Some thoughts about tv series I’ve recently been watching:
- Arlene Martel in The Monkees
- Star Trek: Discovery
- Star Trek: Picard
- Murder, She Wrote
- The Endgame (Morena Baccarin)
- Bridgerton S2
- Law & Order S21.
Spoilers for many of these. Cut for length.
Music was great, and it’s available to Youtube. The series is well-written and beautifully shot, just don’t watch it if you’re looking for something uplifting or even neutral.
The show had IMO three main characters: Shea Brenna (played by Sam Elliott), a grizzly experienced old man who was the wagon master, James Dutton the founding father of the Dutton family from tv series Yellowstone, and Dutton’s 18 year old daughter Elsa. Plus a couple more importan ones and a whole lot of background characters. The voice over POV narrative is Elsa’s.
Wow. I can’t remember the last time when literally everyone died – even two of the three main characters! Shea Brennan was suicidal from the very first scene he was in, following the death of his wife and daughter. Unlike in stories usually, he did not re-gain his will to live and joy of life during the journey. Instead he killed himself in the last episode, after fullfilling a promise to his wife he had made to himself. The 18 year old Elsa was shown to get severely wounded in the opening scene of the series. Usually there’s a cure for this kind of character and they survive, but not this one and she dies a slow death due to infection. Really, there were like, I don’t know, 20 wagons in the wagon train at the start and I think something like 50-80 people, and in the second to last episode, only three wagons remained and like maybe 15-20 people? These are very rough numbers, but really, pretty much everyone died! I think the only ones who came out somewhat happy at the end were Michael and Noemi, and her two sons. At least they found each other, and didn’t die (except for Noemi’s husband at the start) and in the end found a plot of land in Oregon where they thought they could be happy. But practically everyone either lost family member(s), friend(s), had a limb amputated or lost all their possessions whether it was to thieves, tornados or accidents.
I’ve been wanting to re-watch the first episode of The Monkees Arlene Martell (T’Pring From Star Trek “Amok Time”) was in, “The Spy Who Came In From The Cool”. I saw it in the late 1990s on TVTV/SubTV when it was aired, and being her fan enjoyed it a lot. And still do! I thought she had great comedic timing, I loved watching her in this. It also made me want to watch more of the early The Monkees episodes – I remember enjoying them a lot, but not the later ones. I got the same feeling as watching Get Smart! now, and no wonder – Gerald Gardner, a writer who wrote several Get Smart! eps, also wrote for The Monkees.
The latest Morena Baccarin vehicle. I looked forward to this, thought it might be quality television like Homeland. It’s… not. Five episodes have aired, and seen first four. So far this is one of those shows, where the evil mastermind is so genious, that the good FBI agent being a total genious maverick is the only one can solve the mystery while everyone else stands around looking like idiots. All while the cases aren’t actually that smart or complicated, and depend on the genious maverick FBI agent to latch on to something totally random and normal the evil mastermind said and realize that’s a clue. Also, this particular maverick FBI agent is butthurt that after her also-FBI-agent husband and childhood sweetheart got caught, trialled, sentenced and enprisoned for serious crimes (I’m unclear exactly what the crime is, I can’t remember if it’s been said) and because of that that her supervisors are now suspicious of her integrity as well… apparently it’s totally uncalled for for her bosses to wonder what, when and how much did she know about her husband’s criminal activities. And of course, the genious evil mastermind and her husband are behind all of FBI-husband’s troubles, and it looks like the three are working together for purposes unknown. And that the evil mastermind, a weapns dealer, might actually be doing all this to right some wrongs or something. The music (and the whole show) is terribly cliched and bombastic. And why didn’t I use characters’ names in any of this? I can’t remember any of them! That’s how memorable the characters are.
Morena Baccarin is always fun to watch but if she wasn’t in this, I’d pass totally, and might decide to pass if the show doesn’t get more original and actually smart, Morena or no Morena.
Edit to add: I had so much trouble getting through episode 5 and have zero curiosity about what happens in the next episode… I think I’m dropping this. So bad, so sad!
