Feelin’ TV: Top Shows of 2017

Feelin’ TV is back for 2018! Before we get too far in to the television of the new year, I wanted to take my first week to look back at my favorite five shows from 2017.

5) The Crown

If there is one thing that I hate more than British costume drama, it’s the obsession that a large portion of American society has with the comings and goings in the British Royal Family. The fact that The Crown manages to be both while also being one of my favorite shows that I watched last year is absolutely astounding to me. It succeeds because of its performances (John Lithgow as Winston Churchill is astounding) and the way the writers include significant historical intrigue into their telling of the story of the longest serving British monarch. My favorite episodes thus far have been “Assasins” (S1E9) in which Churchill befriends an artist painting his portrait and “Vergangenheit” (S2E6) that sees the Queen consult a young Billy Graham as she weighs her personal desire to forgive against her positional responsibility to the appearance of justice. The first two seasons of The Crown can be streamed on Netflix.

 4) Better Call Saul

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Better Call Saul could have easily and lazily coasted to several seasons of solid ratings based solely on the success of Breaking Bad and it’s built in fan base. That Vince Gilligan and his crew have instead created a show with rich, fully realized characters, intricate stories and a lived-in setting is a remarkable achievement. Bob Odenkirk anchors the show as the sad sack Jimmy McGill who really did just want to go straight. Michael McKean steals every scene as his arrogant and cold older brother Chuck. My favorite episode from season three was “Chicanery” (S3E5) which managed to be satisfying and heartbreaking at the exact same time. The first two seasons of Better Call Saul can be streamed on Netflix

3) The Leftovers

One gets the impression that with The Leftovers, Damon Lindelof explores all of the things he wanted to with LOST without the restrictions put on storytelling in a network show. The Leftovers, much like LOST, provided many more questions than it did answers. Unlike LOST though, viewers of The Leftovers were never led to believe the answers were there to be had. The Leftovers is a show about moving on when there are no easy answers. It’s about coping with grief when the answers are unknowable. The Leftovers ended its run with one of the greatest series finales ever as characters resolved to love each other even in the mess. The Leftovers can be streamed with your HBO subscription.

2) Big Little Lies

There’s not much I can say about Big Little Lies that hasn’t been said elsewhere. It is deservedly one of the most awarded and critically acclaimed shows of 2017. The cast is fantastic. Reese Witherspoon is as good as she’s ever been. More than any show I’ve ever watched, the relational conflicts feel real because they’re rooted in actual, real-world issues. The central murder mystery, which not only leaves the viewer guessing about the perpetrator but also the victim, is never less than edge-of-your-seat tense. In a year that saw so many strong women stand up to inequality, harassment and abuse, Big Little Lies was the perfect show of 2017. Big Little Lies can be streamed with your HBO subscription. 

1) The Good Place

If I had been writing about TV in 2016, this would’ve been my #1 show back then as well. Here’s the thing, I’m an unashamed Michael Schur fanboy. Parks and Recreation and The Office are my two favorite sit-coms of all time. I’ve watched Brooklyn Nine-Nine from day one. I listen to his podcast about baseball every week. Shur’s work just speaks to me. I was predestined to love The Good Place no matter what. But I’m going to go out on a limb and say that The Good Place is the best sit-com on TV whether you’re a Michael Schur fan or you’ve never heard of the guy (I’ll bet you have, in addition to being a writer and one time show runner on The Office, he also played the role of Dwight Schrute’s cousin/roommate Mose). The Good Place arrived with a completely realized setting in a way that you don’t see often. Most shows take a bit of time to figure out what they are or what they want to be, but you get the feeling that the writers of The Good Place knew everything about the world they built from the word “go” and anything we don’t yet know is because they don’t want us to know it, not because they haven’t figured it out yet.  On top of the setting The Good Place boasts two solid main characters in Kristen Bell and Ted Danson who are every bit as great as you’d expect them to be. And then you get to add the four other members of the main cast (William Jackson Harper, Jameela Jamil, D’Arcy Carden and Manny Jacinto), each of whom have emerged from relative obscurity to breakout character status, as the cherry on top. Season one ended with a twist that I thought the show could never top. Season two has shaken up the status quo every week to the point that I have no idea what is going to come next. It’s my favorite show of the year, and it’s number one on my list of shows you should be watching if you’re not already. Season one of The Good Place is currently streaming on Netflix and season two episodes can be found on Hulu.

