Archive for category Television
This season’s most noticeable trend: COVID-19 Finale Alterations
Though a lot of shows weren’t impacted by the COVID-19 shutdown (as filming had already been completed on all episodes), many shows had to shorten their seasons anywhere from one to five episodes, depending on their production schedule. While most of these shows, especially sitcoms and procedurals, had the luxury of simply ending their seasons early (without major cliffhangers to satisfy us until next season), some had to change or alter their story arcs to condense the season accordingly, leading to mixed results. The Blacklist had to complete what would end up being their finale with animation that in many ways distracted from what was actually happening (I would like to see them finish this episode once production starts again and then re-air it as it was meant to be seen); New Amsterdam completely removed an episode that introduced a new character due to the nature of the content (which they say will be aired eventually… we’ll see; at least The Resident didn’t shy away from their virus-themed episodes); Prodigal Son condensed a few of their storylines to make sure they could get the finale they wanted and did a fantastic job in delivering the finale they intended without losing any of the show’s integrity; and Supergirl, somehow pulled off a win by throwing some of the footage it filmed for its final episode into episode 19, which then served as its season finale.Read full awards
Read on for Part 2 of this year’s Television Chaos awards. (Check out Part 1).
Cutest Creature: The Child, Star Wars: The Mandalorian
The moment this little creature peeks out of the blanket in his little hover pod, you automatically want one of your own! If that wasn’t enough, during the next episode we get to see him walk, play, eat an entire frog whole like a duck and prove his worth with force power. The puppetry (which we later learn in Disney+’s Disney Gallery: Star Wars: The Mandalorian was performed by five separate puppeteers) was outstanding, giving the little guy the perfect amount of curiosity, emotion and carefree attitude that proved that the Mandalorian had a soft side under the hard exterior of his bounty hunter predilections. From saving his friends from a flamethrower to sipping soup while watching his new father-figure fight, the Child (who was instantly and affectionately dubbed “Baby Yoda”) became a favorite among hardcore and non-hardcore Star Wars fans alike.Read Full Awards
Despite COVID-19 stopping nearly all production in Hollywood for months on end, the show must go on. That’s right, the Emmy’s air this Sunday as normal (well, as normal as it can be), which means it’s time again for my annual TV Awards! (See previous Awards – 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013)
Not only was there plenty of shows to choose from on network TV, new streaming platforms, including Disney+, Quibi and Peacock, made their debuts, adding more content then we could possibly view unless we spent 24/7 on our couches… which, come to think of it, isn’t out of the realm of possibility these days. So, as always, over the next two days we’ll grant awards, good and bad, to over twenty series, compiling several actors, scenes and moments that resonated with me in some form or another over the tumultuous season.
Best New Series: The Mandalorian
Is it the hype? Is it my bias for everything Star Wars? Or is it simply because The Mandalorian was just that good? I think it may be a little of everything, but that’s why this show became the cherry on top of the 2019-2020 season. The Mandalorian had a lot riding on its shoulders, being the show that would basically make or break the launch of Disney+, and yet, Jon Favreau (together with animated Star Wars vet Dave Filoni) was up to the task, matching (maybe even exceeded) all the hype with terrific direction, an incredible score, streamlined stories that still had enough meat even if they didn’t completely move the story forward, and the most scene-stealing character this side of Boo. Better yet, it did what no other Star Wars property since Empire Strikes Back has been able to do — unite all Star Wars fans for the good by taking the essence of George Lucas’s vision and creating something entirely new and fresh. By mixing the use of old-school practical effects with new world-building computer-based technology, it gave everyone a visually-stunning piece of artwork that no one wanted to see end. At a scant twenty to thirty minutes per episode, The Mandalorian didn’t feel like it was enough to fulfill our weekly Star Wars fix, yet was exactly the amount we needed. If you haven’t guessed yet, I can’t wait for the next season.Read Full Awards
Worst Editing: The Conners
I noticed issues in the editing on the reincarnation of Roseanne last year, but it wasn’t so atrociously obvious as it is on The Conners. Everything about the editing is horrible, but the most egregious are the transitions between scenes, which seem as if the directors don’t know where to end a scene, so they just stop and fade into the next. On top of that, there are several moments when it’s clear they cut something out with placement of characters. It might not be as bad if the show itself was consistent, but with sporadic hints of excellence sprinkled about a mediocre attempt at finding the magic that was once Roseanne in its prime, it just tends to highlight the problems even further.Read Full Awards
It’s time now to begin the specialty awards in Part 2 of this year’s Chaos awards. (Check out Part 1).
