Series discoveries: The fall 2015 season, so far

Since I’m at Can-con next weekend, and doing NaNo after that, I’m doing the fall season series discoveries today, even though not all of the fall offerings have debuted, or resumed.

I’ll have to follow up with another post later in the season . . .

The plan for today is just to go, day by day, starting with Sunday, and run through the shows I’ve watched, offering impressions so far.

‘S’all right?

This is going to be a long one. You have been warned.

Sunday

Once Upon a Time

I’m sticking with OUaT. The Emma as the Dark One story line is interesting, but I find that, as in past seasons, things are taking a while to get going. Also interested to see how the Merida (of Brave) and the King Arthur threads are heading.

In the pre-season special, the actors all praised the show as one in which anyone can have a happy ending. All the characters have both good and bad within them. Everyone has the potential to become a hero or a villain and, I have to admit, it’s interesting to see how that plays out. The message of OUaT is hope.

Sometimes that can come off as saccharine, but there’s nothing else, right now, that I want to watch in the same time slot.

Lost Girl

I mentioned this in my mid-season follies post, not realizing that the final season had already started (September 6). I caught up and am watching things through to their conclusion.

My main complaint is that events seem so scattered. Plot lines are ended because they are inconvenient or not popular. At least that’s the way I read things.

Gods are very powerful fae. Okay. I can live with that. The goddess Iris becoming the Nix (destroyer)? Not so much. It was really a nothing story line because Hades ends up dispatching her. Rather anti-climactically. A classic painting is the key to defeating the gods? Okay. Interesting. But the apparent defeat is not really a defeat at all and Zeus and Hera first reappear, and then choose docile retreat in the face of Hades and his plan of ultimate evil? Weaksauce. Doctor Lauren tests a serum (intended to restore the Morrigan, whom she turned into a human) on herself and becomes a fae mimic? Cool. But then, it proves to be too much for her human physiology and she creates an anti-serum to cure herself before she loses her mind and memory. Again, anti-climactic and weak.

Kenzie’s back. Good. Eric Roberts as Hades, A.K.A. protagonist Bo’s big bad daddy, is also good.

I can see the ultimate outcome, however.

Hades has murdered Bo’s mother and her grandfather, A.K.A. the Blood King, who literally rewrote relations between the fae with his blood, which, when used as ink, has the power to compel any fae. That bit? Also cool.

But, as he dies, Grandpa tells Bo that his blood also flows in her veins.

I’m so confident, I’m willing to write this here and risk embarrassment when things don’t play out as I predict 😛

Currently, Bo appears to have joined Hades and is actively pursuing the end of the world. She’s killing her friends (apparently) and preparing herself for world domination.

My prediction? Bo realizes that her blood has granddaddy’s power to compel and she uses it to defeat Hades, reconcile the dark and light fae, and becomes the new Blood King/Ash.

I’ll let you know if my prediction is accurate. It will be, in part, satisfying if I’m right, but it will also be disappointing. I prefer to be surprised.

Quantico

The writers of Quantico have taken a page from the How to Get Away with Murder book and are telling the story of the first season from two time frames.

Currently, a new FBI agent, Alex Parrish, wakes up in the rubble of Grand Central Station after a terrorist attack has levelled it and killed hundreds. She is accused of the crime and proceeds to seek the truth and the real perpetrator.

In the past, our protagonist and a number of other new recruits struggle through their training at the titular institution.

The story is interesting with a lot of surprising twists and red herrings. All of the main characters have secrets. The cast is diverse, featuring non-white, non-male, non-straight characters.

I’ll continue to watch.

Monday

Blindspot

I’m a little wary of this series because it’s based on a gimmick.

A woman with no memory, but covered in tattoos, is found in a duffel bag in Times Square, and is taken in by the FBI because the name of one of their agents, Kurt Weller, is featured prominently, in ink, on her back.

The FBI decide to call her Jane Doe, but eventually find proof that she’s Taylor Shaw, a childhood friend of Weller’s who disappeared when they were both children. Even that is uncertain as another forensic test indicates that Jane was also born and spent several years in sub-Saharan Africa. Both things cannot be true.

