Season Premiere Review Round Up – Numero Uno – 9/20-10/2

It’s that time of year again: Fall TV has begun. Normally, this is a pretty exciting time for me, but I’ve got to be honest: the shows I’m most looking forward to (Agent Carter, Person of Interest, Lucifer, Daredevil) all begin mid-season, like, January at the earliest. (And in Daredevil’s case, possibly much later.) Even the fall shows I’m most excited about (The Librarians, Jessica Jones, Elementary) don’t start till November. Still, I did watch a fair number of shows these past two weeks, some new, some returning, and some I thought I’d given up for good.

Here’s what I have for you so far — but fair warning: there are lots of SPOILERS here. If you haven’t watched the episode in question, you know. Go do that first.

Agents of SHIELD

porcupine!

Okay, this was pretty awesome.

Last season of Agents of SHIELD had some balance problems for me, mostly in the second half, and I remain fully annoyed by the turn in May’s character, which I never even remotely bought. “Laws of Nature,” though, was a great way to start the third season. I was invested in all of it — the rise of the Inhumans, the pitiful plight of Joey Gutierrez, Coulson adjusting to his new lack-of-hand, Coulson vs Rosalind on the train, Hunter’s commentary on basically anything, this new WTF Porcupine Big Bad, Fitz’s desperation to find Jemma, etc. Man, that scene at the end with Fitz screaming at the monolith? So, SO good. It still amuses me that my least favorite character in the beginning of this show has easily become my favorite now.

Other random thoughts:

A. I will inevitably slip up and call Daisy “Skye” at least once, but I will try not to do this.

B. I kind of forgot all about May — who I normally love — until the very end of the episode, when Coulson pointed out that she was MIA. Whoops. When she returns, I would really like to immediately move past that whole BS “betrayed by Coulson” thing and just get back to them being awesome. Also, I hear Blair Underwood’s coming back, which is great. You know who should also come back? Tsai Chin. She was only in this show for, like, four seconds, and she was spectacular.

C. I’m deeply glad that Bobbi and Hunter aren’t seriously on the outs already. Also, I couldn’t help but laugh at the throwaway line about Bobbi’s apparent biology degree that no one’s ever mentioned before. She comes in wearing that white lab coat, and I’m like, “Uh, sure?” (Yes, fellow nerds, I have since discovered that this is IC with the comics, but considering they’ve never brought it up even once on the show, it felt kind of hilariously OOC to me.)

D. So, that’s where Jemma went. Man. Ominous alien monoliths never take you anywhere fun anymore.

E. Finally, the WTF Porcupine Big Bad? I’m looking at it, thinking to myself, “Okay, what the shit is that?” But also thinking, “You know, that silhouette looks really familiar to me.” It took me about an hour to remember the monster guys from The Village. Heh.

FAVORITE PART:

Easy: Fitz taking a shotgun, blasting his way into the monolith, and screaming at it to do something. Seriously, so, SO GOOD.

TENTATIVE GRADE:

A-

The Daily Show with Trevor Noah

daily show

So, this was funny. I don’t know how much I have to say about it, really. Like most Americans, I knew very little about Trevor Noah before this, but he made me laugh pretty consistently here and I’m looking forward to watching more of the show. Whole thing seemed pretty solid.

FAVORITE PART:

Hm, hard to say. I enjoyed all of these:

“And it’s weird because Dad has left. And now it feels like the family has a new stepdad. And he’s black.”
“Nooo. Why leave now, I just got here?”
“And to you, the Daily Show viewer, both new and old, at home or on your phone, thank you for joining us as we continue the War on Bullshit.”

TENTATIVE GRADE:

A-

Gotham

gotham

I gave up Gotham sometime last year when I just couldn’t take its downward spiral anymore. I hadn’t planned to go back, but skimming through the recaps on io9 changed my mind because it really sounded like Gotham had decided to ditch their poor attempts at Serious Batman Show and fully embrace their balls-to-the-wall crazy. And I figured, Well, that could be entertaining, at least.

People. I was not wrong.

I giggled like a fiend while watching this, and not only that, I was giggling mostly when the show wanted me to. Like, at least 85% of the time. Barbara’s black-and-white striped Arkham Asylum dress? It is one of the best things I’ve ever seen. I kind of want to cosplay as Barbara Gordon now — and I named this woman as the Worst Female Character on Television last year. Possibly ever. Now that she’s evil, though? Fantastic.