Best Multi-Character Performance: Janet (D’Arcy Carden), The Good Place
I wasn’t the biggest fan of D’Arcy Carden when The Good Place premiered; I thought the character of Janet was odd and a little off-center (to be fair, I thought the show was exactly the same – not sure what to make of it early on). But as the show matured, so did my affection for everyone involved. Carden’s place as the powerhouse performer was cemented when she hit her pinnacle best in episode 9 of season 3 titled “Janet(s)”, in which Janet pulled the entire gang into her void to keep them from being sent to the bad place. In order to keep her void from literally tearing itself to pieces, each one had to become Janet. Carden took the ball and ran with it, picking up every little nuance from each character almost to perfection, no more so than Jason-Janet. Her interpretation of the dim-bulb was amazing and hysterically accurate in movement, voice, and reaction. (Tahani-Janet was a close second). In the same episode, we also got to meet Neutral Janet, which was also a riot in and of itself. I wasn’t a fan before; I certainly am now.Read Full Awards
The Emmy’s air this Sunday, which means it’s that time again to present my awards of the Best (and Worst) of the 2018-2019 television season. (See previous Awards – 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013)
We start as always with more traditional categories, and over the next two days will continue with additional categories for moments that resonated with me in some form or another over the past television season.
Best New Series: The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance
I usually like to wait as long as possible before choosing the best new series of the year, as you never know when a gem will arrive. For the last several months, New Amsterdam was holding onto the top prize, and I was about to solidify its position as the number one show of the 2019-2020 season…. Then, at the tail-end of summer, I decided to try Netflix for the first time (mainly to see the new season of Lucifer) and discovered a glorious new show: The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance. The 1982 film has slowly turned into a cult classic, and although there are good aspects to it, it can be extremely slow and meandering, so I wasn’t sure what to expect from this new prequel set in the time before the evil Skeksis wiped out all of Gelfling kind. It did take some time to get used to, but by the end of the second episode, the show truly hit its stride. From then on, I was hooked. Though we know where everything will eventually end up, the wonderfully distinct characters, masterful puppetry, terrific set designs, perfect flow, a brilliant mix of practical and CG that blend so well together you don’t know where one begins and the other ends, and wonderfully crafted scripts with plenty of twists keep your interest peeked and your investment worth every minute of time.Read Full Awards
Most Surprising Death: Nick (Frank Dillane), Fear the Walking Dead
As always, there were plenty of shocking deaths this past season: Klaus and Elijah Mikaelson (The Originals), Charlotte (Lucifer), Clayton (NCIS), Rufus (Timeless), Quentin Lance (Arrow), Roman (Blindspot), Fitz (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), Mia (Humans), Alison (The Affair), poor little Ferguson (New Girl), and of course the bloodbath that is The Walking Dead (which has never been shy about killing characters. Corl. CORL!). However, The Walking Dead‘s sister show, Fear the Walking Dead, has always been more hesitant when it came to killing its core players, so it was a real shock to the system when Nick (Frank Dillane) was suddenly shot in the 3rd episode of season 4. Not only was it a complete surprise, but it was so unceremoniously produced. One moment he’s reflecting on the (at the time, possible) death of his mother (Kim Dickens) and then bang. Gone. After surviving so much — walking with walkers; a complete bridge collapse — Nick is shot by a fourteen-year-old girl (Alexa Nisenson) avenging the death of a man who all but brainwashed her. It just goes to show, you never know when your time is up, so always make the most of the time you have.
