The 2016-2017 TV Superlatives

Okay, people! It’s that time again: I present the 2016-2017 TV Superlatives!

Rules are basically the same as they were last year. To be eligible for these super duper prestigious awards, a show must have begun its season sometime between June 1st, 2016 and June 1st, 2017. This means that shows like Killjoys and Dark Matter aren’t eligible for their current seasons, but are eligible for seasons that aired last summer. Meanwhile, Voltron: Legendary Defender managed to sneak in both its first and second seasons, while shows that would normally be eligible, like Game of Thrones and Orphan Black, won’t show up here today because they both postponed their premiere dates. And because my fiendish buddy Alyc got me into kdramas, I’ll also be including any Korean shows I watched that originally aired within that June-to-June timeframe. (So far as I can tell, it only includes a couple. Most of the shows I’ve checked out so far aired in 2015 or earlier.)

With that all settled, let’s get started.

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Coming Soon-Ish: Okja, Star Trek, Superheroes, And Lady Wrestlers

Star Trek: Discovery

I’m gonna watch this cause, like, Star Trek, but I’m only so-so on the trailer and it’s probably gonna need to hook me fast. Cause this CBS All Access crap? Bullshit.

Initial random thoughts:

A. Great to watch awesome ladies Sonequa Martin-Green and Michelle Yeoh share the screen.

B. Wish I had some measure of assurance that Michelle Yeoh is going to make it past the first episode, considering her ship isn’t the titular Discovery and it looks like something bad is about to go down. (IMDb has her listed for 13 episodes, but . . . IDK. I still worry. If she makes it past the pilot, then I guess I can graduate to concern about her surviving the first season . . . assuming the show does well enough to have a second season, which I think is a big if at this point.)

C. I’m totally cool with James Frain as Sarek.

D. I’m interested in our MC’s backstory. Is she a human raised on Vulcan? She seems to have rounded ears, so I’m assuming she isn’t half-human and half-Vulcan, although introducing more genetic diversity into the universe wouldn’t be the worst idea ever.

E. Still kind of bummed this is a TOS prequel.

F. Still deeply not okay with how we’ve changed the Klingons AGAIN. How do they keep looking worse? (TNG Klingons for life!)

G. Happy to see Doug Jones appears, as always, to be playing the weirdest and most ominous character in the show. Love you, Doug Jones.

The Orville

Can’t discuss Star Trek without discussing our new Star Trek spoof, The Orville.

I could give this a try. I’m not sold on this being the next Galaxy Quest or anything, but parts of it did make me laugh. Like the crew listening in on the captain and his ex-wife XO (Bobbie!) arguing, and acknowledging, oh, this is gonna be a fun trip. That whole part was great. Also, the anti-banana ray bit. Other jokes fall pretty flat for me, though, so my interest is there . . . but mild.

Okja

I’ve been interested in this one for months, so I’m excited to finally see a full-length trailer for it. The story presented thus far is only so-so for me, but I like the look of the trailer, I’m interested in seeing more of Bong Joon-ho’s work (I swear, I SWEAR, I will finally watch The Host this year), and oh my God, the cast is amazing: Tilda Swinton, Steven Yeun, Paul Dano, Giancarlo Esposito, Jake Gyllenhaal, Shirley Henderson, Devon Bostick, and Choi Woo-sik, who I just watched in Train to Busan. (Although, not gonna lie: I’d probably just watch this for Steven Yeun alone.)

GLOW

OOOH. This looks FUN.

Like Okja, I’ve been interested in this one for months, ever since looking up what Betty Gilpin was up to and finding out she, Alison Brie, and Ellen Wong were all going to be in a show together, like, YES, these are all ladies I’ve hoped to see more from. (Maybe especially Wong, who sadly doesn’t really feature in this trailer, but who I adored in Scott Pilgrim and haven’t seen much of since, with the exception of her guest-starring in Dark Matter.)

