Favorite Television Shows

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Re: Favorite Television Shows

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Tue Feb 04, 2020 8:06 pm

Watched season 4 of Van Helsing and felt like the quality had an upgrade, opened with some good horror, most episodes went well, had the sense of humour and dynamics. It knows what it does well and generally sticks to it with some plesant "now for something a bit different", uses villains effectively, builds well to a tense finale. One episode where it tried to cover a serious issue and it felt a bit... wrong, it was earnst if a little clumsy but didn't feel the right show for it which is harsh of me. Do feel it allowed it's attention to be too split about the many factions/groups, leads to some storylines feeling rushed as each faction get their turns

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Watched Watchmen with Damon Lindelof running it, hadn't read the graphic novel but had liked the movie, this is a sequel to the novel (though only one moment left me confused
the squid dropping from sky
), adopted things from the novel like the TV shows to good effect. The biggest complaint I had about this show (don't know if the show or SkyNow to be fair) was the volume issue, the opening episodes (then it seemed to settle down till near the end) would have volume way too quiet when characters were talking then the action would be BLAZINGLY LOUD so either you didn't hear dialogue or had ears blasted off.

Lindelof based this season around the theme of race, noting some (apparently) lesser known parts of history and highlighting them, using the alternative universe platform well, was some feeling though at the end that it didn't explore it as consistently as it should have done. Some very brave choices like focusing on characters like Angela (Regina King) and sort of a new generation with the old guard as more supporting figures, some very brave and bold twists on the material, a willingness to drift onto another tale for parts of the episode or even the whole episode to flesh out the wider world.

I was, once I had settled in, really engaged with the show, the cast did a very good job, some good dynamics and some excellent dialogue, clever twists, embraced it's willingness to wander off as that was most of time for very good reason and to good effect. Jeremy Irons strand was amusing and delightfully weird before it knitted together extremely well. Felt very much an HBO show in terms of the high quality I have come to expect from them

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4th season of Lucifer saw it change to Netflix so they did a rather fun recap in a fresh style for any that hadn't seen first three seasons. Gave them a bit of freedom with being able to do more adult stuff which they didn't use well, it felt like they got a bit too excited and could have used it more maturely. They explored the idea's left by season 3 in intresting ways for both the main characters involved as they tried to adjust, into what it said about them and wider things. The addition of new character from the bible
Eve (Inbar Lavi)
was well used in shaking up dynamics, adding to long term storylines and a charming figure in itself.

Ensured Linda and Maize had more storylines and scenes and they juggled their side characters pretty well, had a "issue" episode which was done decently enough but generally kept to fun murder investigations with looking deep inside the devil. Didn't quite land it in final episode, a powerful scene with one well built strand but highlighted two strands had not been explored in some of the latter episodes.
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Re: Favorite Television Shows

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Mon Apr 06, 2020 1:05 pm

Finished Orange is the New Black after a final season that tried to address several issues facing US but did so with clumsiness and didn't quite land their endings though some nice touches and was a fine ending season. Orange was not the most comfortable of shows, Jenji Kohan's style of humour is there and that provides much needed lightness while it does concentrate on it's characters, there are plenty of light and sweet moments (though Piper sometimes becomes a bit too annoying) with romances and heart. The main character were generally well developed though could also vanish from time to time.

The show was very keen to tackle issues via it's characters, showing problems in prison system, wider attitudes and how people could fall into a ever encircling trap, while happy to have outright baddies most prisoners and guards were flawed beings who did things. Tried to set out challenges for prisoners but also the guards and the wardens however well meaning they were, the damage they could do. Backstories were usually well used to highlight something in the character and society, it gave the show power however uncomfortable it might be.

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Finished Man In The High Castle, decent final season, handled it's mystic side well enough by tying it to humanity, I felt their handling of John Smith was less assured then in the past but it continued it's good balance between the larger events and the details on the ground. Felt the season was slightly worse then the last, some things took awhile to set up and some character moments didn't quite land, but rallied near the end with some well done moments and set plays.

As a show, the first season was very erratic, I was pulled in by it's "how life would be different", by figures like Trade Minister Nobusuke Tagomi, John Smith, Inspector Takeshi Kido who had decent positions and faced challenges, the bigger challenges facing factions. However it's mystic side took awhile to work and probably took 2 and a half seasons before the key "ordinary figures" like Julian Crane, Frank and Joe Bloke didn't drag things down. As time went on, it got better with the weak points while the likes of Joe Smith and the challenges they faced continued to enthral and it was an intresting series that used it's alternate history premise well

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Watched the last of Sarah Phelp's Agatha Christie adaptations Pale Horse, a parter rather then the usual three. Premise: Mark Easterbrook (Rufus Sewell) is still mourning the death of his first wife Delphine (Georgina Campbell) when things get strange. His name is on a list carried by a dead woman which sends Inspector Stanley Lejeune (Sean Pertwee) and Mark investigating the others on the list.

