Favorite Television Shows

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Re: Favorite Television Shows

Unread postby waywardauthor » Thu Dec 14, 2017 3:06 pm

The Advisors Alliance is turning out to be pretty good, will take me a while to finish it, but I would recommend it to anyone interested more in the political intrigue aspect of the Three Kingdoms period. Its centered around Sima Yi and Yang Xiu as they get involved in the succession struggle between Cao Pi and Cao Zhi. Sima Yi is rendered very positively as a kind and benevolent family man, and Cao Pi is shown to be more honest and forthright than I've seen in him a very long time. There's a scene a couple episodes in with Yang Xiu that made me realize that this was a show worth watching, and it was revolving around the horror of what he had just done. It doesn't really have battles, and I'm not sure it will until the very end, but I don't miss them. The earlier Three Kingdoms series had a number of positive aspects, but the fights and battles were the weakest aspect of the show as far as I was concerned. There's an English captioned version of it on YouTube, though I'm uncertain if its an official release. It might become a favorite of mine, for the era at least.

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=P ... ikWybdAh9O
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Re: Favorite Television Shows

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Thu Dec 21, 2017 6:57 am

Norwegian adult comedy Norsemen/Vikingane. Premise: Set in 790 AD, we follow a Viking village under Chief Olaf (Henrik Mestad) who leads raids while his incompetent brother Orm (Kåre Conradi) is in charge. Of course, they have to deal with the usual things, battles, political intrigue, culture, love and friendship....

It's main thing is taking the old (slavery, the costumes, the Viking way of life, raids, the violence) and mixing it with modern day like Orm and Roman slave Rufus (Trond Fausa) view of culture, the management techniques, self help like male bonding. It's characters are fun, the writers have a fun sense of humour, a nice romance or two, a good and amusing season baddie. Worth a try if you have Netflix and an adult
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Re: Favorite Television Shows

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Mon Dec 25, 2017 9:58 am

Watched season 2 of The Shannara Chronicles which I felt had a bad start, they had to lose some of the dynamics of season 1 and was it takes time to build that with new characters or new relations, I felt Andrew Grainger was poor as Cogline, some of the dialogue was trying that bit too hard to be dramatic. The saving grace of the early episodes was Mareth Ravenlock (Malese Jow) who has the spark and a nice sense of humour to liven things up.

It did get better as it found dynamics while the presence of Allanon plus human leader Queen Tamlin (Caroline Chikezie) really lifted things, able performers and intresting characters. There was alright romances, some good twists and turns though they did one huge huge twist... then ignored the consequences
the elves have no king and we see nothing of that
, two good baddies. It suffers somewhat when the big bad comes in as not as intresting as the minor big bads who have more of a humanity to them whereas the big bad is detached without having something else to replace it. Finale has bizarre "time limited mission so lets all stand around and chat for ten minutes" type logic repeatedly.
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Re: Favorite Television Shows

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Wed Dec 27, 2017 6:09 pm

Watched The Arrowverse latest round with only six weeks till second half. It has some challenges, rumours emerged during the run of Andrew Kreisberg behaviour and he was sacked though the risk of Berlanti being overstretched won't come into play till second half. It had to say goodbye to two members of the arrowverse (and a third to go at end of full season) though generally handled that well, some of the shows need changes, this was going to be the first big all 4 shows crossovers+a sense it had to have more oomph then last time and all of them had a big things to handle after last season finales. Alas on the latter, most of the shows shirked it.

Rankings of the four shows
1) Legends clear winner, 2) joint second would be Flash and Supergirl, marginally lean towards Supergirl, 4) Arrow doesn't really get close to the others


Supergirl was the one show that took the events of last season and fully embraced it, it had an impact on the characters, changed attitudes and dynamics though perhaps has lost a slight sense of joy at times. Sometimes they used it to look at serious issues but felt their clumsy handling risked actually being damaging in one case
depression
and hampered the other times. They had to write out one character for reasons yet unknown
Maggie
, a character well liked in short spell, it worked more due to the cast involved and strong chemistry as the writers struggled to make the reasoning seem real and non-clichced
two women arguing over whether to have children? I'm not saying that isn't something that happens but it still felt... iffy
.