 

Channel Surfing:

  • Runaways has been renewed by Hulu for a second season after a solid freshman debut. In my opinion, it fizzled a bit at the end, but there’s still quite a bit of promise for some good stories to be told in the future. I think later episodes showed some of the limitations of the young cast members, but the older members of the cast and the intriguing source material make it a show to continue to keep an eye on while the younger actors find their footing. Season one of Runaways can be viewed on Hulu.
  • Black Lightning premiered on The CW this week and it was a hell of a debut. The major theme of this superhero drama is racial injustice and it doesn’t appear to be interested in easy answers and mustache twirling villains. With plot lines ripped straight from the front pages of 2017 news, it’s a show that’s always going to be in danger of being soapbox-y, but the premiere managed to sidestep that pitfall. And even if it does slide to the preachy side of the pendulum from time to time, Black Lightning‘s point of view is one that we can always use more of. Give it a shot. Black Lightning airs on Tuesday nights on The CW

That’s all for this week! As always, if there’s anything you’d like me to check out that we haven’t covered, let me know in the comments or in the Facebook group. 


Jeremy Calcara is a contributing member of the Feelin’ Film team. In addition watching as many movies as he can and writing reviews for Feelin’ Film, Jeremy consumes an unhealthy amount of television and writes about it weekly in his Feelin’ TV column.   Follow him on Facebook and Twitter  to be notified when new content is posted.

Feelin’ TV: June 19-25

There’s a reason that only kids repeat the little rhyme, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” It’s because It’s complete garbage. While many have experienced physical pain, careless words are what often leave the most lasting scars. Through three seasons of Better Call Saul, we’ve watched as Jimmy McGill slowly but surely transforms into Saul Goodman. While the show has taken its time to get there, this week’s season finale moved the transition along with a jolt. And it did so with one sentence, spoken to Jimmy by his brother Charles. “I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but the truth is, you never mattered much to me.” With these words, Charles, whose approval and respect was the motivation behind Jimmy’s quest to be a lawyer, paves the way for Slippin’ Jimmy’s rebirth Saul. And if it ends up that we don’t hear from Chuck again, it was one crushing final blow to our main character. I can’t imagine that Jimmy recovers from this. Occasionally, because of the likeable and charming way in which Jimmy is portrayed by Bob Odenkirk, it can be easy to forget that Saul Goodman doesn’t end up the good guy. He’s not the hero of this story. But until this point, he’s meant well. I’m not sure that will be the case anymore heading into season four. Previous seasons of AMC’s Better Call Saul can be found on Netflix.

It takes a lot of confidence for writers to do what they did on this season of Fargo. There were a lot of threads dangling from the season that one might assume would be wrapped into a little bow in an anthology series like this, but they would be wrong. Instead what we got was an open-ended finale that allows the viewer to decide how they want it to end. It was a wonderful twist to a season that has really played with the idea of the nature of truth. Does it matter what really happened if everyone believes something else? Do you believe that justice will be served like Carrie Coon’s Gloria Burgle does? Or will David Thewlis’ Varga be let off the hook due to the strength of the alternate story he’s created? You choose. It’s bold and I think it’s a perfect ending to this season. Prior seasons of FX’s Fargo can be found on Hulu Plus.