The tattoos all have some kind of significance with terrorist attacks and government corruption. The goal of whoever did this seems to be to trick the FBI into uncovering the corruption in the government. Why not release this information to the press, or to multiple security forces at the same time, or even on the internet? Surely the evil government conspiracy doesn’t have the power to shut down the internet, press, and state and national police forces at the same time?

I’m sure we’ll find out the tortured logic of this very complicated tactic somewhere along the line.

Because none of the tattoos are straightforward. They’re all puzzles that take genius-level intelligence to solve. Conveniently, the FBI have a genius on staff.

The other thing that bugs me is that, while the writers have attempted to maintain some kind of consistency (beyond episode one) in revealing Jane’s backstory, they were very ham-handed in the first episode.

Basically, the reason Jane remembers nothing is that she has been given a mega dose of a drug that causes amnesia. From what they’ve been able to tell, she may never remember who she was or what happened to her.

We generally get unclear snippets as Jane’s fractured memories start to resurface, but at the end of the first episode, there is a final cut scene showing the night that she took the drug. Having voluntarily been tattooed over nearly every inch of her body, she also volunteers to eradicate her memory with this drug.

The man with her resurfaces in episode two, only to be killed in episode three without having yielded any useful information.

I’m willing to see where it goes for a while yet.

Minority Report

The series picks up years after the movie, with no mention of Tom Cruise’s character and some rewriting of the events that led to Pre-Crime’s dissolution.

The three precogs were living on their isolated island, but while Agatha has chosen to stay on the island, Arthur, the older of the twins, has returned to the city and uses his precog talents to make himself a very wealthy man.

Dash, the younger twin, is the one that sees the murders (Agatha experiences them from the perspective of the victim, and Arthur receives names and other factual details). Dash can’t stand to let people do horrible things to each other anymore.

He wants to stop the murders from happening if he can, but, working alone, he can’t seem to figure everything out in time.

So he finds Vega, a police detective, who helps him to solve the crimes he foresees.

Enter Hawkeye, a system that, somewhat like the machine on Person of Interest, but without the AI, gathers information from the wired society and uses it to predict the likelihood of violent action. Dash becomes Vega’s Hawkeye analyst as a kind of cover, and has to continually convince his brother Arthur to help them.

Add to this Agatha’s vision that Vega will somehow be involved in putting all three precogs back in the milk bath in subservience to the police, and we have another futuristic, crime-of-the-week, conspiracy thriller.

Even though Agatha and Arthur seem perfectly accustomed to life in the world, Dash is awkward and naive. I’m not really liking that vibe.

I’m willing to give it a few more episodes.

Castle

I’m sticking with Castle mainly for Nathan Fillion.

They’re trying another stunt to keep viewers’ interest after last year’s near-ending. *rolls eyes*

A few seasons ago, Beckett went to work for the Justice Department. In short order, the writers figured out that the distance relationship would never work for the character or with the fans and reworked the story to get Beckett back to the NYPD. Clumsily done, people.

Then, Castle disappeared for three months on the day he was to marry Beckett. There was some resolution, but it wasn’t satisfactory. He knows he was involved in some big, world-threatening conspiracy, and that he saved and old friend, but it seems that he, too, was given a dose of the amnesia drug (mentioned in Blindspot, above) and he’ll never know, and nor will we, how awesome he was.

Castle and Beckett finally got married and seemed to be negotiating married life fairly well. Things were going too well, I guess. Time to introduce a Shamalanian TWIST!

But first, they gave Beckett some resolution with regard to her mother’s murder, allowing her to finally put away the man responsible, Senator Bracken.

Though he was personna non grata at the police station, Castle started his own detective agency and reinserted himself into investigations, and eventually the precinct.

So now Beckett, having eschewed running for governor, is Captain of the precinct, but three of her former colleagues at the Department of Justice have been killed and a fourth comes to her for assistance.

This opens up the Bracken conspiracy again (greater evil, higher up, even MOAR untouchable), and she leaves Castle because she doesn’t want to put him in danger (wha?). She knows he’ll put himself into danger regardless. It’s a ridiculous excuse for drama.

