“The Friday TV Report” 15 from Sally Ember, Ed.D., and her mom
I (Sally) update this ongoing mini-reviews of certain TV and Netflix shows with our opinions (began in fall, 2015). Check on Fridays!
This is the fifteenth post, for 10 weeks ending 9/30/16 (because there was not much new in most of these weeks). I have the premier schedules, below.
Also, I have been steadily removing my reviews or expectations for/of all shows that have been discontinued/canceled since we started this posting.
My mom, 84, and I (62) are probably not the “target demographic” for almost any show on television or any movie being produced currently. We live in the suburbs of St. Louis, Missouri, USA (Midwest, for those of you unfamiliar: think of that huge “Gateway Arch”? That’s here). I grew up here but then didn’t live here for 42 years; I’ve been back for about two years, now. We were both raised Jewish, but I have been a meditator since 1972 and a practicing Buddhist since 1996. We are both Caucasian women-born-women. We are considered “middle class” although we have almost zero dollars of “disposable income.” My mom is hetero; I am bisexual. We are both partly disabled. I am highly educated (doctoral degree plus other training); my mom has extensive work-experience, with a high school diploma.
My mom has been a TV watcher for over 60 years. I watched a lot as a kid, but from about 1972 – 2002, I didn’t have a TV and hardly watched it elsewhere, either. I usually didn’t have a TV between 2005 – 2014 as well, but I watched some shows online (Hulu, usually) or Netflix.
We think we should be part of a group that at least some producers are aiming to please, because we (especially Mom) now watch a lot of television. We also get movies regularly from DVD borrowing through our local library. We even occasionally go to a theatre to see a movie. We eagerly await the “new season” of television every one of the four times it seems to occur every year: “Fall Sweeps” happen, but so do Mid-season Sweeps, Mid-year New Seasons, and channels with an entirely different set of “seasons.”
We also occasionally watch TV shows and movies on Netflix!
However, we are consistently disappointed that many shows we do like are cancelled and some shows we despise seem to go on forever.
Again, for late September, 2016, I/we continue with this Report. Here are links and a grid for the schedule of Fall shows (as of August 15, 2016):
And, for MIDSEASON (but we don’t watch all of these):
—NBC’s The Blacklist: Redemption, The Carmichael Show, Celebrity Apprentice, Chicago Justice, Emerald City, Great News, Marlon, Midnight Texas, Powerless, Shades of Blue, Taken and Trial & Error….
—FOX‘s 24: Legacy, APB, Bones, Making History, The Mick, Prison Break, Shots Fired and Sleepy Hollow….
—ABC‘s American Crime, The Catch, Downward Dog, Imaginary Mary, Scandal, Still Star-Crossed, Time After Time and When We Rise….
—CBS‘ The Amazing Race, Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders, Doubt, Training Day and Undercover Boss…
—The CW‘s The 100, iZombie, The Originals, Riverdale and Reign.
We don’t watch: most “sit-coms,” any zombies or vampires, reality shows (except one on BBC), extremely violent shows, premium channels (HBO, Showtime, Starz), most YA/”teen” shows.
Fall TV + Netflix, 2015 – 2016
Our planned evening viewing line-up for shows (updated frequently) is as follows, sort of in calendar order, BUT, those I’ve already reviewed get “bumped” to the bottom of this post.
Scroll down if you don’t see a show “on top” that you want to read my review of (because they’re so insightful!).
NOTE: Our viewing “schedule” includes a lot of recording-and-watching-later, due to simultaneous broadcasts, CARDINALS‘ BASEBALL! and my early bedtime.
**usually only Mom watches
*usually only I watch
NEW & RETURNING SHOWS
Weeks ending 9/30/16
NETFLIX Premier dates for 2016 (some are not new shows, but they’re new to us):
[We don’t know anything about these show, below, but may check them out.]
Stranger Things – 7/2016
The Get Down – 8/2016
New seasons of Jessica Jones start… when? We like this show!
Longmire (9/23/16 return)
Robert Taylor, Katee Sackoff, Lou Diamond Phillips
We LOVE this show and are so glad Netflix picked it up and continued it! Yea for Season 5! We’ll probably watch when more have “hit” Netflix so we can watch two Episodes in a row.
NEW/RECENTLY or about to be seen on Cable and Network TV
for the summer/fall of 2016 and beyond:
Chesapeake Shores Hallmark 8/14/16
Meghan Ory, Jesse Metcalfe, Barbara Niven, Treat Williams
Is not quite as insipid and unwatchable as some of the other shows on this channel, so we’re trying it. First episode was all right. The Hallmark movies’ and series’ writers make everything so predictable, though, and the writing is so heavy-handed.
We like all the lead actors, so KEEPING, for now.
The Good Place NBC 9/22/16
Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars), Ted Danson (CSI: Cyber), Manny Jacinto (The Unauthorized Saved by the Bell Story), William Jackson Harper, Jameela Jamil, D’Arcy Carden
Probably too silly, but…I do love Kristen Bell!
We watched the first two Episodes, since they were aired back-to-back. Reminded me very much of Pushing Daisies in its production values (lots of bright, primary colors and over-the-top fakery) and premises/characters (bold, farcical, sterotypical), with some of many other films/TV shows (Dead Like Me, Defending Your Life) that are quirky and about the afterlife/death. It was somewhat entertaining and amusing, but I think it will get old fast. Doubt if it will be renewed since it is basically a one-joke show.
May watch until it’s cancelled.