I’ll admit, the whole story where Gordon loses his job and goes to Penguin to get it back? Eh, it didn’t do much for me, considering I thought Gordon already learned this lesson last year. On the other hand, the fact that Bruce is the one who talked him into compromising his morals for the greater good is sort of interesting — in a weird way — and holy shit, I did not expect Gordon to kill the dude. For someone to die, sure. But I didn’t actually think Gordon would do the deed himself, even in a kinda-sorta-self-defense way. This is, however, the rare instance where I’m actually hoping they won’t dwell too much on the emotional ramifications of this. I know that’s bad, but my favorite flavor of Jim Gordon — at least, as acted by Ben McKenzie — is cranky as hell, not super broody. It’s not that I don’t buy McKenzie’s broody, necessarily; I’m just not interested. Personally, I loved the scene where he took down Sword Wielding Crazy and brought him to the police station. I want more of that from Gordon.

Mostly, though, this episode cracked me up. I mean, pretty much everything about Bruce and Alfred blowing up Thomas Wayne’s Secret Door was great. For instance:

  • The level of pure condescension in Bruce’s voice when he argues that he too knows how to make a bomb because he “read a book.”
  • “Don’t you start talking French to me.”
  • “I’m building a bomb to blow that door down. You may assist me or not, as you wish, but if not, some tea would be nice.”
  • How happy Bruce and Alfred are when they successfully blow shit up.
  • Bruce apparently not thinking to try his own name as a combination on his father’s secret door. Oh, Little Bruce. You still have so much to learn about the human heart and, also, cliches.

Also on the Side of Awesome: James Frain (who, sadly, is not British here), an a cappella farewell to Commissioner Loeb, Bullock telling Gordon to slow down his drinking literally as he pours him another drink, “two A’s,” and Riddler’s split personality saying, “Dude. It’s a mirror. That’s how they work.” (Although I’m not quite sold on Riddler having a split personality yet. We’ll see.)

If the show can keep up this level of crazy . . . yeah, I could potentially get back into this.

FAVORITE PART:

ZOMG THAT DRESS.

TENTATIVE GRADE:

B+

Quantico

quantico

I kind of miss being hooked on a juicy night soap, especially one that’s a mystery, even though I don’t think I’ve ever made it through a whole series without inevitably giving up on it. (See: Scandal, Desperate Housewives, Grey’s Anatomy, The Vampire Diaries, etc.) I’ve been considering checking out How to Get Away With Murder, especially now that the first season is on Netflix, but in the meantime I decided to try out Quantico.

I sincerely doubt that I’m going to stick with Quantico until the bitter end, but as pilots go, this actually wasn’t a terrible one. There are some neat things, some annoying things, and some ridiculously silly things. I figure I’ll keep going with it until I hate virtually every character. I’m hoping that doesn’t happen in Season One, but will see. Likable characters wasn’t one of this pilot’s strong suits.

The Neat:

  • An Indian protagonist
  • Aunjanue Ellis, who I just adored on The Mentalist.
  • Josh Hopkins, who I adored on Cougar Town. (Though, sadly, he looks to be more annoying here, and I assume there will be significantly less guitar playing.)
  • The revelation that Ryan Booth is spying on Alex. (Because thank Christ – I rolled my eyes HARD when they just happened to be on a plane together.)
  • Alex liking casual sex, and not caring if anyone knows that she and Booth hooked up.
  • “Paradise Circus” by Massive Attack. I love that damn song.
  • Elder Eric killing himself, mostly because I called that shit from the second we saw him. Possibly that’s not fair because I did know he was a main player on Sense8. Still, who knows when that show’s even coming back? Hell with it. I TOTALLY called it.

The Annoying:

  • At this point, the only characters I actively like are Alex and Miranda Shaw. Nimah and her secret twin sister are okay, I guess. On the other hand, I’m not loving Booth or Ryan, and I already seriously dislike Shelby, Simon, and King Douchebag Caleb.
  • Of course King Douchebag Caleb appears to be out, but I didn’t buy that even before I looked him up on IMDb. (I wanted to see where I knew him from. The answer: Revolution. Oh no.)
  • For Christ’s sake. How hard is it to write a virgin character who’s not the most pathetic nerd in all of existence? I am tired of this.

