The Best Of This Week’s TV

Did anybody else find that this week just generally had good television or have I just been riding that Doctor Strange high since Tuesday night? Either way, you know how this goes. Before we get to this week’s champion: The Show of the Week, we have to acknowledge some others.

Honourable Mentions

  • Image result for pitch tommy miller tv showBlack-ish – for making “The Purge” fun.
  • Gotham – for finally clarifying that character dynamic.
  • Legends of Tomorrow – for ninjas.
  • Once Upon A Time – for bringing my favourite Disney prince to life and only kind of ruining him.
  • The Flash – for all of the awesome awkwardness.
  • Pitch – for making me care about baseball transfers.
  • Westworld – for… well: they know.

Show of the Week: Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

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This week saw the second episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend‘s second season and it is already better than its first. As an upbeat, satirical, black-comedy musical television series it is certainly unique but it also has massive potential for being a trainwreck. Somehow they haven’t only avoided that but they’ve created a fantastic show.

The original songs are funny and enjoyable whilst being insightful and intelligent but most importantly: well-integrated.

If this show had been a rom-com movie then it would have ended at the season one finale. Season two is the rarely seen story of what happens after the credits roll. The characters still have fundamental problems and we get to see how they navigate their way through these issues.

If you’re not already watching Crazy Ex-Girlfriend then I would strongly recommend it. It is the only thing of its kind currently on television.

This Week’s Worst: Modern Family

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It physically pains to say a negative word about Modern Family. The show has endured for seven seasons and in its eighth season it looked like it was only going to get better. This week’s episode wasn’t bad: I laughed a few times and it was a good story but it wasn’t great.

Modern Family has placed itself in the terrible position of having to constantly top themselves. This week just didn’t reach the standard that I’m used to from them but I’m fairly certain that this dip isn’t going to become a permanent thing.

What did you watch this week? Are you loving any shows that I think that I should check out? Let me know in the comments.

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The Best Of This Week’s TV

Flaky American television scheduling meant that there was no Black-ish, Empire, Modern Family, or Pitch this week but there was still plenty to watch. Obviously I am going to get to what the best thing that aired this week was but before that, let’s look at the honourable mentions.

Honourable Mentions

  • Image result for penguin riddler gothamGotham – for the most homoerotic episode in their history that still has me questioning whether it was intentional or not.
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D – for really taking advantage of the later time slot and creating some epic fight sequences with Ghostrider.
  • Legends of Tomorrow – for trying with the CGI. It didn’t work but you tried.
  • Arrow – for bringing Diggle back: the show needs him.
  • How To Get Away With Murder – for a drunk Annalise and a Southern Michaela because who says murder can’t be funny?
  • Westworld – for making me appreciate the fact that I never experienced the Wild West.

Show Of The Week: Atlanta

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Atlanta is a part of a new school of comedy that doesn’t try too hard to be funny. It deals with serious issues and can be intense at times but this was one of their lighter episodes.

As somebody who hates night clubs this episode spoke to me on a spiritual level and was full of plenty of laughs. I missed Donald Glover over the last few episodes and it was nice to have his character back in the mix but the way that this show floats around the different characters means that they have all been given the chance to develop and they can all hold their own story lines.

In this episode alone they dealt with prejudice, money, gender dynamics and violence. It was hilarious.

This Week’s Worst: No Tomorrow

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As this is a brand new show, I have given it three weeks to pick up but unfortunately it hasn’t done that.

The CW is usually very good at new content: shows like Jane the Virgin and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend have unusual subjects and very strange structures but they work really well. I thought that this might be another one of those instances but it is not.

The premise of the show is that one man has discovered that the end of the world is coming soon and he decides to live like there’s “no tomorrow”. A woman with a crush on him learns about his idea and joins him in it although she doesn’t believe that the world is ending. Together they go through their bucket lists and check off things that they want to do before the world ends.

It’s an interesting premise but the actual show has zero direction. It is literally just these (typically attractive) people doing random things and making out a lot. There are some subplots but they aren’t nearly compelling enough to make the show worthwhile.

I can’t imagine that there’s any season arc past the world not actually ending but maybe they’ll surprise us all and their world will end. Because the show gets cancelled…

What did you watch this week? Have you started any new shows? Are you a No Tomorrow fan? Let me know in the comments.

My Top 5 Accidental Watches

I don’t know if it’s because I don’t have a TV anymore or that I’m just set in my ways but I have stopped discovering new shows. Everything that I watch; I plan to watch. That doesn’t mean that I never see new shows: right now, I’m watching Pitch and Westworld, but I’ve made a conscious decision to sit down and view these shows (most likely with some information as to what it’s about).

