Our Season Thus Far

A few weeks ago in THIS post, I previewed the new television series premiering this Fall that I would be watching.  Now that the new series have aired a couple of episodes (well, most of them), I’ve gotten a sense of what the shows are going to be like and whether or not I will be sticking around.  Let’s see where things stand:

CONSTANTINE – This one is easy.  The show doesn’t premiere until this Friday - 10/24.

 

GOTHAM ­– Gotham was the first of the new shows to air, and, as of this writing, I’ve been able to watch four episodes, which has given me a sense of what the show is going to be.  I have to admit that I am divided.  Certain elements I like quite a bit.  The Oswald Cobblepot plot is moving along nicely, and I like the actor they’ve cast in the role, Robin Lord Taylor.   The show has also backed off on all of the foreshadowing, which was pretty heavy-handed in the pilot.  Instead of having Harvey Bullock slam Edward Nigma for telling so many riddles, they’re letting Nigma just do his thing. 

The last two episodes have been entertaining and given us killers with unusual MOs, while not going so far as to make them the kind of full-on freaks that Batman will be facing later on.  More problematically, these episodes have struggled to find a way to work Jada Pinkett Smith’s Fish Mooney and David Mazouz’ Bruce Wayne into the story (Admittedly, the 10/13 episode was more successful on the Bruce front).  I imagine this is going to be a continuing issue going forward, particularly with Bruce.

What it comes down to is that I like the show more than I don’t, but I really wonder how it can sustain itself.  Everything just seems to be happening way too early.  If this was the first season of a show where Bruce was just completing his training, basically a Batman: Year Zero, I think I’d be more on board.  We could see the pieces moving into place in Gotham, and maybe the first season would end with Bruce donning the cowl for the first time.  Most of the characters and elements of Gotham would completely work in such a scenario.  Jim Gordon’s relationship with Barbara is the one exception. 

The FOX network just ordered six more episodes, so it sounds like the show will be sticking around.  And for now, so will I.

 

SELFIE – After the pilot, I wondered how this show would sustain itself.  The second episode answered the question by undoing a bit of the character progress made in the pilot.  At the end of the first episode, Karen Gillan’s Eliza had made some steps toward being a better person with the help of John Cho’s Henry.  He’s still helping her in the second episode, but she doesn’t seem to be nearly as driven to change.  Also seemingly-erased was the bonding she’d done with her neighbor.  I can understand this decision, since it did seem like they were moving through avenues of character growth at a fairly rapid clip in the pilot. 

Episode two was a mix of funny and awful.  Henry’s Facebook adventures were amusing but seemed a bit dated considering how long Facebook has been around.  This is not a show that is going to age well.  Eliza’s plot was nearly intolerable, and I say that even though I adore Karen Gillan.  

I decided to give the show one more chance, but it was precariously close to losing its place on my DVR when the third episode aired.  Unfortunately for Selfie, the third episode was pretty much a comedy-free zone.  I chuckled once.  Gillan and Cho deserve so much better.  Based on the show’s ratings, I’m not the only one tuning out.  It may very well be one of the first cancelations of the season.

 

THE FLASH – I’ve only had two episodes to use to evaluate this series, and, despite the fact that the pilot had a lot of positive buzz, I wasn’t incredibly impressed.  The dialogue was incredibly hokey in spots, and I wasn’t sold on Grant Gustin as Barry Allen.  That said, I think they handled the basic premise well.  The villains on parent series Arrow can be regular humans with fighting skills or maybe technology or drug enhancements because Oliver Queen is just a guy who can fight and who’s good with a bow and arrow.  The Flash, meanwhile, needs more of a challenge.  Using the explosion of the particle accelerator to create an entire array of metahumans for him to face provides that challenge.  Also, the glimpse of the news article from 2024 at the end of the pilot was quite the hook.  A Crisis?  Really?  I can’t imagine that the creators are planning on a ten-year run, so I’m very curious to find out how they are going to play this out.

Episode two was a big improvement.  The dialogue was stronger, Gustin’s take on Barry grew on me, and I really enjoyed the relationship between Barry and Detective Joe West, played by Jesse L. Martin.  Also, Tom Cavanagh’s Dr. Harrison Wells continues to be intriguing.  If The Flash can maintain or preferably build on what I saw in the second episode, I’m on board.

 

GRACEPOINT – I knew going in that this was going to be an odd show to watch, since I’d seen every episode of the British version, Broadchurch.  So far, the first few episodes have stuck very close to the original series.  The changes, such as what Nick Nolte’s character does when he's not running a store, have been incredibly minor.  Nolte, arguably the biggest name in the cast, hasn’t had enough screen-time to make an impression.  David Tennant is playing the same character again, and I haven’t noticed any big differences in his portrayal, other than his efforts at an American accent.  Anna Gunn is doing solid work as Detective Ellie Miller, but the rest of the cast is so far just kind of there. 

I’ve gathered from reading comments from TV critics who have had access to the entire ten-episode run that the divergence comes around episode seven.  I suppose I could just start watching then, but I’m going to stick with this to refresh my memory on all of the characters and clues before we head down the new path.  That is, of course, assuming that FOX airs all of the episodes.  The ratings have not been good.

 

A TO Z – I enjoyed the pilot for this series, but the first 10 minutes of episode two almost brought my relationship with the show to an abrupt close.  We were already getting hit with romantic comedy clichés.  Also, the supporting characters, other than the Indian programmer, were annoying me.  I stuck it out because I still like the two leads (Cristin Milioti and Ben Feldman).  The ending of the episode brought back the sweetness of the pilot that I enjoyed and bought the show another week of life in my DVR. 

Episode Three, however, continued the downward trend I saw with the second episode.  Once again, we were in the land of Three’s Company level misunderstandings.  I diligently finished the episode, though, and then I erased the series recording from my DVR.  Sorry, Cristin.  Maybe your next series will be better.  And I have a feeling she’ll be looking for a new one soon, since A to Z’s ratings have been pretty awful.

 

So Gotham, The Flash, and Gracepoint (For its limited run) join the likes of Doctor Who, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and Top Gear in my weekly watch list.  I’m sure they’re relieved.  It remains to be seen if Constantine will make the cut.

If you’re interested in television ratings from a brutally realistic perspective, I recommend following Cancellation Bear on Twitter (@TheCancelBear).  Find out if your favorite show will survive or become bear chow.

- Alan Decker

@CmdrAJD on Twitter