The Ridiculously Silly:

  • Nimah’s twin sister. I actually called that, too, but I’ll admit — I was kind of hoping I’d be wrong. Even for a silly show that’s obviously going to have a lot of ludicrous twists . . . I don’t know, man. I worry.
  • I’m confused. Do any of these people have any kind of law enforcement experience in their pasts? Doesn’t that seem like a thing people would have before joining the FBI?
  • Pretty much everything about the dorms.
  • Sexy FBI swimming, apparently, is in our future.

Finally, everyone’s obviously taking bets on who the traitor is. I wonder if there might be two of them. Honestly, I don’t really trust anyone at this point, although I guess I’d be pretty surprised if it was Nimah or her twin. (Maybe one, but surely not both.) At the moment, I’m looking the closest at the blonde who lost her parents on 9/11, and — as much as I hope this isn’t the case — Aunjanue Ellis. Pathetic and Deeply Annoying Gay Virgin could be evil, but if that’s the case, he’ll either get a) even shrieker and more annoying, or b) far more intimidating before revealing he isn’t gay OR a virgin, especially that last one. Cause, you know. Heaven forbid.

FAVORITE MOMENT:

Honestly, I laughed pretty hard at Eric saying, “I’m assuming none of that applies to you?” Good zinger, Mormon dude. Too bad that guy’s dead now.

TENTATIVE GRADE:

B

Scream Queens

sq

So, this was . . . okay. I’ll probably continue watching it for now, though I’m not exactly in love with it yet. I am in love with Jamie Lee Curtis, though. Holy shit, she’s AMAZING. I’m tempted to say this is my favorite thing I’ve ever seen her in, and this was just a two-hour pilot. She was hysterical, and I can’t wait to see more of her.

On the other hand, while some of the jokes made me laugh, a lot of the humor felt forced. One of my problems with Ryan Murphy shows in general is that the jokes often feel like they’re trying way, WAY too hard for edgy. Sometimes, they worked for me. Often, they did not, like I’m thinking maybe a 30/70 success rate here, so. Not all that successful.

My other main problem with the show is that I’m not sure it knows what kind of comedy it wants to be. Some of it feels like it’s going for more of a Scream or You’re Next vibe, while other parts — like Ariana Grande going to Twitter while the serial killer is currently trying to murder her — feel like they could have been deleted scenes from broad parodies such as Scary Movie. And there’s nothing wrong with either kinds of comedy, but they don’t blend that well. The first kind is trying to be funny and scary; the second, not so much. You’re Next would never have been frightening if Erin had turned to the First to Die and shrieked, “Oh my GOD, why do you have an arrow in your head?!”

A few last notes:

A. The main girl, Grace (Skyler Samuels), is surprisingly okay so far. I’m kind of into the idea of her staying at the sorority as this, like, investigative reporter type, bent on making the kind of sorority she dreamed about. She’s a little funnier than I expected her to be, especially in some of the scenes with her new stalker boyfriend (Diego Boneta). I seriously hope stalker boyfriend bites it, though.

B. Zayday (Keke Palmer) is easily my second favorite character. I want her to live, even though the BS rules of the genre are very much against her.

C. I feel that I’ve somehow managed to grow an irrational dislike towards Emma Roberts. I’m trying to work on that because I honestly don’t know where it’s come from. I’ve found her work in the past somewhere between disappointing and adequate, but this feels like an overreaction to two meh performances. Still, she’s just okay to me here. It’s not that I don’t buy her in the role; I do. But there’s a way to do Queen B’s, like you’re kind of rooting for them despite yourself? (Leah Pipes in Sorority Row is a great example of this.) And I just feel like Emma Roberts isn’t quite there for me yet, like I buy her as this awful character, but that just makes me wish I spent less time with her. I am definitely not rooting for her. (On the other hand, I’m totally rooting for Asshole Popular Guy, Chad {Glen  Powell}. He’s actually kind of hilarious.)

D. Lea Michelle did not annoy me nearly as much as I thought she would. Considerably less enamored, though, with the Deaf Taylor Swift (now deceased) and the Candle Vlogger (unfortunately still here).

E. Finally, I thought Nick Jonas looked familiar, but I was probably wrong because I don’t know that I’ve ever actually seen Nick Jonas before this. I cringed at some moments with his character but other parts did make me laugh, and I liked the twist that he was still alive, although obviously we’ll have to wait to see how that unfolds.

FAVORITE PART:

Basically any time Jamie Lee Curtis was on screen.

