The Race 2015-2016: First Looks (Plus: 2 Comic Cons This Weekend!)

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Okay, so most of our shows are back and trying their darnedest to keep us tuned in. Attention spans are shorter than ever, and the competition has never been higher. Let’s see which shows are delivering, and which ones are floundering like salmon on the beach:

MONDAY

Gotham (Fox, 8/7c): Wasn’t sure how this one would be without Fish, but I’m actually really digging it this year. I HATED the massacre at the police station (seriously, how many break-ins, shoot-outs, abductions, attacks, etc do they have to have before they get some decent security ???). I hated that the female police boss got killed off (I REALLY liked her – and TRUSTED her, too). But the rise of the MANIAX was cool. Barbara as a total psycho is cool. Galavan’s insidious rise to power has been awesome to watch, as is Nygma’s inevitable descent into madness. The new police boss is admirably bad-@$$. I’d follow him into battle. I love his idea for the task force. He really seems legit, too – which means he’ll likely a.) get killed off in the next two eps or b.) turn out to be in Galavan’s pocket or something. I sincerely hope not. The good guys need a break. Big time. Actually, some of the bad guys need a break, too. Never thought I’d say this, but poor Penguin. Geez, his mother was the only thing that kept him sort of tethered to humanity. And what about the Joker getting offed? Did not see that coming, and that’s what’s so great about it! One of the down sides to doing a prequel-type show is that everyone basically knows that certain characters, e.g. Bruce Wayne, are safe from death because you know they have a future in the comics. Well, Gotham went and gave the rug a good, hard pull, toppling viewers onto their butts by killing off someone we assumed would go on to become a legendary Batman villain. Smart move, and very cool. Overall, Season Two is even more compelling than Season One. The multiple Penguins in the last episode was a stroke of brilliance. And, on a more superficial note, melikes Jim’s hair this season. Melikes it a LOT. My main complaint about Gotham this year would be too many massacres, etc. How many have we had so far this season? Three? Four? Maybe five? Crikey! Tone it down, or you’re going to turn off viewers. At least try to limit it to one shootout per episode. That’s more than enough.

Score: 7.5/10

Supergirl (CBS, 8/7c): I watched this show for two reasons: 1.) Because I freaking ADORE superheroes and 2.) Because I read that this show would be about positivity, light, optimism and GIRL power. It definitely lived up to its description. Very bright, very hopeful, very female-centric. The viewing experience was pleasant. I smiled a lot. The special effects were on the upper end of today’s TV standards. The main character, Kara, was cool, although I was surprised by how little she used her powers before deciding to be a hero. You can FLY, and you just…DON’T?? For years? Because….? Also, why hasn’t she been helping people prior to this? Just because Superman’s on the job doesn’t mean the whole hero thing is covered. If my state has one firefighter, does that mean we’re all set? We don’t need any more, because that guy’s got it covered? Of course not! There can never be too many heroes, and thankfully Kara has realized this. I just wonder why it took so long. (Maybe too much discouragement from her sister?) On the non-critical side of things, this show has a good cast of characters, the special highlights being Jimmy Olson and Cat Grant. Cat is just too funny – the ultimate horrible boss. Jimmy is by far the most intriguing character on the show – mysterious and charming. I am drawn to him like an Iron Man magnet to a stainless steel fridge. As far as bad guys go, Owain Yeoman (AKA Rigsby from The Mentalist) made an interesting one! How weird to see him as an evil alien with a spiky scalp! Bet he had fun in that role. 🙂 I haven’t seen the second ep yet (it’s on tape), but I was happy with this show overall. I like the cheerful, happy-go-lucky vibe that’s so rare on TV these days (just look at Gotham). Also, not sure if it’s a stylistic choice or a rights issue, but they never call Superman by his name – they always just say “he” or “him.” Whatever the reason, it’s cool. I like how they never show his face, either. My main nitpick would be that the writing was a little too straightforward, a little too on-the-nose without leaving much up to interpretation. I like a bit of subtlety and subtext. I like to be challenged intellectually. But pilots are tricky, and I’m definitely willing to give this one more time to win me over. Here’s hoping the next ep has a little more complexity. And if it happens to feature a lot of Jimmy Olsen…well, I would not be complaining about that, either.

