premiere week review

I know I said I was only going to review Empire and Bull, but a few short blurbs never hurt anybody.

Sorry it’s been a while—when I started this post I forgot to take into account that premiere week had to actually end.

BULL (CBS)

Like, it’s fine. This pilot episode (“The Necklace”) felt nothing like a pilot episode in that virtually nobody besides Dr. Bull (Michael Weatherly) was introduced by name. The other characters were just tropes: youthful punk hacker, tough ex-cop, lawyer lady (though all three are women, which is a plus)… The defendant and his father were more fleshed out than the series regulars. This felt more like the sixth episode of the season and not the first.

However, Chris Jackson is a funny, funny man. I can’t decide if his outfits are great or terrible.

Nonetheless Weatherly is hilarious. I am so, so glad he got his own show. He is also being dressed much better than he was on NCIS, and blue is really his color, it seems. I’ll keep watching. (6.7/10 with room for improvement)

EMPIRE (FOX)

Okay, I won’t spoil anything about this episode but it was really intense. Edge of my seat, grasping at my face, gasping, etc. Songs were eh this week, but there’s a new voice that I dig. Luscious is as terrible as always, there is no end in sight to our torture. Jamal brings up the garbage can incident YET AGAIN. But good stuff overall; hopefully the show is back on track. (8.5/10 needed more lion imagery)

BLACKLIST (NBC)

Solid and classic. Gave a good amount of procedural B-ish plot while keeping the serial story going. Acting on point. Use of actual newborn baby a HUGE plus. This episode picked up right where we left off and it benefited from the steady action. Thing I liked/that stuck out: Samar’s (Mozhan Marnò) very valid enmity towards Liz (Megan Boone) for faking her death. I don’t know, I feel like these sorts of plot points (i.e., big earthshaking decisions by the protagonist) sometimes don’t get addressed properly or just get passed over and forgiven, so this was nice. But I don’t want what is literally the only female friendship in the show to implode because of this. I don’t think it will, but who knows. Best line:

KIRK: I have a blood disorder.

LIZ: Good.

(8.7/10 Spader’s hat game is unreal)

HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER (ABC)

This episode totally surprised me. Again, I won’t spoil anything, but what I thought would be the prevailing mystery this season was solved in about five seconds. Wes is still a sad boy, Connor’s long hair is weird but okay, and Laurel also did something with her hair and I a) can’t tell what it is and b) dislike it? This episode was light on OMG-style drama and heavy on emotions and relationships (Wes-Laurel, Connor-Oliver, Annalise-Keating 5) and the consequences of last season’s choices. Wes is also being a real jerk to Laurel. I honestly thought his girlfriend didn’t exist until she actually appeared.

A structural note: not only do we get flashforwards this season, we also get flashbacks! The flashbacks are not in this show’s characteristic teal mystery light, but rather in a warm glow that made me think that I’d left my computer’s night mode on. Over the summer, each of the five students met Annalise in some way, with some encounters ending amicably and others not so much. For a while I wondered if we were in fact going to get a big mystery because nothing was happening on that front, but I guess of course we had to, right? My big mystery theory (not spoiling anything, but for those of you who’ve seen it): it’s Wes, Nate, or Bonnie. I think. But I could be proven completely wrong next week, so.

Last thing: there’s a scene where Annalise is on the (flip!) phone with someone at the end, and I feel that it was shot very well.

True last thing/trivial detail: the opening credit where it shows the chalkboard now says “CREATED BY PETE NOWALK” after the show name disappears. Was he tired of his big work being mistaken for Shonda’s? I don’t know (yes).

