Feelin’ TV: November 20-26, 2017

Whenever a new movie/TV show is released based on a comic book property, the conversation about super hero fatigue begins. It gets louder every time, especially in months like this where the discussion around Thor: Ragnarok had barely died down before Justice League arrived in theaters. It’s completely understandable. A lot of people are burned out on the genre.
I do not suffer from that affliction. Give me more. I love the oversaturation. There is enough room in my heart for all of it. When I hear of something new, I’m all over it like white on rice in a glass of milk on a paper plate in a snow storm. I may not keep watching (Inhumans), I may quit watching and go back later because I have nothing else to do (Gotham), I may even hate watch (The Walking Dead) but more often than not, I watch and enjoy and put it securely in my regular rotation. It should be no surprise then, that I took the opportunity this week to check out (and fall in love with) Hulu’s new comic book series, Runaways.
Runaways is based on the Marvel comic of the same name. It’s set in the MCU along with the popular films and shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Inhumans, Daredevil, etc. It’s about six teenagers who find out that their parents are super villains who make up a team called Pride and begin to work together to thwart their plans. Along this journey of discovery, they also begin to develop powers of their own. I haven’t read the comic, so if you have, you probably have a better handle on what’s going on than I do at this point. From what I’ve read, fans of the print version have been pleased with the way the show has remained faithful to the source material. In the three episodes that have been released, creators Joshua Schwartz and Stephanie Savage have succeeded in crafting solid characters, both in the teens and their parents, not sacrificing the development of the villains in favor of the heroes. They’ve done so by taking their time to introduce characters and the world that they live in.
Hulu has been putting out some solid programming over the last few years. They seem to be a bit more concerned with quality over quantity in contrast to fellow streaming service Netflix. Thus far, Runaways continues that trend. It feels like more than an attempt to capitalize on the superhero craze. They’re laying the groundwork for a pretty intriguing story that I’m excited to add to the queue moving forward. Runaways is available on Hulu.

Channel Surfing:

  • The Arrowverse has a pretty big week coming up with their annual week of crossover episodes, so I had assumed that this week would mostly be table setting for that event. I was wrong. Supergirl saw the bittersweet return of Mon-El, The Flash came face to face with this season’s big bad The Thinker, Legends of Tomorrow had maybe the best Mick centered episode of the series and Oliver got arrested and vigilantes were made illegal in Star City on Arrow. But all of that will be on hold this week when all of the gang gets together for Barry and Iris’ wedding. Will everything run smoothly? Given that the whole ordeal is called Crisis on Earth-X, I’m guessing it won’t. It’s a tough thing to balance 4 shows into one storyline, but last season it was the best week of the year. Hopefully they can keep it up. Arrowverse shows can be seen on The CW.
  • This Is Us made me cry again this week. Chrissy Metz and Mandy Moore (Kate and Rebecca, respectively) play the two characters that get under my skin the most on that show (in a good way, like how members of your own family get under your skin). This week though, the story gave them both a chance to absolutely shine and they knocked it out of the park. I’ve heard people say that maybe the show leans a bit too heavy into sadness territory, and I think that’s a valid criticism, but I think the way it was portrayed this week was sensitive, thoughtful and accurate. Also, I’m going to start a petition to get NBC to give Toby his own show. I don’t care what it’s about. I just want more Toby. This Is Us airs weekly on NBC and past episodes can be seen on Hulu.

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. Next week, we’re going to spend the bulk of our time talking about the Arrowverse crossover event and I’ll probably have a thing or two to say about the season premiere of the new season of Agents of SHIELD as well.

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: November 13-19, 2017

Just when things were starting to look pretty bleak for Netflix’s Marvel shows (Marvel Streaming Universe? Daredevilverse? Defendersverse?), Frank Castle arrived on the scene to single handedly put things back on track. After an unfortunate spring and summer that saw both Iron Fist and Defenders widely panned (I thought both were merely fine), there were legitimate questions about whether or not the universe had lost its magic. But The Punisher, released this past Friday on the streaming service, returned to not only prove that there were good stories yet to be told in this world, but that the best might still be yet to come. After Jon Bernthal’s portrayal of the brutal vigilante became the breakout character of Daredevil’s sophomore season, fans were pleased to hear that Netflix granted the anti-hero his own show. Recent deficiencies in storytelling had me apprehensive about the quick turnaround from breakout character to main player. Those fears proved to be unfounded. Not only did creator Steve Lightfoot create an intense and compelling season of television, they managed to find a cure to some of the ills that have plagued all of the other Netflix Marvel series.