This is Us NBC 9/20/16
Mandy Moore (Red Band Society), Milo Ventimiglia (Heroes and Gilmore Girls), Justin Hartley (Revenge), Sterling K. Brown (The People v. O.J. Simpson), Chrissy Metz (American Horror Story), Susan Kelechi Watson (Louie), Chris Sullivan (The Knick), Ron Cephas Jones (Mr. Robot)
We were very surprised by the quality of the acting, story’s twists and turns and unexpected pathos in the first Episode and look forward to more.
Milo Ventimiglia was amazing and so was Sterling K. Brown (from my home town, Olivette, in St. Louis County, Missouri, USA!), in very emotionally demanding roles. Always like Mandy Moore, and were pleased with two new actors for us, Chrissy Metz and Susan Kelechi Watson. Alan Thicke had a funny cameo and we loved Justin Hartley’s scenes as well. Even liked the ubiquitous Gerald McRaney in a key role in the pilot, especially his scene with Milo. Great writing and acting, here.
Bull CBS 9/20/16
Great cast: Michael Weatherly (NCIS), Freddy Rodriguez (The Night Shift), Geneva Carr (Law & Order: SVU), Christopher Jackson (Broadway’s Hamilton), Jaime Lee Kirchner (Mercy), Annabelle Attanasio
Kind of liked the first Episode, but it was very complicated and convoluted, and with surprisingly little dialogue from Michael Weatherly, even though he is the star and a pivotal character (and the main draw, for us, as long-time NCIS fans). Very good writing and acting all around, but the premise may get old and I doubt if they can sustain the surprise mode in each Episode. Lie to Me did some of this much better, anyway. We’ll see.
Keeping, but probably won’t last.
Notorious ABC 9/22/16
Daniel Sunjata (Graceland), Piper Perabo (Covert Affairs), Aimee Teegarden (Friday Night Lights), J. August Richards (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), Ryan Guzman (Heroes Reborn), Kevin Zegers (Gracepoint), Kate Jennings Grant (Alpha House), Sepideh Moafi (Black Box)
We watched this cautiously but got drawn in right away by Piper Perabo (whom we both loved in Covert Affairs) and Daniel Sunjata as well as others.
Why the storylines all happen in LA for a national show and why Sunjata’s character is always the attorney of record remain to be explained.
Pitch Fox 9/22/16
Kylie Bunbury (Twisted), Mark-Paul Gosselaar (Franklin & Bash), Ali Larter (Legends, Heroes), Mark Consuelos (Kingdom, Alpha House), Mo McRae (Murder in the First, Sons of Anarchy), Meagan Holder (Ringer), Tim Jo (The Neighbors), Dan Lauria (The Wonder Years), recurring guest star Bob Balaban (The Good Wife)
We really enjoyed Episode 1 and plan to keep watching, especially since it is looking dim for the Cardinals even to be in the Wild Card slot for the pennant and series this year! Kylie Bunbury is excellent in the lead role and so is Ali Larter as her agent/personal support person. There is BIG surprise near/at the end which I won’t spoil, here, but I will say that it will make the series more interesting and poignant, both.
Some of the other characters are a bit 2-D, but the plot isn’t clichèd at all and a few characters are well-drawn. We look forward to seeing how the writers unfold the stories.
**MacGyver CBS 9/23/16
Lucas Till (X-Men), George Eads (CSI), Justin Hires (Rush Hour), Sandrine Holt (House of Cards), Tristin Mays (The Vampire Diaries)
We aren’t even going to bother with this. A friend watched the pilot and said it was horrible, with the majority of the time spent blowing things up.
OFF OUR LIST
*Falling Water USA 9/21/16
David Ajala, Lizzie Brocheré, Will Yun Lee, Anna Wood and Francesca Faridany star in this season’s mixed-up, excessively confusing pilot with poor production values (dark/difficult to see and difficult to hear the dialogue), with Michael O’Keefe and Jessica Hecht in this Episode, only. I watched this alone and I told my mom not to bother: she’d hate it. They can’t stick to a timeline, can’t stick to whether a scene is a dream or actually occurring, can’t stay with one character’s storyline, and can’t seem to decide what this show is even about (besides overlapping water metaphors and dream images/events).
Probably won’t watch past Episode 2
Designated Survivor ABC
Strong start to a very scary and realistically drawn scenario in which everyone at the State of the Union address is murdered by a bombing of the Capitol’s Congressional Assembly building (where it is always held) and only one Cabinet member (the “Designated Survivor”) remains and is now made the President. Kiefer Sutherland and Natascha McElhone are excellent as the HUD Secretary and his attorney wife, with creative and poignant scenes between them, their children, and others as everyone grapples with this tremendous tragedy and changes wrought by it.
Great to see Kal Penn (the only actor with actual White House experience IRL!), Maggie Q and Italia Ricci in supporting roles.
Aftermath SyFy (9/27/16)
This new series only has 13 episodes (for now) and it “focuses on the Copelands –– Karen (Anne Heche) and Joshua (James Tupper) and their children –– who battle for survival after civilization comes to an apocalyptic end. They’re faced with both plague and the rise of supernatural creatures.”
