Midseason Television Review

Television is a little dull this time of year. Most series take a Mid-Season break from the end of November to the middle of January. Slowly we will see a return of new episodes for our favorite series. However, before we enter into the final stretch for these series current seasons, let’s review how the shows have performed thus far.

First let me preface this by saying that this review is not comprehensive. The shows represented are only shows I’ve had the time to watch regularly enough to generate an opinion.

FlashFlash

This series continues to outpace all other superhero related shows on television. While, some of the same story beats have been revisited from time to time, the show-runners have reused those plot beats in a clever way. The show has started to slow down a bit and lose focus from time to time. It’s loss of focus could be credited to the major role The Flash has had with setting up the new series Legends of Tomorrow. Of course the Arrow crossover events have played a role as well.

However, despite all of that, Flash continues to be a good show that is taking a lot of nerdy themes and concepts and incorporating them into the show. This show also continues to exhibit the most overall growth of its full cast of character. Every cast member matters in this show unlike a certain counterpart series.

ArrowArrow

Arrow has lightened the tone a bit while returning a bit to its core. The Arrow has changed his name to the Green Arrow, but besides all that it’s the same status quo really. The writers are doing a much better job this year of expanding the roles of the extended cast. Still there are too many instances where the characters feel as if they aren’t needed. There are scenes where characters seem to be standing around taking up camera space.

Granted, this season has been must better than the previous one. Neal McDonough as Damian Darhk has been phenomenal as the main villain. His acting has grounded the show, and given us an actual intriguing villain.

The Walking Dead

walking dead

The series has repeatedly tried to redefine itself every half season. It has taken a format similar to that of a Graphic Novel, using every 8 episodes as a story arc. The use of this format has been interesting to see play out. This season thus far has been a much different show that the introduction of Alexandria at the end of last season.

The show also seems to be breaking off into individual character tales, which for a show about a group of survivors, seems to ring flat with me. Maybe it’s just me, but characters such as Abraham (who possibly had the best line of the season in the first episode) and even Daryl, were shorted on camera time. The whole, Glen is dead but is he really dead twist also fell flat. This is especially relevant if the series decides to follow a certain story act from the comics involving the new villain Negan. How many times can this show tease Glen’s death before we just stop carrying.

For me, the charm of the show is about the cohesiveness of the group. I know the cast has gotten extremely large, but the idea of splitting them up for effective storytelling got old at the beginning of season 5. The story is still good, one of the best on television so don’t let my bickering sway your opinion of the show. I just feel the execution could be better. However, with hints of a promising new villain, it will be interesting to see how the show redefines itself across the second half of this season.

Agents of Shield

agentsOfShield

Agents of Shield has my pick for the most improved superhero series. If you told me two years ago, that Agents of Shield would be engaging, with interesting characters and a story that actually generated believable character growth, I’d laugh at you. I’d laugh really hard. I mean, I would be rolling in the floor uncontrollably.

At the end of the Agents of Shield’s first season, this show was a train wreck. Now, this series is finally starting to click. The plot is engaging and the villains are intriguing, especially the main foil who is developing into his own as a Hydra boss. All members of the team have grown, there isn’t any throw away characters or annoying extras anymore.

The best part of this series is the writing. This show actually has subplots now. The stakes were raised and the audience (at least for me anyways) actually cared. The characters showed emotion. There was visceral emotion that was believable. The character motivations were realistic and seemed in-character. Also, the newcomers to the cast, especially Blair Underwood, have added a much needed air of legitimacy.

If you’ve given up on this show, start again at the beginning of season 3. Don’t worry about catching up, (There are Inhumans in the world now) you really don’t need to. This show is worry of your time. The touch of Joss Whedon has finally started to rub through.

Supergirl

Supergirl

Admittedly, I never had much confidence in Supergirl. CBS doesn’t have the best reputation of fresh, young shows. The previews of this show seemed an attempt for CBS to enter the superhero business in a quirky, sitcom manner.

To my surprise, Supergirl isn’t that bad. It is nowhere near the level of a show like the Flash or the Walking Dead, but it does have some redeemable qualities. The writing of each episode is actually quite good. The visual effects are ok, and the acting is passable. The lead actress playing Supergirl is rather charming and charismatic.

The problem with this show is the fact that the Superman franchise overshadows it constantly. For the first couple of episodes, Kara could even get out of her super cousin’s shadow. No, literally there is a scene with the silhouette of superman cast on a young Kara for the first couple of episodes of this series.

The entire series is fashioned like a carbon copy of a Superman story. You have the same archetypical characters and settings. Even Jimmy Olsen is in this series. However, if you ignore those factors, this show does have heart and is entertaining. So far, it’s a show worth checking out at least.

Heroes Reborn

heroes-reborn

The return of what was once one of my favorite shows on television was better than I expected. While this is not a “can’t miss” show by any means, it is solid entertainment that has developed as the season progressed.

