Season premiere – The Exorcist – 2016/17

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I honestly don’t know what to make of the premiere of The Exorcist. Based on the description, I figured it would go maybe 4 episodes and nose dive. I’m not as certain, but that’s still my prediction after watching the premiere.

Now, the Exorcist comes in with a truckload of baggage and name recognition, depending on your view. The premise for the series is the old priest, scarred by years of fighting and losing, somehow spiritually tied with a young idealized Latino priest who has never felt called by God before. Together they will take on a demon possessing a young girl whose friend died in a car accident a few months before. Mom is worried about her, including that there seem to be really weird things going on in the house. AKA demon possession.

The young priest doesn’t really believe at first, until he dreams about the old priest and his experiences, and then witnesses the girl himself in full battle mode.

The two priests are played by Alfonso Herrara (young priest) and Ben Daniels (old priest). I am not familiar with either one, but they had some gravitas in the pilot, some strong acting potential there.

Geena Davis and Alan Ruck as the girl’s parents? Thelma / Dottie (Thelma and Louise, A League of Their Own) and Cameron (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off) would not be on my likely list. She only has one real scene where there is any emotional resonance going on, and another where there’s some character revealed. But Ruck is about as catatonic as Cameron was when the car’s odometer wouldn’t go backwards.

The only bright spot that I saw was the daughter, Brianne Howey. She was downright sparkly and creepy at the same time.

Now, to be fair, I was never likely to be a fan of this show as they up the horror factor. But the main reason I can’t tell what’s happening is that the show preview for next week makes it look like there will be two parts to the series:

  1. Ongoing story trying to save Casey from the possession; and,
  2. Cases of the week as the two priests investigate other happenings going on in Chicago.

Supernatural has the ground easily covered for the case-of-the-week in a far more accessible format, and when Constantine tried to tred the same ground two years ago, it was cancelled after half a season. I just don’t see either pillar carrying the show long enough for it to catch on with anyone.

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Season premiere – MacGyver – 2016/17

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As I mentioned in my last post about Blue Bloods, I have a pretty high tolerance for a show with cheese factor, so I wasn’t immediately turned off by the idea of rebooting MacGyver. I figured I would give it one episode to test it out, but I fully expect it to not make it past the mid-season mark. Having watched that first episode, I find it hard to believe it got past the pilot.

Lucas Till plays MacGyver, and his acting and fight scenes are relatively okay. Not much more being asked of him than his X-Men outings. The bigger problem for him is that the reboot has taken the original narration device and kicked it into major exposition overdrive. Along with an odd documentary style text overlay where they label some of the things he’s building (like an episode of MythBusters or something). Highly disruptive to getting into the story. Way overload.

His partner is played by George Eads of CSI fame, and while I didn’t mind him on CSI, he is incredibly annoying here. Every relationship he has is irritating to watch.

Their boss is “Director Thornton”, played by Sandrine Holt. She’s been in a fair number of shows for a season or two, none of which I watched, and a lot of guest spots, many of which I’ve seen and didn’t really notice. She’s background for most of the guest spots, not key plot development potential, and I have no idea what her “role” is supposed to be in the team. Close, distant, completely weird dynamic and I never got a bead on her.

They have a new field analyst in the episode, Riley. Played by Tristan Mays who I’ve never seen before, she is the only bright spot in the whole dang episode. A bit sassy, a bit confident, a bit street. She’s great. Her character goes from “bad criminal girl” to “hey, thanks for giving me this great job” in a single episode, but hey, whatever. The writing sucked, the plot was worse, but she shone. I suspect her character turns out to be Eads’ daughter, but I won’t be watching to see it.

There are two baddies in the episode and I thought one might stick around. The first “baddie” is Vinnie Jones who was the heart of Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, but equally shone in his episodes of Elementary playing Moriarty’s henchman. I expected him to disappear in one episode perhaps, and he does. The second “baddie”, and this is a spoiler alert, is played by Tracy Spiridakos.

I really liked her as Charlie on Revolution, and as she is revealed to be a traitor to the group, I was hoping for some “oomph” from her in the episodes. Maybe some sort of super baddie for the future. She’s not listed for any of the other episodes though, so likely a future occasionally returning character. Too bad, she could have added some meat or gravitas to their weekly stakes. Equally unfortunate, the episode uses about a tenth of what she’s capable of doing. The opening scenes are very different from who she is later, and you could be forgiven for thinking it is really two different characters as the arc linking the two is relatively off-screen and a stereotype/action trope to boot.

