The Race: Winter Highlights (TV ROCKS!)

There’s no denying it – TV has been rocking lately. Here are just a few of the highlights from my favorite shows (and a couple of dark spots, too):

Monday

Gotham (8/7c, FOX): No secret why this one’s a hit. Despite facing weird, over-the-top comic book villains, Jim Gordon remains down-to-earth, decent, and totally the guy you want to root for. Liking his romance with the nurse from the asylum. LOVING his bromance with Bullock (there was even a KISS!). Most compelling ep to date: the one where Falcone’s people invade the police station on the hunt for Jim (so intense, with the shooting and the blood and little Bruce saying goodbye to Jim… Aw…). Runner up: the one where Liza is revealed as Fish’s spy (the image of Falcone slowly choking Liza to death while Fish is forced to watch…haunt-ing).

Current Score: 7.8

Castle (10/9c, ABC): Although it’s lost the static-crackle, life-or-death intensity of the first few eps, I’m not worried, nor am I complaining. The mystery of Castle’s disappearance is being intentionally back-burnered, so the writers can whip it out unexpectedly and whack us painfully in the face with it like a rubber snake. (This happened to me once, and it really hurt. Seriously, my eyes were watering.) The wedding ep was a memorable one – beautifully shot, with all the right emotions. The lead-up story of Castle being in an alternate universe where he never met Beckett was charming, although the ending was predictable (Castle being unconscious the whole time). And of course, it wasn’t even close to the same league as Supernatural’s epic “What Is And What Should Never Be,” but it didn’t need to be. It was sweet, and it got the point across. The honeymoon was funny, and Javier’s train/hostage situation was nail-biting, but overall Castle seemed to be settling back into a same-old, same-old routine…and then – WHACK. Castle got banned from working with the PD, started his own PI firm, and everything felt fresh, complicated and new again. Right on time. Go writers! 🙂

Current Score: 8

Tuesday (aka best night of TV EVER)

Supernatural (9/8c, CW): Oh, how I love this show. Let me count the ways: 1.) Crowley’s Mommy Issues 2.) Castiel’s Love Story, 3.) BROTHER MOMENTS (like when Sam says stuff like this to Dean: “Maybe part of that force needs to be YOU.”), 4.) Castiel Trying to be a Dad, 5.) Dean Fighting Off His Inner Evil, 6.) Sam’s Heartbreak Over Dean Going Psycho, 7.) Sam Getting All Bad-@$$ Over Some Guy Having Dean’s Jacket, 8.) Sam Holding Charlie in His Arms, 9.) Charlie, 10.) Dark Charlie, 11.) Dark Charlie VS Dark Dean, 12.) Sheriff Jody Mills (if the writers ever kill her off, they’ll be getting some serious hate mail), 13.) TEEN DEAN!, 14.) 200th episode ***, 15.) I’d keep going, but do I really need to? What would I do without Supernatural?

***Special Mention goes to this spectacular hour of TV, which proved once and for all that even after ten years, this show’s still got it. I was nervous going in, because the previews looked, well, for lack of a better word, stupid. A Supernatural musical? A fan-centered episode? Neither of these sounded very good. Past fan-centered eps have been sketchy, at best. When the writers make fun of writers, like in “Hollywood Babylon,” it’s funny because they’re making fun of themselves. But when they make fun of fans, they’re making fun of us – and sometimes it can be a little insulting. I mean, Becky? Is that who they really think we are?

Thankfully, my fears were for naught. “Fan Fiction” had everything a good ep should have – laughs, scares, brotherly sweetness. It also had that special touch of greatness worthy of a milestone. I don’t know the exact moment when things shifted from pure entertainment to something deeper, but maybe it was when the girl cast as Mary began the first strains of “Carry on, Wayward Son.” Or maybe it was when Sam asked, “Who’s that?” and got the answer: “Oh, that’s Adam. Sam and Dean’s other brother. He’s still trapped in the cage with Lucifer.” But somehow, seeing all those kids on stage, singing the show’s most iconic song, dressed as so many of the characters we lost along the way, I was moved to tears. Kudos to the writers on a phenomenal ep, and one that I’ll be studying for a long time in hopes of making my own writing better.