The story is pretty straight forward. Just when Frank Castle believes his quest to avenge the death of his wife and children has ended, as he’s settled in to live a life of anonymity, he discovers that the plot that ended with the destruction of his world goes deeper than he imagined. Along with a few allies that he picks up along the way, Frank sets out on a mission to finish the job. There are two things that really set this simple revenge story apart, the themes and the performances.

The Punisher is brutal. The combat is up close and personal. But the story doesn’t revel in the violence (mostly). It uses the violence to speak to issues like gun control, PTSD and the difficulties our veterans face when they return home from war. It doesn’t simply pay these issues lip service nor does it provide easy answers. No punches are pulled in the series’ attempts to show the miserable care that our soldiers receive when they return home from our country’s perpetual overseas conflicts. The effects of PTSD are seen in the lives of Frank and others in heartbreaking detail. It refuses to provide simple solutions to the issues of gun violence and gun control, but weighs both sides without being didactic.

Jon Bernthal leads a stellar cast that slide into their roles with ease. Castle is the role that Bernthal was born to play. He’s believable in his intensity in focus but also in his portrayal of Frank’s special brand of compassion. Ben Barnes is an actor I’ve never been very impressed with, but he’s outstanding as Castle’s old military buddy Billy Russo. Barnes plays Russo in such a way that you’re never quite sure if he’s friend or foe. He’s charming and slimy all in one. Ebon Moss-Bachrach portrays Castle’s ally Micro (the comic’s Microchip) with an exasperated desperation as he helps Frank to settle a score of his own. Amber Rose Revah mirrors Castle’s driven and obsessed personality as Department of Homeland Security agent Dinah Madani. Deborah Ann Woll returns to the universe as Karen Page and is probably as good as she’s ever been. The breakout performance in my opinion belonged to Daniel Webber, a young vet struggling to readjust to life after war. His story exists outside of the main conflict, but it helps the show avoid the midseason lull that fans of this world are used to at this point. Almost every other season could have afforded to have 2-3 fewer episodes to cut the fat and make their stories tighter, but I never felt that way with The Punisher and a lot of that is due to Webber’s solid performance. He was one of the brightest spots of Hulu’s 2016 series 11.22.63 as Lee Harvey Oswald, and I’m hoping that this role will give him bigger opportunities in the future because he’s really great.

To reiterate, The Punisher is not for the faint of heart. It’s absolutely brutal. But if you can stomach it, you’ll find a surprisingly thoughtful and poignant show that entertains while also having some thoughtful reflection on issues ripped straight from current headlines. If you’re a fan of the character or the universe he exists in, I can’t imagine you won’t enjoy The Punisher. The Punisher is currently streaming on Netflix.

Channel Surfing:

  • I’d like to take some space and talk about the Arrowverse, but I really can’t even remember what happened this week. Slade Wilson came back to Arrow, but it was a pretty bland story that didn’t really go anywhere. The door is open for his return, so maybe there’s more to come with Deathstroke. And Diggle finally came clean with Team Arrow about his shoulder issues. I’m guessing Curtis will have a microchip that fixes the issue installed in his armpit by the end of the next episode.
  • I don’t normally give up on TV shows. Sometimes if I do, I end up catching up anyway (looking at you Gotham) but I’ve got two shows that are on life support. I’ve never hidden my disdain for The Walking Dead in this space, and I’ve decided to give it until the mid-season finale to do something interesting before I quit altogether. I’m not holding my breath. The other show I’m about done with is Riverdale. The first season was outstanding but season 2 has been a total slog. I’m struggling to care about any of the characters and the story is an absolute bore. It’s saving grace at this point is that it’s on Wednesday nights and I have very little to watch on Wednesdays.
  • The Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg penned Future Man starring Josh Hutcherson dropped this week on Hulu and I thought it was pretty good. It’s really funny and has a lot of fun easter eggs for the lover of sci-fi movies. It’s not a show for kids. But you should’ve guessed that when I told you who the creators are.
  • I’m hearing good things about Netflix’s Alias Grace. If you’ve seen it, I’d love to hear your thoughts. I’ll try to catch up with it over the holidays.

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. Next week we’ll get a chance to talk about Marvel’s The Runaways! Happy Thanksgiving! I’m thankful for all of you who read this every week!