Costumes and props did a brilliant job in capturing the era, as usual a noted cast (James Fleet, Kaya Scodelario and Sheila Atim) though Sewell was not quite at his absolute best. Pacing was off, first episode had some "not much happening" dragged out bits while key moment early in second episode had no build up though pacing was better, had good villians and some good tense mystic moments. It's ending was a mixed bag
great idea on paper, Sewell landed it but as a whole it didn't quite mesh
. This was not as good as the first two, a lot better then the two that followed: Good cast, dialogue worked well, individually the scenes tended to be very good as long as pacing was right but characters not fleshed out (might have helped fill the gaps) and the pacing issue. She did seem to learn from mistakes in past two efforts, less swearing and changes from the book seem to have been done more carefully

I am disappointed that this seems to Phelps last Agatha Christie as it was far more of a hit then a miss. Her first two were excellent: trapped on an Island "and then there were none" which was an excellent psychological horror and "witness for the Prosecution" were excellent. She assembled strong casts with a mix of proven talents and rising figures, it looked fantastic she generated excellent scenes including the usually troublesome "the big reveal" and strong endings, pulled strongly on humanity and it's sadder elements. However juggling cast and pacing plus some errors in judgement undermined Ordeal by Innocence and ABC Murders, it was good to see Pale Horse return to some of the old form.

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Watched second and final season of Punisher, one wonders if the writers knew part way through about Disney pulling the Netflix shows as initially it seems to be sitting up Pilgrim (Josh Stewart) and his group but then they get badly squeezed as they concentrate on stuff and different villains
Jigsaw/Barners
that allows the show to wrap up the show as a whole. This leaves Pilgrim stand having some good moments but feeling underpowered and what is it for, loses show some consistency.

As a season it is alright, slow start, some good moments, very well done tense action scenes, but it doesn't hit the heights of the first season. Part of that is a lot of characters from season 1 are replaced with those that do grow into it but are not as good, like lead lady (Giorgia Whigham) whose troubles start the season, sometimes annoyingly bratty (and sometimes amusingly), something of a trope then warm to her.

The season 1 characters do a lot of the heavy lifting as it tries to also show the bad side of Punisher and what it means for those around him, they do this fairly well having struggled with this in first season and integrate the law officers better. In terms of the main villain, it is well done and keeps things fresh, it hods the attention and interest but just lacks a bit of sparkn to elevate it into greatness.
I also did feel with Jigsaw "that is it? Ben Barnes is handsome with scars, not the "oh no, so so ugly and deformed by it" or enough to make people start


As a show overall, I came into it with great doubts having not enjoyed the part in Daredevil but first season was a big revival for the Netflix/Marvel shows. Consistency, strong action, a good lead with strong bonds between characters, a good theme around Curtis Jones and a good but not great villain well integrated. Second season was fine but lacked those same bonds and a bit of spark to elevate the show.

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Watched new half hour comedy Miracle Workers, based on "What's in Gods name" by Simon Rich. Premise: God (Steve Buscemi) is bored and decided to blow up the earth for a new venture. In heaven though, some of the angels disagree with new angel Eliza (Geraldine Viswanathan), assigned to Craig's (Daniel Radcliffe) neglected department of answering prayers, making a bet to try to save it.

I suspect some will be offended at their portrayal of God but it tries to take a neutral if thoughtful stance on religion as a whole, doesn't mock belief. Your not going to get major philosophical thought ala Good Place or real exploration of life after death, it has a good heart about it's characters and it does have things to say about the mortal world.

Takes two episodes to get going but from the start, one can see the good touches be it plans being made by Angels for earth or the "well that didn't go as intended". It takes awhile for the core characters to gel including Sanjay (Karan Soni) or Rosie (Lolly Adefope) and the office dynamics to work but once it does, it goes along nicely be it focusing on the heavens or the main two earth character. It goes along nicely, warm, enough humour, rooting for the characters particularly the earth duo Sam (Jon Bass) and Laura (Sasha Compère), a nice "heaven's idea's" here and there. God takes awhile to work, I found the comedy annoying involving him until second half where it more explored the character.

The highlight is that when the answer prayers department tries to help, using small divine powers (like wind blowing) to try to get the intended things to happen (sometimes getting it very very wrong). Even when they get it right, in the credit sequence they tend to have shocked news reader (Mike Dunston) revealing some deeply alarming sense of what happened to rest of the town/world due to that small miracle. Always produced big laughs.

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Watched BBC/Amazon adaptation of Neil Gaiman's and Terry Prachett's Good Omens. Premise: Angels and demons wait for the end time to settle who wins but on earth demon Crowley (David Tennant) and the angel Aziraphale (Michael Sheen) have become friends. When the time for the apocalypse seems set, they both get rather concerned and worried about the delights of earth they might miss.

They has British acting royalty like Miranda Richardson and Derek Jakobi which gives strength in supporting roles, good special effects that helps sell the fantasy. Six episodes allows them to develop the main story but some seemingly key characters explored well, does touch on the foibles of humanity well, has fun with the angels/demons throughout history and the comedy of the set up, it is a very well written work as one would expect. It does rely on it's lead two for the early episodes and while Sheen is excellent, Tennant takes awhile to grow into it and is better as the sadder aspects of Crowley rather then the humour, he doesn't give the early episodes some lift that they need as it tries to knit things together but by the ending phase the show goes along well, a pleasant amusing time.

If your a Prachett and/or a Gaiman fan, give this two or so episodes, you may like it.

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Finished The Good Place, found it's feet again with final season particularly in the end phase where it explored an intresting idea and used it well for their main characters with a finale that (for most part) felt right for our four heroes
major spoiler
Didn't quite feel Eleanor had reached the "time to go" for her character
, it was an at times moving finale and was a great way to say goodbye to a thoughtful show.

