Wednesday, May 25, 2011

TV Review Roundup

As it is at the end of each TV season, there is always a plethora of TV shows ending all at the same time, and it just so happens that I watch enough shows that a joint post, reviewing all of the television shows I watch, feels more necessary than reviewing these shows individually. There are four shows being reviewed today: Hawaii Five-O, The Event, Castle, and Smallville.

TV Review: Hawaii Five-O - Season 1

As a viewer, I had little knowledge of the original show, but anyone could tell from the start that CBS's new iteration of Hawaii Five-O is hipper, younger, more action packed, and a whole lot of fun. Like the Star Trek film from a few years back, we get to see how the Five-O team first comes together and their relationships between one another are developed (maybe it's because this show was produced by the writers of the Trek movie). There is great success as we first get to see Steve McGarrett and Danno verbally sparring with one another, and McGarrett being a James Bond-lite in terms of physicality all season long really helps the viewer know that is not their parent's Hawaii Five-O. There is a ton of action, but also a great sense of mystery throughout the entire season as McGarrett tries to solve his father's murder, eventually leading into his mother's murder, as well. All of the characters are likable, well written, and the show itself is never boring; much like other procedural shows, there is a formula that works in telling each individual week's episode, someone's killed and Five-O must solve the murder, but it's the sheer attention to character and a greater overarching mystery, that made this first season awesome television.

I give Hawaii Five-O an A+!


TV Review: The Event - Series

NBC asked us all last Fall, what was The Event? And even after seeing the first half of the series, I had no clue what it was either. A complex story that seemed as if it was going nowhere, about conspiracy theories, aliens living among us, and treason within the White House. Lo-and-behold, it is funny how a midseason break can change an entire show. The first half was mostly forgettable, but the second half of the series propels itself forward with a momentum that only great action entertainment can produce. It felt as if the showrunners read all of the bad feedback on the first half of the show, and decided to do the complete opposite with the second half. After this point, the show no longer worried about making original characters and being the next LOST, but rather it just focused on telling a narratively intriguing story that had the viewers coming back week after week. Seeing mankind squaring off against aliens who planned to annihilate our race and replace us with their own, may not sound that original, but the realistic approach to the material really made it feel different and kind of original. While none of the characters transcend above their stock character status, it's like a soap opera, you care what happens to them, because they all fall into the archetypal role that they are meant to play. If the first half of the series was as strong as the second, perhaps we would be getting a second season. Of course, the slow lift off got this one canceled, just as it was getting interesting as another planet entered Earth's orbit, being the much lobbied Event that we had been waiting for all season. Alas, we'll never know how the story ends.

I give The Event a B+!


TV Review: Castle - Season 3

A slight come down from Season 2, our favorite mystery writer, Rick Castle (played, still with so much charm, by Nathan Fillion), kind of slipped into a complacent groove this past season, and didn't really do anything to move the story forward, even if there was never a dull moment all season long. Castle still manages to remain funny, entertaining, and at times, great drama. Stana Katic nails detective Kate Beckett, the detective that Castle shadows on all of her cases in order to get inspiration for his crime novels. As for the rest of the supporting players, they are all as lovable and charming as ever, however, the show has slipped into a formula of one shot stories (a story contained to one episode), and rarely strays from that formula to tell a story that arcs over several episodes. For myself, I would like to see more changes stick around for a few more episodes after their introduced, such as Ryan's engagement or Espisito and Laney's relationship. But it is really hard to complain when you put Nathan Fillion in anything. Rick Castle is one of the greatest characters ever created, period, making each episode a joy to watch, even if you're getting nothing more than formula.

I give Castle an A-!


TV Review: Smallville - Season 10

I am biased here, because this is my favorite show of all-time, and Smallville still holds that status with its 10th and final season. As the show about how Clark Kent becomes Superman, finally came to an end, we got to see the final steps in Clark's transformation into the Man of Steel, and they were nothing short of spectacular. As it is, Smallville still reminds the viewer that this is an alternate take on the traditional Superman mythology. Things do not happen here as they did in the comic, nor as they did in the movies, but in order for this show to last for 10 years, they boldly took steps to create their own mythology, and ultimately created the most emotionally resonant origin story for Superman ever committed to a visual medium (yes, even better than any comic I've read).

With this final season, they took Clark and Lois's relationship to the next step, with Clark revealing his secret and the two getting engaged, but it was the bold moves, such as marrying Oliver and Chloe, that really shows that Smallville still wanted to tell the story that felt most natural within the universe that they created, and it worked beautifully. The whole season showed the rise of Darkseid, an alien from another planet who brings with him Darkness, and infects people with dark thoughts. Ultimately, as Darkseid plans to bring about the Apokolips (and it is spelled right, at least that's how it's spelled in the comics), crashing a planet into Earth, only Clark can find the strength within himself to don the blue tights and bring light back to the people of Earth.

There are so many iconic moments that are truly what Superman is all about throughout this whole season. But the showrunners also brought everything back full circle, bringing back series favorites, John Schneider, Annette O'Toole, John Glover, and their own Lex Luthor, Michael Rosenbaum. They paid a great attention to the past, while propelling towards the future, and this is how Smallville managed to really fly. It is Clark's time in Smallville that turns him into Superman, he should never forget it as he moves out into the world. So as Clark rips open his shirt to reveal the Superman suit in the final shot of the series, the John Williams music blares, and the baton is passed off to all of the other iconic versions of the character. The origin is told. Now, time to let Superman fly!

I give Smallville an A+++++!!!!!

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