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: October 30-November 5, 2017

I think that a mark of a good show is its re-watchability. Sometimes I’ll love something the first time, but when I have a chance to watch it over again, I have little to no interest. Some shows, like The Office, Parks and Recreation or 30 Rock for example, are shows that I can watch and enjoy, start to finish, over and over again. Then, there’s the rarest of rare shows that get better every time you watch. I’m talking about Arrested Development.

I watched AD for at least the 5th or 6th time this week and I’m still blown away by it. There are set ups in season one that aren’t paid off until season three. There are gags that run further than any other gags in television history. There are things that make me laugh that I can’t even tell if its intentional or not (is it weird to anyone else that they refer to jelly beans as “candy beans”?) In previous viewings, I’ve been blown away by the intricacy of the story, enamored with the ability of Will Arnett and Jessica Walter to take over every scene they’re in as Gob and Lucile, the awkward existence of Michael Cera as George Michael and the creepy energy of David Cross as Tobias. This time though, I couldn’t stop admiring the straight man, Jason Bateman’s Michael Bluth.

The Bluth’s are wildly un-relatable. They’re rich, oblivious, and as characters, they’re ridiculously broad. I love each and every one of them, but I don’t think I would have been able to put up with them for more than an episode or two without Michael Bluth there to keep the show grounded…sort of. Through 3 seasons and 53 episodes (the Netflix season doesn’t count), whenever the rest of the Bluths threatened to take the show too far over the line into Crazy Town, Michael was there with a look or a perfectly timed quip to bring us right back down to earth. One of the biggest failings in Netflix’s attempt to bring the show back for a season four in my opinion is that Michael was as nuts as the rest of his family, losing its tether to normal people altogether. In a show full of perfectly cast characters, there may have been no one more perfectly suited to the show than Jason Bateman. If you haven’t seen it, I encourage you to give it a shot. If you have seen it, watch it again to rediscover its brilliance. Season five is coming in 2015 with a promise of episodes in the vein of seasons 1-3 and less season 4. Here’s hoping that’s the case. Arrested Development is available to stream on Netflix.

Channel Surfing:

  • The Arrowverse had a great week with a crazy fun episode of Supergirl involving Kara and Jonn flying a convertible to Mars, a Legends of Tomorrow that wrapped a tale about Ray Palmer’s childhood into an homage to ET and The Flash introduced Elongated Man into its universe. The best news this week though? MICHAEL EMERSON IS A BAD GUY ON ARROW! His character at this point seems to be the master of manipulation that we saw in Lost’s Ben Linus combined with the tech savy expertise of Person of Interest’s Mr. Finch. There may have been an audible squeal of glee in my living room when he showed up. This has been a stellar season all-around for the Arrowverse, and with Emerson around, it looks like it will continue trending up. The current season of Arrow, Supergirl, The Flash, and Legends of Tomorrow can be viewed on The CW app.
  • Thursday night NFL football is the worst. The games are always subpar because of the quick turnaround and the matchups are typically pretty lame. The worst part though, is that because of NBC’s commitment to Thursday Night Football, we don’t get to see any new episodes of The Good Place or Great News until the new year. Maybe it’s just sour grapes, but I hate TNF. Well, unless the Chiefs are playing. If you’re like me and you can see The Good Place withdrawals in your future, check out this video taken by Kristen Bell of the rest of the cast finding out about season one’s epic twist (spoilers, obvs).
  • I was remarking to a friend this week that out of all of my friends with kids, I don’t know anyone who has ever had a baby without making it to the hospital first (not counting my slightly crazy friends who have had their kids at home on purpose). But if my calculations are correct, roughly 90% of TV children are born that way. A This Is Us flashback added Randall’s oldest child to that statistic this week. It’s a pretty worn out trope, but overall, it was a strong episode that made me cry so I’ll forgive them for going to that well.
  • Oh, and The Walking Dead was awful. I’m going to need someone to spend some time in the Facebook group telling me why I should still be interested in this show.

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. Happy viewing!