Loved Good Place when it first came out, well cast, a strong concept that they explored both in comedy (like little signs showing things that got points deducted usually had some funny ones) and philosophy as it explored ideas about humanity, it explored the main characters with both the concept and the storylines they gave, got stronger and stronger in the first season and landed the finish. Then it got weaker, it still explored idea's and their characters but a lot of the comedy either felt dropped or bad (bad Janet was tiresome for example), the idea's felt less sharp and by third season the attempt to shakes things up didn't work, it had become flat and some idea's were repeating. Just glad they found a way back with the fourth season

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Finished Santa Clarita Diet which had a frustratingly strong third season that set up what looked like a promising 4th season that will never happen. Slightly slow start, one cast replacement of a fairly minor character didn't click
Nathan Fillon replaced by Alan Tudyk
and some things take a bit to click, Lisa Palmer (Mary Elizabeth Ellis) provides a lot of strong moments early on then once more vanishes. The usual great tongue in cheek comedy combined with exploration of this zombie world, good use of some side characters, fun scenario's and strong dynamics within the family (and Eric). Real blow when we discovered there would be no season 4.

As a show, it's first season showed promise but was hampered by the main duo Drew Barrymore and Timothy Olyphant who struggled with the comedy first time round. Instead it relies on the premise and exploring how the mother becoming a zombie changes the lives of those around her, how she deals with the new needs and changes. Daughter Abby (Lib Hewson) and awkward neighbour Eric (Skyler Gisondo) had great chemistry as growing friends and great comedy about the situations they got into, they drove much of the first season. Neighbours flitted in and out but they tended to do well and showed promise that never got fulfilled.

Second season the two leads found their comic touch and it really got going though Abby and Eric's complicated relationship was still the big draw, the parents held their own. While use of neighbours remained a weak point, the zombie in suburbia strands and the side characters also added to the comedy as Shelia searched for appropriate kills, enjoyed her feeds and Joel worried, two people still very much in love. Just one is undead.

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Watched last season of Marvel's Runaways, it did a cross over with Cloak and Dagger which didn't work (writing felt strained, chemistry not quite there) and was better concentrating on it's world, continuing to sake up the adults with the situations they were put in, some return of the humours squabbling between the teenagers. Elizabeth Hurley's introduction was introducing, someone at the costume department got a bit too excited but Hurley's performances worked for the role she was given, she gave a charismatic display. Good villains, decent adventures, went for a "in the future" finale which worked to give it a nice ending after a decent season finale. One complaint is that Gertrue felt changed as a character, like the stepped back on some things and swerved with the dynamics for Chase.

As a show, it was a nice fun time, not sure I'm going to particularly remember it. It had a good record with one liner insults and shots among the youngsters and they had some good dynamics though Alex tended to be an irritant, it enjoyed and had fun with the strange situations and conspiracies they were drawn into, the villains tended to mesh well with the cast and provided appropriate threat.

The adults were fun, particularly the Yorkes, in truth they were often more intresting then the children, strong dynamics, romance, humour (again the Yorkes), mixed morality. The adult cast, due to situations, were often forced to adapt performances to reflect different roles and they did it well, was intresting sometimes seeing a character have to change way they talked, walked and so on, usually done well. The teenage group did get better but much for it, the adults were the real draw.
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Re: Favorite Television Shows

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Fri May 01, 2020 5:41 pm

Arrowverses Crisis on Infinite Earths, linking up all the shows of the DCU, a plan long time in coming and a labour of love. Unfortunately in the UK, its impact was somewhat hampered by the shows being across three different channels, Sky1 had most of them and could coordinate theirs but channel 4 started Batwoman on Crises weekend (Batwoman's crises episode I believe is episode 10) and Black Lightening was on Netflix a week earlier though at least one didn't have a crises episode in and of itself.

This was clearly a labour of love. It seemed like every show (and several films) that DC have ever made, they found a way to bring someone in, to make it part of their DC universe, that the show you loved was real as are the shows you love now. This must have required a lot of negotiating
particularly getting the Flash from the movies, that was a "how did they pull that off?". Also loved they managed to get Lucifer
with a lot of TV companies as well as people to get permission to do these cameos.

These epic crossovers are... not my thing. I like "oh so and so has crossed over to the other show" (I enjoyed the musical one they did awhile back), those tend to give time to focus on a few set characters, have a bit of fun. These large ones end up juggling a very very large amount of core characters as well as the "since this is a supergirl episode, we will have supergirl supporting cast pop in", there is a feeling of trying too hard, the stories tend to drag, tones don't always gel. There are always some fun, sweet moments between characters who haven't seen each other all year but I tend to be a bit glad it's over.

This was the case here to an extent, some lovely moments, felt like it tried too hard and get overstuffed but I would say there was something huge about this and it did avoid the feeling of "and they will forgotten they did this by episode 2 until the next crossover"
this one had huge huge ramifications, it would be impossible to avoid.
and some great twists. I had more fun then I was bored but I'm glad to back to the individual episodes.

