2017 minus 32: It’s “what I’m watching” wednesday (Part 3)

Posted: 30 November 2016 in 2017 minus, what I'm watching
Tags: ,

Well, this seemed to go down the first couple of times I did this (Part 1 here; Part 2 here), so let’s do another one. As I’ve said, while I occasionally mention “tv shows I don’t like that everyone else does” I rarely tell you what I do like watching.

So, continuing in no particular order, what tv am I enjoying right now?

Another one mainly known for “this is A Clever Idea; let’s see what we can do with it”. An amnesiac woman is discovered in Times Square, covered in newly applied tattoos, one of them the name of an FBI agent. Turns out the tattoos are all clues to crimes that have taken place, or – more intriguingly – are about to take place. The first season ran with this and it was a clever conceit: an overarching storyline, combined with the mystery of who she is/was, the connection to the lead FBI agent and of course the ‘puzzle/bad guy of the week’, something serial cop show storytelling kind of relies upon. The clues were clever but not deviously so, and there were a few ‘Oh come on‘ moments, but in the whole, enough of a mystery, solidly told, slowly revealed, to keep me coming back. 

And then in season 2, almost all of the charm of the series, almost everything that made it unlike anything else so far… kind of melted away? The overarching storyline for season 2 became the important thing, sub-plots made little or any sense, a mole in the team that made no sense (I haven’t yet seen the in-story reveal, though it’s obvious who it is). Hmm. Though the acting of the leads is still fun to watch, the dialogue is less smart, and more clanky. I’ll stick with this until the end of season 2, but unless the quality moves up, I’ll probably duck out at that point. 

When I cease to care about what happens to the majority of characters in a show, better to not waste my time watching. I’m hoping, though, that the quality will return to that of the first season.

Now on its fourteenth season, I watch this for the same reason I enjoy the same seat and the same table at my local coffee shop: it’s comfortable, I know what I’m getting, it rarely disappoints and sometimes, just sometimes, it suprises me with how fun it is. While earlier seasons of the show contained genuine surprises and shocks, and there was a tension between some of the characters that lasted more than just-under-42-minutes-and-wasn’t-sorted-inside-a-single-episode, that time is long past. 

Yeah, sure, this show probably should have ended when ‘Tony’ left, but it’s an enjoyable enough way of spending ¾ of an hour. It’s neither particuarly smart, nor particularly funny, nor particularly… anything really. But I enjoy the show anyway. (I tried the spin offs, but never really took to them. NCIS: Los Angeles seemed to be trying too hard to be… I don’t know what, but just never seemed to know itself. And NCIS: New Orleans seemed to me to jump straight to stating ‘you’ll like these characters’ without at any point trying to justify the statement.)

Dark Matter
Based on a comic book that I didn’t enjoy, this series – currently between seasons -I most definitely did. Six characters wake up on a spaceship, no idea who they are. They discover who they are – or are supposed to be, anyway – and then discover they don’t really like who they are. What I really like about this show is that it addresses one of my personal beliefs: everyone is the sum of their own experiences; if you change the experiences, you change the person. But what if there are no experiences? Who are you then? This show constantly addresses that question and makes the case – and it’s a good one – that having to answer for experiences you no longer rememebr gives you multiple choices: embrace them, run from them, or deal with the dichotomy. Clever writing, a universe with structural integrity and smart plotting, this is a must see show for me whenever it’s on. The guest stars are always fun to see, and like earlier shows in this rundown, every one of them seems to be having a blast playing less than honourable people. That’s a nothing this this show looks at: what is honour? What is loyalty, and when you have conflicting loyalties, which do ou choose to honour… and why?

Lethal Weapon
While I’m mostly ok with separating out the artist from the art, the actor from the roles they play, I’ll admit to having a problem with enjoying Mel Gibson movies since his antisemitic rant a few years ago, and other examples of his misogyny and antisemitism that have since come to light. Which is a pity, because I quite enjoyed the first to Lethal Weapon movies. I didn’t enjoy the third and I don’t think I ever saw the fourth. But the first two I enjoyed, for very different reasons. So I was hoping I’d enjoy the series ‘inspired by’ the movies. And you know what? I do. I read a couple of previews suggesting that Clayne Crawford’s performance as Martin Riggs would make you forget about Gibson’s portrayal of the same character and dammit they were right. Everything about his portrayal just… works. And while to all intents and purposes Damon Wayans is playing a quite different character to Danny Glover’s character (younger, more affable, more self-deprecating), his version of Roger Murtagh is a much better fit for the tv series Riggs. I really, really like this show. The developing friendship of the partnership was a bit forced in earlier episodes, but by the fourth or fifth, it’s settled down and is written cleverly as hell. Riggs’ backstory informs his whole character, but never overwhelms it. It’s a fun show, and I like it. 

Yeah, yeah, it’s based on the comic book, but it’s better to say it’s inspred by. It takes a couple of the bits the producer liked from the book, and builds on them a whole new world. I shouldn’t like the show. There’s not a lot in there that attracts me to it. But you know what? I do like it. After a couple fo meh episodes in season 1, it returned to clever writing, good acting and smart storytelling towards the end of the season and constinued that in season 2. “The devil takes a vacation from ruling Hell to run a nightclub in LA”. Clever hook, and they run with it. Nothing earthshaking but always fun, and with enough of a reminder every episode that you’re rooting for a character that has a bad reputation, most of which he deserves. Clever supporting cast, who act their socks off…  which makes up for the oddly unconvincing female lead actor. 

OK, so that’s another few shows I like. To end with again, here’s a new show this season that I tried, but gave up on.

Michael Weatherly is usually a fun actor to watch… which is why I’m genuinely disappointed with the show he helms, after leaving NCIS. Bull is a ‘case of the week’ thing; concept being that jury trials can be rigged if you know jury science. Sometimes he works for the prosecution, sometimes for the defence, but he’ll deliver the verdict you want… most of the time; no one has a 100% record, after all. But it’s… boring. I watched the first three and realised I didn’t care about the characters, the cases, the acting, the writing or the show itself. I understand many others disagree, and that’s cool. This is one show though where I not only disagree, I genuinely don’t understand what they see in it.

Someting else tomorrow… I return to the scoured wasteland that is US politics, post-election…

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting down to 1st January 2017. You can see other posts in the run by clicking here.

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