Tuesday, April 30, 2019

TV Timeout

Quick thoughts on some of the television I'm watching right now. Warning -- spoilers ahead for any of these shows:

Game of Thrones

  • The last episode was basically unwatchable. Not because it was bad -- although it wasn't great -- but literally: it was so dark and blurry you basically couldn't see anything.
  • It's rare one says this about Game of Thrones but -- they were too skimpy on the character killing. Pretty much every major character came out alive. The big exceptions -- Theon, Jorah -- were at the end of redemption arcs anyway. There were no "shocking" or even particularly tragic deaths. Jaime, Brienne, or Grey Worm would've worked fine. Maybe GoT has gone soft in its old age.
  • I like Arya killing the Night King. I'd have liked it more if she had directly used some of the shape-shifting assassin skill she'd been developing, rather than sort of jumping out of ... nowhere? How did she get there? Is that supposed to be the assassin skill?
Billions
  • While I continue to think this is one of the best shows on television right now, I must admit I'm not enjoying this season quite as much as some of the others. Chuck's plot, in particular, seems to be spinning its wheels a bit. But the Taylor/Axe fight, which I think holds a lot of potential, still for me seems to mostly involve them circling each other and sending out skirmishes. I want a real battle.
  • You know who's due for a plot? Sacker.
  • I also don't like the direction they've taken the Rhodes' sex life. Showtime has often been weirdly good about handling non-normative sexuality in the least likely places (see also: a gender-fluid teenager in "House of Lies"), and I appreciated how it treated BDSM as non-pathological. This season? Definitely pathological. And that's putting aside Chuck's reveal on  national television -- I'm talking about him physically mutilating himself because he "needs" the pain.
  • I do like that they quickly and, I hope, permanently disposed of the Russian oligarch character. One thing I've liked about Billions is that it resists the easy play that rich = utterly amoral such that they'd all just being willing to kill people to get what they want. Yes, they destroy lives via other means, but it is more realistic characterization that they think of what they do as very distinct from violent crime, and willingness to do the one does not translate to the other. The Russian plotline threatened to upset that, and I'm glad it went away.
  • Wendy is a straight-up monster, it turns out. Was she always so, or is this character development? I'm not sure, and I don't think that speaks well of how the arc has charted out. But Mafee sure earned that rant.
  • Speaking of Mafee, I'm worried about him. He's one of the very few "good guys" left on this show, which makes him a prime target for Axe to destroy/Taylor to betray. I don't want to see him get hurt.
  • Above notwithstanding, I absolutely do want to see him in a boxing match with Dollar Bill.
  • Taylor's dad = B+. Axe's new girlfriend = A+. Dollar Bill's "final solution" for the chicken problem = A++++.
American Ninja Warrior Junior
  • Just renewed for Season Two! This was a great show -- the kids were both adorable and talented, and the conceit of the show transitioned well.
  • While I won't say she's destined for a career on television, Laurie Hernandez worked as a sideline reporter. Also, placing Laurie -- who is basically defined by being "small" and "graceful" -- next to a bunch of nine-year-olds who make her look like a lumbering giantess is a never-ending source of visual comedy for me.
  • One point of adjustment: the pacing of the show on a season-wide level. The prelims lasted forever. And then there was no change to the course even in the semifinal or final round. Give those who advance a new challenge!
Brooklyn Nine-Nine
  • I'd say the jump to NBC is a success. There hasn't been a huge shift in tone, though it does seem like perhaps we're getting a bit more fan service than normal (hey -- we earned it for saving the show).
  • Oh, also NBC allows bleeping, which allowed the writers to set-up Santiago's fantastic "This B wants a C in her A" moment.
  • Obviously sad to see Gina go -- but happy that Scully and Hitchcock made the main credits!
Project Runway
  • I have to say, I like Karlie Kloss -- she who, as I've taken to putting it, "married one of the good Kushners" -- more than I thought I would. Like Heidi, she's sooooo pretty, but also seems fun and nice. She's doing a good job. Way to represent team Jew, Karlie!
  • The new judges are forgettable and should just let Nina run things. More surprising is that Christian Siriano isn't popping on screen at all. He's definitely no replacement for Tim Gunn.
  • I am enjoying the budding Hester/Tessa rivalry. I'm on Team Tessa -- I like her clean, sharp looks. Hester sometimes does cool things, but also sometimes seems like a Rainbow Brite doll who got locked in a rave for six years.
  • Surprisingly, the producers have done a decent job keeping the challenges feeling fresh and novel. Good job, producers!

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