GLOW, which dropped on Netflix this week, is a fictionalized take on the beginnings of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling television show from the mid-1980’s. It stars Alison Brie as Ruth, a struggling actress who stumbles into an audition for the show and Marc Maron as Sam Sylvia, the B movie creator who they hired to direct it. It’s a fun take on an origin story as the wrestlers live and train together, getting ready for the filming of the pilot episode. We get to see them adopt and hone their personas as they learn about the world of fake wrestling. It’s only 10 episodes that are about a half an hour a piece, so it’s not a huge commitment. If you’ve ever been a fan of wrestling, I’d assume that you’ll enjoy this fictionalized peek behind the curtain. Thanks to Steve Clifton for giving me a heads up about the show. All 10 episodes can be streamed on Netflix. 

As always, if there’s anything you’d like to have covered, leave it in the comments or on the Facebook page. There will be no Feelin’ TV next week on Independence Day. Turn off the TV, enjoy your family and practice fire safety.

Feelin’ TV: June 12-18

The 2nd season episode, “The Injury,” is a favorite of many fans of NBC’s The Office. The laughs produced as Jim and Michael accompany Dwight to the hospital to be checked and eventually treated for a concussion are some of the show’s best. Among the memorable moments crammed into the episode’s 22 minutes are Michael wrapping his foot in bubble wrap after burning it on a George Foreman Grill, one of the all-time most awkward conference room meetings as Michael invites the handicapped building manager to speak when he feels he isn’t getting enough sympathy for his injury, Jim using a spray-bottle to keep Michael and Dwight under control in Meredith’s mini-van, Michael getting angry as Dwight gets off one of the show’s best “that’s what she said” jokes and the closing seconds when Michael trying to sneak his foot into Dwight’s CT scan. It’s a tight episode with a lot of laughs and character moments.

But none of those are the moments that stand out most to me. There’s a small conversation between Toby and Ryan after the former witnesses the latter biting his string cheese that I think about quite often. “Wow, you just dive right in!” says Toby. Ryan replies, “You know, around age 12 I just started going for it.” It’s the kind of moment that isn’t at all funny or interesting, but I think it’s what endears the show to a certain segment of its fan base. It captures the kind of meaningless chatter that someone who works in a cube experiences every single day. Person one says something because they can’t handle silence. Person two responds with the most benign and mildly amusing comment they can muster because it would be rude not to respond. Both persons laugh to be polite. I may not think scenes like this are funny and at times, they even get on my nerves, but it’s where I live. We may visit The Office for Michael Scott’s incompetence and the high jinks of Jim, Pam and Dwight, but it’s these little interactions that make us feel like we already work there. The Office is currently streaming in its entirety on Netflix.

Something that tends to surprise people who know my viewing habits is that my wife doesn’t really like to watch TV. There aren’t any TV dramas or sit-coms that I’ve been able to find that interest her. The one exception to this rule has been that we both enjoy the Food Network and we both absolutely love Food Network Star. Chef Bobby Flay (my #1 celebrity crush) and Giada De Laurentis host this show where 13 finalists compete to get their own Food Network show.  Bobby and Giada eliminate one contestant every week until one winner is crowned. It’s a perfect summer show. It’s fun, interesting, and ultimately as mindless as a beach novel. My favorite thing about the show are the guest judges that show up every week. As a connoisseur of Food Network shows, it warms my heart to no end to see folks like Robert Irvine, Anne Burrell, Alex Guarnaschelli (my #6 celebrity crush), Ted Allen, etc., have a seat at the judges table from week to week to critique the competitors who vary in their skill levels from TV ready to grossly incompetent. There are still 9 competitors left this season, so it’s not too late to jump in. Food Network Star airs on Sunday nights on Food Network. Prior episodes can be streamed on the Food Network app with cable subscription info.

