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!

 

TV: Fall Premiers Busting out all over and Mr. Robot Concludes Season 2.

New Show Premiers:

This is Us (NBC)

This new show is supposed to be similar to “Parenthood” but not as good but being a huge Parenthood fan, that was enough for me to tune in. I saw the first episode, which showcases 4 individuals celebrating their 36th birthday. The first is Jack (played by Milo Ventimiglia from Heroes) whose wife Rebecca (Mandy Moore) is about to deliver triplets. The second is Randall (Sterling K Brown), a successful businessman in search of his birth father and finally we have a twin brother and sister. The brother is an actor who self-destructs in his hollow reality show and the sister is an extremely obese woman who is desperately trying to lose weight.

Their stories move forward in a kind of sappy, syrupy way until the end of the pilot where there is a huge twist. I’m really not sure where this is going after said twist but it has me interested enough to tune in this week. It could do something pretty good or turn into a nighttime soap opera. Hopefully it will be the former but I’m looking forward to the next episode.

Fleabag (Amazon)

Fleabag is another one of those 30-minute dramedies that dropped on Amazon last week and is only six episodes. I got through the first several without being really engaged with the thirty-something British woman (nameless so is known as the “Fleabag” and is played by Phoebe Waller Bridge) who clearly has issues and engages in a lot of sex to try and distance herself from them. She and her sister Claire are scarred by the early death of their mother and a life with an emotionally distant father. Olivia Coleman who is her usual amazing self plays their unlikeable stepmother and there is a tragic storyline involving Fleabag’s best friend Boo that is told in flashbacks that impacts Fleabag’s life in a all encompassing way.

I’m clearly not the demo for this series and I’m somewhat saturated by all the tragic Thirty-something comedies out there about people who are battling depression, mental illness and other issues while they try to establish careers, relationships and families. It should be noted that the critics love this show and if I weren’t already watching “You’re the Worst”, “Catastrophe”, “Being There” and “One Mississippi”, I’d probably be more engaged. Phoebe Waller Bridge is an apparently well-known British comedian and uses the technique of talking directly to the audience – particularly during sex scenes. She is good and the technique works ok but there are only so many of these types of shows that I want to watch and I think this one put me over the top. The good news is that we are only dealing with 3 hours of material so pretty much anyone can get through that. It is well done, well acted and well written but with so much TV this fall, I could have skipped Fleabag.

The Exorcist (Fox)

Normally scary/horror shows are not my thing but let’s face it, Friday nights are a TV wasteland and my DVR hasn’t piled up yet with all the new Fall TV shows so I watched the premier. It has good reviews and the pilot was well done. I vaguely remember the movie but did recognize the callouts to the “Georgetown Stairs” and the Exorcist’s hat. Geena Davis plays a woman who thinks there is something bad going on in her house. She has two teenage daughters, one of whom, Kat, is home from college and won’t leave the room and the other one, Casey, at first glance, seems to be the most normal one in the family. The dad has a deteriorating mental condition where he forgets things but in a moment of clarity sends the local parish priest off to find the exorcist at a retirement home. There are two priests (the local parish priest is played by Alfonso Herrera) who are slowly dragged into this family’s drama and are quite intriguing.

The pilot moves quickly in trying to introduce all the characters and set the stage and misses some important set-up but this isn’t unusual for a pilot. There is a twist at the end of the episode where the “Devil” emerges and so we find out the house is really a bad place and an exorcism is required. I’m not sure how this show is going to move forward – does it spend the entire season in this one house and then move on next season to a different situation? Surprisingly the show is pretty good and could potentially hold me over until Grimm returns in January to Friday nights. Perhaps I should try and get out more on this night of the week! 