In terms of the individual episodes themselves: 1) Supergirl. Helped by being a build up, some good greetings between characters, tension and anticipation builds, some good action and finishes with a punch. 3) Flash. Seeing it without Batwoman meant 15 minutes of "what the hell?" A catch up would have been helpful. Some of the cast from different spheres don't get but it goes along nicely enough, one great great cameo, has a strong end phase on multiple fronts. 4) Arrow. Opens well enough but the adventures don't land or really work bar the odd flash from the secondary strand, big final boss fight is overly packed and it repeats something that had been done earlier to less effect
major spoiler
Oliver's death better in episode 1
. 5) The Legends. If Arrow's is the big final with the boss fights and the like, this is the epilogue episode. Sort of. It gets cuaght between three stools, A) it's the legends so let's have some fun with legends nods
Beebo!
, the reactions of others to the weird world of the legends and the legends running jokes about crossovers. This is does well. B) Setting up what is come... without doing it too much becuase they need to do that within characters individual shows. It probably gets the balance a bit wrong, it touches on the basis but doesn't quite do enough. C) Needs a big fight. This fell a bit flat. D) an aftermath. This is did well enough but elements of not all cast bouncing off each other (tends to happen first time round then gel better second time) and trying a bit too hard

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Saw first season of comedic fantasy-adventure The Librarians which I had heard mentioned once or twice, we gave it a try and had a lot of fun. Premise: The library contains many magical artefacts in a world where some which to bring magic back. The libary lures in Colonel Eve Baird (Rebecca Romijn) to act as guardian and protect the new libarians, thief Ezekiel Jones (John Harlan Kim), mathematician Cassandra Cillian (Lindy Booth) and rough polymath Jacob Stone (Christian Kane) as well as the eccentric existing guardian Flynn (Noah Wyle)

Hadn't see the three films with Flynn in but doesn't matter, it establishes the world well, the hidden librarians protecting things. It gets off to a somewhat slow start, a film length episode that start things off, takes a bit of time to establish themselves and I found Flynn annoying
things did pick up when he went very early on
and the addition of Jenkins (John Larroquette) helped. In the early days it can overdo a character's "thing" like Jones being a thief but to be fair they did note that and mocked themselves for it while the characters grew quickly, the writers doing different things then expected with potential tropes, building amusing dynamics which are not always friendly.

The adventures are a bit erratic but are usually fun, sometimes perhaps struggling against budget in one or two early ones (including a London that is clearly not London), noted guest actors, a sense of humour about it all including the explanation "we are the librarians" and trying to do something different with the old legends. The season villains are great, charismatic and fitting in with the humorous tone while delivering a sense of overarching threat, they have a good dynamic not only between the villains but also with the heroes they are fighting.

With a fun tone and invention about their adventures+characters, this show has quickly become a family favourite and look forward to season 2.

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Watched third and final season of Jessica Jones and final of the Netflix DC universe, it was a good send off. The addition of assistant Gillian (Aneesh Sheth) helped bring back a sense of humour, it felt more cohesive with good stands, new characters like Erik (Benjamin Walker) merged well with the old guard who all had good storylines, Trish's particularly. A well done baddie
Jeremy Bobb's Salingner
who fitted in well with the universe and allowed other focuses to gently bubble up, season was far better paced and good character development. Had to redo finale due to it being last ever episode but they didn't go too heavily onto that, was a good ending for the season and the show overall.

The first season of Jessica Jones really grabbed people's attention, it had a wonderful horrible villain and used it to explore some of the great issues of our time with some haunting moments, some very strong performances, the sarcasm of Jessica was popular and she was easy to root for. I felt the first season was a bit patchy but when it got it right, it really did hit hard. Second season struggled to find good storylines for some of the supporting cast, had some spin the wheel episodes and though the villain was carefully integrated into Jessica's life, the chemistry wasn't quite there and they never found that same haunting message again.

The Netflix Marvel universe... my word when it first opened it seemed popular, rebuilding the reputation of Daredevil, the undoubted quality of some of the action scenes, the willing to do an adult superhero show, the nods to the films without overdoing it, the greatness of Kingpin with a big development of the villain (something contrasted with the films). Then Jessica Jones the wise cracking PI with a haunting and important storyline, another excellent baddie (Killgrave), characters like Nurse Temple crossing over. Things were starting to crack with Daredevil's second go, characters were still popular as was the additions of Electra and Punisher but "still not connected to the films bar a throw away reference here or there" and Netflix bloat of 13 episodes when less might be better

Luke Cage had a sense of place and lovely music, Cage himself was liked but there were certain twists that felt a repeat, end villain wasn't strong then... Iron Fist. Rushed out with cast still learning how to fight so weak action and a lead character people wanted replaced by the love interest, it struggled in so many many levels (including poor writing) that it became the focus of the problems of the franchise, the defenders team up was a bit limp, shorter season and left feeling rushed, not the moment of excitement people had hoped for. The magic was broken, the lack of film connection became increasingly ridiculous, the 13 bloat was a regular complaint, the tendency to repeat certain patterns, not always juggling their cast well.

While the spell had been gone and almost every show suffered from season-2 itis, they remain good shows. Punisher was not a character I enjoyed in Daredevil but good action (using guns which provided something different), building his story and a team around him, another strong baddie. We then had a series of second seasons that were fine but where it missed a bit of the magic though Iron Fist did sort itself out, good use of it's villains, a more tolerable lead, much better action. Daredevil's season 3 was strong and gave a last rally before their end, Punisher suffering from second season issues as it tried to build new support around him and Jessica Jones finishing off in style.

The shows were flawed even before Defenders came crashing down but in the early days, the wow, the new and strength of the shows hid some of the flaws that became more obvious over time and their rushed Iron Fist exposed it while I think failure to just go "sorry, this will never be in Avengers universe" led to bitterness when it became obvious. Yet they did have great strengths, really impressive action sequences, some iconic baddies well integrated, usually good season arcs and in first seasons they tended to really build up the characters with some great dynamics and stories. Second seasons they sometimes didn't seem to know what to do with some of the support characters and storylines felt less involved, sometimes less well structured though the two third seasons we got showed they could return to form.