Score: 6.9/10

Castle (ABC, 10/9c): Ah, Castle. AKA the final ABC show I’m watching. After Forever’s cancellation, I wouldn’t touch any of ABC’s new pilots with a ten-foot-long PVC pipe (it helped that none of them looked appealing anyway), but I’m still loyal to Castle and will continue to watch until it finishes its run. So, how’s it doing this season? I tuned in to the premiere a few minutes late, and didn’t have a freaking CLUE what was happening. Which was actually okay, because it made me empathize with Castle as he tried to piece things together. It was exciting and a bit dark (baby tarantulas dumped on Castle’s face, followed by a suffocation bag put over his head, is a bit outside the normal tone for this show – then again, I heard there’s a new showrunner in town). Overall, it opened strong, and my only nitpick was that Beckett didn’t have quite enough motivation to leave Castle. Or rather, to pursue the case which caused her to leave Castle. I was watching with my mom and she was like, “This is out of character for Beckett.” I agreed. I get where they’re going with the whole “she obsessed over her mom’s case for years, it finally got solved, but that need to obsess doesn’t go away and now she has to focus that energy on some new conspiracy.” I get that, and it’s valid, but she LOVES Rick. She’s been happy with Rick. Plus Castle’s stepmom (can we say awesome bad@$$ chick???) had the case under control. There was no reason not to let her handle it. If Beckett had agreed to lay off the case, been on her way home to Castle, and then his stepmom’s car exploded with her inside it, THEN Beckett has a reason to say, “Now I’m the only one left. I HAVE to do this, or there won’t be justice.” They didn’t take it to the level necessary for her to leave Castle – they fell one step short, making it hard to buy. However, looking past that, I do like the situation as it stands. The separation, the pheromones, the LONGING. Great stuff, and just the little jolt Caskett needed to keep from getting too snooze-fest. So, good idea, imperfect execution, still enough to keep me watching. P.S. That episode with “The Nose” was hilarious and proof enough that the new showrunner can do a lighter ep, which is the staple for this show.

Score: 7.9/10

TUESDAY

iZombie (CW, 9/8c): Aaaaaand the wonderful parade of Liv’s shifting personalities continues! Big kudos to actress Rose McIver for delivering believable and highly entertaining performances week after week. It can’t be easy to play a character who’s absorbed a basketball coach’s go-get-em attitude one day, a fashion diva’s high drama and style sense the next, and an amateur musician’s hankering to compose and perform country songs the day after that. And she still has to keep the core personality the same. It may be hard as heck to play the role, but it’s fun as heck to watch. Also enjoying: Blaine as a un-zombified baddie, Peyton’s return, Clive’s budding relationship with that FBI (???) lady, and Ravi’s continual support of Liv during her 1,002 weekly attitude shifts. Oh, and Liv and Major are back together! Is it wrong that this makes me sooooo happy, even though dark times must surely be a-comin’? I mean, I know it can’t last. I know she’s got to find out about Major’s extra-curricular activities as a zombie-hunter – and this devastating news will come well before they get to celebrate their golden anniversary. But can’t I just enjoy it while it lasts? For however short a time that is? Please? They’re just so cute together. Especially now that he knows why she acts weird and different all the time. Speaking of Major knowing things, he also knows what he’s doing is HORRIFICALLY wrong. He’s a murderer. If he thought zombies were just soulless, man-eating monsters, it would almost be forgivable. But he’s dating a zombie. He loves a zombie. He knows it’s at least possible for these beings to have moral, non-violent existences. It’s at least possible that some of these zombies are obtaining their brains in ways that don’t hurt anyone. Some of them may be monsters, but some may very well be decent people. He also knows there will potentially be a cure in the near future. The scenes of Major killing these people are so graphic and awful…How will he ever be able to live with himself? How will Liv, when she finds out? It’s true that she makes him a better person, and for now he’s actually being smart and lying about not finding any new zombies, but the damage is already done. Even if he never kills another one, he’s still a murderer. And to what end? To protect Liv? They know she’s a zombie. They plan to eradicate ALL the zombies. They’re going to get to her eventually, anyway. **Sigh** Anywhoo, the show’s pretty great this year. The cases are interesting, Liv’s personalities are interesting, and the romance is oh-so-good while it lasts. Also, what are they going to do with Liv’s blood? I have no clue, but it’ll probably be awesome, because almost everything on this show is!

