TV: Did You Think I Stopped Watching? Network Finale Wrap-Up

TV:

May sweeps came fast and furiously with most shows wrapping up their seasons.  Instead of going over each one in detail, I’m just going to provide some random thoughts on this season for many of the shows I watch: 

Grey’s Anatomy (ABC):  Wow, a huge explosion and fire at Seattle Grace (or whatever its not- so- new name is) and no one died.  It’s a first for the show that is known for its disaster finales that always entail big deaths.  We did have one doctor leave the show because of the fire but I didn’t care for that character so no big deal.  I am amazed at how this show just keeps chugging along.  I’m in for the long haul as well as the love triangle that the season finale set up for next year.

Scandal (ABC):  It’s a good thing Scandal is ending next year.  It has gotten to be so far-fetched that it spends most of its time in the world of the absurd.  Nellie as President – really? Not in our lifetime.  Olivia as a power-hungry manipulator in the white house?  I’m afraid the foundation for that plotline was loosely laid.  Fitz off to a quiet life in NH?  If true, he’d certainly be in the best place of any of them but I doubt it will last.  Olivia’s mother is back….pleez…don’t they have any new ideas?  Certainly, not for Quinn who is pregnant with who knows whose kid.  Ugh…. a show that started off so fantastically is well beyond its prime.  Wrap it up!

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D (ABC):  Somehow, this show actually got renewed for a 5th season.  I didn’t love this year with the AIDA killing everyone and the alternate universe where Fitz is a baddie and his relationship with Simmons on the rocks.  I can’t say as I followed who exactly were the bad guys and how next season was set up but I suppose I might eek one more year, maybe, out of this show.  I don’t think it will last for more.

The Blacklist (NBC):  Another show where I have invested years and they aren’t exactly paying off.  To have to wait 4 years to confirm what everyone had pretty much figured out from the beginning (that Reddington is Liz’s father) was so anti-climactic as to be a “who the heck cares any more” moment.  I was sorry to see Mr. Kaplan go but am intrigued enough by the “bones” headed toward Liz to tune in next year.  If they drag out that mystery too long, however, I’m out of there!

Mary Kills People (Lifetime):  This is not the most intellectually compelling show you’ll ever see but it is well done and I hope it will be around next year.  If you missed it on Lifetime, catch up this summer.  Not only is it shot beautifully, the acting is good (particularly Caroline Dhavernas as Mary) and it is written and directed mostly by women.  Each episode moves quickly with the requisite amount of suspense and the subject matter is compelling.  And, despite its compelling subject matter, there is humor which is needed to break up the death scenes.  Hopefully there will be a Season 2 because the show deserves it.

Jane the Virgin (CW):  I love, love, love this show and it never disappoints.  The characters are amazing and have so much heart that the viewer is emotionally attached to each and every one.  This season has primarily revolved around the central theme of love or in Jane’s case, her re-entry back into the world of dating after coming to terms with Michael’s death. Her parent’s relationship deepens and ends in marriage and even her grandmother finds love.  The finale introduces us to Jane’s probable new love interest for next season and I can only count the days until this show comes back in September.  Jane is a tough show to catch up on as there are approximately 23 one-hour shows per year and there have been several seasons but if you have missed it, and have “binge” time this summer, try it out.  You won’t be disappointed.

The Flash (CW):  I thought the Flash this season was a bit too morose and dragged out Iris’s death interminably.  Barry’s disappearance at the end of the season should be short-lived next season and I assume we will be back to the creature of the week with an overall super villain story-arch.  I like what they did with the Killer Frost character in the finale by not having Kaitlin go back to normal with no ramifications.  It keeps that character complex and interesting.  Hopefully next season will recapture some of the “lightness” the first two seasons had as this one was just a little too dark for me.

Supergirl (CW):  Supergirl is destined never to have a lasting love interest and this season was heartbreaking for her as her Daxamite boyfriend Mon-El can no longer exist on earth and is sucked into a black hole in space.  On the plus side, Supergirl kicked Superman’s ass and Cat Grant (Callista Flockheart) was in the last two episodes and yes, she does know who Kara is!  Bring this woman back full-time!  We were introduced at the end to next season’s villain – a blood sucking kryptonite who was also launched from the planet as it was exploding to what I only assume will be a landing on earth.  Supergirl and Flash are my antidote to watching Rachel Maddow in the hour before them.  They take me away from it all!

Premiers:

So, with all those finales, you must be wondering whether I saw any new shows and unfortunately, I did.