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: October 23-29, 2017

Stranger Things returned last weekend after unprecedented levels of hype for its much anticipated second season on Netflix. I was excited, you were excited, everyone was excited to see the next chapter of supernatural happenings in Hawkins, Indiana. In this viewer’s opinion, Stranger Things 2 lives up to the hype and maybe even surpasses it, providing 9 episodes jam-packed with expert world-building, top-notch story-telling, fantastic performances and loads of 80’s nostalgia. Because of the nature of the shows release, and the knowledge that not everyone has had the chance to watch the entire season yet, our review today will be spoiler free. If you don’t want to know anything at all about the season, I’d slide on down to the Channel Surfing portion of this column, but if you’re just avoiding spoilers, proceed with confidence. And if you’re looking for a place to discuss the show in depth without holding back, let’s chat on Facebook.

Stranger Things 2 succeeds primarily because it succeeds in all of the ways that it did when it took the TV world by storm in 2016. With a story that feels like it could have come straight out of the period, the show plays to our desire for nostalgia without feeling like an appeal to score cheap points with the audience. Like season one, the situation our characters find themselves in feels like it could have come from the mind of Steven Spielberg or Stephen King without being a blatant rip-off of either creator.

To avoid spoilers, I’m going to avoid talking about plot and focus on character. For all of its creepy plot and throwbacks to 80’s movies, to me what makes Stranger Things stand apart is its characters. While most of America (understandably) fell in love with Eleven and Mike (Millie Bobby Brown and Finn Wolfhard, respectively) during season one, I was immediately enamored with the foul-mouthed, wildly enthusiastic spark plug Dustin, played by the incomparable Gaten Matarazzo. Season 2 capitalizes on his irresistible charm by giving us more Dustin early and often. And in a stroke of storytelling genius, much of the season sees him paired up with the character who saw the largest measure of redemption last season, the slimy other-man with a heart of gold, Steve Harrington. Joe Keery is delightful as Steve, who becomes a mentor/reluctant babysitter to Dustin and his friends. The time spent with these two together really sings. I’ve remarked on social media since completing the season that I’m lobbying for a spin-off where Steve somehow becomes Dustin’s guardian. I don’t know what they’d do, some people have suggested that they should be private detectives or just pick-up artists, but I’d be all-in on that show.

The second character highlight to me this season was the addition of Sean Astin to the cast as Bob Newby, the nerdy love interest for Winona Ryder’s Joyce Byers. I’ve heard the Duffer brothers talk about how they didn’t have a large role for the character, but Astin’s appeal and charm caused them to expand the role. I think you’d have a hard time finding anyone who thinks that was a bad decision. Besides the meta aspect of his casting as the former leader of the Goonies, an obvious influence on Stranger Things, Astin brings an earnestness and commitment to the role that puts Bob the Brain in the conversation with Rudy Ruettiger and Mikey Walsh for the second-best performance in his long career (let’s face it, Samwise Gamgee will always be #1).

Overall, other than a late standalone episode that didn’t quite feel like it belonged (you’ll know it when you get there), I really have no complaints about the season. It was everything I had hoped it would be based on what we got from season one. There are bigger stakes, a bigger cast and a bigger foe, but it’s all handled wonderfully to create a satisfying second season. Now it’s time to wait impatiently for the third.  Stranger Things can be streamed in its entirety on Netflix.

Channel Surfing:

  • The Walking Dead squandered any goodwill it might have gained during the premiere with one of its all time worst episodes. The only redeeming factor is that rather than sitting around and having conversations that we’ve already had over and over again, they were shooting people while they were having conversations that we’ve already had over and over again.  I think that at the end, we’re supposed to think that something bad is around the corner, but I couldn’t tell you exactly why. There’s someone named Morales who it appears I’m supposed to remember who has gotten the drop on Rick. There was a walkie-talkie discovered by Carol and friends that apparently means something bad. Someone else got shot in the stomach and the music indicated to me that I’m supposed to care. I’m not sure why. I believe that the show-runners think that they have  created a world with many rich and fully fleshed out characters, but in reality there are 6-7 characters that we care about, and everyone else might as well be a walker. I don’t have any idea who Morales is. I think the guy who got shot in the stomach is the husband of the guy with the curly hair. I’m really not sure. And that’s a problem. But at least someone got mauled by a tiger. The current season of The Walking Dead can be streamed on the AMC app. 
  • Can you imagine a show that featured Dana Carvey, Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert, Louis CK and Robert Smigel? Did you know it really happened? It was at the height of Dana Carvey’s career after leaving Saturday Night Live in the mid 90’s and it was a complete and total flop. Airing on ABC, The Dana Carvey Show created 8 episodes and aired only 7 before the plug was pulled by the network that had only recently been acquired by Disney. The story of its failure is now being told in the great new documentary presented by Hulu called Too Funny To Fail. Full of clips from the show and interviews with the cast, the doc provides a fun oral history into the show’s creation, production and cancellation in the spring and summer of 1996. I haven’t seen The Dana Carvey Show (although I do plan on watching it on Hulu having seen this doc), but as a fan of all of the aforementioned cast, I found it to be a really fun way to spend 90 minutes. I highly recommend it. Too Funny To Fail is currently streaming on Hulu.  

