Friday, October 16, 2015

Sci Fi TV Quick Hits: A First Look at Heroes Reborn, Limitless, Minority Report and Other Fall Shows

We're only a few weeks into the season and I'm already behind on my DVR queue, but I have managed to sample several of the new and returning shows.  Here are my thoughts on what I have watched thus far:

Heroes Reborn (NBC): I'm three episodes into this one and enjoying it so far.  The new characters are mostly interesting and HRG is back to being his menacing yet still somewhat sympathetic self.  Not too many of the old characters have shown up yet, which is probably a good thing as it gives the new ones a chance to establish themselves.  And if this were to continue for more seasons the way Tim Kring wants by regularly rotating the characters, I think it would work.  Unfortunately, the ratings suggest this revival will be one and out.  I'm enjoying it for now, though.

Limitless (CBS): This spin-off from the movie of the same name about a drug that enhances people's mental abilities didn't sound that interesting to me, but I decided to go ahead and check out the pilot and I liked it.  The show is definitely another one of those procedurals with a twist, but they do that well enough and have some fun with the concept.  It reminds me a lot of Intelligence from two seasons ago (which disappeared after a thirteen episode run), but it's not quite as grim as that one was. I'll definitely be checking out a few more eps of this show.

Minority Report (FOX): And speaking of cop shows with a twist, that's exactly what this sequel series to the movie is, and it's just not that interesting.  It reminds me a lot of Almost Human from two years ago which I didn't care for either.  That one did apparently start to hit its stride before it got cancelled (based on what I heard, I had given up on it by that point), and perhaps Minority Report could develop into something as well.  I was really hoping this show would delve into the moral quandaries of knowing about a crime before it happens, but I didn't see much of that in the pilot.  Perhaps it could have gotten there (more likely if it was on one of the cable nets), but it's headed for cancellation anyway, so I doubt I will invest much more time on it.

Blindspot (NBC):  And yet another cop show with a twist, and not one of much interest to sci fi fans.  Jamie Alexander (formerly kicking butt as Sif in the Thor movies) is tattooed from head to foot with clues to crimes and doesn't remember who she is or how she got all marked up.  Now we're off to the races with procedural stories padded with layer upon layer of mysteries.  Another show where they think that convoluted mysteries that the writers probably don't even have answers to are better than trying to tell a real story.  The pilot wasn't bad and Alexander made a good showing along with Sullivan Stapleton as the requisite FBI agent, but it just didn't interest me enough to stick with it considering all the other shows currently airing this Fall.

The Muppets (ABC):  I was pumped when I heard they were bringing this show back, but then notably deflated after watching the first two episodes.  I have no problem with them trying to update this for the modern audience, but its The Office meets The Muppet Show premise just doesn't do it for me.  They completely ignore that the original series was already doing that to an extent.  It was a behind the scenes look at mishaps and antics of putting on a variety show.  Take that and just do a few tweaks to bring it up to date, and you got a good show.  And don't focus it too heavily on the adult audience.  The original's child-like silliness was part of its charm.  But they have lost track of that with the new show and the ratings fall-off suggest that nostalgia is waning quickly.

Gotham (FOX):  I watched the season premiere and fell asleep about three quarters of the way in.  I really like Ben McKenzie as Gordon as well as several of the other characters.  And there's a decent story in here somewhere, they just aren't telling it.  I think I'm done with this show and the ratings suggest quite a few more have given up on it as well.

The Walking Dead (AMC):  So while most of the shows above are meandering and misstepping, TWD returns for its sixth season and proves why it's the top rated show on television.  The season premiere could have easily gone off the rails in lesser hands with the thousands of zombies it threw at us (is this the infamous "herd" from the comics?), but the crew behind the scenes know how to do something very important for good television: tell a story!  They throw us right into the middle of a new tale without resolving the cliffhanger from last season, but artfully use the flashbacks to bring us up to speed while also delivering the character and story development to balance the action scenes of dealing with the zombie mob.  It's a bit confusing at first, as if we missed an episode in the middle, but it also keeps us engaged asking what the hell is going on?  And most importantly, they answer those questions!  No mysteries upon mysterious, just good, solid story-telling.  Six season in and this show is still at the top of its game.

The Flash (CW):  And another show that's still kicking it, the first two episodes of The Flash's second season have been among its best.  I love that they are bringing in the whole Earth 2 storyline and that they keep mining the comics for ideas instead of just giving us thug-of-the-week tales.  And we haven't had too much of the soap opera diversions, though I know they'll be working them in.  It would be nice if they could up the game a bit and cut down on the copy-and-paste dialog, but the show has been fun enough this season that it hasn't bothered me too much.  I consider this one now my top guilty pleasure.

Supermansion (Crackle):  I've seen only the pilot of this animated superhero parody starring Bryan Cranston, but it had me rolling on the floor.  It goes into a lot of familiar territory with older superheroes still trying to prove that they have what it takes, but it gives just enough fresh spins on the subject and has plenty of witty lines that it doesn't seem like a retread.  It's walking a fine line and could easily go in either direction, but the first episode was a laugh riot!

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