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November 15 2013

TV that definitely isn't the new cinema. As The Guardian puts it, "Tired of watching intricate dramas with epic pretensions? Here are six current series that are actual fun". And Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is one of their choices.

I tried to watch both Arrow and Orphan Black, and gave up after discovering I didn't like any of the characters in either show.

I get my "fun drama" fix from AoS as well as Castle, Warehouse 13, Lost Girl, and Game of Thrones (which doesn't have epic pretensions but actual epicness).

[ edited by AndrewCrossett on 2013-11-15 17:34 ]
Orphan Black is fantastic, and not just because of Tatiana Maslany's performance (which is brilliant).
I haven't been able to keep up with Orphan Black but I love Arrow. It's just really well done overall. I also like that all of the characters are well-rounded. They have their own motivations, goals, and make their own decisions. I might not like all of them equally (meh, Laurel) but I like how competent and passionate she is about her work.
Tried to get into Orphan Black but the awful attempts at English accents were just too distracting. Especially Felix.
I think this is a good angle to take on S.H.I.E.L.D. for the time being, some light fun to be had each week. I watched the Orphan Black pilot, seemed pretty good but I haven't been back yet. I hear Arrow has improved over time. Sleepy Hollow is our household's new guilty pleasure.
Nikita is one of the most addictive and compelling shows I've watched in a long time, and it kills me how underrated it is. Some of the best acting I've seen in recent TV years has came from Maggie Q and Lyndsy Fonseca and I hope we see much more of them after Nikita's final season.

If you like complex, multi-layered characters and a show that constantly throws twists and turns at you, I seriously suggest you give Nikita a try.
I couldn't get into Blacklist and gave up on Nikita a couple seasons ago but I ADORE the top 3 on that list. Orphan Black is a revelation. So very very good. Everything genre TV should be and Tatiana Maslany is a fucking genius.
I think the cinema comment is misguided.

As for the shows, Orphan Black is by far the best of the bunch. Arrow is also good.
I get where the cinema comment is coming from. I was exhausted after Breaking Bad. :)

I loved Orphan Black, mostly because Tatiana Maslany takes my breath away. I wish she had been in Dollhouse. (She and Enver should do a "working undercover" show together.)

Couldn't get into Sleepy Hollow, but everyone on my twitter feed likes it so much that I feel like I should try again. I think I watched 2 episodes.
I love a good long arc drama, but if the writers aren't invested in telling a coherent story? Forget it.

I'm still feeling a bit burned by the way Lost turned out. Sure it was a fun ride, flaws and all, but that ending? Those explanations? Not my cup of tea.

I'm loving Sleepy Hollow. As others have said, if they'd tried to stretch this out for a full season, I don't think it would work as well. A tighter narrative, fewer episodes? Works well. Plus, it's knowing and intentionally hilarious, always a plus.

Still feeling pleased that my small town library had Orphan Black on dvd. So good.
jcs, I liked Sleepy Hollow from the beginning, but the last episode was so awesome. You should keep watching. The plot is batshit nuts, but what's great is how much the show realizes that and has fun with it. The best part of the show is the chemistry between the two leads. They are so great together and I can't wait to watch every week because of them. It's one of my favorite shows this season.
I liked both actors, and it's all the talk of humor that's making me want to try it again. I do so love the funny. *opens Hulu*
Found Orphan Black to be embarrassingly poor and gave up after two episodes. I've heard good things about Sleepy Hollow so I may have to look into it.
Tired of watching intricate dramas with epic pretensions? BLOODY HELLS NO! Those are the best shows on television.

Arrow, Blacklist, Nikita, Sleepy Hallow, and S.H.I.E.L.D.? Are they kidding? Are they being ironic? Sarcastic possibly? Sadistic? Are they being paid to speak such lies? Because those are all horrible, HORRIBLE shows, without exception, and I like Joss Whedon. That being said, S.H.I.E.L.D. is not a Joss Whedon show. No, no it isn't. Not really. If it was, it wouldn't consistently put me to sleep EVERY SINGLE EPISODE.

