TV Shows Viewed in 2017
Completed (To Date)
Viewed: Series 4
It's a tough life being a Sherlock fan, needing to wait so damn long for a new season consisting of just three episodes. Series 4 solidifies this show's brilliance, and although the opening episode of the season had its issues, even at its least this show is still better than most of the other drama programs on television. The standout episode, of course, is "The Lying Detective," which manages to merge standard legacy material with an utterly fascinating case for Sherlock to solve. And for once, this season doesn't end on a whopping cliffhanger leaving us concerned about whether or not we'll get another series. I definitely want to see more Sherlock until the end of the time (it's enormously popular, the BBC surely wouldn't cancel it), but the ending of this series would serve as a fitting conclusion if Series 5 never materialises.
But I still want Series 5. And many more seasons.
Let the waiting game begin.
Viewed: Season 1
Adapting the "Series of Unfortunate Events" novels into a Netflix Original series is one of those obvious "can't-miss" prospects that one must wonder why the hell it took so long to reach fruition. Add in the inimitable Neil Patrick Harris and a host of other well-known actors, including Joan Cusack and Don Johnson, and you have my attention. It took only two days for me to binge through the 8 episodes of this initials season (I started at about 8pm, I needed to sleep at some point!), and now I'm left wanting more. Every episode is infused with quirky non-sequiturs, dark humour, and truly spectacular visuals. Indeed, as ever, there is a Hollywood quality to the series, which is reported to be Netflix's most expensive yet (previously The Get Down and The Crown were mentioned to be the most expensive). NPH is note-perfect as Count Olaf, and he really sinks his teeth into the role. He nails all the different facets of the character, who is a master of disguise. It's not a part that many actors could play believably, so let's be thankful that we have NPH. I love this new iteration of A Series of Unfortunate Events, and I look forward to more seasons. Highly recommended.
Viewed: Season 1
It took me less than 24 hours to binge each season of Daredevil on Netflix, and only took a few days to get through season 1 of Jessica Jones. But it took me until March 2017 to get through Luke Cage even though I watched the first episode a few days after it landed on Netflix in September 2016. That's because the show never properly grabbed me, or got my attention. Sure, there is a fair bit to admire at surface level, including the slick presentation (this was the first Marvel show I watched in 4K, with Dolby Vision HDR) and the uniformly strong acting across the board. But this is the first Marvel Netflix program which cannot sustain itself over thirteen episodes - even ten would have been a bit too much. Because Luke is so powerful, there is no plausible reason why he couldn't have mopped everything up after a few episodes, and therefore the show contains a lot of filler and DRAGS consistently whilst not providing enough character development. There's just not enough compelling story material here, visceral delights are in depressingly short supply, and I ultimately came away feeling unsatisfied. It's homework to lead us through to The Defenders.
Viewed: Season 1
The New Batman Adventures takes place some years after the events of Batman: The Animated Series, and finds fresh ground by teaming up Batman with not only Tim Drake/Robin, but also Barbara Gordon/Batgirl and Dick Grayson/Nightwing. Luckily, the new team dynamic works like gangbusters, and the show's writing remains just as strong and sharp as ever. Not to mention the cast, with basically everybody from TAS making their return here - Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill are still definitive as Batman/Bruce Wayne and The Joker, respectively. However, the revamped animation style (as a result of cost cutting) is not entirely successful; it's not as stylish as the art deco look of TAS, and some of the redesigned characters look dreadful, most notably The Joker. Still, the quality of the stories cannot be overlooked, especially with Paul Dini's "Mad Love" comic being successfully adapted into an episode. This show stands the test of time, and I'm grateful to own it on DVD.
Viewed: Seasons 5&6
After years of wanting to watch this show, I'm now up to date on American Horror Story, and I'm looking forward to more. In fact, I found myself so enraptured buy these two most recent seasons that I got through both of them in a matter of days (Season 6 was a one-evening binge). Season 5 is a total riot, with dark humour and some agreeably eccentric characters, and it makes a real impact when it gets to the blood and gore. As for Season 6, it's definitely something different, and I found it both intriguing and interesting, if not exactly terrifying. It's just a shame that Season 6 can't stick the landing, as the final episode is a real letdown - the season would be a lot stronger as a whole if said episode never existed.
Viewed: All 8 Episodes
Here's a TV show that was heavily publicised in Australia when it first aired, but I never got around to watching. Summer Heights High only ran for one season, only eight episodes, and yet has made a big impression in Australian culture due to its astute depiction of high school life, as well as its sharp writing and quirky characters. Playing the three central characters is Chris Lilley, who seems to be able to come up with a new character/personality/voice at the drop of a hat, and the show must be commended for being so defiantly un-PC. I laughed consistently. I can see myself re-watching this one again and again in years to come. Shame it took me so long to see it, but I'm glad I finally did.
