Wednesday, July 5, 2017

My 2016/2017 Television Report Card

I actually don't watch that much television, partially because I don't have the opportunity (4 people in one house with 2 televisions means that at least one person doesn't have the remote control) and partially because I'm as persnickety about what I watch as I am about what I read.  Let me tell you folks, I can be a real joy when you make me watch something I don't think is up to snuff.

This past television season, I decided to keep track of what I watched, whether I finished the season, and what I thought.  And you, my friends, are the lucky recipients of my judgments!

A couple quick disclaimers.  First of all, these are only network shows, although some of them I streamed and/or binged.  I'll probably do a post on my streaming shows in the future--but, for the purposes of this post, it is hard to equate them with broadcast shows.  Also, I have 2 shows at the end which don't quite fit in...because I either haven't finished or haven't started the current season, which I will explain when I get there.

Got it?  Good.  Here is what I watched this year, in objective alphabetical order.


The Big Bang Theory
This is really a standard for me.  Let's just say my husband has some Sheldon-tendencies (and I often feel like Amy), so some of the jokes really hit home.  All that being said, I was pretty meh on this season.  There were some funny episodes but, more often than not, things fell flat for me.  I know this is almost blasphemous, but I think it is time for them to end this show.  With comedies, there is a point when they get too far from their original premise and this show is there.  Still, the season finale was fabulous!


Black-ish
I actually didn't start watching this show until last summer, when I streamed the first 2 seasons so that I could be up-to-date when the 3rd season started.  Like, The Big Bang Theory, this show had its high points--but more often than not it didn't live up to previous seasons.  Plus, there was a period in the middle of the year where they obviously shuffled some episodes--which is normally fine, except the lead female character (not actress, just the character) was pregnant, so she would be more pregnant in one episode, and less pregnant in the next...which is very strange...

Designated Survivor
I will admit that the pilot for this show was fabulous.  I think I forced house guests watch it...  Unfortunately, it quickly went downhill after that.  It was so terrible at its mid-season hiatus, that I had decided to turn it off--until I heard that they were bringing in new show runners.  And, it was better when it came back--for about 2 episodes before it started sliding again.  Finally, I just gave up on it....  I didn't make it through the first season and it won't be returning to my TV next season.

Downward Dog
I know I've been rather negative so far (and, trust me, I'll be getting a heck of a lot more negative later...), but if I had to choose my best show of the year, it would be this one.  It's about a woman and her dog...from the dog's point of view.  It has so much heart and humor that I can hardly bear it...and, I'm guessing because of all that heart and humor, ABC canceled it.  Of course they did...  The good news--or at least the prospect of good news--is that they are shopping the show to other networks, so hopefully we haven't seen the end of Nan and Martin yet.  If you haven't seen this, you must check it out.  It is available both on OnDemand and Hulu.

The Good Place
The season for this show ended in January, but I watched the entire season over 3 days last week after hearing people gush over it.  It's definitely unique and pretty dang funny. If you aren't aware of the premise, it is set in the afterlife (where no one can swear, and now I say, "What the fork?" far too often!) and, well, that's all I'll say about it.  The season finale was especially good and it will definitely be on my viewing list next season.


Great News
You may have missed this one as NBC ran double episodes for about 6 weeks at the end of the season.  Basically, it is 30 Rock set in a TV newsroom.  With an overbearing mother.  I'll be honest, it didn't work for me more often than not.  The 30 Rock comedy doesn't easily translate from musical variety set to new set and I didn't find the main character that interesting.  However, Tina Fey is supposed to appear next season, so I may stick with it a bit longer.

Me...after this season ended....
Grey's Anatomy
Folks, I have been with this show from the beginning...that's is 13 seasons/12.5 years.  I've been with this show longer than I've been with my husband and I've sat through the great, the good, and the musical episode (just thinking of that makes  me itch).  This past season was...forking terrible!  Honestly, nothing happened.  Other than one plot point, which was basically dropped when it should not have been, the show was in exactly the same place at the end of the season finale that it was at the beginning of the season premiere.  Plus, there were so many dropped story lines and mind-bendingly bad attempted couplings that I just wanted to rip my hair out.

But, here's the thing.  I've been with this show so long that I'm not going to stop watching.  Probably the only thing that would get me to turn it off is that if they decided to embrace rape culture by having one character sexually assault another and then have the two fall in love.

Speaking of which....

Grimm
Sigh.  I'm going to try to contain myself here....

Oh, forget it...there's no way I can control my anger and frustration over this one.

Here's the deal...I really love the cast of this show and it was filmed here in Portland and I'm all about supporting the entertainment industry here.  But then this happened....and I turned it off.  The ratings for the previous season swirled down the crapper and, while it was renewed for another season, the series order was cut in half and it was announced that this past season would be the last one.

I knew I shouldn't tune back in, but...as I said, I love this cast.   And I hoped that the abysmal ratings for the previous season would have convinced that show runners that, no matter what 15 or so people on Twitter said, pairing a rapist and her victim was not a good idea.

Wrong. Wrong.. WRONG.

I turned it back on and, yep, they were still pushing the rapemance and for that, the show runners--David Greenwalt and Jim Kouf--will never be forgiven...and their work will never be allowed on my screen again (of course, with my luck, they'll hire the same cast for their next project...).  Just pulling that stunt should get them blacklisted from every network.  As long as networks (prime time AND daytime...I know what goes on in the soaps!) continue to allow this, they will continue to support rape culture, and that cannot be tolerated.