I'm sorry Marvel/Netflix has ended, I'll some some of the great villains (and one of the great villain romances) and some shows I greatly enjoyed for all their flaws.

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Arrow had only three episodes for it's second half and none of which could perhaps be called normal. The first was more a pilot for a canaries spin off which was fairly nice, it did a better job then it's flashbacks had of selling the future but it mostly worked becuase the Canaries had a humorous dynamic and could be fun to watch, they still need to make the "future star city" a better sell. The second was a "cast and crew talk about the show" which I skipped and the third was a final send off with characters from past brought back bar one big one
Slade Wilson
, fun nods, some nice goodbyes. A lot of characters only got short amount of time to give a sense of where they were and to say goodbye, there was some moments of trying too hard but far more good moments then bad, chose a good way to end and felt an appropriate way to say goodbye.

As a show overall? I wonder if Arrow's legacy will be bigger then the show's quality. I imagine at the time the realistic hope was for a new Smallville, a long running superhero show, do quite well and have several seasons. Instead it launched a CW/DC TV universe with amazingly grand plans that would have seemed absurd at the start. As the set up, it went very much for a Dark Knight tone, the vigilante trying to save his city, father issues, returning to home after years of training away, dark and grounded.

The first season was engaging, Stephen Amell had a slow start but seems to have worked hard to win over fans and like others in the cast his performance settled in, the flashbacks were in the initial seasons excellently used, there was good tensions between new Oliver and the city he had left behind, the family who had tried to move on, those left damaged by the incident. The attempts to ground it impacted the quality of some of the villains but the season one was good, humour came from likes of Felicity or Thea and a good set of characters were built up and it had earnt itself some space. From there it could bring in meta-figures, magic, league of assassins and become a platform from which Flash and Legends (with Sarah Lance and Ray Palmer becoming key figures there) launched from. Season 2 had a great villain to match any of Marvel/Netflix's with great integration into Oliver's life and the show, though but sometimes could be erratic (were a few ones with a frustrating half and a good one), had good action and characters that ensured enjoyment continued.

As the first out of the gate, it did suffer from learning curves, it had a few occasions where arrow team clearly had plans but DC said no (something that seems to be happening less often now), it had a very different tone from the other shows though they did learn how to use that for crossover and it always had a streak of humour, it's initial cast wasn't diverse, writers and producers were learning. Other arrowverse shows avoided many of the traps (though not the "how to juggle the cast" problem that sometimes occurred) and Oliver Queen acted as the leading force in cross overs, an experienced and cynical head to provide lessons and caution.

One problem is they wouldn't ditch things, the cast grew too large to juggle, they didn't trust keeping characters out of action even if twist demanded that, the flashbacks went on about 3-4 seasons too long when they should have been cut and were no longer making an impact. Even they attempted a soft reboot where the idea was to bring in a new team to support Arrow, the old guard never really left and that gave the new guys a more difficult time in establishing themselves. It mocked Oliver's tendency to not want to be a team-player but the show kept going over several of the same notes again and again. Attempts to refresh things didn't always feel like it got a proper follow through, the Arrow's history as a politician was largely wasted for example, one "revamp character" felt like filling the same role as a figure that was still a mainstay, sometimes had too many storylines on the go.

Season 5 rallied things, freshing things up, a strong season villain and they seemed to find a better balance with the botched revamped cast but then had a shocker of a season 6. Changing show runner did help but again failure to fully commit to "let us put the team/character in a new situation" and unable to avoid the same patterns within itself though the lack of a really good baddie since season 5 continued to be a problem. Once the show knew it was coming to end, it focused on the build up to the crises well, slimmed down it's cast and found something of it's old self

Overall, I had more fun then I didn't and it's successes brought forward shows that were more to my taste as it established a TV universe. There were good characters like Oliver and his own complicated family, the Lance family and their complicated history, the fun Al-Ghul sisters, Diggle, there was a good romances, sense of humour, new figures like Rene and Dinah were welcome additions. It had good action, some great villains (and some weak ones), the love it had for other shows like Vixen and Constantine was something it was never afraid to embrace. I'm thankful for all the Arrow and those involved have done.
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Re: Favorite Television Shows

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Tue May 19, 2020 1:36 pm

Watched Ryan Murphy's Netflix show The Politician, did find during the first half it seemed uncertain what tone to go for, could be funny, could be very very very dark, had a flair for the outlandish storylines and struggled to settle. Had a wide range of intresting characters though some felt they could sidelined over time which became a problem (particularly with the ending episode), It was very good at exploring lead Payton (Ben Platt) but not so much key figures around him like girlfriend Alice (Julia Schlaepfer) in an amusing Clinton parody or his close advisers James (Theo Germaine) and McAfee (Laura Dreyfuss)

A good cast with the younger set balanced off with experienced performers like Gwyneth Paltrow and Jessica Lange, the songs were nice, I enjoyed watching Payton's battle for school presidency and how so much revolves around his grand plan. There were good character moments, plenty of humour, it is happy to go with outlandish plots particularly around Infinity (Zoey Deutch) which I felt it pulled off. Romances were weak as bar two
Payton and the tragic River (David Corenswet) or Infinity's humorous one with Ricardo (Benjamin Barrett)
were really underdone and that comes back to bite in the end phase. There is an episode about undecided voter that felt mean-spirited on two fronts around said undecided voter, they could have done something intresting about the disconnect (which it shows in flashes) but feels more like the writers wish to bash the voter and what he represents.