Poor acting. Poor plotting. Bad dialogue. And way over the top exposition / narration. I don’t mind cheese, but stinky moldy cheese is too much even for me.

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Season premiere – Blue Bloods – 2016/17

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I’d like to tell you that Blue Bloods is amazing TV. I’d like to tell you about the great plots, wonderful acting, scintillating dialogue. Or the action. Or anything that explains why I continue to watch this cheesy show. With almost only one exception, all of the acting is relatively basic. Tom Selleck is fantastic as Papa Reagan, and the rest are good, but rarely do I see any scene where I think, “Wow, give them an Emmy!”.

As BB enters it’s seventh season, it’s a pretty straightforward episode. Danny shot a serial killer at the end of the previous season, the department cleared him, but now the State AG’s office is convening a grand jury. And if Danny loses his temper with them and appears like a hothead, the grand jury is likely to send him to full trial. Meanwhile, Jamie is investigating a vehicular manslaughter case where the driver was intoxicated, but claims he wasn’t the one driving.

Neither case is particularly compelling, but it’s the standard fare for Blue Bloods. And I’ll tune in next week to see more of the same. Mostly cuz Tom Selleck does such a great job as Mr. Integrity and Honour.

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Season premiere – Rosewood – 2016/17

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Last season, I started watching Rosewood and it kind of grew on me. It had a bit of a Castle feel to it, and I liked the vibe. Plus the always rosey Rosie was a bit of a change from the broody grumpy types that often inhabit procedurals. At the end of the season, the “will they or won’t they” storyline came almost to a climax, with the deed imminent. But in Castle-like fashion, Rosie dropped the bomb — he had looked at Villa’s dead husband’s case, and thought it was murder, not accidental death. No more lovemaking, no more romance, no more partnership.

The season opened with a dead college girl, and I confess I never felt anything for her all episode. Her story was cliche but more importantly, her scenes were scant of emotional resonance. The rest of the episode was about picking up pieces from the season finale. Pippi is off doing her music thing, so her romance was dead. The Captain is relegated to being a junior detective, and there’s a new Captain starting. And, just for fun, Villa and Rosie are trying to figure out how to work together now that Rosie blew the whole romance thing. Plus the whole elephant in the room — btw, your husband was murdered — drifts along undiscussed until the end. I have an idea of a potential twist coming later in the season, and I’m praying that I’m wrong or I’m going to kick a TV as a cheap gimmick. Or a Castle ripoff, not sure which.

Anyway, the investigation was almost secondary to the episode, while everything else roamed around in the interim. I hope the season focuses on the mystery part, not the 8 different love-lives. On the other hand, I like the new Captain, so it’s not all bad.

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Season premiere – Pitch – 2016/17

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I am torn about how to judge this show. On the one hand, it has a strong empowerment vibe. If you have watched any of the American Ninja Warrior show in the last 3 seasons, part of the storyline they promote is that the “girls can do it too, keep up with the guys, etc.”. Girl power in athletics. Same course, same challenges, and competitors like Kacy Catanzaro, Michelle Warnky, Meaghan Martin and Jessie Graff have been star athletes making history as the first females to make it past certain stages. It is a strong empowerment theme, and it carries to the little girls who can see a woman competing and think, “Hey, I can do it too.” Just like any profession, it helps to see stars that look like you modeling the behaviour you want to emulate. So the first part of the episode is very heavy into that theme, with the main character being a young female ballplayer drafted by the San Diego Padres to be a starting pitcher in the majors. All the young girls are out, and one of the really solid side scenes is a little girl in the crowd with a sign that says “I’m next!”. It’s a good theme, but it’s not a show.

Another angle I could try is the show me the money spiel, as her agent / promoter / whatever she is runs along side her and talks about how she’s the most powerful woman on the planet right then. Ever since shows like Arli$$ or Jerry Maguire aired, and people saw agents in a different light, there are four tropes that tend to stand out. First and foremost is the soulless money grubbing agent who will do anything for the deal. Second, there is the cheerleader agent who believes in the client and promotes the crap out of them. Heart of gold, pure admiration. Third, there is the lovable bumbling schlub who has been the ballplayer’s agent since before they were big and is along for the ride but, aw shucks, they aren’t used to the big time deals. Often they also serve as father figure, or friend, the old saw who reminds the player of their roots when the bright lights start to dazzle their sensibilities. Or, they’re incompetent. The agent in this one? She tries to be all of the first three simultaneously. Separate from the flirting that is going on with the general manager, she’s all over the map. Played by Ali Larter, my previous exposure to her was when she was on Heroes. And I confess I didn’t like her there much either. She just seems, I don’t know, incomplete. Of course, in Heroes, she was also multiple personalities at once; here, theoretically, she’s only one. Meh.

