Number 6 (newnumber6) wrote,
Number 6

Fall TV Midseason Review

So, this post I'll be giving my thoughts on all the series I watched regularly, as how they stand on the midseason point. This includes shows which've only aired one apisode (Who), and ones which only have two episodes left to go in their entire run (Atlantis). My criteria for inclusion is if I watched it with most of my attention, most of the time.

So, here we go.

Prison Break: Major spoilers for the newest season so far. In short: Kinda enjoyable for most of it, but turned sour around the end.
Yes, I'm still watching, although nobody on my flist seems to talk about it. Actually,
the season started out pretty decently. Instead of a long drawn out plan we never see the end of (or even most of the plan), we saw basically a different heist in every issue working towards a grander goal. Unfortunately, once the heists were done and Scylla was taken, the show started to go downhill for me. I knew of course some kind of big betrayal and reversal of fortune was coming, because that's the way the show just is... and yet...

I watched through the first season, when they were actually breaking out of Prison. I watched the second season, when they were on the run. I watched the third season, when they were thrown into another Prison and had to break out again. And I watched this season, where they're heisting and they brought Sarah back (as I knew they would even though it was hilariously silly). And although the show was ridiculous and cracky, I still enjoyed it. I was kind of hoping we'd get to a point where aliens were behind everything, and they took Michael and Linc and the others to an alien prison on Europa which he'd then have to escape. But once Self turned out to be playing them all along, and then they have the guys working for the company and the guys who've double crossed them _again_, and their mother still alive... I think it's too much for me. I don't want to watch them hunting Scylla's thief or fighting against the company from within. I might still watch, but in my head, the story ended with the guys getting Scylla and taking the company down (after Self tried to betray them and got burned for it). They've come to a point where they really need to start killing people. And not people like Brad (who I actually liked ever since Sona, and thought went out with some class).

Heroes: Major spoilers for Vol 3: Villains. In short: What a cluster$!@$.
This year was just awful. There was a glimmer of hope at first, but then they kept on pulling crap. Character motivations changed on the fly from episode to episode, and most importantly, nobody seemed to remember much of what happened in previous volumes. My favorite example is Mohinder seemingly not even being able to conceive of a way to remove another person's abilities, even _in theory_, when the WHOLE SECOND VOLUME was centered on a virus, a benign form of which REMOVES PEOPLES ABILITIES. You'd think that especially in a show that relies both on time travel and visions of the future and past, you'd realize that continuity is important. Nobody remembers Hiro's sister anymore. She wasn't even there on a trip to the past.

Even for the things that aren't outright contradictions of the past don't seem to have continuity. Everybody is at the whim of the writers. Mohinder needs a turn to the dark side? Once lovely benevolent scientist who just wants to help people, give him a hint of a bad power reaction and he's willing to become an EVIL MAD SCIENTIST, experimenting on unwilling subjects and generally being just as bad as Sylar. And Sylar reforms? Yay, he's good. Then suddenly he's bad. Then he's good again. There's no evidence of internal struggle, of coming to a decision, it's as though the writers flicked the switch from good to evil in his back. Likewise with Peter (and that whole thing about stealing Sylar's abilities and getting his Hunger too was awful, awful crap). Then he loses his powers completely a few episodes later, making it all pointless anyway. If you're going to make a big change on the fly for no real reason, at least STICK WITH it. As it is, about the only lasting change seems to be when Matt falls in love because he saw it in a vision. Which wasn't all that thrilling of a plotline because we were never really given any particular reason either of them would like each other. Oh, and Ando's powers, which were actually kind of cool.

What's kind of so disheartening about this season is that when you look at them in isolation, many of the bad things were actually workable ideas. It's the execution. No, I don't and will never defend the catalyst being GLOWLY MAGICAL LIGHT. Or the awful Eclipse episode which seemed to rely on the theory that ECLIPSES ARE MAGIC. (I mean seriously, not only is the Eclipse far too early after the most recent one, although the timeline of the series is a little vague and undefined, but most of the characters in the show have had to have lived through several eclipses, and there's no indication given why this is the first time anything's happened. Adam, given his powers, would have had to have gone through thousands, and probably would have died if EVEN ONE had this effect (especially given the lame-ass way they decided removing his powers would suddenly turn him to dust. Apparently, his power wasn't healing, it was 'magically holding my body together with an energy field that must be maintained at all times or I fall to pieces'. Hope nobody cancels the effect his blood had on Nathan, or he'll suddenly become all scarred. Anyway, there's no indication that anybody even finds it odd that this is the first time power removal happened. They all seem to accept "ECLIPSES ARE MAGIC". I do have a reasonable theory of how powers might have gone away (Ando, or someone like him, back in time, amps up a time-displaced Haitian, or someone like him, so that his powers go out all over the world), but I bet you I've put more thought into it than the writers did.