Bloodline (Netflix):  The first season of Bloodline was “bloody” fantastic.  One of the main reasons was Ben Mendelsohn who was just plain spectacular.  Unfortunately, he died at the end.  Season two had Mendelsohn in flashbacks but it just wasn’t the same and the show was not good.  Season three (the final) dropped last week on Netflix and because I am a glutton for punishment, and a perverse side of me wants to see all the Rayburns rot in hell, I watched the first episode.  The whole thing took place in the dark and I couldn’t even see the characters.  It was extremely irritating.  The most obnoxious thing, however, is that I am going to have to watch it again to have any understanding of what happened.  It seems like a high price to pay to have to watch an entire season of this just to see them all get their just rewards but I can be a masochist especially during the summer when there isn’t much happening elsewhere on TV.  If you haven’t seen this show, don’t get involved with it!!!!!!

Note:  I still haven’t caught up on DVR with Billions, Genius and Legion but now that things are calming down, I intend to do some catching up!

 

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TV: Summer TV -Some Great Stuff Along with a Couple of Duds

 

Premiers:

Orange is the New Black (Netflix)

The fourth season of Orange is the New Black dropped Friday and I have been able to watch the first four episodes. I have read several reviews all of which say that it is a very strong season – particularly the latter episodes so I’m anxious to get to them. To be honest, Seasons 2 and 3 were very mixed and so it is good to know that this season, while expected to be much darker, is a big improvement.

This season we are getting some more of the “lesser” characters and their backstories add additional depth to the various plot lines. Taylor Shilling was barely visible in the first few episodes and that is fine – Piper is not one of the show’s strongest characters. Meanwhile, at Litchfield, it is now a “for profit prison” and extremely crowded with a Martha Stewart-like inmate played wonderfully by Blair Brown. There are lots of tensions between the old and new inmates and a murder followed by the body being cut into parts and buried in the garden makes for a humorous start. Some may think this is a comedy and it does have comedic elements but it is really a drama and I’m excited about where we are headed this season. I’ll keep you posted as I progress but I’m totally in!

The Interestings (Amazon)

I was intrigued when I saw that Meg Wolitzer’s excellent book had been made into a TV series so had to check it out. Wolitzer’s novel follows a group of creative kids who meet at an arts camp during the 1970s and takes them through adulthood with unexpected life choices and outcomes.  Entertainment Weekly gave the TV show a C- which made me nervous that yet another one of my favorite books was going to be butchered when adapted for the small screen. A show really has to be bad to get a grade like that on EW, which is notoriously generous in its grades. The first episode dropped on Amazon this week so I watched it. I try not to judge a show by just one episode but it wasn’t great and I’m thinking it could be rather confusing for non-book readers. The book flows back and forth more fluidly then the TV show and this is a tough book to bring to screen. More to come but I’m not optimistic. While viewing this episode, I kept having visions of the “Magicians” and how much it disappointed me – could the Interestings be worse?

Finales:

Orphan Black (BBC America)

On the day of Orphan Black’s season finale, it was announced that next season would be the 5th and final one. While I could watch our favorite clones for years, I always like it when show runners get to determine how to finish a story the way they want and go out on their own terms. This season has been strong. Clearly the writers heard feedback about how the show had become so complicated that no one knew what the heck was going on. Many of its fans kept viewing solely because Tatiana Maslany is so great that we can’t stop watching her. As a result, the overall story arc was simplified and the show introduced an “After the Black” show, which provides additional insight to each episode. The end result was a good season in which the story arc was easier to follow.

The finale was a bit convoluted with Donnie and his two clone “wives” camping out in the snow; Sarah venturing north to find Cosima; Rachel stealing the cure and attacking her mother and Crystal being brought into the fold. Delphine and Cosima are back together but where and with who is a mystery. They appear to be held by a mysterious man “the messenger” who is somehow aligned to Rachel and hangs out in a bunch of huts on the island. Rachel has turned villain again (at least we think so) and is about to meet the mysterious founder of Neolution who is over 100 years old….what???? Sarah is wandering around the island with a serious leg wound and we’ll just have to wait to see how all of this resolves itself next year.

OJ Simpson: Made in America (ESPN)

OJ Simpson finished up it’s almost 8 hour run and it was riveting. Hopefully everyone got a chance to see it although I’m sure there will be numerous re-runs and it is available for streaming on ESPN. It is one of the best documentaries ever done by ESPN and maybe even on TV – just a fantastic series that everyone should see. Get your Millennials to watch it as well. I think it has even more of an impact on this generation who did not live though the Bronco chase or the verdict. What it teaches them about history, race relations and justice in the United States is invaluable.