The ending episode works as a set up for next season but didn't work as a conclusion to season 1, there were bits that didn't feel like it had fitted in the rest of the season as if this got made early and then events for earlier episodes got changed, it relied on strands that had never been properly built up, didn't explain some changes since the rest of season one. It was a fun finale, a fun show, but it did leave puzzlement and a tinge of disappointment at the failure to wrap up the season properly.

Third season of Westworld, new setting which did freshen things up but I did prefer the old setting (I prefer something more fantasy). They seem to have taken the criticism of the second season on-board, the stories felt more contained and less complicated, better paced. Some characters had strands that felt underdone or somewhat "get to point for next season", others had strong strands with new characters and old mixing well, some nice enough twists. The big bad wasn't particularly intresting for me and the finale felt a bit underdone but it was a good season.

One Hit Die: Prologue, after watching the second season as a sort of film, went to youtube to their channel to try first season and their Crushmas expansion. First season has some nice idea's (the wizard is bored and feels misused for example) but the humour doesn't land, the thief as xp hunter is less of a fresh idea but it also doesn't work. The "chosen one" is a different character and actress, Larissa Thompson playing a naive Gwen and though she grows into it, I think the character they changed for was better. The title sequences changing per episode is a nice idea but the first season overall is short but a little bit flat.

Crushmas more finds it's tone, a bit crude and lewd but it is amusing more then it isn't, some good interactions between the characters, nice touch with the title sequence again (also tries something with the credit songs). The monster costume looks cheap but the final battle goes along nicely and the ending was an amusingly done idea.
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Re: Favorite Television Shows

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Fri May 29, 2020 12:45 pm

Watched first half of CW Arrowverse new show Batwoman,channel 4 put both parts together into one season. Premise: Kate Kane (Ruby Rose) returns to Gotham on hearing her former girlfriend Sophie (Meagan Tandy) has been captured by supervillian Alice (Rachel Skarsten) and fears for her family. Seeking out her cousin Bruce Wayne, who had vanished from Gothham three years ago, Kane stumbles onto a secret...

Gone very much with the second generation of team bat, there is no Alfred, Lucius Fox, Bruce Wayne and they haven't used the big villains, one or two nods to Batman+baddies but doesn't overdo it. Nice touch with Vesper Fairchild's (Rachel Maddow) discussion topics for her news show reflecting Gotham's reaction to events, it does use how Gotham has changed and how it feels about that fairly well.

The opening episodes for those show are poor, some problems (too dark lighting for fights come to mind, Sophie coming across as very weak) remain while others improved over time. The cast seemed to struggle and took time till it stopped feeling too large, the early twists were not surprises (though one of the early "reveals" has been well built on since), a lot of stuff felt like "we have seen this before" (particularly from the Arrow) and it struggled to create it's own identity. Wasn't rooting for Kane or her family for most part.

Over time, it began to move away from the old twists, entwined some of the strands to give more room for the characters, some decent one off baddies came in, some dynamics like Kate and Luke (Camrus Johnson) get going, one or two of the longer term stoylines paying off. Particularly the one around Alice, Skarsten fails to land the eccentric side of the character (though some reinforcements helping there) but the more straight emotional stuff that the storylines require she delivers on well. By the end of the first half, the show was knitting together, stuff it could improve on (humour could be sharper, sister Mary (Nicole Kang) is underdeveloped) but it had a good half-season finale and was going along nicely.


Watched part of season 3 of Black Lightning and it is... solid, enjoyable. It uses the idea of a city under occupation fairly well, keeps the roster fairly well balanced in terms of coverage particularly the Pearson's though things like the meta's and the school take a firm back seat, the story goes at a good (if a little too quick) pace, still touches on racial issues. Bill Duke is great as Odell which alleviates some of the heavy handed portrayal of the ASA but the writing around their opponents within the city is light in depth but well done in touching on issues, the Pearson family dynamics remain intresting to watch. Possibly juggling a little too many plates.
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Re: Favorite Television Shows

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Fri Jul 03, 2020 1:55 pm

Watched second half of season five of Supergirl which went along well until pandemic has left it with a... either unfulfilling end to a season or a not quite strong enough cliff hanger till part 3. Their use of the crossover was "ok only a few figures knowing about it will get annoying quickly" and they had a few bits of fun then provided a way to get around that problem, a few nods to old characters coming back, some soft resets and changes but the main focus was on one big character that really changed the dynamics and situation
Lex Luthor back and back as a hero.. sort of


That change drove the story, it lifted the otherwise alright but otherwise lacking villain, it really changed dynamics within the heroes
particularly with Brainy, enjoyed Lex-Brainy scenes
and with Lena, it drove the story. There were other things, the 100th episode
Mxyzptlk showing Kara alternatives on handling Lena
had a good idea that was well done, some good "hey good to see that figure again" that were integrated well into story
Wynn's return for three episode
, there was an episode to explore trans issues.

Action remained fine and enjoyed most of the adventures, cast was juggled well even if sometimes they can vanish for an episode or two too long (also bear in mind season has been cut short), not sure I'm a fan of the main romance they are building
KaraxWilliam
but I enjoy all the other ones, I love the Dreamer and Brainy dynamics and how that has played out over the course of the half-season (I wished for a bit more of them and how events of the season impacted them, I'm greedy). I do enjoy Supergirl's optimistic tone (usually) and dynamics between team hero, I did feel I was more sympathetic towards Lena then the show was over a key issue
Lena's deep hurt at being lied to by Kara, got to blaming Lena
and did feel it was getting a little one sided on that one.