Returning Show Premiers: 

Marvel: Agents of Shield (ABC)

Shield introduced us to a new major character in its premier – Ghost Rider – who is apparently well known in the Marvel world. I understand that the TV show only gets lesser-known marvel characters as the main ones are in the blockbuster films but this character could be interesting.   I still don’t think the show isn’t firing on all cylinders for me and it is unlikely that Ghost Rider will save it. In the first episode, Skye/Daisy/Quake has gone underground and comes across this new Ghost Rider who is out to kill bad guys (this week it is some Aryan Nation creeps). Daisy tracks him down and we’re not quite sure whether it is just to have him end her life or not. She is still pretty guilt-ridden over everything that happened last season and not in a good place. I think I had enough angst from her last year so hopefully this isn’t going to continue for a prolongued period of time.

The old gang has been broken up and dispersed. Coulson and Mack have been demoted to agent status (but still hanging out on that fabulous plane) and are hunting Daisy down secretly thanks to an alert by May. Simmons and Fitz are in a strange place – Simmons is now the highest ranking of them all and Fitz is off with one of last year’s villains who is busy building an android who gives Alicia Vikander in Ex Machina a run for her money. The show has issues and I miss the main characters being all together so I may ultimately rely on the far better Netflix Marvel TV series for this genre. I still need to catch up on Daredevil S2 while Luke Cage S1 and Jessica Jones S2 will be here in no time. They are far better than Agents of Shield yet there is something about Coulson and company that draws me in. We’ll see how it goes. If you have never seen it don’t bother to start and go straight to the Netflix original TV shows for your Marvel fix. 

Grey’s Anatomy (ABC):

If you are a big Grey’s fan, you won’t be disappointed by the premier which has Alex paying the price for his brutal attack on DeLucca; Catherine intervening in April and Jackson’s lives; Meredith lying to her sister and Miranda to protect Alex and no Arizona to be seen. It was all good and sets up the key plotlines for the season; Alex’s legal and employment issues and Meredith’s relationship with Nathan and her sister. We’ll hopefully have some happy times ahead for April and Jackson and it’s hard to imagine that Owen and Amelia’s wedding bliss will last for long and what huge disaster is planned for Seattle Grace or whatever it is now named.

Grey’s keeps chugging along but it has freshness with a continual influx of new characters that sets it aside from the other dramas that have not lasted nearly as long. I must admit there were a few years there in the middle I didn’t watch but I’ve been a fan of the last few. Shonda continues to work her magic with it.

The Blacklist (NBC)

The Blacklist opened up its fourth season with a fast paced episode that began where last spring’s cliffhanger left off.   Lizzie, Tom and Agnes were kidnapped and of course Red and the FBI are on the trail. Red almost gets them back but clearly they are going to stretch out this plot for awhile longer. Tom who started this series as a very badass double agent seems to have shrunk into a suburban dad with no skills at all. Lizzie is briefly reunited with Agnes only to have her kidnapped again but the most interesting part of the story is an explanation of Lizzie’s relationship to Red. If we are to believe the man who kidnapped her and claims he is her Russian father, Red stole Liz away from him as a child but is not her father. It would be nice after four years to explain the mystery as to why Red is so protective of Liz. I thought we made further progress in this episode than in the past 3 years so that was good.

To conclude, good show, good season opener and I can watch James Spader all day and all night. 

Finales:

Mr. Robot (USA)

Mr. Robot ended its second season with a two-hour finale spread over two weeks, which still didn’t help me figure out what the heck happened this season. Season 1 was complicated but brilliant and the relationships between the characters allowed for the brain-busting moments where we find out that Darlene is Elliot’s sister and Elliot and Mr. Robot are one in the same. This year, none of the core characters even really interacted and I fell asleep during each of the episodes leading up to the finale no matter what time of day or night I watched them. It didn’t help that the show’s creator, Sam Esmail directed all of the shows in season 2 and many of them far exceeded 60 minutes which was way too long. For me, the entire season felt really disconnected and hard to follow.