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. Join in the conversation about Stranger Things 2 or the Arrowverse there too. Happy viewing!

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: October 16-22, 2017

I want to start off this week’s Feelin’ TV with a confession. I don’t really like The Walking Dead anymore. I watch it because I’ve been watching it this long so I might as well finish it. I watch it because people around me watch it and I don’t want to be out of the loop at the water cooler (at my office, it’s an ice machine). I watch it because I hope it will get better, but as I sat down to watch the season eight premiere, I was finding it hard to be optimistic. I say all of this because I want to let you in on my head space when it comes to TWD. It’s currently a show that has to win me back.  And it’s going to take more than one episode to do so. But after watching the premiere, I think it’s on the right track.

The best thing that this week’s episode did was that it jumped right into action. One of TWD’s biggest issues has been pacing and taking a ridiculously long time to work up to inevitable conflict. There have been times, like in season two, where I’ve thought the writers were trying to make the audience feel as miserable as the characters with its plodding pace. So I took the promise of all out war this season with a grain of salt. From the opening minutes though, we see the preparations for war, as Maggie and Ezekiel, leaders of the Hilltop and the Kingdom, respectively, join Rick in giving a (only slightly expository and on the nose) speech before heading off to war against Neegan and his Saviors. Before the episode ends, we see them pull off a well-planned and methodically executed plan to do so. It stands in stark opposition to Rick’s typical reactionary nature. It was something different, and for a show that tends to get stuck in the same rut, anything different is good. It was also fun to see everyone working together again. There was so much segmentation last season that we rarely got to see the shows best characters interact with each other.  But seeing Carol, Daryl and Morgan working together was great, and I hope that can be something that continues over the next few months.

I didn’t love everything about it. Carl still exists. He hasn’t gotten a haircut. Michonne is left back at home and not a part of the action taking down the Saviors. Maybe there’s a plan for her, but I fear that she will continue to be criminally under-utilized as she was in season seven. Much of the dialogue are lines that look way better on paper than they sound spoken out loud. But there’s enough about it to like that I’m cautiously optimistic for the future. If you’re a fan of The Walking Dead and want to dig deeper into its themes from week to week, I’d suggest following Gene Gosewehr’s weekly recaps here at Reel World Theology (He’s also quite a bit more positive about the show than I am. He still likes Carl). Seasons 1-7 of The Walking Dead are currently streaming  on Netflix, and episodes from season 8 can be viewed on the AMC app.

Channel Surfing:

