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Posts Tagged ‘Scandal’

The most important holiday on the capitalist-utopia calendar, Cyber Monday, has come and gone, and that can only mean one thing:  most of the fall TV shows are either on hiatus, about to be on hiatus, or already cancelled.  That means I finally have chance to catch up on a bunch of hour-long serialized dramas, because that’s definitely how I should be spending my precious few hours between sleep and toil every day.   Here are my very scientific findings:

Constantine
Constantine 
I watched the series premiere of this, and quickly fell asleep trying to watch the second episode.  I am not a die hard fan of the Hellblazer comics (although I have a fat stack of ‘Blazer trade paperbacks I picked up in sort-of anticipation of this program and have yet to read), so I can only evaluate it on its own merits and not on how it stacks up vs. the Vertigo series.  My conclusion: this is a pile of hot garbage!  It does have a lot of pretty awesome special effects, and the pilot had one or two decent ‘scares,’ but hardly enough to sustain my attention.  And I wasn’t alone — as of this writing, NBC has suspended production on the series, which is not quite an outright cancellation but it’s certainly a sign things are on life support. GRADE: D-
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Arrow
Arrow hit some real peaks last season, with the interwoven story of Oliver’s escape from the island and his confrontation with Deathstroke in Starling City delivering the series’ most satisfying and ambitious arc to date.  By comparison, season three is so far floundering.  ‘Five years ago’ timeline Oliver is now off the island and working for Amanda Waller in Hong Kong, which means there is very little drama left in the flashback sequences.  All we wanted to know for most of seasons one and two was how Ollie would escape the island — now that that has been resolved, it seems like there is no tension left and really no reason to chart the rest of Oliver’s journey back to Starling City.  In the main, present-tense storyline, there are several promising threads unraveling:  Roy Harper has developed into a full-fledged sidekick, even adopting the Arsenal moniker, but continues to struggle with the after effects of the mirakuru experimental drug, which puts Oliver in the position of becoming more and more of a father figure for Roy even as the latter gains even more self-confidence.  Oliver’s sister Thea has returned to the city, ostensibly to reopen her nightclub, but in reality she’s developed ninja techniques and is working in cahoots with Malcolm Merlin, the Big Bad from season one, back (of course) from the dead.  And, in the most delightful but underutilized plot device of all, Queen Consolidated is in the process of being absorbed by billionaire super-genius Ray Palmer (aka, The Atom), played by failed-Superman Brandon Routh.  For existing fans of the show, this season still has the enjoyable characters and relationship dynamics (Oliver-Felicity-The Atom love triangle, anyone?) to obsess over, but plotwise, it really seems to be spinning its wheels.  Of course, with the 20+ episode seasons of all of these comic book inspired shows, it’s no surprise that the first halves of seasons are usually full of filler.  GRADE: B-
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The Flash
What do you love about classic Flash comic books?  Is it the affable, nerdy, do-gooder attitude of Barry Allen, one of comics’ most beloved heroes?  Is it the crime-solving and detective work inherent in Allen’s secret identity as a forensic scientist?  Is it the Flash Facts, little bits of science (or pseudo-science) frequently thrown in to explain the Flash and supporting characters’ remarkable powers and gadgets?  Is it the somewhat goofy lineup of rogues such as Captain Cold, Mirror Master, and Gorilla Grodd?  Is the sheer joy of imagining all of the things you could do with superspeed, undoubtedly one of the most excellent of the classic comic book superpowers?  If you answered All of the Above, you should probably just go ahead and watch the Flash because it captures the vibe of the comics upon which it is based better than any comic-to-TV adaptation I can think of.  GRADE: A-
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How To Get Away With Murder
Superstar defense attorney Annalise Keating removes her many layers of makeup and her wig, turns to her husband, and utters the phrase that reverberated around the world: “Why is your penis on a dead girl’s phone?”  That was the stinger at the end of one of this show’s early episodes, and it was the moment that solidified the show as yet another obsession-worthy Shonda Rhimes Special.  Just as Kerry Washington’s white hot charisma powers Scandal, much of the joy of HTGAWM comes from simply basking in the intensity of Viola Davis as she rips students to shreds, blows the tops off of courtrooms, and frequently displays heartbreaking vulnerability.  For me, an even bigger pleasure comes from watching the sexcapades of Keating’s very young, very hot, super diverse, and full-on hilarious team of junior associates.  If you like backstabbing, double-speak, network television’s most explicit boy-on-boy action, and this haircut:
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you will love the hell out of this show.  GRADE: A+
Gotham
I love the comic strip Garfield minus Garfield.  By removing the fat orange cat from the strip entirely, and leaving John Arbuckle alone to contemplate his meager existence, Garfield minus Garfield creates something entirely new through the art of omission.  It takes something mildly funny and recasts it as something profoundly dark.  Gotham, which could just as easily be called Batman minus Batman, does the opposite and recasts something profoundly dark as something *very* mildly funny.  This is a tune-in-every-once-in-awhile-if-the-episode-title-seems-promising kind of show.  Recommended for fans of Batman: Forever.  GRADE: C-
Scandal
This season just makes me want to toss off my all-white winter wardrobe
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curl up on the couch with some fried chicken in my Uggs
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sip on a nice, modestly sized glass of wine
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and watch it over and over and over because there’s a decent chance that this is the best season of Scandal yet.  GRADE: A
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Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D
This series received an injection of buzz and fresh ideas when Captain America: Winter Soldier came out in the middle of its first season and completely changed the show’s status quo.  Suddenly a show about a lame bunch of do-gooder government flacks became a show about betrayal, secrets, and life on the lam.  As the second series has begun to pick up speed, it seems like Agents is failing to take advantage of the excitement and tension inherent in the Hydra storyline.  Coulson’s crew are already back on the right side of the law, with access to seemingly unlimited resources — not excitedly the underdog scenario that was promised in season one’s final episodes.  The one saving grace of this season has been the action sequences.  The fight choreography and special effects this season have been pristine — too bad you generally have to wade through 30-40 minutes of blah storytelling to get to them.  GRADE: C+
Brooklyn 99
 The funniest traditional sitcom currently on TV — in fact, maybe the only funny traditional sitcom currently on TV.  Immature gross out humor, a cast in which ‘competent white males’ take a backseat to actually competent women and men of color, genuinely lovable and delightfully flawed characters, and this face on a weekly basis:
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GRADE: A-

