Friday, May 20, 2016

Best And Worst Of The 2015-16 TV Season

This TV season may not be quite over yet (the party don't end till The Flash walks out, and even then there's still gonna be quite a few stragglers still keeping on going!) But now, in the wake of a truly epic season finale for one of my favorite shows, I think it's high time I put my thoughts out there on the shows I loved the most this season - and those that didn't impress me so much, for whatever reason.

So, let's get my Five Worst out of the way first.

5. Castle

Well, it pains me to start here, but I just have to get this out there...I love Castle. As a writer, I'm required by law to love it. But this season, they really just lost the plot with the annoying "Castle and Beckett separated for his own safety because LokSat" storyline, which dragged on and on and on and alienated my dad as a viewer, and he quit the show about halfway through the season. I would have quit as well if Season 9 were to have been green-lit by ABC without Beckett - an unforgivable sin in the eyes of many, which, I think, is why it ultimately got canned.

Caskett forever. Always.

4. Game of Silence

Basically, if you hire Niels Arden Oplev as your pilot director, I'm guaranteed to at least try your show out. I got into Mr. Robot this way, and same goes for the highly-underrated Under The Dome. A pity the same couldn't be said for Game of Silence. Even before NBC cancelled this one due to low ratings, I sensed that this show wasn't going anywhere fast, with its ridiculously twisted plot - and not in a good way. At least the pilot was effective and powerful stuff, and also the second episode...but frankly, I had the horrible feeling that the ongoing arc with the "family values" politician and his dirty secret past (of course, and he's probably Republican too, no?) wasn't going to resolve itself anytime soon.

The real draw for this show: Bass Monroe from Revolution.

3. American Horror Story: Hotel

I love FX's super-popular dark anthology, even if it's oftentimes ridiculous and overwrought and borrows too much inspiration from schlocky scare-fests of yesteryear. Sadly, AHS: Hotel was a massive come-down of a season, harking back to the ultra-dark days of Murder House. Granted, there's something to be said for this season's primary themes being addiction and excess, but that doesn't make it any less hard to watch. And at least there were some likable people in this ensemble, unlike Murder House. But like Murder House, Hotel was saddled with ridiculously wall-to-wall sex and violence, a fairly predictable main plot, and too many dead-end subplots to count. Here's hoping this "return to form" is only temporary.

"I want your ugly, I want your disease..."

2. Scream Queens

Ryan Murphy hasn't been having a good year in terms of quality, I don't think. His other big project had promise for taking more modern inspiration (90s slasher movies like, duh, Scream!) than the obscure, even pretentious, historical and/or Old Hollywood references that have become bread-and-butter for AHS. Unfortunately, when Murphy's trying to go for laughs, it doesn't work nearly as well as the often-unintentional ones of AHS. At least Scream Queens had some memorable deaths in its early episodes (Ariana Grande live-tweeting hers, Nick Jonas getting crucified to the sounds of "Sunglasses at Night" - and later turning up alive again!) And, of course, Jamie Lee Curtis reenacting the shower scene from Psycho. But overall, the show was bogged down by its relentlessly detestable cast of characters and overabundance of disgusting, trying-too-hard-for-funny moments (that one guy who had such a death fetish that he would go to the cemetery and jerk off? Well, apart from giving a whole new meaning to "grave rubbing..." I mean, come on!) I'm still surprised Fox gave Season 2 the green light, and like with True Detective, I'm not coming back.

And Emma Roberts will still always be best-known
for the infamous "Surprise, bitch!" line from Coven.

1. Quantico

My parents and I were really looking forward to this one going into the start of the fall season, especially after seeing a pretty nice featurette for it while waiting to start Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation in the theater. As it turns out, though, ABC's timely, topical terrorism thriller started out with a strong, strong pilot, only to quickly dissolve into so much soap-opera drama (even pointing out its own soap-opera nature, so points for self-awareness) that it overshadowed the terrorist-plot elements completely. (It certainly didn't help that the story was told in a present-day timeline following the attack, as well as pervasive flashbacks, which were surprisingly hard to tell apart.) For me, red flags were also raised when I saw comparisons to Homeland and How To Get Away With Murder (both of which I can't stand), and when I learned that the show's creator was a former Gossip Girl writer (which explains the drama, at least.) My parents gave up after three episodes, and I gave up after seven, if only to see a little more of Rick Cosnett and remind myself of when he used to play Eddie Thawne. How people continued to eat this up enough for it to be renewed for Season 2 is a mystery to me.

As Cat Grant would say, "You look like the attractive, yet non-
threatening, racially diverse cast of a CW show."

And now for my Five Best!

5. Limitless

Oh, CBS. You have seriously, seriously dropped the ball by not renewing this show - and also, you may have possibly reignited the Tuesdays-at-10 curse that killed Threshold, Jericho (the second time), (almost) The Amazing Race, and, more recently, Person of Interest. At least it had the chance to run a full season, though. And it certainly did a great job of striking the balance between light and darkness. For instance, the pilot was pretty close in tone to the 2011 film to which the series is a sequel, but the second episode was far more lighthearted and funny and introduced the slick, cartoony sense of humor that really helped me appreciate the show much more. Being the product of a creative team that involved producers from Elementary, Sleepy Hollow, and The Amazing Spider-Man movies just made Limitless automatically awesome by association - and, apparently, too good for CBS despite being their second-highest-rated new drama. If CBS doesn't find this show a new home (preferably not on Netflix - not everyone has it, you know!), they'll really, truly have failed this fandom.