Sad to See You Go Award: Lucifer (Lucifer, Preacher, Supernatural)
It may be surprising that there were even this many representations of the King of Hell on television, but we lost not one but three Lucifer’s this season, and each one hurt just a little. First in line was Supernatural‘s Lucifer, who was obliterated by Jack (Alexander Calvert). As portrayed by the always awesome Mark Pellegrino, this version was a remarkable character — fun, goofy, sarcastic and menacing all at the same time. Then there was Preacher‘s version of Satan (Jason Douglas), who, after sending out his troops to bring Eugene (Ian Colletti) and Hitler (Noah Taylor) back to where they belong, as well as collect Tulip (Ruth Negga) to help secure Jesse’s (Dominic Cooper) soul, was shot dead at point blank range by the Saint of Killers (Graham McTavish), who then left Hell in the capable hands of Adolf Hitler. Finally, there was the announcement that Lucifer was canceled by FOX, and the thought of not being able to see Tom Ellis’s suave Lucifer hoof it through Los Angeles solving crimes with detective Decker (Lauren German) any longer was sad to say the least. Praise be to the heavens that Lucifer was picked up by Netflix, so at least there’s some saving grace in witnessing the ultimate villain perish multiple times in one year.
Most Promising Career Potential: Harper Grace
She may not have made the top 24 on American Idol, but Harper Grace shouldn’t worry. When she first appeared at her audition, she brought with her a charm that sold me on her original song, “Yard Sale”. What could have been a corny little ditty became a clever tune with just the right touch of heart and whimsy. Her touch at writing was good, but it wasn’t until Hollywood week that she proved her talent wasn’t a fluke, when she sang another original song, “Rest In Peace” — a creative, soulful break-up song that if I had heard it on the radio, I never would have believed it was written by a sixteen year-old ingenue. It wasn’t her time this year, but look for Harper to have a long career, if not as a singer, than as a fantastic writer.
Welcome Back Award: Michael J. Fox, Designated Survivor
Michael J. Fox has made guest appearances on several shows over the last few years, but it never felt like he was truly back in the acting game since first being diagnosed with Parkinson’s. That feeling ended with his terrific, if not brief stint on Designated Survivor. As Ethan West, the special council investigating President Kirkman’s (Kiefer Sutherland) involvement in several circumstances that may have ended his run as President, Fox was a natural fit, attacking those around him with his blunt fervor, yet doing so from a place of integrity. I’m not sure whether Fox will continue on in the series after its recent cancellation and last-hour pick-up by Netflix, but I hope he does because he brought life back to a season that was starting to feel a bit stale and worn.
Most Morbid Game: Worst Case Scenario, This Is Us
In the season 2 finale of This Is Us, Randall and his wife Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) play a game in which they tell each other their worst fears on a topic to get their thoughts out into the open. It’s introduced as they try to cope with Déjà’s (Lyric Ross) seclusion after moving back into the home because her real mother told a court she wanted to give away all of her parental rights. Reasonable way to address your fears, no? We don’t find out how seriously morbid the game can get until Randall teaches Kevin (Justin Hartley) the game as they hunt for a missing Kate (Chrissy Metz) on the day of her wedding. After coming up with a seriously twisted idea in which Kate disappears and Toby dies from a heart-attack because of it, the facial expression on Kevin’s face is priceless. And so are the nervous laughs produced by such a morbid way of thinking. (Admit it; we all do it!)
Most Honest Critic: The auditioner’s dog, American Idol
Let this be a lesson to you: never bring your dog with you to an audition. During American Idol‘s new round of auditions, one of the contestants brought their dog into the room with them. Innocent enough, until the dog started going to the bathroom every time her owner started singing. I’m not sure how much of it was editing and how much of it was real, but the point is, it was hilarious and said everything we needed to know about the poor girl’s audition. It was, well, you fill in the blank.