  • Arrow dropped a bombshell this week when Oliver invited John Diggle to take the mantle of the Green Arrow. I’m quite interested to see if they’re able to pull that trigger or whether Oliver will find a way to balance his family, public and nocturnal lives in a way that satisfies his conscience as a father and remain the Green Arrow after all. If he indeed does pass the hood to Dig, I’ll be quite impressed with the show-runners, as having your main character make a change of that magnitude is rare. The first hurdle will be the effects of Diggle’s nerve damage and if he’ll be able to physically pull off the transition. But Ollie doesn’t even know about that yet, so we’ll see. The current season of Arrow can be streamed on The CW app.
  • I had heard enough good things about NBC’s Great News that I decided to give it a watch this week. Created by Tracy Wigfield and produced by Tina Fey and Robert Carlock, all of 30 Rock fame (among other things), it definitely has the DNA and frenetic 100-jokes-a-minute pace of 30 Rock. It would be easy to label it as 30 Rock in a newsroom, but I think that’s a bit too dismissive. It stars Briga Heelan as Katie Wendelson, a young producer for a struggling news cast called The Breakdown. Her mother, played perfectly by Andrea Martin, is hired as an intern for the same newscast after being inspired to go back to school to follow her dreams, and as they say, hijinks ensue. John Michael Higgins plays self-absorbed co-anchor Chuck Pierce with all of the flare that you expect from the reliable comedy actor. If you love him as the a capella podcaster extraordinaire in the Pitch Perfect films, and of course you do, you’ll love him here. The biggest surprise to me has been Nicole Richie as Higgins’ co-anchor, Portia Scott-Griffith. Her comedic instincts and timing are nearly perfect as the young, hip (at one point she shares that she spent her weekend seeing The Weeknd at a new club called Weekend) and oblivious yin to Higgins’ old-school, stodgy and oblivious yang. The show takes aim at the ridiculous world of cable news and hits a lot more than it misses. The second season has been especially sharp as Tina Fey joined the cast as the network CEO who takes our main character under her wing as a mentee (ok, maybe it’s an awful lot like 30 Rock). If you’re a 30 Rock fan, I can’t imagine you wouldn’t also very much enjoy this show as well. The first season was only 10 episodes long and the second has only aired 4 so far, so you’re not too far behind if you haven’t started yet. All of Great News can be streamed on Hulu.
  • And we’ll close with your weekly reminder that you should be watching The Good Place. This past week was probably the funniest and sharpest that the show has been as they tackled the classic thought exercise, the trolley problem, with hilarious results. Everyone aspect of this show is currently firing on all cylinders. Get on board now before you’re too far behind. The current season of The Good Place can be streamed on Hulu.That’s all for this week. Next week we get to talk about Stranger Things 2! It’s all happening! 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. Happy viewing!

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: October 9-15, 2017

The biggest news in my TV watching world this week is that the CW’s Arrowverse kicked back into action after the summer layoff. These aren’t the best shows that I watch every week, but they’re probably the ones that I most look forward to. Each of them went through spells where they were uninspired and drab, but they’ve also had some impressively high highs. If you haven’t watched before and you like properties based on comic books, I’d suggest giving them a shot. But if you just want to jump right in, the next few paragraphs will give you a bit of where we’ve been and a quick note or two on where the season premieres seem to say that we’re going.

Supergirl ended its second season overall (and first season in the Arrowverse on The CW) in gut-wrenching fashion. In order to save National City and the world from the invasion of the Daxamites, Team Supergirl was forced to take measures that meant the love of Kara’s life, Mon-El the Daxamite, wouldn’t be able to live in the earth’s atmosphere anymore. Our season premiere picks up a few months after that decision with Kara still unable to handle her feelings. She throws herself into her life as Supergirl and neglects her responsibilities as Kara like her job, to her friends and her family. She’s facing an interesting question: If she’s going to continue to have to give up the things that make Kara happy for the greater good, then what is the point of the altar-ego in the first place. It isn’t the first time this line of thinking has been explored in the superhero genre, but it’s handled well because of a predictably great performance by Melissa Benoist. She has the ability to give Supergirl vulnerability without it coming off as weakness that is just a joy to watch every week. Season three brings a few new faces that will be familiar to longtime fans of super-hero TV about as well.  Adrian Pasdar (of Heroes and Agents of SHIELD fame) appears to be taking up the mantle as this season’s baddie Morgan Edge and Erica Durance (Smallville’s Lois Lane, taking Laura Benanti’s role) slides in to a supporting role as Supergirl’s Kryptonian mother, alive only in dreams and holograms, Alura Zor-El. If there’s one thing I didn’t love about the episode, its’s the way that everything gets set back to the status quo by the end of the premiere rather than letting things linger. These are complex issues that Kara is dealing with, so it would be nice to see it take a bit of time to resolve. It’s something that the Arrowverse does pretty often, and this season appears to be no different. It will be a recurring theme this week.

Speaking of a refusal to let things linger, The Flash returned this week as well. At the end of last season, Barry successfully thwarted Zoom’s plot to kill Iris West, but had to exile himself to the Speed Force Prison to keep the universe from being destroyed (it was a whole thing, I’m not sure I could explain it). If I’m being honest, it was kind of a dumb way to get Barry removed from the equation, but I was looking forward to seeing Team Flash in action for a few episodes this season until Barry’s inevitable return, provided the writers had the guts to keep him away for a while. But they did not.  Of course a villain came to town that promised to destroy Central City unless the real Flash faced him. Of course Sisco had been working on a way to bring him back that was just about done (it’s as if the writers totally forgot that the show tried to sell Barry’s banishment as permanent). Of course it worked, admittedly with some side effects. And of course, the side effects were a-okay by the end of the episode. It was an unfortunate development even though I’m a big fan of Grant Gustin’s Barry Allen and I like having him around. But when the consequences of a character’s decisions last for less than an hour in TV runtime, it’s pretty hard to believe that any of the stakes are very high. All of that being said, most of last season (and the season before that) was pretty mediocre to poor, so if hitting the reset button a little too quickly gets us to the fun Flash of season one as the writers are promising, then I’ll eat crow. We’ll need some more context to see if that’s the case.