Season 3 of Netflix’s The Ranch dropped last week, and like the other two seasons, it’s a lot of fun. Former That 70’s Show cast-mates Ashton Kutcher and Danny Masterson, as Colt and Rooster Bennett, anchor this sitcom about brothers living and working on the family ranch that delivers on the laughs you’d expect while also showing a surprising amount of heart. Elisha Cuthbert is delightful as Abby, Colt’s on again, off again love interest. Every episode is stolen by Sam Elliott who plays the patriarch of the Bennett family. His deep voice and old school cowboy personality is comic gold when paired with Kutcher’s goofiness and Masterson’s sarcasm. Debra Winger rounds off the cast as Maggie Bennett, the matriarch of the clan who resides in an Airstream outside of the bar she owns in town. She’s the only part of the show I’m not a big fan of. There’s a lack of comedic timing and chemistry with the rest of the cast that makes her stick out a bit, but it’s a minor quibble. It’s well worth the watch. The Ranch is currently streaming on Netflix.

Last week upon a recommendation from Patrick Hicks (if the guy that runs the site you write for recommends something, is it really a recommendation?), I worked my way through three seasons of AMC’s Halt and Catch Fire. The series takes a look at the advent and boom of the home computer through the eyes of fictional characters Joe McMillan (Lee Pace), Gordon Clark (Scoot McNairy), Gordon’s wife Donna (Kerry Bishe) and Cameron Howe (Mackenzie Davis). The first season has its pacing issues, but it’s never less than interesting as the dialogue and chemistry among the cast is always on point. It really hits its stride in second and third seasons as our characters go their different ways and occasionally find their way back to each other again. The genius of the show is the use of fictional characters put in a real-world setting. We get to feel the urgency put upon entrepreneurs to innovate without the revisionist history that would most likely come with the territory of using historical figures. That’s not to say that there aren’t any similarities between our characters and historical people. I’ll let you figure out who those people are. The fourth and final season hits AMC in August, so there’s plenty of time left to get caught up. The first three seasons of Halt and Catch Fire is currently streaming on Netflix.

That’s all for this week! But remember if you have a show you’d like to have covered that we haven’t, let us know in the Facebook group or in the comments. Next week we’ll talk about the season finales to both Fargo and Better Call Saul!

Feelin’ TV: June 5-11

I’m not sure what I was expecting when I started watching Better Call Saul. As a fan of Breaking Bad who very much enjoyed Bob Odenkirk’s portrayal of the slimy lawyer Saul Goodman, I was all in no matter what. I guess I was expecting something resembling a modern lawyer show, only funnier because the main character doesn’t care about the rules or decorum or justice or, you know, the law. What I didn’t necessarily expect, though, was a more deliberate, thoughtful and, dare I say, better version of Breaking Bad.

In 1988, Alan Moore and Brian Bolland published the famous Joker origin story, Batman: The Killing Joke. The story of the birth of the Joker was told in flashbacks as the Clown Prince of Crime put Jim Gordon through the ringer in the present day. The Joker’s hypothesis was that, much like his experience, even the best of men could be rendered insane through just one bad day. That’s the nature of the story of Walter White. Sure, through five seasons of the show we saw White go deeper and deeper into the darkness, but the truth is that Walt broke bad after one really bad day. By the end of Breaking Bad’s pilot episode, Walt has purchased an RV for the purpose of manufacturing crystal meth and he and Jesse already have two dead bodies to deal with. It was a quick trip to moral bankruptcy for Walt. This is not a complaint about Breaking Bad. I love Breaking Bad. I think it’s brilliant. But with few exceptions it was loud and bombastic and in your face storytelling. Better Call Saul is completely different. If Breaking Bad was the story of how someone can go dark because of one really bad day, Better Call Saul is the story of how the every-man, disillusioned by the often-bitter reward of attempting to do the right thing, slowly learns to embrace compromise as the fruit of those decisions yield more desirable immediate results. Over the past two and a half seasons, Vince Gilligan and his team have succeeded in turning the Breaking Bad’s comic relief into a tragic figure. We’re slowly watching the young man who put himself through law school to earn his brother’s respect become the lawyer/con-man fans of the character already hated to love. There are two episodes left in this season that has been equal parts fun and devastating. If you’re not watching, I’d recommend you start. For my money, Better Call Saul is the best show on television. Breaking Bad and the first two seasons of Better Call Saul are currently streaming on Netflix.

