I’m sure you have heard of “Peak TV” – e.g. there is just too much great TV out there to be able to watch it all. This primarily affects the 1 hour scripted drama (which is my focus) due to the content on Amazon, Hulu, Netflix and all the cable channels. What this has meant is that there is very little in the way of the 1 hour drama on network TV that is worth watching and it is virtually impossible to know everything that is out there. My goal here is to alert you to some good stuff that you might not know is around and provide some input on new shows. I’ll do my best to follow the best critics to get some perspective on all the shows but it is really daunting!
It is January and the winter season is starting up slowly and I have barely caught up with the end of the Fall Season! In addition to the shows I’m trying to catch up on so here are a few thoughts about some of the shows I watched this week.
The Man in the High Castle – Amazon
Ok – I fell asleep during the first 7 (out of 10 ) episodes. At first I thought it was because I was suffering from jet lag having just come from the East Coast but then I proceeded to fall asleep in every episode over the next few days no matter when I watched it – morning, afternoon, early evening or late night. I realized that it wasn’t me it was the show. It didn’t move to swiftly for the first 7 episodes. Then it went gangbusters the last 3 and the last scene of Ep. 10 is a “Jump the Shark” moment that is unreal. The premise of this show is fascinating. The Nazi’s have won World War II and most of the US is under Nazi control. The West Coast has been given to the Japanese and there is a small space in the middle, which is a neutral zone. There is a resistance movement and the main character works for the Nazi’s as a plant although you aren’t quite sure of his loyalties. Rufus Sewell (you remember him from the Holiday) is wonderful as the top American Nazi leader. The action moves between San Francisco under the Japanese control and NY under the Nazis. I can’t wait for Season 2 to figure out what the heck is going on. I think this show could have been better done in 6 or 7 hours rather than 10. Still, stick with it at least until we see what Season 2 will bring. Hint: If you like alternate universes and time travel you are a candidate for this show! Also, don’t worry about sleeping though parts of it – Entertainment Weekly has recaps for every episode!
Downton Abbey – PBS
Ok….I’m a sucker for the Crawleys. Season 1 was great and it went downhill from there yet I can’t abandon the show. Season 6 (the final season) premiered this past Sunday and it was everything a Downton fan would want as we get updated on all the comings and goings of the household. Hopefully their will be happy endings for everyone and in the meantime we are being treated to fox hunts and the most hysterical conversation ever as Mrs. Hughes sends Mrs. Patmore to find out if Mr. Carson is expecting sex when they marry. I’m totally in for the final season even if the writing and acting is only ok – it is my guilty pleasure
Deutschland 83 – Hulu
I had read that if you like the Americans, you’ll like this show about East German spies planted in West Germany in the early 1980s. I have watched the first show and I liked it – except for the fact that most of it uses subtitles so I can’t multi-task and that is a drag for 47 minute shows. I’m usually on my computer while watching TV and it is a bit difficult to totally focus on what is up on the screen for a prolonged period of time. I’ll be back but not going to binge it.
- Finished up Jessica Jones (Netflix) over the holiday. I’m not a comic book person so these Marvel shows can be confusing to me but this was good. Kristin Ritter was excellent as was the villain David Tennant (Broadchurch). It won’t be the same show without him, and I don’t know if JJ will even be back, but they’ll have to work at getting someone as good to be the new villain. Be warned if you are going to watch this – it is dark and deals with depression, and serial rapists/murderers of women
- I watched Season 1 of the Returned on Netflix and it was fascinating. In short, dead people returned to their small French village as if nothing had ever happened but there are some really weird things going on. There were 3 years between Season 1 and Season 2 which just finished on Sundance. I don’t get Sundance so got a Season’s Pass on ITunes (now you know where all my Social Security goes) and it ended a couple of weeks ago with what was a very satisfying Season or Series conclusion as you never know when the French might bring this one back. Other than the subtitle issue, a very good show and not “Zombie-ish” at all.
- Also finished up Transparent a couple of weeks ago and while I didn’t love it as much as Season 1, Season 2 was worth watching. If nothing else, the Pfefferman family makes all the rest of our families look like the Cleavers. They are the most dysfunctional bunch of people to ever walk the earth. Judith Light was brilliant this season and it was good to see her have a much more robust role. Gabby Hoffman nailed it and of course Jeffrey Tambor was so perfect as Maura. The plot was pretty out there though.
- Supergirl returned this week and I just don’t know about this one. The acting isn’t bad but it is just a little fluffy for me. Not sure how long I’ll stick with this one but Melissa Benoist is cute in the lead, Calista Flockheart provides a clever foil and there are a couple of other very likeable characters so who knows……
- The Blacklist also came back from winter break and is one of the few Network drama I watch. I’m not happy with this fall’s story-line with Elizabeth on the run and the Kabal in key positions in the government. It really needs to end. Thursday’s return gave me some hope that we will soon be back to James Spader doing his weekly shady “get the bad guy” thing and Elizabeth and crew back in the FBI basement trying to figure out whether they should go along.
- Heroes Reborn is also back. Despite wanting it to return to it’s excellent first season greatness, it was pretty much the later season’s dreadful. Although I got through the fall, I was planning to shut it off permanently this week until I realized there is one more show next week so I’ll make it to the finale and then be done with this reboot as I suspect the network will be given the ratings.