Part of its Elementary/Sleepy Hollow/TASM pedigree
also included a kick-ass theme tune. Just sayin'.

4. Supergirl

CBS proved themselves stupid this spring by not renewing their two highest-rated freshman dramas - although, unlike with Limitless, the decision to jettison Supergirl from the lineup makes a little more sense. Budget issues were the main culprit, but there was also the fact that Supergirl just plain didn't fit into the CBS lineup very well. The CW lineup, on the other hand, looks like it'll be a much, much better fit (and, happily, I'm already seeing the CW advertising the move!) I just really wish the CW had gotten the series from the get-go, although being on CBS instead for its first year helped make the Flash crossover a lot more special. (Also, I'm still happily shipping SuperFlash, or, as I like to call them, KareBear.) Still, changing networks shouldn't change Supergirl's core awesomeness, the fact that she's just a great big ball of amazing alien sunshine who, along with her friends and family (and fans!) carries a wide range of emotions.

Rock on, Angel From Krypton. <3

3. Colony

I just know Proxy Snyder would not appreciate it if his show weren't included in this list (and if you're not following him on Twitter, you should - @ProxySnyder is wickedly droll, take it from me!) Humor aside, though, this latest excellent USA series takes the ubiquitous dystopian thriller and presents it with a few surprising twists - chief among them, the fact that, even though we're pretty much conditioned to always root for the Resistance, here they're not really the good guys, just like the Transitional Authority isn't all bad (and some on both sides are worse than others, but let's not go there - spoilers, y'know.) Despite being set in the sunny LA Bloc, Colony is, morally, gray as a cloudy day - and that's just part of the excitement, because it makes for a highly unpredictable, ever-twisty plot.

And yes, it's got Lost in its DNA. That alone makes it one of the best.

2. The 100

Hoo this show went from internet darling to internet pariah so quickly, and all because of a couple of fan-favorite deaths. I can just imagine George R.R. Martin hearing of this from deep within his writing cave, laughing to himself, and adding another layer of violence to his own next fan-favorite death. Those of us who weren't daunted by the violence, however, were whipped into a different kind of fan frenzy this season - because as dark and bloody and heartbreaking and one-step-forward-three-goddamn-steps-back-for-our-poor-heroes as it got, we were so bound and determined that there would be some light at the end of the tunnel. And I don't mean the City of Light, people. I mean real light. Hope. Life. Survival. Endurance. That's the message of The 100 - because as much as Clarke might insist that "maybe there aren't any good guys," that's not true. As long as there's someone to root for...and this show boasts those in spades. It's just a shame that we won't be getting Season 4 in the fall...but we will be getting a Season 4, in spite of the anti-fan campaigns against the show. Ge smak daun, gyon op nodotaim. We, the fans, will be chomping at the bit for the return - and, in the meantime, hoping that Adina Porter can get us access to Indra's Grounder Strip Mall.

May we meet again.

Although I'll say this much - Wanheda Clarke's red hair?
I'm kinda glad she went back to blonde. It suits her better.

1. The Flash

My favorite show on TV right now, for so many reasons. All the Arrowverse shows are cool, but none as much as this, the second one to make its grand debut on the CW (hard to believe it was only two years ago, almost!) Thrills aplenty, tons of feels (I still tear up from so much as thinking of "The Runaway Dinosaur"), all the laughs (most of which are Cisco's fault), A-grade acting (we need to start a "For Your Consideration" campaign for Grant Gustin to get Best Actor for - what else? - "The Runaway Dinosaur!"), the general awesomeness of Barry's powers (if only I had them, because then I could have a stronger sense of freedom in my life) and did I mention the thrills? I'll never forget the episode that made this show my favorite, last season's "Out of Time." I mention it all the time (pun not intended), but seriously...not having read the comics beforehand really got me even more shocked at the ending of that one (and my DC-disdaining dad looked at me with a "What's wrong with you?" face when I was screaming what basically amounted to "OH MY GOD HOLY SHIT DID HE JUST RUN BACK IN TIME? FUCK YEAH!!!!") While this season's had its stumbles (a tendency to trip over itself on the time-travel plot threads, and also a few pretty clearly recycled elements from Season 1), they've more than made up for it with well-polished diamonds like the two-part Earth-2 episode, and of course "The Runaway Dinosaur" - and, this week, "Invincible," which again had a screamer of an ending. But not a happy scream, more of a devastated scream mimicking Barry's. Next week's's going to destroy me, I know it.

It's go time. Run, Barry. Run!

And thus endeth my Best and Worst lists...what do you guys think?

Till next time, Pinecones...

Remember - Denis Leary is always watching. Always.

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