Watch List

by wjw on September 6, 2016

As you might have been able to tell from my last couple of posts, I’m getting a little grumpy about my entertainment options.

Just look at TV.  We are really in television’s golden age, with dozens of channels programming 24 hours per day, and an unprecedented number of high-quality series on networks or available for streaming.

Unfortunately I don’t have an unprecedented number of hours in which to watch all these series, so maybe a little culling is in order.  I’ve got a number of series just stacking up on the DVR, or sitting in my Netflix queue, so I thought I’d ask you for advice.

Mr Robot.  I was deeply impressed by Season One, but its cunning and subversive excellence didn’t make me crave a second season at all.  I’ve got quite an number of Season Two episodes recorded, but I’ve been hesitant to look at them.  I mean, the first series was so stunning, that I couldn’t see how it could go anywhere but downhill.  Am I wrong?

Daredevil.  I started watching the second season, but somehow lost interest.  Without Vincent d’Onofrio as Fisk, the series seemed to have lost much of its savor.  Ought I to finish it?

Killjoys.  Brainless but unpretentious space opera that bravely returns the subgenre to its roots as Westerns-in-space.  I didn’t love it, didn’t hate it, yet there it is on my DVR.  Is there an answer to the question, “Why bother?”

Queen of the South.  An American remake of a Mexican telenovela based on a novel by Arturo Perez-Reverte.  Kate del Castillo, the star of the Mexican version, inspired “El Chapo” Guzman to do, well, whatever the hell he did, including the famous meet with Sean Penn.  I’m a fan of Perez’s fiction, but while watching a female drug mule being disemboweled on the USA Network version, I decided maybe I’d better stick to the novel.  Was it the smart move?

Orphan Black.  Season Four started out strong, with the spooky-weird drug-delivering mechanical implant worms, but it seemed to be devolving into yet another series in which people chase clones around for no detectible reason.  ‘Long about Episode Four, I began to realize that what I really wanted was all these people to be in a sitcom together, and forget the silly conspiracies and chase-stuff.  Was I wrong?

Incidentally, I’m on the verge of finishing the second season of Amazon’s Boschbased on the works by Michael Connelly.  Which I liked, but I noticed it took them only till the second season to discover Williams’ Law of Genre, “the functional purpose of family in genre is so they can be kidnaped and held hostage.”

Mark Hughes September 6, 2016 at 1:39 am

I couldn’t get past S2E1 of Daredevil. The fight choreography went from occasional long shots (the peak being the corridor fight) to never, just jump-cutting a punch thrown and some foley noises.

Mr Robot’s Fight Club conceit was funny in S1, unbearable in S2. Not sure why.

Narcos: Often ignores historical people and events, but well-acted, savagely honest reenactment of Pablo Escobar’s rise and fall, and the DEA douchebags who hunt him. I’m halfway thru S2, and it often leaves me shocked, even though I followed the real events as best our terrible news media allowed.

Broadchurch: S1 is David Tennant being another terrible bastard, investigating a murder in backwater England. S2 is ridiculous court drama in silly wigs like Monty Python (I’m aware it’s “real”, I just don’t believe it), with a side story I couldn’t care about, so I didn’t make it far.

Privateiron September 6, 2016 at 4:41 am

I think Mr Robot is still worth it. I have not seen Orphan Black Season 4 yet.
Daredevil Season 2 comes in 3 parts, in my opinion. The first part is pretty good; the second part is not quite as good, but sill watchable; the third gets a bit too goofy.

The Americans was a bit off this year, except for the wonderful Copperfield episode. I still have not caught up on Season 2 of Fargo. Venture Brothers is always quality. I have not seen the most recent Archer.

I find the Strain compulsively watchable. It does what it does and that’s it, but it does it very well. Ash v Evil Dead was good, but not as great as expected. Jennifer Jones was well done, albeit mostly painful, but Mike Colter was amazing as Cage.

Dusk Til Dawn was a bit flat in Season 2. I second the Narcos recommend.

Privateiron September 6, 2016 at 4:45 am

Oh, and the second half of Season 2 for iZombie pays off extremely well. Don’t be fooled by slow mystery of the week start.

rushmc September 6, 2016 at 7:42 am

Re: Daredevil

Fisk comes back.