Timeless NBC 10/3/16
Abigail Spencer (Rectify, Suits), Matt Lanter (90210), Malcolm Barrett (Better Off Ted), Goran Visnjic (ER), Claudia Doumit (Scandal), Sakina Jaffrey (House of Cards), Paterson Joseph (The Leftovers)
Conviction ABC 10/3/16
Hayley Atwell (Marvel’s Agent Carter), Eddie Cahill (CSI: NY), Shawn Ashmore (The Following), Emily Kinney (The Walking Dead), Manny Montana (Graceland), Merrin Dungey (Alias, Once Upon a Time)
No Tomorrow CW (10/4/16)
This new dramedy “follows the blossoming relationship between Evie (Tori Anderson), a buttoned-up quality control assessor, and Xavier (Joshua Sasse), a charming (and hot) hipster who encourages her to seize the day—–because he believes the world is ending in a little more than eight months. Jenna Dewan-Tatum plays Tuesday, a bohemian free spirit whose polyamorous lifestyle leads Xavier and Evie to examine the boundaries of their own relationship.”
Frequency CW 10/5/16
Peyton List (The Flash, The Tomorrow People), Riley Smith (Nashville), Mekhi Phifer (ER), Lenny Jacobson (Nurse Jackie), Anthony Ruivivar (Banshee, American Horror Story), Devin Kelley (Resurrection), Daniel Bonjour (The Walking Dead)
MIDSEASON, which means during or after November/December, 2016
Pure Genius(formerly Bunker Hill) CBS (10/27/16)
Augustus Prew (The Borgias), Dermot Mulroney (Shameless), Odette Annable (The Astronaut Wives Club), Brenda Song (Scandal, Dads), Reshma Shetty (Royals Pains), Ward Horton (One Life to Live), Aaron Jennings
People of Earth TBS (10/31/16)
Wyatt Cenac investigates people who encounter aliens: How fun!
Good Behavior TNT 11/15/16
Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey) stars in this new series based on the Blake Crouch stories surrounding Letty Dobesh (an American ex-con con artist), “in a near future where corporations have unlimited power.” You mean, like, NOW?
Incorporated SyFy (11/30/16)
Stars Sean Teale, Allison Miller, Eddie Ramos. |
**Chicago Justice NBC (Midseason)
Shaky choices for casting, here: Philip Winchester (The Player), Carl Weathers (Rocky), Joelle Carter (Justified), Nazneen Contractor (Heroes Reborn), Ryan-James Hatanaka
*Making History Fox (Midseason)
Adam Pally (The Mindy Project), Leighton Meester (Gossip Girl), Yassir Lester (The Carmichael Show)
*Doubt CBS (Midseason)
Katherine Heigl (Grey’s Anatomy), Steven Pasquale (Rescue Me), Laverne Cox (Orange Is the New Black), Dulé Hill (Psych), Dreama Walker (Don’t Trust the B— in Apartment 23), Elliott Gould (Ray Donovan), Kobi Libii (Alpha House)
Great News NBC (Midseason)
Briga Heelan (Undateable), Andrea Martin (Difficult People), Adam Campbell (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Mixology), Kimrie Lewis-Davis (Scandal), Nicole Richie (Chuck), John Michael Higgins (Wilfred), Horatio Sanz (SNL)
Probably too silly…
Emerald City NBC (Midseason)
Probably too violent for us.
Time after Time ABC (Midseason)
Freddie Stroma (UnREAL), Josh Bowman (Revenge), Regina Taylor (Dig, The Unit), Genesis Rodriguez (Entourage), Nicole Ari Parker (Soul Food), recurring player, Jordin Sparks (American Idol)
Imaginary Mary ABC (Midseason)
Jenna Elfman (Dharma & Greg, Growing Up Fisher), Stephen Schneider (You’re the Worst), Nicholas Coombe (iZombie), Matreya Scarrwener (Canada’s Detective McLean: Ties That Bind), Jillian Bell (Eastbound & Down), Erica Tremblay and the voice of SNL vet Rachel Dratch
Shots Fired Fox (Spring, 2017)
Sanaa Lathan (Love & Basketball), Helen Hunt (Mad About You), Richard Dreyfuss (Madoff), Stephen Moyer (True Blood), Stephan James (Selma), Aisha Hinds (Under the Dome), Tristan Wilds (90210), DeWanda Wise
**The Blacklist: Redemption NBC (Midseason or 2017?)
Ryan Eggold, Edi Gathegi, Famke Janssen |
May have been cancelled before airing:
Miranda’s Rights NBC (on or off?)
Monique Coleman, Noel Fisher, Daniel Boileau, Rebecca Breeds
Broken ABC (from BBC) (on or off?)
with Sean Bean in lead role.
AS YET TO BE SCHEDULED, Returning
Humans (scheduled for late in 2016, UK; early 2017, USA) AMC
Gemma Chan, Katherine Parkinson, Lucy Carless
Nashville (now on CMT) (December ?, 2016)
Connie Britton, Hayden Panettiere
RETURNING SHOWS, Previously Reviewed and Updated, Here
*Halt & Catch Fire AMC 8/23/16
I love this show because I lived through and participated in much of this history of the personal computer. I also know/knew people like some of the characters in these episodes. The writers have taken an unexpectedly feminist slant to the story in Season 2 and continue it in Season 3. Lee Pace plays a narcissistic meglomaniac very convincingly and the other leads are equally strong. Fun and kind of eerie to watch such recent history so thinly fictionalized.
Lee Pace, Scoot McNairy, Mackenzie Davis, Kerry Bishé, Toby Huss, Aleksa Palladino.
*Modern Family ABC (returns 9/21/16)
This season will include guest appearances by Nathan Fillion (LOVE him) and Martin Short (could do without him). Most of last season was tedious, so I may not watch much of this one; my mom doesn’t watch at all. We’ll see. I thought it had lost its sparkle and originality; storylines were repeating.
