TV this week: House of Cards, Bates Motel, Quantico, Downton, the Americans

Some shows came back and some left us as we begin to close out TV’s winter season and head into the spring premiers.

Returning:

House of Cards (Netflix) – Spoiler Free

Before I launch into Season 4, I’d be remiss if I didn’t tell you that I’m not a big House of Cards fan. I loved Season 1, thought Season 2 was marginal and bagged Season 3 after 4 episodes. The only reason I picked it up again is because a friend wanted to binge it and thought it would be a good idea if I did as well so we could discuss it. It hasn’t had bad reviews and TV is winding down a bit so I thought what the heck – I’d watch a few shows. I got through 7 of 13 episodes and so far it is great. A few thoughts:

  • I could watch Cicely Tyson, Neve Campbell and Ellen Burstyn all day and all night – they are brilliant
  • I love Robin Wright’s performance as she starts giving the President the treatment he has inflicted on so many others. This is her year and she deserves the Emmy for this extraordinary acting job
  • The plots are so far out there to be comical (one of the reasons I bagged it last season) except that in this political year, they don’t seem to be quite as crazy as they once were which is a scary thing.
  • There is a lot drama and action to the point where it is actually hard to stop watching. In other words, this is a very binge-worthy season.
  • I don’t think you have to see Season 3 to watch Season 4 but then again, I couldn’t remember all the characters and plots given that it is basically 2 years since I watched it.

Bates Motel

Bates Motel (A&E) opened season 4 with Norman continuing the deep dive into total insanity. It has been announced that Season 5 will be the last so we should get a structured, coherent story arc for these last two seasons although I’m not sure now that Norman is murdering people with regularity, how they will fill the remaining two seasons. I’m assuming that Norman will spend it killing everyone in sight. I can only hope that Emma (with a successful lung transplant) can escape town before the bloodletting takes her down! The acting of Vera Farmiga and Freddy Highmore is outstanding in this show supported by fine work from Olivia Cook as Emma (Me, Earl and the Dying Girl) and Nestor Carbonell (Lost) as the mysterious sheriff. I have always enjoyed this Psycho prequel created by Lost’s Carleton Cuse. It can get gory but is filled with mysteries and fun plot lines and I’m going to relish these last two seasons. In the meantime, someone please give Freddie the awards he deserves.

Quantico (ABC)

Quantico returned this Sunday from its winter hiatus. The problem with these scripted dramas taking breaks is that I watch so much TV that I don’t remember just about anything that previously happened. At any rate it returned in search of the terrorist(s) and Alex trying to convince everyone there is that there is a second terrorist besides the known classmate who bombed Grand Central. You know she is right and everyone else is wrong (again – gag) because this is how the show rolls. Then, in the Quantico test for the week, our class goes up against a class that has been there a few weeks longer. Of course this new class becomes part of their class, which give the show a bunch, more people to use. This is important as they have after killed or fired many of the originals. Like Blindspot, this show started out ok last fall (in a season where just about all the new shows were awful) but not sure how long I’m going to stick with it. I want to be able to watch some Network scripted dramas but it is getting increasingly hard to find any that can compete with the cable offerings.

Finales:

Downton Abbey (PBS) – Series Finale

It’s hard to say goodbye to Downton. For 6 years, it has been a Sunday night winter staple as we follow the ups and downs of the Crawley household. The final episode does not disappoint and as had been predicted by many, there were happy endings for everyone. I won’t spoil it incase there are those who haven’t yet seen it but the finale was a suitable culmination of the Crawley family saga. There is lots of room for sequels, prequels and/or movies to update us on their lives.

Downton was never great TV. The plots were fairly predictable and a bit contrite. It did, however, give us a glorious glimpse into early 1900s English aristocracy as the modern world pressed down upon it. So, no, Downton won’t be on any critics top 10 lists this year but I’m sad to see it go. 

DVR Alert:

The Americans (FX) Season 5 premiers on Wednesday 3/16. In my opinion, this is the best show on Television. I’m not sure if FX will run any marathons to catch people up prior to the premier as it is so hard to find the earlier seasons anywhere (and they are a must see before jumping in) but it is worth it to check it out. Last I looked, this 2015 Peabody Award winning best TV drams has a couple of seasons available on Amazon Prime and a couple on Hulu. I haven’t checked ITunes but you’d think that such a great show with such horrible ratings would try and make its prior seasons available on as widespread of a basis as possible.

 

 

 

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