John Ostrander: Television – Coming, Going, and Staying

Amanda-Wallerby John Ostrander

The word is getting out on the end of this TV season and what’s coming for the start of the next. A lot of the shows, hit or miss, are not things that I watch. Some of them are very good shows – or so I’m told – that either I just never got into or didn’t appeal to me. They may be on channels that I just don’t get (i.e. Showtime) or subscription services to which I do not subscribe (Hulu, Netflix, and so on).

Arrow has been renewed and I’m a regular viewer. It’s a good show, if not my favorite, but I keep watching to see when/if Amanda Waller shows up. Amanda, in whatever shape or form she takes, generates “revenue sharing” for me so I’m usually happy to see her. Not so much this past week. (SPOILER ALERT) I try to hold off on commenting on other people’s take on Amanda but this seems to me to be a fundamental misreading of her essential character.

As I noted previously, Waller is tough and she can be ruthless but she’s not evil and she’s not stupid. In Arrow she’s willing to nuke an American city to take out a threat. Send in the militia, sure; put everything under martial law? Not unreasonable, given the episode’s scenario of super-powered thugs are taking over the city under the leadership of a murderous psychopath. Calling in the Suicide Squad? That’s why they were created.

Going the nuclear option? Frankly, ridiculous. I can see that they would want a “ticking clock” to add suspense to the final episode but does anybody really think that Arrow isn’t going to save the city?

I was hoping maybe they would do a spin-off of the Suicide Squad but now that seems unlikely. That’s a shame. I think the Squad would have real potential as a TV series but, of course, I’m biased.

Not sure if I’m going to watch Arrow any more.

They are doing a spin off from Arrow in the form of The Flash next fall and, yes, I’ll be watching it. There are some other DC inspired shows on other channels showing up. The one I’m most interested in isConstantine, which I think has real potential if they just don’t muck it up. Yes, I’m looking at you, Syfy, and how you bollixed The Dresden Files.

Marvel will also be a presence. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has been renewed and, I must say, this one has been a surprise for me. I’d been so-so about it until it tied into the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier and has gotten real interesting. I haven’t yet seen the season finale and don’t know how they’ll wind it up for now but they have me wanting to see it.

They’ve also scheduled a sort of companion series, Marvel’s Agent Carter which will be a period piece starring Captain America’s great love, Peggy Carter, at the start of S.H.I.E.L.D. just after WW2. It’s a spin-off of the Marvel One Shot short, and it’ll be interesting to see if they can sell it but I’m intrigued.

Right now, DC seems to be dominating on the TV screens the way that Marvel is dominating at the movies, but Marvel also has something cooking with Netflix that could be a game changer. They’re cooking up four series (centering on Daredevil, Iron Fist, Luke Cage, and Jessica Jones) and then having them all in a miniseries as a group based on The Defenders. That’s ballsy and I’ll probably become a Netflix subscriber at that point if I haven’t joined before then just to see it.

I’m a bit surprised that Castle got picked up again. Don’t get me wrong; I’ve been a big fan of the show. Nathan Fillion is terrific, charming, funny and well matched with Stana Katic. The two have a great rapport and chemistry and it would be fun to watch them do almost anything.

However, the show is getting a little long in the tooth and sometimes shows it. They did an episode a few weeks back that involved everyone pretending to be in the Disco 70s. I won’t go into why; let’s just say it stretched my willing suspension of disbelief past the snapping point. You may remember the phrase “jumping the shark” connoting when a TV series has gone too far. It was generated by an episode of Happy Days when a waterskiing Fonzie (still in his leather jacket) jumped over a shark. My Mary noted that this episode ofCastle had the shark jumping Fonzie.

Castle himself doesn’t have the same fun and snap of earlier episodes. He’s not the bad boy or quite as outrageous as he was earlier. He and Kate Beckett, his partner and flame, have not only admitted they are in love but it looks like they’re getting married in this year’s season finale. I’m not sure if the writers know how to make that work and keep the characters as lively as they once were. However, the show has been renewed for another season so I maybe we’ll find out.

The only real disappointment on the cancellation scene for me is Fox’s Almost Human. I came in late on the series but I found it intelligently written, well acted, and good production values. I would have liked to see more.

Overall, my greatest concern is that all this could burn out the audience – both on TV and on the silver screen – for superheroes. I think it’s inevitable but, in the meantime, if the quality remains high, it’ll be a good time to be a comics’ geek.