Also, the child acting as “Lily” (Aubrey Frances Anderson-Emmons) is AWFUL and very badly directed. Too bad. Ed O’Neill, Sofia Vergara, Rico Rodriguez, Julie Bowen, Ty Burrell, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Eric Stonestreet, Sarah Hyland, Ariel Winter, Nolan Gould, and Reid Ewing co-star.
Watched pilot for fall, 2016, and it was as bad as expected. Probably off my list.
The Match Game ABC (started summer, 2016)
My mom and I are old enough to have watched the original version of this game show and since we liked some of the principles and the promised celebrities, we gave it a try. We watched two entire episodes, which consisted of 4 segments (both segments have the same celebrities but two new contestants for each of of the two segments in each hour-long show). Rosie O’Donnell (who seems to be having a great time and is the contestants’ favorite, so far) and one or two others were on all four segments; the rest rotated. My mom and I were only familiar with 3 or 4 of the 6 celebrities, plus the show’s host, Alec Baldwin, each time.
We aren’t prudish (I especially am not, being a hippie and all), but we were shocked at how lewd, graphic and sexually focused the clues, responses, jokes and reactions were. A lot of the bits are improvised (supposedly), but none of their remarks was censored (self- or network-) or even attempted to be made more family-oriented.
I expressed my surprise at its bold raunchiness and my mom replied: “Well, it is on at 9 PM Central time…,” shaking her head.
So, fair warning. Some of it was funny, most of it was silly, and it’s all in “good” fun (if you’re into that base type of humor).
Probably keep watching, but totally ridiculous.
The Great British Baking Show PBS (7/2016 returned; September, 2016, started “Master Class” episodes)
Somehow our recording system missed the first show, so we are catching up later. (Catching up during “Master Class episodes!). Meanwhile, we enjoyed the second Episode, “Biscuits,” even though I was slightly disappointed. I had been hoping to learn how to make American “biscuits,” but the British use that word for “cookies,” even for “savory” ones.
Still fascinating for my mom and me, who are NOT bakers, since a lot is explained both for how to create good and how the mistakes are made for bad “bakes.” Everything can go wrong, especially during the “Technical” bakes, whose recipes are extrapolated from very skimpy instructions (deliberately vague) from one of the two judges each week. Disasters occur from bakers’ forgetting to turn on or check the oven temperature, to mistakenly using salt instead of sugar, to neglecting to allow enough time to accomplish it all, to using ingredients/proportions of ingredients that are too weakly or strongly flavored or getting the dough too wet. “Crisp” and having a “good bake” are big on this show.
We like the artists’ renditions in sketch books of each participant’s planned creation for the final segment each week, the contestants’ “Show-Stoppers.” They obviously have weeks to concoct and practice prior to the contest date, and it shows.
What we also like are the camaraderie among the announcers and judges and how respectful the judges are to each contestant and they to one another. None of that “reality show” staged back-biting and fighting here (if there were, we’d turn it off). They give a bit of bio and film scenes at their homes and/or day jobs for each of the semi-finalists and finalists, which we look forward to seeing.
Keeping and highly recommended, if you like cooking shows.
It’s on again with new contestants and it’s excellent! This is only reality show we watch because the baking concoctions and watching the bakers create them are fascinating, always unusual and new to us, informationally. Many funny moments, but not at any baker’s expense, usually, which we like.
Plus, none of the competitors is actually a professional baker: a student; one makes satellites; a retired teacher; one also paints. So interesting that these individuals chose to compete in this way.
RECOMMENDED HIGHLY. Wish we could taste the entries!
Blindspot (9/14/16 return, with Archie Panjabi!)
Got very confusing, very dark, and now, completely off the rails (killing off two main characters). Why?
Watched first episode of Season 2. Still not sure if I want to watch this. Too dark. I’ll give it one more.
May not keep watching
Rosewood (9/22/16 return)
Refreshingly NOT CAUCASIAN, not all heterosexual (but not “camp,” either), not too serious version of “non-cop with special abilities working with police” dramedy. Morris Chestnut as “Rosie” and Jaina Lee Ortiz as Annalise Villa give surprisingly nuanced performances week after week, with strong writing to back them up, usually.
Strange casting for Anthony Michael Hall as a grumpy detective, but great to see him, again. Liking Lorraine Toussaint in her somewhat minor but obviously recurring role. Liking Rosie and his sister, Pippy Gabrielle Dennis, and their banter a lot.
Strong and NOT SCREWED UP lesbian relationships on prime time TV?!? Unprecedented! But, then, UPDATE at end of Season One: writers have gone off the rails with the unwarranted break-up of Pippy (Gabrielle Dennis) and Tara (Anna Konkle) and with their depiction of Annalise’s reaction to Rosie’s news about her husband’s murder.
Last season, we wondered: why do Villa’s Captain (Dominick Lombardozzi) and her mother (written and played very stereotypically by Lisa Vidal) have to get involved?
WTF? Ridiculous reactions and stupid situations result, starting with the unnecessary introduction of a recurring character, Mitchie Mendelson (vaguely anti-Semitic), brought in to “help” Rosie, written poorly, played by Sam Huntington.
Season Two was not looking good.
However, fall, 2016, had a strong start, with the addition of Tara’s singing, Villa and Rosie’s working together pushing through the bumps, Pippy’s bonding with Ms. Rosewood (mom of Rosie), and the new Captain, played strangely but well by Eddie Cibrian, and a good set of stories.
