Hatfields & McCoys is a lengthy, boring slog of nothingness. There are these two families, the Hatfields and McCoys, two family names synonymous with feuding, and History thought they should try dramatize their conflict (it's better than aliens at least!). But who knew feuding could be so lifeless? There is nothing about the miniseries that is memorable, no moments that stick up as exemplars of good television. The characters are blank, random people who go through the motions as one would expect. The only thing different about them is that they are explicitly called Hatfields or McCoys, Otherwise they are all the same, Southern men with these time-bound notions of honor and family. As far as the plot goes, the feud is equally lifeless as the characters. One side does something, the other retaliates, some try to stem the fighting, but it continues on through generations. Then there is this cliched Romeo and Juliet story which is unresolved as the first of three parts ends on a cliffhanger. I wouldn't have so much problems with H&C if it weren't so damn long. Two hours! Two hours for 5 relevant plot points!
Last week's episode of Girls focused solely on Hannah and this week's episode focused on a single location with all the characters. It was very cool to see how all the characters get in one place, when they typically are in many different places. The episode more or less follows the path of previous episodes, with serious flaws in each character and what they're doing. But it always turns out okay, sort of, with acceptance of what they have.
Veep took a big turn when it's revealed that Selina is pregnant. This would be a large change, even if the marriage proposal lies are believed. Part of me doesn't think the pregnancy will actually be true or come to completion. Previous public embarrassments are forgotten by the next episode, but an actual pregnancy, big belly and all, could change things. We'll see.
Continuum is a show which premiered in Canada only this Sunday. Luckily the internet is out there, so anyone is out there. A lot of it is what you would expect of Canadian sci-fi. The ideas are good, which are probably enough to carry the show far, the acting is solid but not great, many actors are familiar faces, and the scripts could use more logic. All in all, it has some good ideas with time travel and future tech, making it worthwhile to watch. I wouldn't be surprised if it showed up on the Syfy channel one day, as it fits the sci-fi lite billing well.
Mad Men has had really skeevy situations from time to time, but I'm not sure if it has ever had something like Joan pimped out by the partners to land Jaguar. Appalling behavior from the characters, especially from Lane and Pete. And Don, yes Don, turns out to be the only good guy left. Sadly, he talked to Joan too late to make a difference. The little fake out the writers did was funky, but it worked. In the end Joan gets a 5% share, but she's lost her dignity, and can only stare at Peggy leaving the firm she is ever more entwined with. Ginsburg once again proves to be an advertising king, coming up with the Jaguar slogan while Don pitched it. With two episodes left in the season, we could see plenty of changes, with Megan potentially going away and Peggy already out the door. With most of this season finished, it's pretty clear Mad Men's yearlong hiatus did nothing to slow its narrative power.
Game of Thrones doesn't have the budget of Lord of the Rings, but that doesn't mean a large-scale battle doesn't have to be spectacular. After a season of war drums, Stannis finally arrived at King's Landing in the battle of his life and what a battle it was. The camera stays at ground level so the viewer gets an up close view of everything, limbs getting severed, heads getting sliced, and everything in between. It's a brutal battle with thousands, not hundreds, of deaths, as Stannis says, and even the Hound runs off with his tail between his legs. At the same, Cersei hides with the rest of the women and all she can do is lament what's happened, unable to take up a sword and fight. There is a bit of drama with Shae, but the scenes are mostly for Cersei to show the women's role in Westeros. The fighting is over when Tywin and the Tyrells save the day and Stannis is driven off, leaving King's Landing with plenty of bodies and tears, but no new king.
Book spoilers: The entire episode focused on the battle, so on some level there weren't many deviations. I do have a complaint with regards to how the wildfire/Davos parts were handled. In the book, we see Tyrion, many chapters before the battle, telling the blacksmiths to stop making weapons and armor and instead build links. This leads to the eventual battle, Stannis's fleet with Davos sailing up the river where eventually another ship rams a Lannister ship filled with wildfire. Then, Tyrion orders the chain raised and a wall of wildfire blocks off all channels of escape and Stannis's ships have no choice but to land. The way the show portrays the battle undercuts the intelligence of Tyrion and Davos. Book Tyrion had the immense foresight to forgo all weapons and armor production just to build the chain, a risky and correct move. Book Davos was not in charge of the fleet so he didn't have any extra responsibility, and was smart enough to steer clear of the ship laden with wildfire while the arrogant lords were not. This speaks to the strengths and weaknesses of the books vs. television. George R.R. Martin is a master of the grand scheme, weaving together countless people into a seamless tale and the length of a novel allows him to do that. On the other hand, television can get to the nitty gritty of battle, showing the visceral impact of battle on a ground level that words simply can't show.
