My 2017 in Television

When the kids went back to school in late August, I reunited with Netflix. Our wifi is abysmal but refusing to submit to Comcast is a hill I’m willing to die on, so if a child is on the computer or a tablet, Netflix for me is out.

I felt guilty enough for watching so much uninterrupted television that I decided to start crocheting, and ultimately made nearly every family member an afghan for Christmas, about 9 in total. (A young niece and nephew got hats, and I made my grandmother a matching scarf and hat.)

Here’s what I watched:

Sports Series That Lived Up to the Hype: 2017 World Series

MR. MORTON CLOSED OUT THE SERIES. ENOUGH SAID.

Documentary About Some Badass Women: The Keepers

Unsatisfied with local law enforcement’s efforts to find out who killed their beloved English teacher, Sister Cathy, her former students–now in their 60s–combine their resources to find out what happened. It’s so frustrating how their efforts are thwarted at the local and city levels, and it made me angry that a young nun’s death could have been covered up to help keep secret what priests were doing to girls in that high school. The former students are steadfast and unflappable in their pursuit of justice.

Comic Book Series I Hate-Watched: The Iron Fist

The best part of this white-washed show was the villain and then she turned out to be boring, too.

Comic Book Series I Watched With My Blankie and One Hand Over My Face (Which Made Crocheting Really Hard): The Punisher

Unrelentingly violent. From the first episode to the last. Like … I get your point, Frank. I really do. I thing everyone does. Please do something more productive than drawn-out torture. Please.

Period Series That Were Very Good

Jamaica Inn

After losing her parents, the (actress who played) Lady Sybil Crawley goes to a relative’s hotel to live and work. She soon realizes something is amiss, and uncovers a smuggling ring that includes almost everyone in town and is carried out in a most disturbing way. The series is based on a Daphne Du Maurier novel.

Alias Grace

An Irish immigrant is convicted in the double murder of her employer and his housekeeper in Canada, but a psychiatrist is sent to determine whether she is to be pardoned; it’s unclear whether she was a full participant or an accessory. (An unreliable female narrator? WHO KNEW) The psychiatrist soon becomes obsessed with his subject. This series, like A Handmaid’s Tale, is based on the work of Margaret Atwood.

A Science Fiction Show, Complete with Subtle Conspiracies, That Does Not Seem Like a Science Fiction Show Until You Realize It’s Normalized Resurrection and Reincarnation #waitwhat: Glitch

A bunch of people come back to life by digging themselves out of their own graves in what at first could be a cliched happy ending to Pet Sematary. But! Some people have been dead two years, others decades. Their loved ones have moved on. They slowly remember how they died. A cop—whose dead wife is one of the resurrected—and a physician—who has an affair with another—have to figure out what’s going on without stirring up too much attention, and to keep safe from another group of people trying to kill them. Both seasons are pretty strong, and the writing and acting are great.

Science Fiction That Started Out Great But Declined Into a Hate Watch Series: Continuum

It started out with a promising, if trite, premise: can you change the future by going back to the past? But Continuum lasted two seasons before its writers were all, “Well what do we do now?” and introduced confusing temporal paradoxes and contradictory character development that made the show watchable. Oh and the answer to the question, according to this show, is yes.

A Science Fiction Show Whose Writing Was So Lazy I Couldn’t Even Hate Watch: Dark Matter

Six people wake up on a spaceship with their memories wiped and eventually find out they’re criminals who are employed as enforcers. What makes it interesting (and hopeful) is that they instinctively work together–people are inherently good, after all!–to solve their initial crisis in the pilot show. But huge plot holes arise and much of the conflict in the next two is resolved off camera and relayed through casual dialogue. #nope.

Science Fiction That Handled Time Travel and Reincarnation Quite Well: Travelers

Catastrophic events make the future a decidedly not swell place to be, but people have figured out how to send consciousness back in time. These people, called Travelers, take over a person’s body right after the person’s supposed time of death. The Travelers have a specific purpose: Prevent an asteroid from colliding into Earth, which triggers global-warming enhanced famine and destruction. The show basically takes the same premise as Continuum but with far better results. The first season was pretty solid but I still have to see Season 2.

A Show That Successfully Incorporates Science Fiction, Comic Book and Western Genres: Wynonna Earp

Wynonna, second oldest daughter of Wyatt Earp, reluctantly and sullenly returns to Purgatory to fulfill his legacy of killing demons. She has help from her indefatigable younger sister, Waverly; a federal agent, Dolls; some cops; and a never-aging Doc Holliday. Come for the witty dialogue; stay for Wynonna’s baby shower.

Procedural Series That Are Still Great in Their Third Season:

Broadchurch

Hardy and Miller investigate a rape this time around, although we revisit their controversial past case tangentially.

I love Olivia Colman, who injects such empathy and compassion into her characters. Her chemistry with David Tennant (aka The Official Doctor of Online Offal) is wonderful, and illustrates that yes, indeed, women can work with men without any sort of underlying sexual tension.

Narcos

The show transitions from focusing on Pablo Escobar to the three brothers comprising the Cali Cartel, who swooped in to take advantage of the power vacuum after Escobar’s death. In particular, it focuses on a man who defects from the cartel to become an informer of (handsome and winsome) agent Javier Pena. It’s an ultimately frustrating tale of how much one is willing to put up with a trade wreaks havoc and destruction because the people who inflict it are part of a larger political agenda.

Procedural Shows Inspired by/Similar to Broadchurch Just to Remind You People Everywhere Have the Capability of Being Truly Disgusting to Their Fellow Man: (Alternate Description: Brooding Male Detective in New Environment Overcomes Internal Angst to Solve Unspeakable Crimes)

The Break (La Treve) (takes place in Belgium)

Hinterland (takes place in Wales)

Case (takes place in Iceland)

Wallander (takes place in Sweden)

Bordertown (takes place in Finland)

Shetland (takes place in a archipelago north of Scotland; technically the UK)

Procedural Shows in Which the Brooding Detective is Female:

Marcella (takes place in London)

Deep Water (takes place in Australia)

Paranoid (takes place in the UK)

A Procedural Show That Takes the Best Parts of Stephen King’s It and Stand By Me: The Five

A boy goes missing after hanging out in the forest with his older brother and the brother’s friends. The show explores how the effects of the disappearance can still reverberate after 20 years. It comes to a deeply satisfying conclusion and reinforces the inexplicable power and healing that childhood friendship provides, even after two decades have passed. TL;DR: Your buddy Online Offal was a puddle of tears after watching this show.

A Procedural Series I Didn’t Know What to Do With: Mindhunter

I couldn’t tell what the point of this show was: a retelling of Silence of the Lambs? An FBI agent turns to serial killers to make him a better boyfriend? Serial killers act the way they do because of their mothers? Understanding serial killers will help us in trying to identify and/or prevent prospective ones?

The series starts out SLOW and even though Jonathan Groff is extremely pretty, I couldn’t get what this show was trying to accomplish. All that being said, the scenes of two FBI agents interviewing serial killers in prison juxtaposed with a man preparing to and beginning to kill is eerie and compelling.

Honorable Mentions: Stranger Things 2 (Serviceable, Got the Job Done) and Ozark (The Only Character I Liked Died; I Don’t Care What Happens to Anyone Else)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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My 2017 in Television

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