TENTATIVE GRADE:

B

The Blacklist

blacklist

Meh. You’d think Red and Keen being on the run together would be a little more exciting, but honestly, I kept finding my attention drifting during this premiere. The only storyline that really interested me at all was Dembe’s, partially because I like Dembe, and partially because I was interested in this new baby-snatching villain, Darwin. (Okay, the guy’s name isn’t Darwin. I didn’t actually catch his name, but he’s played by Edi Gathegi, the actor who played Darwin in X-Men: First Class.)

Otherwise, eh. Keen running to the Russian Embassy at the end was kind of an interesting twist — and vastly more interesting than, say, running to Tom or turning herself in — but mostly I found her pretty boring in this ep. (And of course she looks just like her mother. Of course she does.) Meanwhile, I wasn’t remotely interested in Ressler’s angst/guilt/anger/whatever either, which saddens me, since I used to enjoy that kind of thing. And no one was in a car accident or kidnapped at all. Samar was in mortal peril for a second there, but no abductions or SUV flips.

I’m going to stick with it, for a while, but even taking Keen’s fantastic fugitive hair into consideration — I have the sinking feeling that this is the year I give up on The Blacklist.

FAVORITE PART:

When the adorable baby is adorably touching the face of a dude who’s calmly insinuating baby-murder. It’s so cute and so evil, all at the same time!

TENTATIVE GRADE:

C

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2 Responses to Season Premiere Review Round Up – Numero Uno – 9/20-10/2

  1. Teacups says:

    I thought my psychotic obsession with Jemma’s storyline would stop once we found out where she’d gone. Man, was I wrong. I’ve been enjoying the monolith/PTSD storyline a lot thus far, and it’s nice that they’re giving Elizabeth Henstridge a storyline she can really sink her teeth into. Any thoughts on why she wants to go back? I’m guessing that there was someone else there she wants to help – possibly even Trip.

    I am pretty disappointed that she was another planet instead of in another universe, though. My not-so-psychic TV dream was so close, yet so far.

    I’m not really looking forward to Bobbi and Hunter spinning off. I like them, but I’m worried their show might suck, and I think SHIELD would suffer with their loss. I could end up madly in love with Mockingbird & Brit Do Spy Stuff, but right now I’m dreading it a little.

    While it was nice meeting May’s dad and all, I was pretty annoyed by his whole storyline. At this point, most of the main characters on the show have suffered debilitating injuries and experiences at some point in their careers as SHIELD agents. Including May’s own traumatic experience in Bahrain.

    I mean, I love that the characters aren’t just able to come away from the constant life-and-death situations on the show unscathed (not if it’s the season finale, anyway) and that survival doesn’t mean there aren’t long-term or even permanent consequences. On most shows I’ve seen, characters either die very dramatically or they get away fairly scot-free, you know? No matter how badly they were injured, in an episode or two (if that) they’re generally alright again. They rarely seem to survive with a long-term disability – at least, not one which can’t be entirely fixed over the hiatus. So I’m glad to have Fitz’s brain injury and Coulson’s missing hand and Jemma’s PTSD (which could be done in a couple of episodes, but at the moment seems like it’s going to be a long-running thing) and even Bobbi’s knee.

    Uh, my long-belated point is that while I think this is great, you can’t then turn around and have a “Get back on the horse,” storyline like May’s. That saying only makes sense when the horse isn’t statistically likely to kill, cripple, or traumatise you. May’s dad might as well have been having that conversation with someone who had Jeremy Renner’s job in The Hurt Locker.

    Like, at least with Hunter going to her about Ward, or Skye trying to get Lincoln to come in for Joey, it was about needing their help, you know? It wasn’t categorically trying to deny them a normal life because that wasn’t “who they were,” or some shit. (Plus, I thought Hunter had a good point, that she can’t have a normal life anyway if she always has to be on the alert for Ward.)

    It looks Ward’s kinda turning into Garrett, and I gotta say – doing a supervillain version of the intergenerational cycle of violence (that is, the fact that abused kids are far more likely to become abusers themselves) sounds totally awesome.

    • Teacups says:

      Oh, and I forgot to mention this. You’re completely right about Bobbi’s biology degree, but it never even occurred to me until I read this post. Not because I’ve read the comics, but because my Tumblr has been going on about it since Bobbi showed up. (Mostly in the vein of shipping Bobbi/Jemma.) I’d long forgotten that the degree had never been mentioned on the actual show.

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