(9/10 thank god these kids have finally reached their second year)

NOTORIOUS (ABC)

Goodness, this one is pretty bad. I have an idealistic hope that it’ll get better, but right now it is awkward and strange. Piper Perabo and Daniel Sunjata are charismatic enough to be fun to watch, but the writing is so stilted and cringeworthy (“Boss lady? How do you like your meat?”) that I found myself, well, cringing. Though when Louise dramatically tossed her phone behind her I laughed a good bit despite it all. The mystery in this episode was interesting, but they cut off in the middle in a weird, non-cliffhangery way. That is, they dropped a surprise, but then they ended the episode in an amicable and boring way. I want to know what happens! Also I want to know why this is so bad! One of the writer-creators worked on CSI:Bones, AND The Blacklist, so I am very, very confused as to why he’s (currently) failing at what should be a simple execution of an edgy procedural Sports Night. This show has a 26% on Rotten Tomatoes. I’m tempted to fly to L.A. and run/write Notorious myself. (4 or 5/10 for their version 10/10 for my theoretical one)

QUANTICO (ABC)

This premiere was the best episode of television I watched this week. I know, right? Quantico, of all things…

Firstly, I like the new thing they’re doing with the time jumps. The first ones said “THEN” and “NOW,” and from there they said either “1 YEAR LATER” or “378 DAYS LATER” with other figures on the periphery. These jumps came with a Blacklist-y sound effect.

As for the plot of this season, the present (with Alex at the Farm), involves her, and Ryan, because he had to be in there somewhere, trying to uncover a conspiracy of rogue agents who’d like total autonomy and no Patriot Act/laws governing espionage/what have you. This intrigues me. It’s super Jason Bourne-ian in that it’s the old free-range guard versus the new “constrained” set. Blair Underwood’s character, instructor Owen Hall, is supposedly the recruiter for this conspiracy. (Blair is great, but he sounds just like Miranda and Liam did last season. I guess that’s the point, though.) Aside: I always think of the “present” stuff as the past and the “future” stuff as the present, but I’ll stick to the official story to save confusion.

In the future, there’s another explosion in New York, and wouldn’t you know, Alex is there to witness it! Also there is drama between her and Ryan. The writing implies Ryan is dating someone else, but they could be tricking us (I initially thought the “she” Alex kept mentioning was the First Lady, but, well, decidedly not). Alex and Shelby’s equation seems fine, if a touch cool, but I think that’s imposed by some superiors or something—Alex says “I know we’re not supposed to talk” during their conversation.

The terrorist group behind the explosions calls itself the Citizen’s Liberation Front, which I will be calling the CLF for the rest of the season. They wear funky masks with depressions for the eyes. Actually, how do they see through those? They look like solid carbon fiber… Anyway, there’s a bunch of mystery behind them as well, obviously.

Nimah’s outfit was on point, and apparently she speaks Swahili. Other than that, she didn’t have a lot to do this outing. There was no sign of Raina. I’m interested to see who in the supporting cast will get the most screentime given that there are like six new characters.

Also, what is it with this show and people jumping out of windows?

I saved my big peeve for last (this is just stream-of-consciousness rage folks): they changed the opening logo it is ugly and squat and it reads QUAN2CO. QUAN2CO! I thought this was just the hashtag they were using (read: something dumb Priyanka thought up) but boy was I wrong! There it was, on international television for everyone to cringe and laugh at! But the logo at the end was the same one! Seriously though why didn’t they use the same font as the original logo for this QUAN2CO mess? It’s so much nicer. I am mad as HECK. (9.5/10 0.3 points subtracted for lighting Priyanka in a way that made her look pinkish)

Okay sorry but are they going to do QUAN3CO? That doesn’t work! And this program is going to at least five seasons (knock on wood but also don’t because Priyanka needs to do a Bollywood movie), so QUAN4CO? Or will they just change it to THE 4ARM? What about season five?

___

Anyway. Two book reviews this week, hopefully, and maybe I’ll finally review my new pen. Next week I tell you what-all is in my pen case (so much, just so much stuff). Get excited, tell your classmates, GPs, Twitter followers, etc. Good night.

fall tv preview

I decided to skip a dedicated intro post. I found it a little awkward, to be honest. You’ll get to know me as we go (hopefully). But as a cursory hello–I’m Indrani. I love TV, pens and stationery, Bollywood, books, comics, movies, and I’m sure a lot of other things that I can’t think of right now. For one, the New York Times (specifically the Sunday edition).