The last episode was really well done as it followed OJ from the polarizing verdict through his incarceration for the Las Vegas debacle including the assertion by his business manager that OJ actually confessed to the killing. His character is exposed as he is shunned by the Brentwood crowd and looks to reconnect with the African American community. He falls in with an unsavory crowd culminating in the armed robbery of a memorabilia dealer. His final sentencing for many will seem justified based on his earlier acquittal but many others will find his sentencing extreme for the crime. As the story fades, the tragic life of Simpson from superstar to convict is laid bare for all to see. The mini series is worthy of all the accolades that I expect it will receive in the coming months.

Binging Update:

Bloodline (Season 2 Netflix)
I completed Season 2 of Bloodline. While most critics refer to Season 1 of Bloodline as “a slow burn”,  I’m afraid the match wasn’t even lit in Season 2. Although Ben Mendelsohn is technically still on the show, the second season suffers from not having him as a main character and the superb interactions with Kyle Chandler that we enjoyed last season. Season 2 is just boring as the three Rayburn siblings see their respective lives fall apart after participating in Danny’s murder. The police are closing in painfully slowly. For some inexplicable reason, John, the murderer ,decides to run for public office introducing just a stupid plot line.  The finale sets the stage for next season with numerous people finding out who murdered Danny and another murder (please make them stop) adding to the ridiculousness of it all.

I can’t image what Season 3 will bring unless the Rayburns murder everyone in town who figures out who murdered Danny. There is no way I’ll suffer through another season of this show although I might tune in for what I expect to be the series finale episode to watch them all put in jail. What was a reasonably good series in Season 1 with fine acting just fell apart in season 2 – albeit the acting was still good. Once we knew who murdered Danny, the show was pretty much over and that was totally apparent throughout Season 2. By the end of it, any empathy I had for the characters in the first season had long since disappeared – too bad – it had potential.

BINGING SCORE:

Great: 1 (UnREAL)

OK: 0

Not Good: 1 (Bloodline)

TV: What I’m watching this summer

 

Summer TV viewing:

Summer is a time to catch up and binge watch shows that you haven’t gotten to see during the year or years past. Since retirement, I have been able to catch up on many shows I missed during my working career or that I just couldn’t get to in the last couple of seasons. This summer I am going to try and watch the following even though I’m pretty sure I won’t get to through every series.  I’ll keep you posted on my progress and feel free to binge them yourselves!

Must see summer shows:

Mr. Robot (USA)

Mr. Robot starts its 2nd season July 13th. If you haven’t seen this Golden Globe winning drama, find Season 1 and watch this remarkably fine cyber hacking drama staring the magnificent Rami Malek. It is full of twists and turns and you won’t always know what is going on but the acting is fantastic and the show worth of all its accolades.

Rectify (Sundance)

Rectify will premier it’s forth and final season late this summer on Sundance. For me, this is tied with the Americans as the best TV program on the air. You can easily catch up on the first three seasons on Netflix, as each season only runs  6 episodes except for season 2 (I think).  I promise that it will be so compelling that if you don’t have the Sundance channel, you will get a Seasons Pass on ITunes so you won’t have to wait another year to see the final season.

Rectify follows Daniel Holden, who was convicted for the rape and murder of his girlfriend when he was 18 years old. At 36, after spending 18 years on Death Row, he is cleared through DNA analysis and returns to his childhood home. The show explores how he and his family and the community deal with his return. It is a beautiful character study that combines unsolved mysteries (did he really do it) with evolving personalities and relationships. Just an amazing series.

Netflix original shows I am involved with but haven’t been able to keep up on that I will try and finish:

  • The Unbreakable Kimmy  Schmidt (Very Good)
  • Bloodline (Good 1st season; 2nd season is supposed to be pretty bad but I’ll check it out)
  • Daredevil (1st season very good; haven’t gotten to more than 1 episode in season 2)
  • Jessica Jones (1st season very good; 2nd season not yet released)
  • Orange is the New Black (it has had it’s ups and downs but I am a faithful viewer waiting for the next season to drop)
  • Grace and Frankie (ok first season and second season is very weak)

Series I want to catch up on:

  • Jane the Virgin (I watched the original pilot but it wasn’t my cup of tea so I dropped it. However most of the critics I really respect love it and so I think I need to give it another chance
  • Sherlock (another very good one that I just have never been able to find time for)
  • Killjoy (Highly rated Sci Fy show that I’d like to check out)
  • PBS’s Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth (I’m a sucker for Jane Austin and this is supposed to be a great one!)
  • Happy Valley (got through an episode or so but had no time this year and can’t wait to get through the rest)
  • Billions (saw the first episode but never had time for the rest this season)

There are still some premiers and finales happening that I will be posting updates for them as they happen.