Viewed: Season 11
First things first... Both Lucy Decoutere (Lucy) and Jonathan Torrens (J-Roc) sat this season out, and try as the show might, it does feel a tad awkward without them. And, yes, with this being the show's eleventh season, it does seem to be getting a tad old. With this in mind, Season 11 remains surprisingly enjoyable on the whole. The cast still commit to their roles with absolute abandon, there are laughs to be had, and it's still a riot watching these boys get into all sorts of trouble. Not everything works, and we've come a long way since the brilliant initial seasons, but I'd still be down for more seasons. It's certainly far better than The Big Bang Theory. Hell, any given episode of TPB has more laughs than an entire season of TBBT.
Viewed: Season 2
And after two seasons, Legends of Tomorrow is still...not great. Season 2 does make some significant improvements over the first season, mainly in regards to storytelling, production values and above all villains, but it's still mostly hit and miss, though the latter half of the season does pick up. It's a real shame that Arthur Darvill sits out half the season, as the show notably improves when he's around. Perhaps the biggest issue with the show is that it really does feel like the C-grade Justice League this time around, and at times the show tries to do things beyond its budgetary capacity. I'm waiting patiently for this show to hit its stride - it does show glimmers of brilliance, but can't ever quite maintain it.
Viewed: Season 1
Quarry hooked me from its very first episode and refused to release its grasp. This is quality television, and the fact that it's so underrated and overlooked is a tremendous shame. There are actually shades of Breaking Bad here, which is probably why it was given a series order in the first place, and if the show is given more seasons, it has the chance to be something comparable. First things first, the period recreation of '70s-era America is spot-on from top to bottom, with period-specific cars, decor and costumes (even the hair styles) that will have you convinced the filmmakers used a time machine. Acting across the board is solid as well, led by the Tom Hardy lookalike Logan Marshall Green who really needs more work. The storyline is engaging, and the drama is consistently compelling, and at eight episodes there isn't much in the way of filler. Hell, both the first and last episodes could stand as brilliant feature films in their own right. The finale also features an astonishing Vietnam battle sequence captured in a single, seven-minute take that truly needs to be seen. Quarry is excellent, and the finale even closes with a hint of closure in case there aren't anymore seasons. Oh sure, not everything is wrapped up and it's a bit open-ended, but there's no ridiculous cliffhanger, and the story arc of the season is complete.
Watch this show.
Viewed: Season 1
Legion is far better than a television extension of the X-Men movie universe had a right to be. In fact, much like Logan, it's also too damn excellent to exist in a franchise as utterly mediocre and hit-and-miss. Rather than a cheap, nasty network show like Agents of SHIELD (still so terrible, guys), Legion is its own entity, given its own distinct visual and storytelling identity, evincing a maturity which we so rarely see in comic book adaptations. But those who followed the show since its inception shouldn't be surprised, as Legion shares the same show-runner as Fargo. Actors across the board effortlessly impress, led by Dan Stevens who again shows that he really needs to be a bigger star than he currently is. It's the story which makes this show so interesting though, as it approaches mutant powers from the angle of "If you could read minds, would you know you could read minds?" A fair chunk of the show takes place in a mental hospital, because Stevens' character believes he's suffering from schizophrenia. Of course, Legion might not be entirely accessible to mainstream viewers due to its quirky idiosyncrasies and intricate structure (you need to pay attention or risk being lost), but it's definitely worth giving this show a shot. It's a real treat. This thing needs more seasons.
Viewed: Season 1
It still remains baffling at this time that the best character introduced in Chris Lilley's Summer Heights High, Mr. G, still doesn't have a spinoff, but who knows the thought process behind making these decisions. Jonah from Tonga is fine, it's often quite funny and it enjoys political correctness, not to mention it dabbles in some serious material. However, the show is very repetitive due to the nature of the humour, and as a result it does get tiring, even at only six episodes. There's only so much you can take in one viewing. Summer Heights High succeeded so well directly because it intercut between three characters, all of whom have a different story, which made it feel consistently fresh. Jonah from Tonga just isn't that successful. It's still amusing, and it's not bad, but I won't be revisiting it again very much. (Also, Lilley does look undeniably older, too old to be playing the role again.)
