Fall TV Whatever-Week-This-Is: Vampires, Witches, and Zombies (Oh My!)

tvset1So, the bulk of the fall TV releases are behind us, and what’s been the fallout?  Of the new shows this year, I’m still watching:

Sleepy Hollow:  Sure, it’s silly.  Who cares?  Apparently not many, since this just got renewed for season two after only 2 episodes.  Booya!  NOW can somebody buy that guy a new outfit?

Agents of SHIELD:  Sure, it’s silly.  Who cares?  I’m totally down with this one, especially since episode 2 was such a marked improvement on episode 1.  It’s funny and different, which makes it well worth tuning in for if you’re me.  Well, that plus the part where Agent Coulson is a HOT-TAY.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine:  This might be my favorite of all the new series this year — how weird, given the fact it’s a sit-com and I usually hate sit-coms!  Thing is, I like smart, funny sit-coms, which are rare birds in this world.  And this is one of those.  Barney Miller for a new generation?  So far, so good.

Hostages:  I like this show, I just can’t quite figure out how they are going to make it last a full season.  Unless they’re planning it to be a short-season series, with only one season?  Except, since it’s being fairly universally panned, as well as fairly universally not watched by anyone else, I have a feeling we will never get to find out the answer to that question.  Which is too bad because I’m loving Toni Collette in that part.

Blacklist:  I’m putting this on here simply because I haven’t given up on it yet, though I have only seen the first episode.  I may or may not retain this one after watching episode 2.  It depends on how totally annoying I find “science is for boys!” lady the second time around. Don’t hold your breath.

What are you guys sticking with so far?  AND, here’s what’s coming up this week!

Tuesday, October 8

originalsThe Originals - 8pm – The CW – This is some silly vampire thing.  Not to be confused with the other silly vampire thing coming out on the 25th, Dracula, starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers.  That’s the silly vampire thing I’m likely to tune into.  This is not the silly vampire thing I’m likely to tune into.

The Biggest Loser – 8pm – NBC – I hate this show with the fiery passion of 97,000 suns.

Supernatural - 9pm – The CW – Time to go SupeNatch — you’ve long since outstayed your welcome.  My god, angels are boring.

Wednesday, October 9

Arrow - 8pm – The CW – Don’t watch, no clue.

The Tomorrow People – 9pm – The CW – This sounds a lot like Heroes but with a much prettier, younger cast.  Borrrrrrring!
ahscovenAmerican Horror Story: Coven – 10pm – FX – Oh, American Horror Story.  I keep watching you and keep not understanding why I keep watching you.  YOU ARE NOT GOOD.  So, what is my problem?  I guess my problem is there’s just nothing else like you on TV, which makes you a fairly decent distraction.  Plus, just often enough to keep me roped in, you sometimes surprise me with a tiny little moment of brilliance.  The bad news is I’m not really into witches, and this season is allllll about ‘em.  So. We’ll see.

Thursday, October 10

onceuponwonderlandOnce Upon a Time in Wonderland — 8pm – ABC – Spin-off of Once Upon a Time, this time focusing on ye olde tales of Alice, the White Rabbit, and the Tweedles Dee and Dum.  I really enjoyed the first 8 or so episodes of the original, but then kind of drifted away and never felt like going back.  I appreciate how creative and unique it is, though, and this series may be both those things as well.  I’ve got too many other things on Thursdays to want to try to cram this in, but if it ends up getting good reviews and sticking around, I’ll catch up later on DVD.

Sunday, October 13

walkingdeadThe Walking Dead - 9pm – AMC – The interesting thing about zombies, for me anyway, is that they were once people just like us.  They still look like us, even.  In fact, some of them still look like us-es that we knew.  And so there is a built-in moral complexity to the zombie story that isn’t often found in stories involving other monstery things.  The Walking Dead, however, long, LONG ago ditched any semblance of that, or anything else truly thoughtful, for that matter, and now is pretty much all about blowing shit up and slaughtering huge masses of former people in a myriad of close-up and gruesome ways.  With all that room for story and so little story, I barely made it through last season.  If this season doesn’t start off with something better, I’ll be walking (alive).