They also seem to have considered what didn't work, changing the role for James Olson to one that is smaller perhaps but works far better
focusing in his being a news media head, guardian quietly being dropped
, worked out way of bringing in Lena into Kara's life more, trimmed one or two in cast while those they bring in have been very welcome. With baddies it is hit and miss, their one for the finale has really benefited from careful build up, one that is clearly meant to be a semi-regular (ie turns up every few episodes) feels cartoony bad, one episode villain worked very well due to themes it was exploring but most rely on cast overcoming very thinly written characters and to their credit a few do.

Supergirl is a nice show with a warm heart and works best there, lots of humour, characters I enjoy, some nice themes, liked their handling of religion. Finale tried something different with action that didn't quite work but worth trying, it's story was strong and it's end phase was excellent, giving a big kick before the six week winter break.

-I feel Reign vs gangsters would have worked better if there was surprise factor but good drip drip drip factor towards her reveal, slightly overdone when the reveal happened but some good moments in it. Samantha (Odette Anabele) was a really strong addition, the actress did a great job, bounced well with Lena and to an extent with Kara (they tried to force that a bit too much) while her relationship with Ruby was great, a warm bond between them even when they disagree as parent and child. I liked the parallel with Kara's childhood

-The return of Mon-el was a surprise, a good twist and done late enough that it didn't feel like it invalidated the last finale, particularly given all Kara had gone through. Add the revelation he had a wife (who seems nice but only had an episode with her so far), finale slightly overdid the tension as Kara struggled with his return

-I did miss Kara's cheerful personality but understandable as they explored her morning her beloved while they used Alex for humour. I like d the way they showed her journey to earth had bigger impact then others knew, that she needed telling being strong of body isn't enough but way she overcome seemed a bit "and any problems, even depression, you can overcome with enough heart"

-Cat Grant on climate change was brilliant. It's handling of real world issues not always good though, like the Trump like mob and "lock her up" was heavy handed

-Edge sucks. Adrian Pasdar is not a bad actor but he has nothing to really go with, this is a baddie who twirls moustache and kicks puppies for morning exercise without anything to hold the attention. Psi (Yael Grobglas) has a good power and Grobglas has ability with hamming it up when need be to make up for the script. Thomas Coville (Chad Lowe) worked not so much as a threat but as a character as the show gave him a backstory and used him to explore religion itself, Kryptione religion, that people would worship such a being and it didn't mock, some lovely prayers.

-Having Lena take over Catco allows her right into Kara's life and she bounced well with James over balancing control after an initially forced start, romance does feel rushed though partly due to James limited time on screen. Good that they had her rebuke Kara for not doing her journalist job and her struggle with her Luthorness

-I was worried by addition of M’yrnn (Carl Lumbly) and how that would impact Jonn' but it was well done, first the denial and then slowly trying to rebuild their relationship (love the moment in Jonn's old house), M'Yrnn outside view of his son and his learning about Earth with wonder. Quite if Kara should have been the one to do the big victory moment in episode 3 is another matter. I hope they give the two Martians a bit more screen time

-I liked what they tried with Maggie's father, that he rejected her for coming out but he wasn't a bad man either though dialogue got a bit forced near the end. The break up moment worked well as the two actresses clicked really well once again

-Some nice Alex based jokes at the start

-Trip to Midvale was a a mixed bag waste. Was great that they made nods to Smallville like referencing Chloe Sullivan, the young cast Izabela Vidovic and Olivia Nikkanen did well to make a likeable tale, nicely done with a sensitive subject, but ended up all about Kara when Alex was in pain and how did the trip help?

-They needed to be better build Kara's viewpoint of not being able to be human


====

Watched The Flash which didn't have a cast member to say goodbye but rivals Arrow for "Ok finale means we have to make some big calls. We could do that or pretty much undo everything big about that? Let's go with the latter." It opened the first episode showing what could be done, that some figures like Iris and Wally could benefit from the changes but nope, this new world doesn't last the episode before it reverts back to as if nothing much happened, as if the finale didn't happen. They did run with good stuff and storylines based on that first episode changes but with the exception of Iris, it felt like they decided the last six months didn't happen and that left a bad taste in the mouth.

The show runners had known there had been issues with season 2 and they made a lot of changes: cutting down the task with many characters brought in last season quietly leaving, all the speedsters not called Barry gone (real pity as I really liked both, they have to find some role for Wally. Legends?), Iris needed bigger role so got it, added a comic relief figure part way through though too early to tell if it will work. They acknowledged the last season had gone too dark with tone so went back with cheery humour though this could be hit and miss with some tonal shifts in episodes and early episodes sometimes felt like humour was forced but overall, I enjoyed the humour.