At least The Flash took a whole episode to press reset. Legends of Tomorrow did it before the first commercial break. When we last left the Legends, they had returned to the present day only to see that time had gone crazy. There were dinosaurs in the streets for crying out loud! But not a minute after the “Previously on” segment, Rip Hunter shows up with his new team of time fixers, who take care of everything effectively and efficiently, and disbands the Legends. Each of our heroes find themselves in the middle of a mundane existence that they can hardly stand (one that looks a lot like yours and mine), but they’re given a reason to regroup when Mick Rory runs into Julius Caesar on his vacation in Aruba. The group proceeds to attempt to take him back to his time, make a mess of things, and then clean it up again. Legends is one show where I don’t mind the quick reset. Each season so far has seemed like its own thing to the show’s credit. It isn’t a show that asks the deep questions. It’s a show about a bunch of heroes that travel through time and screw stuff up. It’s not going to win any Emmy’s, but it might just be the most enjoyable show that I watch every week. Having a season by season arc rather than carrying past seasons worth of baggage keeps the show light and fun.

Arrow returned after an explosive (pun intended because, let’s admit it, all puns are intended) finale that saw Oliver watching in horror as an island with all of Team Arrow blew up before his very eyes. The finale gave us little in the way of hope that anyone other than Ollie survived. But, hey, this is Arrow not Game of Thrones, so season three quickly assures us that everyone is okay (well, Oliver’s son William’s mom died, but we didn’t know her really and Thea is in a coma, but still). That didn’t make me upset because there’s no one on Team Arrow that I don’t like, but again, like The Flash, it keeps the stakes pretty low. The rest of the episode was really solid though with Bad Laurel back from the dead to wreak havoc on Star City’s police department and someone finally outs Oliver as Green Arrow on the news for all to see. Now unless the Legends of Tomorrow show up and use their Men In Black style flashy-thingy on the whole city, things are going to get pretty difficult for Ollie. Throw on the added difficulty that he’s experiencing as a new single father, and you have the makings of a pretty good arc for Arrow’s sixth season. While Arrow has had its issues, I believe that season five really put the show back on track. The biggest difference has been Oliver Queen’s growth as a character. He seems to be in a position to grow even further this year.

Previous seasons for all four shows in the Arrow universe can be streamed on Netflix. Episodes from the current season can be found on The CW app. 

Channel Surfing:

  • Riverdale also returned to The CW this week in a premiere that picks up literally minutes after the finale left off. Riverdale was last season’s most surprising show in that from the outside looking in it appeared to be just another CW drama in a long line of CW dramas that I had no interest in. But by grounding the story in the rich world of the Archie comics and presenting a solid mystery with great performances from a young cast, it completely surpassed my expectations. I’m interested to see if the tension can be sustained now that last season’s arc is complete. The questions about the identity of Fred Andrews’ killer and whether or not Jughead joins the Serpents don’t grab me nearly as much as the mystery surrounding the disappearance and death of Jason Blossom. We’ll see if they can bring in a little more intrigue here in the next few weeks. Mark Consuelos’ addition to the cast as the slimy Hiram Lodge is a good start. The first season of Riverdale can be found streaming on Netflix and the season premiere is now available on the CW app.
  • Halt and Catch Fire ended this past weekend with a solid 2 hour finale. I hesitated to mention it here because I plan on writing more on it later, but it was too perfect not to mention. In the beginning of the episode, Lee Pace’s Joe McMillan recalls a time when he told Scoot McNairy’s now deceased Gordon Clark that the advent of the personal computer wasn’t “the thing” but that it was “the thing that gets you to the thing.” In the context of his speech, “the thing” is the internet. But the finale shows how that idea of “the thing that gets you to the thing” has been weaved throughout the tapestry of the show from the very beginning. In the end we see that the thing at the end isn’t nearly as satisfying as the thing that got you there. In the case of Halt and Catch Fire, that thing is the relationships between the five core characters. While Joe, Cam, Donna, Gordon and Boz have experienced love and hate and everything in between over the course of almost 15 years, they’ve also been constant in each others’ lives, spurring each other on towards growth and maturity. The characters in the finale would be nearly unrecognizable to the characters in the series premiere. But that isn’t the case because of poor writing that isn’t true to the characters, it’s the case because each of them has experienced tremendous growth. It’s not often that I get sad when a show ends because there are so many out there that I keep up with, but I’m going to miss Halt and Catch Fire. Seasons 1-3 of Halt and Catch Fire can be viewed on Netflix and season 4 can be streamed on the AMC app with your cable subscription.