Worst Special Effects: Ghost Wars
I couldn’t bear to watch more than one episode of Ghost Wars. Not because the acting wasn’t good (some of it was… some of it… meh), or the plot wasn’t somewhat intriguing (perhaps a bit of a rehash of other supernatural shows). No, the reason I couldn’t get past the first episode was the somber tone and the laughable special effects. Don’t get me wrong, some of the corporeal effects were fine, but everything else, including a bus dropping over a cliff into a fiery death made me feel like I was watching something out of the Sharknado playbook as opposed to a serious supernatural drama.
Oddest Big-Boss Battle: Beebo fights Mallus, Legends of Tomorrow
We’ve all come to love the weird and strange things that happen to the Legends of Tomorrow every week, but no one could have expected to see a giant, thirty-foot tall Beebo jump into action against the evil the Legends had been worried about all season long. In the third season finale, the team finally figures out how to fight Mallus (voiced by John Noble) and combine their elemental medals together to become one ultimate life force of joy, which ends up being the toy first introduced in an earlier episode (and also appeared on The Flash!). Watching this gargantuan, fuzzy blue bear fight and ultimately destroy Mallus was not only weird, but oddly fun and glorious, the perfect representation of what this show is — and that its not afraid to go big, no matter how off the wall it might get.
Weirdest Ingredient Choice: MasterChef
The most recent season of MasteChef got off to an interesting start when the contestants’ first mystery box challenge included ingredients representing each participant’s state. Florida got to cook with oranges; Wisconsin, cheese; Iowa, corn; Texas, steak; and California… spot prawns? As the contestants were cooking, one of the chefs was confused at why the California contestant, S.J., was cooking a Louisiana-style dish. I wasn’t. Spot prawns would have been a much better ingredient for someone from Louisiana. But from California? Anyone I know probably would have said avocados, or maybe even wine as the best ingredient to represent California. If they wanted a true Californian dish, that’s what they should have given this contestant. Weird.
Most Satisfying Conclusion: 12 Monkeys
When it was announced that the terrifically mind-bending film 12 Monkeys was going to be turned into a television series, I thought the studio execs had lost their minds. How could they possibly top such a classic piece of science-fiction? Then the show premiered, and all of my fears were laid to rest. The entire cast was a tremendous blend of personalities, matching the intricacies of the original cast while making the characters and the story their own. As the show deepened its mythology, weaving its own intricate story together, it grew more and more intriguing to the point I was disappointed to see it end. Thankfully, the producers took great care to make sure they used the final 11 episodes to perfectly untangle the web they had created. I can’t say I was totally on board with the final addition to the puzzle, but it didn’t matter. The moment James Cole (Aaron Stanford) was reunited with Dr. Cassandra Railly (Amanda Schull) was a terrific way to say farewell to such a perfectly executed series.
And with that, we close out the 2017-2018 television season. Come back next year for more television chaos!
Now that we’ve gotten through some traditional awards (check out Part 1), we begin the awards for specialty categories, starting with ones geared more toward the writing side of things.
Best Twist: The Exorcist
I don’t know about you, but I did not see this coming. Throughout the first five episodes of The Exorcist‘s second season, we got to know a handful of foster kids with individual personalities and troubles. One of those kids, Grace (Amélie Eve) was a shy, agoraphobic little girl afraid to step outside or meet new people. Her safety net was the love for her foster father, Andrew Kim (John Cho), as well as the potato sack she wore over her face to feel protected. At no point would I have ever thought this little girl was a figment of Andrew’s imagination. Perhaps it was the distraction the show gave us by keeping the priests’ story line separate for the first few episodes. As we all wondered when, how and why the two stories would come together, we forgot to notice that no one but Andrew ever actually communicated with Grace. The producers set this reveal up perfectly and makes you wonder… was M. Night Shyamalan somehow involved?
Most Poetic Story Arc: Niska (Emily Berrington), Humans
For three seasons, Niska, one of David Elster’s (Stephen Boxer) original sentient AIs, has been almost completely disconnected from the main story lines. Yeah, her stories occasionally weaved in and out of the overall arcs, but she was always an outsider, someone who wanted to be human, to fit in and be judged not because of what she was, but who she was. So it is very poetic that as Mia’s (Gemma Chan) journey comes to a devastating but necessary close, Niska’s journey has just begun. Once disconnected from everything, Niska has now literally become connected to everything (love those new purple eyes!), and is the key to leading Mattie (Lucy Carless) and her new hybrid offspring (who better be named Mia, or so help me…) into a brave new world.