Edit to edit: Never finished episode 5 and formally made the decision to stop watching. I’ll check the reviews when the season ends, and if it seems like it re-skins itself into something smart and compelling, I can always go back and pick up where I left off.
Law & Order (the original) – Season 21
The original Law & Order is back for season 21 after more than a decade off the air! Watched first four episodes now and had not realized how much I missed a Law & Order that concentrated on the cases and not the detectives personal lives. Or how much Benson’s breathy whispering got on my nerves, or how much I missed cases that were other than rape-of-the-week. So far I’m liking both the detectives and their boss (and I’ve long liked all three actors, so that’s a plus!), as well as the female prosecutor (not sure about the male one). Nice to see McCoy again too although I’m wondering isn’t he old enough now that he should be retired? Can’t wait for more episodes!
Star Trek: Discovery
Season 4 is definitely my favorite season so far! I LOVED that the big bad wasn’t a big bad, but aliens that hadn’t realized their mining tool was destroying planets with intelligent life who the moment they did realize that, stopped it. I liked very much that some attention was given to the minor supporting characters although boy was it done clumsily! DSC really isn’t an ensemble show the way TNG and DS9 was. I also appreciated that Tarka wasn’t evil either, just really messed up by grief. Booker’s whole arc was predictable including his “surprise” survival by the aliens, though. I also didn’t enjoy Michael having angst (Booker) once again this season. And it’s getting really hard to care when every season features an existence ending threat. It’s already stretching credulity that Discovery is always the only ship and these people are always the only people who could possibly solve it.
Just in general I wish they’d go for more episodic style in future seasons, maybe that would give the non-main characters screentime to develop as people beyond being props since they seem to insist filming them (showing reaction shots) like they’re an meaningful part of the story while simultanously ignoring their presence for the most part. Or maybe I should just give up – but it’s hard because I can see so much potential for telling interesting stories of these characters too! The other Treks managed it – why can’t Discovery?? I’ve almost decided to give up hope on that potential, and accept that DSC will never be what it could be. Maybe my vision just simply differs so much from DSC TPTB’s vision and maybe I should just accept that and try to enjoy it for what it is and ignore the potential I see? Something to think about while waiting for the next season.
Star Trek: Picard
I enjoyed all season 2 episodes, but I think they could’ve spent two episodes in the dystopian reality before jumping to past. It would’ve given time for the characters and viewers to really breathe and feel the oppressive athmospere, as well as have given Annika Hansen’s husband more time to get suspicious of his President wife and how President Annika differed from Seven – now the suspicision happened out of thin air… or maybe we’re supposed to believe that he’s actually her handler or something, rather than a husband who loves her? Or maybe their marriage is just a political affair? Or just that everybody suspects everybody all the time? In any case, now the husband seemed suspicious the moment he first stepped onto the scene and there’s no explanation given, or even to be inferred about why he got suspicious of her within minutes.
I also thought that the plot line slowed down too much in the middle episodes – feels like Raffi and Seven wondered around Los Angeles forever without nothing much happening. I didn’t much like Raffi last season, I thought she blamed Picard for her own shortcomings and problems. I didn’t like her this season eather, felt like she just thought about herself and kept whining about Elnor and her problems all through the series even though they had much bigger problems at hand like the whole future of the galaxy. And in the season finale when she said she’d like to focus on herself for a while – bloody hell, that’s what’s she’s been doing all the time.
I loved the Jurati and the Borg Queen scenes, and once the Borg Queen started assimilating Jurati, Alison Pill did really great in incorporating some of Annie Wersching’s expressions and movements to her performance.
It was fun to see Q and Quinan again! And neither were overused like Brent Spiner and his characters are.
Which brings me to the thing I’m truly disappointed and annoyed about: shoving Brent Spiner into it again, and again playing some Soong. I thought we left him behind last season (didn’t love it then either). It’s all done and over already! Give it a rest and give a some new actor a chance to develop a character. The Star Trek world starts to feel small when it’s always an ancestor/clone/relative of an existing main character. I never want to see Brent Spiner in any way ever again in any incarnation of Star Trek!!! I’m starting to hate him, so much so that it’s threatening my fondness for TNG!Data as well. Talk about riding a horse to death. Some other, new mad scientist would’ve worked just as well for his part in the plot. I guess maybe it was so that they could believable bring Soji/Kore into this? I’d rather they had left her out, I don’t think her bit plot had any meaning whatsoever to the outcome.
