The holidays are on the horizon, and most shows are making that turn into their fall finales. This is a good time to catch up on shows you may have skipped initially. But are the shows SuperGirl, Gotham and Scandal on your radar to watch?
NEW SHOW SPOTLIGHT
I was quite prepared to dislike Supergirl, inasmuch as I never really cared for Superman, preferring more vulnerable, mundane heroes like Spiderman instead. Consequently, I was quite surprised to see a construct for Supergirl that allowed for a hero whose enemies were roughly a match for her and whose human allies were more than just “help save me” bait. That allowed for dramatic storytelling. So far so good.
The other potential pratfall of Supergirl was that it would be hopelessly hokey in a Gidget Goes Flying sort of way. One guard against that are solid performances from Melissa Benoist as a non cockeyed optimistic titular character, with Calista Flockhart offering a lite Devil Wears Prada characterization as Cat Grant and Mehcad Brooks as a decidedly un-geeky Jimmy Olsen (sorry, James Olsen). The other is good writing, which every successful TV show ultimately sinks or swims over. Supergirl ain’t Shakespeare, but it’s reasonably well written, enough so that it passes the lol test.
Supergirl has found the sweet spot of superhero TV fiction that combines action, light melodrama and a veneer of believability that is crucial to any show seeking to break through in the genre.
If you liked The Flash and Ally McBeal, you’ll like Supergirl.
YOU SHOULD BE WATCHING. . .
Gotham, Fox’s excellent origin drama that featured a pre-teen Bruce Wayne, and a plethora of recognizable but not yet cognizable villains, all set in an appropriately gloomy urban setting.
While season one of Gotham had some bugs to work out, it has done so brilliantly, thanks in part to a recharacterization of Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) that is less whiny kid and more angsty junior high schooler, and whose story now focuses more on his bond with Alfred Pennyworth (Sean Pertwee).
Season 2 has also opened up its storytelling. While Season 1 was mostly a “birth of the Penguin” (a breakout Robin Lord Taylor) narrative, Season 2 has introduced multiple characters and storylines, none more compelling than the emergence of Season 1’s Edward Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) who isn’t the Riddler yet, but is getting there. Smith’s portrayal of a tantalizingly slow descent into madness has been simultaneously gripping and wildly fun.
If you liked Xmen First Class & Boardwalk Empire, you should give Gotham a viewing.
I’M ON THE FENCE ABOUT. . .
Scandal, part of the Shondaland ABC Thursday night lineup. For three seasons, Scandal consistently answered the question “Can you top this?” in the affirmative. Week after week, season after season, Scandal always seemed to find a way to raise the stakes without going off the rails. But last season felt more than a bit off the rails to me, and Season 5 has committed, perhaps, an even worse sin, as it no longer seems to have a way to top itself.
As a result, Scandal feels staid and even a little boring this season, as the show struggles to find a way to still be “can’t miss” viewing. For my money, Scandal is a far cry from its follow How To Get Away With Murder, which has been breathtakingly twisty and turny this season, and has most certainly delivered on the promise of its first year. Scandal isn’t too far gone to recapture its magic, and perhaps when it comes back from winter break in February it will feel a little fresher. I hope so, as the show was once a favorite of mine, but has receded significantly for me.
Things we learned from TV this week: 1) Ballet gives you the physical skills you need to strangle someone with your feet (Brooklyn Nine-Nine); 2) Cops don’t help (Ash vs. Evil Dead); 3) Remember to love before you fight (The Daily Show).
The season finale of Last Week Tonight With John Oliver airs on November 22 on HBO.
The season finale of Drunk History airs on Comedy Central on November 24.
Bryan Cranston is the guest on Inside The Actors Studio on November 25 on Bravo.
TV’s a big place and I haven’t been to all of it yet. Got a favorite show you’d like me to comment on? Post a comment below, contact me on twitter @RobLazlo. or shoot me an email: [email protected]. I welcome your input!