I fell too far behind on television during my vacation to have anything useful to say now. Consider this a reminder to myself of things I didn’t get around to on the blog.
Mad Men. Season finished while we were gone. Lots of changes by the end of the season, and Don Draper is lower than he’s ever been. It’s a show full of misery, not that that’s a bad thing. There were some detours I found less than interesting, no matter how much I enjoy Linda Cardellini. But the finish was strong. Grade for Season Six: A-.
The Bridge. This actually started since I got back. The pilot has me wanting more. Demián Bichir is always worth watching, and it will be interesting to see how Diane Kruger’s character progresses. The Bridge has many potential areas for examination, and if it is as good as it looked in the pilot, it will be rewarding watching it all: the buddy picture, the procedural, the autistic heroine, the border between Mexico and the USA. We could be talking about this one for a long time. Grade for pilot: A-.
Ray Donovan. Liev Schreiber as a guy who fixes things, and I don’t mean kitchen sinks. The premiere had the most viewers of any premiere in Showtime history, so there’s no surprise it’s already been renewed for Season Two. After one episode, Ray Donovan is already a more complex character than I expected, and Schreiber is joined by a cast of stars (Jon Voight) and familiar TV faces (Paula Malcomson from just about everything, Katherine Moennig from The L Word). Grade for pilot: A-. (These grades seem to be following a theme.)
True Blood. I’ve only watched the season premiere, so I’m four episodes behind already. Nothing I saw in that first episode made me think this season would be different from the others. Grade for season premiere: B+.
The Newsroom. I think I should retire my usual Aaron Sorkin advice (one last time: just watch Sports Night). The season premiere was a bit of an improvement. The women didn’t do anything particularly stupid, and there was a larger focus on how a news program is created. But then, just when everything was running smoothly, the show stopped dead in its tracks while an activist explained Occupy Wall Street to a reporter. Without that interruption, this one approached an “A” grade. Grade for Season Two premiere: B+.
Orange Is the New Black. The latest offering from Netflix looks like a good one. It could easily turn stupid (cute blonde ends up in prison), but it took showrunner Jenji Kohan until the fourth season to push Weeds off the rails, so this one could be a keeper, at least for awhile. As is usual with Netflix, all thirteen episodes were released at once. I watched the premiere, which gets a B+.
All three of the new series have a chance at getting an “A” grade by season’s end. It’s a promising time to start watching TV again.