TV Superlatives: June, July, August – 2020

It’s that time again! We must discuss only the most prestigious of TV Awards: Favorite Sidekick, Best Revenge, Most Horrifying Fashion, Favorite Ship, and more!

A quick reminder for how these work: I will bestow whatever TV shows I’ve recently been watching with such awards, whether they’re currently airing or not. As always, any awards with spoilers will be very clearly marked. As a reference point, here are the shows I’ve been watching for the past few months:

Agents of SHIELD (Season 7)
Village Survival: The Eight (Season 2)
Star Trek (Season 2: Ep. 7-10)
Last Week Tonight With John Oliver (June 7th – August 30th)
13 Reasons Why (Season 4)
Floor is Lava
Mystic Pop-Up Bar
Dear White People (Season 1)
Unsolved Mysteries (2020)
Dark (Season 3)
The Baby-Sitters Club
I Remember You (Hello Monster)
It’s Okay to Not Be Okay
Chip-In
Love in the Moonlight (Moonlight Drawn by Clouds)
Lovecraft Country (Ep. 1 – 3)
Running Man (er, just a bunch of random episodes from multiple seasons)

(You may notice that some shows have two titles listed. K-dramas usually have at least two, and sometimes my brain flip-flops helplessly between both. I’m going to attempt some consistency throughout these superlatives, but I make absolutely no promises.)

Also, clearly, it’s just . . . it’s a lot of K-Dramas, folks. MY LIFE HAS BEEN TAKEN OVER BY K-DRAMAS AND VARIETY SHOWS, AND I’M OKAY WITH IT.

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“I Feel Strange Sharing A Childhood Story Considering I Was Never A Child.”

Somewhat recently, The Dark ran a successful Kickstarter campaign that not only secured funding for two more years, but also raised their pay rates from .03 to .06 cents a word, making them a pro-paying magazine. This is awesome news because The Dark is a fantastic magazine publishing awesome work you should definitely check out, but I’m mostly bringing it up now because I–with a lack of cool crafty skills or, honestly, much else to offer–once again volunteered a movie review or pop culture essay as one of the possible Kickstarter rewards. Alas, there really is only one person out there who has both the interest and the means to purchase these reviews.

And that person, once again, is Tom.

Tom, the fiend, spent a good twenty minutes gleefully telling me about all the movies he almost made me watch. Honestly, I was kinda hoping he’d land on Cannonball Run II, mostly because I’ve never seen the first one and I thought that could be pretty funny. Finally, however, he told it to me straight: of all the horrible films he could’ve chosen, Tom actually picked a movie he thought I would like and was shocked I hadn’t seen yet: Blade Runner 2049.

And I was grateful for that . . . until I saw the run time was 2 hours and 44 minutes long.

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World’s Worst Trekkie: Carlie Takes On “What Are Little Girls Made Of”

Apologies for the unexpected, month-long pause on TOS recaps. Dr. Ian Malcolm tells us that life finds a way, but sometimes life just gets in the way. Also, other TV: I’m behind on SO MUCH right now. I did finish watching Jessica Jones, Season 2 last week; unfortunately, I’m so upset with something they’ve done that I’m having a hard time focusing on the things I actually enjoyed about the season.

But we aren’t here to talk about Jessica Jones. We’re here to talk about Star Trek, specifically Captain Kirk, Nurse Chapel, and, as always, what it means to be human.

Oh, and killer robots, too.

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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+