Biggest Bombshell: The Blacklist
Ever since the first season of the series, producers of The Blacklist were adamant that Raymond Reddington (James Spader) was not Elizabeth Keen’s (Megan Boone) father. So it was a little disheartening to learn last season that, lo and behold, he actually was. There was always the lingering question as to whether Reddington somehow altered the DNA test results, and one big reason for this was the season-long mystery of what was in the duffel bag Reddington was hell bent on keeping secret. In the final moments of the season finale, we finally learned the truth — Reddington is in fact Liz’s father, however, the man we’ve come to know as Raymond Reddington is a complete fraud. It turns out the contents of the duffel bag belong to the real Raymond Reddington, so now the question is, why was he killed? And what reasons did the fake Reddington have to assume his identity? We’ll just have to wait for next season to find out.
Oddest Refocus: Kevin Can Wait
In what has to be the most blatant attempt at recapturing the magic from a previous show without rebooting that particular show, producers on Kevin Can Wait decided to dump female lead Erinn Hayes and hire Leah Remini as a full time member of the cast. How did they handle the situation? By killing Kevin’s wife without ever explaining what happened and then forcing Vanessa (Remini) into Kevin’s family as if she had been part of their lives forever. I never watched King of Queens, and there was a reason for that… I never cared for the chemistry between Kevin James and Remini; and based on this new iteration, I don’t think I ever will. Kevin Can Wait was never the best show on television, nor was it the best comedy — most of it was all rehashed and convoluted — but at least it had a spark that kept me interested. That spark fizzled with the change in focus to Kevin and Vanessa’s relationship and their new business venture. All I can say is, I’m not surprised the show was finally put out of its misery, giving Hayes the last laugh.
Most Heartbreaking Moment: This Is Us
You’d probably expect the most heartbreaking moment of the season to come from a show like This Is Us. But in a season of many heartbreaking moments, one stood out as being the most devastating, and no, it wasn’t Kate (Chrissy Metz) losing the baby. After Kevin (Justin Hartley) is injured on the set of his newest movie (and being triggered back to memories of his dad), he starts spinning out of control, leading to a deep depression where he’s all but drowning his feelings in alcohol. While doing so, he manages to ruin another relationship and have a one-night stand with an old high school friend. When he leaves this drunken fling in the middle of the night, he realizes he’s left the necklace his dad gave him behind and goes back to retrieve it. Cue the most powerful breakdown of the season. Because the woman is so angry with him for leaving, she refuses to give it back, leaving Kevin to hit rock bottom and wallow in her front lawn. Hartley did a terrific job building to this moment throughout the season, and as he sinks ever lower, screaming for someone to help him, you feel the devastation burrowing into your bones and can’t help but want to do just that.
Nice Try Award: Rise
In one of the closing moments of the final episode of Rise, Josh Radnor’s character’s son tells him that, “What you did here was amazing.” In regards to the final episode, this sentiment couldn’t ring truer. The episode that showcased the performance of the controversial play “Spring Awakening” was magnetic, heartbreaking, inspiring and full of passion. It’s a shame the rest of the series was so uninspired. Trying to capture the same dramatic magic of This Is Us, with the grit of Friday Night Lights, Rise came off as pandering to as many different groups as it could think of instead of being honest with itself. If the producers really wanted to make a mark, they would have taken a page from the play it was promoting by breaking the rules of convention. Instead it played it safe, and that is ultimately why it failed to gain the notoriety it so desperately desired.
