OK, so I might not be adding too many new shows to my watchlist this season, but at least my many faves are now returning with new episodes as well.
The Big Bang Theory
Last season ended a bit sadly, with Sheldon unable to cope with all the change going on in his life, deciding to leave and ride the rails all summer. I’d say this show has reached that place where we are just comfortable with the characters and like to see them in humourous situations. The premiere episode was alright, but I really enjoyed the second episode of the season (they aired back-to-back) where Sheldon was semi-forced to teach a course and the only one to take it was Howard. That led to some really good scenes between these two character who hadn’t interacted too much before. I like that this show can still play with the group dynamics (without stranding the two of them in an elevator or something contrived like that). On the other hand, they continue with the creepy storyline of comic book store owner Stuart living with and becoming closer to Howard’s mom. The joke has worn so thin that I just wish it would blow away already.
The other sitcom stalwart for me came back with a humourous conceit: while Alex was away all summer, everything was turning out perfectly for the rest of the Dunphys. I enjoyed the pleasant interactions between sibs Haley and Luke — like a still pond that’s a bit too still. The storyline of Jay and Gloria dealing with their own vanity and aging was bland, and newly-married Mitchell and Cam not wanting the honeymoon to end (well, at least one of them doesn’t want it to) was another cliche sitcom subplot. I hope to get back to scenes and storylines where they converge as a group. The fact that they are one big family is the real strength of the show. Also, I think they need to find new sides of each character to explore. If they continue to play on Haley’s shallowness, Mitchell’s neuroses, Phil’s well-intentioned buffoonery, they will just become tired (some would say that they have already passed that point). I still enjoy this show a lot, and I expect to enjoy it even more this year. Let’s go Pritchett-Dunphys!
I have to say, since they lost Matthew and Mary as the core, this show hasn’t quite been able to pick its rhythm back up. Mary may have finally decided to choose suitor #1 (Lord Tony Gillingham) over that other guy, but that has to be the love triangle with the least heat I’ve ever seen on TV. I don’t think I really cared who she picked as long as we could finally move on from her passionless moping. However, Edith still wins the trophy for being the wettest blanket. Did anyone not see this storyline coming a mile away? Once she gave up her biological daughter to that farmer couple, you knew she wouldn’t be able to let go. This is like watching a train wreck in super slow motion. And while we’re talking about telegraphing tragedy, this investigation of the murder of the footman who raped sweet Anna is heading down the most obvious path imaginable. Let’s hope that they pull some kind of twist on this because Bates limping around a prison yard is not something I want to see again. Cousin Rose is still around, but it seems like her only role is to cause trouble for Lord Grantham and the others. I think she needs a viable story line of her own that does not centre on what a rebellious scamp she is. I’m kind of enjoying the friendship (maybe something more) between the maid Baxter and footman Moseley. Previously he was such a pathetic character, but he’s really there for her and I hope she’s going to be alright now that she’s admitted her deep dark secret to everyone. Despite a mediocre start, this is one series that can turn everything around in a heartbeat.
The Good Wife
Continuing the theme of rough starts, I really didn’t enjoy how they threw Cary Agos into jail for an opening two-parter. I like that everyone really bonded to help him (including Kalinda getting back into the fold — I’m still loving Robin, though). I don’t like it when a lawyer-show puts the lawyers themselves on trial. What’s even worse was that it was all around the drug dealer Lemond Bishop that this story took place. What are we watching, The Wire? Anyway, now that Cary’s out on bail, I’m looking forward to more changes for the new law firm now that Diane and associates have joined. I remember this side of The Practice as well, and that’s what made me really love that show. I know there’s going to be something coming where Michael J. Fox and the rest of the Lockhart Gardner baddies try to sabotage things, but I hope that won’t last too long. Plus, the idea of Alicia running for state’s attorney seems like something they should save for next season or later. (And enough with Kalinda and all her boyfriends and girlfriends. We get it, she’s bisexual. Move along, please.) Let’s get back to the fun cases and clever lawyering!
Before I dump too much on The Good Wife‘s season-opener, I have to declare that Castle was probably the worst premiere of the season. When last we left, Castle was heading to his own wedding in the Hamptons and was being driven off the road by a black SUV. Cut to Kate in her wedding dress trying to rescue him from his flaming car only to find that he’s not there. Spend another half-hour following clues only to have Castle return on his own, discovered adrift by the Coast Guard. In all that time, we get to see everyone doubt Castle, including Kate, believing that he simply left her and faked his own abduction. That is so beyond bogus: why would he bother to go through the trouble to fake a kidnapping? It just doesn’t make sense. After all the crazy cases and situations that they’d been in together, you’d think that Kate and the others would easily believe that the less plausible explanation might be the real one. So while the tone of the show is at its lowest, we don’t even have the usual humour and charm from Castle himself (since he’s in a coma, and then because no one’s in the mood) to relieve the tension. What a drag. To top it all off, we get no satisfaction! By the end of the episode, we are left with only questions and almost no answers. At least Kate is back on Castle’s side, but man, you have to call her on her lack of faith, eh? This has become one of my favourite shows, so it better not be going down the tubes.
I’m looking forward to this war that will be coming between Reddington and new nemesis Berlin (played by the always-great Peter Stormare). The first episode was not big in that area (although Berlin did kidnap Red’s ex-wife), and it featured a stupid, hoody-wearing Elizabeth Keen (who ridiculously keeps her married name simply because it wasn’t Tom’s true name — but doesn’t it still remind you of how he totally played you? Seriously! How much must you hate your maiden name?). Krysten Ritter was the kind of loopy guest star that has become her trademark and she’s wonderful at it. I guess they needed to spend some time to get the gang back together after last season’s finale (I still miss Parminder Nagra and wish her character had not been so meaninglessly killed last season). I’m looking forward to more over-the-top villains and I hope that Reddington is even more slippery and underhanded this season (no more paternal coddling of Keen — it’s making him soft!).
Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD
I’m excited to revisit the team after last season’s big Hydra shake-up. Yes, we all know that the show only got good after the big twist that destroyed SHIELD from the inside and all the characters went rogue. This premiere was really promising. Melinda May, who was the heaviest of wet blankets last season is turning into a pretty cool 2nd-in-command. Skye’s new look and badassery might actually make her a serviceable character (now turn her back into a hacker, please!). However, Fitz going all “Beautiful Mind” on us is really making me cry. I’m not saying that I liked Fitz-Simmons as characters, but this is just so depressing. Despite its being a pretty cool plot turn, I don’t really know what it means that this former-SHIELD team is rogue. They didn’t really work with the main SHIELD forces even when they were legit. How is this any different? I guess time (and more episodes) will tell.
I’m a fan of this show. All the characters really hit their mark on the season opener (which concluded the undercover subplot that ended the previous season), except there wasn’t enough of ballbuster Rosa. This show is shaping up to be a really fun sitcom. What they don’t do well yet is the romantic stuff. Boyle and his engagement to Marilu Henner last season was too weird to succeed. Jake confessing his feelings to Santiago and then taking it back this season is so cliche it hurts. And the less said about Boyle and Gina in bed together (again!) the better. This show’s got some kinks to iron out, but I think it’s going into its sophomore season on a definite high.
Now that we’re back up and running, let’s see how things shape up for our favourite shows.