I love it when the networks premiere their seasons all at once. Previously they have tried spreading out the start of the season over months, but this year I can barely keep up with all the new and returning shows this week! Early reviews have not given Fall 2015 a good grade, but I think there are a few bright spots. Nevertheless, let me start with my old faves before I get to the newbies.
The Big Bang Theory
Last season ended with some big events in BBT world: Penny and Leonard were on their way to get married, Raj broke up with his girlfriend, and Amy sort of broke up with Sheldon. This season picks up immediately after, with P&L in Vegas, streaming their nuptials to their friends over the Internet (True geek!) and Sheldon dealing with Amy’s rejection. As funny as it was to see Sheldon get a bit stalkery, I don’t like that the writers decided to break ShAmy up (in a somewhat typical sitcom near-miss, too!). He’s come so far and it would have been nice to see him develop further in a serious relationship. They had really mastered that unique dynamic between the two characters and I hope they still get to take things to the next level together.
I love how this show can go over the top in its craziness (Castle’s dad was a spy!) but this season started with a whole bunch of shake-ups which didn’t all land in the right place. They promoted Beckett to captain (Yay, but I don’t know how they’re going to keep her in the action from behind a desk) but hardly paid the promotion lip service before making her disappear — Why isn’t the entire precinct on high-alert? The captain is missing! Are there really people still going about their days in the office? This reminded me a lot of when Castle was missing, with the mysterious people, the inexplicable clues, etc. so we’ve kind of done this before. It also felt like we were watching something crazy quirky like The Big Liebowski — there was a bag of hairy spiders in this episode! Seriously! I don’t love that they’re trotting out Beckett’s old nemesis, Senator Bracken, again. However, one idea that I’m all for is daughter Alexis running Castle’s detective agency. She’s been secretly closing cases and she’s got the brains for it (she’d make a great Veronica Mars) — maybe Alexis can occasionally join the police investigations as Castle’s sidekick. For that reason, I really don’t think they needed to introduce another PI, Hayley Vargas (maybe so she can become a recurring character). I’m eager for part two of this story, praying that we’ll get back to the Castle way again soon.
If you thought that throwing Lucious into jail at the end of season one was a game-changer, think again. Middle-son Jamal may be running the Empire, but Lucious is still totally in the mix as Cookie and the rest of the clan try to seize control of the company, with a little help from Marissa Tomei as a lesbian megabucks investor (Is it just me or has Tomei dug out her wardrobe from her time on A Different World?) Proving this show can pack in the stars (and miscast them), comedian Chris Rock shows up as Frank Gathers, the bogeyman of last season who Cookie testified against, in-the-flesh. For a character who was supposed to be the scarey villain in their lives, Rock seemed incredibly wimpy and toothless (especially next to the formidable Terence Howard and Taraji P. Henson as Lucious and Cookie). I guess it’s fitting (though anti-climactic) that they easily dispatched him from their lives in the first episode of the season. I wonder what kind of bigger things that will free them up to tackle for the rest of the season.
When they started the premiere by introducing us to [cue ominous music] Davros (creator of the Daleks), I rolled my eyes so hard — Daleks again?! (With the amount of screen time they get, struggling actors really need to find out what agent negotiated the contract for those tin cans!) The Doctor playing rock guitar in the Middle Ages? Come on! Plus, Missy (aka the Master) returns as the Doctor’s friend rather than nemesis this time (you know what they say about that line between love and hate). Suffice it to say I didn’t love part one of the two-part story, but having now seen part two, I changed my tune. Missy (played by Michelle Gomez) is much more fun to watch than the old, male Master (and the “Is she good or evil now?” ambiguity is enjoyable). It was also interesting to see Clara in a Dalek suit — quite a bit of tension there with her inability to communicate. The ending was a bit bogus (and gross — backed-up Dalek sewers? Really?), with the Doctor fixing things by going back in time, but I am digging the sonic shades! Season 9 is off to a good start.
I wasn’t sure how they were going to keep me interested this season. A bit like Game of Thrones, they are eliminating all the good characters! Both Branson and Rose have moved to the States (They have got to finish off the series by bringing the family to the US for vacation, no? They can grab Uncle Paul Giamatti and Granny Shirley Maclaine and all go to Disneyland! Anyway, I digress.) I wasn’t sure who was left that was still interesting. They hobbled Mr. and Mrs. Bates with yet another murder charge — thank God that’s been resolved now. Lady Mary being blackmailed again? Gosh, Ser Jorrah won’t be able to rescue her this time! Carson and Mrs. Hughes? How many shippers are excited for that wedding? Don’t get me wrong … I love both those characters separately, but together I am afraid we might end up with more storylines where Mrs. Patmore has to ask Carson what he intends for his marital sex-life. However, one unexpected surprise was that I actually loved how Spratt set up Denker for a fall! I did not like his character before, but now I’m on Team Spratt. I am excited if they bring Lady Edith out to London a bit more, but that seems like a different show entirely. I’m not sure where the Crawleys are heading for their final season, but this show can change plotlines so rapidly that I’m sure we’re in for a ride!
Fresh Off The Boat
I don’t care if it’s sort of true, enough with the “Chinese people are cheap” storylines! This season starts with a Huang family vacation to Gator World, but of course mom Jessica has to find ways to cheat the hotel and amusement park of its “hidden fees”. I hope this doesn’t set the tone for the season. I’d rather use son Eddie’s plot about having to come up with a great summer story to tell the other kids after having squandered his vacation in front of the TV. The younger sons still seem one-note, but they are adorable, so that’s forgiven. (Grandma continues to be way out there.)
Once again they speed through the summer after eldest daughter Haley misses her chance to tell Andy that she has feelings for him — I do hope those two get together. I really like Andy and his gee-whiz earnestness. One character I have never really liked, however, is Mitchell — though his personality probably resembles my own the most. Read into that what you will [frowny face]. This episode/summer he was unemployed, and discovering himself by trying to become a painter. He himself captured my own feelings about this storyline best when he smashed a canvas against a post. That being said, my favourite moment of the season premiere lasted only a few seconds. Talking about pursuing Andy to the beach where he was going to propose to his girlfriend, Haley said “I know the beach he likes”, to which younger brother Luke quipped, “I thought you were the ‘beach’ he likes!” and he and Lily exchanged a quick, sardonic high-five. The little girl and the younger brother are now the zingers of the family? Awesome!