Recently I’ve been feeling nostalgic about the times when I would just turn on the TV and get sucked into some random show that I had never heard of: in some ways, I feel like that’s a better experience because it’s so spontaneous and when you fall in love with the show, it’s so unexpected that the feeling is a hundred times better. With that said, I wanted to share my top five accidental watches:

(5) La Femme Nikita

Image result for la femme nikitaThis is an oldie that I adored when I was little. They showed reruns at 7am and I would watch them before school with my mum. I can’t attest to how good it is because I don’t remember it that well but they rebooted it 2010 with Maggie Q and obviously I had to watch that and I can say that that version is great.

(4) Ugly Betty

Image result for ugly bettyYou probably know about Ugly Betty: it became a surprise hit at some point in its first season, but I found it a quarter of the way into its second episode. My brother was watching a horror movie in the living room and despite my protests (I still can’t do horror movies) they wouldn’t change it. To avoid being emotionally scarred I went upstairs and turned on the TV where I found this strangely colourful,fast-paced show about fashion and Latin culture. It was love at first sight. It was also the first show that I watched from beginning to end.

(3) Hustle

Image result for hustle tv bbcThe story behind my finding Hustle is a little embarrassing but I still re-watch the show so I can’t complain. In school there was a certain student that I had a strange infatuation with and they posted a Facebook status about what they were doing that evening: chinese food and Hustle. Naturally I had to find out what this show was and then I was hooked. I don’t give the BBC enough credit but they have amazing series (as shown by the last two shows on this list).

(2) Merlin

Image result for merlin bbcAnother testament to the BBC: I literally don’t have a clue how I ended up watching Merlin. I’ve re-watched it a few times so I know that I started watching it during it’s second or third episode but other than that I have no recollection. All I know is that I would tell people that I was busy on Saturday because Merlin was a iron-clad part of my evening.

(1) Sherlock

Image result for sherlock bbcIt’s strange to think that Sherlock began so long ago and when I was watching that first episode I had no idea how huge it was going to become. Everybody in my house had gone out for the night and my young, unsupervised self found this show about Sherlock Holmes. I remember wondering if it was a movie because it was so long and then being bitterly disappointed when I tuned in for the fourth week in a row to discover that the series was finished. After three episodes! Regardless, it became my favourite show despite only supplying four and half hours of footage every two years.

So those are my accidental watches. I get really happy thinking about these shows: they feel like a part of me becoming an adult (that’s weird, right? I should probably go outside more…). Anyway:

What shows have you discovered by accident? Do you have any fun stories? Let me know in the comments.

Marvel vs. DC: TV Edition

It’s the infinity question: Marvel or DC? Obviously the answer is normally Marvel but that’s just in print and on the big screen. It is now the golden age of television and the two comic giants have not slacked in getting their content out on TV. As of right now, there are more than ten Marvel/DC shows airing and even more in development. The question is: who’s better?

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Marvel: Netflix

With the recent release of Luke Cage (full review here), the Marvel Netflix series are in the spotlight at the moment. This group contains: Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and in five months, Iron Fist.

Of all the comic book shows, these are the most unique in terms of format. Thanks to Netflix, these 13 episode seasons are all released at once which has the awesome effect of being able to watch them in one sitting – almost like a 13 hour movie.

They are praised for their grittier, darker tone in comparison to the wider MCU but what I love most about these is the characters. TV allows character development on a much larger scale than film but even by that standard, it feels like these dive into the stories of everybody: heroes and villains alike. Also, Rosario Dawson as Claire Temple is my favourite thing.

My only gripe is something that Netflix proudly claims: this is “event television”. It only comes around twice a year and if you watch them immediately (like myself) you’re left with nothing for 6 months.

DC: The CW

The CW is home to the Arrowverse – The Flash, Arrow, Legends of Tomorrow and Supergirl – but many people don’t know that the show, iZombie, is also based on a DC comic.

Network television is a far departure from Netflix which means that these shows aren’t allowed to be as violent or deal with heavy issues. The general tone of them is much lighter but they all have their own unique stamps which make them really good at being what they are.

Image result for izombie

My personal favourites are Supergirl and iZombie – Supergirl is unabashedly feminist and maintains this unbelievably bright, cheerful aesthetic. It could come off as cheesy but the character dynamics are fantastic and the actors (particularly Melissa Benoist) really sell the story.

Unfortunately, without the space to explore any more substantial themes, some of the plots can become needlessly convoluted and no amount of good acting can make you believe the stakes that are being presented to you.

Marvel: ABC

Whilst Agents of Shield is technically the only Marvel series currently on ABC, I live in constant denial that Agent Carter got cancelled so I’m just going to include it in this category.

