Favorite Television Shows

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Re: Favorite Television Shows

Unread postby Sun Fin » Fri Jul 14, 2017 7:17 am

Dong Zhou wrote:First thoughts were "Sun Fin has clearly begun imagining things" and when I looked... yeah I can actually see that.


:lol: That's a relief.
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Re: Favorite Television Shows

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Sun Jul 16, 2017 12:53 pm

Watched first season of werewolf drama Bitten based on Kelley Armstrong's Women of the Otherworld. Premise: Elena Michaels (Laura Vandervoort) is a photographer in Toronto, happily in love with Philip (Paul Greene) but hiding one minor detail, she is a werewolf. The only female werewolf. Events in her werewolf family soon reluctantly drug her back to family home of Stonehaven...

It has a dreadful start, characters struggle to click, dialogue is clunky, some of the performances are off but there are some thoughtful touches about how to do a werewolf story like when seeing through one's views. However once Elena gets home it starts to show promise and it begins to click so we gave it another shot and found a decent show. Some nice romances like Elena and Philip, we enjoyed her werewolf family particularly the pack leader Jeremy (Greg Bryk), the Toronto figures are warm and likeable, they had a likeable lead cop (Fiona Highet), some good twists. Their villains are fun and the threat is carefully built up but there is something lacking overall with them and one of the main romances
Elena and Clay (Greyston Holt)
really doesn't work and we were actively against it.

====

Watched season 3 of Fear the Walking Dead with the show (due to bad start to season 2 and Walking Dead's own issues) perhaps needing to really fire. It opened with a strong opener with a strong baddie, twists, tension, action but doing one big episode is not enough. What unfolded over the next few episodes was strong, they found an intresting scenario that suited the cast, particularly Madison (Kim Dickens) who has tended to be one of the stronger characters in the show really shone and others grew into it. The new characters were strong as well particurly one of them
Troy (Daniel Sharman) and his Madison issues particularly but his entire family were welcome additions
, show felt focused. It's finale double episodes didn't quite work for us as it became a bit unfocused, though probably worth what they added
Strand and astronaut scene
but their big bad struggled and lots of "we need to get from A to B in plot so make it happen" character stupidity. Also had one key scene ruined by the worst use of music I have ever heard
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Re: Favorite Television Shows

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Fri Aug 25, 2017 7:55 am

Watched first season of Orange is the New Black, we liked Weeds and heard opening seasons were good so finally gave it try having orginally thought it wouldn't our thing. Very "mmmmmm not sure about this" after first episode but had just enough for a second episode and by third episode really hit it's stride. We did find it's occasional graphic nature a bit off putting but once they begin flashbacking on prisoners lives, that pulled us in.

The first episode or two uses it's main character Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling) as the entry point and it makes sense, she is going to prison for first time, her family and friends mean it can show impact on those outside jail and outside life impacts her in jail, possibly Netflix and writers aware of what demographic the target audience was going to be and would find easiest for first impressions. Piper however is a... complex and sometimes annoying figure in a good way and by the time that really really comes through, their entry point is that most episodes will take one fellow inmate and do their story for why they are serving time. Providing a variety of stories while helping really add something to learning about that member of the show.

It is a well written show, a bit of humour but mostly about the characters and about prison life, the battles, the friendships, the ploys and the little bits of things that make life bearable whether there or denied, Weeds had a good eye for the dark things in lie and it's characters and that is on show here. They touch on various themes about American legal system, a diverse cast, touches on religion vs secular divide, do a good job building up their characters though roster is so large that quite a few are still yet to be fleshed out be it some of the inmates or the heads of the prison. They don't have villains as such but some enjoyable antagonists be it Tiffany (with good energy by Taryn Manning) or the "I should hate him yet I don't" Mendez (the impressive Pablo Schreiber). I look forward to seeing what more it explores in future seasons and building up the depth more.

