New 2014 TV: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Fall TV

As new fall TV shows come under the early hatchet, the Plot Bunnies wax wistfully about the shows we will miss… and the programs we wish were on the slaughter block. A tough season for romantic comedies, A to Z, Selfie, and Manhattan Love Story are cancelled. Some TV shows start out amazing right from the pilot, like Brooklyn Nine-Nine or Sons of Anarchy, and some grow into great TV, like Parks and Recreation or Person of Interest. We’d love to hear your ideas for those awesome TV shows that either start slow or race right out of the gate. But, some TV is just bad. Last year, The Blacklist premiered and people loved it. They are wrong. And then some TV is just ugly. Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D has inspired some heated conversations online, and I almost stopped watching. Now, it’s pretty good, so… kudos guys. You got Patton Oswalt and I want to be that man’s fuzzy slippers.

But NEW 2014 TV, what’s good? What’s bad? What’s ugly?

GOOD 

rachel_cRachel votes for American Horror Story: Freak Show and Selfie.

 AHS never fails to creep you out, and Freak Show is no exception. Jessica Lange is, as always, her amazing self. Though I’m starting to notice her characters seem to stay the same throughout the seasons: sassy, slightly demented, and viciously insecure about herself. And unfortunately, the same can be said for a lot of other returning cast. While the characters change, the characteristics do not. It’s the fourth season now, guys, time to change things up. Dandy, our newest addition to the show is a breath of fresh air. He’s a spoiled brat who soon becomes a fully-fledged psychopath once he gets his first taste of fresh blood. He is definitely one of the best parts of the show.

 Though it’s not as scary as the past seasons, don’t let that deter you. The majority of the unease comes from the strangeness of it all. Everything’s just so goddamn weird: the setting, the people, the stories. However, you still get a good ol’ fashion dose of horror with Twisty, the murderous clown. I’m not particularly afraid of clowns, but after watching this show I can honestly say I’d be okay with living the rest of my life without seeing another clown again.

Get your fix of Freak Show. And then have nightmares about it.

I really only started watching Selfie when I saw post on Tumblr of John Cho talking to the yogurt in his fridge. I laughed to myself and thought, “Okay, I hate the premise of this show, but I could do with a laugh.” And since I was all caught up on The Mindy Project, I figured there was no hurt in trying something new. And you know what? I’m so glad I did. Check out my post here for why I think you should be watching this show.

nadin_pNadin defends How To Get Away With Murder, The Flash, and Madam Secretary.

 First off, about Selfie. I feel for Karen Gillan for entering American TV this way. Also, I think that George Bernard Shaw is rolling in his grave, knowing that Selfie is being constantly compared to his masterpiece of a play Pygmalion. I know I would. That said, Selfie is entertaining, and definitely more watchable than, say, New Girl, as long as you don’t take it seriously.

flash

Fastest geek alive. *swoon*

The Flash is definitely fun. I still have the same problem with it that I had with Arrow when it first started – it doesn’t seem real yet, like it’s trying too hard to make an impression instead of just being fun. The first couple of episodes were a bit too cliché for my taste, but I did like what they’ve done with the Arrow crossover and the following episodes, so – welcome to the family, yet another comic-cook based TV show!

Madam Secretary is surprisingly good. I did not expect that. At all. Admittedly, I am not by any stretch a fan of legal drama, and shows like The Good Wife and Scandal usually bore me to death. Madam Secretary is almost breathtaking with its dynamic pace and interesting twists. It never wastes time, sticking to what’s really important and never dragging on with the back story and exposition. (I’m looking at you, Constantine!) Téa Leoni is not just good, she’s downright brilliant and very believable as Elizabeth McCord, which says a lot about her acting skills. Again, you have to be into that kind stuff – and you have to overcome the emotional damage caused by Crisis – but if you are, this show won’t disappoint.

Madam Secretary

Is that a ball fan on her desk?

How To Get Away With Murder is what every new – and old! – TV show should be – dark, fun, and intriguing as hell. Also, very informative, in case… you know. Viola Davis’ Annalise Keating is my hero on so many levels I want to be her when I grow up, and let’s not forget that someone finally managed to start a project with diverse cast (that’s not dying, much, yet)! I haven’t been this excited since Sleepy Hollow. I did not expect this show to be so good – didn’t expect anything, really – which makes the surprise even more pleasant. If you’re not watching it already, what the hell are you doing with your lives?