Awake ended with plenty of unanswered questions leftover, although not in the normal way a show would. I greatly appreciate Kyle Killen's vision for the show and television in general. Yes, he's failed twice with Lone Star and now Awake, but boy does he have a knack for making things work. The mysteries of Awake were always about the mind, never a human conspiracy. It was not like Lost where people's behavior couldn't be explained through any rational thought. The human brain is as complex as it gets, and no one knows the limits to it. Awake explores these ideas with the red and green (seriously, it looks blue to me, but Killen keeps saying green) worlds and the two shrinks who provided competing arguments over which reality was real. At the same time, importantly, Awake was a human drama about a man dealing with the deaths of his son and wife while living with him in alternate worlds, and Jason Isaacs really brought the emotional heft needed for the role. In the end, the everything in the red world falls apart, as Britten is caught and jailed halfway through the episode. This leads to a trippy sequence of events in which viewers can decided whatever they want to believe. Either the red world has been a coping mechanism and the blue world is real, or vice versa. It's hard to say which one is more plausible. Maybe the red one is real, but his brain convinced himself that the blue is real as a way to deal with being jailed. And then he wakes up in this yellow world--Rex and Hannah are still alive. For finality's sake, I'll choose to believe this world is real and the other two were just bad nightmares, but it's pretty clear the show would have a lot more to explore in the future.
As for why the show failed, it's hard to point at any one thing that failed it. The acting was top-notch all around, even Dylan Minnette who stands in stark contrast to the painful acting by teens in television. Awake didn't have the flashy draw of Alcatraz or the star power of Touch. Sadly these are the two things that would have made the show worse. Awake was a show about humans, not an island, and certainly Kiefer Sutherland would not be able to convey subtlety Jason Isaacs did. It was a solid show through in through, but network television is a tough bitch to crack and it didn't work out.
Revenge: Plan as Emily did, things just didn't go right for her. She was fighting for her father this whole time, and her father's words all those years ago turn out to be her undoing. She doesn't carry through with killing the white haired man and he goes on to ruin everything. Funny how these things work. Despite all her efforts, Emily was human in the end, affected by the feelings normal people have and she couldn't pull through. Looking ahead to the next season, there is plenty still going on. The organization the white haired man is working for is now the main target (hopefully this doesn't turn into Burn Notice where nothing ever gets resolved), fakeAmanda/realEmily is pregnant, and we still have to find out what happened to Victoria, Lydia, and Charlotte. I would be surprised if the writers killed off Victoria, considering how delightfully evil she is.
Modern Family has been relegated to the pleasant comedies section my mind, alongside TBBT and others. I don't look forward to watching a new episode each week. While I normally don't have anything negative to say about the show, the whole telenovela subplot in the season finale baffled me. I mean, I get that it's trying to draw a weird parallel between that situation and Haley moving in with Dylan, but the situation is so far out there that the consequences, Mitch and Cam not getting the baby, feels unearned.
I can't believe Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23's first season is already over after 7 episodes. I know we'll be able to watch the show next season, but there are already 6 finished episodes ready to be watched! I'm not entirely sure James Van Der Beek should have his own plots away from June and Chloe, but the rest of the episode with the Japanese comic book of Chloe was the zany plots we've come to know. Krysten Ritter brought the spunk and indifference while Dreama Walker had the innocence, and together they make an likable team.
Okay, I'll say it: the Glee season finale was good. As it progressed from the first season, Glee became more of a fantasy, events flying by with no regard for consequences (remember the Quinn debacle earlier in the season when she was a total psycho?), and almost everything that happened to the characters was positive. Rarely did they have to confront reality for more than two consecutive episodes. However, the finale finally did what was necessary and injected some much needed reality into the show. Not everyone is a winner, and not everyone gets what they want. Everyone has dreams--only some reach them. Perhaps the writers played the long con, building up towards the season finale by having everything good happen to trick us into believing the season would end on a positive note as the characters graduated--though that's rather unlikely. Perhaps the writers realized they needed to continue with these characters so they could reap more money from albums, etc, as the cynic would say.
In any case, the final fourth of the episode is realistic and sad, and Lea Michele sells her scenes very well. Rachel gets into NYADA, but everything else goes wrong. Kurt doesn't get in, and not only is Finn not going with her, he's going to the army. Considering that they were going to get married before Quinn's car crash, this is a major game changer. As Rachel breaks down crying, we realize that three seasons of high school aren't going to end happily, that for everything Rachel and Finn have been through, things just aren't going to work out for them--until season four.