Castle continues to use the detective agency—and now his daughter, Alexis, is working with him—to interfere with Beckett’s cases in some attempt to “win her back.” He knows full-well she loves him and she’s told him point blank that while she’s working on this conspiracy theory, she’d going to stay away from him for his own safety.

It’s a whole bundle of stupid. Contrived stupid at that.

But, like I say: Nathan Fillion.

Tuesday

The Flash

I have two words for you: Earth Two.

Yup, they’ve gone and done it, introduced Jay Garrick, the Flash from Earth Two. The resolution to last year’s finale seems to be that the fabric between the realities has been torn.

And we’ve already been shown that Harrison Wells is somehow living in Earth Two and ready to cross back over to torment Barry Allen further.

Meh.

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D

Daisy (I liked Skye so much better) is trying to save the inhumans cropping up all over the place because the catalyst was released into the ocean.

A new government agency is trying to capture them for study.

The monolith transported Simmons to another world, far across the galaxy, and when the team retrieves her, she says she has to go back, but, of course, won’t say why.

Hunter wants Ward dead crazy-bad.

May is initially MIA, but then joins Hunter.

It’s still early days.

Limitless

Another new show featuring our favourite police organization, the FBI.

A listless slacker, Brian Finch, is introduced to the drug NZT, which allows him to take full advantage of his intelligence and memories. He comes to the attention of the FBI who decide to take him on as a consultant.

Once he starts using NZT, Senator Eddie Morra (from the movie, reprised by Bradley Cooper), shows up and offers him a deal. See, NZT has this nasty habit of killing the people who use it in a terrible and painful way. Morra has an injection, though, that will allow Finch to use NZT indefinitely, so long as he gets a periodic booster.

Finch agrees to the devil’s deal without reading the fine print. Morra’s people (not Morra himself, of course) threaten Finch’s father, and if Finch tells anyone about his deal with Morra, everyone he loves will be killed.

Finch tries to reconnect with an old flame, but Morra’s people again put an end to that, and Finch is told to steal FBI files, which he tries to fake, then ends up delivering.

He’s in a tough place. I guess the series is about how he at first survives, and then how he gets out of that place.

It’s another gimmick-based series, but I’m entertained enough for now.

Wednesday

Arrow

At the end of last season, Oliver Queen leaves Starling City with Felicity Smoak. This season picks up with them living in domestic bliss, but it’s not sitting well—with Felicity, not Oliver. Olie’s actually happy, exchanging recipes with neighbours and dreaming of kidlets and contentment.

Felicity, meanwhile, has been stepping out on him with the rest of the Arrow Corps: Diggle, his sister, Thea, and his former girlfriend and current D.A., Laurel.

When this comes to light, Felicity drags Olie, not kicking and screaming, but stoically sighing, back to the renamed Star City, where the people still clearly need some help.

In the first episode, Damian Darhk murders what’s left of Star City’s leadership while the Hive descends on the rest of the hapless population.

Diggle has a hate on for Olie because to get out of his situation with the League of Assassins in last season, Olie kidnapped Diggle’s wife. Thea, resurrected last season in “the pit” is now becoming a blood-thirsty killer. Laurel, having taken up her dead sister’s mantle as The Canary, is still at odds with her father, and lost without her sister.

So, Laurel convinces Thea to return to Nanda Parbat, where her father, Malcom Merlin, is now R’as al Ghul, to see if anything can be done for her. Of course, she brings her sister’s months-old corpse to drop in the pit.

I think we can all see where this is going. I’m curious to see if Constantine makes an appearance and what role he plays in the continuing cray-cray that is Oliver Queen’s life.

Criminal Minds

This series is an old faithful for me. I still enjoy the human monster-of-the-week stories they come up with.

They can’t seem to keep the team stable, though.

They’ve brought in a new member every season, and then they leave.

Code Black

I watched the first episode and wasn’t impressed.

Thursday

Heroes Reborn

I liked the first season of the original Heroes enough to give this one a chance.

After a terrorist attack on a conference in Odessa, Texas, during which hundreds of evos (evolved humans) and humans lose their lives, including Claire from the original series, evos are blamed and subsequently hunted down.