HTGAWM

Recognize him? It’s Dean from Harry Potter, all growed up. Sorta.

 

roz_yRoz takes Selfie and The Flash on as guilty pleasures, but can’t get behind HTGAWM.

I was sad to hear that Selfie has been cancelled. It didn’t start out fabulous but the last few episodes have made clever use of other office characters to really get this show going. It’s too bad that we couldn’t get more of their crazy boss early on, because too much Eliza would give anyone seizures. And as John Cho and Karen Gillan’s characters started to express feelings for each other, I fell a little bit in love with their show too. Oh well. I can still watch The Flash while I drink wine and cheer on geeks. I’m also watching Forever because I’m a sucker for procedurals with hot British men (he’s Welsh, I know!). I’m putting How To Get Away With Murder in the ugly category. It’s just. Argh. Bleh. Wha? Whoa. Ew. Hm.

 

anais_lAnais reminds us to think animation with Bee and Puppycat.

I will support any project from the Adventure Time crew. I’ve already talked about Steven Universe and Roz was really psyched about Bravest Warriors. Bee and Puppycat is the latest addition to the family. The creator, Natasha Allegri, drew the first issue of Fionna and Cake. I love her work on Adventure Time, this goes without saying, but Bee and Puppycat is something else! It’s not just random, funny, sweet, and kind of dark. It also feels mature. Bee meets Puppycat, who may or may not be a prince from a sad fairy tale, and gets a part time job as a heroine thanks to him. Their adventures are a good reason to show us a multitude of weird universes and allow them to get the money they need to survive. Bee is a strange girl who prefers dreams to reality. Puppycat struggles with his coolness. The only two other human characters are Deckard, Bee’s crush and a cook, and his sister, a computer genius. The episodes are well written, the characters are complex, and beyond that, it is just really pretty. If I could only recommend one new animated show for this fall, it would be Bee and Puppycat.

Dat sword!

BAD

nadin_pNadin says Scorpion while Roz nods, waiting to add that Mulaney is so much worse.

scorpion

Scorpion is full of nerds. But not in a good way.

Scorpion is what The Big Bang Theory would be if you removed the jokes, added a bit of action, and turned it into a boring one-hour drama. To be fair, I liked the idea of a bunch of nerds having their own little society and helping the world because intellectually they’re more equipped for it than anyone else. Yep, the idea was good. The execution, however, was mediocre at best. Reminded me a little of Leverage but again, a bad kind of Leverage. It feels too much like something not entirely thought-through.

roz_yYes! I also gave Scorpion a few hours of my life before deciding to cancel it from my TV recording schedule. But I only gave Mulaney 18 minutes, and I want every second back. Mulaney is such a terrible sitcom it almost feels like it has to be a joke. The laugh track is offensive, the characters are walking stereotypes, and I hated every minute of it. The extreme putrefaction of this show (the Rotten Tomatoes “rotten” score of 15% actually feels generous) is a crazy shame, because John Mulaney is a funny guy and Martin Short is a legend. I’m so sad for Nasim Pedrad, the Iranian American actress who left Saturday Night Live to be on Mulaney. Worst. Show. Ever. Don’t even bother. It’s cancelled and good riddance.

anais_lAnais adds that Mike Tyson Mysteries is also terrible.

I don’t hate Adult Swim. My problem with Adult Swim is the problem I have with adult cartoon comedies: they tend to all rely on the same tropes and it takes a lot for me to appreciate one of them. Mike Tyson Mysteries is not an exception. The show is simply about Mike Tyson « solving mysteries » with his adopted Asian daughter, a ghost, and a pigeon that used to be a man. It’s not a particularly remarkable example of adult cartoon comedy in any way. That’s its biggest flaw: it’s not awful; it’s just a bland version of the same formula, which is almost worse than being plain bad. I’m not saying that there is a science to humour, particularly humour that relies on absurdity and randomness, but it demands a certain rhythm and energy to work. Mike Tyson Mysteries lacks both of those things and is not particularly well written on top of that. Each episode is 10 minutes long. You might get a laugh or two but other than that, you’ll mostly have your eyes on your watch.

UGLY

Rachel and Nadin agree about Constantine.

rachel_cUgh. This show is like CW’s version of Constantine characters. Waterlogged with smarmy dialogue and flinch-worthy performances, this show is undeniably targeted towards the Supernatural, Teen Wolf, Vampire Diaries audience. While not for me, people who enjoy those shows might like this one. So have at it!