Since we’re talking about shows that may or may not be the best shows on TV, it’s only fair that we bring Fargo into the conversation. The Coen Brothers are my favorite filmmakers. And Fargo is my favorite Coen Brothers movie. The setting, the juxtaposition between the brutal ineptitude of the hit-men vs the polite hyper-competence of Chief Gunderson and Jerry Lundegaard’s slow descent into madness all mixed together perfectly to create one of the best films in my lifetime. FX’s take on Fargo has been able to expertly take a lot of these ingredients and mix them together to form their own unique stories that definitely feel flavored by the Coen’s unique sensibilities. This past week’s episode was a Coen lover’s dream. We got beautifully brutal shots that looked like they could have come straight from its namesake film, a Serious Man style Jewish folktale, a call back to season 1 of the show and, for good measure, half of the episode takes place in a bowling alley where characters receive advice from a mysterious stranger with a velvety smooth voice a la The Big Lebowski. It was a standout episode in what has been a very solid season of television. Each individual episode has stood apart well on its own as well as slowly building a great story. On top of that, it’s themes about the way we perceive what is true and what is false being largely based on who it is that is telling the story are supremely relevant in the age of “alternative facts” and “fake news.” Seasons one and two of Fargo can be viewed on Hulu Plus.

Finally, we have a little bit of good news to end our column. This week it was announced that a 5th season of BBC’s Luther will begin filming next year. Long-time fans of the show have been waiting since December of 2015 for new episodes. I recently caught the first four seasons on Netflix upon the recommendation of a reader (Thanks Phillip!). So, I’ve only been waiting for new episodes since last Thursday. But that already feels like it’s taking too long. Luther is unlike any detective show I’ve ever watched. It’s so much more about Idris Elba’s John Luther than it is about any of his cases. He’s a detective who occasionally plays a little fast and loose with the law, but always in the interest of justice and not to serve his own interests. There’s something to be liked for people who like the whodunit style detective show as well as those who would rather know who the bad guy is and figure out how the detective is going to nab him. And it should go without saying, but Elba is great. All four seasons (or series, sorry BBC) are currently on Netflix.

As always, if there’s something we’re not covering that you’d like to see covered, let me know in the comments, on Twitter or in the Facebook group.

 

Feelin’ TV: May 29-June 4

Expiration dates can be a good thing. If cows didn’t gently whisper the use by date of their milk into the ears of dairy farmers, we’d regularly be pouring chunky liquid onto our Frosted Flakes. We’d never know when to throw out sour cream. We’d neglect to change the oil in our cars and destroy our engines. We’d have human sacrifice, cats and dogs living together, mass hysteria…but I digress. While television dramas that adhere to the old school case of the week style story structure can continue in perpetuity, some dramas need expiration dates. Dexter is my go to example of this. Much of seasons 1-4 were as good as anything on television. But it was getting less and less plausible that Dexter wouldn’t be caught every minute of every episode. Had the show-runners and the network agreed that Dexter would end after season five or season six, it might have a place in the conversation about best TV shows of the 00’s. Instead, because of viewership numbers, Showtime squeezed every last bit of creative juice from Dexter’s orange and just kept squeezing until they had four more seasons of utter garbage that spoiled the first four seasons by association. In contrast, well thought of shows like Breaking Bad and Mad Men set expiration dates for themselves, allowing the creators to focus their storytelling on their eventual end game. The Leftovers and The Americans have done this and produced some of their best episodes since. While it makes me sad to think that there’s only one episode of The Leftovers and one season of The Americans to go, I appreciate the decision knowing that I’ll see quality storytelling written with the end in mind.