Quantico (9/25/16 return)
My mom and I liked Quantico for the first half or so. Then, it devolved, as so many do, into chases and violence and not much (else?) to commend it.
The premise was supposed to be that this is a show about a new cohort of recruits at the FBI federal training academy (Quantico) in the USA. Why didn’t they stick with that? Why did they think they needed a terrorist bombing/ “moles”/ multiple deceptions-based plot?
We know it’s an FBI show and we did expect some of the above. But, really, when more than a few minutes of every show is devoted to pursuit chases and macho posturing/inappropriate blame and shaming, we look at each other and say: “Not enough plot, eh?”
UPDATE in November: going back in forth in time from the cadets to the present is a good idea but not done well at all. Relying too much on different hairdos for the female characters and who’s having sex with whom to anchor the timeline (who cares?). Still watching, but not sure why.
Watched the entire year but hated the poor visibility and convoluted storylines
*Full Frontal with Samantha Bee (2/8/16 premiere; early September, 2016, return)
I loved Samantha Bee on The Daily Show and awaited her new individual show with great anticipation. I was not disappointed.
Bee was funny, insightful, appropriately outraged and very bold, extremely feminist and “in-your-face,” but since I agree with her POV, this all worked great, for me. I laughed out loud and sighed with relief at many of her “bits.”
Finally: a feminist’s POV delivered with wit and humor about this horrible election season! Yeah! And, more coming, I’m sure.
Strong return for Season 2, but I AM SO SICK OF TRUMP!
NCIS New Orleans CBS (9/20/16 return)
Good start to the new season last year (2015). Still liking this, especially Scott Bakula‘s character. Like the new character played by Shalita Grant (female, African-American, kind of snarky and good at her job).
Season 3 was off to a bang, but very sad to lose Zoe McLellan as Meredith Brody (and so was everyone else on the show, apparently). As of this posting, she’s not telling anyone, yet, as to why she left the show, but it was her decision.
**Grey’s Anatomy ABC (9/22/16 return)
I am a long-time fan of this show, especially, Ellen Pompeo
Love the anti-homophobia storylines and the actions/discussions the show inspires, especially for parents of LGBT kids and for everyone about bullying. Excellent PSAs built right into the show.
Very strong return for season 11 (!?!), and I’m looking forward to more of this show this year, even though some key characters keep leaving/being asked to leave (no spoilers, here).
How to Get Away with Murder ABC (9/22/16 return)
Glad Viola Davis won the Emmy. She deserved it. Good acting by her and many on this show is not enough to save it, though.
The writers of this show are a weird bunch, for sure.
The production values are so bad and the timeline jumping done so poorly that we have no idea what’s going on most of the time. Filming is too dark and cuts are too quick. Dialogue is not loud enough.
New season’s starter was no better than last season’s ending: violent, confusing, oddly written and strange all around.
Too dark without much to redeem it. I probably won’t keep watching.
Blue Bloods CBS (9/23/16 return)
My mom LOVES this show and watches re-runs for fun, mostly because she loves Tom Selleck as the family patriarch and Chief of Police. I watch it, but don’t love it.
Excellent return, even if we didn’t like the storylines, much. Great acting and we love the characters.
NCIS CBS 9/20/16 return)
Definitely missing Michael Weatherby for 2016-17, and don’t know if the trio (now duo) of actors they plan to “replace” him with are going to cut it. I already don’t like one of them. We’ll see.
**Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. FOX (9/20/16 return)
Got very dark and too violent. I’m done with this as of opener for Season, 2016. Couldn’t even watch more than the first ten minutes. Confusing, too violent, inexplicably written, sexist and demeaningly filmed.
Not liking it much any more
**The Blacklist NBC (9/22/16 return)
Glad Lizzie isn’t dead, but this show is off the rails for real. We watched opener for new season and I hated it; Mom liked it slightly more. I probably won’t keep watching. Too violent and confusing.
Keeping, for Mom.
Suits USA (July, 2016 return)
Michael (played well by Patrick J. Adams), is going to prison? Rachel, played well by Meghan Markle (but still dressed inappropriately vampy), is often too whiny, juvenile and ridiculous (and repetitive).
Sarah Rafferty as the impossibly perfect Donna and Gabriel Macht as the complicated Harvey still have the greatest tension (and are decades-long friends, which shows) and lines but not much to do.
Gina Torres as Jessica still wears too much white and is also too vampy in her costuming but is righteously angry and protective, both. Louis is still the most richly drawn and has the most fun stuff to do, and all done very well by Rick Hoffman.
Best unexpected gift acting as Donna’s alternate assistant to either Harvey or Louis is enlivened by Aloma Wright, who is funny, strong and interesting all the time. Also glad to see D.B. Woodside back as Jeff: he’s FIERCE! Appearances by other former characters give the season the feeling of “ending” as well, so we’re happy to enjoy Shelia Sazs, Stephen Macht (yes, Gabriel’s IRL father), Abigail Spencer and others’ returns, even if only for a few minutes.
Not a fan of prison stories or settings, my mom and I are not sure we’ll keep watching this season’s SUITS disaster. We usually like this show, but Rachel (Meghan Markle) is now almost always crying or whining, and the over-the-top machismo exhibited by all the other main male characters is ridiculous.
