End of the Year TV Report (2013): Part 3

Sorry for my tardiness but finally here’s Part 3, an overview of American and British television for last year.

Rating the things that moved me and the things that disturbed me:

Must Watch – “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough”
Watch – Shaking my booty
Just OK – Two-steppin’
If you’re bored – Boppin’ my head to be polite
Pass – Stop the twerking, stop the twerking!

COMPLETED AMERICAN/BRITISH SERIES

BUNHEADS

I really wanted to give Bunheads the benefit of the doubt but alas, it met the chopping block early last year.  The 2 season show has got the same witty dialogue that Gilmore Girls did and it was charming but it didn’t live up to expectations.

Verdict: Just OK

SMASH

Sure, the 1st season wasn’t perfect but I enjoyed most of it.  However, the second season really didn’t feel like it was the same show with its dueling musicals.  Nor did I really like the Jimmy character very much.  Plus, I was dismayed that legitimate Broadway musical stars like Christian Borle and Leslie Odom, Jr. barely got to sing all that much.

Verdict: If you’re bored

FRINGE

Somewhere in the 4th season, my zeal for the show started waning.  Then we take a time jump in the first half of the 5th season and my heart just wasn’t there with the show.  Most of the last season feels slow and disconnected from the rest of the series but everything is tied up nicely in a neat bow.  I was pleasantly surprised that there was nice emotional arc for our characters.

Verdict: Just OK

1600 PENN

A major disappointment to see Bill Pullman and Jenna Elfman in this poorly written comedy.  It was a show to feature mainly Josh Gad and he just couldn’t carry the weight of the show.

Verdict: Pass

COPPER

Also another show that lost its focus in the 2nd season.  Not surprised that it got canceled.

Verdict: Pass

DEXTER

This show has been moving away from everything that made it great in the first few seasons.  I don’t know what we’re supposed to feel about Dexter at the end here.  Were we supposed to feel pity or hate?  The fact is there was a whole lack of feeling for the show and the character at the end there that when I got to that final moment, it didn’t upset me.  The whole season was setting me up for disappointment.

Verdict: Pass

BREAKING BAD

Now here’s another show about a main character who breaks the law and unlike Dexter, this series was a masterpiece from beginning to end.  From the teasers in the opening scenes to the reveal of hidden meanings to acting, cinematography, writing, this was one masterpiece in which even encourage Anthony Hopkins to write a letter of appreciation for.

Verdict: MUST Watch

BEING HUMAN (BBC)

Another show that just didn’t live up to its first season glory.  Watched the final season partly out of loyalty, partly out of habit.  The season is dark for the most part but I did like that the last moment brought some lightness back.  Mostly I missed the clever witticisms of the first season.

Verdict: If you’re bored

AMERICAN/BRITISH TV

HANNIBAL

The thing that sucks about this show is they had to make us wait so long for Season 2.  I love Bryan Fuller’s cinematic vision for this show.  It’s so dark but saturated with color.  It teases us with images of the culinary delights only to make us snap back and realize that the main ingredient is people meat.  Generously add in performances by Mads Mikkelsen and Hugh Dancy whose characters play a truly twisted game of cat and mouse.  The result is a masterpiece of gastronomic proportions.  Season 2.  February 28th, 2014.  That is all.

Verdict: MUST Watch

THE FOLLOWING

One of the other serial killer dramas last year but considering that it starred Kevin Bacon and James Purefoy, it was a project that was way beneath them.  The drama started on a high note but after the Pilot episode the writing went from bad to worse to laughable.  I was shocked that it got a 2nd season but honestly I don’t see the show improving.

Verdict: Pass

THE AMERICANS

What is with the popularity of the Cold War these days?  Another show with an excellent Pilot.  The Pilot was fast-paced and exciting and the story considerably slowed down until the climactic end.  I would rather want the excitement level to be on an escalating scale instead of bookending it.  I love watching Elizabeth and Phillip don on various costumes as the identities they take on are so run-of-the-mill normal and yet so different from their American family persona.  The wardrobes choices are excellent on this show and they not only aid Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys in creating various characters but the wardrobes are characters in themselves.

Verdict: Watch

BEING HUMAN (SYFY)

As I finished the original British series, I said goodbye to this series altogether.  The American version has managed to make the show their own by veering from the original storylines and I do like that it does seem to have a lighter tone than the British but I’ve always felt that there was something lacking with this show.  The witty quality of some their reoccurring and episodic characters aren’t present here in the American series.