Saturday Night Live
This has been a season full of lame hosts and totally lacking in breakout stars among the cast.  Michael Che and Leslie Jones have been delightful but underused.  Pete Davidson seems promising but has yet to develop any memorable characters — besides himself on Weekend Update.  It seems like Kate McKinnon and Taran Killam are keeping the show afloat most nights with their broad repertoires, but they’re so overused that it’s just starting to seem like schtick.  The best parts about this season have been Kyle Mooney’s weird little segments and digital shorts — he’s the one writer/player who seems to have a distinct voice at this point – and the last run of musical guests.  Prince, Kendrick Lamar, and Bruno Mars/Mark Ronson/Mystikal brought the house down over the last few weeks.
GRADE: C
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Oh, sorry.  You may have thought the title indicated that I have some knowledge or insight into the new series and seasons starting up this Fall.  That is only barely the case.  But I do have a pretty good idea of what I’ll be watching, as I decided to live out my fantasy of being a network television executive by plotting out my own fantasy TV schedule — programmed for an audience of two humans and two poodles who live an especially sedentary lifestyle.  Here’s the quick rundown of the shows, new and old, that we’ll be watching this fall, at least on the nights when we decide to stay in*:

Monday:  Mondays in our house means The Voice, pretty much the only thing we ever make a big deal about watching live.  Kyle and I always route for the artsy underdogs — Jamar Rogers, Nicholas David, Michelle Chamuel — and are thoroughly disgusted when America votes for the more plain vanilla candidate like Cassadee Pope and Danielle Bradbury.  I’m stoked that my favorite coach, Xtina, will be back this season, but I know that I’ll still be dissatisfied with the winner in the end — I’ve realized that The Voice has smartly bifurcated it’s audience into People That Vote For the Winner (I guess these are probably teenage girls?) and People That Watch For the Underdog, and I’ll just always be in the latter camp.  If the first half hour of The Voice is looking tired, we can always flip over to How I Met Your Mother, which I still watch for everything but Ted Moseby.