Fall TV. Shall we?

New shows first.

QUEEN SUGAR (OWN)

Queen Sugar has already aired its first three episodes at this point, and I’d recommend that you watch them all posthaste. Ava DuVernay’s silver screen debut has everything I like—good soundtrack, good story, good color, and, most importantly (for me at least), a super-diverse, overwhelmingly majority non-white cast. Queen Sugar is a family drama about three siblings that inherit their father’s languishing farm after he passes. The acting is fantastic and the characters feel real, vibrant, warm. The rest I’ll let y’all see for yourselves. (10PM)

BULL (CBS)

I love Michael Weatherly. I have loved him since season one of NCIS. Look at his hair.

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Thus I was so super-excited when I saw that he had gotten his own show, and right off of leaving NCIS to boot. Bull is a procedural drama about a jury consultant—I know, yet another procedural? (I happen to love a good procedural. It’s art when it’s done right.) Weatherly’s trademark sass, along with Chris Jackson’s (Hamilton) existence, will probably make this a regular watch for me. (09/20, 9PM)

NOTORIOUS (ABC)

Even though I hadn’t watched it in approximately three seasons, I was pissed when Covert Affairs (USA) ended because it meant Piper Perabo was no longer on TV. But we’re saved! Notorious is here. Also starring is Daniel Sunjata, no less fun to watch for being slightly problematic (also was forced off of the small screen when the criminally underrated Graceland, also on USA, was canceled last October).

To me, this looks like a classic ABC-circa-2009/2011 program. Which means right up my alley, as I really got into TV with shows like Castle and Revenge (I know). I sense that it’s going to be a bit procedural with a serial arc, like most ABC dramas, including the two I mentioned above. Nonetheless I’m seriously pumped for another will-they-won’t-they show. But Indrani, you ask, aren’t you tired of the same rom-com trope in every program playing out over five seasons and then fizzling out when the characters actually admit their feelings?

Nope! (09/22, 9PM)

CONVICTION (ABC)

I have similar feelings about Hayley Atwell as I do about Piper Perabo, except slightly stronger, probably due to her time in the Marvel Universe. Conviction, another semi-procedural that will likely include a will-they-won’t-they storyline, is about a conviction integrity unit. Atwell’s character is a hot mess of a hotshot attorney who’s blackmailed into joining the team. Plus, she’s a former president’s daughter. I really hope they do something—interesting, for lack of a better word—socially conscious, maybe? I hope they snatch headlines like The Good Wife did and critique the establishment a bit. But that’s just me.

Another Graceland alum appears in this show, Manny Montana, whose performance I recall enjoying. Also CSI: New York‘s Eddie Cahill, who has aged well, along with Shawn Ashmore of FOX’s The Following and also some X-Men stuff I guess? His twin brother Aaron was on Warehouse 13 once upon a time. Anyway, no matter how much Atwell’s American accent weirds me out, the combination of a conviction integrity unit and White House connections should be fun. (10/03, 10PM)

Now for returning shows.

EMPIRE (FOX)

Will this be the year that Danny Strong, Lee Daniels, and the other folks at FOX realize no one is watching this beautiful, wild program for Terrence Howard? I hope so, but I think not. I don’t really think I can say anything to you about Empire right now that hasn’t been said already. I’m excited. They can bring the crazy, I’m here for it. I’m ready to Snapchat my pal Jess about all the nonsense this show throws at us. I’m ready to yell “leave Andre/Jamal/Hakeem alone” at my laptop. As a side note: Hakeem is kind of my favorite Lyon brother. I know, I know. He’s super problematic and he needs a stylist. But if he improves himself he could be truly great, you feel me? Yeah. Jess hates Hakeem. I also got slight chills at 0:24 in this trailer. Taraji P. Henson is a gift to us, and that’s all. (09/21, 9PM)

HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER (ABC)