I did enjoy and found believable the whole thing with Picard’s mother and how it had affected him. I remember that when I watched TNG in the 1980s, when me and my best friend were only about 13 ourselves, that we both thought that Picard (and Crusher) was an emotional coward – that he was afraid to form deep, lasting bonds with any living soul. And we thought that he got a little better at it throughout the series, making at least a few good friends, but truly giving his heart and commitment to a person, nope. So this season just filled in the blanks to me why that is so, and I’m glad he got to work through it and open himself like that. And even though it’s so very cliche a reason, I think it works because of exactly that.
Murder, She Wrote
I haven’t watched this since it’s original airing in the 1980s except for the one Jeri Ryan episode, and recently I decided to do a rewatch seeing as how it’s out on Bluray. I’m about 10 episodes into the first season, and I’m having so much fun! Watching these eps brings my childhood mind – this was one of the tv series we watched as a family for 3-4 years (until my Dad died). It went on for so many years that I stopped watching in early 90s, I think right around when I moved to Helsinki for the library studies. My memory of the show is that we enjoyed watching it as a family.
Murder, She Wrote is what I’ve started to think of as “feel good murders” ie. movies and tv shows about crimes, usually murders, where everything is bloodless, light and care-free and you come out of each episode feeling like you’ve been well entertained and no worries in sight and no complex moral issues to ponder after. Where often the detective/crime solver isn’t police but an amateur sleuth. I don’t know if there’s a term for that?
The only thing is… not being a little kid anymore and having been watching serious crime/murder dramas and cop shows and reading books about the same for about four decades since, I’m having some real problems with my suspension of disbelief! All the murder victims and/or murder suspects have been the main character’s relatives/friends/relative’s spouses/business acquintances so far. All the various sheriffs and cops investigating said murders have no trouble at all, except maybe for a bit of grumbling at first, having a civilian – a nosy old crime writer lady – butting her nose into their murder investigations. Usually while she should have been a suspect no less, or a witness at the very least. Instead, they happily tell her everything forensics found as soon as the results come in as well as everything the investigation has uncovered so far and happily defer the desicion making to her. And the cops leave the body of the murder victim unguarded while there are witnesses-slash-murder-suspects standing around it, important items such as the coffee cup the murdered person was drinking from or a musical instruments he was holding/using immediately before his mysterious death, aren’t taken into custody until later in the investigation after anyone could have made them disappear or tampered with them. Just… it’s ridiculous! So much! So many little things that if the police had followed at least a rudimentary procedure – not letting random people stick around the body after the police arrive, forensics teams apparently never around to gather evidence etc. – while not changing any beats of the plot or outcomes, but would’ve been so much less ridiculous. I don’t expect them the search for DNA obviously, but if you don’t look for finger prints… well! So yeah, as far as procedural side, it’s best to turn to your brain off!
Admitedly I’m only half way through season 1, maybe it’ll improve as the show goes on.
I don’t think shows purely like these could be made anymore. Amateur sleuth who randomly butts in murder investigations while often they shoud also be a murder suspect or at least a witness and the police being a-okay with it. Police work shown to be so sloppy not because they’re bad cops, but because that part isn’t important to the nature of the series. Police work is taken much more seriously in tv shows today; at most you can have a civilian assisting the police investigator (like in say, Grantchester) in a semi-formal manner, but usually formally and on the police payroll. At least if a show is taking place in current time, because of all the need for technical access, need to control the chain of evidence, concerns with witness tampering, needing access to various databases etc… Maybe if it took place in 1980s or earlier, this sort of show could still be done?