42 Responses to “Fall TV Whatever-Week-This-Is: Vampires, Witches, and Zombies (Oh My!)”

  1. RogerBW Says:

    I’m sticking with Sleepy Hollow, SHIELD, and even Blacklist for now (though I can feel Blacklist creeping up towards the cliff edge). Of this week’s starts, I’ll give The Tomorrow People one episode to be not-superheroey, and I may pick up The Walking Dead but I haven’t been enthused about it for a while.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    (Liz) -
    I’m with you on almost everything – “Sl. Hollow,” “Hostages,” “Blacklist,” “Am. Horror,” both new vampire shows(blech), “Supernatch” (although we still watch it), “Arrow,” “Tom. People,” and “Once Upon.”

    HOWEVER – I totally disagree with you about “Walking D.” and “B’lyn 9-9.” We hated the “9-9″ show, and I still love “Walking D.” I think it has so much moral and character content! The finale was wrenching, as we’re a couple of scenes with Darryl and Merle. The stuff with Rick was confusing, but ultimately satisfying, and what’s going to happen with Carl? (No spoilers – I’m trying hard!)

    I liked “SHEILD,” but did you ever see a show on SYFY called “Alphas?” It’s been canceled now, but this one reminded me of it. Another Heroes/Mutant/Special Abilities show.

    Guess what – we laughed at the Robin Williams-Sarah Michele Gellar show! But so far it really essentially the “Mork and Buffy Show”. Oh well, as you say, it’s silly, but who cares?

  3. megwood Says:

    Woo, gosh, yeah, I don’t see an ounce of morality or character content in Walking Dead anymore! Last season increasingly made me think of Lost, actually, and all the flailing around it did when it ran out of ideas for plot. All the nuance of the story lines from the first two seasons is long gone — it’s basically a trashy comic book at this point (which, irony, since it is, in fact, based on a trashy comic book!). It’s turned into an excuse to shoot lots of guns and see lots of heads explode — in extreme close-up! — and pretty much little else.

    Cardboard bad guy (complete with eye patch!), characters with nothing to do who just sort of bounce around aimlessly (Andrea, Dale), and Rick, my god — he has a deep epiphany at the finale of every season that comes out of nowhere and ends up having no lasting impact whatsoever.

    I’m still watching mostly because I still hold out hope that the tide will turn. Maybe they’ll hire a new writer and something good will come out of it. But if the season opener is as bad as the season ender, I’m out. My tolerance for stupid violence is getting increasingly lower as I get increasingly older, and this show is pretty much only stupid violence at this point to me.

    My mom keeps telling me to try Alphas! I’ll get around to it at some point, I’m sure — I think it’s on Netflix now. I haven’t seen the “Mork and Buffy Show” (ha!) yet, but will give the pilot a try later in the week!

    • briantoohey Says:

      Alphas is another show I want to pick up and check out. And as for The Walking Dead, I’m with you. The best episode was still the pilot. I’ve read the first 75 or so issues of the comic book, and it’s basically very tight plotting and action with little characterization… and it works great for a comic book. The problem is that a comic is 20 pages and comes out once a month (or 12 times a year) and takes about 15 minutes to read. The show is averaging about 15 episodes a season (not including the first, abbreviated season) at about 45 minutes each, and while it’s running, it’s coming out weekly. That’s a hell of a lot more story time.

      It requires the kind of characterization the comic has always avoided, and I think that comic creator/writer and tv series creator Robert Kirkman is perhaps incapable of it. Even if the show tried to barrel forward with plot, I think it would be too much and we’d still need the characterization. But it’s not barreling forward, it’s a dog running around in circles chasing its own tail. There was stuff that happened with The Governor is the comic that was much, much more heinous than what we saw in the show, and the events involving him happened quickly and the characters took action, and then they were moving on and dealing with the consequences and fallout. The brilliance of the comic (and the early episodes of the show) were about always being in a state of shock dealing with unfathomable consequences and simultaneously caught off guard by new horrible situations. It’s about physical survival, and never having a chance to catch your breath; and the strength of the material are the metaphors for the same tragedies and heartbreak we experience in normal, non-zombie life in trying to survive. But the show, in its circuitous attempts to tread water and not resolve plot or relationship threads too quickly, feels passive and stuck. Which is pretty ironic for a show about zombies with so much violence. I think it’s very telling that the show is now on its third show-runner in barely over three seasons, while Kirkman, creator of the comic yet technically unqualified to serve as showrunner himself, stays on in an authoritative position. My best guess is that some of these showrunners have been advising him to make story changes that would benefit the medium of television, and that Kirkman is either too out of his element to know to trust their advice, or simply has too much ego to accept that the show needs something more than his limited voice. And the show has some actors doing really, really good work– in fact, most of them are. So it’s a shame that the early potential of the show has led to this.