Starting out, the show was interesting if for no other reason than to catch up with some of these characters. Initially, this show started out interesting. Sadly, there wasn’t enough plot revealed to maintain interest. The characters seemed to be running around, dodging some mysterious enemy, without any interesting stakes to keep the audience enthralled.

However, this show turned a corner with the episode June 13th part one. Finally the plot was moving and some developments revealed. Moving into the second half of this season, which has already started on NBC, Heroes Reborn looks to finish its 13 episode season strong. We’ll see if that truly will be the case.

Star Wars Rebels

This show continues to be a boost to the canon of Star Wars lore. The additional of not one but two new Inquisitors (One being female) was a great move. The show has expanded is scope, leaving Lothal behind. Now the crew roams the galaxy as part of Phoenix Squad, a rebellion splinter group.

Rebels2

The character growth of all the characters continues as the story group continues to link the prequels with the old trilogy through the stories they tell. The mid-season finale seemed more like a break in production rather than a culmination of nature plot elements. However, Rebels continues to be a great addition to the new Star Wars canon.  Now that The Force Awakens has been released, it will be interesting to see how Kanan and Ezra fit into the lore of episodes 4-9.

The Bastard Executioner

You may not have heard of this series. The Bastard Executioner was canceled about four or five shows in. This show seemed to have so much promise. Its creator was the creator of Sons of Anarchy, in my opinion one of the most consistently well told stories in recent Television history.  The setting was intriguing and fresh. There are few dark age/Medieval period piece series on Television today.

I was rooting for this show, but it floundered with a slow developing plot and poor execution (no pun intended). The acting was poor and the plot revelations were so dull and vague that it was hard to attract a solid audience. Given time, Kurt Sutter would have found his flow, but his Sons of Anarchy success couldn’t carry over to this dud of a show.

Into The Badlands

into the badlands

I’ve waited a while for this kind of show. This is what NBC’s Revolution could have been. This series’ writers created an interesting world full of rich history and culture. This dystopian future interestingly enough, doesn’t have guns or firearms of any kind. So the future, in both combat and culture, mirrors the past.

This series has an intriguing and diverse cast of characters. There is also just enough mystery in the plot to maintain that sense of wonder. The revelation of those mysteries, mixed with the immersing into the culture was paced perfectly.

AMC has another hit on their hands. I hope season two has a few more episodes. 6 episodes is far too short a time to spend in this world of martial arts action. If you are a fan of Epic Fantasy and Martial Arts and haven’t seen this show, you are doing yourself a serious disservice. You need to see this series.

How to Get Away with Murder

How-To-Get-Away-With-Murder

How to Get Away with Murder was perhaps my favorite new series of the 2014 Fall television season. Season 2, like most shows, isn’t quite as well executed as the first. The writers have taken a slightly different approach to season 2 which has allowed it to remain fresh.

The entire first half of the season revolved around two new characters involved in a murder mystery. Of course, a good murder mystery is the story crux of this series. The character development is handled beautifully and the acting is stellar.

The only major hang up of the story is that in the mid-season finale, this show went so far that it will be extremely difficult to maintain some necessary relationships between characters. The show is good, not quite as good as last season, but still solid. It will be interesting to see what direction this show explores next.

Empire

EMP-R9-01_kva1_newSignDJ1.jpg
TV STILL — DO NOT PURGE — EMPIRE: (L-R): Trai Byers as Andre Lyon, Taraji Henson as Cookie Lyon, Terrence Howard as Lucious Lyon, Jussie Smollett as Jamal Lyon and Trai Byers as Andre Lyon. ©2014 Fox Broadcasting Co. CR: Michael Lavine/FOX

Possibly the hottest new show of 2015 seemed to fizzle out a little in its second season. Season 1 of this show was very enthralling. This could be because it was fresh. Sure we had seen the same plot beats before, but not framed this way or in the same cultural settings. Season 2 seemed to try and top itself, just for the sake of shock value. The plot didn’t flow nearly as well as its freshman season.

However, Empire is still a very intriguing show. It’s interesting to see a show on network television that displays a blend of urban culture with a Wall Street touch. The show fills very American in several ways. I’d be remised if I didn’t mention the cast and the acting. Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard are phenomenal and carry the show on their backs.

Scandalscandal

After such a red hot fourth season, season five has been unimpressive. Even the mid-season finale was less than stellar in my opinion. Normally the writing crew at Shondaland productions is great about creating those shocking moments. Their plot twists are quite often genius. They just came up short this year. Of course it felt as if that wasn’t exactly what the show was going for this year.

As great as this show has been and still is, there are aspects of the plot that are getting old. The Presidential love affair, this back and forth romance of on again and off again passion is really getting annoying. Granted, it is a major plot point of the entire series but the show has evolved since the initial seasons. Commit to the love story or work past it, stop teasing the audience only to have something always come up. Also, it appears as if a certain previous villain will be returning. This show disparately needs a strong foil character. The lack of a strong villain as in seasons past, have left some characters directionless. Yet despite all of this, the show’s track record is too good to not believe the series can’t figure things out.

 

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