- Broadchurch (BBCA)—This is a relatively moody, very dark, psychological detective story about the murder of an eleven year old boy. The series focuses on the social interactions in the town, and on issues such as adultery, child abuse, drugs, and all the rest. Very well acted and well written.
- Luther (BBCA)—A Black cop in London. There've been two previous episodes, the first one focused strongly on the story of Alice Morgan, who is a good looking, smart, sexy, serial killer. This makes for a good story, but bad reality since female serial killers, such as Aileen Wournos,* rate in the high negatives on sex appeal. Ms. Morgan appears in the third season, but only in the last episode. This season's story concerns an investigation into Luther by IA, as well as some murders. Very well written, and very well acted. Very different from American cop shows.
*See here for a list of 10 American female serial killers. Not a good looking wench in the bunch.
- Trophy Wife (ABC)—This is a sit-com about a man, his two ex-wives, and his current, very young, wife. It's amusing, and there's more affection present here, than in the next one that I'll mention.
- Welcome to the Family (NBC)—Over-achieving hispanic boy meets, falls in love with, and gets pregnant under-achieving Anglo girl. The families meet, dislike each other, and boy and girl get married. The people are too abrasive, and there isn't an interesting familial relationship between the families, or among the individual members. However, the girl does decide to get married, and she does not abort the baby.
- The Originals (CW)—The CW is aiming for a young audience, and this is a spin-off of The Vampire Diaries. I guess the idea is to get the young swoonies who loved the Twilight books, but while I enjoy a good Bela Lugosi or Christopher Lee vampire flick, I can't really get into the whole vampire/werewolf thing. (Though I do like Being Human.) The problem here is that there is nothing attractive about the characters, and the actors portraying them have zero charisma. They should probably be modeling on runways rather than acting. I also have a problem with vampires roaming around New Orleans sucking blood from regular people at will. What's that going to do to the tourist trade?
Come to New Orleans and get your neck sucked.That's really going to go over great. Then there's witches. If the witches are so powerful, how did Benjamin
BeastButler get in back in 1862, and why didn't they prevent Katrina? It's a bit too hard for me to suspend disbelief. Giving this one a pass on future viewing.
- Ironside (NBC)—Police procedural with Blair Underwood as the crippled detective. Dark, lacking in the qualities that I remember from the original. One good thing is that they don't use
the Russian mob.That's offset by the Albanian drug lords. Seriously, how many Albanian-Americans do you know? According to one site that gives US Census statistics there were 113,661 individuals claiming Albanian descent out of a population of 300–350 million.* Won't watch again.
*See here for an article on Albanian immigration.
- Sleepy Hollow (Fox)—Ichabod Crane is a revolutionary soldier who comes alive in the 21st century, and has to confront his nemesis the headless horseman. First off, some quibbles. First, The Revolution is referred to as having been either 250 or 230 years ago. Both figures are used, the second is closer in round figures to the 232 years from 1781 to 2013. Second, Ichabod is supposed to have taught history at Merton College in Oxford. I'm not sure if history was taught as a separate subject at Oxford back then. A quick Google doesn't confirm there being a separate subject of history, but it doesn't refute it either. Third, there were no witches burned in America in the 18th century. That seems pretty definite. They also don't seem to be aware of the existence of Washington Irving. Of course, I suppose you could say this is an alternate universe in which these things are true, and Ichabod is a real person, and Washington Irving either doesn't exist, or didn't write
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.Quibbles aside, the story is mildly interesting, the cast likable, and the violence is not too extreme. It's okay if you like the genre.
- Dads—An unfunny, unrealistic comedy. Retired single fathers move in with their successful 30 something sons. Not in my experience. Some of the female cast is good looking, but that's not sufficient for even DOM (Dirty Old Men) to spend time watching.
- Brooklyn 99 (Fox)—A very unfunny cop comedy. As soon as Andre Braugher came on screen all of the O2 was sucked out of the room, and I had to shut the tube off before asphyxiation became complete.
- The Blacklist (NBC)—The formula is that a reputed bad guy surrenders to the FBI and makes a deal. First, he will only speak to a specific female agent/profiler. Second, he will provide the names of top bad guys unknown to the Bureau. So there's a bit of a formula here, but the production is well done, and the special effects, particularly a car chase/crash that occurs early in the first episode are well done. Some minor gripes. The first one may have to do with getting permission to use names of actual facilities. Part of the episode takes place at the DC Zoo which is shown as being near Maryland AVe. There is no DC Zoo. There is a National Zoo that is part of the Smithsonian, and it borders Connecticut Ave NW. Maryland Ave. is in the SW and SE areas of the city. It also shows the Newseum. I've never been, but it used to be located in Rosslyn, VA, and is now located at 555 Pennsylvania, Ave NW, which would put across the street from the National Gallery, not a zoo. As I say, that may be because they couldn't get permission to say National Zoo. Second, and a bit more serious; a character gets jabbed in the carotid artery, and is patched up and moving around in a short period of time.
- Agents of Shield (ABC)—A continuation of The Avengers. Fairly typical superhero fare. I'll probably watch this by myself and the The Blacklist with my wife.