I could also review it as a simple baseball show. But there wasn’t enough baseball drama in the first episode to really gauge that, other than two games that Ginny pitches.

However, the last view is simply as a drama starring a young woman of some skill going through a major life change. Not really the demographic they tried to pitch, perhaps, with sometimes it seeming like they were going for Wild Thing or something, maybe a lighter version of Bull Durham. But there is one saving grace for the show. Kylie Bunbury as the pitcher has gravitas. Flashbacks to younger versions of herself are almost mindless at times, only a couple really tell much of a story, but in the present? When she’s playing “confident”, she’s awesome. I confess to not having seen her in Under the Dome or Twisted, not shows I watched, but she was pretty solid at certain times. She can’t cover the crying scenes but that’s not that uncommon for actors…some do it horribly. Hopefully there won’t be that many crying scenes. 🙂

Originally I said I wouldn’t give it a try, but the baseball premise got the better of me, along with the empowerment theme from ANW shows. I still expect it to get early cancellation. I’ll watch until then.

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Season premiere – Notorious – 2016/17

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Notorious premiered last week to mediocre numbers, and already there are fans crying for “SaveNotorious” on Twitter. The show is relatively straightforward — a high profile lawyer is friends with a high profile news producer. They have a deal — they never lie to each other, or at least, not outright. Sometimes they don’t share whole truths, but they don’t lie. They do flirt however.

In the opening episode, Jake is the lawyer for a young tech mogul accused of a hit-and-run that killed a 15-year-old kid. He says he wasn’t out driving that night, and he’s been sober for 5 years. However, Julia is the news producer and she breaks the news while Jake is on air for another story. They trade developments, it’s high energy, lots of quick little developments over the course of a few days, all about how they can work with each other — she gets exclusives, he gets to control the narrative for his clients. Most of the story is told through the breaking developments, with some ad hoc comments after the fact to show the producer or the lawyer actually weren’t surprised, they knew all along. For example, as the client leaves a police station, he is stopped by reporters, has a small heartfelt moment and expresses prayers for the family of the kid. Then, as they pull away, Jake says, “Perfect, exactly as we rehearsed it.”

The show had energy, but while I was expecting the story to wrap up this week, it left a big gap at the end, so maybe it continues over several episodes. It was good, it wasn’t great. I originally thought I would sign on for the full season, and I think I’ll give it another episode or two to decide. I also predicted no renewal, but I think I could safely trim that to early cancellation.

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Season premiere – Falling Water – 2016/17

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Another show not pulling much in the way of press is the upcoming Falling Water. Premiering in October on USA, the show was released online for advance screening. And it is downright awesome.

Burton, a security service within an investment firm, has some weird dreams. He seems to be dreaming about a girl who doesn’t exist, or maybe she does. He’s not sure.

Tess has some weird dreams too. Plus she has the uncanny ability to see mega trends that everyone will want to buy for fashion. But the dreams are weird. She keeps dreaming about a son she gave birth to. Except her medical records show no such birth and she doesn’t have a son. Or does she?

Take is a little simpler in his dreams. He sees his mother, or someone close to his mother, in a chair in the middle of a street and her head is all covered up, like a mummy with grey bandages. Since his mother is in a catatonic state, the dream isn’t surprising, but all the things he sees for work are indeed weird. Including a kid that reappears to him during his investigations. The same kid from Tess’ dream.

They don’t know each other, but they have interacted — Tess lives in Burton’s building, for example.

But forces for good and evil are amassing. The dreams are connected, part of a shared larger dream. They just don’t know it yet, but those who do, they want to control it, shape it, use it. Something big is going on, you just don’t know what yet.

I’m going all in, but I know I’m going to regret it. Jericho, Revolution. I liked the shows, and I liked the mystery elements going on in the background. Heck, one of the main actors from Revolution, Zak Orth, is even along for the ride here too. Not quite as crazy this time though.

Maybe with it being on USA, instead of the big five, it has a chance to go somewhere. It’s pretty cool.

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Season premiere – Van Helsing – 2016/17

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I knew nothing of this show other than its name. Mainly because it is a sci-fi show that isn’t on the big five network rosters, so it didn’t get the standard pre-launch coverage by the media. But I saw it listed, the first Ep is leaked online ahead of the premiere, why not check it out?