I recall the show getting praise for being pro female, very diverse and for having a trans character (Laverne Cox's Sophia), had a few shows where what trans character meant was one episode where the hero characters were liberal and loving about it. While after an initial big episode early on in show, Sophia is on the side characters part of things, the show did seem to change it's mind about who would be prominent in a few cases, and it is more then most trans characters get. Feels like they have tried to do Sophia properly, that trans is part of who Sophia is but it is about Sophia the person rather then Sophia the showcase, and also gone for realism about how people react and feel rather then everyone is comfortable with it apart from a big baddie.

====

Saw second season of iZombie and again while I liked it, I came close to leaving it at times and wonder if I'll ever bother with season 3. Romances are miss and hit, investigations are nice but can get subsumed by other stuff, they have some fun with the different personalities the zombies can pick up. There is a good big bad but he comes into play very late on and still to be really used, main one did his job well enough. They did various things to shake the show up like the introduction of Gilda (Leanne Lapp) early on but though that should work and I liked Lapp's performance, it didn't quite click and it dragged down the early episodes. Most of the changes were alright or didn't quite work with the exception of the amusing agent Dale (Jessica Harmon).

=====

Shadowhunters managed to avoid the very worst of it's usual problems and went along nicely this half-season. Isabelle remains slightly sidelined but they try to bring her in more, there are a fair few figures who will suddenly turn up for an episode then vanish
Simon's family which is a pity as they are good when on screen, Raphael
but without hurting the show. However there is one character who really shines when on screen and has big important twists but is on so little that the twists lose the impact
Lindsay (Alyssa Capriotti) has humour , contrasts well with Luke, has questions and I think they may have planned to use Luke's cop side more. As they didn't, she got wasted


The adventures are nice and fun though finale has one or two moments that feel trying a little too hard, bit hit and miss on romance choices, they use Valentine and co well
Sebastian (Will Tudor) had a good storyline and Tudor provided some charm
, Mia's addition is welcome as an enjoyable, likeable figure. Simon gets slightly too indulged by the show as likeable as he is while they bring in a new player who really livens up the end running
Seelie Queen (first Lola Flanery and then Sarah Hyland), they manage a good ethereal quality and her scenes tend to be fun


====

Watched adaptation of Neil Gaiman's fantasy American Gods. Premise: Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle) is released a little early from prison after the death of his wife Laura (Emily Browning) in a car crash. On his journey home, Shadow meets and is hired by a strange Mr Wednesday (Ian McShane) as a bodyguard. Strange events are about to get underway....

I had been looking forward to this, book had a good reputation, sounded like it could be intellectually intresting with many themes, I like fantasy/ye old Gods, got lots of strong reviews. For me? Mixed bag, all sorts of things I liked yet episodes nearly always felt a little bit of a drag. Worth seeing the theme in 4k at least once, certainly has an impact.

There was a lot I liked, the "Once Upon A Time" segments were usually excellent, inventive, having something to say, having emotional power, helping flesh out Gods and characters we might see later, inventive. On the main parts of the show, there were intresting themes and looks at America (Gaiman has mentioned he wrote it from his expirence as an immigrant and outsider I believe?), it can be inventive and surprising, a good sense of the strange and surreal. A lot of the Gods (the ones chosen are not always the names one would expect)
the three stars, Anubis with his follower, the brilliantly charismatic and flair Orlando Jones as Anasi, Easter, Volcan
really make an impact in their moments, the side characters are entertaining
Mr Sweeney with a charismatic Pablo Schreiber and Laura particularly, they make a good duo, provide humour, Laura has a great romance. Also Audrey (Betty Gilpin) who has a great line in angry insults
, good romances and when the main duo are with others, they can suddenly click
loved Wednesday dancing with morning star, felt feel romance between them
.

