Friday, July 8, 2016

2015-16 TV Season Recap, Part Three

Welcome to part three of my 2015-16 TV Season Recap, which will be focusing on three HBO series and maybe one or two other shows. If you have yet to catch up on my other installments of the TV season, check out the following links:

Part 1 (South Park, Simpsons, Family Guy, American Grit, 30 for 30)
Part 2 (Daredevil, Jessica Jones, The Jamz)
Part 4 (Gotham, Arrow, Flash, Legends of Tomorrow)


Game of Thrones (light spoilers ahead) - I am not a super hardcore fan of this series by any means, up until a couple months ago I was a couple seasons behind. In the middle of season six airing I got access to HBO Now and plowed through season five in a few weeks and was able to catch up on the last two episodes of season six with everyone else and am finally current on it. I want to read the books one day, but I flip through them at the store and they are just so….mammoth. As much as I hate to admit it, I rank near a level three on the Bill Simmons three tier chart of Game of Thrones fandom.

I love watching this show, but some of the stories pick up a couple years later after taking seasons off, and I am the worst at remembering half of the characters names. So please take my thoughts on this series with a grain of salt because as much as I enjoy the story, as soon as I wrap up an episode I forget almost half of it instantly until I am reminded of it on the next pre-show recap. I thought the show forgot about Bran (Isaac Wright), Hodor, and that one lady who were hiding out in a cave since the end of season four and was glad to see their story pick up again, though I had no idea what to make of how their arc wrapped up. Big thumbs up to Theon’s (Alfie Allen)arc this season, as I am still coming to terms on how this show made me go from detesting this guy in the opening seasons, to feeling undeniably sympathetic for him the last couple of seasons to rejoicing for him finally making his long overdue revolt.

Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) teaming up with Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) in Mereen this season was fun to watch as the two both flexed their versions of diplomacy to amusing results. Props to Game of Thrones for having a fun mini-battle backdrop with plenty of destruction to the major battle at hand in episode nine this season with Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and the Wildlings teaming up against a outmatched Bolton army. I do not recall such a traditional, ground based medieval battle transpiring in the series so far and I loved how it unfolded, with the exception of Rickon being a complete dope. When Snow’s forces were surrounded and all seemed lost as the Bolton’s closed in it had me grinding my teeth to see how the battle would wind up, and it did not disappoint in easily the best episode this season goes as far as action.

This brings us to the season finale, where we find out just how sinister Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) really is. She is rightfully pissed after what happened to her in season five, and she finally gets her own twisted version of justice to close off the season that had my eyeballs wide open throughout. I was not really a fan of the whole Seven Septoms/Tommen/Margory alliance playing out this season as it just seemed way too political for my tastes, but the season finale made it all worthwhile. Oh yeah, Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman) is right up there with Rickon with top dope honors this season. Another awesome season with far too many other moments for me to go on about here, but needless to say I mostly loved it and count me in for being right there for season seven.

One last quick thing, I also kept up with After the Thrones, the fan hosted show also available on HBO Now/GO where the hosts completely geek out while they dissect each episode. They helped fill me in on characters I have not seen in awhile and pointed out a lot of other minor lore and minutia that greatly filled a lot of little questions that crossed my mind throughout each episode. For “level three” Thrones fans like myself I highly recommend checking out each installment after each season six episode.
Season Six Grade: A

Leftovers - I watched both seasons of The Leftovers this past year, and it is life in a post-rapture bizzaro world where around 3% of the human population vanished all at once. Kevin Garvey (Justin Theroux) is the main character of this show as his family is left in a rut following the departures. His dad went crazy, one of his kids fled town and his wife left him and joined a cult called the Guilty Remnant. Yeah, Kevin is dealing with quite a lot of stress, and I could much further his life would continue to spiral out of control in each episode.

There are so many paranormal/supernatural elements happening in each episode of The Leftovers I just learned to embrace them and stop questioning them and went along for the ride. The only exception is the Guilty Remnant cult whom I cannot stand. They are the equivalent of a cheap antagonist. None of the cult members talk and they all smoke, and whenever they are shown smoking they are intentionally sporting a stink eye/slacker look combo to ham up that extra sleazy look. It comes off as cheap heat. In two seasons none of their motives or secrets are addressed in a serious manner and every time they appear I instantly want them off the TV screen. There is one cult member who talks who is portrayed by Liv Tyler who is unbearable throughout both seasons. In the first season she is a clueless klutz who just does not seem to be clicking with the cult, but in season two she is suddenly one of the top cult members with no explanation and she walks around with a holier than though vibe that makes absolutely no sense when they do not explain what happened to make her get to that point in between seasons.