It was a lot gorier than I expected, and I confess I am not a fan of the gore. I skipped True Blood because the first episode was blood everywhere, people were practically marinating in it. The Walking Dead never really attracted me. But a vampire slayer that isn’t named Buffy? Sure, I’m willing to give it a go.

The premise is that a volcano erupted, something went wonky somewhere, people started turning into blood drinkers so they’re called vampires. Except there’s a woman who survived an attack and has been sleeping for a while. Maybe 3 years, maybe 3 months, not entirely sure. But the military sent a squad to guard her until relieved, but the relief never came. So one soldier and a vampire doctor are all that’s been left for some time. A bunch of vamps get into the facility, make it all the way to the sleeping girl, one bites her, and then weird shows up. The vamp starts spitting blood, bile, etc., and then dies. She goes wild-ass animal on the other two.

She doesn’t know why she’s there or what’s special about her, but the soldier is committed to keeping her there. Fast-forward through a too-obvious conspiracy, and we find out she can kick butt too, along with self-healing. Or as one of the stray guys trying to survive says, “She’s got super-powers now?”. And then the truly weird happens.

The guy who bit her and died? He isn’t dead. And he isn’t a vampire anymore. Her blood cured him. Dun dun dun. Vanessa Van Helsing has the cure for being a vampire.

Given it’s status on SyFy, it’s already got its 10 episode pickup probably so nothing to predict at this point. Let’s see how the season goes. The soldier isn’t much to listen to, but Van Helsing has some gravitas. As long as they keep the blood flow down, I’m in.

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Season premiere – The Blacklist – 2016/17

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As Season 3 started to wind down last year, there was an episode where Elizabeth died following complications after childbirth. They had a funeral, everybody said goodbye, and Tom tried to get his life together. Then, with everything in play and starting to normalize, Tom disappeared with the baby. Running from Raymond, refusing his protection. All of which was designed to get to Cuba where, voila, Liz was waiting, very much alive. She faked her death to get away from the craziness of Raymond Readington being anywhere near Agnes.

But the running didn’t work very well, cuz her Russian “father” found her, kidnapped her, Agnes and Tom, and as the season kicks off, everyone is running around Cuba killing each other. Raymond’s working his way through local enforcers to find out where the Russian has Liz; and a bunch of Cuban locals are dealing with Tom and Agnes. The FBI throws a hand to help, for the most part anyway, and it is business as usual. Find Liz, save Liz.

The episode was relatively okay, a little too much button, button, who’s got the (baby) button, but not bad. I have no idea what they’re doing with Tom. He’s supposed to leave mid-season to go work on the Redemption spin-off, and Liz gets rekidnapped at the end, with continued separation from her baby which MAKES NO SENSE AT ALL. The “father” who is trying to bond with her keeps separating the two of them with no real reason to do so, it’s completely ridiculous.

But it’s up and running again, wondering how long it will take to “find Liz”. I seriously hope it isn’t half the season again. Can we get back to the frickin’ blacklist again????

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Season premiere – Lethal Weapon – 2016/17

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I know there’s a familiar wind blowing through TV land where they look at old movies, old shows, old scripts, old tropes, old everything and think, “Hmm, if we rebooted THAT, maybe we would increase our chances of a hit”. This year, Lethal Weapon is one of the reboots (Rush Hour went nowhere last year, but hey, why not try again?).

When I read the premise, which isn’t much different from the movie, I thought, “Really? Who are you going to get who could replace Mel Gibson and Danny Glover as Riggs and Murtaugh?”. They were iconic in their roles.

Now, replacing Riggs should be easy…pick someone with a flair for crazy, and you got a shot. But Murtaugh has to walk a fine line between serious detective and WTF moments. Maybe they would change the ratio, but still, it’s a hard line to nail well. Glover did it expertly.

When I saw the casting and it was DAMAN WAYANS, I thought, “Seriously? This is your best catch?”. Oddly enough, Wayans wasn’t bad. Not Glover-good, but okay. More like his role in The Last Boy Scout with Bruce Willis. Good secondary characters around him too with his wife, kids, captain, a couple of other cops, and a shrink (the Rene Russo character from the movie).

But Riggs? He is terrible. If they named him something else, and tweaked the backstory, I’d take it. But not as Riggs. Pale, pale imitation.

I gave it my one episode try, and it will be the last. I’m sticking with my original prediction — 4 episodes and gone for good.

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