They also knew they couldn't do another "speedster turns up and is very close to Barry" after three in a row so they changed it. Choosing to reveal who the baddie is early on
the Thinker
and giving small scenes per episode, sometimes feeling only a minute or two, with an overall plan involving the villains of the week. The episodic ones were rarely well crafted but had some fun with powers and some good actresses made the most of it, the little moments with the big baddie could be fun but as time grew, it felt like they needed to do more. Thankfully as it headed towards the half-season point, they gave an episode fleshing out team evil and that was great to watch, really added to sense of threat and character.

It's heart remains it's humour, the sense of bond with characters that evolve and grow but the addition of an able villain has really helped lift near the end run, good romances. Finale has slightly too much going on so it's non cross over penultimate episode is stronger but still has ended on a good run of episodes, excellent last twist and look forward to seeing it's return.

-As bad as "Barry is imprisoned for five show minutes then we find a cheat way out" was, also bad that Catlyn leaving lasted five minutes as well. Rather then have her slowly come back, rather then have Wally and Iris saving city, back come the big hitters.

-I feared the wife of Thinker was slightly too... wallflower. She gives up her career for his, she becomes the carer, we very rarely get a chance to see her talent for engineering, she is the one playing the vulnerable card. It is nice to have an evil romance and in finale, it deals with those concerns but hope they keep the balance better. The small little segments between Thinker and what seemed his assistant at time had some fun moments but they were only a little moment each episode so struggled to build momentum, was some nice frustration by her. The Thinker backstory really gave depth, fleshed out a good relationship, their ambitions and dreams, their care for each other while Neil Sandilands and Kim Engelbrecht have great chemistry

I think the swapping bodies is a great twist and gives Barry a challenge that he can't superpower his way out (maybe will suit Ralph and Joe as detectives) unless they rewrite it. However the loss of Sandilands for Kendrick Sampson concerns me, as yet he hasn't got the chemistry with Engelbrecht and as yet only seems a solid actor.

-I like that it plays on Barry's assumptions like sees man in wheelchair so thinks can't be baddie for a moment (wish they had ran with that more) or his comment about wife being the secondary figure. I also kind of wish his paranoia had been proven wrong rather then "sure he acted out of order and was a total git but hey, he was right so ignore that"

-Iris being leader rather sometimes kidnapped love interest has helped her, put more central to team. Wouldn't have minded therapy being an ongoing thing, that the perfect couple need help could have been a good theme as their jobs would lead to issues. Was not a good sign that for her bachelorette party it was pretty much "uh quick, think of other females on this earth" as shows Iris hasn't really been making friends though Felcity was fun (as was the stripper misunderstanding)

-Cisco and Wells make for good humour pairing. Also the different kind of message cubes and Harry's awkwardness as people misunderstood them while Gypsy and Cisco have an amusing relationship.

-On the characters gone, Julian was nice enough but can't say I particularly miss him, I do miss the two speedsters as Jesse was excellent with Wally and I badly miss Wally who gets two episodes of "oh so inferior to Barry" and then written out. His enjoyment of being the Flash and different dynamics with the family were welcome, I would love to see either of them in Legends.

-Becky (Lyn Beard) was fun, the actress gave a bit of spark, they had fun with her wretched luck and I enjoyed the impact she had. Amunet Black (Katee Sackhoff) is not a character with depth but Sackhoff, bar a sometimes annoying accent, gives it verve and fun (enjoyed her comment when called Mam) that punches above the writings weight. Kill-gore was fine as baddie of week as had fun with powers, Black Bison (Chelsea Kurtz) had one or two moments with powers but often lack ommph and felt stereotype

-Ralph Dibny (Hartley Sawyer) had a good entrance, his anger with Barry, his style initially fun, they have some amusement with his abilities but also show capability with and without powers. Then he becomes a comic sidekick whose detective skills are never used and where he can be rather annoyed at times

-They could do more with a Catilin//Killer Frost struggle, seems a bit "oh well, alter ego so no blame on either" whereas last season was more complex. Also when the heck did people hang out with Killer Frost?


