Saturday, June 10, 2017

2016-17 TV Season Recap, Part Three

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

2016-17 TV Season Recap, Part 1 (Gotham, Arrow, Flash, Legends of Tomorrow)
2016-17 TV Season Recap, Part 2 (Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Legion, Riverdale)

24: Legacy – The anti-terrorist hit show 24 is back with a new lead star in Eric Carter (Corey Hawkins). Legacy follows the same abbreviated format of the last season a few years prior where it chops the season length in half, but still retains the same ‘real time’ format of the show where everything takes place within an actual hour of time each episode. This benefits the show greatly since it eliminates a ton of the filler episodes past seasons of the show had to suffer through with throwaway mini-arcs on inconsequential plots.

It is a hard task to ask anyone to fill in the shoes for 24’s previous lead star, Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland), but Hawkins does a commendable as Eric Carter. Like Bauer, Carter winds up having an unbelievable day with an insane amount of terrorist acts he attempts to stop. This show has always been a guilty pleasure filled with at least a few action scenes of high TV production quality. It also hits all the same beats that dominate past seasons of 24 such as a new director of CTU (the fictional Counter-Terrorist Unit where everyone works) being introduced midway through the season, an inept CTU employee having to overcome their emotional drawbacks in a big moment, CTU getting attacked by the terrorists and finally, discovery of a mole inside CTU! Who is this deceptive traitor!? I use to hate these same notes 24 repeated ad naseum, but after nearly 10 seasons of the show they grew on me and I became to appreciate and expect them much like one would do the same by the unmasking of a Scooby-Doo villain. Grade: B+

South Park – Last year South Park succeeded in having their first season-long spanning storyline so creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone attempted to repeat the formula but with mixed results this go around. The primary storyline for this season is an ultimate online troll being on the loose and messing with the students of South Park Elementary. It winds up being a funny mystery leading up to the reveal, and how the online society of the most vile online trolls track down the South Park troll and come together to stop the Netherlands from unleashing their troll tracker that would spell certain worldwide doom. That story arc is fun to follow along with and indulge how it all plays out. The backup story of Cartman finding his first girlfriend and renouncing his bullying ways in the name of true love is also a hoot to keep up with.

One wrench that got thrown in for this season however was the 2016 US election. The election was also part of the season-long spanning arc, but Stone & Parker admitted in an interview on the Bill Simmons podcast they did not anticipate the outcome and had to do last minute rewrites and make drastic changes to the remaining episodes of the season as a result. It is apparent some parts of the greater season-long arc fizzle out a little bit and lose their muster after the election where South Park’s version of Donald Trump (who else, but Mr. Garrison) becomes President. The episodes are not disasters by any means, but lack the punch of the usual unapologetically offensive episodes of the show. The creators stated in the same interview they learned their lesson and plan on going back to self-contained story arcs in single episodes next season. Grade: B

Horace and Pete – This show is Louis C.K.’s take on a dark, twisted version of Cheers. If that caught your interest, stop reading now and immediately binge watch all 10 episodes. For everyone else, Horace (Louis C.K.) and Pete (Steve Buscemi) run a dive bar with their uncle, Pete (Alan Alda) and sister, Sylvia (Edie Falco). There is a lot of family drama transparent throughout the series that rears its ugly head in each episode as Horace and Pete want to keep the bar running while Sylvia wants to sell it to pay for her cancer operation. It is honestly hard to watch, but in a good way if that makes sense because it touches on a lot of deep family issues that I rarely see other shows go into and I imagine there must be at least a couple of the issues that are apparent here that should resonate with most on some level.

Between all the family drama there are much needed moments of levity with the family dealing with a regular set of customers in everyday conversations that may or may not have a point to them but are a delight to take in because of how wonderfully the dialogue is written. The show is filmed like a stage play with limited camera angles and no special effects which is a perfect complement to the dive bar setting. Almost all of the scenes take place either in the bar or in the apartment Horace & Pete reside in directly on top of the bar. Again, there is at least one or two rough scenes to take in each episode because Horace & Pete tackles issues unlike most other shows and does not hold anything back, especially with its ending that left me speechless. Highest of recommendations! Grade: A+

Stranger Things – This was the original series that rocked Netflix last year. Imagine a TV series version of the hit sci-fi film, Super 8 from several years ago and that is almost exactly what is Stranger Things. I love how it nails the early 80s setting I hold so dear. Poor Will Byers (Noah Schnapp) gets kidnapped by a mysterious creature, and now his friends Mike (Finn Wolfhard), Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) and Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) team up with mysterious newcomer to town, Eleven (Millie Brown) to track down Will. Will’s older brother, Jonathon (Charlie Heaton) and his mom, Joyce (Winona Ryder) also go through their own unique journeys while tracking down Will. Ryder is in a word, awesome in her portrayal of gradually losing her mind while her home reveals clues to Jon’s whereabouts.

The actual sci-fi parts of the show dealing with the creature and alternate dimensions were a little bit on the weak side for me, and for whatever reason did not blow me away. I was more a fan of the family and Sheriff Hopper’s (David Harbour) journey piecing together the mystery and tracking down Will and taking in all the callbacks to the early 1980s setting and lifestyle. There is also a side story for Jon where he tries to win over love interest Nancy (Natalia Dyer) from the school jock that is a guilty pleasure trope of mine. I liked a lot of the characters and certain parts of the show, but I am not as infatuated with Stranger Things as most others. I am still happy to hear Netflix picked it up for a second season and plan to keep up with it like almost everyone else on Netflix. Grade: B

Summer Viewing Plans - TV viewing plans for the summer is to burn through the rest of Riverdale and catch up on a lot of HBO programs. The final season of Leftovers just wrapped up and I loved how season two ended so I am psyched to grind through that series. Of course I plan on eating up the latest season of Game of Thrones once that premieres within the next month. Finally, I hope to catch up on The Rock’s original HBO show Ballers I am a season and a half behind. If all goes according to plan, check back here for a summer TV recap blog!

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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