But, there were good _ideas_, too. for example, the Villain breakout (if it wasn't mostly wrapped up in one or two episodes), Pa Petrelli as the evil mastermind, Peter losing his powers (solving the problem of him being waaay too powerful, although unfortunately he got them back. I just hope, against all rationality, that they're smart enough to make them work differently this time), even Nathan turning towards his father's ideals. The problem was they both filled it with so much crap to make it a "panning for gold in a sea of crap, without a pan" type situation. I mean, take Nathan's turn. He knows Peter knows something horrible about the future that Nathan's Super-Powers-For-The-Good plan causes. Yet he turns anyway. If Peter's vision was a little more vague, or if Nathan had some kind of tip from the future that the opposite is true (that uncontrolled, random powers is what causes the disaster and only a directed campaign is going to save the world) it might have been believable, even interesting (although still a Civil War ripoff). But instead it's all just because he spends some time in Haiti and meets an invulnerable man who abuses his powers. Or hell, even if we just saw him struggle with the decision. But no, nobody struggles, everybody just rolls a 1D20 to receive their character motivations for the day, and are afraid the DM will penalize them if they don't play it to the utmost. Then there's things like Claire wanting to get more involved, which was good in theory but in practice turned to a regular whinefest against her father, probably because he's one of the few genuinely complex characters left.

I don't know if the show is salvagable now, with anything short of "The last volume was just one of Angela's dreams. We now join the real world, already in progress." I'll still be watching, but I don't know for how long.

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles: Major spoilers for S2. Short version: Bit of a down-turn in quality from S1, but still some interesting things going on.
Probably my favorite show of last season, its fortunes have changed. It started so well, too, what with liquid metal Executive. One of the big problems is John acting like an idiot too much (and Sarah's turn towards the obsessive doesn't help much, and Cameron's "chip damage" making her Ca-Razy). My biggest problem is that plotlines from the last season were just dropped like a hot potato. John's school life? Gone. The girl he was kind of into? Forget her completely, don't even mention her or wonder about what her issues are, the new girl's on her way!

I didn't like Riley at first, but now that I realize my theory about her was correct all along, I like her a little more. Still, I'm not pleased that to get her we traded away the rest of the HS plot, what with John going through 'home schooling'. I want to see him interact with the world, to see it's worth fighting for, and not just Riley. (I also kinda wanted him to smoke those kids at the video game, after an initial period of running away and not even fighting, only to attack when he has the superior position and weapons, making use of his tactical training). I'm also a little leery of the way the midseason finale has left things, but we'll see.

Still, I like it, I just wish it'd focus a little more on John and Cameron especially attempting a normal life. Right now they feel pretty disconnected from reality and are strictly mission only. Even though I thought the high school plots were the weakest of the last year, I didn't want them to go away entirely. And they're all disconencted from each other, too. Derek barely associates with the others anymore, unless there's something to fight. On the plus side, I liked what they did with Cromartie, and that they're finally acknowledging that history has changed and so the people coming through now are from a slightly different future than the one, say, Derek left (I'd like to see more of that though). And they are occasionally doing nice things with ideas about AI (I'm a big AI junkie) and what it means. I really wish they'd explore more of Cameron's developing humanity though. That was always my favorite part of the first season. Get back in gear, I want this to be my favorite show again, especially if it's due for the chopping block at the end of the year.

My Own Worst Enemy (Cancelled): I watched this mainly because it was right after Heroes and nothing else was on. No real spoilers. Short version: Not especially going to miss it. It was okay, but I never really bought into the central premise, that it was somehow a benefit for these secret agents to have a normal life in which they are not only completely unaware of what they really do, but also completely helpless in case, say, somebody follows them home and tortures their family. I suppose it means they can't give up information they don't know, but I still think I'd rather have agents capable of responding to the problem. Like I said, won't be missed.