====

Legends of Tomorrow felt like they looked at where they left it, felt that the expected route wouldn't quite be fun enough and shifted the angle. They kept the main theme
Legends messed up time and caused anachronisms
but ran with different ideas on what to do with it, the finale tease hadn't such a big potential impact as the other three shows so that helped and felt it was a fair way of doing it. They also knew they were losing a character
Stein's actor was going back to Broadway
so they revealed early on character was leaving, gave a good reasoning for character to leave and went for a long goodbye. Those things can drag and clog up the entire show but they avoided that, it was a main theme for a few relevant characters but a lot of other things went on, it allowed strong character moments and developed nicely before really hitting it's end points. Was excellent way of saying goodbye to a character my sister and I really enjoyed.

It adds one new character who has a bad start and at moment feels like a Jax figure, nice enough and can go with several figures but struggling to stand out. Main story seems to have two strands, Rip's new plan for part 1 which is set up well and leads to some intresting dynamics with Rip and then segues well into phase 2 aka show the baddies but at moment, that isn't working as a strand and is only working due to the cast for team evil carrying their moments in each episode. Legends retains it's strength of fun, sometimes silly, adventures through time with a team that has a habit of making a mess of things, finale great in both hilarity but a good emotional strand.

-Merry Beebo Day.

That was glorious on so many levels, that and the baby Dominator for the ET comparisons, made the best two episodes.

-Goodbye Stein and goodbye Jax. It was nice to see the eagerness to join the team flip, this time Jax wanting it and Stein (willingless unlike Jax the first time) coming along for one last adventure. Yet they care they have for each other, Stein wanting to go so he can raise his grandchild having missed Lilly's childhood but trying to hide it and wanting to help Jax stay, Jax wanting Stein to be with his family yet also hurting about his place in team and Stein's life. The hospital scene with Mick and the baby was fun, the body swap ran out of steam but was fun for awhile. After the crossover, I was worried when Jax went to young Stein, that they were desperately going to try to keep Stein alive for future which would cheapen what happened. Thankfully they stuck to their guns, allowing the young Stein a goodbye as well and showing the nobility he had, it was a moving moment as he told Jax he knew he had a good life ahead of him, a great adventure and if he is to die then he accepts the life he will have in exchange.

Stein was a big figure and will be hard to replace. He provided an older head in a young cast, was the big intellect but they have cover for that, he felt like Sara's friend and close adviser, they loved to get him a chance to sing and that led to some lovely moments. He balanced well with others like Sara, Ray but also some fun with Mick due to being exact opposites. The rest of the cast don't have family as such, Mick had drifted away from Snart, Sara rarely with her family, others have none that come into play, but Stein loved his wife dearly, they showed his arrogant young self and how the romance was built up, the time interferences led to a daughter he had to adjust to and then loved. He leaves a big hole

Jax could come back though they will have to find him a power but I'm not fussed if he doesn't. He was a nice chap, bounced off others well enough (was building relations with Zari) but it took a season for them to find him a role as an engineer and he was nearly always on the sidelines.

-I liked Rip's role in the season, the cold reaction he gives to the Legends yet also a sense still of his fondness as they steal his ship, gently revealing his overall plan and his use for the legends but that the Legends turn on him becuase, as he has shown over three seasons, he never trusts others can not be relied on. Sharpe's nice but she needs fleshing out, particularly if she is the love interest/rival for Sara

-Was fun seeing what the group had been up to in exile, some happier then others

-Zari (Tala Ashe) which is a rename of character Isis, is struggling. She had a bad start with Ashe struggling to sync with the others but though she has recovered, at moment she feels at Jax level. Aka nice but forgettable. Not found a way to really use her hacking or that she is from the future, her spirit stuff is too close to Vixen. She gets on fine with everybody so far

-Caesar was fun but bit of a sideshow, Barnum was charming and fun with chances to show some circus tricks from Garber, the baby dominator worked brilliantly for all the E.T touches which were funny and sweet, singing in the rain but also gave insight into Ray's childhood including how memories change (plus Nate's reaction to Ray's mother). Helen of Troy (Bar Paly) had nice ideas (including a nice Wonder Woman nod) not quite pulled off, great opening scene and way too small a role for Hedy Lamarr (Celia Massingham)

-Nate and Amaya still make a fun pairing even if they aren't together, good "when she left him" moment and Nate needs to grow up a tad in theory but works on screen (while allowing the Legends to really balls up in an easy mission).

