven't started watching and shows that continue in the summer season. It will be difficult, but necessary. If we consider an average of 10 episodes per season, one hour each, that means I use up around 10 hours of my time each season per series. If I remove 40 from my list, that means a staggering 400 hours of time freed per year, more than an hour per day. Of course, I will use this time to watch movies, which don't have an upper bound :) Let's see how it goes.