My wrap-up of the 2014-15 television season

          Here's my take on the most recent television season. The shows I watched, and my thoughts on how they went and how they should go forward (if at all). While I try to avoid most spoilers, I purposely waited until well after most series ended so if any do slip in they should be old news. That said, you are forewarned so no complaining will be tolerated. Without further ado, let us journey on through the fictitious worlds that were...

          I'm just going to start at random here with the CW's Flash and Arrow. I'll handle these both at once since they're so closely connected, even crossing over to each other's show on multiple occasions. I know these are on CW, but can we keep the love-sick melodrama to a minimum? Arrow seems to have fallen into a rut of having Oliver do something that seems wrong, the rest of the team gets mad and loses trust in him, except for Felicity who literally turns her back to everyone else, begins to walk away, then stops to deliver a tearful heart-wrenching speech about how Oliver has earned their trust over and over and she can't give up on him that easy. Seriously, outside of cheesy soap operas this type of acting and dialog should not exist. Other than that the show is not terrible for a superhero show. I could up the fun and the action a bit, which is where Flash gets it right. Hopefully Flash doesn't hit a sophomore slump when they go more sci-fi and get a little more "comic book-y" with their storylines. I'll be keeping up with both shows for the foreseeable future.
          Let's stick with DC Comics and move on to Gotham, another great superhero show. I already wrote about this at mid-season, and not much has changed here. The biggest thing I hate about this show is that they age all of Batman's villains up so they can spar with Gordon, instead of being closer in age to Batman. There are some times when it gets a little unbelievable, more comic book logic than real word feel, but that's forgivable to a point. I wasn't a fan of how they handled Penguins rise to power in the finale, especially his "fight to the death" with Fish Mooney. I understand it's network tv, but they needed give her an on-screen death, instead of an implied death which she can return from in later seasons.
          My final DC Comics based show is Constantine. Which was a show full of untapped potential. The actors, especially Matt Ryan as the titular hero, were superb. They really fit their on-screen characters well, and made this world of magic seem real. You got the sense the writers realized there was no chance for renewal (it's already been dropped for next season), and kept grasping at straws to find an audience. They almost entirely ignored the season-long storyline in favor of a "monster of the week" show in a failed attempt to keep the show mythology light enough so as to attract new viewers mid-season. There is still hope, as another of NBC-Universal's channels can pick this up for another season and breathe new life into it. If this happens, I would hope SyFy grabs it before USA does. Either that, or NBC can drop the show entirely and let it move to a medium that better fits the source material, like HBO, Showtime, or even Hulu or Netflix.
          Constantine would most certainly work the same way as my next pick, Daredevil. Marvel's first of it's "street level heroes"exclusively on Netflix. Since they are on a subscription based service with no FCC restrictions, they were able to go a little more realistic with the violence. Most of it was simple punches and kicks, but they had weight behind them. No instant knock-out blows, but a grueling fight that saw it's combatants get tired, hurt, slower, bruise, and even bleed during it's time. The much talked about hallway fight at the end of the second episode and the final fight with Kingpin in the final episode are perfect examples, and are both my go-to scenes to relive this entire series. The fact the entire season was released all at once really helped, as the dark and gritty tone would have felt drawn out and more depressing had it been given a normal 3-4 month run once a week on tv. Instead, the story flows as one giant movie broken up into samples that can be easily seen, examined, and rewatched at the viewers leisure.
          Next let's move to Marvel's network shows, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (abbreviated as AoS from here on out) and Agent Carter. AoS definitely picked up from their first season. As a freshman series, it came out of the box strong, then faded, then went on life support, and was almost worth giving up on (sadly most people did) before picking back up and ending strong. This time the season-long arc of introducing the yet-to-be-named Inhumans into the Marvel Cinematic Universe really helped the show maintain a level of excitement. They had a good mid-season cliffhanger helped too, which allowed room on the network for the Agent Carter mini-series. For everyone that complained females didn't get the spotlight enough in comic based movies and television should have been silenced by this show. Peggy Carter was smart, funny, strong, and more than capable of going toe-to-toe physically and verbally with all the male characters she met. She fought sexism with her coworkers while facing off against the villains in a way that didn't beat you over the head of pro-feminism, instead just a believable storyline. However, it was Jarvis' live-action MCU debut that stole nearly every scene he was in. I'm glad this was picked up for another season. The biggest problem both these shows has is making it exciting each week, while co-existing with the storylines of each movie and each other show while not directly crossing paths, or tripping each other up. As I said I loved introducing the Inhumans, but doing it four years before they are given their own movie creates certain roadblocks the writers must face. Which makes the comic-book geek in me, that knows somewhat how these stories unfold in the big picture already, curious to see how it all plays out.