House: This is kinda episodic, so there's not much to say. Minor spoilers for relationshippy stuff in the newest season. Short version: Still enjoyable for what I watch it for, the ongoing stuff doesn't thrill me though. I actually kinda liked the PI House worked with when Wilson was ignoring him, and kinda wish he'd return. The House/Cuddy romance angle... meh, don't really buy it, and would prefer they just keep torturing each other rather than go anywhere with it, but it's not really what I watch for, which is House being a genius jerk.

And, I didn't watch the show from the beginning (although I've since caught some early episodes from reruns), but I still think the show got much better when they ditched House's old team and went with the new one. I don't miss Chase and Cameron at all (well, they're still there in drastically reduced roles, but you know what I mean), but I would miss, say, Kuttner if he left, because he's awesome.

Criminal Minds: Another episodic show. I don't even know why I like it, especially since the awesome Inigo Montoya (that's his name for me from now on) left, but I still mildly enjoy it. No spoilers, no cut. Still enjoying it, maybe because it's my only real 'serial killer crime' show I watch.

Bones: Another show I watch more by circumstances than choice - it's on, nothing else is, and I like it enough to watch it regularly so long as nothing conflicts. Some spoilers but mostly for the end of last season and how it plays out this time. I still call bull#!@$ on Zach being the serial killer's assistant last year. It was an awful choice and they haven't found a decent character to replace his yet. I'm also not thrilled with the sudden Angela/Beardo no-mance. But, I still like Bones herself and her relationship with Booth, so I'm still watching.

Pushing Daisies (cancelled): Minor spoilers for ongoing plots of S2. Short version: Too bad it's cancelled. Mostly this is a show to be enjoyed for its quirkiness and sense of humor. I particularly like Emerson Cod and his snarky remarks, he's usually good for a laugh. "Oh look, a dumb idea has found a friend!"

The thing with the old friend of Chuck and Ned's parents was okay, mainly because of how it led up to Chuck bringing her father back to life. That could have been a good ongoing plotline for the show. In general, I kinda wish more people would find out more stuff more quickly, but that's what the show tended to do - have things that are hidden suddenly become not when you're not expecting it. So it's quite possible, if allowed to continue, it wouldn't have dragged on as much as most. But, it's gone, with perhaps a few episodes left to air (not sure on that). I'll miss it but not _super_ much. It was fun, but I never really fell in love with it.

Supernatural: Relatively low on spoilers. Short version: Mixed, not feeling the arc so much but still enjoy the series.
Last season ended with one of the main characters being dragged into Hell. To nobody's surprise... he's back in the first episode. It's not quite as bad as when it happened to Angel, but it's a little weak. The major plot this year involves the bad guys trying to free Lucifer, and the good guys being aided by Angels. Now, I don't mind angels in fiction, and (although I'm in the minority of fans on my flist, I think), I prefer them when they're not played as alltogether holy but that they _may_ in fact be just as bad as the demons, just in another way, but still, I don't know, the angels here aren't really doing too much for me. Still, I like the stand-alone episodes, and the general relationship between the brothers. I also kind of like Ruby. Not the actress so much, but the character. I'm a sucker for impossible redemption plots.

The Office: Don't have too much to say about this. I kinda feel bad for Andy though. This is probably my one half hour comedy show left.

Stargate Atlantis: There's only two episodes left before the series is over, so this is almost a season-in-review. But not quite. Anyway, no spoilers really. Short version: Enjoying it, but it's a bit weaker and I'm already kind of more excited about Universe. A lot of the episodes this year felt kind of stand-alone and inconsequential, and even the arcly stuff hasn't really been all that exciting.

That's not to say there haven't been good episodes, and I'm liking some of the character arcs, but, well... when Stargate SG-1 was cancelled, it had 10 years, and I still wanted more. When Atlantis ends its run, I'll raise a glass and say "it had a good run, hope to see some movies with the characters" but not otherwise be too put out. The addition of Richard Woolsley (Robert Picardo) to the main cast was nice but I think he was a little wasted. In fact, I think Weir was the only base commander who didn't feel wasted all the time (she was wasted sometimes, but she felt more integral to the cast than any of her replacements).

