Ah, the long dark days of summer, punctuated only by the bright-light that was Breaking Bad (RIP, best show ever), are over and once again, there is something to watch on television. Huzzah!
We meant to give you this summary of our feelings about the new fall lineups weeks ago, but, you know, that whole being hacked into and having to rebuild the website thing set us back. The good news is, now we have even more information to base our reviews on.
I forgot to create a new username called “Bex and Proffitt” before starting this, so I’ll be sure to give Bex credit before each of her blurbs.
Here we go!
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (ABC)
Perhaps no series had more buzz behind it than this one. Coming off the huge success of The Avengers, and the slow-building, now extensive fan-base for Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg), Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. also marks the return of a Joss Whedon show to prime time television, and I think we can all agree that is a great thing.
Bex (two episodes into the season):
First, respect where respect is due: serious television bonus points go to the responsible parties for the behind the scenes negotiations which occurred to get Cobie Smulders to reprise her role as Maria Hill. But, while I do not understand the criticism for the show, I admit I did not fall instantly in love with it two episodes in. Viewers must accept that this is not Buffy, Angel or Firefly and most importantly, not The Avengers. This is not a show about superheroes or demons, but rather a show about people with some super smarts. Is Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. perfect? No. But we are two episodes in, being introduced to mostly a new gang of characters, other than Coulson. My only worry about S.H.I.E.L.D. is the possibility of getting lost in the Whedon and Marvel verses. They scored the mother f’er of all cameos fans were crossing our fingers for, Samuel L. Jackson, plus a few familiar faces (Book! Gunn!). Whedon and crew can craft strong storylines and characters–I hope they do not depend on gimmicks, cameos, and inside jokes. So far, other than Coulson, I do not really feel any strong connection to the characters. But again, it’s only two episodes in. On the hopeful side, I do see more opportunities for Whedon to mold some more of the strongest, realistic female characters on TV with this show.
There are a number of people who seem to be critical of the show because it is not The Avengers; if Joss and crew can’t win them over with their wit, warmth, and depth, they must have hearts of stone.
I have the advantage of having seen a few more episodes than Bex, since it is now three weeks later (so, yay hackers, I guess….?) The most recent episode, FZZT, which aired November 5th, has already been heralded by a few of my friends as being the episode that finally feels like a Whedon show. I have to say, to me, it always felt like a Whedon show. Whedon shows are exceptional for several reasons, and one of them is because there are surprises; sometimes in order to have those surprises, you have to pace yourself with both divulging secrets and with putting the characters into really interesting situations, and having the dynamic between them shift and change. They are also exceptional because they deal with things as honestly, and with as few cheap tricks as possible. I hate when movies, shows, comics, etc. bring characters back from the dead. Often, it cheapens what came before it, and makes the viewer/reader weary and impatient with any future dangers characters face. So, while I love me some Coulson, if they had not found a way to address the fact that he died and came back with a sense of mystery and significance, it would have always stuck in my craw (whatever that phrase means). I needed not fear, however. They have given his return plenty of depth. I can’t wait to see how they continue to develop that line.
We should also keep in mind that while Joss Whedon surely has plenty of creative control over Agents, he is not the Whedon most directly in charge. His brother Jed and sister-in-law Maurissa are the ones on the ground, driving the show. While they have sensibilities that resemble Joss, as an audience we would be wise to accept that in some ways they are going to bring their own voice to the show. We may even get a pleasant surprise or two from that.
I agree that F.Z.Z.T. was the best episode so far — it even gave me that patented Whedon tear-up I had been waiting for. I suppose the whole “someone’s gonna die – oh wait, no, they’re OK” thing could get old, but if we know one thing about the Whedon clan, it’s that eventually they’ll kill someone for real; it will be terrible, and it will be permanent.
Sleepy Hollow (Fox)
Family secrets, check. An old town with a huge mystery, check. History and the supernatural merging, check. What isn’t to love about Sleepy Hollow (including main hottie with an accent, Ichobod Crane, played by Tim Mison)? I am digging the Headless Horseman as a horseman of the apocalypse. I was not expecting that twist and am surprised Supernatural didn’t beat them to it. I’m just enjoying the webs they are creating with each episode. And kudos to the network for going the less episodes route with the show. The first season consists of 13 episodes, creating a more focused show, at least for now. A show like this is like a soap opera for the more nerdy of us who appreciate the creepy.
I totally agree with Bex on this one. I have been pleasantly surprised by this show. It’s not one I feel compelled to watch the night it airs, but I love saving up a couple and watching them on a Sunday afternoon, or when I find some spare time in the evenings. I have a feeling it’s only going to keep getting better.
