End of the Year TV Report (2015): Part 3

This last one is gonna be a tough one as I did not do a good job in keeping up with all of my usual American/British shows. In the last few weeks of the 2015 and until now, I’ve been trying to bingewatch on as much as I could, one series at a time. I got through some but not all so I guess my New Years’ resolution is to catch up as there are new series starting up soon!

The ratings, courtesy of Adele lyrics, are as follows:

Must Watch – “Sweetest Devotion” – The sweetest devotion hit me like an explosion
Watch – “Hello” – Hello from the other side…
Just OK – “All I Ask” – All I ask is if this is my last night with you, hold me like I’m more than just a friend
If you’re bored – “Can’t Let Go” – When did it go wrong, I will never know
Pass – “Remedy” – When the world seems so cruel and your heart makes you feel like a fool

COMPLETED AMERICAN/BRITISH SERIES

COUGAR TOWN

As much as it was a poorly titled sitcom, I liked the characters on it and the humor on the show. However, the final season was difficult to watch because emotionally, I’ve already moved on. The series was okay while it lasted but the final season did little more than tell us that everyone lived happily ever after. That’s really all you need to know to sleep at night.

Verdict: Pass

MAD MEN

As much as I wanted to like the final season, this was another show where my heart just wasn’t there. If they had decided to run the final season altogether instead of splitting it up, then I might have been more excited. I liked how Peggy’s story ended and I’d like to tell my friend that I totally predicted the more than platonic relationship between her and another McCann Erickson employee. SPOILER ALERT – As for Don, I wasn’t a big fan of his downward spiral and I was unimpressed by the big reveal that he was the mind behind the famous Coca-Cola spot.

Verdict: Just OK

STALKER

I’m a little sad that this show got canceled when it did. As creepy as the subject matter is, it was a consistent, procedural cop drama. In the final episodes, we final got into the backstory of our main character, Beth Davis (Maggie Q). I liked that the relationship of the squad changed and evolved. However, it was clearly not where I wanted the show to end as there are members of the squad that I don’t completely trust or know much about. Still, I liked the format of the show with their creepy rendition covers of famous love songs.

Ratings: Just OK

MELISSA & JOEY

It’s not a show that I was obsessed over. However, the corny humor and likable cast had me coming back from the entertainment value. I can see why ABC Family decided to end the show as the final season lacked the fun stories that the previous seasons had.

Ratings: Pass

HANNIBAL

As disturbing and weird as the show got, it’s still quite the visual masterpiece. The final season wasn’t as great as the previous seasons but I was satisfied by the fact that we got to understand the depths of Hannibal’s relationship with Will. I don’t recommend this series for everyone, especially for those who are uncomfortable with the psychotically gruesome plotlines, but as a whole, the series was disturbingly enthralling.

Verdict: Watch

HAVEN

Haven’s been on a downward slope for 2 years now. I really didn’t know where it intended to go with its story. Turns out, neither did the show. Until it got cancelled. The earlier seasons were interesting but the supernatural lore got too cumbersome for the latter part of the series.

Verdict: Pass

DOWNTON ABBEY SEASON 6

With the exception of a few key scenes, this season doesn’t really have the English finesse that the previous seasons had. Still, if you’ve loved the show and the characters, there’s a lot that this season still offers. It’s all wrapped up nicely in a bow but at least we’re reassured that the good folk at Downton Abbey will soldier on despite the changing times. Honestly, I think that was the whole point of this final season.

Verdict: Watch

AMERICAN/BRITISH TV

GALAVANT

It’s not a show that a lot of people are gonna love. It’s too campy and cheesy for some but I found myself laughing at the corniness and just reveling in the fact that there’s no other show out there like this. It doesn’t have quite the same smart wit of Monty Python but if you don’t mind that, the show can provide mindless entertainment.

Verdict: Just OK

MARVEL’S AGENT CARTER

I feel like this show was kind of an experiment for ABC. They weren’t sure as to whether it would be a hit with Marvel fans. What I like about the show is that it takes place in time when women aren’t always seen as strong but the female heroine is not only strong but witty and savvy. Hayley Atwell is awesome in the role. I also really loved James D’Arcy as the dorky Jarvis and Dominic Cooper as the arrogant but suave Howard Stark. For the 2nd season, I’m hoping that Agent Carter gets a love interest because she’s pined for Captain America long enough.

Verdict: Watch

12 MONKEYS

Since I was such a fan of the movie, I approached this series cautiously. The story doesn’t exactly follow the movie but it smartly takes the basic elements from the original source and makes it its own thing. With each jump between the future and the past, it leaves me on the edge of my seat as to what will happen next and whether our core cast of characters will even survive. Aaron Stanford is excellent as James Cole and he has great chemistry with Cassandra Railly, who plays Amanda Schull. I cannot wait for the series to return this Spring and go figure, 2016 will be the Year of the Monkey. Coincidence? I think not.