When Agents of Shield began it seemed like it was just fan service: “don’t worry guys, Coulson’s okay!”, but it has evolved since then and I think that it’s finally finding its own feet in it’s third season. That is largely helped by the fact that they now have a later air time which means that they can get a bit more violent.

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Agent Carter never had that issue: it is a show that has known exactly what it’s about since the beginning . These shows are a nice reminder that whilst we watch the superheroes, there are ordinary folks that do just as much, probably more.

DC: Fox & AMC

Finally DC have Gotham and Lucifer on Fox, and Preacher on AMC.

I’m not going to lie: I think that Gotham is the definition of trash-television but for some reason I continue to watch it.

Preacher is much more interesting. I fell in love with the concept but my interest dwindled as the first season played out. I think that these are the riskier, more experimental ideas and whilst they aren’t perfect, I love the fact that these networks are taking a chance on something different.

So, those are our shows. Which is better?

Marvel! I mean, come on, I’ll be loyal until the day that I die but I genuinely believe that the quality of their shows is miles ahead of their DC counter-parts. DC might have more breadth but that isn’t always a good thing.

What do you think? Marvel or DC? I am completely biased? Let me know in the comments.

The Best of This Week’s TV

The CW heroes are back; Westworld and No Tomorrow premiered; and Pitch continues to be awesome. This was a good week in television but what was the best show? Before we get to that, I have to appreciate some of the runner-ups.

Honourable Mentions

  • Image result for westworldWestworld – for making westerns cool. It wasn’t easy, but you did it.
  • Arrow – for reintroducing quality fight choreography to network television.
  • Pitch – for keeping up an insane level of awesome three episodes in.
  • Modern Family – for talking about a presidential election without talking about the presidential election.
  • Gotham – for creating an episode that I actually remembered the plot of ten minutes later.
  • How To Get Away With Murder – for… well, it was just especially good this week. Props.

Show of the Week: The Flash

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The Flash came back strong in its Season 3 premiere. The much awaited “Flashpoint” was everything that you could have hoped for.

Something that I noticed last season with the Earth-2 story-line was that this show is very good at creating alternate timelines. It’s always fun and interesting to watch. Of course, the show has matured since its perpetually sunny first season but they still made sure that there were plenty of moments to laugh in this episode. The running ‘Kid Flash’ gag never stopped being entertaining for me.

Grant Gustin was fantastic – going from happy puppy to wounded puppy (let’s face it, he’s always a puppy) flawlessly and really selling the stakes involved in this new arc.

If you read my reviews last season then you’ll know that I wasn’t the biggest fan of Danielle Panabaker’s Caitlin Snow but her brief appearance in this first episode has me optimistic that she could actually be enjoyable to watch this season.

Unfortunately we will not be able to see how “Flashpoint” has affected the wider Arrowverse but we can look forward to another episode of consequences next week.

This Week’s Worst: Once Upon A Time

Image result for once upon a time a bitter draught

Once Upon A Time is a tricky show to get right: it doesn’t hide it’s camp nature and that in and of itself is awesome. It’s essentially a fairy-tale for grown ups but it felt like they forgot the “grown ups” part this week.

In it’s sixth season, this show has explored almost all the stories that could make compelling television but they aren’t stopping. This week the gang faced off against the Count of Monte Cristo – I’m sorry, are you not intimately familiar with your 19th century French literature? – and it ended almost exactly how you thought it would.

I still have faith in this show but this week wasn’t its best showing, especially compared to everything else (and I’m including Gotham in that category).

What did you watch this week? Do you agree or disagree with anything that I’ve said? Let me know in the comments.

Luke Cage || Review

*Spoiler Alert*

8.5/10

There’s nothing that can hurt you, so what the hell are you afraid of?

My issue with Superman is that he’s boring. He is essentially all-powerful and he lives to save people – no matter what he comes up against, the outcome is pretty predictable. I was slightly worried that Luke Cage might suffer from the same problem. If he’s invulnerable, how exactly were they going to create real stakes? Never doubt Marvel.

After months of anticipation, the first episode of the series was aptly named, “The Moment of Truth” and it delivered. They made sure to pack it full of wider MCU references, from the Avengers, to Jessica Jones, and even Justin Hammer (definitely look out for all kinds of Easter eggs in this series – including that Power Man costume).

If they felt that they had to reinforce the fact that this show was a part of the MCU, that’s because this is completely different to anything else that Marvel has produced.

Whilst the Netflix shows are known for their grittier, darker takes on heroism; Luke Cage strays from that model. Yes, there’s blood and violence but Luke isn’t like Matt Murdock or Jessica Jones. He has his issues but he’s not the tortured vigilante: Luke Cage is warm and funny and it takes an Uncle Ben-esque moment to force him into the position of hero.

