New Year, New TV

For the last couple of years, I have used a post in the Fall and another in the new year to talk about upcoming or returning shows that I am excited about.  Last Fall left me without much to say, since there were really only two shows I was interested in – Supergirl and The Muppets.  Both series were given full seasons (Although, The Muppets version of a full season is only 16 episodes, which is unusually short.  The standard is more in the 22 episode range.), but the one additional network series that I ended up watching, Best Time Ever with Neil Patrick Harris, was cancelled by NBC after its run of eight episodes finished.

Otherwise, my TV viewing consisted entirely of returning shows.  The Flash, Elementary, Doctor Who, Agents of SHIELD, and The Big Bang Theory kept me busy throughout the Fall even if one of them (I’m looking at you Big Bang) was barely holding my interest.

The new year has brought a whole new crop of premieres, though, and I plan on watching many of them.  Let’s run down the list, shall we?

Galavant (Sundays on ABC) -  This was one of the strangest shows and most surprising renewals from last season.  Last season, the ratings expert known as the Cancellation Bear was certain that the show was doomed.  Since it was renewed, Galavant started the new run with an episode titled “A New Season aka Suck It Cancellation Bear.”   As for the show itself, it’s a comedic half-hour musical set in a Medieval/Fantasy realm, which is a concept that absolutely should not work.  But it does.  The show is funny, the songs (co-written by Alan Menken of Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin fame) are generally good, and the cast is game for whatever is thrown their way.  Season 2 is running for 10 episodes, but ABC has been airing two a night for the last several Sundays.  There are only two weeks left, but the prior episodes are available On Demand.

Game of Thrones (Sundays on HBO starting on April 24, 2016) – I don’t know what more there is to say about Game of Thrones, which is entering its sixth season.  It’s one of the most popular shows in the world as well as the most pirated series on the planet.  If you aren’t on board by now, starting with Season 6 is a terrible idea.  Go back and start from the beginning.  Interestingly, the show’s creators have reached the end of what has been published.  That means that this season will involve a lot of material created new for the show (With George R.R. Martin’s input). 

The X-Files (Premieres Tonight. Regular Timeslot Mondays on FOX) – I will admit that I am divided about this one.  I loved The X-Files in its prime.  I watched every episode up until the 9th season premiere, at which point I just decided that I didn’t care anymore.  I never finished the show.  When the revival was announced, my first reaction was along the lines of “Really?  Why?”  But I couldn’t resist the lure of seeing David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson back as Mulder and Scully.  Reviews for the premiere episode have been tepid, but supposedly the show picks up.  I hope so.  It’s only a six episode run, so there’s not room for clunkers.

Marvel’s Agent Carter (Tuesdays on ABC) – This was another unlikely renewal.  The show’s eight episode first season, which followed SSR Agent Peggy Carter as she tried to clear Howard Stark’s in 1940’s New York, was a lot of fun and exceptionally well done.  Unfortunately, the ratings were mediocre.  It did score a renewal, though, and Season Two, which premiered this past Tuesday (Full Disclosure: I haven’t had a chance to watch the two-hour premiere yet.), moves the series to Los Angeles for another eight episode run.  The trailers look great, so I’m looking forward to another enjoyable adventure before Agents of SHIELD returns to the timeslot in March.

The Expanse (Tuesdays on Syfy) – The series actually started late last year and is now seven episodes into its ten episode first season.  Fortunately, it’s the ideal kind of show for binging from On Demand or Syfy’s website.  The Expanse is a…well…expansive story set 200 years from now.  Humans have expanded (Yes, I’m using every form of the word I can think of.) into the solar system, establishing a presence on Mars and in the asteroid belt.  Mars has its own government and is in something of a cold war with Earth.  Meanwhile, the residents of the asteroid belt rely on the inner worlds for water and food while they work in miserable conditions mining ores to send back to Earth and Mars.  The show, which is based on a series of novels, has the variety of settings and ever-expanding cast of a space-based Game of Thrones.   The effects and production design are gorgeous.  I just wish that the dialogue and performances weren’t so dry.  I’ve watched six of the seven episodes and plan to finish the season.  At that point, I’ll decide whether or not to continue when it comes back for the already-announced Season Two.

Legends of Tomorrow (Thursdays on The CW) – It feels like The CW has been building up to this new spinoff of Arrow and The Flash for ages now, but it is finally here (I just, as of this writing, haven’t had a chance to watch it yet).  Legends of Tomorrow is about as close to a live-action Justice League series as TV is likely to manage.  In it, several heroes and a couple of villains are recruited by time-traveler Rip Hunter (Played by Arthur Darvill, who already has a bit of time travel experience from his years on Doctor Who.) to help stop a dangerous immortal named Vandal Savage.  With a name like that, how could he be anything but evil?  As long as this show hews closer to the fun of The Flash than the grim and gritty feel of Arrow, I should be on board.

Mythbusters (Saturdays on Discovery Channel) – After 13 years on the air, Mythbusters is coming to an end with an 11 episode final season.  As much as I love the show (I’ve seen EVERY SINGLE EPISODE), I do think it’s time, since they seem to be running out of myths and focusing more and more on things that happened in TV shows and movies.  Still I appreciate everything the series has done for science, and I’m very happy to see that Kari Byron, Grant Imahara, and Tori Bellecci, who left the series a couple of seasons ago, will be back for the finale. 

Beyond these, Netflix is also premiering the second seasons of two shows I really enjoyed last year – Daredevil (March 18) and The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (April 15).  As is standard for Netflix, the entire seasons of these shows will be available in one shot.  I don’t know what Kimmy Schmidt has on tap for the season, but Daredevil will be introducing The Punisher (Played by Jon Bernthal, formerly of The Walking Dead), which should make for an interesting time in Hell’s Kitchen.  Marvel and Netflix must be pleased with Bernthal’s performance, since they are already talking about a Punisher series.   I just hope I can get through Jessica Jones before Daredevil premieres.  My progress has been much slower than I would like.  That does not reflect on the quality of the show.  It’s wonderful, and it’s done something that I thought was impossible.  It has made me want to punch David Tennant in the face.

On that unnecessarily violent note, I shall bring this to a close.  Happy viewing!

- Alan Decker

@CmdrAJD on Twitter