But it’s not just the cast. This show looks funny and feminist as hell. I love the bit about the man’s part versus the woman’s part (it’s funny because it’s true). Also: the alpha/omega/submit joke, the blood/tits/storytelling joke, and the ‘you mean stereotype’/’exactly!’ joke. Plus, just some of the ridiculous costumes: sexy lady astronaut, anyone?

This is the extremely rare non-speculative and/or non-mystery show that I’m actually geared up for. I definitely plan to check this one out.

Dark Matter

Speaking of Dark Matter.

I was pretty lukewarm on this show during the first season (although it did pick up towards the end), but I really enjoyed the hell out of second season, and now that we’re back for a third? Baby, I’m there. This trailer doesn’t tell you too much, other than Ryo has become our new villain. Curious to see if he’ll stay that way; he did betray the team, although not quite to the extent that they believe. Doubt Ellen Wong is going to make it, but happy to see that she’s coming back too.

Looks like I’ll be marathoning this on Netflix to remind myself of everything that happened. And to watch every Android scene possible cause let’s be real: we’re ALL here for the Android, right? She’s the best.

The Gifted

I’m . . . sort of interested in this? Like, I kinda like that it centers on a family, specifically a brother and sister. Mom is the most interesting, of course, because she’s played by Amy Acker. Bill from True Blood is fine, too. But there’s nothing about it that’s exactly drawing me in, either. Perhaps even I’m getting a bit worn out on new superhero shows, or at least ones that aren’t doing anything fantastically different. This is kinda different, but . . . I don’t know. I might try it, but if I do, it’ll probably be mostly for Amy Acker.

Black Lightning

Speaking of superhero shows.

I’m actually a little more interested in this one, despite the very CW voiceover that I’m hoping will go away after the pilot. CW superhero shows generally skew young, so having a middle-aged family man and high school principal as a superhero is kind of a bold move for them. Also nice to see what looks to be almost entirely a black cast. I am disappointed, though, to hear that Black Lightning won’t be a part of the CW superhero multiverse, like, that just feels like a missed opportunity to me.

I’m not sold, but I’m sure I’ll check this one out for at least a few episodes.

The Crossing

Meh. I might try this. The shot of all the bodies in the water is great, like, that’s just a fantastically haunting, creepy image. And this could be an interesting way to tell a story about refugees and the serious problems with our established immigration system . . . but for some reason, my hopes aren’t high. Obviously, I like me a good speculative element, but the whole ‘time travel into the past to escape the war that’s coming’ thing isn’t quite working for me, maybe because it seems like a pretty short-sighted plan for time travelers, or maybe just because as much as I like trying them, most time travel stories don’t end up working for me.

If I hear good things, I might give this a whirl, but as is, I’m not that interested.

The Good Doctor

Although. I would watch The Crossing 24 billion times over before I watched this show. No. So much no.

This is one of those shows that looks like it’s going for inspirational (admittedly, not really my bag) and is landing somewhere around offensive instead. And let me be clear: I am absolutely not an expert on autism, and I welcome the comments of anyone who knows more on the subject than me, but . . . we seem to have problems here. Briefly putting aside that this is yet another show about A Super Special Dude With Poor Social Skills Who Sees Things No One Else Sees, and even putting aside that this show appears to be portraying autism in the Standard Hollywood Way (savant, speaks in a stilted, almost robotic manner, etc.) . . .  what I mostly take from this trailer is that people on the autism spectrum aren’t capable of being surgeons, and the only reason that this guy can is because he’s a savant, like, no one else on the spectrum could possibly do it. Which, like, no. Pretty sure that’s not the case.

To be clear, a show about the difficulties that people on the autism spectrum face, specifically in regards to workplace discrimination, would be totally fine. I think that maybe that’s what this show is trying to be, but based on the trailer, I don’t think that’s what it is. There are a lot of solid actors in this–Freddie Highmore, Richard Schiff, Antonia Thomas, Nicholas Gonzalez, Tamlyn Tomita–but not one of them would make me give this a shot. No, Richard Schiff, not even you.

