TV: The Network season ends on whimper, not a bang

 

Finales:

Mr. Selfridge (PBS) – Harry crashes and burns for the final time (Series Finale)

Mr. Selfridge ended its four-season run this week. While it proved to be a fascinating look into the history of the founding of Selfridge’s and its impact on the modern day department store, it was not a happy story. What Harry Selfridge did to the world of shopping was amazing – like Amazon in it’s time.  He made extraordinary changes that included how merchandise was bought, sold and displayed along with what he did for employees (particularly women) in the work place. . One of the most creative minds of his time, his own demons destroyed him. I visited London for the first time a couple of years ago and because of this show, Selfridges was a stopping point.

While this wasn’t the best Masterpiece series ever done, it was good enough for me to stick with it for four years. Jeremy Piven was excellent as the man behind it all and the supporting cast was very good as well. I wonder what I’ll do with my Sunday nights next winter/spring without Downton and Mr. Selfridge. Hopefully there will be something worthwhile in their place.

Grimm (NBC) – Diana the She-Devil spawn (Season Finale)

If Grimm was on any other night rather than Fridays, I probably wouldn’t watch it but there is nothing else on that night and it takes place in Portland (although I think it is filmed in Vancouver) which is always fun. Skyline Drive is frequently mentioned along with other places of my childhood. The weekly monsters are amusing although they aren’t supposed to be and the backstory of the Royals trying to conquer the world is a bit silly. Nevertheless, the characters are reasonably compelling and the writers even managed to have us like Adeline this season and she was a very hated villain.

The two-hour finale hopefully ended the Black Claw plot and it now remains to be seen how the Chief deals with Nick. Renard and Adelind’s daughter Diana is clearly the most powerful person on the planet and I believe that Juliette is back to her former self with Eve gone forever setting up an interesting love triangle with Juliette, Nick and Adeline. Also, how will Juliette’s transformation back impact Adelind with whom she shares more than some blood. If I were Nick, I’d stay the heck away from Adeline given her little she-devil offspring’s tendency to murder anyone who comes between her mother and Renard. I’ve been waiting for Rosalee to get pregnant so now that we have this subplot it will be interesting to see what species of Wesen she spawns!

I’ve seen the Friday fall schedule and it’s clear that once again, the only remotely interesting show will be Grimm so I’ll be back to see how Portland copes with it’s disproportionately large Wesen population again.

The Night Manager (AMC) – Tom Hiddleston passes his audition for the next James Bond

The 6-part mini-series concluded this week in a tense and fast-paced finale. Hugh Laurie was spectacular as the evil international arms dealer Richard Roper. His steely blue eyes portray a master villain at every step along the way.   But even knowing that he won’t hesitate to kill anyone at any time, there is some goodness and depth to him as a father along with some other roles in his life. If nothing else, this show proves that we need Hugh Laurie back on television full-time as soon as possible!

Tom HIddleston as the ex-British soldier, who gets sucked into the illegal arms world by a beautiful woman in Egypt during the Egyptian Spring, is great as well. He has to disappear from Cairo and hides out in a mountain resort where he meets the nefarious Mr. Roper and his girlfriend. Using a different name, he goes undercover for an investigator played by Olivia Coleman. As he manages to penetrate Roper’s circle, he also begins a relationship with Roper’s girlfriend – not a smart move. He gets deeper and deeper in as the walls close in around him but somehow he prevails, Roper is defeated and the good guys live happily ever after. Apparently this is different than the book, which is more nuanced with the good guys not having such a great end. The TV show could have used a little more of that complexity and nuance.

This mini-series was fine but it doesn’t come close to the brilliance of the Americans in terms of “embedded” spy series. Tom Hiddleston was very easy on the eyes and this show showcases him well for getting the role of James Bond.

The Flash (CW) Season Finale – Time travelling through multi-dimensions is never a good thing

I love the Flash – or I did last year at any rate. The thing I love most about the characters is that they are likeable and have deep and significant relationships with each other. The bonds between Barry and his adopted family as well as the co-workers are so strong. As I have mentioned before, the monster of the week doesn’t really matter when the relationships and characters are strong. With all that, I was a bit disappointed in this season and I found that for a viewer unfamiliar with the comics and one who can struggle with time travel that all of the travelling to different universes and different time periods was confusing.

The finale amped up the confusion for me. There were multiple villains from multiple universes and lots of time travel. I’m pretty sure that the villain of this year, Zoom, is dead in all universes; I’m pretty sure that Barry going back in time to save his mother will impact all the current timelines; I’m not so sure about who else went where though. I got a bit tired of Barry’s selfish motives in trying to kill all of the “Zooms” everywhere this season and hopefully we will go back to a “lighter” Barry next season. So far, I’m sticking with the show based on the characters and their relationships but if the plot becomes so convoluted as to detract from these then I may have to leave the show.

Nashville (ABC) Series Finale – Voted worst series ending ever by so many people!