- The Goldbergs—The only good things about the 1980s were Ronald Reagan, Revenge of the Nerds and the Indiana Jones movies. So why would anyone want to revisit the decade? A stupid premise with obnoxious characters. Don't bother.
- The Crazy Ones—Sarah Michelle Gellar deserves better. A show in which Robin Williams mugs, and does his manic phase thing. Don't bother.
- The Michael J. Fox Show—I actually liked Fox as Alex Keating, and I enjoyed the Back to the Future series, but Fox is now playing up his Parkinson's disease and trying to get people to watch the poor, brave, suffering actor who is battling the debilitating disease. Unfortunately that's all the show has going for it. Once again, don't bother.
- Mom—A recovering alcoholic mom and her screwed up family. The pilot had one moderately funny line. Not really worth watching.
- Betrayal—This is an attempt to repeat the success, so far, of Revenge. The problem is that the two male leads look alike, and they're both lawyers. They're both predestined to hell by virtue of being lawyers, so, to repeat the question raised by a former Secretary of State,
What difference does it make?They're both demonic spawn. It's not like a choice between Billy Barty and Charlton Heston. You simply don't care about the characters, so after a while you simply give up. Don't bother with this one either. The female lead, Helena Mattsson, is not very attractive, so there is no
cute couplething going on.
- Back in the Game—Is James Caan so desperate for cash that he needs to do this. He could always pack it up and move in with his son who is gainfully employed instead of doing junk. Not worth synopsizing. Don't bother watching.
- Scandal—I've been watching this with my wife for a couple of years. I really hate it, and find it morally, ethically, and religiously repulsive, and the delivery of the lines repetitious. The third season premiere was it for me. If I wanted to watch guys kissing, I'd download gay porn. I don't. I'm also extremely tired of the stereotyped religious Republican bigot. I won't be watching this again.
- Father Brown (WETA UK)—A British adaptation of the Fr. Brown stories by G. K. Chesterton. This is set in the 1950s, and takes place in the Cotswolds area of England. It's not preachy, and its well written and well acted.
- The Paradise—This is based on a Zola novel, Au Bonheur des Dames. I've read L'Assommoir and Nana, and since Zola was both French and naturalist* I naturally expected a miserable ending. However, it appears that neither the original source, nor the British adaptation ends unhappily.§ The story concerns a young girl from the country and her job at one of the first department stores in England. Most of the characters are likable, and the adaptation seems to be decent. It's worth spending some time with.
*A naturalist in literature, not in science. The birds and bees that he writes about are the kinds teenagers get lectured about, not finches and honey bees.
§Of course that depends on how you feel about marriage.
- Once Upon a Time in Wonderland—This is a spin-off of Once Upon A Time. I suppose I better fess up, and admit to one of my shameful secrets. I've never read either of the Alice books. I'm sorry, but there it is. I've got copies, including The Annotated Alice but I never got into them. Having said that, I have to say that I rather like the variation on the Alice stories that they're doing here. My wife isn't so enchanted, but I liked the first episode.
- Reign—This is one from the fertilizer factory that should have been left on the ground. Mary, Queen of Scots, who has been the subject of at least one tragic opera (Donizetti's Maria Stuarda) and multiple books and novels gets turned into a giggly teenaged girl. Nostradamus, who was 50+ years old, gets turned into a hunk, and Mary gets a posse of more giggly teenaged girls. Now there's nothing wrong with giggly teenaged girls, if you're a teenaged boy, but I doubt if nobles in the Renaissance spent much time acting like denizens of American high schools. Nor, when they danced, did they dance to the alleged music of Crystal Fighters or Twin Forks, two of the groups featured in the pilot. Don't bother watching this.
- Dracula—I'm rather fond of Christopher Lee's Dracula, and his Hammer films are the kind that if I'm surfing the tube, and I come across one of those movies I'll stop and watch the rest of the movie. In this series Dracula is played by Jonathan Rhys Myers, who played Henry VIII in The Tudors. He was miscast as Henry. (He was too short. Henry was 6 foot. He was too thin. Henry had a 52 inch waist.) Mr. Myers delivery is the same as it was as Henry. (My wife and I have a running dispute about John Wayne. She contends that he wasn't a good actor, and that he always played the same character. I say that while he was no Lawrence Olivier, who could not possibly play Wayne's roles, that you liked the character that he played because you liked Wayne. I'm afraid that Mr. Myers is neither Lawrence Olivier nor John Wayne.) I'm afraid that I liked Nonso Anozie, who plays Renfield, rather more than I liked Dracula. The female cast has a number of good looking babes, but they don't make up for the rather silly storyline about Dracula getting revenge on The Order of the Dragon. Nor do they make up for the political correctness of the awfulness of Big Oil. There's also a bit, which slid past me, but which I saw pointed out on another site, of anti-Catholicism with some nonsense about burning people, blah, blah. Watch with the sound turned down, and check out the babes and the 19th century costumes while you imagine your own story.
In all fairness I should say that the whole electricity/oil thing may be a result of embracing
steampunk.I'm not a big fan of the genre, and in fact I think I've only read one thing that can reasonably be described as embracing the steampunk aesthetic, but I believe that it generally is Victorian oriented, and is focused on steam power, hence the name, rather than oil and gas. See this article for a discussion of the movement.