It’s officially September, which means Fall TV. But let’s be honest, nothing is kicking off until the third week. So let’s hash out what we’ve been watching in the interim.
Let’s bitch it out…
We cover quite a few shows here at bitchstolemyremote, but for various reasons we don’t offers reviews of them all. Sometimes a show doesn’t lend itself to a review. Sometimes the show is on a night we’re already writing other reviews. And sometimes we just don’t feel like reviewing a series.
But with a few weeks before everything gets going again, there’s very little else to discuss. Without further ado, here’s the first half of my summer watch list (in alphabetical order):
American Ninja Warrior S6 (NBC)
I have a love/hate relationship with this show. I find the hosts nearly unbearable, especially girl-on-the-sideline Jenn Brown, who attacks defeated contestants at their low point as soon as they’re off the course. The show often mistakenly profiles egomaniacs such as the Cowboy and Adonis (individuals who don’t even succeed!) at the expense of contestants who have amazing runs and actually finish, as though these unknowns are somehow less worthy (why wouldn’t their entire attempt be shown rather than mentioned as an aside?) And while I understand that the show is interested in maintaining a rigorous high standard of athleticism, there’s no denying that the courses discriminate against athletes who are short and/or female.
All of these cons aside, however, the sheer athleticism of the contestants is amazing, inspirational and fist-pump worthy. Somehow American Ninja Warrior makes us care about these people in ways that ABC competitor Wipeout – similar in its accident-porn premise – never manages to come close to. In a time without significant athletic spectacles like the Olympics or any kind of playoffs to bond over, ANW hits the summertime sweet spot.
Dominion S1? (Syfy)
I’m not sure why I had high hopes for this one considering the film from which it spawned – 2010’s Legion – was one of the worst I saw that year. And yet the cast and the idea that the series would build on the Angel hierarchy held a great deal of promise. Then came the execution and…it wasn’t good. There was a great deal of ambition, but hokey decisions like calling the possessed humans 8-balls and setting the show in Vegas (as opposed to Las Vegas) didn’t do much to change the perception that this was a D-list show. The series ended on an underwhelming cliffhanger and Syfy has yet to renew the show (likely due to lackluster ratings), so this may end up being a one and done crapfest. Still, look for this to feature prominently on the ‘Worst Of’ in this year’s Bitch Awards.
Much like Dominion, this is a genre show that I was eagerly anticipating. Major waves were made about Halle Berry’s casting and the series arrived with clout courtesy of Steven Spielberg. Despite its pedigree and a few genuinely interesting future world components, Extant is hilariously bad TV. The series is filled with incoherent (and surprisingly stake-less) developments, bad pacing and a weirdly nonsensical fixation with introducing new characters and storylines all of the time (recent example: a regenerative meteor because why not?!) Even as we ramp up towards the finale, new elements continue getting introduced. At this point it’s unclear exactly what kind of show Extant is. Problematically it seems that Extant doesn’t know the answer, either. This is another ‘Worst Of’ contender.
I’ll freely admit that I watched this MTV series purely due to its notoriety. Consider the logline: a pair of misguided best friends decide to fake being lesbians (hence the title) in order to become popular at an incredibly (unrealistically) progressive high school. And while it’s not quite the traffic jam I thought it could be (credit Greek creator Carter Covington for steering the ship), it’s definitely two shows in one. One of them is about Karma (Katie Stevens), the straight girl who continually puts her lustful urges for Gregg Sulkin’s Liam, the Robert Pattinson circa Twilight lookalike, often at the expense of her lifelong friendship. This show has uninteresting, shallow characters who are either shrill or boring. The other show is about Karma’s best friend Amy (Rita Volk), a girl who slowly realizes that she has romantic feelings for her best friend and explores them at the prompting of break-out gay friend Shane (Michael J. Willett). This show is witty, filled with affecting characters and contains genuine emotional beats. MTV renewed the show for a second season and while I doubt that Karma and Liam will be jettisoned, my dream is that the second season will shift the focus from the shocking faux-lesbian/cheating storylines and dedicate more time on the latter kind of story.
The Honourable Woman (Sundance)
I’m only a few episodes into this Sundance miniseries featuring Maggie Gyllenthal as an arms developer in the Middle East, but it has a great deal of promise. Nessa (Gyllenthal) is a complicated character with an interesting past and the series is definitely exploring some topical and politically complicated territory in its exploration of political relations between Israel and Palestine. In general the series could benefit from being less obscure (flashbacks within flashbacks without much explanation require more attentive viewing than most viewers are likely used to), but overall the drama is comparable to less-polished / viewer friendly version of Homeland.
S2 of the acclaimed Australian dramedy follows in its predecessor’s very capable hands, following the continued adventures of lead actor (and series architect) Josh Thomas. Josh’s struggles to navigate the increased demands of his needy parents, now saddled with a newborn baby and increased mental health issues has thus far lent season two more of a melancholy feel, though Josh’s adorable/deplorable people skills and the “humour from everyday moments” continues to make Please Like Me a hilarious, heart-warming slice of life comedy. It’s flying under the radar on Pivot, but it’s well worth a look. After all, it nabbed near top-spot honours on the last year’s ‘Best Of’ Bitch Awards.
That’s it for Part 1. Come back next Friday for more of our Summer wrap-up and be sure to post comments about these shows or other A-P shows you’ve been watching the last few months.