Nashville is not a very good show yet somewhat addictive. Let’s be honest – it is just a nighttime soap opera. I was cruising along until the last couple of weeks when every single couple bit the dust and, an obnoxious spoiled brat broke her mother’s heart and was successfully emancipated from her. Even in the daytime soaps, not every couple in the entire show falls apart at once – of course most of them got back together in the finale which was equally as frustrating.  What has kept me going is the music and the characters along with the fact that the acting was a little classier than your average daytime soap.

I believe the finale was taped before the unexpected decision by ABC to cancel the show was made. Because new show runners had been hired for next season, the expectation was that the show would be renewed. Thus the finale wasn’t written to be a satisfying series or season finale and it wasn’t. And to top it all off, there was a cliffhanger ending. What??????? They couldn’t have filmed two endings like Castle?   This was a really bad way to end things for the few remaining loyal viewers of Nashville. I can only assume that ABC figured they would shop the show and given Hayden Panettiere’s personal issues, it was unclear whether she would be back or not so why not have her plane missing….ugh…..

Gotham (FOX) Season Finale – Orphan Bruce

I’m really mixed on Gotham. There are moments that are really good and stretches that are not. Robert Lloyd Taylor is just great as Penguin and Michael Chiklis killed it as the captain this year. That being said, I get tired of dreary Gotham and the young Bruce Wayne searching for his parent’s killer. In hind sight, maybe it would have been better to have Bruce a little older so we could see a more mature transition to Batman. I’m not really willing to wait 10 years for him to grow in to the caped crusader.

The finale ended the season -long activities of Dr. Strange in the mental institution but not his creations. James Gordon is newly freed and departs to find his girlfriend leaving Gotham in the throws of a busload of evil creatures (including a clone of Bruce Wayne) wandering the city. I’m guessing James won’t be gone for long, as there will be plenty of monsters to destroy upon his return. And, of course, we have the mystery of the “Secret Council” to unravel along with their hold on Gotham and Wayne Enterprises. Ok end to an ok year.

Blindspot (NBC) Season Finale – Do I care about those tattoos any more?

Blindspot and Quantico were the only new shows last fall that the critic’s thought had potential. I’m bagging Quantico but Blindspot still has enough going for it that I’ll probably keep watching unless by some miracle, there are lots of great shows that premier in the fall. Given the state of the Network scripted drama, I can pretty much guarantee that won’t happen so I’ll be sticking with Blindspot.

The finale has Jane chasing down Mayfair’s killer after having been let go from the FBI. So Kurt’s father killed Taylor; Kurt blames it on Jane who kills Oscar before he can inject her with the memory loss potion; and Jane and Oscar seem to belong to a cult trying to bring down the government. Not sure why Kurt doesn’t believe that Jane is innocent in all of this but it is a strange reaction when Jane has always been there for him and done a great job for the FBI. Guess next season will start with her arrest. Not sorry to see Oscar go but will miss Mayfair.

Premiers:

The Preacher (AMC) Boy am I not the target audience for this!

I don’t know what possessed me to catch the premier of the Preacher. It is based, apparently, on a very violent comic book series that I am unfamiliar with and it seems aimed at a young (and I mean young) male audience. The reviews were pretty good and this season’s TV is winding down so I checked it out. I’m not sure I caught exactly what was going on but there is some sort of alien cloud trying to find a host preacher but instead it has blown up those who have been targeted with the exception of a young man in Texas played by Dominic Cooper. He is the “preacher” and I’ve read that the cloud will give him powers. There is also a Vampire and another young woman and the three of them form the core cast.

The premier was full of violence – blood everywhere – but more of a surreal type of gore. The characters are fairly interesting and it is so different that I am going to tune in again. The show takes a break for Memorial Day weekend but like several other shows this season, is going to have an “after” show to help explain things. I think this is working well for both Orphan Black and Game of Thrones so for a show like Preacher, it can only help a non-comic book reading retired female! 

All the Way (HBO)

This HBO movie stars Bryan Cranston as LBJ. Having studied LBJ in detail, I was disappointed in this biopic. Bryan Cranston did an amazing job of capturing the mannerisms of a very complex 36th President of the United States but he almost did it too well. He clearly studied all of LBJ’s voice intonations, facial expressions and hand gestures in depth but it was such an intense portrayal that I was often distracted by it.

In addition, what was one of the most important periods in American history was depicted in a rather dull and droll account. I remember this period in history vividly and there was so much more emotion than what we saw on screen. I also had hoped for a better rebuttal to Ava Duvenay’s portrayal of LBJ in Selma, which I felt, was historically inaccurate and we got some but again, it was missing the passion I was hoping for.

LBJ was not a nice guy. He was crude, a cheater and lied all the time. However, he was a master politician. Everyone in Congress owed him something and when he had the opportunity to cash in, he was able to shepherd through some of the most progressive albeit controversial laws in the history of the United States. How he accomplished this, when his predecessor, President Kennedy, was unable to, was a feat that should have warranted an exciting film filled with emotion. Instead, I fell asleep. I won’t say don’t bother with the film but it is only ok and the story deserved more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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