Witches of East End (Lifetime)
Bex (and only Bex, since I haven’t seen this one):
I had no, zip, zero, zilch interest in watching this, but all it took to change my mind was one heck of a tiring Sunday to leave me snuggled up in bed, with nothing on (the TV). I saw the name of Twin Peaks alumna Mädchen Amick (listed as just a guest star but she better be in all the episodes, darn it!) and the fabulous Julia Ormond and Virginia Madsen, so I had to give it a try. Plus a Whedon bonus: Tom Lenk! Lenk’s part in the pilot episode was small, but I hope the writers expand it. Witches of East End is a more mature Charmed. Immortal witches (or at least ones with 9 lives), a mother hiding her daughters’ powers from them, lovers and enemies from past lives, mother/daughter, sister/sister relationships. Not must see TV, but sexy fun if you take lots of sugar with your supernatural.
The Black List (NBC)
The network that brought us Hannibal is taking on another series about a criminal mastermind. James Spader got puffy, but he’s still Spader. He oozes charismatic likeability with a tinge of creeptastic in there. He’s believable as Raymond “Red” Reddington, but the debonaire, classy bad guy with expensive tastes (Red) taking on a newly employed female FBI with a tragic past (Elizabeth) shtick is a little too reminiscent of Silence of the Lambs’ Lector/Clarice relationship. I’m not sold on the series, but I do enjoy Spader and I want to know what secret Elizabeth’s husband is hiding, so I’ll watch until that is cleared up and then decide to carry on or not. It’s not a must watch live show; I’ll catch up on Sunday mornings or after work the next day.
I watched half of the first episode and couldn’t take it. Everything about Blacklist feels like a rip-off of something else, mostly (as Bex mentioned) The Silence of the Lambs. This is particularly unforgivable given that Hannibal, a show that is actually based on the same Thomas Harris-created characters as the Jonathan Demme film, feels entirely fresh. I wanted to like Blacklist because I’m a Spader-fan, but unless someone tells me it gets better, I’m letting this one go.
Trophy Wife (ABC)
Not a nerd-centric show, but hey, Cabin in the Woods’ Bradley Whitford is a co-star! Malin Ackerman is believable and likeable in a situation many 30-something women find themselves in these days–married to an older man with children and one or two ex wives. And while this is not my situation, I think some of it is relatable to me as an aunt. This is only new comedy that has made me giggle aloud. Charming and warm with a reasonable bite. Marcia Gay Harden is a treat to watch as the very tightly wound Type A first wife; I almost feel a little nervous for everyone when she’s on screen. Trophy Wife and Sleepy Hollow are the two new shows I am most looking forward to seeing weekly.
Again, I agree. It’s a fun sitcom. There aren’t many of them out there, so you might want to give this one a shot.
Oh, how I do love Anna Faris and Allison Janney. But this Lorre-clunker just is not funny. It’s trying to be edgy and real but just comes across as predictable. Here was a chance to do a show about two generations of women overcoming addiction and trying to make amends. There is so much room in this sandbox to make the characters likeable and flawed, but Lorre and crew go for the obvious joke every time and makes them crude caricatures. So disappointing.
Totally agreed. I turned this one off faster than the laugh-track-extraordinaire from two years ago, Whitney.
The Crazy Ones (CBS)
Gut instincts said “Change the channel!” but I was hoping to love this Robin Williams, Sarah Michelle Gellar vehicle. Robin Williams is one of those comedians who is never off (in a bad way), including on this new sitcom. Poor SMG is relegated to just being Williams’ straight woman, schooled in some life lesson by her father at the end of each episode.
No one wanted to like this show more than Bex and I. But, um. No. Just no.
Well, helloooooo Hotty McHotterson-hot-face-sex-me-up. I don’t know what it is about Jonathan Rhys Meyers – if you look at his facial features independently, they add up to relatively pleasing, at best. But, in action, he is far more than that. It’s those damn crazy-eyes. So intense that they’re almost ludicrous, those eyes are impossible to resist. So, casting him as the most famous vampire in history is a pretty genius move on the part of NBC. Also, the show is good. Seriously – it’s got layers (admittedly three of them are lady-porn of various degrees, but still), solid performances, and pretty high production values. I’m not sure if putting it on Friday nights was NBC’s way of messing with us or what, but it should gather enough of an audience to either get moved to a more desirable time-slot, or at least secure its future on a network that just loves to cancel shows I enjoy (Awake, anyone?….anyone?). I’m not sure Bex has had a chance to catch up on this one, but I highly recommend it.
What are your thoughts on the shows above? Any favorites of yours that we left off? Let us know in comments!
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