=======

Finished Flash season 6 (or part of it). Used the resert well for one or two major repercussions, some nods and did free up one character they used well for an episode
Hartley
and used it well with Nash Wells. Iris storyline was good and built well, the season villain lacking a little oomph but felt different from the other main villains and was built up nicely, valentine episode was fun. Good at using figures like Grodd for one off episodes for adventures that also help move Team flash along

Good dynamics within the team and nice balance between humour and seriousness, the interplay between the West family (and Barry) remains strong, feel Allegra is being drawn more into and Cecile but the balancing between the cast still doesn't feel right with Frost and Kamila underused. The main adventure was going along nicely, if they end for the season then they are at an ok place to do so even if it lacks the big finale and penultimate episode feel, the loss of one their main cast members is more of a writing problem one imagines then the readjustment for not finishing this season off.

Was good seeing Wally again but wasn't the best performance and certainly feels like a goodbye for a character that started so promisingly in the Flash then they didn't seem to quite know what to do with when they brought Barry back from the speedforce

-Used the impact on the speed force very well, Wally's anger, Barry's guilt and the Barry not being able to use his speed as much as he once did (though felt that faded a bit the longer it went on in terms of impact-fullness)

-Used mirror Iris to mess with Barry well, enjoyed their scenes though it perhaps negated some of the legitimate criticisms of Barry

-I do enjoy their Sue Dearbon (Natalie Dreyfuss) who has spark but I worry that with Hartley Saywer sacked for past tweets, they will ease that character out now since the big romance is dead.


======

Saw season 4 of Money Heist which remains very enjoyable. Strong characters, tense and shifting dynamics, fun romances, humour, tense action and plotting. Felt better and more consistent then season three if perhaps still slightly in awe of the Professor. The plot goes along well with some big twists, mixes flashbacks with modern day well, balances gang with police fairly well though hostages are very much third wheel while the police have some very effective figures who act as good counters to the gang. Relations move forward in what feels like a natural way for most part
final episode
Helsinki and Palmero's bond felt rushed
, action is well done, there is wondering if plots will work and some fun "and that failed"

I'm hoping season 5 will balance the new and the old cast members a bit better. The old ones are done well with flashback in some cases or actions in the bank or around but the new figures feel like... better then Helskini was after season 1 but still squeezed out. Two big characters in Palermo (Rodrigo De la Serna) and police lady Alicia (Najwa Nimri) stand out, they have strong personalties, pre-existing connections and lots of screen time, quieter figures including Bogotá (Hovik Keuchkerian) who is probably the best done of the new figures other then the big two need more time and be brought deeper into group.

Narobi's death in the moment lacked punch but her "waking up" was sad and the impact on those around her was very well done

-Denver's cousin Manila (Belén Cuesta) really underdone at this point, coming in mid season and being part of team hostage really not helping

-Palermo's past with Berlin (who is both a clear baddie and absolutely charming+fun, they kept that balance well) and his mishandling of the group very well done

-Gandia (José Manuel Poga) was effective as inside figure, that sense of purpose, skill, slightly creepy, that ability and desire to be a one man figure behind the lines

-Did so enjoy when Alicia decided not to take the fall and spiked the press conference. Scratch that, generally enjoyed the police press conferences and ways they went wrong


======

Watched second and sadly final season of The Purge, the premise for this one is that we start on purge night and then for rest of season explore the impact of purge night on a select group of characters: student Ben (Joel Allen) who did not want to go out that Purge night, the respected Marcus (Derek Luke) who gets an unpleasant surprise, Esme (Paola Núñez) an NFFA surveillance employee and Ryan (Max Martini) who has purge plans. For each one, what they go through on Purge night will have an impact on the rest of the year as they deal with the fall out and then prepare for the next one.

Purge films and previous show tend to focus on the right itself or the build up before hand, not explore how what happened on that night a year shapes what is to come so was a good idea, the choice of four allowed for wide range of potential. I found the action well done including loud bangs near ear will have impact, reliance on team-work and (till the finale) avoiding going over the top. Pacing was a problem, did a strong opening purge episode that set everything up in intresting ways, it paced itself really well for most it then suddenly had to leap into preparing for the next purge which felt rushed, the final two episodes did feel rushed
did feel the second purge was less effective then the first due to said rushing
. Some nice Purge nods or little asides that start one or two episodes, wish there had been more of them, cast do a good job.

On the strands (going by wiki's cast order)

1) Marcus: A solid well done strand, builds Marcus and his wife (Rochelle Aytes) who have a good dynamic though rest of family gets neglected as time goes on by the script, good twists and turns, tension as plot moves along in ways not expected. Addresses racism in effective style
the natural "must avoid doing anything to antagonise the cop" way Marcus and family react when stopped at checkpoint was extremely well done
, ending phase did feel rushed
particularly neighbourhood Clint (Dave Maldonado)'s strand, his hate is done well enough but how the neighbourhood reacts to events is never explored


2) Ryan and his crew: Has the strongest action of the strands thanks to the nature of the strand, uses that Ryan has a team to generally keep the action from going too fantastical. Nice group dynamics even if those outside of Ryan feel underdone as individuals. Ryan is perhaps slightly on the perfect American hero, intelligent, skilled in arms, wonderful heart but he is a likeable, charismatic figure and it is a pleasure seeing his team work. Seeing plans built and fall apart, how they adjusted to knocks and doubts, built well to finale with this strand having the best of said finale episodes. Fun strand.