American Assassin

Man. I want to be interested in a movie where Dylan O’Brien is playing both a grown-up and a badass, but . . . oh God, not this.

Generic ass title? Check. Refrigerated girlfriend? Check. Angst beard? Double check. Islamophobia? Probably. I’m torn on Michael Keaton’s character: he could be a mentor that dies, but I’m kind of getting a diabolic double agent twist or something from him? I don’t know, maybe not. I’m pretty sure I’m not going to watch this movie to find out, either. I’ll just be here, re-watching the episodes of Teen Wolf that make me happy, like, mostly ones prior to 6A. Sigh.

Finally . . . Blade Runner 2049

I kind of need to watch the original Blade Runner again. It’s been years since I’ve seen it, and I feel like I missed half of what was going on anyway, since I had to keep the volume real low (I was trying not to wake somebody up).

The look of this sequel is pretty great: dark, gorgeous, uber cinematic. But because I don’t have much feeling about the original film one way or another, my interest in this is only mild. At this point, I figure I’ll probably watch it eventually, but I doubt I’ll see it in theater unless somebody I know really wants to go.

“Now, That’s A Proper Introduction.”

I’ve been excited about Arrival for months and had hoped to see the movie shortly after it premiered, but plans, being plans, naturally fell through. So Mekaela and I decided to watch it on Thanksgiving instead because, you know. First contact, and all that jazz.

I liked Arrival–it’s well-crafted and interesting–but, being the disappointment to the SF/F community that I so often am, I can’t quite say that I loved it like everyone else seems to.

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Season Premiere Round-Up: September 30th-October 16th

So, I mentioned I was behind, right? (Man, I haven’t even watched Elementary yet. I’m sorry, Lucy Liu and JLM–I forgot you moved to Sundays and have now missed multiple episodes.) Well, here’s what I’ve got for you now: the entire CW superhero lineup and one show that has nothing to do with superheroes at all.

DISCLAIMER: Spoilers for each season premiere I discuss, and anything up to that point in the show.

Westworld

westworld

So, this was a really intriguing start. The ideas are interesting, the scenery is gorgeous, and the music is on point. (Seriously, I’m all about that “Paint it Black” cover.) I figured I’d like this show going in, considering it’s Jonathan Nolan continuing to tackle AI, robotics, and morality (plus, cowboys!), but this might have been even better than I expected.  There are so many small heartbreaking moments. I loved the early reveal of the James Marsden twist. (I’m waiting to see if there will be another bigger twist, like, one of the scientists is actually a robot or something.) The mystery of Ed Harris is intriguing. I’m interested in Thandie Newton’s character. And just everything in general is so well framed (the fly, for example).

My only real critique at this point is that, thus far, there are way more naked women than men in this show. I mean, this is HBO, so I obviously expected that, but come on, guys, that robot shop is like tits, tits everywhere. You get the occasional dude butt, sure, but not all that many, and absolutely zero penises that I recall. It would be neat if this network could work a little on that whole ‘gender equality when it comes to gratuitous nudity’ thing. (I’m not exactly holding my breath here.)

TENTATIVE GRADE: A

Legends of Tomorrow

legends

Holy shit. That was actually fun.

I waffled for a long time if I was even going to bother checking out Legends of Tomorrow’s second season premiere, and if I didn’t watch literally every other show in the CW superhero multiverse, I wouldn’t have, not after how badly the first season failed. But I decided to give the premiere a chance, and if I liked it enough, I’d try to stick with it; if not, I was dumping that shit and just figuring out the other shows without it. I was pretty sure the latter was going to win out.

But guys, that premiere was so much better than last season. For starters, Hawkman, Hawkgirl, and Vandal Savage are OUT, and that is already, like, a 25% boost in quality. Opening with New Guy Nate Heywood, Oliver Queen, and the mystery of what happened to the Legends was a surprising amount of fun: Oliver is always so much more enjoyable on everybody else’s shows than his own, and getting the team back together was pretty amusing. (Although I think Ray got the short end of the stick there, considering he had to deal with DINOSAURS. Is it possible that Rip doesn’t actually like Ray all that much? Legends actually capitalized on some of the more fun aspects of time travel, which it failed to do in the past, and I’m extremely excited about a villainous team-up between Reverse Flash and Damien Darhk, some of the best bad guys from The Flash and Arrow, respectively.