-I liked the manspalining to Amya given her reaction acknowledges the males in her life are being rather arrogant

-Will be intresting to see how long Constantine lasts

-Mick still awesome. Particularly during the Dracula episode, I do wonder if they will do anything with what he learn about his father. The return of Snart, this time earth X's Leo, quickly got their dynamic going in the finale while, becuase these men were used to different counterparts, allowed it to be different. I was worried Wentworth Miller wouldn't get a good last goodbye and they would try to resurrect the old Snart, making an alternate universe one allows Miller to go at things from a different angle while still retaining the cool intelligence. Also his attempt to use puppet to help the team deal with their grief...

-On the season big bad, Kuasa makes a real impact when she first appears thanks to Tracy Ifeachor's intimidating screen presence and good in action scenes. Damian Darkh is... well himself, he works well becuase of his personal relations with the team by now, his flamboyance and presence bound to liven up a scene, plus his resurrection scene was fun. Eleanor Darhk (Courtney Ford) is a welcome addition as he remember how much he loved his family, she was well used for the trap and links with her father+his schemes though needs fleshing out. I was excited to see Grodd but he didn't have the impact I hoped for in his Vietnam episode (a nice nod if Amaya's 1940's based assumptions of UK miliatry aside, they seemed scared of really doing anything with that setting)


=====

Arrow had arguably the biggest potential impact from finale, the type that requires characters being killed off but they bottled it badly. They had two decent strands that ran off the finale, one that could still potentially radically change the arrow, but my reaction at the end of the first episode was huge disbelief at how they had shirked it.
William's mother dies, Thea in coma, everyone else unharmed.
. They clearly thought one of the impacts they did, revealed at the end of the first episode as they slowly revealed which characters were around, would be sufficient but it was really really weak.

The arrow, though it has characters like Felicity who can provide humour, is the straightest and darkest of the four shows so it really needs to land it's stories as it doesn't have the warm heart to cover when things aren't quite firing. It does have some good episodes, it has changed the action to a more mobile one though doesn't always click for me, it has some good strands yet there is something unsatisfying about it all. I think the big flaw that held it back as it seems to have about 6 million storylines so one will run for a few episodes and maybe it will hit but then it vanishes or gets dropped and nothing really knits it together. The big bads are fun but they come in very very late to the game.

-Seriously, only a very minor character dies and Thea is in a coma that she eventually wakes up from? When the island was set to explode? Poor. I did like William and how having him in his life impacted Oliver's life (though would be more if I had any belief the show would let the next generation takes over from the old guard), I liked that it left Diggle with nerve damage though that strand got way too easy an ending that undermined it all.

-Was there a point to Oliver being arrow photo emerging given how easily that was dealt with?

-Curtis has his moments but was hoping the business with Felicity would get him more screen time.

-The inter contained in a vault....

-Seeing Oliver and Felicity back together worked by changing the dynamics thanks to William's presence

-Vigilante reveal is... eh. It has worked becuase it bounces off Dinah who is one of the better characters in the arrow team (I want her to be the next arrow rather then Diggle) but it lacked a feeling of shock.

-I'm glad Manu Bennett's Slade Wilson got a chance to bow out like that, enjoyed his double episode strand

-Why did nobody in the team realize beating up police pre referendum would be a really bad look?

-There were some really good antagonists: Laurel as she has a bit of humour and her scenes with her not-father are excellent, Agent Watson is given force by actress Sydelle Noel and the idea of an able investigator building a case against the team could have been an excellent main thrust (was fun reactions and exchanges in such interrogations), Anatoly for his episode is always a pleasure. Maybe Cayden James, I found Michael Emerson flat at first but he and the Black Siren do have some fun quips at each other, really needs fleshing out

-There were some nice things in the finale, the post-wedding moments, the distrust leading to team splitting up with furious new members but this could have been built up way better with a coherent season plan


====

Crossover had been fun but some disappointment that it had been "three episodes and one minute in Supergirl", this time they time to plan it so all four episodes were on the crossover. They also changed the format, last time was "if you watch Flash, you only really need to watch Flash as his episode will be the one where team Flash are focused on", this time the story develops over all 4 episodes,big things can happen in any of the episodes to the characters you follow.

