The Best Of This Week’s TV

Happy Saturday everybody, all of the shows returned this week which was amazing. There was DC crossover week; Agents of SHIELD finally resolved that cliff-hanger; and Pitch aired their penultimate episode. Obviously the biggest question is which was the best but before we get there let’s talk honourable mentions.

Honourable Mentions

  • Phil electrocuted.pngAgents of Shield – for some sweet Doctor Strange tie-ins.
  • Modern Family – for proving that watching Ty Burrell get electrocuted never stops being funny.
  • Westworld – for managing to be objectively amazing yet subjectively underwhelming.
  • Pitch – for finally releasing an episode that didn’t stress me out or leave me an emotional wreck.
  • Black-ish – for elegantly dealing with some complex themes of identity.
  • Empire – for setting the standard for awkward family dinners.
  • Gotham – for the best episode since its first season.
  • Jane The Virgin – for catering to that burgeoning lapsed Catholic market.
  • Once Upon A Time – for confirming that nobody will ever carry a baby full term in this show.

Show of the Week: DC Crossover

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This week saw the first time in history that the DC shows on The CW – Supergirl, The Flash, Arrow, and Legends of Tomorrow – crossed over and it was perfect. Normally, this section is reserved for a single show but it is impossible to choose between the four episodes that aired this week because they all came together as one cohesive narrative. Separating them simply wouldn’t make sense.

When I heard that the main villain in the crossover was going to be aliens, I was less than enthused but I am happy to say that I was wrong to judge it so quickly. The aliens ended up being a very serious threat with believable motivations.

More than anything, I loved this television event because it felt like a massive pay-off for anybody that had been following these shows from the very beginning. Old characters were brought back; subtle nods were made to the wider DC universe; and they did an amazing job of analysing the relationship dynamics that form when you throw this group of people together.

The ending, with Oliver and Barry sat talking in a bar, felt like an wonderfully poetic way to wrap up the week. They were the two characters that began this wider universe and you were really able to appreciate that in how the wider team immediately deferred to them as leaders.

This Week’s Worst: No Tomorrow

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There’s no doubt that No Tomorrow has improved from when it first began this season but it still isn’t doing enough. The show has established what it’s about and at times it can be a fun thing to watch but it has no real bite to it.

It’s being sold as an hour-long dramedy when its story seems better suited to the half-hour sitcom format. With such a high-level of competition on The CW at the moment, I don’t know if this first-season show will be renewed next year.

Did you have a favourite episode from the crossover? Have you been watching No Tomorrow? What did you watch this week? Let me know in the comments.

The Best Of This Week’s TV

It’s Sunday evening which means that you’re likely trying to avoid thinking about the work week that begins tomorrow. Sorry for reminding you about that. If you want to think about something different then why don’t you join me in looking over the best of this week’s television. Before we get to the crème de la crème, let’s take a look at this week’s honourable mentions:

Honourable Mentions

  • raf.pngGotham – for a sublime anti-relationship PSA.
  • Once Upon A Time – for making ‘Darth Vader’ a verb.
  • Supergirl – for extra-terrestrial debt-collectors.
  • Empire – for taking the drama level from soap opera to telenovela real fast.
  • Jane The Virgin – for all the gratuitous male shirtlessness.
  • Pitch – for continually being so well-written that it makes me angry.
  • Black-ish – for trying to pass Laurence Fishburne off as somebody in their twenties.
  • Legends of Tomorrow – for not even slightly challenging my hatred of Westerns: that’s not a compliment by the way.

Show of the Week: Modern Family

Image result for modern family season 8 episode 7

There aren’t many sitcoms that can continue to make you laugh after eight seasons but that’s exactly what Modern Family is achieving episode after episode. I mean, a dead goat and Nathan Fillion? There’s no way that that isn’t comedy gold.

Seriously, Modern Family follows a simple formula with every episode but it hasn’t gone stale. The show remains hilarious but heart-warming; interesting but comfortably familiar. This week was just an example of how there is still so much to be learned about the wealth of characters that the show has.

One of the wonderful things about a show about family is that they’re always growing and developing. New members come in and some people leave but the core unit is always there.

This Week’s Worst: Arrow

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I adore Arrow and I think that this season in particular has been fantastic for the show which just makes this week’s episode even worse. It’s almost bad in a funny way.