House of Cards needs an expiration date. Don’t get me wrong. I love House of Cards. This has been said a lot about a lot of different actors, but I would actually pay money to sit and watch Kevin Spacey read the phone book in character as Frank Underwood. Robin Wright is bone-chilling as the cold and calculating Claire. Michael Kelly is creepy as hell as the ruthlessly loyal Doug Stamper. Season five, which dropped on Netflix last week, even adds Campbell Scott and Patricia Clarkson to the mix as a pair of DC power-brokers with ambiguous motives, and predictably, they’re fantastic. There’s a lot about season five that I really enjoyed. Unfortunately, so much of the narrative feels meandering and aimless. Thankfully, the final two episodes snap the story into focus and give me hope for a possible season six, but I can’t imagine that the Underwood’s story has much more than one season left in them if they want to remain interesting. The first three seasons of the show were so riveting as Frank and Claire schemed and lied and bribed and murdered their way into the White House that the last two, while still fun, paled in comparison. If you haven’t gotten to it yet, I’m not at all saying that season five was bad. I enjoyed it quite a bit. I just don’t know how much I’ll continue to enjoy it in the future if subsequent seasons don’t have the end in mind.

In other news…

• “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!” I’ve already mentioned The Americans briefly above, but I wanted to take a moment to applaud the show on the completion of a tight, concise, riveting and gut-wrenching season. It looked like the Jennings family might be on the way out of the game, but as Phillip and Elizabeth find out, it’s not an easy game to quit. The finale was chock full of nice little character moments that I appreciate the show taking the time to recognize. Paige effectively saying her goodbyes to Pastor Tim, Martha being given the chance for some happiness in her new home, the entire montage set to Elton John’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” and Phillip’s moment of decision about what to do with the intel that is going to keep him from doing what he wants are all given the time they need to breathe even though there’s a lot of business to get down to. All that was missing was Oleg, whose stories haven’t always interested me but whose situation I’ve found to be quite intriguing this season. As the Jennings’ begin to hear about the cracks in their idealized homeland of 1980’s Soviet Russia, there’s something that resonates with this 2017 American too. We’re seeing with Oleg’s story that as the differences between the living conditions of the rulers and the ruled widens, the ruled are less concerned with the consequences of showing their disdain for the systems that oppress them. In the past year or so, we’ve seen the kind of change that this sort of awakening can produce. As for me though, I much more enjoy watching the Jennings family than I enjoy watching the news. At least when it comes to their homeland, I know how the story ends.

• It was hard for me to think about the series finale of Damon Lindelof’s HBO series The Leftovers without thinking about the finale of his similarly themed show, ABC’s Lost. I was a big fan of Lost until that finale, at which point I became rather annoyed that I had ever watched the show at all. The problem with Lost was that it asked lots of questions and the implication was, both in the show and through interviews with the show’s creators, that it was going to eventually provide the answers to those questions for viewers. What ended up happening was, instead of providing the answers to five seasons of questions, the sixth season simply concerned itself with asking its own questions and answering those, leaving a lot unresolved. Looking back on that finale that aired in May of 2010, it would’ve been nearly impossible to pull off a satisfying conclusion to the story because there was simply too much ground to cover. It’s an interesting contrast to The Leftovers, a show that raised a whole heck of a lot of questions but, to its credit, never promised answers to any of them. Answers were not what the show was about. What The Leftovers turned out to be was a character study about how people cope when there aren’t any answers to be found. While there’s probably plenty of intrigue that could be mined from finding the answers to the questions that would arise if 2% of the world’s population suddenly disappeared, Lindelof and Tom Perrotta (the writer on whose novel the first season was based) chose to take the route of telling smaller, more personal stories of a few of the people who were left behind. There was some really, really weird stuff going on in the post-Great Departure world. It was stuff that if I really thought about it, I’d want to have its purpose explained to me. But people do weird things when they don’t have answers to the tragedies that occur in their lives, and The Leftovers is better for deciding to be concerned with those people and not the circumstances that caused or led to the tragedy. In that way, it would’ve been almost impossible for me to be disappointed with this week’s finale, and indeed I was not. In fact, I’d consider it among the best series finales that I’ve ever seen. From the opening moments with Nora (Carrie Coon) and Matt (Christopher Eccleston) doing Mad Libs (sorry, Matt Libs) by the sea to the final comforting images of two characters assuring each other that in a world where nothing is certain, they can be certain in their belief in each other. Alan Sepinwall wrote a long, detailed and spoiler filled review of the finale and the show itself over at Uproxx. If you’re a fan of the show, I suggest checking it out.

