Saturday, June 10, 2017

2016-17 TV Season Recap Part 1

Previous TV Season Recaps – (2013-14 | 2014-15 | 2015-16)

2016-17 TV Season Recap, Part 2 (Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Legion, Riverdale)
2016-17 TV Season Recap, Part 3 (24: Legacy, South Park, Horace & Pete, Stranger Things)
2016-17 TV Season Recap, Part 4 (Glow, Defenders, American Grit, Ballers, Leftovers, Game of Thrones)

It is time for my annual TV season recap blog. Check out the links above to previous seasons in case you missed them. Like last year I wound up keeping up with a few too many TV shows so I will split this up into a few parts and link them above. For part one, I am going to focus on the four TV shows I followed based on DC Comics properties.

Gotham - If you thought last season of Gotham was off-the-rails, then be prepared for a whole new level of craziness for season three. I do not know where to start. How about with my only real qualm being, like in actual comics is that no one stays dead. Thanks to the science experiments of Hugo Strange (BD Wong), he keeps finding ways to bring back past fallen villains of the show, for better or worse. Yup, the writers found another way to bring back Fish Mooney (Jada Smith) for a few more episodes this season, and she is just as dreadful to endure as past seasons.

We do have a few new villains join the fray this season, and if you grew up with the classic animated Batman TV show you will be delighted to see Mad Hatter (Benedict Samuel), Poison Ivy (Maggie Geha) and Mr. Freeze (Nathan Darrow) join the mix of the ever-growing list of Gotham antagonists. The big foil this season is a blood virus that Mad Hatter unleashes upon the city of Gotham that turns people into blood-lusting lunatics. It affects a number of major and minor players on the show this season and watching them succumb/overcome the disease lead to some compelling television.

Other favorite parts of this season for me are the constant love/hate/love relationship between Penguin (Robin Taylor) and Riddler (Corey Smith). Both wind up playing the political field this season before declaring war on each other to amusing results. Another constant dynamic I enjoyed playing out through the season was Barb (Erin Richards) getting more twisted each episode as she bosses around Tabitha (Jessica Lucas) and Butch (Drew Powell) to do her bidding to middling results. Once again, Ben McKenzie and Donal Logue nail the roles of the two primary detectives Jim Gordon and Harvey Bullock. Bullock is now the head of Gotham PD and Gordon starts out as a private detective hauling in baddies on his own terms. His season arc is unbelievable if I lay it all out for you now so you just have to tune in to see it. Finally, David Mazouz is really coming into his own this season as Bruce Wayne. He spends most of the season feuding with the underground Gotham society, the Court of Owls. I loved that comic arc from a few years ago and really dug Gotham’s take on that faction.

There is so much more that happened this season and other major characters I have not even touched on yet. It does get to be a bit much to keep track of, but last season I just said “screw it” and rolled with whatever Gotham threw in my face and let the recaps starting off each episode serve as a much-needed refresher. I very much enjoyed this season, and my only takeaways are Fish Mooney and a couple other minor villains that did not hit the mark of the many they introduced this season. Also, if you were following week-to-week like me then it got to be a bit difficult to keep tabs on everything since Gotham took two extended midseason breaks this season and I had trouble recalling if certain events transpired in specific seasons. Grade: A

The Flash - This is difficult to admit, but The Flash lost its way for its third season. Last season introduced Wally West (Keiynan Lonsdale) into the mix, and he just never clicked with the rest of the Star Labs crew. The writers of The Flash took this criticism to heart and doubled down on Wally this season by having him mope around the first several episodes about not having superpowers like the rest of the team. Then he finally gets powers and redubs himself Kid Flash and instantly becomes annoyingly arrogant. He is scripted to be as gut-wrenching as Spider-Man was in the disastrous Amazing Spider-Man 2 from a few years back. Wally West sir, you hereby are the runaway winner for my ‘dopiest character’ of all of TV this past year.

The third season of The Flash also doubles down into exploring the 52 Earths of the DC-Multiverse. If you do no recall from my recap from last season, there are 52 Earths/alternate realities where each one has its own version of Team Flash members. It seems now the writers are getting into a new comfort zone where if they need to write off a certain character they will bring in a new multi-verse doppelganger to take their place. Each season has had a different version of Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh), with season three’s being a very lighthearted, coffee addicted version who calls himself ‘HR.’ HR is a fun addition to the team, but by the end of season three there were so many different multi-verse versions of each character introduced that it got to be groan-inducing whenever they time jumped to a new multi-verse.