      • megwood Says:

        “It’s a dog running around in circles chasing its own tail” is the best description of Walking Dead I have seen thus far. That is EXACTLY how I feel about it! Exactamundoly, even. Interesting about the Kirkman dude — I haven’t read any of the comics, but I have definitely found over the years that if you’re going to make a book into a movie, for example, letting the author get super-involved is always a bad, bad move. For examples, you need look no further than Stephen King.

        • Brian Toohey Says:

          In other news– holy crap… Sleepy Hollow has been RENEWED for Season 2. Obviously that’s pretty odd, because most shows don’t even know yet if they’re going to run for a full first season.

          • RogerBW Says:

            I smell a touch of desperation. What else does Fox have in drama as opposed to comedy?

            Bones (getting old)
            Glee (popular but niche)
            The Following (not coming back until 2014)
            Gang Related (not even scheduled yet)
            Enlisted (not starting until 2014)
            Almost Human (starting next month, certain to be cancelled; Fox programmers don’t like to make their audiences think)

            So all the promotional push goes at just one new drama, which I have to admit is more fun than I expected it to be.

          • megwood Says:

            It’s not desperation — the Sleepy Hollow thing. It’s been doing really well in the ratings, especially now that they are counting DVR views as well (http://insidetv.ew.com/2013/10/13/sleepy-hollow-dvr/). I think it was, in fact, the first new show of the season to get signed up for a second already. Go, little goofy show! Go!

          • RogerBW Says:

            Indeed, I’m enjoying the show and I’m glad it’s doing well — I’m just looking at the rest of Fox’s drama lineup and thinking that it’s really the only thing they can push at this point.

  4. briantoohey Says:

    Well, Meg– your list of continuing new shows is exactly the same as mine, with the one exception of Trophy Wife instead of Agents of Shield. Yes, I’m kind of shocked at how good Trophy Wife is, but imo it’s pretty close to Brooklyn Nine Nine. Although, I still haven’t started watching Modern Family, so perhaps I’d like it less if I did– I wonder if those two shows are all that different.

    Hostages is probably my favorite new drama, and I’m surprised to hear its been universally panned. Yeah, some of it is cliched and predictable, but it seems to hit the same notes as 24 did, in an effective way that many shows since then have failed to do. And yes, it’s designed as a one-season show of 15 episodes… so it is a shorter-than-normal season and it’s not going to be an ongoing. Perhaps that’s part of my enjoyment, knowing that everything that is happening is only going to continue to be ramped-up, and not fall victim to continued seasons of trying to figure out how to keep it going. After last night’s episode, we’re 3/15 in, and 20% of the show has aired.

    I’ve actually watched the first three eps of Sleepy Hollow and it’s been growing on me each episode, so for now, I’m giving it a season. I’m an episode behind, and just watched the episode with the sandman demon. Watching it after an ep of Agents of Shield, the difference in production value was just embarrassing for Agents of Shield. The scenes with the Sandman looked great, and there was obviously time, money, and craft spend on the fx. Sad to say, after 2 eps of Agents of Shield, I’m out. I don’t understand how, especially with Marvel and Whedon’s involvement, the production value is so low. Everything is so badly done, from the fx and green screen work, to the stunts, to the overly cute and cloying dialogue, to the obvious plotting and story construction, to a lot of really sub-par acting– that it’s painful to me to watch. Apart from the terrible writing and acting on Agents of Shield, it’s the production value that really kills it for me. When the leads on Sleepy Hollow went to the hospital, we actually saw them outside a real building, with trees and stuff. It’s the same kind of location shooting you saw on shows like Fringe and Lost– you could see the leaves on the ground and feel the weather in the air, and there was a sense of the reality of the location. That benefits any show, but gives additional grounding to a show with fantasy elements. On Agents of Shield, everything is filmed so tightly on an obvious sound stage where there is zero reality that it only accentuates the very phoney staginess of it all. They never pull back and show anything in long shot; there was a scene last week in the jungle, and everything, including the driving, was done in such tight shots amidst sound stage potted ficuses that it was laughable and felt like a bad 80s show shot on a shoestring budget, or a web serial done by a fledgeling production team with no budget. We already know we’re not getting a feature film-type budget for a show about the actual super-heroes of the Marvel universe, and I’m fine with that… but for me to have been on board with Agents of Shield they would have needed more honesty in the show, from the writing to the acting to the production value, and opened the locations up to give the show some physical grounding. I feel like what we’ve gotten is two-dimensional cartoons speaking canned, trite dialogue on an obvious sound stage.