Tuesday: The only new show I’ve really heard anything about or am excited about is Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which I will watch even if it is phenomenally bad just to see which Marvel Universe heroes, villains, and side characters (Ben Urich please!) get translated to TV.   We’ll sometimes catch the Voice results show, although I think it’s pointless to watch an hour of bad tv when twitter can just tell me who got kicked off in like half a second.  More likely, we’ll be flipping through half-hour comedies on Hulu: last year we followed New Girl, The Mindy Project, Parks & Rec, Bob’s Burgers and Family Guy.  We’d probably watch Archer and Big Bang Theory, too, but alas, neither has currents seasons stream-able to a living room device so they can go fuck themselves.

Wednesday: I usually work on Wednesdays, I assume Kyle and the boys watch My Little Pony or something.

Thursday: If you saw my long post about potential Season 3 plotlines a few weeks ago, you know I’m completely hooked on Scandal.  It’s pretty trashy, but it also seems like one of the hardest hitting criticisms of the way that Washington is run these days.  While we’re waiting for that to start, we’ll probably be catching up on more short form comedies, with a little Adventure Time thrown in for good measure.

Friday: I’ve decided it’s finally time to watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  I feel like it’s this essential part of my geek education, even though paranormal isn’t necessary my sub-sub-genre of choice and it’s a really, really long show.  But beyond just a feeling of obligation, I have an urge toward belonging — Buffy still has one of the most active fandoms, and whether it’s reenacting the musical episode at comic conventions, following the characters through even more absurd stories in the Season 8 and Season 9 comics, or having a full appreciation for Eliza Dushku’s career, I just want to join in, man!  An episode or two of Buffy will provide a nice lead-in to Arrow, which I’m into for much the same reasons as Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and also because one issue of Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino’s Green Arrow comic book just isn’t enough Oliver Queen for me right now.

Saturday:  I set this one aside as movie night, I’m always looking for suggestions of good things to watch on Netflix Instant or HBO Go but for the immediate future I’m looking forward to watching Aliens 3, They Live, Submarine, Upstream Color, In the Loop, and Dead Man.  I also have a kind of backup queue of action and martial arts movies that Kyle would never, ever watch with me, which get watched late at night in like ten minute increments, hardly the ideal way to watch violent, subtitled movies.  These include Exiled, Vengeance, 13 Assassins, Hara-kiri, End of Watch and Ronin.

Sunday: It’s not TV, it’s HBO!  Kyle’s never seen The Sopranos.  Neither of us has seen Deadwood.  Both series are relatively short (Sopranos has six seasons, but they’re short seasons), so we could easily finish both in about year averaging one episode a week.  Thus a night of TV viewing was born.

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So, what are you watching that I’m missing?  Think I’m wasting time with Arrow and need to be getting into Once Upon a Time instead?  Let me know in the comments!

 

*J/K we stay in and watch TV every night!  God Bless America.

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I just finished watching all 29 episodes of Scandal in about a week, and it was the most riveting, satisfying, and yes, Scandalous bout of binge-watching I’ve engaged in some time. Now I’ve got 10 weeks to kill before Season 3 kicks off on October 3rd. That’s a lot of free time. Time I can use to spin wild fantasies about what might befall Pope & Associates in the season to come. So here they are, my top 10 most wanted plotlines for Scandal, Season 3.

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10) Ballard goes rogue

This one is pretty much a given. Introduced midway through season 2, Naval Intelligence Office Jake Ballard (Scott Foley) quickly became a favorite character as he seduced his way into the Oval Office and in between Olivia Pope’s (Kerry Washington) thighs (as documented on a sure-to-be-leaked sex tape). But someone else was always pulling the strings, whether it was President Fitzgerald Grant (Tony Goldwyn) or Olivia’s spymaster father Rowan (Joe Morton). Season 2 ended with Ballard being thrown in The Hole by the senior Pope, but it’s only a matter of time before he gets out — and he’ll probably be raring to take matters (read: Olivia) into his own hands.

