Monday, October 27, 2014

Thoughts on 9 new Shows

1. Gotham - This is the show that I was most excited for this fall season, and so far, it has been satisfying. I am clearly biased, as I am in love with Ben McKenzie, and would continue to watch the show with enthusiasm, even if it turned out to be the worst show ever. I am glad that it's not. It's actually a lot of fun. It feels like a comic book show, as opposed to Agents of Shield, which feels like a spy show featuring comic book characters (a very tedious one, at that). The characters in Gotham are over-done and very stylized, but it works. Another good point to the show is that it is getting better with every episode. "The Balloonman" episode is probably the strongest episode yet, and I am hopeful for more episodes like it. I love that the show is creating a world, utilizing lesser-known villains, and balancing dark and fun with every episode. I'm all in.

2. How to Get Away with Murder - Wow. This is so much better than I was expecting it to be. I don't know why I am so surprised - both Grey's Anatomy and Scandal started off spectacularly. The first episode was really intriguing and smart, but I was iffy on the character development. They all seemed to have a "defined personality" (they gay one, the type A personality one, the meek one - basically they were all characters from Glee).  However, with each episode, the characters are really developing nicely. I question how the show is going to sustain itself, with the whole "murder" plot - we are going to need an answer fairly quickly, otherwise it will get tiresome (like Revenge). Yet, if they give away the mystery, then what will the show rely on? For now, though, all I can say is "wow". The fourth episode is one of the strongest episodes of drama that I can remember - the first shock of the guy/window scene was "holy shit!", and then...the end. THE END. It left me speechless.

3. The Flash - Another show that I really like! It's definitely the same style as Arrow, which is what I was hoping for, but it also feels a bit like Spider-Man - the way he "discovers" his super-powers. Grant Gustin is just perfect for the role (and soooo adorable). The rest of the cast is quite good too. I knew I recognized the actress that plays Caitlin Snow, but it took me a while to figure out why (Piranha 3DD - yes, I totally watched that). I appreciate how funny the dialogue is ("lightning gave me abs?"), and that it doesn't take itself too seriously. I also love the little bit of mystery that builds with the end of each episode.

4. Red Band Society - They can't all be winners this season. This is probably one of the worst pilot shows that I've ever watched. It was so depressing and boring and stupid. I couldn't even bare to watch another episode, so I immediately removed it from my DVR. I am literally in shock that it wasn't the first casualty of the season (and that it STILL hasn't been cancelled).

5. Stalker - Another show that I really don't like, however, it's not as bad as Red Band Society. I still continue to watch it, because I like the premise and I like the actors. They just get it wrong. Sooo wrong. It's not nearly as scary as I was hoping for. The bigger problem, however, is the deeply misogynistic sentiment that seems more accidental than on purpose (I think the writers genuinely don't realize how problematic some of the stories have been). They insinuate (on 2 separate episodes) that the way a woman dresses has a direct effect on stalker behavior (blaming the victim) and one can make assumptions of guilt based on a woman's wardrobe (said to a girl who is "cute" and "wears a crop top": "I think you're good, but I don't think you're innocent".  Seriously. Actual dialogue. She also says the words "no judgement" twice, which clearly shows that she is, in fact, judging her.). The "twist" of Dylan McDermott's character stalking his ex-wife is clearly stupid. She threatens to call the police if he doesn't leave "in 2 weeks" - um....clearly she isn't that scared of him. These are little kinks that can be worked out, but I'm not sure if the writers realize these kinks. The series did get picked up for a whole season, so hopefully it can work out the problems and become the strong series it has potential to be.

6. The Affair - The pilot episode is stunning. One of the best pilot episodes I've ever seen (I put it up there with Damages, Breaking Bad, and Six Feet Under - which are all in my top 10 dramatic shows of all time). I enjoyed the first half immensely, but then it switches to Alison's version of the story and I was blown away. Her version is completely different!! It throws off the whole balance of the show and the audience's perception of characters and events. It's one of the best concepts for a television show I've ever encountered. I read a few reviews of the pilot, pointing out that women tend to believe Alison, while men tend to believe Noah, which I find incredibly condescending. However, at first I believed Noah, but after analyzing some of the subtle changes, I think Alison is more truthful (not because she is a woman, but because her "truth" seems more realistic). Obviously, "the truth" probably lies somewhere between the two versions. I don't really know though, and that's what makes it interesting. Maybe they both actually think they are telling the truth - sometimes, perceptions of situations are very different. I'm also on the edge of my seat wondering who is dead. We only know it's a guy, and it doesn't seem to be anyone that close to either of them. The cast is fantastic - Dominic West, Maura Tierney, Joshua Jackson (my heart hurt so much with his first "aggressive" scene, but then....maybe he turns out to be the "good guy"?? It's so hard to know the truth!!! AAAAHHH) are superb, but Ruth Wilson absolutely takes me breath away. She was so good on Luther, but she's upped her game for this. I highly recommend this show. It's the best of this season.

7. Gracepoint - This is has been sort of an up and down show for me. I really liked the first episode, but haven't been too excited about it since. I love the cast, but David Tennant with an American accent, just doesn't feel right. Anna Gunn is the highlight of the show; I love that she is strong, but also really sensitive to the murder and the people around her. She stands up for herself and her right to react in an emotional way. I didn't even know Michael Pena was in it, and I love him. I feel like he is a bit underutilized as of right now, but I think he will play a more important role soon. The show is very similar to The Killing (minus the rain), and is even marketed the same - the "who killed Danny" campaign is eerily similar to the "who killed Rosie Larson" charade. That can obviously be problematic, because in the case of The Killing, the murder wasn't solved right away - instead it was dragged out for 2 whole seasons before it moved on, and the show suffered for it. Most of its audience gave up, which is a real shame because season 3 & 4 are superb. Anyway, I think Gracepoint will sustain itself longer than The Killing did, but I'm not sure if Fox is going to give it that chance.

8. Marry Me - Really cute show. Does it fill the void of Happy Endings? Certainly not, but it's a step in the right direction. I really, really, really love the actors, but I really, really, really don't love the setup. The whole "marriage" thing is just painful to watch and the big sweeping statements like "every girl wants to get married" are just ridiculous for a present day show. However, there are some really funny moments. My favorite so far: 1. "You keep me grounded - like Sandra Bullock in real life" "She seems so approachable". 2. Save Princess Di (inappropriate, but oh so funny). 3. "It's an only child thing" "Only children are monsters" (HEY!! Hahahaha....still funny).  Happy Endings wasn't that great when it first started, it took a while for the momentum and characters to build before it became nearly perfect, so I am glad that Marry Me is here and I am willing to stick with it.

9. Manhattan Love Story - This wasn't on my original list of shows that I planned on watching for the fall, but then I saw that the guy from Greek and the girl from ANTM were the main stars and I decided that could be interesting. It's not. It's terrible. And it was the first show cancelled this season (blows my mind that Selfie is still going strong, though).  I won't waste time talking about it, but I do hope that these two find another project because they are adorable.

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