This season’s most noticeable trend: Bad Military Dramas
With the success of TNT’s The Last Ship and History’s SIX, it was only a matter of time before the networks jumped on the bandwagon to produce their own hit military dramas. This season attempted to ignite that trend with three offerings that all felt basically the same without any clear distinction between them (which is probably why only one of them is returning). NBC kicked things off with The Brave, a contrived series that desperately tried to push a sense of tension, but failed to deliver because of its phony characters and lack of consistent story line (note to showrunners: when you set up an intriguing moment in the last minute of your first episode and then abandon that thread in the second episode with a throwaway line, it’s not a good sign that you’re ready to commit); CBS then brought us Seal Team, a bland attempt at showing us the ins-and-outs of what makes the Navy Seals tick. With drab, boring characters that had weak chemistry puttering about in a monotonous tone, I almost fell asleep waiting for something exciting to happen; and finally the CW tried to ignite a new arm for itself with Valor, a show that screamed CW all over the place, but couldn’t quite find the right balance between military intrigue and the lovers quarrel.
Best Christmas/Homage Episode: Lethal Weapon
I was quite disappointed with Lethal Weapon‘s first season Christmas episode when no one drive a car through Murtaugh’s living room. Well, the show made up for that this year, as producers finally paid homage to the film in some very fun ways. The story beats and circumstances are much different, but you could feel the vibe of that original film throughout the entire episode. Not only does Riggs drive his truck through Murtaugh’s living room, but the episode started with “Jingle Bell Rock” playing over the first scene. We got to see Riggs in a Christmas tree lot, as well as a twist on Riggs jumping off a building that not only moves the character arc forward, but makes fun of both the film and the series up to this point. To finish it off, the show also sent some love to another classic eighties cop series, Beverly Hills Cop, when Murtaugh goes into a strip club that just happens to be playing Vanity 6’s “Nasty Girl.” Good job, Lethal Weapon. Let’s hope next year, you wont receive a Chaos award for the wrong reasons.
Weirdest Shout Out: Superstition
There are a lot of shows — mostly spinoffs — that make call-outs to their sister shows to not only give their worlds depth, but remind people about where they came from. Sometimes, call-outs to other shows can go a little meta, as with Supernatural‘s fun shout-out to ex-cast member Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s affinity for a barbed wire bat. What you don’t see very often (if at all) is a call-out to a show that doesn’t have any relationship to that particular show. In Superstition‘s first episode, Mario Van Peebles’ character is about to go out on a hunt for some supernatural being. After his son (Brad James) pulls the car around, Peebles opens the trunk and asks him, “You have an arsenal back here like Sam and Dean?” The reference came so out of left field, I had to rewind to make sure I heard what I heard. As far as I know, no character on the show has any relationship to the hunter brothers, and at no time were they ever connected to Supernatural, so why this reference would randomly pop up is beyond me. Does this signify that the producers of Superstition were hoping one day the worlds would collide, or was it just a lame attempt to associate itself with a much better show that this one tried to mimic to no avail? Based on the first episode, I’m guessing the latter.
Nice Recovery Award: Mr. Robot
After the incredible 1st season of Mr. Robot blew us away with its mystery of who Mr. Robot (Christian Slater) was and his relationship with Elliot (Rami Malek),the show went into a major sophomore slump, wherein I was almost ready to give up on the show. It had lost a lot of its first season edge and didn’t seem to know what it wanted to be anymore. Even the first few episodes of the third season dragged a bit as it tried to clean up its second season mess. But half-way through the season, it finally started to once again find its voice, culminating in one of its best episodes to date. As Elliot tries to stop the Black Army from executing its plan, we follow the action in what appeared to be a single shot during a hectic forty-five minutes that played so well — with great intensity and a pace that never let up — it reaffirmed why so many fans loved Mr. Robot in the first place.
Jump to the final round of awards for the 2017-2018 season, including the most surprising death, the most promising career potential and the most morbid game.
Every year I release my awards for the best of the television season. With the Emmy Awards on Monday, I will be delivering my awards in three parts over the next three days. (See previous Awards – 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013)
These aren’t your typical awards. I do have some traditional awards, but unlike the Emmys, I seek out moments that resonate in some way, whether it be ones that made me cry, made me think or just shocked me to the core. As always, these are based solely on the shows I personally watch, so if you saw a moment you think should have been included, feel free to pitch your greatest moments in the comments.
