Saturday, January 02, 2016

My Favorite (and most Disappointing) 5 TV Shows of the Year

Subjectivity is the key in a least of highs and lows.  And, the ability to see everything.  I used to love TV.  I find it harder and harder to enjoy.  Procedurals of violence have taken over TV, even as the actual violence has reduced.  I find TV - well information in general - less grounded than ever.  Less... entertaining.
But some are great.  Here are my picks and pans (to quote the old TV Guide).
1) A Solid Mr. Robot.
Rami Malek is fantastic
Mr. Robot is the not a simple or easy show.  Or maybe it is too simple.  I don't know.  Rami Malek quietly tries to get through life doing a bit of good and trying to fit in.  Sometimes.  He's too smart, too ungrounded to life, too confused to be functional.  And he is, therefore, barely functional.
It is fiction, but not really science fiction.  It isn't real, but not really fiction in totality. I empathize with him so much, it is sometimes scary.  I love it.  I love it on repeat viewings.
2) Hypnotic The Jinx
Robert Durst - I have no idea why he agreed to this show.

See it.  Say no more.
3) A Rambling Sense8
Chicago Cop and Icelandic DJ (Brian J. Smith and Tuppance Middleton)
Sense8 is science fiction only in premise that 8 people share some kind of communal consciousness. Which isn't that odd, really.  I mean we all believe that people share emotions and thoughts and love.  Sense8 just takes it to a crazy wild place.  But it happens in today's world.  No flying cars or stun guns.  Just people.  Eight people sharing joy makes me happy.  And the casting is crazy mixed!  The eight are made up of: 3 straight male characters from the US, Kenya and Germany, 1 gay male character from Mexico, 3 straight female characters from South Korean, India, Iceland, and 1 trans-gender lesbian from San Francisco.  It is wonderful.
4) Too real Unreal
Shiri Appleby (as Racheal) turns the couple towards the camera
The people in Unreal are way too believable. It is a scripted behind the scenes story of two women who produce, create and drive a "Batchelor" like series.  They have create a weekly TV story out of women trying to impress a blank slate of a guy.  To do so, they are tough driving executives - if they were men.  But they are women so they are thought of as manipulative bitches.  It is a fascinating story of women, manipulating women on a show designed by women, where men get to swoop in an take credit or lay blame.  And the two leads, Shiri Appleby and Constance Zimmer deserve the accolades they get here!
5) Limitless
I LOVE Jake McDorman, but I wish he would trim the neck beard.
This show kind of goes against my opening line of I don't like procedurals.   But Limitless is a fun goofy procedural with a couple of great leads and great supporting characters.  I like it a lot.  Plus, since they are FBI, it is more concerned with intricate crime rather than murder, rape and violence that is shown.  Elementary is very much like this (in my mind), but less funny and has lots more violence against women, which keeps it off my list.
6) I liked it, but canceled now so I get to add it.  The McCarthys

Forget Cliff here.  The McCarthy clan was always the funny group here (everyone else)

Sure, The McCarthys was a so so sitcom with pretty bad writing.  But it had a really nice ensemble and I thought it would hit it's stride after a while.  And a show where Laurie Metcalf is Boston Catholic mother to 4 kids, none of who have their act totally together or apart was an interesting show.  There was a lot of warmth and humor, I thought.
Then there were some shows that were really good last year that seemed to be losing a lot of steam this year.  I still watched them, but more waiting for them to get better.
Meh - 1) How to Get Away With Murder
"Wahhh, I didn't get arrested."

This season it should have been called How to Get Away With Murder and Endlessly Whine About it.  But it returns in the Spring and hopefully with a better attitude.
Meh - 2) Scandal
Oh look, it is the Republican President and his black mistress.  That's  believable.
Good grief this has been a crappy 1.5 year ride.  Olivia is kidnapped.  Olivia is saved.  Olivia says she didn't sleep with the President.  Olivia says she did sleep with the President.  Olivia becomes First Mistress.  Olivia doesn't like be First Mistress.  The only hope I have is that it seems like it is trying to return to the original premise of the show, sans pesky White House affair.  And maybe Melodey will kick some ass.
Meh - 3) Haven

Haven is the perfect example of taking a short story, making a fantastic one year series, then trying to stretch it to a 5 year series (so bad that series 6 was called series 5.2).  You know how they ended it (highlight to read the spoiler) - they did  EXACTLY in the final episode what they DIDN'T do at the end of year one - because they wanted to save Audrey.  Only they didn't know how else to end it.  PS - non-spoiler, anytime you bring in William Shatner, you are begging to be given a "meh".
Meh - 4) Homeland

She goes off her drugs.  Again.  That is a bad hire.
Meh 5) The Affair

Wow.  This started slow and simmering with possibilities.  Then slow with deep meaning.  Then just slow.  Then just s.....l....o.....w.  It moved from being about how different sexes viewed the past to being kind of about murder or adultery or Montauk or trying to figure out if this is a new episode or a repeated.
Bonus Meh: The Republican Debates
Season One Cast - Season Two introduced 2 hispanics and a woman into the mix.

It started funny, but then we all realized one of these guys might be President. 
It appears to be in reruns already.

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