First thought: not sure if I like Connor’s (Jack Falahee) longer hair. But otherwise this looks like another gripping season of a fantastic show. My grandmother thinks HTGAWM (along with Empire) went a little off the rails last season. I think that’s okay. I think this show survives because of Viola Davis, and she keeps it ticking, and she keeps me watching. (Along with Karla Souza.) I like a mystery, and HTGAWM is the best kind. Again, not much to say that hasn’t been said already. (09/22, 10PM)

BLACKLIST (NBC)

The trailer I’ve linked to is 2/3 season three catch-up montage, and 1/3 new stuff that I actually hadn’t seen. I’m happily anticipating Liz being back in fighting form (read: brunette). This show is usually a fun watch, mainly for James Spader, but also for Diego Klattenhoff’s facial expressions (and name). They’ll take care of the serial arc early, then go procedural with a slow burn on the main plot, then ramp it up for midseason (maybe) and May sweeps. I want answers! Liz’s dad! Who is Red! Etc. And more Dembe (Hisham Tawfiq), and lots of Mozhan Marnò, who should have her own program. (09/22, 10PM)

☆゚. * ・ 。゚QUANTICO 。゚・ * . ☆゚ (ABC)

Let me start by saying that Priyanka Chopra is my favorite. Period.

Okay, moving along. I missed the second half or so of Quantico this spring—I tend to lose steam/gain laziness at midseason. I also missed the second half of Blacklist and caught up on HTGAWM and Empire with some encouragement (read: peer pressure). But I finished Quantico around the beginning of September and I’m 100% ready for season two. As for last season, I already knew who the terrorist was, and I was happy because I hated that character with a hot fire. But my foreknowledge didn’t actually take away all of the surprise, which is impressive for this silly show.

I really got into the characters in the spring half. Specifically, Caleb (Graham Rodgers), who is over-vilified and underrated. But I’m miffed that they picked the title Quantico for this show because Alex (Chopra) is going to work at the CIA in this coming season. Will she move back to the FBI eventually, making the name of her show actually relevant (somehow I think not)? Will the show mutate and change its title to The Farm (again, I definitely think not)? Whatever, Josh Safran. You do you, I guess. I will watch as long as Priyanka is present.

But as a Bollywood fan, I wonder–how long can she stay? Her main fanbase, and her main source of income, still lies in India, and she can only turn down so many films—such as Mr. Chaloo and Padmavati—before directors stop coming to her (or maybe not. She is Priyanka Chopra, after all). Side note: both Mr. Chaloo (which I was pumped for) and Padmavati (which is having the most hilarious problems) are having issues. But also I just want another Bollywood movie from her. It’s been nearly a year. These A-list youths need to get the idea of one or two movies a year out of their heads and do four or five like the 50-year-olds.

Okay, Bollywood digression over. Why am I excited for Quantico season two? Why should you watch? The mystery will be good. I know they stole the present/past gimmick from HTGAWM, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t effective. It’s a decently funny show. Henry Czerny from Revenge is in it, joining as a CIA employee (director? I do not know). Anybody from Revenge gets a gold star, thumbs-up from me. Yeah, in sum: Priyanka. (09/25, 10PM)

MADAM SECRETARY (ABC)

I watched all of Madam Secretary this summer. I had seen most of season one and had caught glimpses of season two as my mother watched. It’s a decent show, and it’s at its best when Téa Leoni and Tim Daly (who play wife and husband for the uninitiated) are acting alongside each other. They have fantastic chemistry, probably because they are dating in Real Life. They are a joy to watch. This show can be a little awkward with foreign-policy jargon and some clichés and some optimistic/idealistic campiness, but the way Leoni just brushes it all off with her characteristic dry wit makes this a will-watch. Profusion of Broadway stars is a plus. My favorite character (besides Elizabeth and Henry) is Dmitri Petrov (Chris Petrovski). I have no particular reason for this. (10/02, 9PM)

Okay! That’s that! Tell your friends about this fabulous blog! And enemies! And families, etc. Good night.