Current Score: 8.5

Chicago Fire (10/9c, NBC): Current list of things Severide isn’t allowed to have: 1.) Best Friend, 2.) Girlfriend, 3.) Wife. Still hating on the decision to kill Shay. They really sucked the soul out of this show. It’s still a great hour of TV and everything, but it’s not the same Chicago Fire I fell in love with. Doesn’t help that I was a Lindsay/Severide shipper, and that freighter went down very early in the season, killed by the writers in the same merciless fashion they killed Shay. Why put in all that effort – across two different shows, no less – to get them together, if the Powers That Be were just going to axe the whole thing? Erin loses points for dumping a guy when he’s at rock bottom. So what if he was being a jerk-wad? When your soul is bleeding to death, you’re entitled. Then Sev spiraled even further out of control, and got married to some chick he barely knew. I didn’t even know what to make of that storyline. It was over too quickly. My impressions of Sev’s short-term wife went something like this: Pretty-TROUBLE-Sweet-PSYCHO-Decent Human. In that order. I liked her by the end, but then she left, and now my boy’s alone again. Not even sure if they’re divorced, annulled, or what?

‘Course, it’s not ALL bad. I like it when Matt calls Severide “Sev.” Liking all the crossovers (though, would it have killed the writers to have Lindsay notice Severide’s new wedding ring?). Sorry about Gabby and Matt. Liking the new girl, Sylvie, and the Zumba storyline was great. Have decided that if I were trapped under debris, Herrman is the firefighter I’d want there with me (he’s SO good with the rescuees – what a sweetheart). Overall, I think they might’ve gone a bit too dark, and need some more happy storylines to balance things out.

Current Score: 7.4

Forever (10/9c, ABC): Falling in love is a beautiful thing. Your heart bounces like a rubber ball, you sing mushy REO Speedwagon songs in the shower, and even dirty piles of snow on the roadside make you think of romantic ski trips in the mountains. I am so totally in love with Forever. It is my favorite show, my obsession, and my biggest-tv-related fear (CANCELLATION), all rolled into one. I know all the characters by name and by heart. I love the flashbacks, the jokes, the chemistry (Henry and Jo, Henry and Abe, Henry and Lucas), and the mythology. I love the shocking intensity of some of the scenes, e.g. Adam slitting Henry’s throat (Ioan Gruffudd’s eyes during that whole sequence – the terror, OMG that guy can ACT), or Henry leaving a man to die to protect himself. I love the poignancy of some of the flashbacks, from Abe going off to war to Henry taking his dying friend James outside in a wheelchair to see the sunset. Also, the flashbacks often dovetail beautifully with the present-day storylines, making each ep that much deeper. It is that special mix of police procedural, fantasy, and characters I can’t get enough of. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it!

Fav eps so far: “The Frustrating Thing About Psychopaths,” “The New York Kids,” and “Skinny Dipper.”

Current Score: 8.5

Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD (9/8c, ABC): Sorry to say it, but I’m dropping this one. At least for now. It’s a great show, but it’s on opposite Supernatural, and I haven’t been motivated enough to keep up with the recordings. I guess I don’t want it badly enough. Maybe over the summer, when SPN is on reruns?

Current Score: Withheld

Wednesday

The Mentalist (8/7c, CBS): Final season got off to a bumpy start with the first ep. The writers did a good job, but Jane/Lisbon is a drastic thing for viewers to get used to. Didn’t help that I was sitting next to someone who was visibly cringing at the sight of them together, barely holding back under-the-breath comments like, “Why did the writers do this?” and “They don’t have any chemistry!” Nonetheless, I got through that first slightly awkward ep, and to my surprise, things got much better. Second ep was very intense, with Lisbon undercover and people getting shot and everything all LIFEANDDEATH and somehow I got comfortable with Jisbon very quickly. There’s an added depth to the show, because Jane is that much more invested in Lisbon’s welfare. It does still seem a bit surreal, like fanfic playing out on screen. But that’s okay – I like fanfic. 🙂 Favorite moments: Vega saying to Cho how much she respects him and the way he conducts himself (meaning, between the lines, how much she doesn’t respect the way Jane conducts himself, LOL), Jane hugging Cho until Cho finally breaks into a smile, audience finally meeting Lisbon’s other two brothers, Lisbon doing Jane’s psychic act, the whole team going to bat for Abbott, and any scene with Wylie in it.

Got scared when Jane first said he wanted to go away – mostly because it happened in an ep where he was sick, and that’s something very seriously ill people sometimes say – that they just want to go away from it all. It quickly became clear, though, that his reasons had nothing to do with health – at least not his own. Lisbon’s safety is on the forefront of his mind. They are together now, so he’s got more to lose than ever before. Also, his main reason for being with the police – catching Red John – no longer exists. Therefore, why stay?

Vega’s tragic death was written to further Jane’s desire, to push him harder away from police work. It hurt, because I really liked her. I liked that she was her own person, not a clone of Season One’s Van Pelt. I liked her because she hero-worshipped Cho, and because Wylie loved her. RIP Michelle. Wish the writers could’ve had everybody live happily ever after, but I don’t want to judge their decision too harshly until I see the endgame. Stay tuned.