Verdict: Pass

BATES MOTEL

Yet another serial killer drama.  Was there a clearance sale for serial killer scripts or something?  This modern update on the 1960’s Psycho tale felt like something out of Twilight Zone.  Some familiar elements set in an alternate universe.  Vera Farmiga and Freddie Highmore are both great in the show.  They really dug into their characters.  It’s the rest of the town that’s the problem.

Verdict: Pass

GLEE

With so many of the original cast members gone, I found it harder to continue this series.  I wish Tina and Artie had been given the spotlight to shine but the show decided to focus many storylines to the newer cast members.  I thought about returning for the Cory Monteith tribute but I had already closed the chapter on this series back in the Spring.

Verdict: Pass

NIKITA

I kept putting this show on the backburner and eventually we had to part ways.  And I’m glad that I did.  Nikita going all-out vigilante without her fellow Division members felt so predictable.  Of course, she’s going to try to do everything on her own and her friends will feel betrayed only to discover that she was trying to do it to save them.  I did end up catching the last five minute of the series finale and confirmed my suspicions.

Verdict: Pass

COUGAR TOWN

I was really happy that this series was renewed last year as I have a soft spot for it.  We ended up having the Laurie and Travis thing work out but really I’m not sure where the series can go now that their together.  We all know how great that worked out for Jules and Grayson.

Verdict: If you’re bored

RIPPER STREET

Serial killers and yet more serial killers.  There was something I really liked about the concept of Whitechapel but Ripper Street is not really about Jack the Ripper.  It’s a crime drama taking place in Whitechapel following the aftermath of the Ripper slayings.  It’s a procedural cop drama that’s predictable and boring.

Verdict: Pass

THE NEWSROOM

I’m a little torn because I love this series.  The last season’s storytelling was tight, the characters progressed and the dialogue continued to be fast-paced, thought-provoking and witty.  I get that this is an idealistic view of the world of journalism and I really like the Americana sensibility of the show.  Feels like you’re looking at a Norman Rockwell painting.  However, this last season felt like it caved to some of the show’s criticisms.  Not to mention the season finale felt like a series finale (Jeff Daniels insists it’s coming back).  I still have a fond place in my heart for the show and will continue watching when it returns.

Verdict: Watch

HAWAII FIVE-O

Pretty, pretty, Hawaii scenery.  I just never get tired of looking at it.  The show itself does need work.  I don’t think it’s unique because the procedural format has gotten a bit old for this series.  Also, bring Kono back to the island and back to the team.  Not liking her storyline this season.  However, I do like the addition of Catherine.

Verdict: Just OK

TRUE BLOOD

My interest in this drama has been waning for a while now.  There are so many storylines that are not interesting or turned out to be disappointing.  It’d be easy to blame it on Alan Ball’s departure from the series but the problems started happening before then.  However, the series is almost over so I supposed I’ll stick it out since it’s ending soon.

Verdict: If you’re bored

WAREHOUSE 13

Also, another series that’s about to end.  It was touch and go last season but with the evil Artie storyline behind us, I’m looking forward to seeing what the final 6 episodes will offer the viewers.  Unlike True Blood, I still care about these characters.  Plus, there were some great episodes this past season such as “The Big Snag”, which put Pete and Myka found them stuck in the 1940’s and in black and white.

Verdict: Just OK

BROADCHURCH

I first panned this drama because of its dreadful slow pace in the beginning.  But like the sleepy little town of Broadchurch, the drama lulls you into a sense of complacency.  So much so that the reveal of the murderer comes from left field and yet made sense to me.  Hints are dropped all along but they’re so insignificant that even a trained dramawatcher won’t be able to see what’s coming.  Just not looking forward to David Tennant taking on an American accent for the US version.

Verdict: Watch

MAD MEN

Don wasn’t very likable last year but finally what needed to happened has happened.  I’m not sure what that means for this upcoming season because I can’t separate the Ad Man from his persona but I guess we’ll find out.

Verdict: Watch

GREY’S ANATOMY

Grey’s Anatomy has been quite the rollercoaster ride and not all has produced great results.  Specifically, I hate that Christina and Meredith are on the outs with each other and if that’s what they need to part ways (as Sandra Oh is leaving the show), then boo.  As for Jackson and his grandstanding gesture at April, I’m still undecided about that.  I think I’ll have to see how that plays out but it was a typical plot move.  No points for originality.

Verdict: Just OK

SCANDAL

The show tends to get more and more illogical and yet I’m still pretty hooked on all of its soapiness.  I really wanted Huck to save Quinn and yet I’m disappointed that he treated her like everyone else.  Jake was one of those characters that was left in the wind this season as Olivia kept going back to Fitz.  We only got further development with his character at the end of the year and we’ll see how his character affects thing when it comes back.  Olivia’s father was definitely a foreboding figure but I can’t say that I feel the same way about her mother.  Another story that hasn’t fully played out but for now I’m not as invested in it.  The show really does need more of Harrison, Abby and David.