They have painted themselves into a horrible corner, putting their lead character, Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams) in jail and bankrupting the law firm. They also make Mike a complete idiot, falling for obvious scams and ruses on his first days in the Big House. He’s supposed to be a genius, though?
Disappointed and may not keep watching.
*When Calls the Heart Hallmark (returns Spring, 2017)
Erin Krakow is great as the lead character, Elizabeth Thatcher, a rich young woman who leaves her safe, city family life to become a Canadian prairie teacher in a one-room school house, with an adorable Daniel Lessing as her Canadian Mountie/ love interest. Yes; hers is one of my alternate reality jobs.
Lori Loughlin is cast as her typically maternal and saccharine character but she does play the best friend/ cafe owner/ widow/ adoptive mother/ landlady well. Other characters are also “stock” and mostly two-dimensional, but I blame the Hallmark Channel’s writers (Janette Oke and Derek Thompson, most recently, but there are 18!) more than I fault the actors. Also has Cat Montgomery, played well by Chelah Horsdal.
Grace & Frankie (on Netflix) Season 2 (returned May-June, 2016, and will again, 2017)
My mom and I enjoyed Season One and looked forward to Season Two a lot. We saw Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda on talk shows in the month prior and anticipated its return with glee.
Watched Episodes One, Two and Three, so far. Many laughs and poignant situations in One, but again, funnier/sillier rather than believable writing and more performing than acting by the four main characters. By Episode Three, we were looking at each other and shaking our heads and din’t go on to Episode 4.
Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston are still wooden and unbelievable and passionate lovers. Lily Tomlin is still performing a hippie character trope. Jane Fonda is the only one of the four who actually inhabits a realistic version of a character via acting.
Brooklyn Decker and June Diane Raphael are given, as Sheen’s and Fonda’s adult daughters, mostly comedy bits and one-liners to enact, but they are getting the sisterly relationship better this year. Baron Vaughn and Ethan Embry (Tomlin’s and Waterston’s adult sons) are not given even that much to do until Vaughn sits with Sheen’s recuperating character for a while and they have a few brief scenes together.
An impressive array of talented older actors parades through as dates for Lily or Jane and friends of any of the main four, including Episode Two’s Rita Moreno (completely wasted in this), but I have yet to see any of them be given anything interesting to do or show.
Most of the supporting characters are written as stereotypes of whatever group they are purported to belong to by ethnicity, age, job or other status, which is sloppy and lazy writing and disappointing for the talents of these actors. Ernie Hudson returns as Lily’s friend, Jacob, in two episodes; Sam Elliot comes back for Jane’s dating scene in two episodes; we get Swoosie Kurtz and Marsha Mason in Episode Five; Episode Six brings back Joe Morton and Mary Kay Place: I hope these great actors get to do more than mug, crack jokes and be cardboard cutouts.
This show could be SO MUCH BETTER! But, the writing trivializes what few actual issues there are, going for silly and getting sillier even though the topics are significant. For example,
—What kind of gay are the characters of Sol and Robert? They apparently haven’t discussed this, yet. Are they even the same kind as one another? Are they flamboyant “queens,” political/marchers in gay pride parades, attendees and singers at Broadway Bingo called by a Transvestite (or Transgender: the show didn’t even bother to make the distinction, or…?
—How do older or inexperienced entrepreneurs like Frankie avoid getting conned/fleeced by unscrupulous business people (even supposed “friends” and “family,” like Brianna [who now runs Grace’s company]) who make low-ball offers and confuse them with “net” and “gross” talk when they have a lucrative innovation, invention or product to market?
—How do women enduring medically risky pregnancies that require bed rest (in this case, Mallory, having twins, which is not automatically risky…) deal with the demands of their daily lives when they can’t afford to hire help?
—How do couples who based their entire relationship on infidelity deal with their infidelitous leanings? When Sol has sex with Frankie on the eve of marrying Robert, he is convinced not to tell Robert before marrying him because Robert has had a heart attack and needs open-heart surgery to survive. Frankie is also having trouble not telling Robert, who is her life-long friend. She, however, didn’t seem to have any trouble cheating with Sol on Robert….Where is the moral compass’ arrow pointing when no one seems to have any sense of “true North” except for Grace?
—How do senior citizens deal with relationships and sexual issues (vaginal dryness, erectile dysfunction, shyness/awkwardness (newly dating after being married for decades), lack of interest?
–How do/can addicts “make amends” when they’ve lied, stolen, destroyed property and relationships/trust for many years and still can’t be readily trusted?
—Do children ever “get over” sibling rivalry? Do in-laws ever get along? How do jealousy and competition and affect adult relationships?
—How could adults deal effectively and respectfully with children’s phobias and anxieties rather than patronizing or minimizing?
Wish the writers would tackle these and other issues head-on rather than with one-liners and sit-com scenarios. The actors would then actually have something to do and the viewers would probably be feeling that their time had been well-spent instead of wasted.
Will keep watching, but so far, disappointing.
*The Americans TNT (Spring, 2017, return)
I like this show, but the content is quite disturbing, for sure. The morality, ethics, honesty and deception issues are quite seriously depicted, there is a lot of violence (which I don’t like), and people are very screwed up, on all sides. Multiple complexities and grey areas are not shied away from, and they include many key events/issues from the USA’s 1980s: bravo to the writers, actors, director, fact-checkers/researchers!
I hate to read subtitles, but having the Russians speak Russian adds verisimilitude, for sure.
Both Matt Rhys (Phillip) and Keri Russell (Elizabeth) give nuanced, fascinating performances, especially when interacting with their now-“read-in” daughter, adolescent Paige (played admirably by Holly Taylor).