The first two episodes are fun but lacking something, enjoyable action, nice nods as the non-core figures pop in and out as needed, enjoyable jokes as they had fun with figures who don't usually get to share screen together. However the attempt to hide villains identity doesn't work and they don't really run with the main theme of the crossover in a way that provides great impact. The latter two episodes is when things pull together, the threads knitting, some good surprises, the baddies work well and they have some moving and politically relevant scenes to go with the crossover theme. The last two episodes are excellent with some moving moments but feel they made a decision they may come to regret

-Doing the Flash wedding for the crossover was a big signal, had some fun gathering the characters up (and in Flash finale, some resentment from the couple as Arrow shares their wedding and Mick's... gifts), nice low key wedding at end

-Mick was born for these kind of things, would have loved to see him interact with Killer Frost as he so desperately wanted

-Alex and Sara made sense, Alex alarm when she woke up was hilariously done... then her reactions afterwards was cringeworthy. Was better when the two teamed up as fighters

-I liked that they found ways to give figures like Olson a little nod and included Red Tornado

-I liked Felicity and Oliver's stuff between themselves but they do seem to lack awareness of their actions on others

-They tried to make points with Nazi's and modern day but it was only when some of them were trapped at the camp that they really made it land

-The Ray was nice, Russell Tovey having good chemistry with Miller's (who has spoken of being a closeted gay in Hollywood) Citizen Cold, while allowing the show to touch on how poorly homosexuals can be treated.

-Jax and Stein was good throughout, Stein using his friends to help him try to find a cure for Jax and completely misunderstanding the pain he was causing Jax whose feelings were being stirred up by being home. Then the sacrifice, the final moments with Jax trying to hold onto the father figure but Stein gently urging Jax to let him go. I wish they had focused a bit on Mock's reaction rather then some people who barely knew the professor

-It was great to see Tommy Merlyn again and his scene with Oliver was excellent. I liked the interplay between Archer and Overgirl (while fun ewww from supergirl)but I feel they should have been allowed to live so they could be used again, perhaps at a more personal level. That Eobard Thawne remains could have intresting consequences last time
“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 Dong Zhou » Fri Jan 12, 2018 1:16 pm

Watched first season of hit comedy The Good Place. Premise: Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell) has died and for her good deeds, has been sent to the Good Place created by architect Michael (Ted Danson), given the house of her dreams and sharing it with her soulmate Chidi (William Jackson Harper). There is just one minor snag...

I had heard good things and finally persuaded my sister to try it, we quickly loved it but over-watched so had to set a one a week limit. They have good comic cast including D'Arcy Carden as AI Janet and there are a lot of laughs including some of the pro/negative points for getting into heaven being inventive and deliberately silly. They use the afterlife angle well, good chemistry between the cast, a good overall story with plenty of twists and turns leading up to a great finale.

The only concern is Manny Jacinto's character is excellent in small doses but is really irritating if on screen for any serious length.

=====

Star Trek Discovery the big CBS streaming gamble (though here in UK, on Netflix along with all the there Star Trek shows), an attempt to get Star Trek going with films perhaps not the hits that had been hoped over. Big big budget, big names behind the scenes, they decided to go for a prequel, from what I understand the gamble seems to have paid off in terms of numbers and critical approval.

There seems to have been complaints that this doesn't feel like Star Trek. It is very different, it is a darker tone, arguably darker crew and it is willing to go further with adult material yet I would say the characters do strive at least somewhat to the Star Trek ideals that in this timeline perhaps have yet to master, it creates positive firsts and does address several issues
like PTSD, rape and animal sentience
. It swaps one off adventures for a more conventional one episode leading to the next, there are moments of "I didn't think they invented that yet", two characters from main show pop as younger selves with one I loved and one I just could not adjust to
Rainn Wilson making a very good Harry Mudd and they do have some funs with his character but I struggle to reconcile James Frain's Sarek with the one of old. It isn't Frain's fault but their attempt to update him, while intresting, just clashes for me so whenever Sarek is on screen, it lags.
. Instead of the captain being the main figure and then the bridge crew, it is half-Vulcan Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) and the figures in her life, some not on the bridge. Some of the bridge are recognizable by sight but for all I know, they commit mass-murder in spare time I know so little about him. They also tend to spend some time each episode with the rival faction
new look (took an episode to adjust) Klingon's, speaking Klingon works well
and exploring their side.

I struggled at the start, visually it was great and there were moments but it felt... empty. Not for lack of content but that somehow nothing was clicking. The antagonist delivery was off early on which made lines sound unreal (a problem that was fixed by episode 3)
T'Kuvma (Chris Obi), thankfully the other Klingon's can make their dialogue sound natural
, I didn't engage with Burnham, the "blast from the past" figure that I didn't like was heavily involved, some good moments but too much that didn't click. However from episode 3 onwards I was enjoying it, I was warming to Burnham, loved characters around her like the family fav Saru (Doug Jones) or Tilly (Mary Wiseman) or side figures that popped up though others. Some main figures I liked but need a few episodes to warm to, there is romance and not just in the usual areas, space action, some space politics, the antagonist scenes are intresting, the show knows when to do something a bit different with an episode to keep things fresh. Bar the penultimate episode which didn't fire, thoroughly enjoyed the first half of season 1 and look forward to season 2.