I would really like to see another woman on this team besides Sara (much as I love Sara, who’s pretty great) and I’m surprisingly disappointed about the disappearance of Rip Hunter (though that has way more to do with the actor, as the character himself has never been terribly interesting). Still, this was a pretty solid start to the show, and I’m definitely going to check out more. Though in some future episode, maybe they could crossover to The Flash and smack Barry around for all his history-breaking time travel shit, too? (Though, I mean, perspective. I suppose he didn’t nuke New York or anything. Still, we can all agree, right, that Barry has the WORST plans?)

TENTATIVE GRADE: A-

The Flash

flash

I like The Flash, but I’ve got to be honest: after the second season finale, I wasn’t exactly eager to pick up this show again, either. I mean, I was gonna; unlike Legends, I never seriously considered dropping it . . . but it was also very hard to make myself sit down and watch it when I haven’t even had the time to finish Luke Cage yet.

But the premiere was okay. Better than I was expecting, anyway; I was happy that the show jumped forward and Barry wasn’t totally bumbling around in this new timeline he’d created. And I’m definitely happy we aren’t in this timeline all season, like, I’m way more interested in a mostly-same timeline with a few minor but important changes. (I’ve since watched the second episode as well, so I know what some of those changes are now, but after viewing the pilot all I really cared about was: a) Cisco better still have powers, and b) Harry better be back, and he and Cisco must maintain their awesome dynamic of awesomeness.)

I don’t have a whole lot to say about this premiere, since most of what happened doesn’t exactly exist anymore, but here’s what I did jot down while watching:

A) Joe isn’t at work, and Iris doesn’t like him? Oh, I bet Joe has turned into an alcoholic. (She shoots, she scores.)

B) Best line deliveries:

Barry: “Might as well be.”

Joe: “I have a hangover. And a gun.”

Barry: “Kay, so, I can tell from the ‘I don’t believe you’ look on your faces that you don’t believe me.”

Cisco: “My money needs me.”

Cisco: “You just kidnapped this woman.”

C. When Iris asks herself why she accepted a date from Barry, Mek says, “Forced chemistry.” Mek is correct.

D. Seriously, I would PAY MONEY for this show to quit it with the Inspirational Speeches. Not all inspirational speeches, of course, just the ones where Barry can’t figure out how to beat a bad guy or defeat a problem or anything in the last fifteen minutes of the show, but thankfully there’s someone there to tell him that he CAN, that they believe in him, and all of a sudden Barry has a Proper Hero’s Motivation. I’m. So. DONE. I know it’s thematic and all, but at a certain point, it’s also just bad writing. And in case you were wondering, we have long since past that point.

TENTATIVE GRADE: B

Supergirl

supergirl

For the most part, this was pretty fun. It’s so hilarious to watch Derek Hale as Superman. He’s not doing a bad job by any means, it’s just like . . . sourwolf, why are you smiling so much? It’s weird!

What I liked: Katie McGrath. The new DEO. Oh, neat, they’re bringing in Metallo! And Brenda Strong is working at Cadmus? Excellent.

What I didn’t like: the whole thing about Cat Grant having an infatuation with Clark Kent . .  . I really had problems with how that was handled. Like, Clark’s whole “sway” thing came across super creepy to me when I realized that what he meant by “I have sway” was “dude, this lady, like, totally digs me, and let me bask in my power over her, cause I can use that shit to get whatever I want.” Especially when Jimmy brings up the whole drunk text thing, like, that just made me hella uneasy. For the most part Clark’s portrayed here is all wholesome and charming–you know, the way Superman really ought to be portrayed–but in this scene he came off as arrogant and kind of skeevy, and I really wasn’t okay with that.