That’s not to say I didn’t get the basic elements; Elliot was clearly in prison or a mental institution for the first part of the season; the after effects of the hack well depicted; Angela’s move to E Corp somewhat understandable although her relationship with Wellick is not and the likely continued existence of Wellick lurking around the periphery which was clarified in the final two episodes. In the finale, Wellick who purports to be Elliot’s only friend shoots him although I have no doubt that Elliot will survive because there is no show without Emmy winning Rami Malek. I do find the relationships with the Dark Army confusing and I miss having F Society together. Before I commit to a Season 3, I’m going to binge through Season 1 and Season 2 next summer to see if watching them back to back clarifies the show for me. If not, I will likely bag season 3.

TV: A slew of finales

In no particular order, below are my thoughts on a number of finales I watched over the past week.

Bates Motel (A&E): Mommy dearest

I really like Bates Motel. The acting is top notch. Where are those Emmy nominations for Freddy Highmore and Vera Farmiga anyway? They certainly deserve them. Both are amazing in this show. Olivia Cooke (Me Earl and the Dying Girl) and Nestor Carbonell (Lost) are excellent as well. The writing is crisp and the storylines hang together. The characters have depth and we can empathize with all them despite some rather sketchy activities. Who would ever have imagined that they could have gotten four really good seasons (and a fifth and final one coming next year) out of a story that we know the ending to. A lot of credit has to go to Exec. Producer Carlton Cuse (Lost), the writers and the actors for making us care about these characters and what happens to them.

So we knew Norma had to die but I’m not sure anyone was thinking it would be this season. The finale set the stage for how we are going to see Vera Farmiga next season as “alive” in Norman’s mind.   Meanwhile, Norman starts his descent into total madness digging up his mother and setting her body in the living room. Things are not good for the Sheriff either as he is arrested by the DEA. Norman has not told his brother that their mother is dead and I really hope he and Emma stay the heck away in another state but having Norman sitting with his dead mother and murdering motel guests would be a pretty narrow storyline next season so I’m thinking that they will head back to town. Good season and good finale.

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D (ABC) – this time Grant Ward is really dead.

S.H.I.E.L.D has ups and downs and gets confusing at times but I have stuck with it for two years, more to help me understand the broader Marvel universe than because it was any good. The show never really found it’s groove and the whole “Hive” infestation this season to keep the “Grant “character in the show was just a little over the top – even for a show like this. I’m on the fence about staying with the show. Whether I do or not will likely be influenced by whether there are any better network shows in the fall. In a world of peak TV, it is hard to stick with mediocre shows. The new top gun at ABC just cancelled Agent Carter and a new S.H.I.EL.D spinoff so the commitment to Marvel on this network seems dubious. Netflix does a better job with their Marvel shows and the CW is doing a better job with the DC universe so I’m just not sure that watching a Marvel show on ABC is the best use of my time.

One of the issues with the show is that unlike the Flash or Netflix’s Jessica Jones or Daredevil, it is hard to bond with most of these characters. Of the entire team, only Fitz and Simmons have any real appeal. May is pretty good but not exactly loveable and the rest are hard to relate to. That being said, the finale did a nice job with the deaths of Lincoln and Hive so there is some hope. The scene between Daisy and Lincoln was surprisingly emotional as were the last moments between Lincoln and Hive. A quick look six months down the line gives us an idea where the show is going next season and a “Goth” Daisy has gone rogue while Colson is no longer the S.H.I.E.L.D. Director. I’d like this show to be good….I really would.

The Catch (ABC) isn’t catching my interest

The Catch is a new spring show with 3 of my favorite actors (Peter Krause, Mireille Enos and Sonya Walger (Penny from Lost). It is so fun to see these actors play characters that are completely opposite from the ones they played on the Killing, Parenthood and Lost respectively.  Despite the lousy ratings, it has been renewed. I assume because it is a Shonda show and she seems to own ABC programming right now. Even though it has several of my favorite actors, the show is going to have to get a lot better next year for me to continue on with it.