Viewed: Season 3
The Flash remains the flagship program of the CW's DC comics lineup, and thankfully Season 3 continues the legacy without diminishing the program's excellence, though it does come packaged with its various flaws. After the Season 2 cliffhanger, this season begins by tackling the infamous "Flashpoint" storyline, and spends the rest of the season dealing with the repercussions of Barry's decision to save his mother. However, only the opening episode deals with Flashpoint, and it certainly should have at least been a double episode before Barry resets the timeline. This is evident from the outset, and since there are more than a few "filler" episodes (urgh, the musical crossover with Supergirl), it's more glaring in hindsight. Still, The Flash is funny, heartfelt and exciting, and the double episode dealing with Gorilla Grodd and Gorilla City is absolutely stunning. Just how they achieved it on a TV budget is a mystery. Also, to the season's absolute credit, it doesn't fall victim to the "Team Arrow" bullshit which has diminished that show beyond repair. Indeed, even with Kid Flash and to a lesser extent, Jesse Quick, you're still mostly left with Barry doing a lot of the heavy lifting. Besides, it helps that Wally is actually a good character.
I'll be damned if the season finale doesn't work; there's a certain twist which left me wiping away some tears. And goddammit, you're left riveted because you want to know what happens and you want all of these characters to be okay once the dust settles. You care about them. You hope nobody dies. It appears that the show will again change gears in the upcoming Season 4, with the lineup of characters set to be shaken up, and I'll definitely be watching.
Viewed: Season 2
Season 2 of Supergirl improves the show in some departments, but also falls short in other respects, making for an uneven season that nevertheless has flashes of brilliance sprinkled throughout. It's clear that with the show's move to The CW, more money was spent on the visual effects, making for some real eye candy when the action scenes kick in. It's definitely not cinematic quality, but it works well enough. However, since the show now films in Vancouver, Calista Flockhart takes a diminished role, and boy is her absence felt. Her spark and charm elevated the first season, and when she finally returns in the last few episodes, you remember why exactly she made the show work in the first place. Superman is also a missed opportunity - after a whole lot of hullabaloo, he shows up in three episodes (four if you count a tiny two-second at the end of the penultimate ep). Plus, the lesbian love subplot always feels like a Big Important Issue We Want To Preach About, and Win's relationship with an alien is a transparent, unsubtle comment on race relations. Yikes. I'll keep watching this show of course, as it's mostly entertaining, but they need to up their game and drop the dead weight for the next season.
Viewed: Season 5
Well, at least it's not as bad as Season 4. After two dire seasons, the producers try their hardest to up their game with Season 5, and it's only a marginal success. First things first, the action is not as utterly choppy as it was in prior seasons, and there are often some exciting set-pieces in each episode. Dolph Lundgren also makes an effective appearance in a few episodes as one of Oliver's foes, and the season manages to stick the landing with one hell of a finale. (The Season 4 finale was fucking woeful.) However... The whole Team Arrow angle has always been an issue, and it's a huge mistake to bring in "fresh blood" in the form of whiny kids who can't even accept Ollie's training in the first place, and then Ollie completely pussies out in an utterly humiliating moment. Plus, I cheered when the show killed off Laurel, and now her Earth-2 doppelgänger is primed for a recurring role...which is a terrible idea. I was hoping this would be the last season as the show has outstayed its welcome, but now we have a Season 6 coming soon, and with the cliffhanger this season ends on? Yeah, I'll be tuning in again. Just end it soon, please, guys.
Viewed: Season 4
With another season down, Brooklyn Nine-Nine remains one of the most reliably entertaining shows on the air, and the fact each episode runs a brisk 20 minutes makes it all the more digestible. Season 4 may not be the strongest season to date, but even the weakest episodes are still fun because it's enjoyable to spend time with these characters. The actors all inhabit their roles to perfection, making up for any narrative or pacing shortcomings. The creators even had the balls to create a rather bold finale, leading to another cliffhanger which will ensure I'll tune in for Season 5. It just sucked that there was a three-month midseason break.
Viewed: Season 10
Yeah... The Big Bang Theory still needs to end. In fact, I was hoping Season 10 would be it, since I'm like Sheldon in that once I start a show, I have to watch it until the very end (unless it's under extraordinary circumstances... I gave up on Lost and The Walking Dead, but I'm too far into this one). There are a fair few hideously dull and unfunny episodes, and even the better episodes still pale in comparison to better sitcoms like Frasier, which was still amazing into its latter seasons. It's not very funny anymore, only offering a snigger here and there, and the characters have become far too comfortable in their relationships while Raj is useless. Seriously, if Raj left the show, I doubt anybody would notice. There are far better shows on the air right now...
Viewed: Season 15
Family Guy still is what it is. Even though Seth MacFarlane is no longer involved behind-the-scenes and the show has been going on for many years, it's still mightily enjoyable for the most part, and Season 15 is a fun sit for anybody who likes the show. Not every episode is a hit, but the show's unique brand of un-PC humour and non-sequiturs makes for humorous viewing.