Cable television has won the war of quality. I'll take actors and actresses whose character renditions are so seamless I don't actually notice their performances, and writers who aren't afraid to spend tension in favour of new storylines (instead of dragging out tired old plots in contrived and recycled and uninspiring ways).

Give me intricate, epic, and pretentious any day of the week!

[ edited by Sonofapreacherman on 2013-11-16 01:29 ]
It's ok to like the most complicated and mind blowing souffle and jolly rancher green apple candies too, to love War and Peace and Anne Rice, Dune and Dragonriders of Pern, Homeland, Walking Dead and The Vampire Diaries. We don't all have to be exhaustingly high brow all the bloody time.
I'm a little annoyed by the distinction here between "good" TV and "fun" TV. I wouldn't watch Mad Men if, in addition to being subtle and complex and layered, it weren't also funny and dramatic and sometimes downright thrilling. Same with Breaking Bad, etc.

I like many shows on every end of the spectrum of "high" or "low" entertainment (blech). But I dislike this trend of calling shows that reach "pretentious" and not fun, just as I dislike the inverse notion that a genre/plotty show lacks the value of a "serious" show.

Orphan Black is excellent, by the way.
Right there with you, IrrationaliTV. I like what I like. I don't ever analyze too deeply.
Right there with you, IrrationaliTV. I like what I like. I don't ever analyze too deeply.

Personally I like to take them as they come. Some shows take more brain power to watch than others (yes - I am looking at you, MAoS) and my personal viewing preferences usually hinge on how much thinking I have had to do that day already.

As far as certain kinds of shows being intrinsically better than others... some great shows make you think while you are watching them (hello cable!) while other great shows make you think after you've watched them - and, of course, many great shows don't make you think about them at all. Whichever way your viewing habits tend to fall boils down to nothing more than a matter of personal preference (or - if you're like me - what time of day/year it happens to be.)

[ edited by brinderwalt on 2013-11-16 03:02 ]
Well i still say AOS is the best show around... and also the most fun.
Sonofapreacherman is me :)

AOS is not what I consider a Whedon show and yes it makes me fall asleep, every time.
No characters I care about, thin and slow storytelling.

While cable shows seems to deliver, networks seldom do, only network show in my current must see schedule is POI.
But one persons sleeping pill is anothers gold so there you go.

[ edited by jpr on 2013-11-16 17:15 ]
@Sonofapreacherman the fact you can call Nikita a 'horrible HORRIBLE' show makes it seem like you haven't even watched it or you've only watched like one episode. I dare you to watch 'All the Way' from S1 or 'Wrath' from S2 (the episode that got Emmy buzz) and then try and label Nikita 'horrible'
@Winchester hope you have seen the Peta Wilson version now that is a show, brilliant cast and writing, the CW copy doesn't get much praise cause you know cheap copies seldom do.
@Winchester hope you have seen the Peta Wilson version now that is a show, brilliant cast and writing, the CW copy doesn't get much praise cause you know cheap copies seldom do.

Sorry, but any rendition of La Femme Nikita where Nikita is A) not French and B) doesn't have Léon as a former business associate is - by definition - a cheap copy. :)

Regarding Nikita, two good episodes does not a series make, and that's giving you the benefit of the doubt by assuming that those two episodes were in fact good, despite the absence of Anne Parillaud. Why? Because Anne Parillaud. :)

The math is simple. Only so many hours in the day. If a series does not grab me from the outset, I have much more excellent television to watch on cable networks, like (but not limited to) Masters of Sex. Now there's a show that has been consistently good. Michael Sheen will give Bryan Cranston a run for his Emmy.

[ edited by Sonofapreacherman on 2013-11-17 02:55 ]
Nikita is one of the best shows on television. Of all the network shows I currently follow and enjoy, I would put it at the top, meaning that I consider it better than Sleepy Hollow, Arrow, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, Once Upon a Time, Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, and Supernatural. Honestly, it's even better than some cable shows I watch have been recently. Nikita has never had a season finale as bad as The Walking Dead's last season finale was. And truthfully, Nikita is more interesting than recent Doctor Who episodes I've watched. I'd even put Nikita over the first three episodes of this season's Homeland, which were so boring that all the reamining episodes are sitting on my DVR, yet to be watched

Yeah, Nikita is THAT good.
My fave show of the year is without a doubt American Horror Story: Coven. Nothing else even compares to the acting, writing and gorgeous cinematography of that show. It's the only series where I watch the episodes over and over again and that I truly look forward to each week. Now THAT'S great television

I think it's a sorry state we're in when any Whedon show is being offered as an alternative to watching smart television.