There are no masks and Luke doesn’t fight crime in the shadows – he’s out in the open. Honestly, this feels almost revolutionary for a superhero show: a hero who doesn’t hide??? Obviously there are reasons why this doesn’t happen often in the genre and this show examines those to great effect.

One of my favourite scenes in the entire season is where Luke and Cotton Mouth fight, not with their fists but in a debate. It’s brilliant and a technique that other shows can’t employ. It makes it immensely clear that the battles in this series extend past brawls between individuals and incorporates a fight for the public support.

A hero is nothing without a good villain and there are plenty to choose from in this show – maybe too many? This show was fantastic at building the back-stories of all of their characters but sometimes it felt too late. They would wait until that character’s final arc and then reveal their motivation which meant that there was such a long period in which these villains just didn’t quite make sense.

The perfect example of this is the show’s “big bad”, Willis. We’ve seen the theme of religion handled expertly with Daredevil’s Catholic guilt, and in comparison this felt weak. The idea of the character was a lot more interesting than the execution and at points it felt like he was just a caricature of an evil religious zealot.

On the other hand, I liked the other villains of the season a lot more – particularly Shades and Mariah. Throughout the season a part of me was rooting for Shades and I was certainly sympathetic towards Mariah during that game-changing scene in episode 7 where she kills her cousin.

Rape, racism, prejudice: this show handles some heavy themes. Luke Cage is a black superhero and that matters a lot. The creators of the show don’t try to dismiss that, they really embraced it and portray this honest depiction of black lives in Harlem without being preachy. It gave a balanced view: looking at the racial divide from both sides of authority.

There are a lot of things that make this series special and you certainly can’t forget the soundtrack. It had already been announced that music would be a large part of this show and it was true. The mixture of jazz and hip-hop, whilst actually shooting in Harlem gave a wonderfully authentic feel to events. Harlem feels like more than a setting, it’s like a character in and of itself.

Amongst my favourite parts of this show were the flashbacks, which were always superb, the gorgeous cinematography, and more Claire Temple than we’ve seen in Daredevil and Jessica Jones combined.

This didn’t hit as hard as Daredevil with the action sequences; it didn’t have as compelling an antagonist as Jessica Jones; but it held its ground. Luke Cage is a different kind of hero so he has a different kind of show. It’s still amazing.

What did you think of Luke Cage? What were your favourite parts of the series? What didn’t you like? Let me know in the comments.

The Phenomenon of Hate-Watching

We all have those shows that we hate and love to complain about which leads the uninitiated to ask: so, why are you watching it?

Hate-watching: when you watch a show that you strongly dislike just so you can criticise it and maybe even because you can’t stop yourself.

Shows that fall into this category for me include: Pretty Little Liars, Shadowhunters, and Gotham to name a few but people hate all sorts of different shows for all kinds of reasons. Looking at the shows that I just mentioned, I clearly have a problem with the Freeform network but there doesn’t even need to be that clear of a link.

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The three main reasons behind my hate-watching any show are:

“That Actor”

You were pulled in because somebody that you love was acting in it. The only reason that I watched The Flash (and subsequently, Arrow, Legends of Tomorrow and Supergirl) was because it was announced that Grant Gustin would be playing the Scarlet Speedster. Fortunately, I genuinely enjoy all of those shows but you’re not always that lucky.

It’s very easy to follow your favourite actors to absolute train-wrecks but once you’re there you just bear with it until they get some screen time and it all starts sucks a little bit less.

The Good First Season

They sucked you in with a good first season: you became invested in the characters and the outcome of the story and then they went ahead and ruined it. Unfortunately you can’t stop watching because you need to know how it works out. Sure, the plot has turned to crap and maybe some of your favourite characters have left but you tune in every week to find out what’s happening whilst hoping that the show gets cancelled so you can finally be free of this hell.

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Just There To Criticise…

You walked into this with your eyes wide open: you knew the show was trash and you chose to watch it just so that you were able to say that it was trash. It is the least noble of all of the reasons but it’s also the most fun.

As somebody who occasionally writes reviews, I can say that it is way more fun to write a scathing review than a good one. A great show leaves me at a loss for words and I just want to shove it in people’s faces and make them watch it. A bad show provides me with so many words: I almost want to write essays detailing everything wrong.

With all of that said, hate-watching doesn’t need a valid origin. The biggest question is whether or not it is healthy. My answer would be yes. It’s like that Doctor Who quote:

“What’s the point in them being happy now if they’re going to be sad later. The answer is, of course, because they’re going to be sad later.”

Well, I’m an over-achiever: I like to get ahead of it and be sad now by watching awful TV but then when I see a good show I appreciate it even more because I know what’s at the bottom of the barrel.

What are you hate-watching at the moment? Why do you hate-watch? Let me know in the comments.