The realistic, hand-to-hand combat fighting style is what really sets this show apart from the other superhero shows on The CW but this week missed the mark – literally. So many of the hits clearly did not land, a standout was Mr. Terrific flying backwards when he was just barely touched by Vigilante.

Other odd moments include the use of a teenager as paedophile bait; Oliver’s obtuseness as to the identity of the man behind the Vigilate mask; and we can’t forget the cringe-worthy voice modulation of Oliver’s new team.

The next time we see Arrow will be in the four-way DC crossover event and it will hopefully be back to true form.

What did you watch this week? Are you excited for the DC crossover event? Let me know in the comments.

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

Image result for modern family halloween

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.

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.

The Best Of This Week’s TV

Season premieres and season finales all happened this week: there was so much good stuff (and also bad stuff but we’ll get to that later) that it is very difficult to choose just one show to crown ‘Best of The Week’ so before we get there, let’s go through the honourable mentions.

Honourable Mentions

  • Image result for mr. robot posterAgents of Shield – for a season premiere which that took the show from aliens to Ghostrider – a wise move, but I kind of wish that their Ghostrider didn’t look like a badly constructed cartoon character.
  • Black-ish – for releasing the most entertaining 21 minute Disney World commercial that I have ever seen.
  • Modern Family – for still making me laugh in their 8th season.
  • Empire – for keeping me hooked on what is now essentially a high-budget soap opera.
  • Mr. Robot – for the most insane and beautifully filmed season finale that left me with more questions than answers.

Show of the Week: Pitch

Image result for pitch pilot

This week saw the series premiere of the new Fox drama, Pitch, and this had a lot of hype around it so I was definitely wary going into it. When you get as much media attention as this show did, you’re either going to be a disappointment or a phenomenon. So, did it live up to expectations? The answer is a resounding yes.

Pitch tells the story of the first female Major League Baseball player, Ginny Baker, and it has some of the themes that you would expect from this kind of story: sexism, dedication, triumphing against odds. Essentially, it has a lot of heart but it goes deeper than that. This is truly a character story and Kylie Bunbury does a fantastic job of presenting these strong emotions very subtly.

The entire cast was Pitch-perfect and throughout the pilot, seeds were planted to expand on some interesting story-lines. I wouldn’t be surprised if this show won this spot a few more times this season.

If you haven’t seen it yet then you should definitely give it a watch, I’m sure you will cry less than I did.

The Week’s Worst: Gotham

Image result for gotham

For me, Gotham stopped being good somewhere near the beginning of the second season. Some would argue that it went downhill a lot earlier than that (like, in the early development stages) but that seems unfair.

Whilst I’m being fair, I will say that if I was to grade this week’s episode in comparison to the episodes that were released last season, then this was pretty good.

Sure, every time Jim Gordon speaks I involuntarily cringe at the bad dialogue and maybe the story didn’t make the most sense in terms of character motivation. However, the fact that all of these people choose to live in this city makes me wonder if the logic within the show works differently to the one that I’m familiar with. Yeah, let’s go with that.

What did you watch this week? What did you love and what did you hate? Let me know in the comments.

Diversity… But Not What You’re Thinking || Emmy Season

TV and film are infinitely different experiences for me and it would be difficult to say which I prefer, but there is currently one aspect in which television has film beat: diversity.

Now, when I say diversity I do not mean that the characters of TV shows are representative of the different races, genders, sexualities and range of physical and mental abilities that exist in society because God knows that isn’t true (although they are doing a lot better than movies in that respect). What I’m talking about is the variety of stories being told.

In this year’s Emmy drama category there is: a fourth-wall-breaking political drama; a crime drama spin-off; a British historical period drama; and a psychological thriller about hacking just to name a few.

drama series.pngSome of the shows have a clear broad appeal but others were risky. There was absolutely no guarantee that a show like Mr. Robot would have the sort of reception that it has received but it was aired and it continues to push boundaries and grow its audience whilst it does so.

The film industry is in a rut. They produce the same tried and tested content: remakes, sequels and adaptations crowd the box office to the point that anything fresh doesn’t get a chance to shine. TV is heading in the opposite direction. Admittedly, of the seven drama nominees one is a spin-off, another is based on a hugely popular book series, one more is adapted from an Israeli series, and another is an adaptation of a BBC series which was based on a novel. But it feels fresh!

