We're over a month into 2014, so the new and returning shows are mostly up and running for New Year. Therefore, partly because I don't have time to review everything episodically these days, below is a broad overview of what I'm watching (and enjoying), and what I'm tending to queue on my TiVo (and will probably delete soon)...
- Arrow (The CW) This second season's kept up the pace and action of the previous year, while adding more characters and villains. Against expectations, it even made me excited to see The Flash series, thanks to a clever idea to introduce that character in a few episodes before he gains his super-power.
- The Good Wife (More4) The fifth season has finally begun in the UK, and I'm so relieved because I know the US critics have been raving. The first episode was certainly really good, even if its attempts to be kooky can feel a little strained sometimes. It's the best legal drama in years.
- Justified (FX) I usually wait for Channel 5 to air this in the UK, but they've dropped it, so I'm now having to watch at US-pace. So far, season 5 feels like a big improvement on season 4 (which revolved around a big mystery I didn't care that much about). I think the writers have perhaps started relying too much on shock-value, given how many people are being tortured or murdered most episodes.
- Community (NBC) Now that Dan Harmon's back as showrunner, this low-rated but highly-regarded NBC sitcom is back on top form. The past six episodes have been excellent, and three of those half-hours are possibly some of the best scripts the team's delivered since season 2.
- True Detective (HBO) It's much slower than anticipated and has yet to 'seal the deal' with me, but Matthew McConaughey is just fantastic, and I have a feeling the slow-burn will be worth it.
- Revolution (NBC) I think season 2's been a marked improvement over the first (which I quite enjoyed), and I particularly like the sub-plot about three MIT nerds having "created God" as a nanobot cloud. The show is beginning to get a little repetitive in most other areas, which is shame. If Revolution only had twelve episodes to arc, it would be so much tighter and better, but instead it has to find ways to elongate matters. So characters pinball around doing all manner of random things, which feels like filler. The worst offender being Neville (Giancarlo Esposito), whose had about six different storylines that each last about four episodes.
- The Musketeers (BBC1) It's not terrible, but I don't have much enthusiasm for it. I can't see how it's going to enrich me. It'll do what it's doing every week, and have no real impact on me, or the entertainment world. It's something to pass the time with on a lazy Sunday. Counter-programming to ITV's Mr Selfridge. That's fine. I get it. But when you have lots of other things to be watching instead (such is the modern world), why spend an hour on this?
- Black Sails (Starz) I will probably watch a few more episodes of this new pirate drama, but because the budget will never be Pirates of the Caribbean-level, it needed a fantastic story and indelible characters you want to spend time with. It doesn't really have either, that I can see. But things could improve; I'm not saying they won't. I just have serious doubts.
- Damages (Lifetime) This was one of my favourite shows back in season 1, but its star has fallen quite dramatically ever since. In the US it was dropped by FX and landed at DirecTV. In the UK, it went from the BBC to Lifetime. (I'm not sure I even knew Lifetime was a thing until this news was released). The show has long since ended in the US, but we're two seasons behind in the UK, so I've been watching some of the fourth season... and, well, the 'Afghanistan/US private army' arc of this season feels very dated. It must surely have felt dated in 2011, too. John Goodman and Dylan Baker are involved, which is cool, but the cut in production budget is noticeable somehow. I don't know if I can be bothered with it. The only thing keeping me watching is knowing the simultaneous storylines for all the lead characters will feed into season 5 (which may be much better), so I don't want to be out of the loop.
- Helix (Channel 5) Well, I'm still watching this contagion sci-fi drama, mostly because episode 4 finally started to get interesting, but I still have some doubts. It occupies a timeslot that tends to be open for me (Mondays, 10pm), so I will probably stick with it for now.
Does any of this echo what you've been watching since Christmas?