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 this Week: The Good Place, Riverdale, the Magicians, and Scandal

Winter TV Season coming on strong with lots of premiers and finales.  Here are a few:

Season Finale

The Good Place (NBC)

The Good Place ended its first season with a big twist that should serve it well in the future. SPOILER ALERT: Turns out the Good Place is really the Bad Place and some things that seemed strange all season finally make sense – particularly why two clearly flawed individuals landed up in the Good Place. Their soul mates were not quite the embodiment of perfection either which seemed to indicate a fatal flaw with the selection process. The other big twist is that there is a reset button. This often can be a bit cheesy but I can see how it might enable the show runners to get more seasons if they can keep erasing memories and start over. I suspect the major story arc will now be how these four people can remember as much as possible before their memories are erased.

I enjoyed this first season of the Good Place. It was light entertainment and provided some relief from all the craziness of the real life events for the last few months. Kristin Bell was very enjoyable as was Ted Danson and I’m looking forward to next year.

Series Premier

Riverdale (CW)

A revival of the Archie comic books with a dark side is not going to be for everyone but it is surprisingly  good. It definitely has the normal CW feel with a lot of very good-looking young people (in this case supposedly sophomores in high school which is a huge stretch) and will appeal to the teenage audience. Archie comic books have been around forever and this show keeps the characters honest  with the books but adds darkness and mysteries to life in Riverdale.

The show is well done and will absolutely appeal to the younger demo. If you aren’t in to teenage angst with a Twin Peaks touch, feel free to skip it. I am impressed that the CW has another solid show in its repertoire. Just 3 years ago, I had never watched a CW show and now I view quite a few.

Season Premier

The Magicians (SY FY)

If you read this blog with any regularity, you will know that the biggest TV disappointment for me last year was the Magicians. As a lover of the books, I was distraught over how bad the TV series was and the choices the show runners made to deviate significantly from the trilogy. The characters weren’t well developed and lesser characters in the book took more prominence. One major character had a name change for no good reason. At year-end I placed it on my “Worst Shows of 2016” list and swore I would never return.

Well, I returned. I so want this series to work and hoped that over the summer, somehow the writers might have course corrected. What is killing me is that the source material is so good and this could be a really great show.  Season 2 premiered Wednesday night and it gave me no reason for optimism. Julia’s story line goes in and out of the other character’s story arc with no rhyme or reason – gave me whiplash. The plot was confusing and I have read the books twice. The transitions were shaky and the writing as well. In short, there is no good reason to watch this show. If you haven’t read the books, run, don’t walk to your nearest library and forget the show.

P.s. I do have to call out Summer Bishil, my nieces’ future sister-in-law for a fine job as Margo (Janet in the books). She does a very solid job despite not so great writing and character development.

Scandal

Scandal is finally back after Kerry Washington’s childcare leave and it starts out with a literal bang and a murder. Olivia and crew are off to the races trying to figure out how to prove who the murderer is. Suffice it to say that the election results are somewhat muddled and everything seems to be in play, which is totally in sync with the show that Scandal is.  Could life be worse in DC with Cyrus potentially becoming the next President of the United States?  Does life imitate art?

Scandal has had less than satisfactory plot lines the last couple of years and I’m beginning to wonder if there is really much more story to tell. It will be interesting to see how the writers deal with a shortened season and whether they can get this show back on track and Olivia back in her grove. It hasn’t had the staying power of Grey’s Anatomy and the plots have gotten so outrageous that it isn’t really satisfying to keep watching yet for some reason, it is hard to walk away from Ms. Pope. Here’s to hoping that Olivia Pope can “fix” this!

 

TV – May Sweeps and lots of suspect finales and a couple of Netflix drops

 

Most of the network shows come to an end these middle two weeks of May so I’ll be doing a couple of posts this week. In looking at the series I watch, I was struck by how many ABC shows are on my schedule vs. any of the other networks. For the spring, I have 7 ABC; 1 CBS and 3 each on NBC and the CW. Some of these I won’t return to and some have been cancelled but I guess I like what is happening at ABC more than the other networks although all the really good stuff is on Cable/Streaming.

Finales:

The Good Wife (CBS) – A once great show goes out with a whimper (series finale)

I’m sad to see the Good Wife go even though it has had an uneven final season. Some seasons have certainly been better than others but the acting is always strong and the storylines for the most part, really good. The guest lawyers and judges have been great as well.  The Good Wife had some of the strongest female characters in Television and there is going to be a big hole left by its departure. I’m going to really miss Alicia, Cary and Diane and I hope that the Diane and Luca spin-off actually happens. This spinoff could be a bit problematic though given that in the finale Luca accuses Diane’s husband of having an affair while in open court.  This makes their relationship inextricably broken which is a pretty big hurdle if the writers want then to have a close relationship in the new show.

That wasn’t the only problem in the finale, which was very divisive.   I get that the final slap paid homage to the slap in the series premier but what lead up to it was really weak. Diane’s husband was having an affair with that girl from “Smash”? Not exactly a well developed plot line and how the heck did Luca and Alicia even know about it. I’m also not convinced that it is in Diane’s character to deliver such a slap – particularly when just a few minutes before she told Alicia that it is her responsibility to win her client’s case at all cost. And why would Luca even go there in court as it surely meant getting fired from the great job she finally got. None of this made much sense.