Renautas, the tech company that bought out Primatech, is using evo powers to enact a plan that will save the world. I’m thinking they want to save the world for humans. They’ve been using Molly Walker’s locater powers to create evo detector glasses for law enforcement. They’re using Hiro Nakamura’s powers to send equipment and supplies into the future.

They’re dallying a bit, but if the payoff is good, I’m willing to wait. I like some of the new evos and their powers.

I liked Miko/Katana girl and am a little sad that she might have been a computer program and her purpose served in releasing Hiro Nakamura from his virtual prison. Teleporter Tommy is cool and fortunately, he’s just gotten past his “refusal of the call” stage of his hero’s journey. We should see some good things developing from his storyline.

Malina, the elemental mistress (as I think of her), seems to be the pivotal figure.

It was Hiro’s powers that ended up causing the story problems that sent the original series off kilter, though. I hope the writers have a solid plan for dealing with them this time.

Unfortunately Hiro has already taken Noah into the past to try to stop the terrorist attack at Odessa from happening.

We’ll see what develops. I’m intrigued for now.

Grey’s Anatomy

This series is another old dependable, and kind of a guilty pleasure.

It’s basically a soap opera set against the backdrop of a hospital.

I was shocked at Dereck’s death, and they usually have some big event or crisis to mark each season, but I wasn’t expecting that.

So this year, they had to bring in the doctor that, as Grey gracelessly said, killed Dereck, to stir things up.

I’m actually watching Heroes Reborn in preference to Grey’s, but catching up by watching the episodes online. I’m doing the same with Minority Report, which is on at the same time as Blindspot, which, for now, grabs my attention more.

How to Get Away with Murder

They’re keeping the same storytelling strategy they used last year, but this year, they’re giving more away much earlier in the season.

This show is full of spoilage. I still want to watch to find out how all the dots are connected, though.

It makes me think and surprises me, even though I know part of the outcome.

It’s tasty.

Friday

Nothing so far for me. So this is my catch up day for Grey’s and Minority Report.

Saturday

Doctor Who

I’m slowly warming up to Capaldi as the new Doctor. He’s loosening up a bit. Though he still has the stylish coat, he’s now wearing it with plaid pants and a hoodie. He plays the electric guitar and has turned in his sonic screwdriver for “wearable” tech in the form of classic Ray-Ban sunglasses.

This season, or series, as they dub it in the UK, seems to be about “old friends.”

Clara’s still hanging on, but I was quite happy to see Missy/The Master’s return. She’s a good character. Psychotic, but goooood.

Davros showed up for an interesting two-parter, and I just finished watching the second of two episodes featuring Maisy Williams. In the first, she was a Viking girl. The Doctor saved her life by giving her nano-technology. She’s technically immortal, though she could be killed. In the second episode, he meets up with her again 800 years later.

Though he left her with another nano-tech cube for her eventual partner, she hasn’t used it yet. She blames the Doctor for making her immortal and then stranding her in the world, alone. He won’t take her with him, though. She blames him for that, too.

At the end of the episode, the Doctor asks her if they’re enemies. She says, no, but as his friend, she’ll be watching out for him. Creepily, she shows up at the school where Clara teaches.

Might be good.

Other stuff

iZombie

We don’t get CW on our cable, so Phil and I are watching season two as is comes out on Shomi.

At the end of the first season, Liv used the only two doses of a potential zombie cure, one to make Blain’s zombie gourmet ambitions more difficult to achieve, and the second to cure her ex-fiancé, Major, after she infected him to keep him from permanently dying when Blain stabbed him.

Then, Liv had to refuse a blood transfusion to her brother, who was caught in the gas explosion that took out Blain’s operation, the Meat Cute.

Oh, and the new potential zombie love of Liv’s life was murdered by Blain just a couple episodes earlier. Her best friend and room mate learned she was a zombie and disappeared.

So, Liv’s family isn’t speaking to her. Major isn’t speaking to her and though she has a new room mate, the woman is a spy (more on that in a bit). Ravi is trying to make up another batch of the cure, but to do that, they have to track down some of the tainted drug that caused the transformation. Liv has to find Blain and convince him to find the stuff for her.

Meanwhile, Major has been recruited by the CEO of Max Rager, the energy drink that is the other critical ingredient in the zombie infection agent and therefore Ravi’s cure.