Verdict: Watch

PARENTHOOD

It’s been tough for me to watch this season.  I don’t really have a desire to watch this show live but I really, really like the show and find the storylines compelling.  This is one show that’s good to binge-watch.  I’m worried to find Julia and Joel’s relationship is in trouble.  Right along with Sarah, I also worried about Amber marrying Ryan.  Thank god that’s been postponed for now.  This show is so great because it works on a generational level whether you watch it alone or with different members of your family.

Verdict: Watch

SUITS

Let’s just say that this past season hasn’t been perfect as the pacing has slowed up a bit this past season but they totally make up for it by the season finale.

Verdict: Watch

ROYAL PAINS

My enthusiasm for this show came back this summer.  There was so much character development this year that put our characters in different places in their lives.  While I didn’t love the Hank being addicted to pills storyline, I did love how it changed the dynamic between him and the people at HankMed, especially Jeremiah.

Verdict: Watch

WHITE COLLAR

I feel like I’m watching the same storylines again on this show except with different character actors and frankly, it’s getting a little boring.

Verdict: If you’re bored

COVERT AFFAIRS

Dull repetitive storylines.  Auggie and Annie.  Decommissioned.

Verdict: Pass

PSYCH

It’s been so long that I had forgotten that Shuliet were sort of on a break.  Plus now with a new boss in town, I’m not thrilled about the season’s return if it’s going to be all gloomy pants.  Having said that, I totally enjoyed the musical.  Not for the music itself but it was hilarious.

Verdict: Watch

SLEEPY HOLLOW

I put this on my watchlist thinking it would be cheesy and I’d quit a couple episodes in but I actually really like the show.  There’s a lot of clever wit and American history references.  It’s bring out the nerd in me.

Verdict: Watch

HAVEN

I’ve really enjoyed this past season and its shocking conclusion.  However, I was left wondering if we’d come back next season and spend another half of the season with a character that’s not our Audrey.  This show tends to give viewers what they want and take it away just as quickly and I wonder if it’s because they don’t know where to take the characters.

Verdict: Just OK

DRACULA

It’s superficially entertaining.  Jonathan Rhys Meyers is a little ridiculous as its title character but he does evil and charming so well that you overlook the show’s flaws.  I’m so intrigued by Dracula’s infatuation with Mina Murray.  I’m slowly warming to Mina but perhaps it’s because she beginning to act on her attraction to Dracula (aka Alexander Grayson).  Lady Jayne is amusingly entertaining with her S&M ways.

Verdict: Watch

GRIMM

Grimm sometimes has great episodes and other times mediocre episodes, especially in this current season.  There’s something off with Nick but it’s not clear when the drama will address that.   Now we’re just looking forward to Adalind giving birth to her royal-blooded child.  Will she survive to take care of the baby?

Verdict: Watch

NEW GIRL

I had worried about the fate of the show now that Nick and Jess are together.  Sure, their relationship has change but the overall tone of the show hasn’t.  It’s nice to see Coach back and I like his dynamic with Winston.  Winston feels like a more defined character this year.  Schmidt is an emotional mess but I’m loving his character development.

Verdict: Must Watch

SUPER FUN NIGHT

Is it just me or is that sparkly magic unicorn-y quality to Rebel Wilson diluted without her Australian accent?  The first few episodes of this sitcom were hard to watch and not funny.  However, I am slowly growing to like it.  Perhaps it will one day get to the point where I can consider it a good show but I can’t promise that it won’t get canceled before then.

Verdict: If you’re bored

MODERN FAMILY

The episodes this past season have mostly been mediocre.  The show still makes it laugh but it’s more infrequent now.

Verdict: Just OK

THE GOOD WIFE

It’s happened.  Hitting the Fan was such appropriately named episode.  The aftermath is an entirely different thing.  Our alliances lie with both firm and I’m finding it hard to completely vilify either party.  So what we’re left with is this middle ground which I’m not happy about residing in.  On the other hand, I love Eli Gold and his adorable romantic inclinations towards Natalie (America Ferrera).

Verdict: Watch

ELEMENTARY

This show has done something pretty interesting with the characters from the books.  Some of the strong, independent characters from the book are female on the show.  On the other hand, I have to admit not being sold on the Mycroft character, particularly because he’s played by Rhys Ifans.  And I honestly don’t get what the Mycroft/Joan Watson relationship is all about.