Current Score: 7.9

Chicago PD (10/9c, NBC): Pretty good so far. The crossovers are my favorite eps to date, especially the three-way with SVU (although I actually liked the SVU portion of that better than the PD portion – PD gets too bloody sometimes). The actor playing Erin’s brother, Lou Taylor Pucci, should seriously get an award. His performances were amazing, and I wish he were a regular. Not crazy about Erin/Jay, but I don’t hate it either. They’re cute, I just miss Erin/Severide. It’s never even mentioned anymore. The whole “Erin joins the FBI” storyline seemed kinda pointless, as the outcome (Erin comes back to Intelligence) was pretty predictable. I am digging Ruzek with Burgess. Wish they had more screen time. Really dug the ep with Atwater, Ruzek and Antonio undercover in prison – that was way cool. The ep with the booby-trap bomber was high-octane, but some of the scenes with the cops entering obviously rigged buildings – without the bomb squad being present – seemed unrealistic. At the end of the day, though, you have a show where a cop can sit in an interrogation room, throwing lit matches at a serial arson suspect, and part of you just has to love it.

Current Score: 7.6

Stalker (10/9c, CBS): Haven’t been able to keep up with every episode, but I’m liking what I’ve seen so far. This show is SCARY. Like, truly. There are 1-3 genuine, grip-the-edge-of-the-couch moments in every single episode, and I love that. This show is a thriller, as opposed to Criminal Minds, which is much more of a gross-out slasher flick (not that there’s anything wrong with that, it’s just not as scary). I enjoy Stalker’s ongoing character arcs, and the fact that most times they are able to save the person being stalked. I just don’t enjoy watching it alone. In the dark.

Current Score: 7.5

Thursday

Elementary (10/9c, CBS): Liked the addition of Kitty – she was a nice blast of fresh air, and I’m sad to see her go (but very happy she didn’t cross the line over to murder). Hope she comes back for a few visits before the season’s up. Other than the storyline of finding her attacker and bringing him to justice, there aren’t any huge moments that stand out to me so far. Still waiting for this show to really grab me again like it did in S1. Which may just happen next week, because OMG Andrew just got murdered out the blue (poison intended for Joan, right?), and OMG I did not see that coming at all.

Current Score: 6.7

Friday

Grimm (9/8c, NBC): Seriously, is there anyone out there who doesn’t love Grimm? We were talking in my writing group about the merits of various supernatural-themed shows – The X-Files, Supernatural, etc. – and the only one we all watched and loved was Grimm. This show is the new definition of FUN. The highlights: Nick getting his Grimm mojo back (complete with zombie cold flashes – YAY!), Trubel’s emotional reaction to aforementioned re-Grimming, Wu FINALLY getting to learn the secret (it got to the point where I was yelling at the screen, “Just TELL him already!!”), Juliette as one bad-@$$ Hexenbeist (soooo coooool), Sean’s awesome mom, SEAN LIVES!! (Though what was that whole bleeding thing about – that scared me pretty good. He’s safe, right???), and Monroe getting saved from some weird, racist cult that liked to say “Wesenrein” and “Impuro” WAY too many times in a row.

Trubel will be sorely missed, and hopefully she’ll be back before long, but even without her magnetic presence, this show is on FIRE. (In a good way).

Current Score: 8.5

Saturday

Red Band Society (8/7c, FOX): When they took it off the air for weeks, then carelessly tossed it onto Saturday, I knew we were probably looking at the end. It’s not written in stone, but pretty close. Tonight’s two-hour season finale will likely be the last we see of the kids, docs, and nurses we’ve grown to love. Kara, I must say, is my favorite – what a treat to watch her slowly transform from shallow b!tch to a person who can put her own grief aside to reach out and comfort someone else. I’m heartbroken for Leo, sad for Emma, hopeful for Jordi, worried about Dash, excited for Charlie, and grieving for Hunter. These kids really burrow their way into your heart, don’t they? Here’s hoping that they at least get some kind of happy ending.

Current Score: 8

November Winner: Supernatural

For the 200th episode alone, this one had to take the prize. Long live Supernatural!

December Winner: Forever, Runner-up: The Mentalist

Forever gets the top honors, owing to the epic episode “Skinny Dipper,” which starts out with Henry’s brutal murder in a taxi, and rip-roars all the way through to Adam’s creepy reveal at the end. I still have shivers. The Mentalist gets a nod for delivering good quality eps while doing the best possible job of getting people comfortable with a ship not everyone wants.

January Winner: Grimm

Do I even have to give an explanation?

 

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