What I haven’t made up mind on: the breakup of Kara and Jimmy. On one hand, I didn’t think they had the slightest bit of chemistry and am totally okay not watching them be yet another boring TV couple. OTOH, they kind of spent all last season building up to this, and even though I didn’t ship Kara/Jimmy, like, at all, I feel a little weird about just summarily tossing a big storyline like that out the window.

What I feel about kryptonite: uh, sorry, Superman, but yeah, the DEO keeps that shit. Supergirl’s already gone evil once. It wasn’t her fault, but that wouldn’t have mattered if she slaughtered a bunch of people, right? After all, you can use kryptonite in a non-lethal manner, and seriously, you don’t just toss out your one and only weapon against superpowers. Unless we’re also telling the DEO to get rid of all their guns because the top brass might order them to shoot a bunch of innocent people.

TENTATIVE GRADE: B

Arrow

arrow

Sigh.

Okay, so this wasn’t terrible. There are still good moments here. I genuinely enjoy the back and forth between Oliver and Felicity (and Curtis, too, who is always excellent), and the flashbacks are at least more interesting, so far, than they were last year. Also, Chad Coleman doesn’t seem like a bad villain so far. (We’ll see about Mr. Mystery Archer.) And have they upped their game in fight scenes? The fight scenes seemed pretty awesome.

At the same time, though, I feel like we’re continuing a backslide that we’ve already backslid before, and I just don’t care. Green Arrow is killing people again! Yawn. Been there, done that, got the bloody T-shirt. Why is it so hard to have a stance somewhere between ALL KILLING IS WRONG ALL THE TIME NO MATTER THE CONSEQUENCE  and I MUST KILL EVERYONE EVER TO BE THE HERO THIS CITY NEEDS. Call me morally gray if you want; I’m pretty sure there’s a middle ground in there. Felicity has a new love interest that isn’t Oliver. Yawn. Diggle’s away in the army. Yawn. Quentin is drinking again and he’s broken up with Donna Smoak. Yawn, and WHAT DID I JUST SAY ABOUT SUMMARILY DISMISSING WHOLE STORYLINES, BERLANTI? Thea has found Inner Peace, or something, so she’s reluctant to put on a suit and save her brother’s life. Less Yawn than WTF: look, Oliver has his faults, totally, but if he had seen Thea getting kidnapped while he was in Retired Domesticity Mode, I don’t believe for a second that he would have hesitated on rescuing her just because he didn’t do that kind of thing anymore.

Also, the statue is a nice idea–and I do like that the show hasn’t forgotten about Laurel, and what she meant to our heroes–but the statue itself is . . . pretty bad, right? I mean, I couldn’t take it seriously at all. I hope that’s not the statue they make when I die heroically as a superhero.

Right now, I’m keeping up with the show, but unless it improves, I’m not sure how many more seasons I’ve got in me . . . because right now I’m watching this for the same reasons I gave Legends of Tomorrow a try–and Legends didn’t waste their second chance (at least, not yet). I’m not feeling particularly strong about Arrow pulling off a similar comeback.

TENTATIVE GRADE: C+

Coming Soon-Ish: Aliens, Mathematicians, and Luke Cage

Arrival

So, this one’s based off a Ted Chiang story that I have not yet read (obviously, I need to), and I’m pretty interested. I find linguistics in SF pretty fascinating, and I’m excited about a movie that’s primarily focused on the communication aspect of First Contact. Also, it’s nice to find a movie with such an all-star, Academy Awards-type cast (Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker, etc.) that I’m actually curious about.

I could potentially drag myself to the theater to see this one. You know, depending on life and whatnot.

Hidden Figures

Normally, inspirational, real life, biopic crap is totally not my thing. This, however, might be the exception.

When the trailer says that Hidden Figures is a true, untold story, my immediate reaction isn’t to roll my eyes and yawn like normal; it’s to think, “Holy shit, you’re right, I don’t know anything about these awesome black lady mathematicians getting their crazy calculus shit on at NASA.” (No, I don’t have any idea what branch of mathematics it actually is.) It is, for once, a true story I’m actually interested in learning.