Because he’s had Liv under surveillance (new roomie), Vaughn du Clark (the CEO) learns that a side effect of Major’s being cured is that he can now sense zombies. Du Clark wants Major to rid Seattle of the zombie menace. Of course, he uses Liv as leverage.

This series is fun. Word play and homage abound. It’s based on a comic, and they use comics in the opening credits as well as to introduce every scene.

It’s all kinds of awesome.

Hemlock Grove

This just came out yesterday on Netflix. It’s the third and final season.

It’s all kinds of messed up.

And Phil and I have only watched two episodes so far.

So that’s your fall television review. Like I said up front, I’ll have to offer up a (much shorter) part two when I’ve seen the rest of the new and returning series.

Now, it’s time for bed (!)

See you on Tipsday 🙂

Series Discoveries

Advertisements

Series discoveries: mid-season follies

As a lead up to my fall 2015 series discoveries post, I thought I’d talk about the series I’ve been watching in the mid-season and what happened to the few I was watching that dropped off my radar.

From fall 2014:

I stopped watching Gotham (I know, people love it, but not me) and Stalker (just couldn’t get into it) after a couple of episodes each.

Followed Forever to the end of the season, but it doesn’t look like it will be back (at this point).

Watched Sleepy Hollow through to the end of its season, as well, but the writers kind of lost their way toward the end with the whole dark Katrina/time travel thing. When they resume, I hope they get their collective shit together.

Sad that Constantine wasn’t renewed, but I have to admit the series had its issues. The season story arc never really solidified.

Stuck with Once Upon a Time, Castle, The Flash, Arrow, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Criminal Minds, Grey’s Anatomy, How to Get Away with Murder, Grimm, and Doctor Who. I found, though, with the exception of AoS and HtGAwM, I could really take or leave any series. If I missed an episode, I wasn’t sad.

I’m still getting used to the new Doctor (more on that when I get to fall 2015). I love Nathan Fillion enough that I can’t abandon Castle altogether, The Flash was a little cotton candy, but I’m good with that, and the last few eps of Grey’s were gripping.

Arrow’s a little dark and convoluted. OUaT and Criminal Minds were okay, but just that.

I liked the AoS plot, moving forward (Inhumans—yay) and as the HtGAwM mystery unfolded, I really had to watch every episode.

Telling the tale in two directions (inciting incident forward and climax backward) was an interesting technique that I hadn’t seen done well in TV. It can work really well in books (The Dispossessed, anyone?) but it’s imperfect in a television series. A lot of shows start at the climax and then rewind to tell the story leading up to it, but HtGAwM was the first show that I’ve seen that stretches the technique over a whole season.

It was tasty television. Emmy-winning, even. Viola Davis rawks.

Mid-season:

I liked Agent Peggy Carter enough to give it another view if/when it returns.

I loved, loved, LOVED the conclusion of Outlander and am so sad that I have to wait until 2016 for the second season. It was so well written and so well acted. Kudos to the entire cast and crew for making one of my favourite novel series in to my absolute favourite television series ever. Evar.

Game of Thrones, while still well-acted (as evidenced by the large numbers of Emmy wins), diverged from the novels in what I can only call a cluster of epic fails. I’ve written about these briefly in my Tipsday curations as the controversies hit the interwebz. My reaction was profound disappointment. Too much rapey, misogynistic shit. We’ll see if the show runners can pull their collective ass out of the fire this year.

I have been watching Vikings since its beginning. I love this show. The characters are compelling, the history is fairly accurate, and the writing is superb. This show surprises me. There are plot twists that I didn’t see coming.

The acting is great, too.

I stopped watching The Following when season two dropped. It just wasn’t my thing. I do watch thrillers and cops dramas, but something about The Following turned me off. I checked out a few episodes in season three, but it was more of the same. Really. Although they were different characters, the baddies of each season were all the same underneath. It was like one guy trying on different human skin suits. Blah.

Orphan Black was phenomenal from the moment it started. Tatiana Maslany is amazeballs as an actor playing multiple Leda clones. Ari Millen hasn’t done too badly playing a cast of Castors, either. Great characters, dark storylines with awesome, light fun, and incredible, technical wizardry.

