Fall TV 2013 – Returning Drama

Last season’s finales left us with big changes in many drama series, so as we pick those up in this season’s premieres, our favourite characters are probably making some transitions and adjustments.

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The Vampire Diaries is always good for some plot twists, and the fact that Stefan turned out to be a doppelganger for Silas was a big (albeit kind of contrived) one. Now that Elena is a vampire, it balances things out to have Katherine struggling to adjust to being human again. It’s what we’d expect from a ghost, but Bonnie is just not adjusting well to being dead (though this is really the kind of adjustment that only happens in shows like this one). Damon is enjoying being in a relationship with Elena, while she and Caroline are adjusting to being college coeds. Lastly, we’re all thankfully adjusting to the absence of those darned Originals, who have spun off to their own series. (To the first family of teenage melodrama I say good riddance!) So far, we’ve only got Silas continuing to wreak havoc. However, the progression of villains coming to Mystic Falls with the same playbook — impossible to kill, compelling everyone to do stuff, and murdering people left and right — just to mess with our main characters’ lives is getting kind of tired.

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The big cliffhanger on last season’s finale of Castle was whether Beckett would accept Castle’s marriage proposal over her job offer with the FBI task force (which they ridiculously made to seem like an either/or situation). By this season’s premiere, she’s obviously deep into her new job and she and Castle are managing their long-distance engagement (which shouldn’t be a problem for a successful and wealthy author who could easily afford to fly out to DC to see his fiancee anytime she’s available). We might enjoy episodes with Beckett in the FBI task force’s secret underground command centre, working with new proto-Beckett partner Special Agent McCord (played by Lisa Edelstein), but you know that somehow they have to get the band back together. I’m glad that they eventually do, because I miss having Ryan and Esposito working together with our dynamic duo. It’s just not the same without them. (Unfortunately, whatever happens it seems we are still left with Alexis’s new hippie boyfriend, Pi. Oh well, you can’t win ’em all.)

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The Good Wife left us with the imminent secession of a new law firm, headed by Cary and Alicia. Like me, I’m sure you did not expect that the premiere would have them unpacking in their new offices (with former bosses Will and Diane nowhere in sight). Instead, Alicia continues to be torn and drags her heels on their departure while further complications develop within Lockhart Gardner itself. The show continues to have great episodes and lots of interesting cases and legal acrobatics going on. Nevertheless, I’ve been dying for them to break away already because the suspense and sneaking around is killing me. I’m looking forward to having the main characters on opposite sides of the table (though I expect that at some point they’ll have to bring both groups back together as well — it’s not as if this show would keep two sets of storylines running. It’s not Glee!)

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Speaking of Glee, the big landmark this season was clearly going to be the tribute episode to Finn/Cory Monteith. The show has typically done a good job with heavy emotional themes (though the school violence episode last season was a bit over the top). As usual, the Hummel family gave great empathy and brought a tear to my eye. Before that episode there was a two-episode Beatles tribute which I found to be only alright — probably because I’m not much of a Beatles fan.

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This season of Downton Abbey is also dealing with the death of a character (though not the death of the actor portraying him) as Mary copes with the loss of her beloved husband Matthew. At first she’s morose and depressed, but eventually she comes out of it. Meanwhile, another notable absence is the wicked O’Brien, who’s gone off to a new job. I miss her caustic putdowns and sneaky scheming. They tried to replace her with that maid who hit on Tom (who is still up to her old tricks), but she was no match for anyone, and definitely not a partner-in-crime for Thomas. I continue to be amazed at how a rather staid and sedate show can have so many plot developments over the course of a few episodes. They do something that really changes Anna’s life for the worse (and I’m still mad at them for that!). I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone but I really hope that she and Bates make it out of that situation OK — they’ve been through so much already. Finally, a new addition to the family (to replace dearly departed Sybil, I’m sure) is cousin Rose. She’s the Downton equivalent to that new baby that comes onto a show once the story lines get a little stale. She’s meant to be the embodiment of reckless youth (again a baton she carries from Sybil) but so far she’s not much more than a plot device to get our other characters into predicaments. (Oops! I can’t forget Edith, since she’s always getting overlooked — poor middle-child. She continues to deepen her very modern relationship with editor Michael Gregson. They are surprisingly the most contemporary characters among the bunch!)

Devil May Care

The big change on Supernatural (i.e. the angels being expelled from Heaven as a spectacular global meteor shower) has not yet had a huge direction-changing effect on the show (at least not compared to when angels were first revealed on the show a few seasons ago). Badness still exists on the earth and Sam and Dean continue to fight it (now with the help of Tahmoh Penikett playing an angel named Ezekiel who is residing within Sam to help heal him after his failed attempt to seal the gates of Hell last season) — I know it sounds like a big deal, and seeing Sam with angel wings and glowing eyes for a moment was pretty cool, but it still isn’t a major change by this show’s standards. They are clearly going to continue exploring Castiel’s newfound humanity (we’ll see how his adventures compare to Katherine’s on The Vampire Diaries), though we’ve seen a lot of those kinds of stories already.

Revenge

Revenge was way off last season, so I was excited to hear that this season is getting us back on track. The premiere flash-forward was promisingly shocking as Emily is shot in the gut wearing her wedding dress. However, so far it’s not clear where we are really headed this season. Nolan has returned without his company. The Greysons too are minus their billions, but Conrad becoming governor is put on hold for health reasons (they are really chucking last season’s plot lines out with a vengeance — no pun intended!). Nevertheless, Victoria’s illegitimate firstborn (played by the dashing Justin Hartley) is still around,  though the character seems to have very little purpose beyond being immune to Emily’s machinations and a temptation for Nolan — not to mention the apple of his mother’s eye. After Declan’s death (which I refuse to mourn), two characters I already didn’t like (i.e. Jack and Charlotte) have just gotten worse — especially since they are both bitter towards our heroine Emily. Also, I had thought we were rid of the character I liked least (namely Aiden Mathis), but instead he reappears twirling his moustache and giving away Emily’s secrets to Victoria. So, I guess we’ll have to wait and see how much we’re really going to recover from last season’s misfires. Let’s hope we’re not doomed to repeat them.

To wrap things up for returning drama, I’m still enjoying Person of Interest with its newly expanded team which includes Sarah Shahi (let’s her actually smile this season — she’s got a great smile, people!). However, I am still perplexed by the finale and I don’t understand what’s supposed to happen with Root (though I would still love to see more of Amy Acker). Haven was another one with a head-scratching finale, but unfortunately after three new episodes I am no closer to understanding its meaning. In contrast, I am much farther away from caring about these characters. When my favourite character, Nathan Wuornos, has become sullen, moody, and obsessed with finding Audrey (in a “Michael obsessed with finding his son Walt” kind of way), not to mention the fact that the whole town hates him, it’s time to give up on this show for now. Same for Hawaii Five-O, which I’m not so much giving up on, but I’m just not really going to watch very much. The prolonged story arc about Wo Fat and the McGarretts is just tiresome and while I love the banter between McGarrett and Dano, it’s not enough to sustain my interest. So though I’m quitting a few returning shows, I have found replacements for them in new drama series …

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