Remarkable performances also by the great Frank Langella, with key moments played by Callie Thorne, Noah Emmerich, Annet Mahendru, Lev Gorn make/made this a show well-worth watching. So do Keri Russell‘s and Matthew Rhys‘ real-life romance and child together!
Frank Langella gave such a moving speech when he won a Tony (June, 2016) for best actor, referencing Orlando and gay rights, support for diversity and for all, etc., that it gives me a new perspective on him for his role in this show.
Cringing, but keeping
*Orphan Black BBC (Spring, 2017, return)
Tatiana Maslany is amazing. She deserves every acting award, ever.
If you haven’t seen this show and love great acting, tune in (but it does get quite gruesome and violent, sometimes; I close my eyes).
Saving Hope (ION, from CTV) (Season 4 and series ended in 2016, but I’m catching up)
I used to watch this show online and then “lost” it after Season 2. So glad I found it again! It’s a medical drama with a twist (Dr. Charlie Harris sees and talks with the spirits of dead and comatose/anesthetized people), with all the Grey’s Anatomy soap opera romances and medical procedures. I seem to like these types of shows a lot, and this one is especially good because of the paranormal aspect.
Starring Erica Torrance and Michael Shanks (he’s the one with the visions) and a great supporting/otherwise starring cast make this fun to watch.
Fascinating looks into being an intern and having to choose a “specialty; lesbian/bisexuality in the context of Orthodox Jews; when to “pull the plug” and how one would know (clues embedded into Broadway show tunes, once); organ donating; problem pregnancies; medical heroism; divorce, dating, (in)fidelity and amnesia (twice; you have to watch); and parent-adult child issues.
Keeping until I catch up
The Night Shift NBC (6/1/16 return)
Yet another medical drama, but this one is set in Texas, which is unusual and inspired the casting directors to include many more Latina/o and African-American actors to play key roles. That is excellent (most other dramas are very Anglo/a).
Starring Eoin Macken, Jill Flint (loved her in Royal Pains and The Good Wife), Ken Leung, Brendan Fehr (been watching him since Roswell, into Bones, and now, here), Freddy Rodriguez, Scott Wolf (recently from Perception), Robert Bailey, Jr., J.R. Lemon and now, Tanaya Beatty.
Similar soap opera romances, intern/resident issues, family dramas and interpersonal issues, but adding in the wars the USA is engaged in (several Vets and Rangers among the medical staff, some who are re-deployed), addiction/recovery, pregnancy and fidelity issues abound.
My mom actually started watching this one with me 2016, summer.
*Devious Maids now on Lifetime (return 6/2016)
This show is delightfully silly but also, quite insightful about race and class and the oppressions suffered and visited upon Latinas in the LA region(and elsewhere, I’m sure) who are working as domestic servants for the very wealthy. Has Ana Ortiz, (a professor who posed as a maid), and Dania Ramirez, Roselyn Sánchez, Edy Ganem, and Judy Reyes as ongoing maids, with Susan Lucci, Rebecca Wisocky, Tom Irwin, Brianna Brown, Brett Cullen, Mariana Klaveno, and Grant Show in other main roles. There a great many other guests and recurring stars who came from other daytime or evening soap operas and/or Desperate Housewives making appearances.
By some of the same producers and writers (notably, Marc Cherry) of Desperate Housewives, and with a funny cameo by co-producer, Eva Longoria, the creation loop is this: The plot is based on the Mexican TV series, Ellas son la Alegría del Hogar, which translates in English as “They Are the Joy of the Home,” and which itself was heavily influenced by Cherry’s previous series Desperate Housewives.
Guilty pleasure; Keeping
Major Crimes TNT (July, 2016, return)
Excellent show. It’s back again 2016, summer, strong as ever.
However, we find the “romance” between Captain Sharon Raydor (Mary McDonnell) and Lt. Andy Flynn (Tony Denison), to be completely unbelievable. No chemistry at all!
With Michael Paul Chan, G.W. Bailey, Raymond Cruz, Graham Patrick Martin, Robert Gossett, Phillip P. Keene, Jon Tenney and many others from its predecessor, The Closer, which we loved.
Next or later Installments:
Elementary CBS (10/2/16 return)
We both like this show a lot even though it’s very difficult for us to understand some of the dialogue or to understand Sherlock because of the show’s poor audio quality and his rapid-fire speech in a British accent.
Great to see Lucy Liu, Johnny Lee Miller, John Michael Hill and Aidan Quinn back again.
Madam Secretary CBS (10/2/16 return)
GREAT SHOW! But how can it keep its title if she’s now VP?
Scorpion CBS (10/3/16 return)
Could be that this show, like so many, is becoming a bit too formulaic, a caricature of itself. This season’s Episodes had a few too many “Oh, one of the bizarre genius’ amazing ideas, number four, didn’t work, so we’re going to die” moments.
Why does Katherine McPhee almost never sing in this show? She has a spectacular voice. What a waste.
Watched all Episodes. Started putting a quarter in for every crisis. Topped out at $3.00 for one Episode!
Predictable but interesting. Good for laughs.
Supergirl (10/10/16 returns, but now on CW)
Maybe they’ll allow her to become an adult this year….
Bones Fox (after Baseball’s World Series, October, 2016?)
Glad they didn’t keep Hodges so crabby.
*The Catch (return Spring, 2017?)
