Posts Tagged ‘ bull ’

Things I didn’t bother with this year

So one of the big things I clearly didn’t bother with this year was to keep on top of my reviews and actually post me review of the television year before the new seasons all began. I was trying to finish some things off before posting the summaries because otherwise it was a surprisingly short list of shows. There were however a few shows that I just didn’t bother with this year, and thought it would be a good idea to bundle them all together so they didn’t pollute the others.

Criminal Minds: Season 12 – when did this show get so poor? I realise that after a couple of hundred episodes the writers may start to struggle and the actors may get a bit bored, but this season feels like some kind of step change in quality. I mean it’s just bad. The dialogue from the writers and delivery from the actors are just amateur, like everyone is phoning it in, it’s full of clichĂ©’s utterly lacking in subtlety and painful to listen to. I know they’ve had a lot of change in the cast, but I don’t think it’s because Morgan and Hotch left, or Alvez joined. Tara has never really come out as a character, and Prentis isn’t working in her new role as leader, she’s just too wooden (I think Paget Brewster is better suited to comedy and struggles to carry the weight of the drama necessary for the leader of the team). Reid is more of a caricature than ever and the only point of life is Garcia who just cannot do it all by herself. Time to retire this one I think.

Fargo: Season 3– I really enjoyed the first two seasons, but I didn’t even last half hour of this one before I lost interest. Having the same actor playing brothers just feels like a completely unnecessary gimmick. It’s not the Ewan McGregor couldn’t play either role, but I just didn’t want to spend my time trying to suspend my brain from continually working out how they edited scenes together. Nothing else jumped out as interesting, so I gave up.

Code Black and The Night Shift – both haave the same problem. The first seasons were enjoyable tosh, but I just couldn’t be bothered to continue watching. A few characters I liked disappeared, the melodrama ramped up and it just felt too artificial for any real engagement. Life’s too short.

Bull: Season 1– I managed about three quarters of the season and I kept thinking that as I was so close to the end I should just stick with it. But I once again realised that life’s too short to watch mediocre television. Particularly when it’s just making me sad to see a talented cast wasted on utterly mediocre ideas and writing. It was so formulaic and derivative that I can’t believe anyone involved was really putting any effort in or cared about the output. The idea of the show was just too narrow to really support a full 20 odd episode season, particularly given they decided to have almost no arc stories at all, each episode was completely standalone with no plots or character development spanning multiple episodes. A waste.

Grey’s Anatomy: Season 12 – Season 12 finished in a place that I was incredibly unhappy with. I’ve always like the character that Alex grew into, starting out as an obnoxious arsehole and gradually showing where he came from and allowing the other characters to influence him into a better person. Then the writers had him beat the crap out of someone because he was jealous. I thought I’d let a few episodes of the new season build up to see where they went with that, and reading the spoilers I liked the direction even less, as it seemed to be verging dangerously into victim blaming. So I decided not to watch. I kept reading spoilers, and there really wasn’t anything in there that made me want to watch again. It wasn’t just Alex, other characters were frustrating too (ugh – Amelia) and I just didn’t want to watch. So I didn’t bother. That makes me sad, because I adore this show. I’ve read similar frustrations from reviewers online, but they seem to be a bit more positive about the new season, so maybe I’ll just pretend this season never happened.

The Good Fight: Season 1 – I adored the early seasons of The Good Wife, but I lost interest to the extent that I didn’t even get through the final season. I felt the writers rushed things a bit and characters went in directions I either didn’t believe or didn’t want to believe they’d go. I tried The Good Fight because, well, Christine Baranski. But I never really felt like watching more. It sat on my Sky box for months waiting for me to get to it before I finally gave up and deleted it. It may have been great, but I just wasn’t feeling it.

The Defenders: Season 1: I loved Jessica Jones, liked Luke Cage and even sat through Iron Fist just so that I could be more up to speed for The Defenders, but I haven’t yet made it beyond episode 2. I was bored. Even though I’d watched 3 out of 4 of the components, I didn’t remember enough of the plots to really pull everything together and there was absolutely zero help from the writers to elegantly remind you. I’d even have been happy with an inelegant “previously on…” few minutes at the start. I didn’t engage at all, but I will give it another try.

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Bull: Pilot Review

I’ve slightly got out of the habit of reviewing pilots, I keep thinking that I want to give them more time to see how they’ll play out. But given that I didn’t have anything else to write about this week, I figured I might as well try it again. Then I cheated and also watched the second episode, but it’s close enough right?

Bull is so generic it could be used in a text book. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, I mean the ‘standards’ are there for a reason, but it does mean that it’s entering a crowded field and trying to stand out on charm alone. The good thing is that the one thing that it has going for it is Michael Weatherly who is charm personified. They are pretty much pinning the show on the fact that millions of people tuned into NCIS each week, and heaven knows it wasn’t for the plots, so a good chunk of them must have liked the cast, and Michael Weatherly is one of the few that had been there from the beginning.

I’ll confess, that would likely be enough for me to give the show a chance, I’ve actually like Weatherly since his earlier role on Dark Angel and he has one of my favourite traits in an actor, the ability to be funny and heartbreaking all in the same simple line of dialogue. I got tired of the character on NCIS because the writing was so inconsistent, frequently reverting to him being the immature fool just to support whatever gap there was in the story each week. This then, is a great opportunity, he’s not the comic relief, he’s the boss. Yes a ‘quirky’ one who seems to let his team boss him around a fair amount, but he’s the expert and he’s in charge.