The two-hour finale was surprisingly ok and brought in “Mrs. Padmore” (Downton Abbey) to be Margo’s mother. That was a treat – she looks pretty good in make-up with her hair styled and she was a baddie at that! Complete opposite from her other role at least until she donned a chef outfit and cap, which was such a great tribute to Mrs. Padmore. That was pretty much the highlight of the episode. So we leave Allison in FBI custody with Ben confessing and begging for himself to be arrested in lieu of Allison.  Margo is in charge of the Kensington firm after outmaneuvering her mother,  and her brother hightailed it to Togo (I assume). This show is not clicking on all cylinders and the chemistry between Enos and Krause is lacking.  That’s a difficult problem for the show runner to solve. I’d rank it above HTGAWM in the Shonda shows but just barely and only because I find those students in the latter to be so obnoxious and irritating.

The Blacklist (NBC) – Thank god they didn’t really kill off another female lead in the spring of our discontent

I’ll watch Blacklist each week just to see James Spader. The plots are all over the place but he is such a joy that it doesn’t matter. Before the final, it was announced that the Tom Keene character would be in a spinoff next year. With that news, I had to assume that Megan Boone was not really dead and she would be back on Blacklist next season and indeed that is the case. The explanation of how she survived was really weak but I was very surprised that Kaplan and not Red was the one responsible.  At any rate, Tom, Elizabeth and Agness are reunited in Cuba to live out a long and happy live on the beach.

They had about 5 minutes of happiness before Elizabeth and the baby were kidnapped and Tom beaten to a pulp.  Because of the spinoff, I’m assuming this is the last we see them together which is a bummer. The finale did confirm one long standing mystery.  We now know who Elizabeth’s father is (and it isn’t Red) but where are Tom and Agnes and what will Red do with Kaplan? I’m not sure how all this is going to work next fall but I will be tuning in to see.

Greys Anatomy (ABC) – A Grey’s finale with no disasters or death? What????

I haven’t watched all 12 seasons of Greys – fell off it for a few years in the middle – but there is a reason that it has lasted 12 seasons and that is because it has a formula that really works. There is the weekly medical case(s) that is usually interesting along with multiple longer-term story arcs about characters that we really care about.   Throw in Shondra killing off actors on a regular basis and some fresh writing and it’s generally a pretty good hour of TV.  This year has been a little less interesting. I have not been thrilled with the way Calle has been written off the show – the judge’s custody ruling was ridiculous (and they fixed that in the finale) but I am glad to see her girlfriend go – did not care for that actress at all. Hopefully Calle will be back after taking a year off.

Greys was the only Shonda show that didn’t rate a two-hour finale this week so for once, there was no airplane crash, ferryboat crash, maniac shooter or other kind of disaster. Owen and Emilia were married, April had the baby with some drama and we potentially have a new love triangle. This almost seemed like a series finale with a few loose ends – none of them compelling enough to carry next season. Karev’s storyline is not particularly good – the once homeless doctor he proposed to won’t marry him because she doesn’t want her abusive ex to find her. Not the strongest of story lines but I guess the show hasn’t tackled domestic abuse for a while. Bailey is back with her husband – never good for a drama.  Jackson and April seem to be well on the road back to marriage although I’m sure there will be some bumps along the way and Meredith’s love live isn’t enough to carry 22 episodes. I am concerned that none of these plotlines are good enough to carry us through an entire season. Could Grey’s have run out of good material after 12 years?

Legends of Tomorrow (CW) is not a legendary TV show

I gave Legends of Tomorrow a good run because I am a huge fan of Victor Garber but have to say, I doubt I’ll be back next season. The plot was confusing and towards the end just ridiculous. This group of time travelers spends an entire season tracking a not so great villain (Randal Savage) through time in order to kill him and prevent him from performing the horrific acts he inflicted on mankind only to find that the Time Masters were keeping him alive for other reasons. The “Legends” were able to eliminate Savage in the end and the show got set up for a new season with a couple of interesting propositions. Who is this guy from the Justice League anyway? I don’t think I’ll tune in but if the critics like what they see at the beginning of the year, I might give it another whirl. They will have to have a better villain; stop making up rules about time travel every episode that contradict each other and give the remaining characters much more depth – more like Flash – to get be on board.