Verdict: Must Watch

BETTER CALL SAUL

I wanted to love this series only because I loved Breaking Bad wholeheartedly. It’s that the series is terrible, far from it. It’s just that I’m not all that in love with Saul Goodman’s motives the way I was with Walter White. Still, I’m hoping that I’ll grow to love this series so I’m not ready to give up on it yet.

Verdict: Just OK

BROADCHURCH

What I liked about the 2nd series is that it literally picks up where we left off. The end of the first episode literally left me speechless. However, I liked the flow of the murder trial and its ultimate conclusion. Not everyone was happy with the conclusion but I was satisfied by the fact that it was realistic and thought-provoking. Having said that, I did not like everything else involving the new case and Alec Hardy’s backstory. I was just not compelled by those characters and their motives. Weirdly enough, James D’Arcy was in the 2nd series as quite a different character than the one he plays on Agent Carter. It was weird watching him as both series were being broadcast around the same time.

Verdict: Just OK

SECRETS AND LIES

On the one hand, I like the small-town atmosphere and mysterious nature of the plot. On the other hand, there were more than a few characters I could not stand. You want to feel for and understand the fear Ben Crawford (Ryan Phillippe) feels as the main character but the choices that Ben makes are illogical and you know that it’ll make him appear more suspicious. I also couldn’t see eye-to-eye with Ben’s wife, Christy (Kadee Strickland), as we never really get to see her as a sympathetic or supportive character. I get that she suspects her own husband or that’s the impression we’re supposed to get of her character but we never really warm up to her character throughout the season.

Verdict: If you’re bored

AMERICAN CRIME: SEASON 1

While Secrets and Lies focused on one case, American Crime takes that one case and gives you multiple points of view. From the victims’ perspectives (not all of them have the same perspective) to the suspected culprit to the people who help to aid and abet in the crime, it’s quite interesting what motives average people to do what they do. Race plays a huge factor in the story as the “victims” are white and the suspects are minorities. Both Felicity Huffman and Regina King give powerful performances even though you might not like the characters that they play.

Verdict: Must Watch

THE AMERICANS

This series is a slow burn but when you sit down and get into it, it just gets better and better. This past year has all been about Paige (Holly Taylor) and how she is becoming her own person which doesn’t sit well with Elizabeth (Keri Russell). Also, the running storyline becomes how the KGB wants to recruit the 2nd generation children. Paige does eventually find out what her parents really do and she goes through a really difficult time in grappling with the news. I’m eager to see what Paige decides to do and where her choices will lead her and her family.

Rating: Watch

THE GOOD WIFE

To be honest with you, I think the drama behind-the-scenes affected the storylines.   I’m not totally up-to-date with the latest season but with Archie Panjabi gone, the feels lacking in many ways. I still enjoy watching some of my favorite characters like Diane, Cary and Eli but they very much feel like background players. I’m not as interested in Alicia’s new BFF but the new investigator does bring a smile to my face. Can’t help if he’s played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan.

Ratings: Just OK

ELEMENTARY

I think I’ve tried to watch the first episode of the current 4th season about 5 times already with no luck. I suppose 2 in the morning is not the best time to start watching a new show but whatevs. Even still, I was left disappointed last season because of Sherlock’s (Jonny Lee Miller) downfall. Season 3 had a lot of challenges as Sherlock and Watson (Lucy Liu) had spent time apart and there was a third wheel, Kitty, disrupting the usual flow between the duo. I wasn’t sure where how I would feel coming back into the 4th season. Despite the slow, uninspired start, the show quickly brought the pair back to the police department doing what they do best. Sure, it was all kind of resolved with the help of Sherlock’s father and done far too quickly and lacked any creativity but I was interesting in shifting away from the dynamic that we saw last season and moving back to a refining the old one. I’m still in the process of catching up but more hopeful than now than when I saw the first episode of Season 4.

Rating: Just OK

SCANDAL

There’s a whole lotta Shonda Rhimes craziness going on this season. The secret is out about Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) and President Grant’s (Tony Goldwyn). They’re dating in public and Mellie Grant (Bellamy Young) is off to working as Junior Senator. I honestly can’t take anything seriously on this show but they sure look doing it. Now, I just wish Huck (Guillermo Diaz) and Quinn (Katie Lowes) work out whatever is going on with them because I honestly missed their camaraderie from past seasons, before everything got so desperately dark with these two.

Rating: Just OK

MADAM SECRETARY

Madam Secretary is actually like a feel-good type of show. It’s like West Wing but without the witty, fast-talking Aaron Sorkin. I know, you’re rolling your eyes at me and wondering why you should watch the show. You get the politics/current affairs commentary and CIA intrigue when Elizabeth McCord (Téa Leoni) is doing her duties as the Secretary of State. Then you get a wonderful family dynamic at home that’s convivial and chaotic at the same time. It’s the best of both worlds as it doesn’t weigh too heavily on the drama nor does it too lighthearted.