I realise that that sounds ridiculous but it’s true. When Hollywood does adaptations and remakes, they are desperately clinging onto what made the original, original. They are trying to recreate what made the audience interested in the first thing and that rarely works. TV adaptations are much braver in changing things and their purpose is more about bringing a great story to an audience that haven’t had the chance to experience the original.

Image result for the last airbender movieEven the comedy category is so varied. Modern Family and Black-ish represent the typical family sitcoms but then shows like Veep and Transparent add that beautiful diversity that I can’t stop talking about. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is a comedy about a woman that was locked up in an underground bunker for 15 years of her life. Who thought that that would work as a sitcom? Yet it does.

The increasing number of television networks means that there is a lot more space for shows. From guaranteed hits to the most niche of programming: they can find a place somewhere and as long as it’s good, they have a chance of making it to the Emmys. In that way, TV is pretty awesome.

What is the strangest show that you’re watching at the moment? Are they any nominated shows that you don’t think should be there? Let me know in the comments.

The Death Of The Laugh Track || Emmy Season

It is just one week until the 68th annual Primetime Emmy Award ceremony and I’m excited. I’m actually so excited that everyday from now until the awards, there is going to be Emmy specific content on this page and we’re kicking off today with the Comedy Series category.

Image result for master of noneThis year’s nominees in the category of Outstanding Comedy Series are:

  • Black-ish
  • Master of None
  • Modern Family
  • Silicon Valley
  • Transparent
  • Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
  • Veep

These series span a wide range of broadcast networks, subject matter and style but they all have one thing in common that you wouldn’t have been able to say ten years ago: no laugh track.

Since the 1950s the laugh track has been an integral part of the television comedy but this is the second year in a row that none of the nominated shows contain one (this also occurred in 2010 and 2015). Additionally, whilst there have been nominees with laugh tracks, none of them have won since 2005. So, the question is: is the world done with the laugh track?

Obviously I can’t answer for the entire world but I can say that I am definitely over it. Understand, I will always love Friends, Everybody Loves Raymond and I even have a soft spot for That 70’s Show but when I re-watch them I can’t help but cringe a little (sometimes a lot). The smooth, single-camera sitcom has pushed aside the old-fashioned multi-camera setup but there hasn’t been the usual uproar that any kind of change incites in our wonderful internet community. Maybe everybody else is tired of laugh tracks too.

Image result for the big bang theory
The obvious exception to this would be The Big Bang Theory but as they move into their tenth season this month and they failed to receive a nomination in this category this year, you have to wonder if their reign is coming to an end.

I’ve disparaged the laugh track but I haven’t explained why I don’t like it. Mostly, it feels awkward when the canned laughter comes into a scene and seems to tell you what you’re meant to find funny.

Television is supposed to be an escape from reality: it takes you to different places and you watch entirely new stories unravel but hearing this pre-planned laughter every five seconds is more than annoying, it’s jarring and removes any chance of fully immersing yourself in the show.

Admittedly, if you happen to have exactly the same sense of humour as the show’s sound editors then maybe the laugh track works for you but God forbid that you don’t, then all it does is highlight when a joke doesn’t land. Above all it feels as though they’re trying too hard and everybody knows that the cool kids don’t try. Duh.

Modern Family.pngCool Kid #1 and five-time winner in this category, Modern Family, is a case study in good comedy writing: it strikes the right balance between predictable outcome and the completely unexpected. There are enough characters that you never get sick of one particular dynamic and above all, the comedy feels natural.

When the laugh track comes on it brings with it this element of expectation: you’re given cues as to how you’re meant to feel and in some irrational part of my brain I get annoyed by that. I’m suddenly a twelve year old going: don’t tell me what to do.

As the years go on it looks as though the Emmys are really focusing on awarding this newer form of comedy series and I love that.

In regards to who I want to win, I have no idea: they’re all amazing and that level of quality runs throughout all of the categories this year as you’ll see as we continue to talk Emmys for the next seven days.

Are you a fan of the laugh track? Do you think the basic sitcom framework is changing? Who do you want to take home the Emmy this year? Let me know in the comments.