The 100 (CW) probably should be renamed the “50” after all those deaths

The 100 was very good in seasons 1 and 2 but it got a bit off track this season as the A.I. Storyline took over everything and the best relationship of the show between Clark and Lexa ended when the show runners controversially killed off the strong female Lesbian character. There was also the ridiculous plot line of some guy just taking over the Sky people and killing Grounders but thankfully he was offed in the last scene of the finale. There have been fits and starts all season and the show just really needs to get back to its roots and delve into the characters that through the first two seasons made decisions that always had difficult and sometimes deadly outcomes.  The finale made a good start in that direction. The characters made were back having to make choices where there were no good alternatives and sacrificed themselves to overcome the A.I..  Lexa reappeared and got the exit she deserved. I’m hopeful the writers heard the feedback and next year will be better. I already like the new storyline of the Earth dying better than this year.

 

TV: Nothing new this week but some shows returned etc.

Updates:

Deutschland 83 (Hulu) – a history lesson for the Millennials – for others, watch the Americans

If you are already a fan of the “Americans”, you will enjoy Deutschland 83. Although it doesn’t have the gravitas or depth of the Americans, this Cold War German drama has much to offer. Martin, a young East German soldier is sent to West Germany to be a spy without any training. He does it because his mother needs a kidney transplant and his aunt (a spy) tells him that if he goes, she will be able to move his mother up the transplant list. Martin bumbles his way through the “spy” game with multiple other side plots that can sometime be somewhat soap -operish.

Deutschland 83 show some interesting film clips of the Regan cold war era from the German perspective. We also see the beginnings of the AIDs epidemic and the death sentence it meant at the time. For those born after the Berlin Wall came down, it provides an insight into what it was like to be young in 1980s Germany. I won’t spoil the end but I’m not sure where they are going to go with this show next season. Deutschland never takes itself too seriously and if you have 8 hours to kill, you could do a lot worse. Be forewarned however that you have to read the subtitles so if you are a multi-tasker while watching TV, this may not be the show for you 

Returning Shows:

The ABC Thursday night Shonda shows returned from their winter hiatus this week. I have decided to not continue with How to Get Away with Murder, as even Viola Davis can’t save this show for me.   I just can’t stand those students and could care less if they all are put in prison for life – in fact, the sooner the better. I need to cut down on Thursday night shows anyway as I am watching 7 hours of scripted dramas (why all the good shows are put on Thursday night I just don’t understand).  I will stick with Greys and Scandal however.

Greys came back with a horrific attack on Meredith. Can’t that woman ever cut a break? I have watched Greys since it began although I did miss a few years in the middle but it has come back strong these past couple of years with the exception of killing McDreamy. For ¾ of this new hour, Meredith can’t speak and for about 15 minutes or so, she can’t hear which means the show moves forward through silence. It wears thin quickly. The previews for next week show Meredith with PTSD. I’m not sure what this episode did to move the plot forward as there wasn’t resolution for any of the subplots. While Ellen Pompano’s acting was quite good, I’m not sure audiences are ready for more terrible things to happen to Meredith. Leave her alone and spread the wealth – there are a ton of characters in this show that would be fine candidates for a tragic storyline.

Scandal came back as well with twists and turns that were a bit shocking so I won’t spoil Jake’s new job. Suffice it to say that Abby got her mojo and Daddy is back as the master puppeteer. The guy has a lot more than 9 lives. Olivia’s wardrobe has moved from white to red and her personal relationships remain dysfunctional. The case of the week was a bit boring but it did lead to the ultimate twisty ending. Shonda is at her best with Scandal. You never know where she is going to go but it certainly is a fun journey.

There are some new shows premiering next week along with some returning (thank god John Oliver is back – I need him never to take a break again!) so I’ll update accordingly.