Tuesday, June 24, 2014

How is My 2014 TV Watching So Far

Do not mistake this article as a mid-year “Bernels” for the small screen.  But this can serve as somewhat of an indicator of how the small screen’s “Bernel” awards might turn out at year end.  I will be providing some brief commentaries of the TV series I’m currently following.         

The titles are arranged from what I love the most to the least. 


Hands down, Sherlock Series 3 is the greatest thing that came out in TV this year.  At this point, it seems unlikely for any other series to replace this as my favorite TV series this year.  Its Series 3 was just as excellent, intelligent, creative, funny, clever, and pleasurable as the previous two seasons – probably even more so.  Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman remain fantastic and charming as Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson.  If I will rate this show out of five stars, I will give it a six.  That’s how much I think highly of Sherlock.    

But per usual, there is still one understandable but nonetheless frustrating complaint: the two-year gap between seasons.  And it’s saddening that, contrary to the assurances that Sherlock’s return could come earlier this time, it’s far likely that we will have another two-year hiatus upon us.  Argh.   


Bravo.  The first installment of this TV anthology series is simply beautiful.  I’ve already written at length about this awesome show before.  I got nothing more to say. 


After Psych was cancelled early this year (just had ten episodes), I had room for a new series to follow.  I went for The Blacklist since I was intrigued by the premise.  And right from episode one, I was hooked.  I’m almost glad I was able to trade Shawn Spencer for Raymond Reddington. 

Seriously, James Spader is one of the finest actors I’ve ever encountered.  He’s really intense, versatile, and captivating.  His performance as Reddington made the character one of the most fascinating TV characters ever.  Now, I’m really excited to see him as Ultron in Avengers 2

Season 1 was fast-paced and extremely thrilling.  There was a richness of engaging twists that are not all gimmicky but purely essential to the narrative.  Whenever questions were answered, more questions replaced the answered ones, keeping the overall charm of mystery forward. 

The finale of Season 1, though, was kind of weak when compared to the rest of the season.  Nonetheless, overall, the Season 1 of The Blacklist has been astounding.  I have high expectations for Season 2.   I hope the showrunners can maintain the same quality. 


Almost Human is dumb sci-fi, but it was an engaging dumb sci-fi.  Despite the weaknesses of this show, it was extremely enjoyable.   The two main characters – John Kennex and Dorian – are very fun to watch; that’s why they were the best duo in TV last year (but this time around, we got Sherlock, so Kennex and Dorian are justifiably just second to Holmes and Watson) and had proven capable of carrying the show effectively.  I really loved this show, that’s why I’m so sad that it got cancelled after just one season.  (Sigh)


At its early episodes, watching felt like a chore.  It was even joyless to watch at times – devoid of any form of engaging factors.  Deathlok’s awful design didn’t help either.  Then by episode 13 (I think), it started getting good.  And by the time it got to its tie-in episode for Captain America: The Winter Soldier, it had dramatically transformed into a genuinely exciting, “must-watch” TV series. 

At this point, I’m much deep in Castle fandom that I probably wouldn’t ever notice when it arrives in its “jumping the shark” point. The show is at its sixth season (going on seventh later this year) already, and many of the running overarching plots are resolved, but I still find it as clever and delightful as before. 


I’m gonna miss this hilarious show, with its fun characters and clever scripts.  But it had a good 8-season run, so I have no great sadness of its cancellation.  Still, I wished it had its usual 16 episode in its final season rather than 10.    


I’ve been always familiar of the Doctor Who mythos but I was intimidated of trying it because of its long history, thus, I had never attempted to watch a single episode of this legendary British show.  Until this year.  Finally, I’ve given it a try and easily become a WHO-ligan (a Doctor Who fan).  Well, technically, there are no new Doctor Who episodes out this year yet (the next season is due later this year), but it was just last February that I started watching key episodes of its previous seasons.  By the time I got to “The Day of the Doctor” and “The Time of the Doctor”, I was already crazy for this show. Can’t wait to see Peter Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor in action.