We start, of course, with some of the more traditional awards, including Best New Series, Best New Character and Best Ensemble. Onward to the Awards
Best Cross-Over: Supergirl/TheFlash/Arrow/Legends of Tomorrow
Now this is how a crossover is done. Taking the kernel of an idea, Greg Berlanti and his team developed a four-hour (well, technically three-hour) mega-episode that gave us some incredible new team-ups and fresh interactions between characters that may never talk to one another again. Though the episode of Supergirl can’t really be considered a part of the crossover (since the part that included Barry and Cisco arriving on Earth 38(!) was only part of the last two minutes, and then repeated in The Flash), the other three episodes took the crossover idea to new heights, doing its best to include everyone while building on the mythologies of each individual show. Though it could be argued that the episode of Arrow diverged a little too far out of the crossover aspect, taking too much time inside the “fake” world and not enough time showing the team attempting to get them back, The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow shined bright with action, intrigue and enough comic relief to leave you in stitches. With Cisco providing Kara a way to jump back to Earth 1 whenever she needs to, and each major character having gone through some transformation by the end of the event, we could already see what the repercussions of this major battle would take on each series moving forward, setting up not only future major crossover events, but mini one’s as well.
This season’s most noticeable trend: Movie to TV Adaptations
Television adaptations of movies is hardly a new concept. But over the last few years, it seems to have grown into a normal form of inspiration, one that will churn out half a dozen new shows based on movies every year. And just like any idea, for every adaptation that builds upon its source material in a terrific way (12 Monkeys, Bates Motel), there’s one that fails to come even close to living up to its predecessor (Rush Hour, Minority Report). Unfortunately, the trend doesn’t seem to be slowing down, what with there being around 35 adaptations currently in the pipeline, even though the statistics continue to hold true. Four new movie adaptations hit the small screen this fall and all three were executed with just the right amount of flair. Lethal Weapon was the leader of the pack, doing what Rush Hour couldn’t — teaming two great actors to build on the mythology set up by Shane Black. It doesn’t try to be the movie; it just borrows the best ideas and runs with them in a funnest, most emotional way it can. Frequency also took this route, using the first half of the film to set up the show, then diverting quite well into it’s own must-see mystery. The Exorcist was at first an adaptation in name only… until they revealed that Geena Davis’s character was actually Regan from the original film, which only added some great dimension to an already scary, riveting show. And on cable, Shooter showed its might by staying true to the essence of the film while providing some good action among the mystery and intrigue. Alas, on the other side of the spectrum we had Taken, a feeble attempt at giving us Brian Mills’s backstory; Training Day, where, aside from the late Bill Paxton, the acting was mediocre at best and the vibe was completely lacking in energy; Uncle Buck, which never found a stable voice; and The Mist, which yes, is also another adaptation of the Stephen King short story, but never manages to find any semblance of the claustrophobia of either the book or the much superior film.
Coming Into Her Own Award: Happy Quinn (Jadyn Wong), Scorpion
Three years ago, when Scorpion first premiered, I commented that Happy Quinn was the worst character of the new year. I’m happy to say that over the last season and a half, Jadyn Wong has finally won me over. The more the show has come into its own, the more each character has found their place on the team, and the chemistry between everyone has become so easy and relaxing. But more to the point, Happy’s story arc involving her false pregnancy, her fake marriage to Walter (Elyes Gabel), and her real marriage to Toby (Eddie Kaye Thomas), though somewhat contrived for drama’s sake, truly took Happy’s character in a new direction, one that helped her evolve into someone I could get behind.
Creepiest New Character: The Tooth Monster (Channel Zero: Candle Cove)
When he first appeared, I wasn’t sure what to make of the this thing. Then you realize the creature is made up of human teeth. And I thought the Candle Cove puppet show that mesmerized (hypnotized) the kids was the creepiest thing on this show. Nope. Then to find out this is how Mike’s (Paul Schneider) twin brother Eddie (Luca Villacis), who Mike killed when they were kids, is able to manifest himself in the real world until he can take over his brother’s body, the whole scenario is just one big weird and bizarre experience.