Score: 8.6/10

Limitless (CBS, 10/9c): Ah, my new love. I saw only one commercial for this before it aired, but somehow I knew it would be “the one.” I could just tell it had certain elements that would appeal to me, e.g. a prodigy-type leading male with a tough, gun-toting female partner. Not only didn’t Limitless disappoint me, it totally soared above all expectations. By the end of the pilot, I knew I’d found my new “thing.” The main character, Brian Finch, is essentially a loveable loser. A guy in his late twenties with no real job, and a band in which he is the only remaining member. He is the black sheep of the family, the only one who hasn’t yet found his way in life, and is just kind of floundering while everyone else has achieved the expected level of success and happiness. Despite his lack of ambition, Brian is good-natured, gentle, and genuinely cares about his family. I love him already. Then his dad gets sick, and Brian gets a special “pick-me-up” pill from one of his old bandmates. Suddenly, Brian has access to every single brain cell, making him a temporary super-genuis. He uses the power to solve the mystery of his Dad’s condition, and later solves the murder of the friend who gave him the pill. I.e. Brian uses his power to help people he cares about. How rare is that? Throw in the FBI, a mysterious senator, blackmail, more murder, secret injections, and a truly AWESOME partner, and you’ve got one heck of a show. Brian has great chemistry with his partner, Rebecca. She’s one of those people who’s effortlessly cool, and probably the only person at the FBI who actually gives a crap about Brian. Not as someone who’s being studied, or someone who’s a potential liability, but as a person. He, in turn, trusts her, and has shown he’s willing to lay down his life rather than betray her. Their partnership is already at the point where they’re randomly letting themselves into each other’s apartments. They can only get closer from here. (Until she finds out about the shots, that is…) Other characters of note include Brian’s dad (with whom he has a special bond), an FBI boss with questionable motives, Rebecca’s FBI partner Boyle (hoping he’ll land on the side of the good guys, but too soon to tell), the senator’s ultra-creepy henchman, Sands, and two bodyguard/warden-type dudes that Brian calls “Mike” and “Ike” because even with perfect recall he can’t remember their names! But the one who really carries the show is Brian himself. He’s extremely relatable, extremely entertaining to listen to (he narrates every episode), and hilarious to watch. The actor, Jake McDorman, is just so frenetic – you can see all the wheels turning – doubly so when he’s on NZT. I could watch this guy dusting shelves for a week and not get bored once. One time I was really tired when the ep came on, and I thought it’d be a miracle if I stayed awake (don’t worry, I was recording it), but then NZT-Brian made this Claymation-type video that was the most hilarious thing I’ve ever seen on TV, and I was wide awake in minutes. The same thing happened again this week–I was getting drowsy as the show opened (hey, days are long and 10pm shows are hard for me!), but within seconds I was totally engaged. I was like, “OMG, he’s doing Ferris Bueller’s Day Off!” and sleep never crossed my mind again. It’s that good. Also, they do really cool stuff with the lighting, showing the juxtaposition between times when he’s on NZT and when he’s off of it, and they have really creative, funny ways of demonstrating how Brian’s mind works and how he gets his information. Fans of Forever, Castle and The Mentalist will LOVE this show! Check it out! </gushing>

Score: 9/10

Chicago Fire (NBC, 10/9c): Decent so far. Not shout-from-the-rooftops great or anything, just decent. The reason for Severide’s demotion seemed stupid and insufficient to strip somebody’s rank. You’d think a really heinous offense would have to occur for that to happen, but no. Just some random, bad luck events that had nothing to do with Severide personally. Whatever. His new girlfriend turned out to be a loser, too, so this is a great season for Sev, so far. If only he had a BEST FRIEND to turn to…Anyway, glad the strip club storyline’s wrapped up – did anyone else totally KNOW Voight had Casey’s back? I so did. I was like, “The police cars are going to pull in right….NOW!” and they did. Predictable, but not in a bad way. Cruz on Squad is cool. New captain? Seems a little weird. I don’t know what to make of him, but he bothers me at times with his attitude. The people harassing Molly’s need to GO AWAY. Immediately. They suck. If a bar’s noise is going to bother your baby, then here’s an idea: don’t move in near a bar!!! Geez…Also, re: the arson thing: haven’t we kinda been there, done that? Like multiple times? Hope they put a new twist on it. Speaking of new things, I was SO excited about Matt and Gabi’s baby…but then that went very wrong this week. Utterly heartbreaking on many fronts, but probably the best ep so far – Herrmann did indeed know the perfect thing to say to Gabi, and I’m sure many eyes were not dry at the end of the ep on Tuesday night. Overall, things on CF have been okay. I’m still watching, but, except for the most recent ep, I’m not being “wowed.” We need more powerful, emotional storylines like the ones that got us hooked in the first place.