They have excellent episode titles as well.

-Great meeting Mudd's "beloved" and she made a good impression, hope there is more of them somehow. The time loop episode was fun

-Was not a surprise when Michelle Yeoh’s Captain Philippa Georgiou died but liked her and was sorry she died

-I wish the fear for Klingon's of loss of purity due to Federation was explored more, it is an intresting theme. Is intresting Vulcan's share that concern

-I like that, though Anthony Rapp’s Lt. Paul Stamets makes a strong first impression, they start him off stiff and arrogant but warm him up, then one sees the impact the spore drive is having on him, knowing this will not end well. Jason Issac's captain does take time to go from "ohhh look, dark and mysterious" into a character but worth it when they do and one can see how he makes a good captain.

-Good initial hostility from crew to traitor Burnham but they kind of drop that other then Saru's complicated relationship with her

-VoqxL’Rell was good, also StametsxDr. Culbert when they do get moments together

-Can't say I really noticed the F-bomb

-Lorca and Admiral Cornwell (Jayne Brook) scenes were good but the romance followed by the reveal was excellent as was his betrayal

-Good ending twist, Staments one final jump and then... The defeat of Kol was a bit too easy though


=====

Riverdale: season 2 (part 1) feels Riverdale has found it's formula, the four friends at the core, have a mystery, romance, some nice humour, Cheryl as a force of nature, willingness to embrace the absurd, some nice singing every now and again from Josie, Veronica and Archie. It works, they have a good season mystery that they do good things with though it's ending is weak
we knew the guy for two episodes and it was hardly unpredictable. Hopefully the sense it is not the the true black mask will pan out
, it is funny, the four core things have a strong bond and a likeable lot, Cheryl is Cheryl, they have a sense of the absurd but also touch on issues

There are issues with the show, it struggles to juggle it's side characters though near end it makes a big push on Josie, it's handling of the parents is very erratic with some excellent and some hit or miss with the Lodge family particularly ill-served as mother spends half the half season with seeming personality transplant and both with cartoon villain side. They do emerge stronger as characters near the end at least with better consistency. "Dark Betty" still has the feeling of "have cake and eat it too" as they both try to make statement of portrayal of women and gawp at the flesh, there is an episode where characters suddenly have surprisingly specifically helpful abilities out of nowhere.

-I'm glad the show recognized the silliness of the red circle video. While Fred survived the attack, it did have a major impact with not only the Hood strand but on characters like Archie mental state. However combined with Moose and Midge both surviving the next shooting, there is an issue with being reluctant to kill

-I'm sad Miss Grundy was killed but not sure how they could have brought her back

-It does feel like Pop's is a business that has to be allowed to close if it is doing so badly

-Enjoyed Jughead's strand, his slowly getting lured into the Serpents by family loyalty and wider obligation, it allowed them to flesh out a little the north-south divide (could do with exploring that more) and the prejudices that come from it, Penny Peabody (Brit Morgan) was a good character, the father's pain at having to go back in was very good. I do like Toni Topaz (Vanessa Morgan) but the love triangle angle is a worry

-Kevin was sadly sidelined but I liked that they made the point that he struggles for suitable partners in a small town

-Best "I'm not in this half season" line ever goes to Polly Cooper reasoning for leaving town, was hilarious

-Nice Blackhood/Betty dynamic, that her rally cry twigged something dark, enjoyed her front up moment but only after her time with Black Hood had impacted her friends (though they were remarkable forgiving)

-Nick St. Clair's characterisation bit all over place at first but good rape storyline including how some adults didn't care

-Seriously, when did the boys become racing drivers and Betty a mechanic?

