Reviewing the SF on TV

Shield_AgentsI watch too much television and these days, that means keeping up with what I like is difficult. Especially when people keep telling I have to try a series. My wife and I have begun to get a little draconian, dropping shows we’ve lost interest in or have outlasted their premise. But, here we are in December and most prime time shows are about to take a mid-season hiatus, letting us catching our breaths so it’s not a bad time to look back at the genre shows.

This month the C8 team will be taking a look at the newer shows and offering you our thoughts. First, let it be said that science fiction and fantasy television is alive and well, thriving across the cable box, showing up on many different channels from the major networks to the premium channels. That’s a major positive and with Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon all joining the fray with original content, it won’t be long before genre shows start popping up. As it is, Netflix already has four Marvel Universe shows announced and in the works.

CBS’ Person of Interest has moved from speculative fiction closer to reality based on the revelations from Eric Snowden. While The Machine does not yet exist, data mining and drawing conclusions are alive and well. The series’ third season is stronger and keeps surprising us, especially with Carter’s long-planned death.

Grimm-Season-3-Episode-5-El-CucuyOver on NBC, J.J Abrams and Jon Favreau’s Revolution got off to a fine start, meandered for a bit and had a fine cliffhanger. The second season, though, feels as if it is spinning its wheels and the new pyrokinetic talents Aaron has demonstrated has the show veer far from its original premise., My biggest issue is that things blow up and people fight but every single cast member is devoid of character and the show never lets the characters actually talk to one another. Grimm’s third season is also stronger than its second although I could do without the entire European thread. It’s lightweight entertainment with an attractive and varied cast. I am not even going near Dracula since it has nothing to do with Bram Stoker’s character.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. arrived with high expectations and we expected perfection right out of the gate but it’s taken the show five or six episodes to truly warm up. I think its biggest failing is its lack of sharp dialogue and strongly drawn characters, but they seem to be fixing it. It could use a little tighter connection to the cinematic universe and the Big Bad is lackluster but it has all the elements of a good show so I’m sticking with it. Similarly, Once Upon a Time drifted into aimlessness last season but this year it’s much better with some very surprising twists. But I do have my limits and haven’t gone near Once Upon a Time in Wonderland.

On the other hand, I arrived with low expectations for the CW’s Arrow and was pleasantly surprised last season. Its second season is stronger, tighter, and smarter giving the CW demographic incredibly adorable men and women to ogle while delivering strong stories and evolving characters. I’m surprised at how much I’ve been enjoying it. On the other hand, much as I adore Payton List, I can’t bring myself to even try The Tomorrow People and won’t go near the mess that is Beauty and the Beast.

Orphan BlackLost GirlI’m late to Lost Girl on SyFy but am a quick convert. It’s also somewhat lightweight but damn is it sexy and has some interesting mythology to play with. That being said, it’s the only show I’m watching on the channel which a shame is considering its once great pedigree for compelling shows.  BBC America, though, seems to be where the action is at, letting us have Doctor Who, with its most excellent 560th anniversary celebration. The one show I need to delve into is the well-regarded Orphan Black, a crowning achievement for the British company and, I gather, pleasant present for fans.

On the premium side, Game of Thrones continues to take its time showing us the perils of politics and remains a textbook example of how to adapt a book series to television. It and True Blood (admittedly, I’m two seasons behind here) continue to shine with good writing, strong casting, and taking advantage of the pay wall.

3 thoughts on “Reviewing the SF on TV”

  1. This is actually interesting coming from someone with lots of SF background. I am shocked a bit to read what you did about Lost Girl. It seems super hokey to me but I adore Kenzi so I watch for her. Grimm I love because of Monroe, he cracks me up and after 3 seasons I just noticed Nick and I am completely in love with the Airstream. Not really sure Sleepy Hollow is considered Science Fiction but I do love it and the tweaking of the story line. This is from the makers of Fringe that was incredible for the first and maybe second season but fell off at the end. Hopefully this will not happen with Sleepy Hollow. Great article.

  2. TV’s queasy season has arrived! From now until late May, ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and The CW will determine which shows are good to return next fall… and which will join Mob Doctor, Partners and Emily Owens, M.D. over at the MIA Network.

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