Score: 6.8/10

WEDNESDAY

Supernatural (CW, 9/8c): Isn’t it nice when one of your favorite shows demonstrates why it still deserves to be one of your favorite shows? No relying solely on viewers’ loyalty to keep them tuned in – not this year. Supernatural is bringing their best stuff to the table and pulling up a chair. The Darkness is cool in all of her forms. I like how she eats souls – hey, maybe she’s related to the Dementors! Instead of looking for info on her in the archives, Sam and Dean should probably just pick up some of J.K. Rowling’s works. 🙂 Seriously, though, Amara is scary because no one really has an idea what exactly she is, what she wants, what she’s capable of once she reaches adulthood. The angels don’t know. The demons don’t know. Sam and Dean definitely don’t know. Having a scream come from the cage containing Michael and Lucifer was a great way to show just how dangerous and terrifying this thing is. And now this seriously evil being is on the loose, feeding, growing, and developing a weird, creepy bond with Dean that just can’t end well. Great storyline that can easily carry us through the whole season. Other notes: Loved the eerie, Walking Dead-type vibe of the infected town and hospital in the opener. I liked the young police officer they met and bonded with – she got killed off way too soon. I was planning to complain about the way she acted once her soul was removed – how she just instantly went psycho and killed her gammy. I thought this contradicted with how soulless Sam acted in Season Six. Sure, he might’ve killed you, but not for nothing – he was logical and had reasons for everything he did. He was a sociopath, but not an instant, murderous lunatic. So, yeah, I was going to complain about that inconsistency, but I actually thought they covered the topic pretty well in the last ep. They pointed out that different people react differently to having their souls ripped out (understandable – it’s a HUGE trauma, after all), and now there is also the implication that Amara may not just be taking out the souls – she may be planting a little seed of herself inside the empty vessel. The Borden-obsessed guy, Len, said he felt something hatching out inside him – something “dark, with wings” (massively cool description, by the way). I think this was a piece of The Darkness left inside him, starting to taking hold. Interesting also that the crazy soulless babysitter still had compassion for the little boy – she shouldn’t have been capable of that…should she? Hmmmm. Nice shake-up having The Darkness be involved in what started out as an apparent ghost story. Cool twist, writers! My favorite ep so far this year, though, was the “were-pire” ep from a few weeks ago. Unexpected and tender brother moments in the car. A quiet, real conversation between the boys. An absolutely gorgeous dream sequence between young John and grownup Sam – the way that was shot just took my breath away. The black clouds streaming past the windows of the Impala. The way young John has so exquisitely captured Jeffery Dean Morgan’s accent and speech patterns. The close-ups of their eyes – wow. Just wow. And that was only at the beginning of the ep. After that we got an interesting case with a monster we’d never seen before, mythology advancement even though it was a standalone ep, some riotously funny action/fight sequences between Dean and various foes, a head in a cooler (because life just isn’t complete without one), and Impala love up to the moon. I mean, yeah, it definitely hurt to see Baby get smashed up like that, but to have Sam call her “home” at the end, it was worth it. Sam’s general attitude this year also deserves mention: “‘Saving people’ means saving ALL the people.” Right on, Sammy! I loved his speech to Dean in the opener, and I don’t always love the speeches. Sometimes they run around in circles and don’t really end up saying anything, and you figure the writers just needed to kill some screen time. But this speech mattered. It meant something, and I like that it has been referenced since then. My only issue with Sam’s new philosophy is that he didn’t have a good plan for carrying it out – at least not in the premiere. It’s fine to want to save the infected people. Noble, even. But hiding in a closet and then, when the rabid berserkers break in to kill you, just standing there saying, “Please, let me help you” isn’t a strategy. It’s suicide. I blame the writers for not having him act smarter. The Sam I know would’ve worked out how to knock them unconscious or something. He had a whole hospital full of drugs and medical equipment at his disposal, for pity’s sake…Anyway, just a minor nitpick for what has otherwise been a wonderful season so far. Keep proving yourself, Supernatural, and we’ll have a Season Twelve in no time.