However it is has some real problems for me. The pace is really bad, a large majority of the episodes drag with it feeling like too many scenes go on a few minutes too long. The villains don't work, I see the idea they are going for but it rarely clicks
Technical boy (Bruce Langley) sort of works but they don't quite land having information and knowledge isn't quite the same thing and after first appearance he lacks threat, Mr World (Crispin Glover) has impact but rarely on show, can see what they are trying with Media but Gillian Anderson only shines when Media drops the act and becomes herself in finale.
. The show forms a side characters pairing adventure and their journey and discussions were more intresting then Shadow Moon+Mr Wednesday as our main duo. They are great when the duo are with other people but when it is just the two of them, they don't click. Dialogue when between the two of them is an issue as it gets clunky and heavy, trying too hard to be poetic, Ian McShane goes into the worst aspects of his acting to try to rescue it.
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Re: Favorite Television Shows

Unread postby Kong Wen » Fri Sep 01, 2017 4:57 pm

Mrs. Kong, Kong-in-law, and I have finally caught up on Game of Thrones. I'm half-way through Band of Brothers, so I'm hoping to finish that this fall. I'm also hoping to get back onto The Wire when I get a chance. I took a long time to get through the first season of that one. I found it didn't sink the hooks in until the last 3-4 episodes, but it's a heralded classic, so I'm inclined to keep giving it chances.
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Re: Favorite Television Shows

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Sat Sep 02, 2017 8:11 am

Wire gets better in second season but if it doesn't click for you early on, leave it.
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Re: Favorite Television Shows

Unread postby Zyzyfer » Mon Sep 04, 2017 2:28 am

The Wire: I loved first and third seasons, second seemed ok but my DVD was messed up so huge chunks of many episodes were unwatchable. But something happens in season three that killed my interest, and I never made it but a few episodes into season four before I stopped watching it. I do intend to go back and finish it up, but lack of interest from the wife makes it difficult.

I think the problem with first season is character arcs all over the place that don't come together until the end of the season.

=====

Never watched the original stuff, but started watching Twin Peaks: The Return. I know David Lynch is eccentric but was amazed at how little sense this show makes at times. Kyle Maclahan is subdued and amusing in this, but I think I will have to come back to this one after watching the first two seasons.
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Re: Favorite Television Shows

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Mon Sep 04, 2017 6:25 am

For Wire: some seasons are more intresting for me personally then others, depending on what part of life they cover, but the only ones I found a problem are first and last season, everything in-between were intresting. O Twin Peaks, I watched the original seasons but left the new one early, too much didn't click for me
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Re: Favorite Television Shows

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Mon Sep 18, 2017 11:36 am

Watched season 1 of Riverdale, a CW/Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa adaptation of Archie Comics. Premise: Victoria Lodge (Camila Mendes) moves to the seemingly wholesome town of Riverdale, making friends with Archie (KJ Apa) and Betty (Lili Reinhart) among others. However it soon becomes clear there are darker issues within the town....

Not read the Archie comics and it put my sister off watching it for awhile due to their image has 1950's, very cleancut and so on, we ended up having to impose a "no talking during" rule as we tended to have a lot we wanted to discuss the show. The show does mix 50's style with modern in clothing and behaviour, usually mixing well but not always (and tried too hard with Victoria's modern buzzwords in early episodes). It also has a murder mystery which allows it to try to push at dark heart of Riverdale so mixing up the cleancut kids with modern troubles.

We were hooked in the first episode, a likeable Archie, Betty's love for him, Veronica's style, Betty's gay best friend Kevin (Casey Cott), there was real chemistry between characters, a sense of humour we enjoyed. There was a sense the show wasn't always certain of what it wanted to do, changing things as it went on and chopping changing romances with mixed effect, some worked really well and others didn't
Betty's love for Archie, her relationship with Jughead took time but worked well, Archie with Grundy (Sarah Habel) works well due to way it shows the way the two had different angels. Archie's other romances don't work, Valery (Hayley Law) barely in it enough and ending is poorly done, Archie and Veronica should work as great friendship chemistry and great spark in opening episodes but falls flat as a romance.
Main four characters (Archie, Betty, Verinco and Jughead (Cole Sprouse)) are well done but side characters are mixed: Kevin just about enough but fades out, Cheryl (Madelaine Petsch) relies more on flair and the murder mystery then depth, the pussycats barely in it, some adults are really well done but sometimes only after a big twist involving them and sometimes barely done at all.