    All in all, it’s a pretty weak season. There’s few new shows I’m committed to, and a lot of my old faves were cancelled or wrapped their series last season. But I’m actually excited, because it’s going to give me a chances to catch up with stuff like Dexter, Justified, Californication, and True Blood and jump on board stuff I still haven’t gotten to like Mad Men, Boardwalk Empire, The Newsroom, and Sons of Anarchy.

  5. megwood Says:

    Your comments about SHIELD are interesting, Brian. I’m not having any of the same issues with it, though. Having seen The Avengers more than once now, I wasn’t expecting the series spinning off of it to be brilliant — I mean, talk about obvious sound stages, cheesy comedy, and a lack of honesty! Not to mention a cartoon Hulk that looked just like a . . . cartoon Hulk. Only, I LOVED IT. I’m digging the series, despite recognizing it’s many, many weaknesses.

    I wonder what kind of budget they were actually given for that one, now that I think about it. Whedon is a reasonably successful filmmaker, but his TV track record isn’t exactly stellar. Two fairly decent-sized hits (Buffy, which I loved; Angel, which I found impossibly dull) followed by two spectacular failures (Firefly, which I also loved (despite it’s many, many weaknesses); and Dollhouse, which: barf). I’d be surprised if he’s getting the money J.J. Abrams gets, in other words. But taste is subjective, obviously, and the amount of lameness we can each tolerate in the name of entertainment is too. I totally get what you’re saying, but am still enjoying it so far.

    Totally agree that it’s been a weak season. Which is why I’m glad I saved Breaking Bad until now! (Season 3 and counting and HOLY SHIT THIS SHOW IS CRAZY!)

    • megwood Says:

      Oops, I keep NOT clicking “reply.” But I did want to say I’m glad to hear someone else likes Hostages! Alas, it is showing up on pretty much everybody’s “I bet this gets canceled before November” list. FIGURES.

      • briantoohey Says:

        Well, I doubt Hostages will be cancelled since it’s been designed as a limited series with 15 episodes. Even if they were to only let it run for the equivalent of a half-season, that’s the length of the series. I’m betting at least half of the episodes are already shot, with a lot of work already having gone into prepping the rest– it just wouldn’t make any sense to cancel it. More likely we’ll see some targeted marketing to try to salvage the audience.

        As for Breaking Bad, enjoy! It was a great show, and I’m sad it’s over– that’s what television should be. It took a season or so for it to really get going for me, but each season gets progressively better and more intense, so you’re in for a good ride.

        • megwood Says:

          It’s possible — we’ll see. Network TV stations aren’t famous for taking chances with early season time slots, though. If the show continues to tank, I think they’ll axe it to make room for something else. Fingers crossed they let us have the 15 — if not now, then at least on DVD or something later!

          • briantoohey Says:

            Yes, shows generally get the axe pretty quickly if they’re not succeeding– but that’s also because they’re usually designed to be ongoing. If the show can’t make money or hold ratings, the question of “when do we cancel it” is easily answered with “right now, before we lose more money.” I’m betting that because it’s designed as a 15-episode limited run, that won’t happen with Hostages since there’s already a planned end-date. And it’s possible CBS made an agreement (or it was just a part of the deal) to air the whole run. But I guess we’ll find out! :)

  6. Anonymous Says:

    (Liz) – Ummm, Guys – I rather liked the 1st ep of “Hostages,” myself, but I’m not convinced that the producers have ever been planning a conclusion at the end of the 15-ep run. I got totally sucked in to “Under the Dome” this summer, innocently expecting it to wrap up the story in the first season. Isn’t that what you expect when it’s supposed to be a “limited run” series? Then it got renewed, and left viewers with a rather large cliff-hanger. Have we learned nothing from “The Killing?”