Plus, holy shit, this cast. I’m just going to keep typing names off the IMDb page until I finally come across one I don’t know: Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe, Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst, Jim Parsons, Mahershala Ali, and Aldis Hodge. I mean, damn.

Same Kind of Different As Me

Just to be clear? This is exactly the kind of trailer I was talking about before, only instead of merely rolling my eyes and yawning, I also gagged a bit, and then tried to guess what number it would land on in a Top 10 Movies The Devil Will Subject Me to in Hell list.

Zoom

Er. I have no idea what the hell is going on in this movie, but I’m interested.

I like Alison Pill a lot, and this looks totally nuts. Funny, possibly confusing, with a healthy side of total WTF. At any rate, it’s a great antidote to that schmaltzy “I’m white, and I’m helping this strange yet profound homeless black man, and did I mention that he’s homeless, wow, I’m great for being such a thoughtful, considerate person” trailer. (Was that grammatically accurate? I have a sneaking suspicion that wasn’t grammatically accurate. I care not.)

Atlanta

This looks . . . interesting. It’s hard to get a good sense of the show, obviously; all I’m really going off of is a single interview I read, and this minute-long teaser trailer. Still, I’m just curious enough to (probably) check it out.

I can’t pretend the actual synopsis does anything for me (I’m struggling to think of a movie or TV show centered around the life of an up-and-coming musician that I even remotely cared about), but this show seems like it’s going to go tonally weird, darkly comic, and uncomfortable places. And I like Donald Glover a whole hell of a lot, so it’s at least worth checking out the first episode.

Finally . . . Luke Cage

Okay, I know this trailer has been out for a week now, but I forgot that it was up, so I actually just saw it. I was already pretty pumped from the teaser trailer alone; now, I can’t wait until September 30th. I liked Luke Cage well enough in Jessica Jones, but I’m way more interested in him starring in his own show, and hey, it’s Mahershala Ali again! AND ROSARIO.

Count me in, folks. I’m ready.

“Is That Classical?”

Plenty of Trekkies despise NuTrek Abramsverse the Kelvin Timeline, but–as I’m sure I’ve mentioned before–I’m really not one of them. I’m a completely unabashed fan of the 2009 Star Trek, and while I think Into Darkness has some deeply frustrating problems, I don’t think it’s, like, THE DEATH OF STAR TREK or anything, either. Honestly, it’s not even my least favorite Trek film: out of Wrath, Search, Whales, God, Captain von Klingon, Bridge, Borg, Insurrection, Reboot, and Huge Dead Tribble, God is easily my least favorite–although it should be noted that I haven’t seen The Motion Picture or Nemesis yet, and I barely remember Bridge at all, much less Insurrection, which I KNOW I’ve seen but has obviously been so thoroughly erased from my brain that I couldn’t even come up with a clever 1-3 word nickname for it. (Meanwhile, Wrath would clearly be KHAAAAN!, while I’m thinking Search should either be Spock Lives! or maybe Star Trek: A Study in Negating Everything Interesting About The Previous Film in the Series. Or do you think that’s too long?)

I feel like I’ve digressed. The point is this: I can now add Star Trek Beyond to the list.

st beyond cover2

And how did I like Star Trek Beastie Boys? Well, I have some problems because, you know, me. Overall, though, I had a pretty decent time watching it in theater.

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“What Does God Need With A Starship?”

Okay, here’s the thing: when Star Trek Into Darkness came out, fans were pretty critical across the board. I do know a few people who liked it. I know more who thought it was pretty terrible, and others who consider it the worst Star Trek film of all time. And I had problems with Into Darkness myself, mostly because the script was lazy as shit, but for anyone who thinks it’s the absolute worst Trek movie in all existence . . . I’m sorry, but have you seen Star Trek V: The Final Frontier?

great barrier1

Because, as of last week, I have. And right now I’m calling winner for Worst Trek Film EVER.

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