JOHN OSTRANDER’S 2014 TV REPORT CARD

report cardby John Ostrander

We’ve had our TV season (or series) finale blitz so I thought I’d give a report card on some of the series I’ve been watching. These are my current faves; they may not be yourfaves but – hey – it’s my column. Grades will be of different hues of satisfactory/unsatisfactory. Here there will be spoilers; you are so advised and warned.

Arrow: Satisfactory. The plots and subplots including the backstory all wound up in a satisfactory manner. Tracks were laid down for next season. Amanda Waller, even if I’m not nuts about how they interpret her, was there and appears that she will be there next season which means I get some money down the road. I don’t care for Oliver Queens’ younger sister Thea, who comes off as a self-righteous whiny spoiled brat. In theory, she could be written out if the show by her exit but somehow I doubt it. The show gets a little sudsy for me at times but, overall, I’ll probably watch it again next season.

Almost Human: Sadly satisfactory. This should almost qualify as an incomplete as I came in late on the series but I very much enjoyed what I saw. Unfortunately, the series has been cancelled which is a shame – good writing, good cast, good production values. They couldn’t have known when they did the final episode whether or not they were cancelled but they ended on a right note between the two main characters. While there were a few loose ends that could have been tied up, emotionally it ended well. I’ll miss it.

Castle: Unsatisfactory. This season was leading up to the nuptials between Castle and Kate Becket but the show is dedicated to keeping them apart. It took them a good long time to let the characters get together at all and now they’ve done a season cliffhanger where Castle, on his way to the wedding, is forced off the road and the last thing we see is his burning car. Ooooh! Maybe he’s dead! Nah, no one believes that. No, this is just another way of keeping the two characters apart because, as we all know, once two people get married, they become dull and uninteresting and boring. I mean, Hepburn and Tracy proved that. Gomez and Morticia. The Thin Man movies. Come on!

Justified: Unsatisfactory. I think I covered this elsewhere but the season simply treaded water, there were storylines about which I didn’t give a rat’s ass, the bad guys weren’t very compelling, and it’s marking time until next season, already announced as the last. It should have jettisoned one or two storylines and wound the show up strong this season. I don’t know if I care anymore.

Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D: Surprisingly satisfactory. Of course, they did bring in Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury so they had a lot going for them but this was a series I wasn’t keen on when it started. However, after the events in Captain America: The Winter Soldier (extremely satisfactory) tied into the series, it became compelling. Betrayals, twists, character development, and Agent Coulson gets a promotion at the end. I’m looking forward to next season. Well done.

Suits: Satisfactory. There’s an underlying premise to the series – that Mike Ross, assistant to ace lawyer Harvey Specter, has faked his law degree, faked going to Harvard, and so on and that Specter (and several others at the firm) know it. The series has toyed with Mike’s exposure as a fraud and did again at the finale this year. There’s a lie at the center of the show and I think it has to be dealt with. They found an out this year; Mike has an offer of a big paying job in a different field. If he leaves, the odds on his lie being exposed reasonably go down and they’ve left it that he intends to take the job. Whether he follows through is something we’ll see next season but at least the series is addressing the issue.

The Blacklist: Satisfactory. This is a twisted series but I like how the information must sometimes be inferred and may be misleading. Characters died in the finale, often very violently. Tom Keen, the asshole pretending to be series lead Elizabeth Keen’s husband, bit the big one. Is James Spader’s character, Raymond Reddington, Elizabeth’s father? It seems as if he is but, with this series, you can never quite tell. Some questions were answered and some plots tied off but there are more questions and places to go next season and I’m ready to go with them.

Overall, not bad. More things I liked than things I didn’t. Some new shows are coming up in the fall that look promising. Nothing terribly challenging, but that’s why God created Cosmos. Oh, wait! S/He didn’t. Not a lot of God in the show, which pisses Creationists off no end – and part of the reason I really like it.