Thanks to the people who have given me a few suggestions about some things to watch while most shows are on hiatus in July and August. I’ve almost gotten through 2 seasons of Luther this week upon the recommendation of Phillip, a loyal reader and regular participant on our Facebook page. Other shows on the docket are The Goldbergs, Halt and Catch Fire and at some point, I’m going to have to catch up with the latest season of Orphan Black that recently became available on Amazon. What am I missing? Give me your suggestions in the comments or on Facebook.

Next week we’ll cover Fargo and Better Call Saul more in depth as both have moved the pieces into place for exciting ends to their seasons.

Feelin’ TV: May 22-28

Traditionally, Americans aren’t fond of waiting. As a group, we’re always looking for faster ways to do the things we need to do each day. In a country where everyone has an app for that, the one area where I don’t believe that this is always the case is in the world of the television drama. Prestige dramas of the 21st century have helped extend our patience as viewers. Shows like Mad Men, The Wire, and The Sopranos allowed fans the opportunity to experience its setting while diving deep into rich, fully realized characters as the plot slowly worked its way toward where it needed to go. The creators of these programs feel no pressure to have an episode stand out on its own but rather have season long stories with episodes that start in the middle and end without resolution. The advent of original programming from streaming services has allowed even further proliferation of this slow burn programming. Over three seasons and 33 episodes, no show has burned slower than Netflix’s Bloodline.

Bloodline’s third and final season dropped on Netflix last Friday. While the first two seasons of the show arguably took too much time to tell their story, no one could argue with the quality on the screen. Kyle Chandler anchors the cast in a role that initially seemed like it might be another chance to play Eric Taylor (his role on the criminally under-watched Friday Night Lights) but this time as a detective in the Florida Keys. That type was turned on its head early on as Chandler’s John Rayburn showed a dark side never seen in Coach Taylor. Sissy Spacek, Sam Shephard and Linda Cardellini were as good as you’d expect them to be in supporting roles and Ben Mendelsohn, who was the breakout star of season one, won an Emmy for his limited role in season two. Almost as impressive as the cast is the setting. You can almost feel the hot southern Florida air while you sit in your living room. Everything about the show feels lived in. This includes the layers of family conflict and drama that feels as real as your own Thanksgiving last fall.  The first two seasons are very good television. Where the story was weak or became more convoluted, as layers of lies were piled on top of each other, the cast propped it up enough to keep me from losing interest.

Season three was a different story. While it’s officially one of the first shows that the service has ever cancelled, it was given the ax prior to filming so the writers had the opportunity to adapt and end the show on their own terms at the end of the season. The show’s creators have claimed that their story was five or six seasons long, so you might assume that this would mean that they move the story along at a quicker pace than seasons one and two. Your assumption would be incorrect. In a move that completely boggles the mind, the show moves along at just as deliberate of a pace as before, and even uses its entire penultimate episode for a disjointed and confusing dream sequence that lands with a resounding thud. Vast amounts of time are spent with an ancillary character (John Leguizamo, doing fine work) whose death is ultimately as confounding as his existence in the narrative in the first place. It isn’t all bad. Sissy Spacek does her best work as the matriarch of the Rayburn Family and Norbert Leo Butz adds layers to the youngest Rayburn son, Kevin, that weren’t there in seasons one and two. However, when it comes to this type of drama, there has to be some sort of a payoff. The long and winding wick has to eventually hit the powder keg. The ending never ends up doing that. It barely ends at all. Unfortunately for Bloodline, its end feels like someone forgot to connect the wick to the payload.