    I’m scared that they were never planning to resolve “Hostages” at the end of this season, and now that it’s already proving to be less than a great success, we may never get a resolution! BTW, speaking of “less than a great success,” I was quite mortified by the new “Ironside.” Meg, you had that one nailed; I just feel bad for Blair Underwood, as I’ve always liked him.

    I’m sorry my opinion of “Walking D.” is so different from all of yours. I respect all your knowledge and ideas, but I still really like that show. Maybe it’s that I’ve never read the comics (graphic novels?). I
    got hooked on “Game of Thrones” from the start, so I began reading the books. Although I still think the TV adaptation is very good, I have to say I think the books are better. I think this has (almost) always been true of Stephen King; perhaps it’s true most of the time for original work vs. adaptations.

    • briantoohey Says:

      No, it was announced before Under the Dome started airing that it was designed to be an ongoing if it performed well. It’s also been announced that Hostages has been designed as a 15-episode standalone series. Very different situations.

      • RogerBW Says:

        Interesting — I stayed away from Hostages because I hadn’t heard about the limited run (which I thought would have been perfect for Dome). Might give it a look now.

        • megwood Says:

          You aren’t the only one, Roger — one of the articles I read about how badly it’s doing in the ratings (20% drop from episode 1 to episode 2, ouch!) theorized that it was bombing because people couldn’t see how the story could possibly fill an entire season, OR carry forward from there. The “limited run” thing sure wasn’t advertised — bad move, I would say!

          I did see something last night while poking around on the web that said because it’s a Bruckheimer series, CBS will likely show the full 15 episodes no matter how bad it does. Props, Brian! You called it!

  7. Amber Terry Says:

    I’m curious as to why you don’t like American Horror Story. I haven’t seen the first or second seasons and I was going to catch them on DVD, but I don’t wanna bother if they’re total crap :) I’ve got a knee jerk reaction, though, to anything involving horror–I automatically want it, no matter what it is.

    • megwood Says:

      I suppose it’s not fair to criticize AHS for being WAY too over-the-top and also rampantly misogynistic, since it’s a Ryan Murphy series and that’s sort of what he’s famous for (Nip/Tuck, e.g.), so it’s my own fault for tuning in if that bothers me. But honestly, I’ve just found it pretty silly overall. The stories are preposterous, which is okay if the writing is good and the characters are interesting — only, they aren’t, really. The dialogue is painfully bad at times, and there hasn’t been a character yet I’ve really connected with.

      I’m a huge horror fan myself, which is why I keep watching (also, I’m dumb), but I didn’t even make it through season 1 — I got bored and never bothered with the last 3 episodes. Season 2 was marginally more interesting at first, but also fizzled out at the end. I don’t have high hopes for season 3, but I’ll be giving it a peek anyway! It’s probably worth renting the first disk of each season just to see if it pulls you in. If I had to recommend one over the other, I think I’d go with season two as the better one. I’ll be curious to hear what you think if you give them a shot!

  8. RogerBW Says:

    I’ve now seen Blacklist 1.03; the procedural is palling on me, and the dragging-out of the whole “why me?” question is getting blatant. Give us some answers, or at least a reason not to give answers.

  9. Alisa Says:

    Well not surprisingly I’m not watching any of those on this list that you are watching LOL. I really dislike Andy Sanborn.

    I’ve given up on Sleepy Hollow though, I’ve lost interest. If they’ve renewed it already, then I really hope they’ve renewed The Following, which is much better Fox show.

    I love Once Upon A Time, but have no interest on watching the spin-off. Hubs watches The Vamp Diaries, so he’s giving The Originals a chance, I have no interest in either show.

    I’ve never seen the first season of Am. Horror, but last season was ok, despite the alien angle and the HORRIBLE Boston accent. We’re going to give this new season a chance.