Verdict: Just OK

MELISSA & JOEY

The show feels a bit dated and when I say that it’s because it’s a family sitcom filmed in a studio with a live audience.  That just feels so 90’s, doesn’t it?  But the show is corny and I love the chemistry between the two stars.  It’s definitely a hard show for me to rate objectively.  Either you’re gonna like it or it’s not even going to be on your radar.

Verdict: Just OK

THE CRAZY ONES

The show is a total disaster.  Perhaps David E. Kelley’s brand of wittiness doesn’t work with Robin Williams’ brand of craziness.  To be fair, Kelley only wrote the pilot episode of the series and serves as the Executive Producer but that first episode didn’t make me laugh at all.

Verdict: Pass

THE MICHAEL J. FOX SHOW

Another tv star that has made a comeback to this medium.  This show is definitely better than The Crazy Ones but it is your run-of-the-mill family sitcom akin to Modern Family.  Right now, my plate is way too full to add it to my list of show but it would have to 50% funnier for me to choose Modern Family over this one.

Verdict: If you’re bored

AMERICAN HORROR STORY: COVEN

I wish I cared about the characters on this show but I don’t.  Nor is it scary.  It’s too bad since this is an awesome cast, particularly to have Jessica Lange, Kathy Bates and Angela Bassett all in the same room.  The only episode worth noting is The Axeman Cometh for its stylistic camerawork that was so in tune with the New Orleans jazz scene of the 1920’s.  It felt like a cheap dime store noir novel which is what made it so great.

Verdict: If you’re bored

REIGN

It’s another soapy teenage drama on CW but it takes place in the 16th Century.  You have a pair of young lovers who’ve been betrothed to one another but dealing with all the issues that teenagers face.  Overshadowing their nuptials is the predication that their marriage will bring death to Francis.  Queen Mary’s handmaidens are unrealistic but I don’t mind that much with the exception of Kenna.  She’s pretty irritating to watch.

Verdict: Watch

THE VAMPIRE DIARIES

The soapy teenage drama that I was once addicted has been replaced by Reign.  I’m not really sure why I’m sticking around now that Damon and Elena has parted ways but my patience has worn thin.  If the storylines don’t improve, looks like I’m going to have to put a stake in this one.

Verdict: If you’re bored

THE ORIGINALS

With the staleness of storylines from The Vampire Diaries, I was thinking it wasn’t a great time to start a spin-off of another series.  The stories from the two shows barely overlap but there’s very little in this one that keeps me going.  I am interested to see Elijah and Hayley’s relationship will go but unless Caroline Forbes joins this show, I don’t see this series lasting very long on my DVR.

Verdict: If you’re bored

MARVEL’S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.

Out of all the new shows that have premiered last year, this was one of the biggest disappointments.  Having said that, the show improved its storytelling but I can’t help feel that I’m past the age limit for this show.

Verdict: If you’re bored

RAY DONOVAN

I think the series started out strong but at a certain point the season plateaued in development.  I wish the show spent more time having Ray be on top of his day job rather than taking care of his personal life.  However, it’s an excellent cast.  If anything it’s the actors that make the characters interesting and continues to keep me intrigue but I would be lying if I didn’t say that I had to make the effort to watch this show.

Verdict: Just OK

ONCE UPON A TIME IN WONDERLAND

The show is a mish mosh of children’s stories.  The cinematography and visual effects are overly saturated with color.  I wish the writers didn’t rely so much on the magic aspect of the stories, as in we’re just going to solve this problem with a magical trinket.  It makes the series feel cheap and childish.

Verdict: If you’re bored

MASTERS OF SEX

I love the dynamic between Michael Sheen’s Dr. Crankypants and Lizzy Caplan’s Single Working Mother characters.  There’s a nice balancing act going on between the two.  When Bill Masters comes off as irritable, Ginny is able to dial him back.  When Ginny gets overexcited, he grounds the work in the science.  When they go on a “break”, it was a little distressing but necessary and the final scene of the season just tops the cake.

Verdict: Must Watch

DOCTOR WHO

Out with old and in with the new.  It was a big, big year for the show.  I think Amy and Rory got a proper ending and I welcomed Clara with open arms.  She’s delightful on the show and she had great chemistry with the Doctor, without having a certain romantic thing hang over them.  The 50th anniversary episode was also great and it was nice to see a lot of old faces.  Plus John Hurt was a coup casting hire for the show.  As for Matt’s departure, I can’t help feeling a bit… like my memory has been erased, unmemorable.  Peter Capaldi swoops in and Matt Smith has hung up his cape and I felt very indifferent about the hand off.  So I’m unsure of what the future holds for this series.