Side note: Leda is a figure from Greek myth, impregnated by Zeus in the form of a swan (awkweird) who bore four children: Helen (yes, that Helen) and Polydeuces by Zeus, and Castor and Clytemnestra by her human husband. So the female clones would more properly be Helens (yawn) or Clytemnestras (ick), or the male clones Polydeuces (double ick), so I forgive the writers for messing the mythology up. Leda and Castor work just fine, thank you.

Bitten. I didn’t mention this series last year, but I should have. Enjoyed it quite a bit. Differences from the books aside, the second season didn’t disappoint. The only male witch fights the only female werewolf. Wackiness ensues.

Killjoys was fun. It’s one of those SF series that doesn’t pretend to be something it’s not. Bounty Hunters in space? I’m in. Intrigue me with a solid season story arc? Done and done.

Dark Matter wasn’t as good. The series is built around a gimmick. Six people wake up from hypersleep (or whatever) and have no memory of who they are or what they’re doing on the ship. The first season is all about discovering bits and pieces of the puzzle, but by the time something really interesting started to happen, I was yawning.

The Good Witch movies have now become a series. This one’s a guilty pleasure. Not heavy on the magic, it’s a sweet, romantic drama. Come on, it’s from Hallmark (!)

Side note: one of the actors in Dark Matter, Anthony Lemke, who plays an asshole (Three) on that show, also plays a character on The Good Witch. He’s a real estate agent and the hapless love interest of the title character, Cassie Nightingale. It’s interesting to see the two back to back. They are really different characters.

iZombie was great. Phil and I just finished watching the first season a week or so ago. Interesting take on zombies. Also, the comic book frame is really suitable. The main character, a med student turned coroner, named Liv, by virtue of being able to take on the memories and abilities of the people whose brains she eats, helps to solve crimes. She’s kind of like a zombie superhero.

Also, the series is full of word play and homage (like one of my other favourite zombie movies, Shaun of the Dead). There isn’t an episode that doesn’t make a clever pop culture reference. Easter eggs galore. Full on zombie? Oh, yeah. I’m there.

Phil and I picked up on Hemlock Grove, which we’d abandoned in favour of anime last year, and it was okay. I wasn’t blown away with either the first or the second seasons, though I did think some of the different takes on vampires and werewolves were interesting, and a number of the plot twists were actually cool.

Speaking of Netflix series . . . We thought Daredevil’s first season was pretty good. It was definitely dark, but well done. Tortured hero, check. Doubly tortured villain, check. Murphy’s law applied liberally, check. Matt Murdock is like a Timex. Takes a licking . . .

Sens8. Loved. It may have been a “slow burn,” but we felt that something pivotal happened in each episode and we watched the first season in short order. Excellent writing. The character development was fabulous. Everything came together really well. You’ll have to watch it to see the intended pun in that last sentence 😀

Phil and I are on tenterhooks waiting to see if the second season will get the green light. Due to the sexual and cultural diversity of the characters, a lot of people didn’t like Sens8. Really? We’ll just have to agree to disagree.

And my true guilty pleasure (and the only reality TV I watch), So You Think You Can Dance, just finished. I like how the judges aren’t mean and everyone is really trying to help the competitors become the best dancers they can be. No manufactured drama.

Yeah, so that’s what I’ve been doing with myself for the last few months, TV-wise.

I’ve getting into the new and returning fall season shows and I’ll have something for you in October, probably. I’ll do an anime update as well, though we’ve eased back on watching it a bit. There’s a story of intrigue that goes with the anime post, so I’ll leave you with that teaser 🙂

Hope everyone is having a fabulous weekend!

Series Discoveries

Series Disappointments

As a writer, I look to many different sources for inspiration and for learning about my craft.  Most professional writers will tell you that screen writing informs fiction writing, whether it’s episodic television to short stories or chapters, or full length movies to novellas and novels.

I love television.  I know that there are some writers out there that vilify the medium as a time-waster and brain killer, but I try to look at the quality of the story, the plausibility of scientific elements in sci-fi, the depiction and development of character, and so forth.

I’ve told you how I read as a writer in the past.  I’ve also reviewed a few movies on here and the lessons I’ve taken away from them, well, now I’m going to talk about television series.