    I love Walking Dead, I’ve never read the comics so I have nothing to judge it on, but I like the show.

    You know my stance on Supernatch, have to watch Dean, he’s my future ex-husband.

    • Brian Toohey Says:

      And when you say Andy Sanborn, I assume you mean Andy Samberg?

      • Alisa Says:

        Ya, him, that’s who I meant. He annoys me so much I don’t even know his actual name. Lol

        • megwood Says:

          I call him “Adam Samberg” a good 85% of the time, including on the first post I did about Nine-Nine, which I did not go back and correct. So, don’t feel bad, Alisa! I didn’t know who he was before this series, aside from vaguely being aware that he was on SNL at some point. But even if I hated Andy Samberg, I love Andre Brauer so much I would put up with just about anything to see him. Heck, I even watched Last Resort! Now that’s love, people!

  10. Lorraine Says:

    I was really disappointed in SHIELD. I tried 2 episodes and it just bored me. Somehow they think that generic characters running around and blowing things up is interesting. They need to re-watch “Firefly” to see everything that makes this type of show great.

    I’m enjoying “Brooklyn 99″ but my confession is that I am a total fangirl for Andre Braugher. I have been ever since “Homicide: LOTS”. I have re-rewatch every facial expression and dry comeback multiple times. I love it so!

    • Brian Toohey Says:

      My favorite new show is The Blacklist, and I’m also enjoying Brooklyn Nine Nine and Trophy Wife (which so far, in my opinion, has been even stronger than Brooklyn Nine Nine). Still hanging in there with Sleepy Hollow, Dracula, and Hostages (although that last one got pretty ridiculous after a handful of episodes, falling victim to the kind of plot contrivances that happens more often after a few seasons when they’re still trying to come up with ideas to keep treading water– I’m only sticking with it at this point because there should only be a few episodes left). Really looking forward to the debut of Almost Human.

      I stopped watching Agents of Shield after 2 episodes– I agree it was pretty terrible, and I hear it hasn’t gotten any better.

    • RogerBW Says:

      I’ve dropped SHIELD for much the same reasons (I gather in the most recent episode they actually gave one of the generic science types a distinguishing characteristic!), but I’m still enjoying Sleepy Hollow. Blacklist has completely lost me with that “we have a secret, and we’re going to drag out its revelation” mindset (I got burned by Alias). Hostages looks interesting, but I’m going to wait until it’s over and I can see the whole thing. Still on my list for when they start:

      The Black Box
      Killer Women
      Mind Games
      Intelligence
      The 100
      Almost Human
      Helix

      and if Rewind ever goes to series, I’m there.

      • megwood Says:

        It took me a few weeks to try episode 2 of Blacklist, after the wholly unforgivable line in the pilot about the “gender-neutral” zoo. And then I sat through tedious episode 2 only to be subjected to Stupid Whatshername doing a TRACHEOTOMY with a PEN by simply grabbing the pen in one hand and jamming it into some guy’s neck. OMG! You gotta be shitting me! No can do.

        I agree with you, Brian, about Hostages — I’m only in because now I want to know how it ends too. Got dumb fast, alas.

        I’m struggling with SHIELD — I still WANT to like it, but the episodes are piling up on my DVR and I’m having a hard time making myself watch them.

        Btw, Brian, I read somewhere (Entertainment Weekly?) that Trophy Wife is one of the best new shows this season. Score one for Toohey!

        I cannot imagine that Almost Human can possibly be good, considering the star is Karl “Permacranky” Urban. But since when do I care about “good” when it comes to sci-fi? (Answer: since almost never.)

        • Brian Toohey Says:

          I think a lot of people stayed away from Trophy Wife because of the title. But it’s really got a great cast… from Bradley Whitford to Malin Akerman to Marcia Gay Harden to the woman who play’s Whitford’s second wife… and both of the male kids are great. It’s probably a poor title– Whitford’s character doesn’t think of Akerman as a trophy wife and she certainly doesn’t consider herself one… it’s more acknowledging what people looking at their relationship from the outside might think, though they would be wrong. Anyway, it’s a really solid show with low ratings that may stay on the air simply because of the dearth of comedies with decent ratings (Parks and Recs is widely considered the best comedy currently on, along with Modern Family, and its ratings have always been extremely low).