That’s all for this week. That was a long one! Next week, The Walking Dead is back and we’re less than two weeks away from Stranger Things 2! If you’re an Arrowverse fan, come talk about the shows in our weekly Facebook Arrowverse thread. 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. I really do listen! I didn’t start watching Halt and Catch Fire until I heard about it from someone in the group, so keep those suggestions coming.

Feelin’ TV: July 17-23

Season seven of Game of Thrones has been a lot of talking bookended by two scenes of pretty intense action. While I didn’t enjoy the action at the end of Sunday’s episode, I really enjoyed all of the talking. I don’t know how to describe why I didn’t enjoy the naval battle that ended the episode other than to say the whole thing felt small. It reminded me of something you might see in a well-produced stage play. That’s fine for a show on The CW or ABC Family (I refuse to call it Freeform), but HBO has shown us some epic, sweeping battles in the past and this one was subpar. If, however, it turns out that this was the end of hearing about Dorn though, I’ll retroactively refer to it as the greatest moment in GoT history. The decimation of the iron fleet was the second thing about the episode that greatly surprised me. I wasn’t completely disappointed in the result of that battle, as it seems like it will propel Daenerys to take Grandma Tyrell’s advice and act like the dragon she claims to be.

The first surprise and the one that I found disappointing is the enthusiasm Jamie showed in recruiting people to Cersei’s cause. I thought that he seemed to be growing weary of his power hungry sister last week. It’s still entirely possible that he’s doing this out of self-preservation rather than sincerity as he awaits his opportunity to leave Cersei in his past, and I hope that is where his story is headed. There isn’t always a lot of redemption to be had in the world of Game of Thrones, but Jamie’s journey from a guy who we first met as he was pushing a pre-teen out of the window of a tower into a sympathetic character has been a high point in the series for me.

The other parts of the episode that really stuck with me were Littlefinger and Varys both being put in their place. Jon holding Littlefinger by the neck up against the wall in the crypt at Winterfell was pretty satisfying. Littlefinger is a snake, and I hope winter comes for him pretty soon. The scene where Varys is confronted by Daenerys served as a good history lesson about how far he, she and Tyrion have come in the last six seasons. When Varys talked to Ned way back in season one about his scheming being for the good of the realm and the people, I never bought it for a second. But now with the benefit of having spent time with Varys, I do. And I found myself wanting to speak on his behalf like Tyrion as the Breaker of Chains questioned his loyalty. Has he always had the best intentions? I don’t know. But I believe he does now. Daenerys’ reservations were valid, but I’m glad she chose to show him mercy both because I think he’s a good man and because selfishly, as a viewer, the scenes that feature Emilia Clarke, Peter Dinklage and Conleth Hill together really sing.

So Jon is on his way to meet his aunt, Good Queen Gravejoy has been captured by Uncle Gravejoy, and Theon is going swimming. What happens next is anyone’s guess. What did you think about the episode? Leave your thoughts in the comments or in the Facebook group. Game of Thrones can be streamed on the HBO NOW app or on HBO GO with an eligible cable subscription.

I didn’t watch anything else this weekend because it’s July and there aren’t a lot of things on. But thanks to San Diego Comic Con, there was lots of TV news to share and trailers galore. I thought I’d close out this week’s column with a few trailers for shows that will undoubtedly be covered on Feelin’ TV soon.

Netflix: Stranger Things and The Defenders

AMC: The Walking Dead

Disney: Ducktales and Inhumans

Fox: The Gifted

CW: Black Lightning, Supergirl, Arrow, Legends of Tomorrow and The Flash

For a comprehensive roundup of all the trailers to come out of San Diego over the weekend including movies and shows that I don’t cover or plan on covering, Screen Rant has you covered here. Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to chime in over on our Facebook group.