Viewed: Season 8 (Dreamland)
After a tragic reduction in episodes last year, with Season 7 only providing ten episodes as opposed to the usual thirteen, it's unfortunate to report that Season 8 again reduces the episode count to a mere eight. We're a long way from the magic of the first few seasons, and although the technical presentation continues to impress and the show is more polished, it's not as riotously entertaining or, indeed, as funny. This season refuses to properly resolve the Season 7 cliffhanger, and provides a story that takes place in Archer's head. Shifting gears yet again, this is a parody of The Big Sleep and The Maltese Falcon, set in the 1940s and involving a kidnapping and so on. It does have its moments, and amusing lines, but it doesn't come together well enough, and I doubt it will be worth revisiting much. Perhaps when Season 10 draws to a close in a couple of years, and presumably the show comes to an end, it will come as a relief.
Viewed: Seasons 2&3
Now this is more like it. After a solid but nevertheless hit-and-miss and sometimes plodding initial season, Gotham really hits its stride in its second and third seasons - it ups the craziness, brings in more villains, weaves far more involving storylines, and carves out exceptional characters. What's perhaps best about this show is its willingness to take unexpected twists and turns with characters, creating its own take on Batman lore which doesn't really fit with any other incarnation of the Caped Crusader on film or television. At the beginning of the show, I wanted to see it flash forward sooner rather than later, and morph into a Batman show set in this wonderful universe. However, the showrunners have done such a great job of creating engaging stories using normally ancillary characters (Jerome is still an irritating shit, though*), and any flash forward would honestly undermine their efforts to make the show stand on its own. I want to see what happens between now and the inevitable time when Bruce finally puts on the cape & cowl, and I want to see what happens beyond. Imagine a show which cuts between Batman's detective ventures, and Jim Gordon at the GCPD... It would certainly be something to behold. Technical specs remain top-flight right across the board, with a visual style that's far better than any of the CW shows, and more agreeable than Christopher Nolan's dour take on the Batverse. Gotham genuinely transcends its trappings as a Batman prequel show to become something magnificent - it's a definitive keeper that will no doubt go down as something of a cult classic in years to come. It scored a skin-of-its-teeth Season 4 renewal which greatly excites me, and I hope it continues for many more seasons to come. (C'mon, five seasons at the very least.) I'll keep watching, and buying the Blu-rays of each season.
(*Seriously, Jerome is the weak link of this show. The young actor is just blatantly aping Heath Ledger, who himself just turned his Joker into a mix of Jimmy Cagner and Richard Nixon. All other versions of the great villains on this show are fantastic, but Jerome needs to be re-cast if he's going to become the Joker. Oh how I miss Mark Hamill. Or, hell, even Jared Leto did a better job. Worth noting I found the Joker-like character inspired by Jerome - Dwight - to be a far better character.)
Viewed: Season 3
I have always loved Better Call Saul, but the first two seasons have been undeniably slow burning. Ultimately, those seasons spent their time loading the magazine, and Season 3 pulls the trigger. Upping the ante with confidence, this season further explores Jimmy's transformation into Saul, and contains some of the best episodes ever produced in television history. Indeed, episode 5 of this season is at least as excellent as any single Breaking Bad episode, if not better. The makers continue to figure out how to turn seemingly banal things like courtroom proceedings into completely riveting viewing. Hell, even a five-minute sequence of Mike taking apart a car is spellbinding. The acting continues to be magical, and the show continues to move at its own pace. It's unhurried, relying on the powerful performances, and boy is it a thing of beauty to behold. Plus, it's visually stunning, and looks magnificent in 4K. Just like Gotham, this show has managed to transcend its trappings as a prequel, and emerge as something wholly distinct and worthwhile on its own merits. I hope and pray that the show will continue to be renewed for a few more seasons, and when it ends, it'll be a creative decision like Breaking Bad.
Viewed: Series 10
Series 9 of Doctor Who was an undeniable high point for NuWho, signifying what was - in my opinion - the best, most consistent season of the reboot up until that point (a single hit-and-miss episode notwithstanding). Thus, Series 10 was always going to be something of a step down compared to 9, but it's surprising just how downright solid this twelve-episode run really is. It's a season without any bad episodes, and even the lesser episodes are still overall pretty good by Who standards. The BBC continues to put money into the show, resulting in a slick-looking sci-fi series which continues to impress in terms of scale and ambition. The season culminates with a superb penultimate episode which brings back Jon Simm as The Master in a big, bad way.
So...yeah. Series 10 is not as great as 9, but much better than 8. It's a nice closing season for Capaldi, who I've really grown to accept in the role. With the new Doctor announced to be a woman, this is where I get off the Who train. Ten seasons, two of which I watched week-to-week as they aired. It's been fun.
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