Rating: Watch

HAWAII FIVE-O

As much as the show is a solid procedural, I think I enjoy the Hawaiian scenic shots more than anything else. I haven’t had a chance to catch up to the new season but I feel like I may have to drop this show from my usual lineup. If there were only more hours in the day, I could stick with it but sadly, it’s been hard keeping up with the shows that have more tautly-written plotlines.

Rating: Pass (except, if you love Hawaiian aerials)

WAYWARD PINES

I had hoped this series would be like Twin Peaks as I was looking for a good thriller. Sadly, I think I’m better off waiting for the new episodes of Twin Peaks. Instead, this series focuses on a big conspiracy that’s frankly hard to swallow. I can buy that the citizens of the town are brainwashed but they are so ominous and unnecessarily sinister so early on that it’s no wonder that the main character is trying to find a way out. I can’t imagine why people haven’t banded together sooner to do this. Sorry, I’m just not buying the plot of this drama.

Rating: Pass

ROYAL PAINS

This is another one that’s losing my interest. Compared to the other shows, this one is much more lighthearted so it’s an easy show to watch, especially during the summer. However, it feels like there is a repetition of the same kind of drama that happens yearly. It might be time for this series to think about its exit plan.

Rating: Pass

PENNY DREADFUL

Unlike the first season, it felt like the storylines had a clearer direction. The season does have a slow start but I think it does build-up to an interesting conclusion. The show still has its faults as I’m still not sure what the point is of Dorian’s character in the scheme of the larger story but the other sub-plots make up for where Dorian’s sub-plot lacks.

Rating: If you’re bored

MASTERS OF SEX

I really loved the first two seasons but now the show has taken it far from the true story. I never expected the show to follow the true story to the letter but hoped that the show would depict big milestones in their life and their study. I think what’s really hard to grasp is that Bill Masters (Michael Sheen) is difficult character to swallow as he could be so disparaging. Having said that, he depicts a more humanistic progression in his character with neighborhood kid, rather than gives his son the attention he craves. The dynamic may be interesting but that doesn’t make me more sympathetic for his character.

Rating: If you’re bored

YOUNG & HUNGRY

I feel like this sitcom is feeling the gap left by Melissa & Joey, two years ago. The show is not without its problems. I’m starting to get annoyed of Gabi’s (Emily Osment) constant meddling. I get that is the catalyst for most of episodes’ plot but it’s getting tiring. So much so that I need Gabi and Josh’s (Jonathan Sadowski) relationship to final take a step forward in the right direction. None of this wrong time, wrong place crap where they drag out the will they or won’t they question for years to come. I don’t think I will have that patience. The good thing is that when Gabi tends to get a bit unbearable, her BFF Sofia (Aimee Carrero) sweeps right in and become a sassy, scene stealer.

Rating: If you’re bored

THE MUPPETS

I can’t tell if I’m enjoying this show because of the nostalgia factor or if it is actually a good show. I’m leaning on the former rather than the latter because I find myself not really laughing out loud at most of the cheesy jokes. And yet, I’m really entertained by the characters and the star-studded guests. Rather than it being a great sitcom, the show is an enjoyable variety program.

Rating: If you’re bored

AMERICAN HORROR STORY: HOTEL

I was kinda concerned when Jessica Lange said she was out and Lady Gaga said she was in. It might be a surprise to hear that I don’t really go gaga for Gaga. (Pun most certainly intended.) Honestly, I’m only 3 episodes in and I’m more disturbed by seeing people like Max Greenfield, who plays the lovable albeit superficial Schmidt on New Girl, play a heroin addict and being trapped inside a mattress more than being terrified of the plot itself. However, I do have to admit that I love the sadistic James Patrick March (Evan Peters) and Maid Hazel Evers (Mare Winningham) who is obsessed with cleaning. I think I will eventually watch all of the episodes but I really have to be in the mood to sit down and get through them.

Rating: Pass

FRESH OFF THE BOAT

The 2nd season hasn’t really made me laugh as much as the 1st season but I’ll just chalk that up to the Terrible Two’s. I still love the cast and the family comes across some amusing scenarios. I think the focus this season was taken away from Eddie (Hudson Yang) and some of that spotlight was shared with the rest of the family members which is okay. However, I want to see Eddie get into more crazy shenanigans. The kid playing Eddie is just priceless.

Rating: Just OK

DR. KEN

I wanted to really like this show because I like Ken Jeong but it hasn’t really made laugh that much. I’m amused by the jokes but I was expecting a show with a lot of craziness and laughter. I think one of the best episodes I’ve seen so far was the Thanksgiving episode.