          Yeah, it’s sad how tired Hostages got so fast. The whole point of having it be a 13 ep limited series should have been to NEVER have lame, unexcusable and poorly constructed dramatic situations. It’s been bad for weeks now…. but I had to laugh when one character (after all they’ve gone through already) said he was taking their son with him as “insurance” while he left the wife and husband HOME ALONE as he and another of the captors went out to run an errand and take care of some personal business.

          Meg, if you think Agents of Shield gets legitimately good at some point (like next season) let us know and I’ll give it a second chance at that point.

          As for Almost Human… I like Karl Urban and I guess his permacranky doesn’t bother me. Word on the street is it’s perhaps the best new show of the season. Considering how much most everything else has been pretty terrible, that shouldn’t be hard to accomplish!

          Awww… it’s too bad you don’t like The Blacklist. It’s the only new drama I’m genuinely excited about. I’m pretty sure Spader is her biological father and this is his way of both spending lost time with her and trying to get to know her as an adult, while also helping her career; and the show is just going to let the question of it hang out there for awhile, because the not knowing is what makes their relationship so effective. I love their scenes together, and Spader is fantastic at being evasive, shady, brilliant, smarmy, and manipulative… while swinging back and forth between paternally protective and narcisistically mercenary.

          • megwood Says:

            I knew he was her father about 15 minutes into episode 1, so I’m not sure I agree they are letting the question hang there! Other than that, in the midst of so many extreme irritants for me, there isn’t enough meat to it to keep my attention. Clarice Starling is the usual pretty young FBI agent, Hannibal Lector is the usual devious bad guy. The plots are pretty by-the-numbers. I miss Alias. THAT SAID, everybody else in America appears to love the show, so what the hell do I know? :)

          • Brian Toohey Says:

            They’re letting the question hang out there in terms of him not telling her so that SHE doesn’t know. The audience is supposed to know (I think)– but the dramatic relationship they seem to be pursuing is one where her character doesn’t know for sure because he hasn’t explicitly admitted it to her.

          • RogerBW Says:

            I’m in the same boat as Meg, I think. The relationship between Clarice and Hannibal seems obvious but there’s more and more obfuscation being built up round it (e.g. what is Boyfriend up to), which trips my Alias/Lost detectors — and even if that were holding my interest, I’m finding the week-to-week procedural plots sheerly tedious.

            But hey, if we all liked the same things…

          • Brian Toohey Says:

            Yeah, I loved Alias… and the first 3 seasons of Lost were among my favorite TV seasons of all time (in my mind the show kind of ends at the end of season 3, because there’s a natural ending there and afterwards the show just continued stumbling worse and worse).

            Ongoing plots with hanging questions don’t bother me– I get bored with bare procedurals and shows that are basically a bunch of standalone episodes. I think crafting a really good larger storyline and mythology for a multi-season show takes a miracle. First of all, the talent and craft has to be there– but then you also need the business and commerce to support it. Something like Breaking Bad is the rare success story (and the most recent one I can think of). But it basically takes lightning striking twice on the same show… which is rare. But The Blacklist is doing right by me so far. I’ve liked the various individual episodes, I’m engaged with the larger story thread and both Spader’s and Megan Boone’s (who I’m really liking a lot) performances, and I have no problems with the boyfriend subplot and think their doing a good job with the moment-to-moment of it.

            it does remind me of Alias a bit, which for me is a good thing. As for the Silence of the Lambs comparison– obviously that was on my mind a lot watching the pilot episode because of the setup, but I quickly discarded any thoughts of it because it’s a pretty superficial comparison in my mind and their characters are very different (i.e. Spader’s character really doesn’t have much in common with Lecter).

    • megwood Says:

      In the two episodes I saw, I not only kept thinking of Lector (criminal serving as consultant — obvious comparisons to be made there), but I also muttered, “Quid pro quo, Clarice!” at least twice. It may be a superficial comparison, but, for me, it was a pretty superficial show. Or at least a pretty superficial first two episodes. Plus, OMG THAT FUCKING TRACHEOTOMY!! I can’t take it!