-I assume Svenson in the Blackhood is a fake out as would be an awful choice. We saw him once or twice as janitor, knew him as a character for one episode before finale, potentially could have done some intresting stuff with his backstory

-The Archive love triangle introduced late, Verinca's "can't say I love him" was fun but the Archie/Betty kiss scene felt forced


=====

Late as the exact status of winter finale was confusing, watched X-Men show The Gifted. Premise: In a world where X-Men and their rivals Brotherhood have vanished, governments are suppressing mutants. In the USA, the Strucker family led by lawyer Reed (Stephen Moyer) and nurse Catlin (Amy Acker) lives are turned upside down when their children Lauren (Natalie Alyn Lind) and Andy (Percy Hynes White) are exposed as mutants and chased by the law.

The clever idea that gives this show something different from X-men films and shows+gives a real spark at the start is that usually your watching Mutant's, already outcasts or hiding it away before being exposed vs evil security/government. This is a normal family, the Strucker adults are the establishment, white, well off, one in government service, they have lived through the events that have made life hell for mutants. They are also decent people, the kind of people that viewers would likely know or represent the viewer themselves. It uses the Struckers to shine a light on what actually most people would do if the Mutants were around, the casually biased attitudes and is very very effective at it.

Like Legion, this does not have A list mutants in (Blink played by Jamie Chung is the biggest name for casual viewers I suspect), unlike Legion this is for families rather then adult. The mutants they concentrate on like Blink, Marcos/Eclipse (Sean Teale), Thunderbird (Blair Redford) and Lorna/Polaris (Emma Dumont) are spiky and generally likeable, their powers are used well for action but also casual moments. The characters do feel like ones whose lives and instincts have been shaped by the threat they are under while Agent Turner (Coby Bell) is made to feel human being rather then just an evil agent.

It does several things right, nice romances, fairly good action, cast do a very good job clever use of powers, bits of humour, very good family dynamic particularly between the two children. There is nice pace and when it remembers the Strucker's are ordinary people but with mutant children, it shines particularly during first half. The show sometimes leaps into big moments with a character before they are fleshed out though they are later fleshed out, there are the odd strands that don't work out like Marcos past so far, one baddie struggles initially as actor doesn't quite land it
Garret Dillahunt
but does recover, a figure comes in late but seems to hamper things due to writing
Esme Frost (Skyler Samuels)
and sometimes they seem to force a situation.

One problem that hampers the, still enjoyable, second half is the show seems to worship the family and lets that impact it's judgement. The children are put in scenes no responsible adult would let them be in but the show wants to force them into key moments, the adults get in a strangely trusted positions, there are moments where mutants simply stand in aware of the family. Literally. They really do that. It is a major surprise they have not built a church based on worshipping the Strucker family.

-Good touches like the casual anti-mutant slang from Andy, the visit to the doctor's, the faith in the system from the middle class, going to old friend Danny and how he/neighbours turned against them, the stupid uses of social media

-Even before they go into Turner's back story, they showed glimpses of the caring family man and his pain

-The family felt like a family but particularly enjoyed how they captured the teenagers, how their ages and experiences shape their differing reactions to their powers. They are careful with Andy, he is acting out but he isn't a bad figure

-It took them awhile to build up Simone (Elena Satine) which hampered some early storylines involving her but she and later Esme showed how their mind powers impacted their way of thinking and how easy it is to slip into using such powers. The Blink thing felt forced at first, I liked Simone's horror as she is pulled away from Turner early and we see the impact on him

-LornaxMarcus make a good couple, we see their joy and the tensions that emerge

-I would love more flashbacks to the Andrea and Andreas von Strucker days

-The Carmen (Michelle Veintimilla) strand doesn't quite work, chemistry isn't quite there between her and Marcos

-I liked Wed powers and his fledgling romance but the Strucker's horror at what he did on the streets is a bit rich

-Nobody in the FBI meeting room noticed the murder? Really?

-Reed and his father needed more then an episode for all that information to come out

-Blink finding what happened to her family was well done

-That nursing scene was ridiculous. Catlin being most senior medic there is fine but when there are plenty of adults around, why is it they have two children involved in the operation? Seriously, surely basic common sense and compassion for children would have seen the adults who are right there step in? When the Struckers save the life, the adults then all gather round to gawp in amazement at how awesome they are, God descending from heaven would have got lot worship.

-Nice tension as plan went wrong in penultimate episode and kigs got captured. They had done just enough that Simone's sacrifice had impact in finale and scenes in Trask were good (though the kids should have been aware they were doing exactly what the bad guys wanted by their reaction), the conversation between Tucker and the Strucker's was excellent but the Esma thing, lacked subtly or mystery that she was blatantly forcing everything. The end scene when she lets rip was good though
“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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