The primary villain for season three is the mysterious Savitar. An early season episode shows a flash-forward of Barry’s love of his life, Iris West (Candice Patton) meeting her demise at the hands of Savitar so Barry (Grant Gustin) and the rest of Team Flash spend the bulk of the season trying to prevent that from happening. How they get there and what they wind up doing to try and save Iris is an interesting journey, but it has severe consequences that wound up being a big turnoff and does not have me anticipating season four whatsoever since the ending (light spoilers ahead) essentially implies that the cringe-worthy Kid Flash will be taking over as the new protagonist. There are still a fair amount of decent episodes this season (the annual Christmas party is a feel-good scene that delivers again this season), but I could not help but shake this season as a real letdown. Grade: C

Arrow - This is a big redemption season of Arrow after a couple of good, but not great seasons. Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) starts the season as the new mayor of Star City and he still somehow manages to moonlight as The Green Arrow in his downtime. With season four leaving the old Team Arrow in disarray, Oliver recruits several new vigilantes to take under his wing for season five. This reminded me of the not-so-desirable new recruits Gordon was in charge of in season two of Gotham as most of these new characters just did not cut it and they become early cannon fodder for season five’s primary antagonist, Prometheus (Josh Segarra). There was one likeable new recruit though that stayed on board the entire season with the codename Wild Dog (Rick Gonzalez), and I dug his story arc as he wound up teaming with Quentin Lance (Paul Blackthorne) for most of the season and the two meshed well together so much that I was always glued to my device whenever the two were onscreen.

Prometheus proves to be one of the major villains that Ollie has ever encountered as the two have several impactful moments throughout the season. They manage to outdo themselves in their final confrontation in a pivotal showdown between the two that had me in goosebumps throughout. Fans that follow Arrow every year know that each episode has flashbacks that lay out what happen each year that Oliver was away for the five years before returning to town in Arrow’s first episode. For the fifth year of Arrow flashbacks Ollie is in Russia teaming up with the Russian gang known as Bratva and his antics there all tie in to how he winds up back at Star City at the very beginning of Arrow. The final flashback scene is another powerful moment that combined with Green Arrow and Prometheus’s final showdown as one of the best season finales in the history of a TV superhero show and capped off one of the best seasons of Arrow yet. Grade: A

Legends of Tomorrow - The show featuring the castoffs from Arrow and Flash returns for a slightly more streamlined second season. Instead of focusing on a huge superhero roster of 10, they slimmed the team down to seven Legends this season due to how the first season wrapped up. The season starts off with team captain, Rip Hunter (Arthur Darvill) lost in time and Sarah Lance (Caity Lotz) taking over the captain’s chair to lead the Legends to track Rip down.

Season two has a new team of former Flash and Arrow villains dubbed the Legion of Doom (Whaaaaaaaat a rush!) consisting of Eobard Thawne (Matt Letscher), Damien Darhk (Neal McDonough) and Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman). I was a fan of these guys before, so seeing them team up and intentionally ham up the evil villain factor made them the perfect foils for the lighthearted Legends. This was a much improved season that stayed on point better, did not feature love triangle plots that overstayed their welcome and a better group of antagonists. The Civil War zombies episode I imagine will be a hit with a certain audience. Even though they improved a lot this season I would still state Legends of Tomorrow is not a top tier superhero show, as even with a slimmed down roster, there was still a lot to keep track of, and new Legend member Steel (Nick Zano) is a little too cheesy and requires a high tolerance level. Grade: B

Past TV/Web Series Blogs

2013-14 TV Season Recap
2014-15 TV Season Recap
2015-16 TV Season Recap
Adventures of Briscoe County Jr: The Complete Series
Angry Videogame Nerd Volumes 7-9
Mortal Kombat: Legacy - Season 1
OJ: Made in America: 30 for 30
RedvsBlue - Seasons 1-13
Roseanne – Seasons 1-9
Seinfeld Final Season
Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle
Superheroes: Pioneers of Television

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