Everything else you could almost fill in from a book of cliches and the writers make very little effort to hide that. I mean the idea itself is just a bog standard legal drama, with the variation on a theme that this one is focussed on understanding and manipulating the jury, by understanding what their psychological drivers are. It’s Lie to Me or Criminal Minds in a courtroom, The Good Wife with psychology.

Surrounding Bull is the usual collection of sidekicks – hackers, lawyers, investigators, advisors. It’s like a mix and match recipe with elements of characters from other series all muddled up. It’s a little unfortunate that rival new show Conviction came up with almost exactly the same characters from the mixture, but that show has tanked in the ratings so I guess Bull will win by default. Again, the tropes that are being used do work, they make for quirky and likeable characters with enough hints at depth that their backstories can dribble out over multiple seasons. But it’s just a bit tiresome.

The first two episodes follow the standard ‘Case of the Week’ structure, plenty of opportunity to explain how things work to both the clients and the audience (that’ll get tedious quickly though). The stories were unremarkable and fairly predictable, and each focused a little too lecturingly on built in biases, but optimistically the writers were just hoping we’d be too distracted by all the introductions to really care about the plot and are holding the good stuff for later.

The above all sounds pretty critical, but for all the cynicism, all those tropes exist for a reason – they work. The building blocks are immediately there for Weatherly to work with and get the charm across and I was engaged enough to come back next week. It’s not the kind of thing that’s going to win awards, have any critical praise at all, or even really make it onto any “must watch” lists, but it is the kind of thing that is very watchable and easy enough to watch while eating dinner. So long as that’s what they’re going for, then they’ve done just the bare minimum they need to succeed. If they wanted more than that, then they need to buck things up.

The Upfronts 2016: CBS

cbsCBS is traditionally the home of the franchise procedurals, with the majority of the schedules filled with CSIs and NCISs. But the last CSI is officially dead leaving the network feeling a little like it’s lost its defining feature. NCIS powers ever onwards though, and with The Big Bang Theory still regularly topping the ratings, CBS shows no signs of faltering.

What’s cancelled
goodwifeThe Good Wife was a bit of an anomaly at CBS, not a huge ratings success but kept on the air because it was a critical and award hit, often one of the few network shows to appear amongst the offerings of HBO, Showtime, Netflix and Amazon. It’s amazing it lasted as long as it did, but maybe that’s not such a good thing given that the last couple of seasons showed a significant fall off in quality (I haven’t summoned the enthusiasm to get through season 7 yet). Person of Interest was another surprisingly long runner, cancelled after its 5th season. I never made it past the pilot. Mike & Molly was cancelled after its sixth season, again surprising that it lasted this long given Melissa McCarthy’s accelerating film career. The only thing surprising about CSI:Cyber’s cancellation was that it made it to a second season.

Only two freshmen shows were cancelled at CBS, Rush Hour, a generic buddy-cop procedural based on the film of the same name which lasted just 8 episodes; and Angel from Hell, the Jane Lynch comedy that was pulled after only 5 episodes.

Supergirl manages an odd trick of being both cancelled and back, it’s renewed for a second season but will move to The CW, which seems an infinitely better fit for it.

What’s back
NCISNCIS continues to occupy half the schedule and the tops of the ratings charts. Original Flavour is renewed for season 14 AND 15, Los Angeles goes into season 8 and New Orleans gets a third season. I still just about watch the LA variant, but only while ironing. Criminal Minds is renewed for a twelfth season (although I keep thinking they must run out of serial killer ideas eventually!) and has finally managed to get a spin-off to stick with Beyond Borders getting a second season and hopefully some budget either to actually travel to more locations or at least for better green-screening.

Continuing the action/procedural thread are Hawaii Five-0 and Blue Bloods both going into seventh seasons, Elementary going into a fifth and Scorpion (which has somehow completely passed me by) getting a third. Madam Secretary is a slightly odd ball on the schedule as a political drama, but the rather over-dramatised cheese does sort of fit, and it’s now going into its third season.

The Big Bang TheoryCBS has a pretty solid comedy line up, driven by the phenomenally popular Big Bang Theory, which goes into a tenth season. 2 Broke Girls continues onwards into season 6 and Mom goes into season 4.

Freshman shows that are picked up for seconds – Code Black, an overblown but entertaining medical drama and Zoo which I understand to be a pretty hilariously dumb “wild animals attack the world” show. Comedies The Odd Couple and Life in Pieces get second seasons too.

New Shows

Bull – Dr Bull is a jury analyst, fighting cases through psychology and manipulation. The concept is at least a slightly different take on standard legal procedurals and reminded me a bit of Lie to Me which I liked a lot. But what really sells it is Michael Weatherly who may have stepped out of a going-nowhere role on NCIS to land a real winner.

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The Great Indoors – holy crap, this is a terrible, terrible trailer. From the obvious script, stilted delivery, and wooden junior cast through to the cheap staging and horrific laugh track. The blurb actually uses the word “millennials”. Joe McHale (Community) should be in something so much better.

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Kevin Can Wait – Kevin James retires from the police force and has to deal with his family. How sad for him and how sad for the audience.

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Pure Genius – while Fox is showing what happens when a technical genius takes over a police force, ABC is looking at what they can do when they take over a hospital. It looks even more likely to fall into the same traps of magic and miracles, this time just with more emotional manipulation along the way.

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Man with a Plan – Here in the 21st century, yet another comedy about a man who’s forced to actually parent his own children. This time starring Matt LeBlanc and yet another awful laughter track.

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Training Day – Another one based on a film for no good reason. Dirty(ish) cop takes on good intentioned trainee. Shouting and shooting occur. Boring.