Phil and I are fairly critical in our television watching.  If something doesn’t make sense, one of us will be the first to lambaste it 😛

This year, we’ve unsubscribed from the movie network cable package.  It was the one that allowed us to watch Game of Thrones and True Blood.  But now, we’re just not interested in what’s on offer.

The past

Phil holds up Babylon 5 as his favourite series.  I agree that J. Michael Straczynski is a masterful storyteller and B5 is one of the best series I’ve seen, but I’m also a little more critical about B5 than Phil is.

I know that JMS planned the entire 5 year arc of the show before he started working on it, but it’s fairly obvious where real life events required accommodation and revision.  Still, until the rights struggle, of which I shall not speak, started to affect things, the show was fabulous.

The fifth season was less than stellar, though, because of the afore-mentioned struggle, I think, Excalibur, the series that was intended to fill in some of the detail pre-B5 only lasted one season, and the hoped for Tales of the Rangers never got off the ground.

In the end, I was disappointed, but not because of JMS—he’s brilliant—but because of the creative differences that prevented the world he created from being explored further.

One of my favourite series of all time is Buffy the Vampire SlayerJoss Whedon took a slightly different tack, creating seasonal arcs, because of the fickle nature of network television.  Buffy changed networks, mid-run, but managed to revive.

The title character’s death at the end of season 5 was to have been the end of the story, but somehow, two more seasons were wrangled.

There are inconsistencies in Buffy.  I’ve watched the series enough to know, but they make the overall story no less enjoyable.  The way in which details from earlier seasons eventually led to lovely pay-offs in later seasons spoke to how well Whedon understood his creation.

When Angel got his spin-off after the third season of Buffy, I also watched it.  Phil is a little fonder of Angel than of Buffy, but both series were made of similar stuff.  Whedon is a very different kind of storyteller than JMS, but no less compelling.

Again, Whedon seems to have had poor luck with the networks after Buffy and Angel.  Firefly did not even have a full season aired (except on Space and Syfy) and Dollhouse was dropped after a second season.

A more long-standing love for both of us is Doctor Who.  We’ve both been fans for years and although Phil has, on principle, a problem with time-travel stories, the writing behind Doctor Who allows him to suspend even his hefty disbelief and enjoy the story.

Other than those few series, many of the shows Phil and I hopefully latched onto over the years seem to have lost their storytelling ways.

Phil and I loved the first season of Heroes.  We were avid fans and shared our DVD’s with everyone we could think of.

Then the second season aired with plot holes big enough to consume the entire cast.  Even George Takei couldn’t save the show.

We were sceptical about the remake of Battlestar Galactica, but once we started watching the series, we were taken in.

Which is why we were also severely disappointed by the last 2 seasons and though we watched Caprica, we couldn’t regret its demise either.  The “ending” answered fewer questions than BSG’s.

Lost lost me as a viewer before the second season ended.  I could see the ridiculous factor increasing, and the writers withheld information when they should have revealed it, and revealed information that had no importance to the plot in the long term.

Phil never watched Lost at all.

Supernatural turned out to be mostly monster-of-the-week and Sam and Dean never really evolved as characters.

There was the short-lived Dresden Files series, which we both loved, but then it went out of production.

I was enjoying the adaptation of Tanya Huff’s Blood Books, Blood Ties, but it, too, was dropped.

The present

I’ve continued to follow the adventures of Buffy and Angel through Joss Whedon’s graphic

Trade paperback cover of Buffy: Season Eight V...

Trade paperback cover of Buffy: Season Eight Volume One, written by Joss Whedon. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

novel continuations of both stories.

Phil and I are both happy enough with Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and hope that it breaks the television curse for Whedon.  We’d like to see more of his wit and style on television.

Phil and I continue to watch and enjoy Doctor Who.

True Blood was okay to begin with, but after the first season again, we found the story wandering and not necessarily in a good direction.  Unlike some other books turned into series, TB departs fairly distinctly from the Sookie Stackhouse novels on which it is based.

We have, so far, come back for the next season and each season seems to begin well enough, but then certain events are just drawn out for far too long only to end precipitously and in many cases, in a dissatisfying manner.