3) Esme: Starts very well, nice seeing things from NFFA room, has good early dynamics with her boss (Connor Trinneer) and new worker (Charlotte Schweiger), builds mystery well enough. It falls into an old TV trap
someone in law as a tech or support figure also becomes super cop and super spy
that as it goes on increasingly strains credibility and leads to flashes of annoyance. Fails to build on the figures she started with and it gets hard to judge their motivations in events that unfold and finale really strains credibility though does have one very good moment
major spoiler
her death scene, very clever move by Esme to ensure her killing was heard so giving credibility to otherwise weak evidence


4) Ben: Really good start and was the strongest strand for me as they explored the fundamental ways that one night shaped him, changed things with how he interacted his friends and girlfriend (Danika Yarosh), how bit by bit things altered and how people reacted around him as they saw the changes. Good gentle twists, well done dynamics, tensions and ability to suddenly switch the mood. Character driven with hitting the right emotional beats but sadly ending phase was weak

I'm sorry this show has been axed. I feel the films have gotten stale and that it has always been best when going into social commentary or showing how their world works, TV shows gave more room for that, I enjoyed both seasons though neither managed the end phase well enough.

======

Watched final season of Community, not the best of the show with a sense it had got tired and attempts to replace some of the old guard who had left. The issue wasn't with the new figures but that the show felt tired, that in recent seasons it had some great moments and great episodes where it found the old magic but it was the other episodes that were getting weaker, that was certainly the case here. Glad they got a good ending episode and it did still make me laugh at times.

I enjoyed Community as a whole, the characters were fun, the Troy and Abed show a fun way to end an episode, lots and lots of humour, deliberate ineptitude, the glorious and wonderful Dean. Paint-ball episodes! It wasn't afraid to be utterly silly or go off and try something, it usually made us laugh with the characters shenanigans. Didn't always juggle the characters as well as it might and some of the teachers were not that intresting but I looked forward to the half hour show at the end of an evening.

However at a certain point
they graduate
, they struggled to justify the characters continuing, some of the cast left over time and those brought in where never as good characters, Chang's thing became increasingly tired. It became about the special episodes, the paint-ball equivalent or the D&D episode (for example), where the show would discover the old magic, go fully for the idea and have fun. However the ordinary episodes quality became increasingly more miss then hit or perhaps more ordinary then hit (till the final season), the Dean providing a saving grace at times. I'm glad I went through the whole thing and was never tempted to quiet but part of me wishes they had stopped at the natural point.

===========

Watched Toy Story 4 spin off shorts Forky Asks a Question where Forky has a question and spends it with a lesser known Toy to discuss a subject (first one, for example, is Money), each intro tends to put in a joke question of the three musings. The quality is hit or miss (and sometimes it doesn't stick to the question) but the misses avoids falling completely flat, just go along nicely and being fairly short we didn't get bored but when it gets it right (like the penultimate episode which could have been a finale), it can be great fun as Forky gets the wrong end of the stick or the question spirals somewhere unexpected or something sweet is sad.

======

Watched superhero drama The Boys. I had heard great things about it but was expecting a comedy, this is more a drama with some parody, took an episode to adjust my expectations. Does tend to pack in a lot each episode and could feel a little slow in the first few episodes, does have a sense of humour, builds well "the boys" be it Hughie (Jack Quaid) as a very good intro character, Billy (Karl Urban) though the accent going all over the place does distract at first, carefully timing how each figure of the team comes in. Marvin (Laz Alonso) is likeable but Charlie (Tomer Kapon) was an irritant, think I was meant to find his handling of woman charming but found it irritating which becomes a big problem as time goes on. There are good dynamics within the group, a sense of shared history (bar Hughie) including reasons to distrust.

It sets out the world well, this is a place with superheroes, big company marketing out and how they do so, the way it becomes a big brand under the careful eye of Madelyn (an excellent Elisabeth Shue). That feels real, the sort of celebrity culture, the advertisements, the planning, how the stars are managed. The introduction to this world is carefully managed, Hughie showing one side and Starlight (Erin Moriarty) showing both the glamour, the excitement, the pull and clout of these superheroes but also the dark seedy side beneath it, the way advantages are taken, attitudes get shaped. A lot of this you could see happening if we did have Superheroes and, perhaps not reading comics, this angle felt fresh.

The superheroes themselves? They use one off or small role figures well but of the big guns, Starlight is charming and like Hughie a good likeable figure to introduce us to it, they do intresting things with what she expected vs reality and the falls outs from that. Homelander (Antony Starr) is a powerful, commanding figure that puts one in mind of Captain America or Superman and how that image plays out, again intresting storylines as they delve into his character, how things get shaped, his attitudes. Queen Mauve (Dominique McElligott) does really well in the scenes she is in and has good dynamics with some individuals but was left feeling she was an underwritten character that needs more time, speedster A.Train (Jessie Usher) and the Deep (Chace Crawford)... do not make good first impressions to say the least and then they come across as jokes but over time, they build good storyline that shows them as very flawed individuals shaped by what is around them

Action is well done, very good sense of the world, good dynamics that twist and change, many a good plot twist, some intresting romances, a sense of humour and of the weird but also of how much hurt people and events can cause, how things can spiral. It was fun but also intresting show and look forward to season 2.
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