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9) Huck and Becky on the run

Huck’s (Guillermo Diaz) many, many bids for redemption have failed and the dark conclusion of the Billy Chamebers (Matt Letscher) storyline has left him once again a shell of a man. Where better to look for solace than in the arms of the one woman who’s ever really undersood him? One problem: Becky’s (Susan Pourfar) currently doing hard time in a maximum security prison for attempting to assassinate the president. Huck will have to break her out of prison, at which point they’ll quickly become Public Enemies Number One and Two — and it will take all of the resources of Pope & Associates and the CIA to find them.

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8) James Novak grows a pair

Cyrus Beene’s (Jeff Perry)  journalist husband has all of the access and dirt needed to blow the Grant administration wide open, and not a shred of the determination necessary to pull the trigger.  Cyrus hasn’t given James (Dan Bucatinsky) much reason to stay loyal and keep his mouth shut, and it’s high time that James plasters his election-stealing, murder-plotting, power-tripping husband all over the front page of the Washington Post.

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7) Whatever it is, Cyrus did it

Season 3 will need a Big Bad, and no one has proven more diabolical or less scrupulous than White House Chief of Staff Cyrus Beene. We all thought he killed Amanda Tanner (Liza Weil) in season 1, and that he was the terrorist mole in season 2, but both times he turned out to be a scapegoat with at least some of the Union’s best interests at heart. This season, it’s time to “let the dog of his leash,” as Olivia once said of Cyrus, and finally let him come into his own as the genuine villain he’s meant to be.

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6) Abby and Harrison finally hook up

Sure, things are a little icy between AbbyWhelan (Darby Stanchfield) and Harrison Wright (Columbus Short) ever since he convinced her that her serious boyfriend was, like her ex-husband, a woman-beater, and tricked her into breaking things off for the supposed good of a client. Which caused Abby to start questioning Olivia and her role at the firm in a serious way. But there’s still and undeniable chemistry between the straight-laced, businesslike Harrison and the edgier, impulsive Abby, a chemistry that could quickly turn explosive if things were allowed to heat up on screen.

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5) Quinn is recruited by B613

Quinn Perkins (Katie Lowes) took a little too naturally to Huck’s tutelage in the ways of espionage, and now that’s she tasted the thrill of torturing information out of a bound and gagged prisoner, there’s really no going back. Whether she finds them, or they find her, Quinn’s bound to cross paths with the super secret CIA branch B613 — here’s hoping her first assignment is to finally off that smug bastard Hollis Doyle (Gregg Henry).

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4) Supreme Court Justice David Rosen

The Supreme Court seems to have a revolving door in the Scandalverse — Grant’s already made two appointments just a couple years into his first term. Sure, the second one was to replace the first appointee who Grant kind of murdered, but I think that just means it’s even more likely we’ll see another seat open up on the bench soon. Who better to fill it than crusading US Attorney David Rosen (Joshua Malina), who has proven his unerring sense of justice to the American people all while proving he’s morally compromised and willing to “play ball” to the Grant administration.

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3) The Doctor Who Crossover no one (but me) saw coming

Remember when John Barrowman played The First Lady’s fixer after her shocking revelation of her husband’s affair on national TV? Turns out he was actually playing his BBC character Captain Jack Harkness, on a deep cover mission for Torchwood Division. Thus, the universes of Scandal and Doctor Who are forever linked. When The Doctor discovers that that shitty music that plays whenever Fitz gets all wistful over Olivia is actually the cries of lost orphans from a parallel dimension, Amelia and Rory must race around DC’s monuments to save All of History, or somesuch. Meanwhile, Pope & Associates are called in to run point for the Time Lord when his time-crossed love affair with River Song erupts into a scandal of intergalactic proportions.

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2) Olivia Pope and Fitzgerald Grant don’t hook up

Seriously. Just. No more. Please.

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1) Incumbent President Grant gets challenged for the Republican nomination — by his wife, Mellie.

The lame duck Grant administration is already looking ripe for the picking in his bid for reelection, but the most dangerous challenge could come from within his own party when his (hopefully by now ex-) wife Mellie (Bellamy Young), rife with political capital after birthing America’s baby and exposing her husband as a philanderer, throws her hat into the ring. She’ll run hard to the right and align herself with old enemies like the Vice President (Kate Burton), setting off a primary challenge that is the stuff of politcal junkies’ wet dreams.

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