I’m still in for the ride for this show’s Season 2.  But to be honest, I find the earlier episodes more fun than the later ones.  Yes, the show continued to be delightfully insane and interesting till the end of the season, but I just find that the best episodes were the first ones.  Maybe its “weird and ludicrous, but very entertaining” charm is just wearing off gradually.   Nonetheless, I feel its Season 2 can still keep me watching.  


I have still followed Elementary, but not as fondly as I did last year in which it was my favorite show.  Season 2 probably suffered from being compared to Sherlock’s run this year.  Still, for me, regardless of Sherlock’s superiority to Elementary, I still feel that Season 2 is weaker than Season 1.   

The “mystery of the week” cases remained solid and entertaining.  But there are plenty of good crime-solving procedural dramas out there.   Elementary didn’t really have the same amount of interesting things as it had in Season 1, which made the show stand out from other mystery shows and prevented it from being branded as a B-rate Sherlock rip-off.  Case in point: There’s no development at all that equaled the awesomely mindblowing twist in Season 1 that revealed that Moriarty and Irene Adler are one.

Moreover, I don’t like that the romantic tension between the Holmes and Watson was fanned this recent season.  Again, that’s why I didn’t want Watson to be reinvented as a female, since there’s a risk that their affection to each other would become more than platonic.  Ugh, that’s missing the point of the Holmes and Watson dynamic.  Seriously, if ever the showrunners make Holmes and Watson a couple, I would drop this show in a heartbeat.   


Defiance is at this low point in this ranking for Season 2 is just starting as I write this, so I still can’t evaluate fully its qualities.  Nonetheless, based on its strong pilot, it could probably redeem itself of its disappointing Season 1 finale; the potential for awesomeness is still there, and the visuals are definitely more beautiful than the previous season.  Again, as I’ve mentioned before, as long as this “potential for awesomeness” – the thing that got me hooked to this show in the first place – is sustained, I’ll continue following it.     


I’m just confused.  I thought this was supposed to be a mini-series.  But its series (season?) finale was quite ambiguous – as if there’s going to be a Season 2.  There is nothing extremely special about this reinvention of the “Dracula” tale, but the absurd plot and beautiful production value made it appealing enough to make me watch a Season 2, if there is one.      


During its original 8-season run, I had appreciated Jack Bauer and its distinctive 24-hour, real-time format for each season, and I watched some episodes, but I was never really an avid follower and fan.  In fact, if it’s not currently the down months of the other TV series I’m following, I probably wouldn’t have gotten into 24: Live Another Day.  Along with Defiance, this is the present ongoing TV series that I’m spending my TV watching time as I wait for the new seasons of the bulk of TV series I’m following.  So far, it has been pretty intense and absorbing.  But I’d still rather have The Blacklist.     

* * *
So there you go.  These are the thirteen TV series that I’ve been into this year so far (excluding animated TV series and anime).  And the pile is likely to grow at year end.    There’s just too much great quality of TV out there right now. 

I still haven’t attempted to check out Arrow, The Walking Dead, and Game of Thrones, even if they’re of genres that appeal to my tastes.  But I’ll get there someday.  It just feels that I have no time for them yet.  I could always catch up with them later in the future.   

Crossbones, Orphan Black, and Penny Dreadful are also shows that have interesting premises and I would probably grow fond of; I would likely check them out soon (or in the near future). 

I am also mightily interested of watching Constantine and Agent Carter, two new upcoming TV shows.

On the other hand, the trailer for The Flash series didn’t make the series appealing to me.  And I’m not really excited for Gotham, since I prefer a straight-up Batman TV series than a Batman-prequel, James Gordon series.   Still, if it turns out that they would be great shows and there’s enough buzz telling me about it, I will also probably start watching them then.   

Yep.  The next “Bernels” for small screen will surely be more crowded. 

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