what i watched last week

tv 2015: j's thru l's

Jane the Virgin. I liked Season One quite a bit, but I worried it would be hard to juggle everything for another season. I shouldn’t have worried. Jane is currently at its half-season break, and shows no sign of fatigue. You have to get with the program or the entire thing will fail you ... it’s too odd to be otherwise. But the balance of telenovela silliness, family drama, humor, Latino presence, and innovative technique still works. I have no idea why ... the thing should suck. In a cast that manages to handle whatever oddball things are thrown their way, special props to Gina Rodriguez for carrying the show without succumbing to saccharine, Jaime Cavil as her telenovela star/father, and Anthony Mendez as The Narrator.

Jessica Jones. We’re about halfway through this one, which streams on Netflix. It is one of the darkest entities to hold the Marvel tag. Jones is more private detective than superhero, with her drinking and her miserable attitude. She’s got a better reason than most of us for that attitude: she’s suffering from PTSD. I’m sure the cast is fine, but I haven’t noticed, because Krysten Ritter in the title role dominates, and she’s wonderful. David Tennant plays the Big Bad, but he has barely showed up in the episodes we’ve seen. I’m looking forward to it.

The Knick. Season Two ended, not with a cliff-hanger, but with the apparent end of the series. Steven Soderbergh directs every episode, and whether the show continues or not is probably entirely up to him. Once again, an excellent cast, with Clive Owen the most well-known. Matt Zoller Seitz in particular has done some great writing on how Soderbergh makes The Knick different from other series (here’s one example), and since the word “cinematic” popped up somewhere along the way, I find myself watching The Knick differently than I do other series. You could do worse than just concentrate on the camera placement ... “cinematic” indeed. I didn’t quite understand the concept at first, but The Knick forces it on you in a subtle way ... if you don’t look for it, you miss it, and you’re left with a very good hospital drama set in the early 1900s.

The Leftovers. I wrote at length about this show here.

Longmire. The kind of show that gets lost in the shuffle. It is very good at what it does (modern-day Western/procedural), it has interesting characters and an intriguing setting, it has Katee Sackhoff. It moved to Netflix this season, and it is as good as ever, but it has never been more than good, and since it’s no longer on the DVR, it’s easy to forget it’s out there. Which means we’ve only watched about half of the season’s episodes. Nothing wrong with Longmire at all, it’s just buried under Peak TV.