But enough of that...for this post (trust me, ranting and raving about that will never be enough).  There were plenty of other problems with this show.  First of all, the show runners do not have the ability to tell a story.  We're talking hundreds of dropped story lines (yes, there are lists of them out there), no adherence to any sort of logic, no rules to the universe, as well as superfluous characters, blatantly stolen plot devices, and character assassinations/miraculous redemptions (both of which are signs of unskilled and lazy crafting).  If this were a book, there isn't an agent around that would risk their career by trying to shop it around.

And the writing...oh, lordy!  You know, the series started out strong enough but somewhere around the end of the third or beginning of the fourth season, they seemed to have replaced their writers with 3rd graders learning cursive.  Well, during the 5th season (I turned it off 2 episodes into that season), they apparently replaced their 3rd graders learning cursive with kindergartners learning their alphabets.  Folks, I cannot tell you how horrendous the dialogue and scripting was in this show--I think I spent the entire time watching this with a cringe on my face from the unbelievably corny dialogue.  I know that I haven't seen every show there is, or even the smallest percentage, but of what I have seen, I can say that Grimm had the worst story-crafting and writing of any scripted show.

As with season 5, I made it 2 episodes into the 6th--and final--season before I realized that I just could.not.do.it.  My life is too short to waste on offal like this.  Plus, my family really didn't deserve to live with me for about 2 days after I watched an episode.  I think I'm just going to stop acknowledging that seasons 5 and 6 exist and that the show ended after season 4.

So, I wish the cast the best and I'll be watching to see where they land and I'll watch them in anything--as long as it has nothing to do with David Greenwalt and/or Jim Kouf.

(Okay, shake it off!  Shake it off!)

(Also, I'm sorry if I insulted any 3rd graders or kindergartners.  I know that any child could come up with a better story than what I found in this show).

Life in Pieces
On a more positive note...I watched both seasons of this one in the past couple months.  I don't know how I missed this when it started last year, but it is absolutely....frighteningly delightful.  Look, sometimes shows are just so true that they are painful and that is this show (at times).  I'm saying all this in the best possible light!  Family comedies are my favorite types of sitcoms and this one definitely ranks up there.

Making History
I think my original description of this show, "It's like Timeless, except it is a comedy...on FOX" pretty much says it all.  The first 2 or 3 episodes--where the time travelers accidentally prevent the American Revolution and then have to start it, are pretty hilarious.  After that, though...it doesn't work at all.  It is no surprise that it was canceled pretty quickly.

Modern Family
With the exception of the pregnancy, pretty much everything I said about Black-ish could be said about Modern Family.  Still, though, I have to love Ty Burrell and Jesse Tyler Ferguson.  And, honestly, all shows have seasons that don't work as well as others and, ultimately, I still think this one is worth watching.





Pitch
I had high hopes for this one and we started watching it but, frankly, I just never felt compelled to tune back into it.  I wish I could give you an actual reason, but I just can't put my finger on what was not working for me in this show.  Too bad....

Powerless
What a weird little show.  It's a sitcom set in the DC universe with sort of second (or fourth) string characters.  So it is sort of like the DC version of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, except it is a completely different sort of show.  I mean, we really liked it.  Unfortunately, not enough other people liked it and it was canceled before all the episodes had even aired.




Superior Donuts
I watched two episodes.  I laughed once.  How this was renewed and Downward Dog was not will never make sense to me.... (Yes, I know they were on different networks...but there is still no fairness in the universe).

Timeless
Before the season started, this was the show I was most looking forward to watching.  Time travel?  Yes please!  But, I barely made it halfway into the season.  I wasn't impressed with much of the acting (especially the two leads) and, sadly, the writing seemed a little late-season-Grimm-like to me.  I learned my lesson with Grimm and I opted not to waste any more time on this one.

This is Us
Okay, I know that people love this show.  And I will say that this is the one show I made the point to watch live each week.  But, I'm not quite as in love with it as many others seem to be.  This show's highs were ah-maz-ing.  The episode entitled "Memphis" is one of the best things I've seen on television...ever.  But, if I take those high points out of the equation, there is still quite a bit left and I found all that to be only moderately better than just okay.

This is Us is also one of those shows that I just find to be manipulative.  It feels like they are far more concerned about trying to get a reaction than trying to tell a good story.  I'm also a little concerned about how they are going to sustain the success they had in the first season in subsequent seasons.  I don't think there is any way a show can keep what this show has going for long and I'm afraid that they don't have anything to back it all up.


Trial and Error
On paper, I should not have liked this show.  My husband and I sort of stumbled on it and we were both hooked.  It's a very absurd little show--it is a short run series--about a murder case in a small Southern town.  The humor definitely leans to the wacky, something that doesn't always work for me.  But, sometimes, wacky can be smart and that is definitely the case here.  This one was definitely worth our time and I am so glad that it will be back next season.

Now, the two "extra" shows.  Right now, we're in the midst of watching Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Turn: Washington's Spies.  In the case of Agents of Shield, we had decided to give up on the show after the previous season, but then I've read how good this season is so we decided to give it a try.  I don't think we're halfway through the most recent season yet, so I'm withholding judgment for the time being.

I missed a big chunk of the last season of Turn: Washington's Spies, thanks to us cutting cable and trying to figure out which streaming service we wanted (the answer was apparently "all of them.").  The fourth, and final, season just started airing, and the third season just dropped on Netflix.  So, right now, I'm rewatching the first 3 seasons so it will all be fresh when I finally get to the current season.

And that, my friends, is what I thought of broadcast TV during the 2016/2017 season.  I'll admit that there are quite a few shows coming up next season...so stay tuned!

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