[ edited by vampmogs on 2013-11-17 09:34 ]
@brinderwalt, In the age old question of how to compare a two hour film with a tv show, I almost always let the tv show win cause of the depth of storytelling it can provide if the writers know how to use the time they are given.
While I agree that the Canadian series lacks frenchness and Jean Reno it does have the arcs of Operations and Madeleine, a trade I'm willing to take :)

@vampmogs, My logic goes, a Whedon show should be smart television ergo AOS cannot be a Whedon show, at least until the writers prove me wrong by stepping up the storytelling that is :)
I think it's a sorry state we're in when any Whedon show is being offered as an alternative to watching smart television.

It isn't. It's been offered an alternative to grim TV. Fun tv can be smart too.
Fun TV can definitely be smart. BtVS was always fun and smart at the same time. To use a more recent example, ASH: Coven can be downright campy at times but it’s still very clever. SHIELD? Not remotely “smart.”
BtVS was always fun and smart at the same time.

To its fans, yes. Outside though there was a strong element of snobbery regarding the show, "it can't be any good, it's about a teenage girl who fights vampires". And that attitude is still there. And I'm seeing that in certain places when it comes to SHIELD.

I think SHIELD is a smart, fun show. Others don't. And no doubt we'll keep telling each other that ad infinitum as that's what we do on line.
My observation: Look at how all of those shows (except Arrow or maybe not except Arrow since I only ever saw the pilot) have women as their main characters or at least one of their key characters? I like this development. Also, I'm quite fond of The Blacklist. Loving the Keen/Reddington dynamic and how the writers know that we "know" what he's not telling her and not treating it like a giant mystery we should be guessing about. I get the impression that a lot of the current genre shows are trying to have a balanced scale even with second or third-year shows like Revolution or Person of Interest whose most interesting characters are the female ones almost 99% of the time.

A few weeks ago, I pointed out my thoughts on this matter regarding SHIELD and how they seem to have a perfectly balanced cast in that regard. It's really cool. Makes it feel like the ending of Buffy was real and the little girl on the baseball field has now grown up to play in the major leagues with the others.
Arrow actually has some very strong female characters in it, quite a few in fact. They even one female super hero on the show recently who proved herself every bit as capable as Arrow.

I disagree about Revolution's most interesting characters being female though. I just started that show's second season and I think that show succeeds due to one reason and one reason alone, Miles Matheson. He's the star of that show and it couldn't survive without him. Truthfully, the ladies on that show tend to be annoying, except for Nora.

For me, Maggie Q's Nikita is the top female on network TV right now. She's my new Buffy. Too bad the show is heading into its final season. But I'm glad the show is heading out while it's still in top form
Funny since I find Miles pretty annoying most of the time. He always looks so annoyed by everything himself. :D

I really liked the cold-hearted turn Charlie took. The reason I said what I did was that it seemed to me like they were doing stuff with the female characters that typically only happened to males in the past. Like dark turns or going kamikaze (trying to avoid spoilers).

Coming back to Miles, though, I must say I'm slowly warming up to him. The Miles/Monroe bromance seems to hail directly from Eric Kripke's Supernatural experience. That part I dig.

As for Nikita, I pretty much agree. I like that they get to end the show on their own terms with a final run.
Arrow has strong female characters, and I find interesting that Oliver Quinn (the protagonist) is somewhat sexist, always wants to protect them, and is surprised when it doesn't work, or when they display strength or independance. I'm not sure if the writers intend him to be that way, though. I was kind of bugged when he decided Helena was irredeemable... because she dumped him.
At this point I think there are more recurring female characters on Arrow than male ones. No?

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