Verdict: Watch

DOWNTON ABBEY: SERIES 4

I miss Matthew.  I was really disappointed with the whole lot of Mary’s suitors.  They’re unremarkable.  But that may be because I loved Matthew.  Which sucks.  However, that’s not the major incident that happens this year.  The major incident, which I won’t spoil until American audiences have had a chance to watch, was completely frightening and infuriating.  That story wraps up (or does it?) off screen but I was satisfied with the conclusion for now.  However, I’m fully aware that the show could turn it all around next year.

Verdict: Watch

ALMOST HUMAN

It wasn’t love at first sight with the characters on this show.  I wanted to watch because I like Karl Urban and I like Michael Ealy, not to mention Lili Taylor. Detective Kennex (Karl Urban) was a bit over-the-top for me with his loud, obnoxious personality.  On the other hand, Dorian (Micheal Ealy) wasn’t a strong enough character (or android).  The imbalance is starting to even out a bit now.  The world the show has created is interesting and the cases they solve have their own level of suspense.  Definitely keep an eye on this one.

Verdict: Watch

CALL THE MIDWIFE

There was such a long break between the actual season and the Christmas special that I forgot what had happened in the season.  Case in point, the fact that Jenny started dating Jimmy’s friend.  I’d say that if you’re new to the series the first few episodes are a bit dull but with some patience it’s so easy to warm up to the lovely sisterhood of characters as well as the supporting cast.  I do wish that in the next season Nurse Jenny has a more substantive storyline as she seemed forgettable this past season.  Perhaps that’s why I couldn’t remember what happened.

Verdict: Watch

THE BLETCHLEY CIRCLE

Originally aired in 2012 in the UK, I only watched this series early last year on PBS.  The first series is short (only 3 episodes) and it covers a single case which these 4 women, former code breakers during WWII, solve.  It was suspenseful and completely addictive.  I love watching all the pieces of the case come together.  The main 4 female characters feel like they’ve been taken from Sex and the City which makes me wonder why that comparison is always made when 4 women get together on shows.  Pus, the murderer is superbly creepy, played by Steven Robertson.  Some might remember him from BBC’s Being Human.

Verdict: Must Watch

THE PARADISE

I previously dismissed this series because it reminded me too much of Mr Selfridge.  Truth is this series did air first in the UK but in the States, it happened the other way around.  I guess it’s all about timing.  This series is based on Emile Zola’s novel but I’m somewhat dismayed by the show as I found some of the main characters unlikable.

Verdict: Just OK

MR SELFRIDGE

The other British drama about a department store features Harry Selfridge played by Jeremy Piven and loosely based on the historical figure.  I like Jeremy Piven’s exuberance as he plays this part but then again, he typically seems to play a lot of characters who are full of gusto.

_____________________________________________________

BEST AMERICAN/BRITISH SHOW OF THE YEAR

While it wasn’t a great K-Drama year, there were some really great programs on American and British TV.  There were also a lot of similar running themes from serial killer dramas to old sitcom stars returning to television.  Not all are winners but it was a very busy year.  I didn’t want to end this in another tie like last year but both of these show deserve accolades.  This year’s honor goes to Hannibal and Breaking Bad.

HANNIBAL – I honestly love Bryan Fuller’s vision for this show and the title character.  There are so many ways this show could have gone wrong, especially since Anthony Hopkins embodies the idea of this character in our minds.  Mads Mikkelsen creates his own incarnation of this well-known character that I am able to momentarily forget about Anthony Hopkins.  I also love Hugh Dancy plays all the intricacies of Will Graham from being autistic to watching him being psychically driven by Dr. Lecter.  We identify with Graham so in a way our perception of reality within the world of the show is also being toyed with.  It’s amazing that a show can reach out and affect the viewers sense of what’s real and what’s not real.

BREAKING BAD – Perhaps this show deserves awards because it wrapped up its final season on a high note.  However, this show, within its 5 season run, was simply perfect.  I mean, Anthony Hopkins (bringing it full circle again!) wrote a letter to Bryan Cranston gushing about its perfection after having marathoned the entire series in two weeks.  That definitely says something, doesn’t it?  During the 4th and first half of the 5th season, I was having a tough time liking Walter White.  At the very beginning, we understood and in our own way supported Walter entering the meth business.  At the end, he became so evil that I hated him but the show reminded us once again that he is still a human who made bad choices because he thought he was doing the right thing.  There was a glimmer of sympathy.  And in the final episodes everything happens for a specific and clear reason which is so satisfying to watch as a viewer.

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