Tuesday, 4 March 2014

It's March, so I'm watching...

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

It's impossible finding time to review everything I watch on a daily basis, so here are my broad thoughts on the TV shows I'm watching every week, started queueing on my TiVo, or have dropped from viewing, as of 3 March...

I'm watching:
  • The Americans (FX) I liked season 1, but it took me a long time to get through all the episodes. That's usually a sign something isn't working for me, and I think it boils down to how repetitive it could feel. But the performances from Matthew Rhys, Keri Russell and Noah Emmerich were excellent and the good episodes hinted at a much better show struggling to get out, rather like FX's other drama Justified. So I'm excited to see if season 2 of the show can get a tighter handle on matters, as The Americans has the potential to grown into something special. It's doubtful ITV will air it in the UK again, alas.
  • Angel (Amazon PIV) My catch-ups for season 5 have begun, but I don't really wanted to say anything more, because the first double-bill review will be posted this coming Thursday.
  • Arrow (The CW) I've cooled on Arrow a teeny bit, but it's still enjoying a good second season. I just think it's getting a little too "busy" for my liking. There are perhaps too many characters and plot clutter, but it's still a lot of fun and the best superhero show since Misfits.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer (DVD) As with Angel, can't say too much here, but I'm certainly feeling the dislike for season 5 I was expecting to... yet.
  • Community (NBC) Shame it's been on hiatus for a month, considering the reduced order of episodes, but I've been enjoying this fifth season immensely. It's the show I fell in love with again now Dan Harmon's back calling the shots, although it's a shame Donald Glover's character has been written out. The loss of Troy doesn't appear to have derailed it, but it's left a hole I'd rather see filled.
  • The Good Wife (More4) Oh yes! This is a brilliant piece of television. The best legal drama ever made, because that genre normally sends me to sleep, and yet this show is so much fun and very compelling. The standalone cases are always very interesting, and the serialised plots for the characters are engrossing. One of the best things I'm watching right now. It can squeeze more drama from people taking phone calls and walking down corridors than most other shows manage with mass shoot-outs and car chases.
  • Hannibal (NBC) The first season was an absolute joy, and it looks like Hannibal is going to continue that quality into its second season (which I'm so grateful has been made, given the weak ratings). Quality horror television.
  • Inside No.9 (BBC2) A fantastic comedy-drama anthology series that's a more mature offering from Psychoville creators Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith. Not every episode is gold because anthology equals variety (that rarely avoids a few 'misses'), but that's also its strength. You don't know what you'll get week to week, but it will be amusing and thought-provoking in some way. A lovely mid-week treat.
  • Justified (FX) I'm watching this earlier in the year than usual, as Channel 5 announced they won't be airing season 5 in the UK. That's a loss to audiences, because this year's been excellent. I like how it's involved elements from Breaking Bad and Orange is the New Black, too, and yet retains its own identity and charm. My only "complaint" is a sudden reliance on people being killed, although the shock-value's still stinging for the most part.
  • Line of Duty (BBC2) A big improvement over series 1, mainly because the guilt of the accused "dirty cop" hasn't been blatantly obvious from the start. It's given the show some mystery and the AC-12 team a much tougher case to solve. Keeley Hawes has also been fantastic as Denton, and this show's completely changed my perception of her as an actress. The only issue left to fix (but it's a big one) is that the "heroes" of the show are monumentally dull and I couldn't care less about them, beyond Vicky McClure (who's deservedly started taking more screen time away from drippy Steven Compston). If I could wave a magic wand, I'd turn McClure into the face of LoD going forward.
  • Revolution (NBC) This second season started strong and I loved the big sci-fi idea involving sentient nanobots, but I'm beginning to lose patience with it now. It's done a much better job with its premise than I expected, and has developed a pretty solid mythology and "world" for its characters to inhabit, but it would benefit so much from producing less episodes. There are so many hours taken up with ultimately trivial diversions. And yet, there are some brilliant sci-fi ideas folded into this show that keep me coming back, and some of the characters are fun.
  • True Detective (HBO) Yes, it's slow. Yes, most of the female characters are underwritten. And yes, it's incredibly pretentious. But it's also quietly engrossing and the mystery isn't close to what I imagined it would become from the premiere. Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson have also been hugely impressive as the leads. A lot rests on the finale pulling everything together, but I've really enjoyed the creepy weirdness that's inveigled its way into the show. Oh, and who can forget THAT 'extended one-take' shot in episode 4. Amazing film-making.
  • The Walking Dead (Fox) It airs next-day in the UK now, so that's when I'm watching it. See, that's how you schedule a big US show. Season 4a has been... decent. I'm glad we're out of the prison and there are new characters in the mix, but...well, something pretty big had better happen soon. The novelty is beginning to wear thin for me, although the characterisation's getting better. It's still full of sketchy characters, or people I just don't care about, but there's improvement.

I'm queuing:
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D (ABC) I sometimes go a few weeks before plugging an hour of my time with an episode of this show. It's beginning to show some form, thankfully, but season 2 will require a big overhaul if it's going to become a success. Simply adding a charismatic superhero to the team may help, as obvious as that sounds.
  • Helix (Channel 5) Well, it's actually been taken off-air in the UK because of poor ratings—which is saying something when you're talking about Channel 5. I'm planning to catchup with Helix at US pace on Syfy soon. I enjoy its its ambiance and mood, together with the occasional fun shock or development, but it's very inessential and none of the characters have hooked me. As the mystery begins to be revealed, it feels increasingly like a decent B-movie was unwisely stretched to 13 episodes.

I've dropped:
  • Black Sails (Starz) Is it any good? I read a few reviews and they were echoing some of my own negativity from the pilot, so I just haven't cared enough to continue watching.
  • Damages (Lifetime) The delayed fourth season started a short while ago in the UK, but I just couldn't get into it. It just looks noticeably cheap now, and the storyline about Afghanistan and a US private army felt about six years out of date. I may come back for the fifth and final season, when it airs.
  • The Musketeers (BBC1) I just can't find the time for this Sunday night drama, and the franchise has never interested me enough for another iteration to become appointment viewing. Any fans reading?

So that's largely what's consumed my TV-viewing this past month, how about you?