Consistency isn’t the best, either.

We knew, when Russell Edgington was encased in cement rather than shown the true death, that he’d be back, but we couldn’t stand it when he did.

The ending of this season left us completely cold.  Sookie’s waffling and bemoaning of her fate got old very quickly.  And Eric sunbathing instead of trying to stop the distribution of the Hep-V tainted True Blood?  It made so little sense.  If he did burn, he deserved to.

Mind you, not having seen the ashes, I’ll assume that he and Pam will be back, if not next season, then at some point thereafter.

Being Human.  My advice: watch the British version.  It was always better.

We are quite happy with Game of Thrones.  Now this is a different bit of storytelling, because the novels have already been written by George R. R. Martin.  The artistry of GoT is that the show runners have to pick and choose what bits to show and how to show them in a way that is truthful to GRRM.

And he’s consulting to keep them as much on script as possible 😉

Phil was enjoying The Walking Dead, but found that it too, was getting a little lack-lustre in its plot by the end of the last season.  He’ll be happy to watch it in reruns when we re-subscribe to the movie package in the spring.

We watched the Netflix series Hemlock Grove and were impressed, though admittedly, the denouement  seemed a little rushed.  We are hopeful that future seasons will be at least as good.

Once Upon a Time.  Not Phil’s bag, but I like retellings of fairy tales.  So far, so good for me, but they are in danger of losing me if they get to far off track.

Grimm.  More fairy tale-related shenanigans.  I like the German take, but was so not impressed with how long it took Julia to deal with her recovered memories last season.  Seriously?  Plus, I wanted to see more of Nick’s mom.  She kicked ass.

Lost Girl.  Again, this is something that Phil doesn’t go in for, but I’ve been enjoying.  I’m glad that it continues to be in production.

Arrow was another surprise for me.  Though I enjoyed Smallville, I watched most of the episodes in rerun.  Plus, Smallville started to draw out the origin story of Superman far too long.  I was irritated with that.

Arrow is not taking the Green Arrow from Smallville, but focusing on the character independent of Superman.  It’s a bit grittier and darker.  I like it.

Orphan Black.  This one was a surprise for me, but I definitely like it.  Don’t have any other clone/genetic engineering conspiracy stories out there at the moment.  Phil wasn’t so impressed, but I’m willing to give it a go again next year.

Defiance was a show that Phil got hold of by virtue of his interests in gaming.  The concept was unique: a massively multiplayer online role playing game (MMORPG, or MMO) and a television series developed concurrently in the same world.

The game would start up earlier, feed into the hype, but when the series started, the developers promised weekly game upgrades based on story developments in the series.  It sounded interesting, so we both tuned in.

Phil quickly tired of the game, in which the promised content was not made available.  He gave up some time in the summer when none of the series-based content had yet been added.

The depiction of the alien people were different between the game and the series as well.

The Irathients were analogous to indigenous peoples in terms of spirituality in the series, but good warriors and tactical thinkers in the game.  Not that they couldn’t be both, but both were not clearly options in the game and the series.

The Indogenes in the game were similar to Vulcans, dominantly logical and emotionally repressed, while in the series, they turned out to be political schemers and shape-shifters.

The last straw for Phil was that for two episodes in a row, they played the “s/he’s an Indogene” card.  He cited it as derivative of the equally irritating “s/he’s a cylon” ploy in BSG.

Story-wise, it’s about as satisfying as “it was all a dream,” or an ending where the big bad, after waging war, and having the subjects of his rage in his sights, commits suicide instead (another BSG disappointment).

Sleepy Hollow.  I’m liking the angle the writers have chosen and tying it all in with the four horsemen of the apocalypse and the end of days.  We’ll see if it lasts more than a season.

The future

Right now, the only thing we’re both looking forward to is JMS’s Sense8, his Netflix series.

I’m going to check out Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, just ‘cause, but I’ve learned not to pin too many hopes on new network series.

I’m also going to check out the Tomorrow People and Almost Human.  We’ll see if either of those series live up to my expectations.

What series have you loved?  Which have you hated?  What are you looking forward to?  And what shows have you learned from as a writer?

Continuous learning 🙂  That’s what it’s all about.