Watched both of the first two episodes and are hooked by the twists and intrigue. Mireille Enos (who bears an uncanny resemblance in voice, appearance and style to Ellen Pompeo of Grey’s Anatomy; guess producer/creator Shonda Rhymes has a “type”!), Peter Krause (a very different role from the geeky dad/husband in Parenthood!), Alimi Ballard (loved him in Numb3rs), Jay Hayden, who is unfamiliar to me as are Rose Rollins, Jacky Ido and Elvy Yost, comprise a strong cast.
Good to see Sonya Walger in another eveil beauty role: she’s so good in these!
Stitchers FreeForm (return Spring, 2017?)
My mom and I found Stitchers in the spring of 2015. Because it’s on ABC-Family, now FreeForm, all the violence is low-key and mostly off-camera (yeah!), while the characters and plot are much better than on “adult” stations.
Devolves a bit too often into soap opera, with too much post-adolescent angst and horrible choices made by the youngish cast of characters, but interesting.
Take a hint, “adult” stations: this is what TV should be like!
Scandal ABC (Midseason return, 2016-17)
Please explain to us why the obviously psychotic and possibly amnesiac ex-Vice-President, Sally, gets to mouth off as if she is occupying some moral high ground when she murdered her own husband? Did everyone else forget that, too?
Plan to keep watching, but where is this going?
**Hawaii 5-0 CBS
Mom is keeping this on her list for sure.
**Chicago P.D. NBC
Mom is keeping this on her list for sure.
**NCIS Los Angeles CBS (10/2/16 return)
Mom is keeping this on her list for sure.
**Law and Order—SVU NBC
Mom is keeping this on her list for sure.
**Criminal Minds NBC (9/28/16 returns, but with Paget Brewster‘s returning and without longtime star, Thomas Gibson, whose bad temper got him fired!)
Mom is keeping this on her list for sure.
**Chicago Fire NBC (10/9/16 return)
Mom continues to love this. One of my CHANGES conversations between authors‘ guests, poet performer, James Gordon, has recurring minor roles on this and Chicago PD!)
Stays on Mom’s list
Colony (return in Spring, 2017)
We were very confused and a bit impatient with the way this series’ pilot throws viewers into the middle of an alternate Earth near-future without sufficient explanations. However, we kept watching and did enjoy the pilot, despite our bewilderment.
We liked seeing Josh Holloway, since we liked him so much in the all-too-soon-cancelled Intelligence, and Amanda Righetti, from The Mentalist, which we loved.
But, we never watched Lost, The Walking Dead or Hercules, so the others are new to us, except for Peter Jacobsen, from House and Madam Secretary, and Paul Guilfoyle, from CSI.
Luckily, I had taped the “Colony: Behind the Wall” show, which we watched after we saw the pilot. That was excellent, because it explained a LOT. We also got to see how and why they established some of the special effects and sets for this series. We are now looking forward to seeing the subsequent episodes.
Without giving away too much. we appreciated the parallels the producers/creators are deliberately creating between Nazi-occupied Paris and a hypothetically occupied Los Angeles, asking us all (and all the characters are also asking themselves and each other): what would you do? Would you be a collaborator or a resister? Are you a pragmatist/selfish/greedy “winner,” or are you trying to keep going with “normal” life while wresting control from the occupiers and collaborators as you do? What lengths would you go to and what risks would you be willing to take under these circumstances?
Excellent questions and cool concepts.
You can to the series’ website and choose your side and see what you get into there! http://www.colonytv.com/
Keeping this one.
*The Magicians (new to me, Season 2; season 3 returns Spring, 2017, probably)
Don’t know how I missed this last year, but catching up, now, and liking it enough to keep going. Kind of trite, but interesting. Liking Anna Dudek in the headmistress role.
Keeping, for now
*Being Mary Jane BET (returns Spring, 2017)
Excellent writing, sensitive topics [alcoholism, child abuse/molestation, suicide, disfigurement/physical “beauty”/ageism for women (particularly Black women), extortion, drug addiction, dysfunctional parenting, loyalty among friends (or not)], all very well-handled. Great music choices, also.
Mary Jane’s character (played even better, now, by Gabrielle Union) is getting some chutzpah (FINALLY) and growing up (ALSO OVERDUE). Supporting characters (Lisa Vidal, Margaret Avery, Stephen Bishop, Richard Roundtree, Raven Goodwin) are getting more to do, which is great.
Glad to see Loretta Devine on this show, even though her character is so delightfully SCUMMY.
The Librarians TNT (11/20/16 return)
Fun and satisfying.
Excellent special effects and well-drawn characters, even the villains.
Don’t quite believe the romance between Noah Wylie‘s nerdy scholar and Elizabeth Romijin‘s former Secret Service ninja (Noah wishes…), but it’s all light and fun.
Miss Bob Newhart and Jane Curtain; John Larroquette just doesn’t have what they have.
John Harlan Kim, Lindy Booth, and Christian Kane round out the “regulars.”
image from http://www.tvline.com
Sherlock BBC (Season 5 returns Spring, 2017, for 3 more episodes; re-runs in October, 2016, so catch up!)
Yippee! Yahoo! Best BBC return-to-season EVER! Fabulous reunions and loved the Season 4 “premise” (No spoilers, here). How great is Benedict Cumberbatch? And, Martin Freeman!
Also, great mystery to be solved.
Not liking the addiction story line in this or Elementary‘s Sherlock (or any show, for that matter), but I guess it is part of the Sherlock character.