I guess the basic premise of this final season and show is that Alicia symbolically turns into Peter but it really was all over the place and nothing else got resolved. I can’t even tell you what Peter’s trial was about or why it took up so much time this spring. What a waste. Is Alicia now going to go into politics? Is she going to get together with Jason? Really, the only thing that we know for sure is that Alicia has left Peter and “saved” Grace’s future (guess Grace isn’t in the know on “Gap” years). It was time for the Good Wife to go and despite the finale, we have an amazing body of work to revisit. 

Scandal (ABC) – Art imitates Life (season finale)

Scandal struggled some this year and the ratings reflect it. I really enjoyed the first couple of seasons but the plots this year were so ridiculous – even for Scandal – that much of the enjoyment is gone. How Olivia’s father is still pulling every string in Washington is beyond me and the whole Susan plotline has been bizarre. Scandal worked best when Olivia was kicking ass running Pope Associates and Quinn and Huck were clearing out the bodies rather than Olivia struggling to find herself.  As much as I love “Nellie”, her quick rise to power has been ludicrous and Jake as the head of the intelligence agency and now VP candidate is equally absurd. I don’t know what the new guy in her firm does but he has been given no real job and follows the others around like a puppy.

The finale sets us up for the fall presidential campaign pitting Nellie and Jake against a Trump-like character. It remains to be seen if this is going to be something that the viewers are going to want to turn to for entertainment given the real life election that we are all going to have to somehow survive. It may be just a little too close to home. I suspect we will all be turning off Network TV and escaping to Netflix by this fall. I can’t imagine listening to Trump 24×7 and then watching his clone for entertainment. It will also be interesting to see how many episodes there will be of Scandal next year due to Kerry Washington’s pregnancy. Shonda has Greys, Scandal, HTGAWM, the Catch (surprisingly renewed) as well as a new show that was just announced. That show might share the season with Scandal. We have yet to see the schedule. I wonder if Shonda is spread too thin because most of these shows are loosing viewers. Currently, her most successful show is Greys and that is the one she has least involvement with.

The Family (ABC) – So long and good riddance (series finale)

This is another new ABC spring show that is struggling and it should be struggling – it just isn’t good. Joan Allen is captivating as always and Allison Pill is pretty good as her manipulative daughter but they are not given the material they deserve. We find out in the finale that Adam is alive so why the heck did Ben say he killed him and why the red herring on his illness.  Bizarrely, Doug the pedophile who kidnapped the real and fake sons made contact with “Ben” and is not only allowed him to live but has ongoing contact. Ben even tells the police that this guy is not his kidnapper. In addition, that police investigator is the worst one in the world. Then there  is the pedophile’s pregnant wife who is pretty clueless and seemingly very nice except that she is killing an FBI agent and sticking with her husband for years while she appeared to know what he was doing– well she did until the finale anyway. In the finale she just “sees the light”?  This show started out with an interesting premise, a good cast, and a decent pilot and then went to hell in a handbag. Good thing it was cancelled this week.

Quantico (ABC) – or should we rename it “Langley” for next season? (Season finale)

I watched Quantico because it was only one of two new network shows introduced in the fall that had any positive buzz at all (the other being Blindspot). I have stuck with it week in and week out throughout the year as it went from one confusing and ridiculous episode to the next. Alex should have been kicked out of the FBI 20 times over by now (and finally is in the finale). The stunts she pulls each week are just silly. I’m so tired of the “Alex is always right and everyone else is wrong” story of the week. The only thing that could save this show is just to have a massive explosion that kills all of these whiney people and start over with a new class.

Unfortunately this did not happen in the finale – they are all still around except for poor Simon. The rationale behind why the mole did what he did and his connection to the new Vice President of the USA was very sketchy. The whiney people are all still employed by the FBI, which has proved to be the most incompetent government agency ever, and Alex is fired only to be recruited by the CIA. Perhaps the show runners have figured out that they have destroyed the credibility of the FBI and are now going after the CIA? I can’t imagine I’ll be back for Season 2 of this show.

Premiers: 

Grace and Frankie (Netflix)

The 2nd season of Grace and Frankie dropped this past week and I saw 5 episodes. As much as I like the four major characters, each episode seems to play the same joke over and over again. With a cast like this, we should be laughing out loud throughout each show but that just doesn’t happen. The first season wasn’t great but this one so far is even more disappointing. I’m not sure how many episodes I will get through but we really need new writers for the already renewed Season Three.  

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix)

I never got to Kimmy Schmidt the first season so when the 2nd season dropped I decided to go back and start at the beginning. It is crisp, funny and terrific. This is what a half hour comedy should be. I love all the characters and each show captures Kimmy’s wonder as she discovers the modern world after having lived in a bunker for 15 years. Ellie Kemper is magnificent as Kimmy and the supporting cast is great.  I can’t wait to finish season 1 and get to the new season. More to come as I progress through both seasons.

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.