First-Official-Image-of-Matt-Ryan-as-Constantine

Is being hawt enough? What about literally hot, like on fire?

nadin_pLet’s just say, Matt Ryan is HOT! Which is probably the only notable thing about Constantine so far. With Supernatural still being somewhat alive and barely breathing, more or less, it’s got the exact same vibes going on, minus witty banter and overall charm that a CW show could be known for. What is it with angels and demons these days? Admittedly, Constantine is based on the comic series Hellblazer (man, I LOVE that name!), which makes it different, blah, blah, blah. It’s hardly an excuse for its lameless.

Now let’s talk about Gotham. I wonder if I’m the only one waiting for Christian Bale to step out from around the corner and take Gotham to the level it deserves. Which is not happening, and we all know it. It is impossible not to compare Gotham to Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. since both shows exist in the same(ish) zone, relying heavily on an existing comic book- and movie-based universe as well as certain history and established characters. Both shows are having a hard time living up to their legacy, and the comparison is obviously not in Gotham’s favor. I feel like Bruce Wayne before Batman is more unsettling than interesting at this point. However, it’s still fun to follow these characters.

gotham

Trying too hard? Who cares. MOAR BATMAN

roz_yRoz has ugly thoughts about Gotham and How To Get Away With Murder. 

I totally agree about Gotham getting a place in the ugly category. There are some great elements in this show, Donal Logue and Robin Lord Taylor being most of them. The universe of Gotham is a fun, scary, dangerous, exciting place. It’s just too bad that it’s not working consistently. There are unsettling problems with the timeline so that it feels like the show is messing with established lore just to awkwardly cram in more characters that viewers will recognize, like Selina Kyle and Edward Nygma. It feels forced. But Robin Lord Taylor, as a young Oswald Cobblepot, is proving that it’s possible to have a compelling story about Batman characters before Batman, so I don’t want to give up on Gotham. I don’t like Barbara, she drives me bonkers. She’s always at home waiting for Gordon or an ex-lover to show up, and then when she is in real danger, can’t follow simple instructions to stay out of the city. It’s bad form on the show for Carmine Falcone to tell us he respects her as a strong woman because of whatever went down during those moments, but I didn’t see that. Show me she’s awesome, don’t just tell me, because from where I’m sitting, she’s the spoiled Princess of Boringtown.

Back to HTGAWM, I think this show is an addictive mess. I watch How to Get Away with Murder every week and I still can’t decide if I really like it. I find the flashbacks annoying and repetitive, the characters drive me crazy, especially Rebecca (who has no redeeming or interesting qualities), and as awesome as Annalise Keating is, she is another female character controlled by the men in her life. Every second she’s alone, she cries because of her lover or her husband. But, I love rollercoasters. They’re fun while you’re on them, even though you can see the next turn coming. I find the attempt to spice up the show with lots of gay sex a bit too obviously sensational. Also, can this show have a second season? Because I don’t think anyone is going to get away with the murder if they’re acting this dumb. You can’t burn a body like that and hope to destroy all the DNA. Come on guys.  

Anais says we should shut up forever and talk about animation again.

lolirock

MY EYES! MY PRECIOUS EYES! I’LL NEVER SEEN PINK OR PURPLE AGAIN!!

anais_lAlright, almost nobody in the English speaking world has seen LoliRock. However, since it’s produced by Marathon Media, where Totally Spies and Martin Mystère were born, I figure that LoliRock will make its way to the US and Canada if the show is successful enough. It certainly has all the elements appealing to young girls. All of them. Literally. I said that Mike Tyson Mysteries was formulaic, but it’s nothing compared to LoliRock. The story is that of Iris, a young and sweet girl who discovers one day that she is a magical princess from an alien kingdom, thanks to two other princesses with whom she forms a pop rock band. They also have a purple kitten that turns into a winged horse and I’m guessing that by the end of this season, they will each have a boyfriend. The protagonist is blonde and the other two are a fiery redhead and a tough black girl. They have transformation sequences, and look, do I really need to go on? Nothing about this show is original. They just crammed together as many girl cartoon clichés as they could and went with it. The result is the perfect girl trap. The plot is almost non-existent, nobody has clear motivations, and even the main characters are barely developed. And still, I keep watching it. It’s like a black hole that sucks my brains out for half an hour. Flee while you can.

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Four screenwriters candidly writing about film, television, novels, comic books, video games, and fanfiction.

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