Characters in need of a spinoff: Castiel (Misha Collins) and Crowley (Mark Sheppard), Supernatural
Supernatural has tried to do the spin-off thing before without success (and will try again soon with their planned Jody Mills (Kim Rhodes) spinoff). One reason being, Supernatural stems from the chemistry between Sam and Dean Winchester (Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles), so without them, it’s hard to watch another generic Supernatural copy. However, if there was any characters that could be viably spun-off into their own show, it would be Castiel and Crowley. I know it was only a few short episodes, and the ramifications of the recent season finale would keep it from happening, but their team-up to search for Satan throughout this past season has turned out some of the funniest moments on the show. It would be a hoot to watch them become the new Sam and Dean, and because they are already established favorites in their own right, fans would no doubt tune in to see what crazy, scary and ultimately obnoxious cases they would take on. Heck, I like the idea so much, I made a poster.
Actor who’s better than the show: Barry Watson, Date My Dad
You know an actor is good when they leave a show and the quality sharply declines. For example, when Barry Watson left 7th Heaven, the show became so much soapier, it was immediately apparent he was the glue that help the saccharine in place. After battling — and beating — Hodgkin’s lymphoma, I’ve wanted him to make a great comeback in a show worth his talents. Alas, when Watson returned to television, he’s straddled with a show that’s so over the top and pathetically lazy that you can’t help but feel for him. Whenever he’s on screen, there’s a quiet energy and lightness about him and his surroundings; whenever he’s not, everything feels forced and hits with the thud of an anvil on Wyle E. Coyote. The overall writing and acting isn’t much better, cramming messages down our throats with labored performances and setting up situations even Lifetime wouldn’t touch. Barry Watson deserves so much more.
Best Halloween Episode: Last Man Standing
Holiday episodes can either come off extremely cheesy are become instant classics, especially on a sitcom. Usually, holiday episodes for a long-running show start to get tired (see Roseanne), as all of the best jokes are utilized early in the runs and the writers don’t quite seem to know where to go with them after a time. However, in its sixth season, Tim Allen and his team of writers came up with a Halloween idea that could have went horribly wrong, but was ended up being executed perfectly. As each member of the Baxter family dressed up as someone else in the family, it was clever to see each of the characters portray another in a cool meta sort of way, giving a fresh perspective on the characters while not overdoing the parody.
Most Surprising Death: Heather Pinkney (Jillian Murray), Code Black
Aside from The Walking Dead, most shows refrain from killing off their major characters unless their a sci-fi show where no character death matters because they always bring them back to life (and why Alice’s death, though surprising, isn’t at the top of the list). So it was very surprising to see one of the main doctors on Code Black succumb to a major outbreak at Angels Memorial. In a show like this, you tend to believe that any main character will be miraculously saved by a last minute realization of a cure. But Heather Pinkney became a major casualty when the virus took her before a cure could be found. Completely shocking, yet so in tune with the overall vibe of the show. RIP Dr. Pinkney. You will be missed.
Oddest threesome: Eliot (Hale Appleman), his Fillory wife (Brittany Curran) and a one-night stand, The Magicians
It may not sound odd on paper when Fillory’s newest high King, Eliot has a threesome with both his arranged wife and some new hookup he met when returning back to Breakbill’s. Here’s the rub: Eliot can’t physically leave Fillory now that he’s high king, so his fiendish friend, Margo (Summer Bishil) helps create a doppelgänger for Eliot that can travel back to the real world, one in which Eliot can control, but only when his other body is asleep. So, when he decides to hookup with some random guy at a party at his dorm in the real world, his Fillory wife decides to have some fun at the same time. As Eliot’s consciousness jumps back and forth between bodies, the man enjoys a threesome that the other two participants are unaware of. Yeah. That just happened.
And with that, we close out the 2016-2017 season. Come back next year for more chaotic television awards.