The only good thing about the Guilty Remnant is that they play a significantly smaller role in season two and are only featured in a few episodes, which automatically makes it the better season. Season two sees Kevin’s family get out of the hellhole his hometown transformed into and moves into a small town in Texas that is getting a lot of buzz because it had no departures. A lot of other crazy shit goes down in Jarden, Texas however, and each episode ups the batshit factor up another notch or two after three girls go missing and the town thinks another departure has transpired. Season one had a modicum of sanity to it, but season two throws that out the window and goes completely ridiculous in all directions and I found myself tuning into each succeeding episode to see what they would do next. I just rolled with it and stopped and asking questions, which I rarely do with most TV shows and it resulted In an exponentially better watch. Not to hype it up too much, but when you get there hopefully you will agree with me that in season two, The Leftovers hands-down features the single best karaoke scene in all of television history.
Season 1 Grade: B-
Season 2 Grade: A-

Ballers - I am only halfway through the debut season of Ballers. It is Dwayne Johnson’s new show that is essentially a sports agent version of Entourage. Dwayne is a recently retired pro football player trying to hack it for a new up and coming sports agency. Unfortunately his peers and all the top talent he is after has their own baggage that is preventing them from getting that big money deal. Dwayne also has his own personal problems that rear their head with post-concussion syndrome creeping in, among other things. I am surprised to see this show get sponsored by the NFL as all the teams are featured throughout it given all the controversies that are happening off the field.

Halfway through the first season I am just not feeling this show as it has a theme that Dwayne and his contracted sports stars are constantly up to no good and Dwayne just plays the peacemaker role and finds creative new ways to cover up their mistakes. I hear there is eventually more to Ballers than that, and since it is only ten episodes I will make sure to stick around to see how it unfolds.
Grade: n/a

True Detective - I loved season one of True Detective. It is easily one of my all-time favorite single seasons of television, but alas this was one of the few shows I have yet to catch up on. I really wanted to watch it after Leftovers and Game of Thrones, but after both of those heavy duty watches, I was in desperate need of something a lot lighter and with a few more laughs and thus Ballers is currently filling that void. Rest assured I plan to plow through this in the next month or two.
Grade: n/a


Agent Carter - It is disappointing to see Marvel struggling this their major network shows, while DC flourishes on a lower tier major network like the CW. Agents of Shield is barely pulling decent enough ratings to get renewed, and Agent Carter got cancelled after its second straight limited, 10 episode season. Since all ten episodes aired in successive weeks with no breaks it made for a friendlier watch without having to worry about extended midseason breaks. Season two continues the adventures of Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) in the SSR, the precursor to SHIELD, but this time she is stationed in LA after transferring from New York.

Atwell is once again awesome as Carter, and so is James D’Arcy returning as her sidekick/butler, Edwin Jarvis. In season two a mysterious black matter infects an ambitious Hollywood actress, Whitney Frost (Wynn Everett) and scientist Jason Wilkes (Reggie Austin). Naturally one uses their new powers for good, while the other embraces darkness. I enjoyed this show like last season, and I dig this Marvel universe in the ‘40s, but like last season the show just feels too restricted and watered down by primetime major network restrictions in a way I do not get from the DC shows on the CW. Compare this to Marvel’s Netflix offerings where they have far more freedom and it feels like Agent Carter is going for a more family friendly PG offering, which hurts it in the long run.

Perhaps that is why this season declined in ratings and it did not get picked up for a third season. That is a shame too because the characters from the Marvel films can only appear on the ABC Marvel shows and none of the Netflix series. Howard Stark from the first Captain America film appears in a few episodes this season, and it is readily apparent that his star power and charismatic character rubs off on the rest of the cast the few times he appears. I would be all for Netflix picking up this show and continuing the adventures of Peggy Carter, and this time with far less network restrictions.
Grade: C+

You are almost done with unbelievably lengthy TV Season Recap for the 2015-16 season. Come back for fourth and final part which is all about the superhero shows on FOX and the CW!

Past TV/Web Series Blogs

2013-14 TV Season Recap
2014-15 TV Season Recap
Angry Videogame Nerd Vol 8
Angry Videogame Nerd Vol 7
Mortal Kombat: Legacy - Season 1
RedvsBlue - Seasons 1-13
Seinfeld Final Season
Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle

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