      • Brian Toohey Says:

        Criminal serving as consultant… and that’s it. In fact, it’s not even that, because Lector was not even really a “consultant.” But Spader’s character is not a serial killer, not a cannibal, he hasn’t been captured by the FBI… the list goes on. If we can agree that he’s her father, he’s there to get to know his daughter. Which is a much different motivation than simply wanting to understand and manipulate a young “starling” who’s desperately come to Lector for help. I feel like other than the very generic concept of a high-profile criminal helping a young female FBI agent, and the obvious push they gave that comparison in the commercials leading up to the pilot airing, that’s about all the comparison there is.

        As for the tracheotomy… yeah it was stupid, but I’ve seen it a dozen times in other shows and movies so I just let it go as one stupid thing in an otherwise enjoyable show. There are dozens of things that have happened in each episode of Sleepy Hollow that annoy me more– like the main character’s inability to correctly pronounce the word “cavalry.” For some reason that just really got under my skin, and I was like, “if she can’t even pronounce basic words correctly I’m going to have trouble buying the whole intelligent/determined act, and I don’t even know if I can watch the show now.” I mean, couldn’t they have done another take for God’s sake?

  11. RogerBW Says:

    I don’t mind long-term plots, but I don’t get on with long-term mysteries — because, having been burned, I now just assume that the writing team is making stuff up as they go along. (The Battlestar Galactica revamp is another good example. No, there never really was a plan.) So if a show’s relying on that for the long-term appeal, the week-to-week stuff has to be really compelling to keep me in, and The Blacklist is already feeling formulaic to me: Liz is on a case, Red gets involved, Red appears to be working for the villain, Red has his own secret goal.

    But again, Brian, I’m not saying you’re wrong. This is just the way I react to stuff. I don’t go out looking for things to excoriate; if I could enjoy the show, I’d be happier.

    • Brian Toohey Says:

      No– I totally get you. And I respect yours and Meg’s opinions, and don’t believe we all need to like the same things equally. In fact, in a previous post I said that little things about Sleepy Hollow equally annoyed me. And in that post I wasn’t trying to be critical of Meg or what she liked or Sleepy Hollow… it was just the opposite– I was trying to create a parallel and say “the two main reasons you’ve listed for not digging The Blacklist I find pretty silly, but I understand because my own example of one of my problems with Sleepy Hollow (and likely most of the rest of them) is also equally silly… but for some reason it just falls into the header or ‘stupid things I can’t stop myself from really being bothered by.’”

      And I’m with you on Battlestar Galactica, and the last several seasons of Lost. You know, I’m not really sure what the problem is with these showrunners. When I create a story, I have at least a general (and usually a much more specific) idea of where something’s going. Maybe being a showrunner and dealing with constant rejection and even early cancellations shortly after pickups has made all of these professional television writers stop thinking ahead and just focus on the immediate creative job in front of them. But for how hard they sometimes work to convince the audience “there’s a plan,” it would almost be less work just to come up with a plan. And in Lost’s case, it seemed like they actually had more of a plan (or a better plan) in the beginning, and then abandoned it for other, worse ideas as the show continued running and the writers themselves became more and more lost.

      • RogerBW Says:

        I think some of the problem may be that it’s always narratively more interesting to build up mystery and tension than to resolve it. So there’s always going to be a temptation to stick in another layer of indirection, rather than to say “OK, that’s the answer, you can relax now”. (Thus Alias with its tendency to say “OK, Sydney solved that plot. But that wasn’t the real question…”)

        I’ve found it instructive to look at largely episodic shows when they do two-episode specials — episode one, the winding up of mystery, is very often much more interesting than episode two where everything gets explained and resolved.

        • Brian Toohey Says:

          You know, and showrunners take note… if there were any criticisms of Breaking Bad, it was that it tied things up TOO neatly and was somewhat not believable in so doing. But most audiences didn’t seem to agree with those quibbles of the critics or see it that way– they appreciated that the showrunners made some definitive choices and had the cojones to say “we’re committing to this 100%.” Its seems the problems come when writers start to doubt themselves and attempt to be too expansive and, like you said, explain everything.

          Maybe that’s the age we live in– where writers listened to audiences TOO much and tried to please all of the people all of the time… and hopefully this will turn into a lesson learned about just having more faith in your own voice and sticking to a more individual authorial intent.

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