We’ve finally made it to the end. Here are the final awards for this past season of great (and some very awful) television. (See Part 2 here.)
Most Annoying Trend – Character Voice-overs
I’m not exactly sure what the appeal was, but for some reason, everyone seemed to want to jump on the voice-over bandwagon this season, and did so in a variety of ways. Here’s the rundown: it started with Red Band Society‘s coma patient explaining the meaning of the episode (and sometimes the interlude’s within) a la Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) on Grey’s Anatomy; Black-ish used the voice-over for no other reason than to add inane one-liners and comment on what just happened; Selfie spent a lot of its time exploring the inner workings of the lead character’s insufferable neurosis; Manhattan Love Story dove into the thoughts of the lovers, finding a way to tell a second story of what the characters are really thinking in any given situation; A to Z used an omniscient narrator (Katey Segal) to tell the story of the protagonist’s budding love; in The Affair, the main characters discussed how they were feeling throughout their specific segments as they retold the events as they remember them to a cop in an interrogation room; Jane the Virgin had an annoying narrator give us the play-by-play in a homage to the telenovela; Fresh Off the Boat tried to match wits with The Wonder Years, but the main character’s voice-over failed to capture the same magic; and finally, The Slap used Victor Garber to try and add context to the events that were happening, but ended up being simply superfluous.
Best Storytelling Device – The Affair
It’s not anything terribly new; the device has been done in plenty of other movies and television shows in one form or another, but with The Affair, we were given the chance to see two different versions of similar moments in the lives of Noah (Dominic West) and Alison (Ruth Wilson) as they related what they remember to a detective. What made this device slightly different is that they allowed for discrepancy (sometimes, major discrepancy) in what was remembered — or at least embellished or revised for reasons unknown. Noah remembers Alison being a minx — a vixen who may be able to break him free of a marriage that has dulled over time. Alison remembers Noah as a pushy, energetic guy who she’s uncomfortable being around, but sees something in him that’s exciting and fresh, which just may hold the key to her overcoming the depression she has had since the loss of her baby. Telling the story from both points of view offer us a much wider spectrum of the events leading up to the mysterious death at the heart of the show, and it turns what could be a normal, routine affair into a captivating mystery of the mind, heart and soul.
Best Milestone Episode: Supernatural
Supernatural is always at its best when making fun of itself, and the producers let it all hang out with their meta-terrific 200th episode spectacular. The case of the week involved a trip to an all-girl’s high school where the head of the drama class was a hardcore fan-girl of the Supernatural book series first introduced in Season 4. She’s written a musical play based on those stories and ironically, just may find herself dead by the end of it. The episode not only tore apart the latter half of the series by claiming everything that happened is “the worst fan-fic ever written”, it gave us everything we love about Supernatural, including the brothers working together with no drama, Sam (Jared Padalecki) doing research and Dean (Jensen Ackles) arguing with prepubescents. A lot of shows in recent years have tried to do musical episodes to varying degrees of success, but Supernatural got it right by placing all of the musical numbers in the context of the play, giving us a sorrowful, yet moving performance of Supernatural‘s key song, “Carry On Wayward Son.” But best of all, the episode ended with the return of Chuck (Rob Benedict), which, depending on how you read into it, puts a lot of sub into the text.
Oddest Milestone Episode: Hawaii 5-0
A lot of shows do a really good job paying homage to all of the previous episodes in their milestones, but none have done so in a way that made the entire episode feel like a series finale. We not only got a rewriting of history through a brain altering drug administered to Steve McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin), but we got the official death of series villain Wo-Fat and a final 5 minutes that basically summed up the series in one gloriously loving send-off… but it wasn’t. The show wasn’t canceled, it was only the 100th episode. So I’m not sure how I feel. Should I be ready to leave the 5-0 or continue on with all of their misadventures? Part of me says it’s been a good run, thanks for the memories. The other part says, wait… it’s not over? Okay. I’m ready. Bring it on.
Most Disturbing Scene: Hell On Wheels
There are scenes that can really make your skin crawl, mostly found on shows similar to CSI or The X-Files (I defer to “Home” thank you very much). But there was no scene in any episode this season that made me cringe more than when Cullen Bohannan (Anson Mount) cut off Sydney Snow’s (Jonathan Scarfe) leg with a hacksaw on Hell On Wheels. The special effects team, as well as the team behind the sound were amazingly realistic as they showed Bohannan cut into Snow’s leg, which didn’t pull away until the leg was entirely cut off. It was mesmerizing to watch, to say the least, but at the same time, I couldn’t help but feel chills crawl up my spine. I’m very desensitized to much of the violence shown in entertainment these days; this was unexpected — and at the same time incredibly awesome.
Best Makeup: The Walking Dead
I’ve been watching The Walking Dead since the beginning, and I never really took notice of the makeup department’s perfection until just recently. And I’m not talking about the zombie makeup, which is expected to be incredible every episode. I’m talking about the makeup used on our merry band of survivors. What made the make-up standout so much this season over the other seasons, I believe, were the quick interludes AMC occasionally showed during commercial breaks highlighting scenes from past seasons. What stood out was how accurate and realistic the makeup team have made in relation to the amount of time it’s been since the beginning of the show. Take for example Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), who started the show a clean-cut law officer. By the beginning of this season, he had a nice, full beard and long, curly hair that hadn’t seen a shower in months. And there it is: The Walking Dead isn’t trying to make anyone look good for the sake of the actor’s ego. Gone are the days when the protagonist looks immaculate in a post-apocalyptic world, it seems, and I couldn’t be happier. (And I have to give a shout-out here to The 100, which has also embraced this realistic make-up style. I hope continues.)
Most Misleading Title: Fresh Off the Boat
I know the show is based on a book with the same title, and it’s meant to invoke the feeling of being a fish out of water, so-to-speak, but I’m still finding it hard to trust a show with such a title when in the very first episode it is clear that no character is “fresh off the boat”, but rather simply moving to a new state and community. By asserting in the title that this family is an immigrant family that is now going to experience life inside the United States after leaving their home country (for whatever reason), it’s extremely disappointing to watch such a mundane change in environment. For me, it would have been more interesting to watch the family adapt to new cultural tendencies than to see them simply try and become acclimated to suburban life. But that’s just me, I guess.
Worst Special Effects: Olympus
I’m not even going to dive deep into why this show deserves this award. Let’s just say that I didn’t even make it to the first commercial break of the first episode because the special effects (not to mention the dialogue) were just that unwatchable.