But it’s still fun watching Murder, She Wrote – it’s so innocent, just like Bridgerton. You just need to be in the right head space to enjoy it because of the procedural stuff! Not to mention trying to spot all familiar faces that I remember either from old black and white movies or 60s/70s shows like Star Trek, Get Smart! (Hymie!!!), Soap or Battlestar Galactica TOS. Or actors that became well known to me long after their apprearance in the series such as Jeff Conaway (Zach Allan on Babylon 5). And all the familiar faces that I remember seeing a lot of in lots tv shows and movies when I was a kid in the 80s but never knew names of, and that have disappeared from my screen in the decades since. Real nostalgia!
Bridgerton – Season 2
Season 2 was a fun watch! I love how colorful the costuming is, and I enjoy the Bridgerton family a lot. They feel like a real family. I liked the modern music arranged classically they used in the dancing scenes, it felt livelier this way than if they’d used some real classic classical music. I though there were some pacing issues where things seemed stall as far as the main romance went, and I would have prefferred to see the married Kate and Anthony in their settled married life, without all the fighting and angst. But I enjoyed the season, and will happily see season 3 once it comes along! It’s so colorful, bright and happy, real brain candy. It’s just what I needed what with the last two years with covid and now the Russia and the war in Ukraine.
Lady Danbury and the Queen remain my favorite characters, and are joined by Lady Mary and Edwina. Although I’m pretty sure I so much like Lady Mary only because I’ve always liked the actress in all roles I’ve seen her, rather than the character because Lady Mary hasn’t gotten to do anything except in the last two eps or so she had a proper scene or two. She’s… just there. Usually in the background.
I LOVE Edwina – she’s sweet, intelligent, emotionally intelligent, mature. When she realized what was going on with her sister and her own fiance, she acted immediately. I feel like Edwina would’ve been a perfect Viscountess for Anthony, based on what he said he was looking for. He totally deserved to be rejected by her after not being able to keep his eyes to himself even during his own marriage seremony but I’m angry her own sister and fiance put her through this. I want all the best things for her!
I don’t like Kate much, or rather I’m indifferent about her. I feel like we don’t get to know her. She dislikes the Viscount, spends her time arguing with him and that’s the extent we get to know her. I don’t even get much of a impression that she actually falls in love with him at any point – she just honestly seems to dislike him, but also is sexually attracted to him. Her confession of love to the Viscount was completely devoid of emotion and I felt like she only said it because it was scripted so. She also lies to her family, and keeps pertinent information from Edwina regarding her pending marriage to the Viscount – namely that she and the Viscount can barely keep their hands off each other. I also don’t understand why Kate seems to be the head of the household and is making all the decisions. Shouldn’t Lady Mary be the one in charge?
I didn’t find Anthony the Viscount much of interest either although the actor brought some nice intensity to the role at times. I just didn’t like that his problem was also basically daddy issues like the last season’s love interest what’s his name (where was he anyway??), although at least it was because his Dad had died suddenly and not because he was abusive. I didn’t like that he disrespected Edwina by going to marry her while emotionally cheating on her all the fucking time. And I don’t believe for a second that he and Kate would’ve been able to keep their hands off each other much longer, marriage or not.
I find this season’s couple unsympatethic because I found their characters lacking, and also there wasn’t whole lot of emotion there at least on her part, and I having trouble seeing why he fell in love with her? Also their close-up horse fast riding shots were laughably bad. I chortled everytime during those scenes.
This time I could tell the three brothers apart, finally – although only starting with late in episode 2, and I only remember Anthony’s name! Last season I couldn’t tell Anthony and the artist brother apart – I thought they were one and the same person, and kept getting befuddled by “his” story LOL Last season it was so bad I couldn’t tell Anthony and the artist brother apart even after reading there were actually two different persons and seing pictures of each and then being on the lookout for each brother while watching the latter eps. I’m still also a little weirded out because the artist brother looks clearly older to me so my brain keeps insisting that he should be the Viscount. But apparently the actors are both the same age, one just looks a lot younger than the other.
Daphne’s husband’s absence was weird – there were a couple of events he should’ve been attending with his wife, considering who they are. He must’ve been out of the country or something.
In general, I thought the parent characters were the most interesting this time around – the Queen, Lady Danbury, Lady Mary, Lady Violet. I kept wanting to see more of them. I also enjoyed their costuming the best.