The big mystery? It worked in providing side storylines but when episodes became mystery centred rather then relationship centred, they tended to be the worst episodes. Some twists didn't work becuase the relevant character isn't built up enough though some good twists, is an element of the children getting away with stuff they shouldn't or being a bit too successful once or twice but mystery gets stronger in the end phase.

Look forward to season 2

======

Watched Marvel/Netflix team up The Defenders where Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist team up against the Hand for eight episodes. It is trying to combine four groups+new baddie in eight episodes, spends first two gently pushing their heroes into meeting each other but going through five stories in those two episodes leads everything bitty and unfulfilling. They also do work to rehabilitate Danny Rand, showing Finn Jones has got better at fighting now with more training, working to make him less of a complete idiot to decent effect.

When they did unite the team, the main 4 were the strong point, some good banter, building relations and partnerships that might benefit the other shows. Jessica Jones style of humour didn't work as well as it did in Jessica Jones and they couldn't go indepth on her, Luke Cage had some different angles from others and had no relationship with Iron Fist who comes across as the... youngster of the group, Daredevil comes across really well. However the side characters didn't benefit from this, one set
Jessica Jones friends
pretty much vanish once meet up happens, the others don't quite click as script feels forced and trying to make emotional moments happen so what should have been big moments felt clunky. Misty possibly the only exception from this issue. Was excitement when Sigourney Weaver was cast as the big bad but she lacks memorability, usually they really build into the baddies and that has led to some great big bads but her development time gets squeezed, there are themes that could have been intresting but not enough time. There other issues with the baddies
rather then concentrate on 1, we got 5. Madam Gao remains awesome as her intelligent mind is clear and those involved in past tended to do well, Electra had really strong end phase thanks to connection with Daredevil


Overall it was... fine. Nice enough humour, some likeable exchanges, some good action but too many ruined by poor lighting, some nice twists. I prefer the 13 episode shows where they can concentrate on the character, their friends and the big bad, where they have more time and less characters to juggle but this was nice.


====

Watched second of season of Preacher. This one saw some religious groups offended and yeah, there are three ways this season could reasonably offend
Their version of Hitler, anyone who finds the JesusxMagdalene stories offensive, watching Jesus having sex
. Preacher comics as I understand has always had an element of controversy in their depiction of religion but I think the show justifies what they do for storyline and world building. That doesn't mean it isn't legitimate for others to go "sorry, crosses line for me"

It starts really strongly, Jesse, Tulip and Cassidy on a road trip so changes of scenery, good pace, the style of humour very much still there and shining
the scene with the fellow priest and girl in cage, expecting it to go really dark but instead it has a lot of fun as to why she is there
, the characters dynamics quickly restablished, very effective use of the big bad to provide tension and good action scenes. There is also a very moving strand in episode 2
the depression of Fiore as he struggles with being alive+immortal without his friend. It has humour with him becoming a famed magical act but very moving end to the strand
.

Alas after the first two episodes, it goes downhill. It settles down in one place
New Orleans
which doesn't have to be a bad thing, first season used location and characters in the town well, season 2 has one episode showing a festive event and then doesn't use the location at all. They could be anywhere in the world for all it matters and it focuses very much on the group of three rather then people around them. Problem is, they aren't very intresting. There are four strands:

1) Jesse. The main figure, the main adventure. Unless Jesse is the the most part a bore and a jerk whose stuff might have an intresting moment now and again but tends to drag the episode down. Gets straight rather then inventive action scenes but those are poor. I have no reason to care about the Preacher or to like him or to warm.

2) Tulip. Tends to give life to an episode due to Ruth Negga's charismatic and energetic performance, has some fun adventures and attitude but during end phase, her story runs out of steam and gets repetitive. 3) Cassidy. Initially he is very much sidelined and the show misses his humour but he gradually grows into the show with a very intresting storyline with good emotional punch, it's ending doesn't land but the journey was worth it. 4)
Eugene in hell
had real potential and there are moments where it exploits the chance to be inventive, to world build but each time this theme (only every now and again), it always runs out of steam within the episode, that it never quite has enough.

