Television

Previously, on Everything (2016 Edition)

May 18, 2016

I’ve officially converted to bingewatching, but there are still a handful of series I follow every week in real-time — usually shows Jenn and I watch together. Here’s this year’s wrap-up:

Agent CarterAgent Carter, Season 2. In addition to being a refreshingly female-led Marvel property, the first season of this retro adventure was light, promising fun with a winning cast. Alas it backslides miserably in its second year, as Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) and her spy colleagues relocate from New York to Los Angeles. A scattered plot involving a nefarious conspiracy to harness shady superscience introduces an interesting villain (Whitney Frost, portrayed capably by Wynn Everett), but there’s not much else to recommend its storyline, which starts out mediocre before laying on the twee and getting just plain bad. Atwell’s charms are powerful, but not powerful enough to save this show, which continues to waste the likeable James D’Arcy and the criminally under-utilized Enver Gjokaj. Perhaps ts biggest flaw is that it keeps telling us how awesome these spies are, without showing them being awesome; instead, they bumble awkwardly through each clumsy operation at the whims of the requisite story beats and plot coupons. An extremely disappointing end for a series that never realized its potential. D-

b99 3Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Season 3. I’ve hailed this show as the new Parks & Recreation, but Brooklyn Nine-Nine seriously loses its mojo in year three. Not only does it fail to build in the same heart-grabbing way as Parks & Rec, but its perfect comic timing and balanced ensemble feel starts to slip. Andy Samberg’s manboy act is overplayed at the expense of the other cast members, especially Amy (Melissa Fumero) and Terry (Terry Crews). Only the stellar deadpanning of Rosa (Stephanie Beatriz) and Captain Holt (Andre Braugher) saved this season for me, which is full of forgettable episodes and trying-too-hard gags. I’m hopeful they can turn it around next season, but this one was disappointing. C-

 goodwife-s7ep7The Good Wife, Season 7. The final year of this venerable CBS legal drama was far from perfect: the presidential race of Peter Florrick (Christopher Noth) was a reach, and the storylines at Lockhart, Agos, and Lee — particularly the handling of Diane (Christine Baranski) and Cary (Matt Czuchry) — were less than sure-handed. Flaws aside, though, The Good Wife remained one of the classiest, funniest, and most engrossing network shows on TV, even in this, its weakest year. Highlights included two stellar new characters — Alicia’s new friend and colleague Lucca Quinn (Cush Jumbo) and hilariously suave investigator Jason Crouse (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) — and plenty of showy material for the great Alan Cumming, whose Eli Gold belongs in the Supporting Character Hall of Fame. But the year succeeds primarily as a send-off showcase for Julianna Margulies: Alicia, gradually running out of fucks to give, is more fun than ever as her complex story comes full circle — and delivers a surprising final message. Season seven never reaches the heights of the early days, and the finale opts deliberately for an ugly, hard landing rather than a truly satisfying one; I respect the aim, but not the execution. That said the destination didn’t ruin the journey for me; I’ll still miss this world and its characters immensely. B-

 jane 2Jane the Virgin, Season 2. There are so many ways this show just isn’t in my wheelhouse. Sometimes it’s too twee, sometimes too melodramatic, and the storylines involving Jane’s writing career and her son leave me cold. But Jane the Virgin, an effervescent comedy-drama full of zany telenovela twists and winking metahumor, is still one of the most refreshingly progressive and well messaged shows on television. If Rogelio (Jaime Camil) stole the show in the first season — and he remains in fine form — this year it’s Petra (Yael Grobglas) who breaks out. I was expecting some premise fatigue in season two, but it didn’t happen; indeed, the show got stronger, continuing to charm and surprise on a regular basis. A-

iZombie 2iZombie, Season 2. In an era when great first seasons tend to be followed by rushed, iffy second years, iZombie is a rarity: not only does it dodge the sophomore slump, it improves dramatically. The adventures of Liv Moore (Rose McIver), a zombie doctor who solves murders by eating the brains and absorbing the memories of the victims, escalate impressively in the second year. This show is full of witty dialogue and creative cases that work episodically even as they advance the series’ greater, involved story arcs. David Anders and Steven Weber provide scenery-chewing villainy, but the real hook in season two is the increasing camaraderie of Liv and her circle of friends and colleagues: her crime-solving partner Detective Clive Babineaux (Malcolm Goodwin), her hilarious ex Major Lilywhite (Robert Buckley), her best friend Peyton Charles (Aly Michalka), and her inimitable boss, Dr. Ravi Chakrabarti (Rahul Kohli). Major and Ravi both have exceptional comic years, and the zombie underworld storylines ramp up effectively to a pair of season-ending episodes that stick the landing brilliantly. It will be interesting to see whether they can sustain this level of quality into season three. A

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