TV catchup

November 14, 2018

Been awhile since I’ve done one of these.  Mostly because I’ve been compulsively binging Midsomer Murders, much to my anguish.  Like, there’s a level at which this is not a particularly good show. But that’s part of the appeal. I know exactly what I’m getting with it, and my headspace hasn’t really wanted to engage with anything more. On the other hand,  after ten seasons of this, The Prisoner weirdly makes a lot more sense.

That said, I think the episode when Cully gets married is completely brilliant in how it handles expectation and tension. It’s a running gag through the whole show that Barnaby misses important events, dinners, he’s always dashing out because he’s just figured out the murder, so on and so forth. And I swear I spent the second half of that episode thinking, “Wait, he won’t miss his own daughter’s wedding, will he? No. They wouldn’t do that. Except maybe they would? OMG.” I really didn’t know what was going to happen there. The show effectively manipulated my expectations. Well done, show.

I finally caught up on last season of The Flash. Still need to catch up on Supergirl, and I haven’t watched any of this season, alas.  See what I mean about not being engaged?  I liked how The Flash finished up, though it took its sweet time getting there. I think I’m being trained to the short-season model of Netflix and British TV to the point where 22 episodes in a season just feels horrendously long. The Flash is still goofy as all get-out and often contrived and stilted, but I think some of the acting is just great — Tom Cavanagh as Harrison Wells is clearly having the time of his life. I want to keep watching to see what else they throw against the wall.

I got a few episodes each into the second season of Luke Cage and third season of Daredevil and haven’t gone further. Long, meandering, self-indulgent, contrived angst. Exhausting.

BUT….

Many of you will be happy to know I finally started The Good Place, which is indeed probably the best-written show on television right now.  I don’t know why it took me so long. Just…Everyone raved about it and I didn’t want to be disappointed. I didn’t want to get emotional about it. Turns out, it’s not super emotional. It’s actually really kind, and really funny — actually funny, not infantile one-liner funny. So yes, I should have watched this a long time ago. On the other hand, I get to binge like 10 episodes at a time this way, because it really is one long story and not very episodic at all.  Much like Legion, I cannot guess where this is going and I love that.

I’m only halfway through season 2 so no spoilers. I will say — that twist at the end of the first season? That was amazing. AMAZING. And totally, totally earned. Not out of left field. Carefully, sneakily built in with a fantastic payoff that blew the story wide open in a way I could not have predicted. It’s great.

Weirdly, I’m also sort-of rewatching Babylon 5 right now because it’s airing in order on Comet TV. (It’s so weird. I have access to this show, commercial free, but for some reason it comes on TV and I just have to watch.) I saw the episode where Talia Winters is revealed to be a sleeper agent right around the time I watched the big twist on The Good Place.  The Talia Winters revelation was also a totally earned twist.  Built up, makes sense, shocking, has consequences.  (In season 3, when each of the crew confesses a secret to Delenn and hands over their Earth Force uniforms, and Ivanova’s confession is that she loved Talia — it’s a gut punch every time.)

So of course now I’m thinking of what makes a good twist, and what makes a bad one.

The “All Along the Watchtower” bullshit in Battlestar Galactica? The revelation of the last models of Cylons that made no bloody sense at all? Not an earned twist. Not planned, not built up, requiring retconning and hand-waving, with totally unsatisfying consequences.

“It was all a dream” is rarely, rarely an earned twist.

Must ponder further.

 

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One Response to “TV catchup”

  1. Jo Anne Says:

    I am so glad you like The Good Place!


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