John Appel September 6, 2016 at 8:39 am

Killjoys remains enjoyable, unpretentious space opera with some surprisingly deep worldbuilding in season 2, but something was off in some of the character interactions. Those may have been a casualty of the extremely compressed schedule – each season is only 10 episodes – making some of the development seem rushed.

But the real gem of SciFi on Friday nights, IMHO, is Dark Matter. The writing is a couple notches above Killjoys, but it retains the unapologetic “We’re in this space opera universe with larger-than-life people” vibe.

Have you checked out AMC’s “Turn” about the Culper spy ring during the revolutionary war? I’m finding it quite enjoyable and occasionally gripping.

IronOre September 6, 2016 at 9:36 am

I second the recommendation of Dark Matter. I liked it better than Killjoys too. Of course, the best space opera coming from Syffy right now is The Expanse, but I imagine you already knew that.

Daredevil S2 is worth it. Though Daredevil’s story isn’t all that good, but I liked when the Punisher shows up. Jessica Jones is probably better than the second season of Daredevil, if you want to try something different.

Foxessa September 6, 2016 at 7:42 pm

Still love Orphan Black over here.

However, the best series I’ve run into outside that lately is another Canadian series, Murdoch Mysteries. 1 – 7 are streaming on Netflix. 8 and 9 are available on dvd. 10 is coming to CBC this fall. I’m over half way through season 7.

For just a bit about what I like re MM, here.

MM gets even more entertaining after that — though at the moment it’s had some problems as to What To Do Now? And thus Our Dr. Ogden is too often in peril as the Plot Motivator / Device. However, I’m still fairly godsmacked by how consistently creative and inventive the writers are — and how much they authentically seem to enjoy so much about the 1890’s and into the first decade of the 1900’s. I love the ensemble cast, particularly the character of Inspector Brackenreid. No one has ever said “Bloody Hell!” or “Sunshine” like Brackenreid can.

As far as the others that aren’t Orphan Black, can’t be bothered.

Also, VERY BUSY until the end of October.

TRX September 6, 2016 at 8:57 pm

“even with fifteen hundred channels, there’s still nothing decent on afternoon TV.”
– Win Bear, “The Probability Broach” by L. Neil Smith

Since the stutter-cutting and wiggly-waggly camera work gives me motion sickness, we haven’t watched anything American made less than 15 years old. It took until about 5 years ago for the British to catch up. It’s still not common on Australian shows, but pickings are thin Down Under.

Ralf T. Dog September 6, 2016 at 10:40 pm

I had to stop watching Orphan black when they did the soccer mom musical thing. I turned off the TV, half way through the episode, then never restarted the show.

Foxessa September 7, 2016 at 11:29 am

Peaky Blinders also.

Kelly Horn September 7, 2016 at 12:30 pm

Peaky Blinders is quite good. I’ll second the support for Killjoys – I think its strengths outweigh its shortcomings. Daredevil-season-two is one big, long ninja fight (I wish I hadn’t bothered watching it all, Fisk does show up but there’s not enough of him to counter the endless and repetitive fight-fight-fight scenes). Jessica Jones was worth the time. I’ll also second the vote for the Murdoch Mysteries – the characters alone make it one of my favorites (and yes, especially Brackenreid).

wjw September 8, 2016 at 12:20 am

I’ve now viewed the first episode of Murdoch Mysteries, and enjoyed it, particularly the appearance of Tesla.

Jessica Jones I liked, though I thought it was a few hours too long, but once again I find myself wondering if the second season will be a patch on the first.

Steinar Bang September 8, 2016 at 4:32 pm

I’m still enjoying season 2 of Mr. Robot.

For a computer person, it is refreshing to see the tech done so right.

(well there was one slip-up, but I don’t know if that was intentional or not…? won’t say where, because, you know,… spoilers…)

Jeff October 30, 2016 at 5:07 pm

If you like Mr. Robot and Orphan Black, you might also want to give Utopia a try. Not quite as many Plot Twists, but still plenty of conspiracy and Paranoia, to a really great Soundtrack.

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