Score: 8.9/10

Chicago PD (NBC, 10/9c): Is PD rocking it this year, or what? This show just keeps unchaining the awesome and letting it gush out all over the screen. All eps have been strong so far. Intriguing cases, compelling interpersonal drama. I’m already warmed up to Lindsay and Jay. They’re gorgeous together, and my hopes for Severide/Lindsay (or Severide/anyone, for that matter) went down the tubes ages ago, so why not get on board with Jay and Erin? The love is clearly there between them (you could see it when she came to rescue him in the first ep), and the chemistry sizzles like pancake batter hitting the frying pan. Consider my ship converted. And as for my other ship: Dang, Ruzek, why’d you have to fail the push test? Grrrr. Just show the girl how much you freaking love her and tell her you want to marry her TODAY. And just when things seemed to be getting back on track, the uninvitied houseguests arrive, lol. Al’s new daughter is a character, isn’t she? “I love fettuccini alfredo!” I’ve always enjoyed that actress (she’s been on both The Mentalist and Supernatural). Would love more scenes between her and Al and the rest of the gang. I’m kind of glad he didn’t look at the paternity results – they already had a real relationship, so what was he going to do if she wasn’t his? Just ditch her? I don’t think so. What an awful thing for his wife and other daughter to go through, though. I do think the wife could handle it a wee bit better, but I’ve never been in that situation (thankfully) so who am I to judge? She probably just needs time. Her heart is broken, as is mine after Roman’s little friend died unexpectedly. I think that is probably the worst, when you are thisclose to being able to save someone, and then you can’t. The special day they gave him as the police chief was truly touching. I know folks pull off these special experiences for terminal kids every day, and I just want to say thanks to anyone and everyone who has ever contributed to making a sick child’s dream come true – it means the world to them, even if it only lasts a day.

Score: 8.5/10

THURSDAY

Heroes Reborn (8/7c): I shouldn’t really be one to judge this show, seeing as I was never a big fan the first time around. Of the original series, I watched the end of Season One and all of Season Two. I didn’t return for Season Three. I believe I stopped watching because the only character I actually liked (the flying man, played by Adrian Pasdar) got killed off. However, the commercials for Heroes Reborn were just so darned cool, I had to at least give it a shot. The verdict: It’s entertaining. The stories are interesting. However, it has the same issues that put me off the original series: this is a big-cast, plot-driven show. I like me a smaller-cast, character-driven show. My feeling is that people who liked the original series will enjoy this reboot, but since no one particular character stole my heart this time around, Heroes Reborn is not for me.

Score: None

The Player (10/9c): The commercials looked cool, so I decided to sample. The concept is intriguing and different. I like the lead actor. Some of the stories are neat. However, for whatever reason, I just didn’t feel that connection to the main character. We didn’t synch up, and I had no emotional investment in the episodes. My rule about TV is that if I don’t love the show, or at the very least one of the characters, then my time is better spent elsewhere. I hope others do connect with The Player – it’s a creative concept that’s fairly well executed.

Score: None

Elementary (10/9c): I have to say, I caught a few eps of Sherlock over the summer, and it was FANTASTIC. Like, off the charts. Elementary will really have to be that much better this season in order to impress me, now that I’ve seen its competition in the Holmes department. So, how was the premiere last night, you ask? So far, so good. A strong, character-centered episode with an interesting case on the side. I like how kind everyone was to Sherlock after what he’d been through – you know it can’t last, though. Soon enough he’ll be annoying the crap out of everybody again :).  I feel bad that they’re fired, but I thought they weren’t even getting paid anyway, so how much will this really hurt them? Do they even need to consult for an official law enforcement agency? Can’t they just take private cases like Castle does? That’s typically what Sherlock does in the original stories, anyhow. Private citizens come to him and hire him to solve things. Occasionally those cases intersect with police investigations, but not always. I think Sherlock and Joan will be fine on their own, and kudos to her for staying loyal to him when he needs it most. She also gets the best line of the week: “What’s the hardest you’ve ever been hit?” And she said it so calmly, too! Utterly perfect. The guy totally deserved it after what he said. And it apparently worked, because Sherlock’s dad actually showed up! Can’t wait for next week! 🙂