Rating: Pass

REIGN

We knew it was all coming. And it finally happened. I’m not saying that Francis’ death happened exactly as it happened historically. The show has taken vast dramatic licenses and I’m okay with that. The only unfortunate thing is that nothing interesting happens in the first half of this latest season until Francis’ death. Now, Mary (Adelaide Kane) is faced with an interesting new dilemma and I’m excited to see what new beaus we’ll be seeing in her future. Spain’s future king was interesting but it wasn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Rating: Watch

IZOMBIE

One of the most frustrating things about Season 1, and I’m not saying I didn’t love that season, is that most of Liv’s (Rose McIver) closest friends didn’t know about her zombieness. Now her BFF Peyton (Aly Michalka) and Major (Robert Buckley) knows and that just opened a whole new door.

Rating: Watch

THE ORIGINALS

My interest kind of waned back and forth in the first half of the latest season. It seems like it’s the same kind of Originals family drama. More people from their past wreaking havoc and now there’s a big ol’ curse that’s looming over their heads. However, in the last episode before Christmas, we finally get to a good place in Klaus (Joseph Morgan) and Cami’s (Leah Pipes) relationship when the show takes it away from us just as quickly. How cruel you are, Show, how cruel.

Rating: Just OK

SLEEPY HOLLOW

Just like the issues I had with Elementary above, when the two main characters are no longer in sync with each other, it throws off the drama’s momentum. And that’s how it felt like at the start of this year’s season. The good news is I’m kinda liking the addition of Joe Corbin (Zach Appelman) to the team. The group was sorely in need of another character but with Jenny in peril, I hope Joe and Jenny’s new relationship status doesn’t go the way of Ichabod (Tom Mison) and Katrina (Katie Winter) last year.

Rating: Just OK

GRIMM

Nick (David Giuntoli) has been off his game this season. Well, he’s been through a lot but I couldn’t help feeling disinterested by the latest episodes this season. However, they sure knew how to bring an interesting twist at the end of the year and I’d like to see where the show will take this storyline.

Rating: If you’re bored

DOCTOR WHO

I wanted to like this Doctor but there’s a bah-humbug quality to Peter Capaldi’s Doctor that I just don’t find endearing. Quite different from Christopher Eccleston. I think Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman gave it a good try but the chemistry just wasn’t there. In fact, I think he had more chemistry with Alex Kingston. If I were to pick and choose a few episodes to watch, I’d probably go with “Under the Lake” and “Before the Flood,” a two-parter, and “Sleep No More”.

Rating: If you’re bored

HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER

The show just gets crazier and crazier. I’m not even sure how all the characters are keeping their lies straight. And yet, Viola Davis is still commanding in that role. It took me awhile to get back into this season but once I started, I couldn’t stop. If you can avoid the spoilers, it’s a really great show to marathon.

Rating: Watch

THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE

The show takes place in the aftermath of World War II and poses the question, ‘What if the Allied Powers did not win the war?’ It’s a very frightening thought and the show uses that paranoia and fear to create this world with its brilliant special effects and sets. It’s my first Amazon Prime drama and I ran across the pilot while shopping on Amazon and was just enthralled by the plot.

Rating: Must Watch

MARVEL’S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.

I think one of the most disappointing things about Season 2’s finale is just when we were getting to a place where Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) and Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) were going to move their relationship forward, it’s taken away from us. By a stupid alien rock. However, I think Simmons had the most interesting storylines this year being stuck in another dimension. As for Ward (Brett Dalton), as evil as he’s become over the years, I still held out hope that we’d be able to see that side of him we fell in love with in Season 1, before the betrayal, obviously. Now, I don’t see any signs of turning back and I’m really bummed about that.

Rating: Just OK

_____________________________________________________

BEST AMERICAN/BRITISH SHOW OF THE YEAR

THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE – This one is a no brainer. As I said above, it’s my first Amazon Prime show and it caught me by surprise. I came upon the pilot as I was shopping on the site and I saw Frank Spotnitz was the creator and remembered his work on The X-Files. Despite the unfortunate and poor choice of advertising campaigns, the show isn’t offensive in my opinion. It poses a terrifying “what if” scenario and we’re just along for the ride to see what happens to these characters. At the heart of the story, are these reels of film that depict images of the Allied Powers winning. For these people who did not experience that, these images are beyond belief and they are either produced by or delivered to The Man in the High Castle, hence the title. However, not everything is what it seems and by the time I got to the last episode of the season, my mind was blown. The original story is from a book by Philip K. Dick and I learned from a friend of friend that the story veers vastly from the book. Having heard both versions, I’m more interested in how the show unfolds but because of the major cliffhanger we’ve been left with, I’m not exactly sure where the show is taking us. It is scheduled to return later this year and I cannot wait.

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