This week in the Arrowverse:

*This week officially wrapped the first season of the full blown four show Arrowverse and you’d be hard pressed to call it anything but a rousing success. Earlier this year, Legends of Tomorrow rebounded from a subpar first season by embracing the cheese in its premise and leaning into the weirder characters and themes of the shared universe. Malcolm Merlyn and Damien Darhk hanging around to feast on the scenery didn’t hurt either. When you throw in the four-part crossover and the Supergirl/Flash musical episode, I’d have to give the universe an A overall for the 2016-2017 season.  With all of the momentum trending up, I’m excited to see that’s in store next season, especially after the season finales of this past week.

*Supergirl ended a stellar sophomore season with a bang. From the beginning fight with a brainwashed Superman through the emotional punch at the end, the final episode was everything a fan could have hoped it would be. Something that Supergirl is able to do better than her other superhero counterparts is to bear the weight of her responsibility without losing Kara’s joy and overall positive outlook on the world around her. If I had one concern heading into next season it’s that the weight of the decision she has to make to defeat Rhea at the end of this week’s episode would cause the writers to push Kara into a darker place. The tone of Supergirl is one of its greatest strengths. Here’s hoping that they can keep that going into season three.

*The Flash reached the finish line of its third season on Tuesday on a high note. While the end to the “Iris is going to die” saga was predictable and involved quite a bit of cheating, it was pulled off in a way that hit all of the necessary emotional beats. The rest of the episode involved tight storytelling and some pretty good action to go with it. My only gripe with the episode was the cliffhanger at the end. I don’t mind a good cliffhanger when it adds to the story. Unfortunately, as has too often been the case with cliffhangers from The Flash, it feels like a cliffhanger for the sake of having a cliffhanger. It’s ok to just let your characters enjoy a victory from time to time. The Flash’s biggest issue in its second and third seasons has been its overall tone. While the first season reveled in the camp and fun behind the characterization of the Flash in the comics, it has become quite dour since then. This show could have definitely benefited from an upbeat ending to carry it into next season.

*If The Flash wanted an example of how to properly execute the end of season cliffhanger, it need look no further than the season finale of its parent show, Arrow. The jaw dropping fade to black at the end of this episode was a perfect end to Adrian Chase’s time on the show while also making sure that his presence will be felt from here on out in the lives of Oliver Queen and his merry men (and women). From talking with other fans of shows like The Flash and Supergirl, it seems pretty common for people to have quit watching Arrow somewhere during seasons 3 and 4, and it’s hard to blame them. Much like The Flash, the show lost its focus during that time and got bogged down under the weight of its titular hero’s guilty conscience. But season five was a really solid rebound for the show overall. Prometheus provided the most formidable foe for Oliver and the gang that we had seen since Deathstroke in season two. Adrian Chase was constantly one step ahead of Oliver, almost to a fault, in his quest to make Oliver pay for the misdeeds of his younger days. The additions to the team added some much-needed levity to the proceedings as well as giving Oliver a larger foundation of people in his life to call him on his guilt and self-pity. I believe we saw more growth in Oliver Queen in season five than we’ve seen in the first four seasons combined. Not only was this hands down Arrow’s best season finale, it was one of the best episodes the show has ever produced. I really can’t take my mind of that last scene. Is it time for the season six premiere yet?

*A couple of shows that, like Bloodline, have mastered the art of the slow burn are AMC’s Better Call Saul and FX’s The Americans. I plan to spend some more time talking about these two shows in the future now that the Arrowverse has begun its summer hiatus. Next week we’ll also talk about the end of HBO’s The Leftovers and season five of Netflix’s House of Cards. If there are other shows that you enjoy that you’d like to see us cover on Feelin’ TV, I’d love to hear your suggestions. There’s a good chance I watch it already and we just haven’t gotten to it yet. If it’s not something I watch, I’ll give you a chance to convince me to give it a shot. Leave some comments below or start a thread on our Facebook page.