Lots of TV this week but not much that is great

 

New Shows:

I was excited about a couple of new shows premiering this week. Unfortunately, I was disappointed for the most part. Real critics have a big advantage here – they can watch several episodes at a time to see whether a show is worth sticking with. For me, I’m stuck with the normal schedule – usually once a week. The first show (or pilot) is generally not the best so, I’m going to give these shows a few episodes as I saw some potential in them but I’m not convinced it will ultimately pay off.

The exception to the above and the one show I really liked was London Spy (BBC America). It starts out with a couple of guys (Danny and Alex) who meet in London and one isn’t who he says he is. They “get together” and then Alex disappears. Ben starts looking for him and discovers Alex’s secret life. The premier was just setting the stage for what promises to be a good British spy yarn with mystery, intrigue and a series of really great performances by Ben Whishaw, Jim Broadbent and apparently a couple by this year’s Oscar nominee Charlotte Rampling. I am really excited about this and can’t wait for episode 2.

The other new shows weren’t as good. The first is mini-series Mercy Street (PBS). This Civil War medical drama premiered this past Sunday.   It takes place in a Union hospital in Alexandria, Virginia during the Civil War. Not a lot happened in this first episode and I did nod off a couple of times but there seem to be several story lines developing including one about free people of color that I could potentially wrap my head around. I’ll give it another week or two and update you. Some critics have warned that the medical part of the show is pretty gruesome but I haven’t seen that yet.

The second show that premiered last Sunday was Billions (Showtime). Now my experience with Showtime is that they produce shows that are just dynamite the first season and drop off significantly after that (Homeland, the Affair). So far, Billions doesn’t even do that but it is interesting enough to watch a few more shows – at least until my Sunday nights get so packed that I have to drop off shows. After recently watching the “Big Short” – a movie about rich white guys making millions on wall street, sitting back and watching a TV series about rich white guys making millions on wall street isn’t that appealing – especially since the “Big Short” was so much better. However, Paul Giamatti and Damien Lewis are pretty great so maybe they will make this show “talk” to me, as I get further into it. I get that Wall Street is full of white guys but there are some women and people of color there and it would have been nice if the show reflected that.

The third new show I watched was “Legends of Tomorrow (CW). I only watched this show because I love Victor Garber and it is a spin off of the Flash. In short, I think it is a kind of a hot mess. I started to get concerned when a few days before the show premiered, there were any number of articles popping up explaining who all the characters were and how the time travel works – guess the CW figured out the show was confusing and they had to help get explanations out.   There was a lot going on in this pilot – trying to introduce the large cast, the villains and all the time travel.  I still love Victor Garber and I’ll give it another few shows to see if the story gets more focused and interesting.

Returning Shows:

The 100 (CW) returned for it’s 4th season this week. The first 3 seasons of this CW Sci Fy show were compelling with the character depth, moral dilemmas and interesting twists to the various plot lines. The 100 isn’t for everyone especially if you don’t like Sci Fi and/or the typical CW focus on very attractive and very young actors but it has been a staple on the critics best TV shows. The first show back is good although I have forgotten what happened at the end of last season. Sometimes it is better to binge these shows so you don’t loose track of the plot with some much time between seasons.  I have seen comments by some of the critics who have been able to preview several shows so there may be troubled waters ahead. As a result, I’m moving forward cautiously on this one.

Agent Carter (ABC) returned for it’s 2nd season this week. As I have mentioned previously, I’m not a comic book person and sometimes struggle with the story lines and numerous characters in this Marvel world. I thought Agent Carter had some really interesting moments last season and it is rare we see a female lead in these Marvel shows so I tuned in this week for the new season. This season premiered with a 2-hour show that moved the characters to California for a fresh start. I enjoyed the premier, thought the characters were engaging and look forward to the new season.

The Flash (CW) returned from winter break this week. The reason I love this show is that while it is set in the Marvel universe, it is really about families, friends and relationships between characters that you really care about. You don’t have to be a comic book nerd to enjoy it. The bad guys that show up each week are plot devices that probably mean more to those who read the comics – for me, they just give the Flash something to do.  I love every actor and character on this show and it is just a nice light, fun hour each week, which I appreciate given the heavy drama of most of the shows, I watch.

Updates:

Making a Murder (Netflix) I have now completed all of the 10 shows. I don’t think it is as good as either Season 1 of the “Serial” podcast or HBO’s the Jinx both of which are very similar in nature. I’m not sure why this show is one of the most talked about shows on social media. The real life characters depicted in it are particularly unsavory and 10 hours of them is more than enough. I found the first 2 episodes the best – the ones where we find out how Steven Avery was unjustly jailed for 18 years for a rape he did not commit. These episodes set the tone for what we know are serious flaws in the judicial system. When he is then accused of a murder in his town, there is a great deal of suggestion that he is being set up by the law enforcement agencies that were responsible for his original arrest. It doesn’t take 10 shows to hammer in to the audience that the American justice has problems and the rich tend to get better treatment than the poor in our society. I really don’t care whether Stephen Avery is guilty or not – I think he probably is – and there are rumors of a Season 2 which I’m sure I won’t be watching because I can’t imagine sticking with this story for more than 10 hours! Watch it if you want to see what everyone is talking about but half way through, you might want to just skip to the end and find out what happened. 

Shows Completed

Heroes Reborn ended. Thank god and hopefully there will be no more reboots.

American Horror Story ended and so does my viewing of the show – no matter how great the reviews might be in the future.

 

 

 

 

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