Score: 7/10

FRIDAY

Grimm (9/8c): Only one ep in, so it’s too early to be overly judgmental, but frankly it was kind of a downer – just like the end of last season. I didn’t really even feel like I was watching Grimm. It wasn’t fun or especially exciting. I just felt bummed out. Nick was chasing after this FBI chick alone, while everyone else stood around doubting his story and his sanity. His mother’s head, his lover’s body and one of his best friends were all missing (and still are). Nick was drugged, attacked, and lost one of his only sources of info on how to find Trubel. Adalind almost lost his baby during labor, and he couldn’t even be there. Really the only highlight for me was that the baby lived, and the sweet moment where they named him Kelly, after Nick’s mom. I think this show needs to be careful right now – there is such a thing as “too dark.” You really need a balance of bad events and good events to keep viewers tuned in. Too much misery, and fans will walk away. There was a time when ER had like five negative stories going all at once, including the terminal illness of one of their most beloved characters. They lost viewers. As did Lois and Clark when they kept the main couple unhappy and separated for months on end. People will wait for happy endings and storyline payoffs, but they won’t wait forever.

Score: 6.5/10

 

And the winner is……..Limitless! Woo hoo! You had me at “resorbed twin.” 🙂

Runner up: Supernatural! Keep it up, guys! Let’s shoot for Season Twelve!

 

More goodies and news for my fellow fans:

Remember: You heard it here first! (Actually, you probably didn’t, but I was nice enough to remind you!)

TV NEWS

The X-Files returns to Fox this January for a six-episode event. One of the perks of watching Gotham live is getting to see X-Files commercials. So far, I’ve seen three different versions. There’s a really short live-action ad which just has Mulder, Scully and Skinner (<-YES!) with some dialogue to the effect of “I can’t do this alone” “I need you” “I’m here.” Then there’s an animated commercial that basically recaps previous events on the show in an artsy, highly stylistic fashion – it has the black oil alien virus and the Cigarette Smoking Man, etc. It’s really cool. And then there’s another live-action one with WAY more clips; there’s all kinds of crap going on in that one and it just looks as exciting as all get-out. Look for it online if you haven’t seen it yet. It’s must-see.

Billed as the third show in the “Chicago Trilogy,” Chicago Med comes to NBC on Tuesday, November 17th at 9/8c. The show will feature characters like Jay’s brother, Severide’s high school friend, and that psychiatrist dude they’ve been aggressively inserting into storylines on Fire and PD for the past few weeks. Did I call it or did I call it? Just wish Amanda Righetti was on the cast , too…

Forever comes out on DVD soon – probably pre-Christmas in the US – and will feature lots of deleted scenes and (presumably) other extras. Can’t wait to add this one to my collection. I am going to watch the crap out of those DVDs! My love for Forever will never die, and my hope for its return will never waver. As fans, we have to just keep asking for what we want. Eventually, they’ll get fed up and give it to us. Futurama came back years after cancellation – with the original cast. With The X-Files, heck, it’s returning after what, decades? Heroes was just reborn, and Unforgettable has more lives than ten cats put together. Forever WILL return. We just have to keep asking, that’s all.

COMIC CONS

If you happen to be in Michigan, and happen to be a huge comic book/superhero fan like me, there are at least two events guaranteed to entertain you this weekend:

Comiquecon is all about GIRL POWER. The event takes place this Saturday from 10am to 7pm at the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. Tickets are $10 in advance, $15 at the door. According to the Detroit Free Press, this event will “focus on the role of female creative artists and fans in the world of comic books and graphic novels.” Sounds awesome, right? More info here: comiquecon.com.

Fantasticon is all about girl power, guy power, and every other power there is. Takes place this Saturday and Sunday at Gibraltar Trade Center North. Hours are 10am-6pm on Saturday, 10am-5pm on Sunday. There will be costume contests. More info at: fantasticon.net.

Have fun! 🙂