Survivors (BBC): Only minor spoilers, since I don't think anyone on my flist's watched it. Or probably planning to. Short version: Actually the show I've been most looking forward to this month.
Yeah, I'm a bit of a sucker for the old post-apocalypse. Particularly those stories where random people who otherwise might not have even met, are forced to band together by circumstances and make a makeshift family. Plus the whole idea of wandering alone through the ruins of the world. And the cast, although some of them are kinda stock characters, I kinda enjoy. I'm almost wishing Paterson Joseph doesn't become the next Who because then it'll probably mean he'll be removed (and it's relatively easy to do). The real standout is the character Tom Miller, who was in prison for robbery and murder when the virus struck. The actor treads a nice fine line so you're never quite sure whether he's a hard man maybe finding redemption in a world that's become even harder, or a criminal thug who's only sticking with the others because it's in his own self-interest, but is a killer at heart. Still, I find myself rooting for him. Even the token kid is fairly pleasant and not annoying. I'm glad it's getting a second season.

Doctor Who (2008 Christmas Special only): Oh, RTD, you did it again. Decent character work at first, with a crappy plot you must have wrote in the bathroom because it's made out of tissue paper. Major spoilers. Also a bit of fannish speculation for what happens next for the baddies.
I'll say that I liked the early bits, with the Doctor dealing with the Mockter. David Morrisey did an okay job, although I don't really think I'd want to see him as the Doctor, at least not as he was played. I dunno, something about it rubbed me the wrong way. Of course, he was playing a character who only thought he was the Doctor, so that might change things if he were actually cast. And yet, perhaps paradoxically, at the same time, I wanted him to _be_ the Next Doctor. That is, I wanted that to be the direction the story went. And, to be more specific, that Ten had to make a choice that he knew would lead to him not regenerating as Morrisey-Doctor, in order to save the world. And to be left wondering if, when he does wind up regenerating, whether he'll ever become _him_, or if he'll become someone else. That to me would be a little more poignant, and maybe a little unexpected to. From the moment Ten took his heartbeat it was clear that he was just somebody who thought he was the Doctor and then the only mystery was how it happened.

I also was kind of disappointed in the ending. Not just the Mecha Cyber-King, which was stupid. Nor the infostamps of doom (REALLY? A miscalibrated INFORMATION device can blow up Cybermen now? That's a sillier weakness than gold dust!), but par for the course for RTD who believes that a valid storytelling device to defeat the Dalek is that by rewiring one of the consoles on the mothership, every Dalek everywhere blows up. But the simple, story-based fact of Miss Hartigan being offered the chance for her and her Cybermen to survive on another planet, and refusing and thus dying. I was hoping she'd accept. Then, from that planet, her Cybermen could build new ships and escape the old fashioned way and start a new Cybermen empire. Hartigan's Cybermen. In fact, it might even provide a decent motivation. Hartigan was a work-house matron and decried the inequalities and suffering that the world had seen. She could make a new breed of Cybermen who see themselves as helping the world by removing inequality and suffering, which is much closer to the Cybermen's "core philosophy" IMHO. Even if they are warlike, and emotionless like the Daleks, they're distinguished from the Daleks from the idea that they actually think they're improving people (even if they're only taking the suitable and destroying the rest, with cold logic). Take that away (as RTD pretty much did), and you've just got low-powered Daleks who convert rather than EXTERMINATE. Having Hartigan's Cybermen taking this idea even furthur (maybe drifting _slightly_ towards Borg territory, but not if done well), and you could make them more than just a scary monster who will kill everybody.

Speaking of which, the Cyberman didn't especially feel like Cybermen. I mean, for example, take one of the big threats of the episode. The work is done, so the Cybermen are given the order... exterminate the children! Uh... again, these aren't Daleks, RTD. Killing a bunch of people who really can't harm you at all would probably be considered a waste of resources by any real Cybermen. Let them go and kill them in an orderly extermination later, that would make more sense, but RTD must try and have his drama, and sense-making be damned.

There were a couple good lines, mostly early on (I particularly liked "In fact, in this position, I can't help pulling!"), and, as silly as the concept is, I kinda liked the idea that Miss Hartigan's will was stronger than the Cybermen, which is why perhaps I wanted her to survive and continue.

By the way, if you ask me, the Doctor's explanation of these as being Cybermen from the void... really doesn't work for me at all.