The show isn't bad at this point, there are moments of amusement, good character stuff, inventive idea's but too much that doesn't work so things feel slow, episodes fine but not shining at best. It gets stronger near the end as Cassidy's storyline starts to build and they bring in the big bads
the Grail led by Herr Starr (Pip Torrens) supported by Lara (Julie Ann Emery) and Hoover (Malcolm Barrett)
. They touched upon the baddies earlier in season but they keep it mostly in background till end when it introduces the main big bad. Apparently they are some of the big bads of the comics and those who read the comics seem to like the portrayal, the "background to big bad" episode is one of the best episodes of the two seasons as a lot of fun and most scenes they are in are strong.

Why do the baddies lift the show? The lead figure is charismatic, intelligent, a sense of the strange about him that fits the show, ruthless. The support baddies work well, one nice but incompetent, the other able but with a crush (which they use rarely but well) on the baddie but both could do a bit more building up. They work becuase they fit into the tone of the show, it allows for humour, happily embraces a bit of the strange. There is a sense of threat as they are skilled, ruthless figures, have lots of power and have success, the world building around them is intresting. Yet it also balances out by they have failures, they make misjudgements or sometimes poor luck and the show has fun with them when things go wrong.
“You, are a rebellious son who abandoned his father. You are a cruel brigand who murdered his lord. How can Heaven and Earth put up with you for long? And unless you die soon, how can you face the sight of men?”
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Re: Favorite Television Shows

Unread postby Sun Fin » Sat Sep 23, 2017 7:09 am

Watching Broken with my wife at the moment. Sean Bean plays a Catholic priest in a tough parish in Yorkshire and struggles with the question of how to make his faith relevant in the day to day life of his poor parishioners. We have only seen Episode 1 but already really like it. It helps that Sean Bean is, well, Sean Bean but as I continue to consider full time ministry I've found it quite challenging to see the struggles he faces in a parish experience that is very different to my own. It's also refreshing to see a show where the priest (whether Catholic or Anglican) isn't presented as either a pedophile or a Mr. Nice stereotype.
Last edited by Sun Fin on Thu Oct 26, 2017 5:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Favorite Television Shows

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Thu Sep 28, 2017 6:46 am

Watched sci-fi adventure Killjoys first season. Premise: In future and in space, there is tension in the planetry system Quad. We follow Dutch (Hannah John-Kamen) her best friend and tech man John (Aaron Ashmore) and his solider brother D'avin (Luke Macfarlane) and their adventures.

It quickly establishes good comradeship between their three main characters, shows early on the enjoyable sense of humour. There are fun side characters who make an impact like barkeep Pree (Thom Allison) or doctor Pawter (Sarah Power) and there is a sense of fun with decent baddies and situations, a nice long term storyline. It is solid but there is a feeling it is on verge of something more if they can just get a few things right. Ship Lucy (Tamsen McDonough) persona is great when used but rarely done so, some of the adventures run out of steam when there isn't a strong support or bad figure behind it, world could be explored a bit more, the humour feels like it should be better then it is.
=====

Watched BBC comedy Quacks. Premise: In Victorian London there are some close knit friends trying to push forward medical knowledge: Robert (Rory Kinnear) a highflying surgeon, his frustrated wife Caroline (Lydia Leonard), gentle mental doctor William (Mathew Baynton) and dentist/experimental anaesthetist John (Tom Basden).

When it came out, was talk about it going into the medical attitudes of the time but it doesn't other then for bits of little comedy, certainly used enjoyably when it is used for comedy (including Florence Nightingale which was well done) but if looking for new insight into attitudes, not convinced your going to get any. As a comedy it works well, it is an amusing half hour each time, the characters have a good connection with each other, they get into some fun situations, the medical side is used for enjoyable comedy and some good side characters. Being six episodes, there is issue of pacing with some of the relations particularly of the romantic variety
Robert and Caroline mainly
being good but very rushed near end.
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