          Ok, let's end this drama section with the sophomore run of one of my favorite sci-fi series, Sleepy Hollow. Sleepy Hollow is Fox's latest paranormal/sci-fi show that began with the legendary X-Files (set to make a limited return to the small screen that I can not wait for), and was followed by Fringe (which started with three terrific seasons, before losing its voice in order to end this universe with the foreseeable cancellation at the end of season 5). Sleepy hollow is a terrific blend of American history, witchcraft, and religious inspired apocalyptic doom. Each of these themes is bent to fit into the show's own mythology, so as long as you're not a stickler for authenticity and historical accuracy, you can enjoy the ride. The writers and actors also, in my opinion, do a good job of avoiding the trap of giving modern-day political views to the living voice of the founding fathers. While they may tend to lean towards the liberal views, they don't ram it down your throat or make it so finger-pointing harsh that it turns off even the furthest right-wing viewer. A great example of this was Ichabod Crane asking his detective partner if "that is now acceptable", before motioning towards two men that are obviously together inside a coffee shop. Detective Mills begins to quote the supreme court about gay rights, before Ichabod cuts her off stating he was referring to the fact that one of the men was wearing a hat indoors, and that he knows of the freedom to make one's own life choices.
          I would be remiss if I didn't mention the brilliance of some of the most unique and well-written shows from across the pond. I have, in the past few years, become a big fan of BBC America, and if you're not one of those that complain about shows done in different accents and within a different culture, I'm sure you are too. Of course you don't know true agony until you've been forced to wait, not knowing when the next season of Doctor Who or Sherlock will begin. But once those shows do start, you'll instantly be captivated by the complex storytelling that American shows are desperately lacking. Seasons that require you to not just pay attention, but to have laser-like focus on even the smallest details, as they build to the biggest climaxes come the all-too-soon season end. Broadchurch is another great BBC show, that unfortunately hit a sophomore slump of sorts. While the first season was great character driven piece about the effects of a child's murder on the entire close-knit community, the second season tended to lean more towards overly dramatic storylines that could never happen in real life. Still riveting, but if that trend continues this may be the first show that falls off my must-see list. The American remake Gracepoint was a decent retelling, with a twist to the ending to make it different and exciting enough to warrant viewing, but the other 99% of it was almost a scene-for-scene retelling that somehow got lost in translation.
          Let's move on to comedies, shall we? After all, a life without laughter is hardly a life worth living. Again let's start completely random, so let's go with Brooklyn Nine-Nine. The Andy Samberg vehicle is a fun ride of eclectic characters set inside a police precinct that includes smart dialogue driven humor, spiced up with absurd cut-aways and classic personality clashing sitcom gold. I'm not sure if the characters were altered to fit the actors, or if the actors were chosen to fit the character, but either way each one is matched to near perfection. This is a light-hearted comedy with some good dramatic beats peppered throughout the series that I hope lasts for as long as they can keep it up.
          Another Fox comedy that hits all the right notes is Will Forte's Last Man on Earth. What started out to be an single player dramedy, ended as an ensemble piece of post-apocalyptic survivors being forced to get along and make a community with the shallow, dim-witted, and egotistical titular character. This could very easily become a one-note show of Forte's Phil screwing up beyond belief, but then saying or doing something to redeem himself just enough to avoid being totally hated. Ok, that exactly what this show is, but whether it's the actors, the setting, or both; something about it just feels fresh and keeps it from feeling monotonous. Especially with the season ending with Phil finally hitting that point-of-no-return, becoming so obnoxious he is irredeemable and cast out of the community he started. Season two is already shaping up to follow the same format, but it's that X factor of appearing fresh and original that makes me want to revisit this show come fall.
          The Goldbergs is a must see for anyone that grew up during the 80's. It's culture-shock, did we really do that, theater that perfectly blends in the period-piece humor with characters that could work in almost any time. Of course this show hits me in the nostalgia feels as the lead character, youngest Goldberg Adam, is a lovable loser that geeks out about all the same stuff I did when I was that age. Turn this on for the Transformer and Ghostbuster references, but then find yourself coming back every week to see what this family is up to this week, and the life lessons that are timeless. Also watch for older brother Barry, who steals every scene he is in.
          I'll conclude this television season with the musical comedy mini-series Galavant. Set in medieval times of knights and kings, this tale of a washed-up hero seeking redemption and revenge is an act of comedic genius. The songs are catchy and help to push the comedy along when a simple dialogue exchange would feel cumbersome or boring. ABC was wise to run all eight episodes in four consecutive weeks, airing two episodes every Sunday for a month, as drawing it out longer may have caused the audience to lose interest and abandon it. This show will work well for those seeking a binge-worthy show that can be viewed over a weekend, or a single day if you're up for it. Hopefully ABC realizes this, and sticks to a similar format for the upcoming second season.
         To wrap this up, it looks like each of these shows are still good enough to warrant me sticking with them for another season. Hopefully the #SaveConstantine movement prevails and all these shows live to see another season. I just hope I have room on my plate for the new upcoming shows debuting in the 2015-16 season. So far the X-Files reboot is far and above at the top of my list, while Jessica Jones, Supergirl, and Legends of Tomorrow are also stand-outs in my eyes. I've been binging past seasons of Supernatural, so if I'm caught up I may add that to my weekly watching habits as well. I look forward to doing this again next year, and have hopefully persuaded you to take up a new show in this list to talk about with me more when the time comes.

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