Remember, the Void Cybermen would have been _only_ those Cybermen who came to our Earth from Parallel Earth. And all of them... WERE ON FOOT. There was no giant mecha Cyberking space-ship (which the Doctor should not have recognized, only encountering these Cybermen twice and neither time were they interested in conquering any more than the Earth). And the Daleks only ship-type thing was the Resurrection Arc. So that means, as the dimensional barriers were coming down, a team of Cybermen, on foot, in the VOID, were able to survive and overpower Daleks, probably get into the resurrection arc, steal infostamps from them and a Dalek time/space/dimensional warp machine, that let them escape the void and come to Victorian-era Earth. REALLY? Uh, yeah.

You know, RTD, you recently slagged off Stargate. But you know what Stargate can do that Doctor Who, at least under you, can't? WRITE. Specifically, WRITE SCIENCE FICTION. In Stargate, when something happens, for the most part, everything makes sense. It makes so much sense that you can sometimes predict what might happen from the technology involved, as it's been used in part episodes, if you pay attention carefully. And they've done this for something like THREE HUNDRED HOURS of TV. You can't manage that for 50 hours. You can't even manage it for 1. You don't even remember YOUR OWN EPISODES, or think through consequences for things YOU WRITE. You write things that rely on things happening that didn't happen. You write whatever comes to mind and don't care if it makes any sense.

That makes you not a good writer. That makes you, once again, a Hack. You've got no right to slag off a show that isn't staffed by a humungous hack, one that actually respects their audience. I can't wait till you're gone.

Luckily, the setup of your story is such that the Doctor could be easily wrong. In my own mind, these are Cybermen from our own universe who stumbled upon some Dalek tech and had a time travel mishap. donna_c_punk made the point that the Mondas Cybermen didn't have the C on their chest, so it can't be them, but then, the regular Who Cybermen changed quite a bit in their appearance due to budgetary reasons, so I have no trouble assuming that these particular Cybermen look just like the parallel universe ones. (Remember, the mere fact that Cybermen exist in the parallel universe, with a completely seperate origin but looking and acting and speaking almost the same... well, it's stupid, but it sets the precedent of stupid being part of the universe, that there's some cross-dimensional 'fate' that makes them wind up similarly).

Anyway, whatever the origin, there's at least an out for the Cybermen's return. The Mocktor only guessed about what the Doctor was doing. Maybe the Doctor sent the Mecha-Cyberking to another world after all, or even if it ended up in the Time Vortex it might have burst out and land on another planet or drift through space. From there, in some distant time, somebody in some alien race could stumble upon the wreckage. Even if Hartigan and her Cybermen themselves are gone, the Cyber-conversion factory is still intact, and some foolish aliens might decide to test it out and see what it does, and unleash a plague of Cybermen. Hell, maybe it's a world of people in crisis and so they willingly, en masse turn themselves into Cybermen once they realize what it capable of doing and that it's the only way to survive. Maybe the world is even called Mondas.

I think that's about it. If there are any other shows you know I watch (or wonder if I watch) that I left out, feel free to comment and I'll let you know what I think.

Edited to add:
Wolverine and the X-Men: Not really many spoilers, except perhaps for characters appearing. Short version: Quite liked it.
Forgot this in the first review because it hadn't run for a few weeks when I wrote this up. But the newest X-Men cartoon does deserve a mention. I think it's quite good in terms of humor and action and general plottiness. I like most of the characters. I am a bit put off by the Wolverine emphasis, and the somewhat scattered nature of individual episodes: Sometimes there's a cool team episode, followed by a few solo episodes about characters I don't care about, etc. My other very minor complaint is that sometimes the great X-Cameos, a) don't really feel like the character in anything other than appearance and powers, and b) are sometimes out of the same continuity with each other. For example, some of the recent New X-Men team show up as cameos. But others of them, like Julian, show up in the future, young. So that means (barring time travel), there's no real way to have a "New X-Men" focused episode, even theoretically. Not that they would (except perhaps if they made it to years down the line and ran out of ideas), but as a fanboy geek it does kind of make me wistful that they'd leave the idea open. I suppose I should be happy they appear at all. Anyway, at this point I still think I like Evolution a little more, but it's a good show.
Tags: cartoons, doctor who, heroes, post-apocalypse, rants, sf, stargate, terminator, tv
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