TV: What I’ve Been Watching

Been watching a bunch of different shows in the sci-fi/fantasy vein lately. Rather than spamming my blog with half a dozen different review posts, I thought I’d throw together a list of my quick and dirty thoughts on each. Presented in no particular order:

The cast of Glitch season twoWu Assassins, season one:

Cheesy kung fu show that’s fun if you don’t think about it too hard. I mostly enjoyed it, but it did falter a lot in the later episodes.

I’m really getting fed up with how ridiculously short most TV seasons are becoming these days. Among other problems, it leads to very rushed stories, and Wu Assassins is a particularly egregious example.

There’s about three seasons of good story here, but it’s all crammed into ten episodes, and it just becomes a mess. Stuff just happens without any explanation of how or why. Characters change sides or evolve into completely different people without any foreshadowing or natural development. Interesting new plot threads are over before they start.

The fight scenes are good, and it’s got a certain kitschy charm, so I’d probably watch a second season if it gets made, but boy this show wasted so much of its potential.

Killjoys, season three:

Dutch and D'avin in KilljoysIt had been so long since I watched Killjoys that I’d forgotten most of the plot, but it doesn’t really matter because there isn’t much of a plot to begin with. Upon being reacquainted with the show, I was once again reminded of how spectacularly mediocre Killjoys is.

The last two seasons are available for me to stream, but I’m not sure I’ll bother. It’s clear by now this show is never going to get any better. In fact it’s slowly getting worse as they continue to gradually write out all the secondary cast members, which were the only thing memorable about the show.

The fact Killjoys survived and Dark Matter didn’t is just tragic.

Disenchantment, part two:

I was a bit disappointed with part two of Disenchantment.

The trade-off of Disenchantment is that it’s got fewer jokes than The Simpsons and Futurama, but it makes up for that with an engaging ongoing plot and good character development. But fully half of this season is standalone episodes that don’t contribute to either. They’ve very forgettable.

A promotional image for Netflix's DisenchantmentOn the plus side, the episode in hell is great, and the cliffhanger is pretty good. Also Jerry is the best.

Glitch, season three:

It had been so long since season two of Glitch that I kind of assumed it had been cancelled. Then one day boom there’s season three on Netflix. I didn’t realize until the last episode this is also the final season of the series.

The good news is that season three is more akin to the second season than the first. It’s well-paced and advances the plot at a good clip, without wasting too much time on soap opera style angst. The acting and character development continue to be outstanding, with Kirstie once again being a particular standout.

The bad news is that it’s a great season right up until the ending, which is a serious disappointment. Glitch’s ending is a complete copy of the ending of a fairly famous video game, and I didn’t like that ending the first time, let alone the second.

The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, season one:

I remember enjoying the original Dark Crystal movie when I was a kid, but I’d all but forgotten about it as an adult. I rewatched it before jumping into Age of Resistance, but I have to say it didn’t really hold up from a grown-up perspective.

A promotional image for The Dark Crystal: Age of ResistanceFortunately, Age of Resistance is a more mature take that preserves the brilliant world-building of the original movie while fleshing out the story and characters into something much more meaty and satisfying.

It is not without its stumbles. Like Wu Assassins, it suffers from trying to cram way too much story into just ten episodes, leading to a lot of rushed and unsatisfying story-lines and character arcs. In particular a lot of wins by the heroes come too soon and feel unearned.

While I’m usually a defender of prequels, in this case I do feel knowing how the story ends hurts Age of Resistance. We know the Gelfings ultimately lose, so it’s hard to get excited about their budding revolution. I think it would have been better to sell this as a reboot rather than a direct prequel to the original movie.

On the other hand, the depth of the world-building and the visuals to support it are spectacular, the characters are mostly endearing (Deet is a treasure and she deserves all of the hugs), it hits a nice balance of being both heartwarming and tragic, and the season finale is one of the most spectacular bits of television I’ve seen in a long time.

I definitely want to see a second season, hopefully sooner rather than later.

Review: Glitch, Season Two

If you recall my review of the first season of Glitch, you’ll remember I found it to be an interesting but deeply flawed series. It didn’t exactly leave me desperate for more, but I had enough investment in the story to be willing to give season two a try when it popped on Netflix.

The cast of Glitch season twoAs with its predecessor, season two is incredibly brief at just six episodes*, so I’m going to review it all as one block.

*(I swear at this rate in five years a full TV season will just be three fifteen minute webisodes, and there will be eighteen months between each one. I really miss longer seasons.)

Glitch’s second season picks up right where season one left off, seamlessly continuing the story, but there’s a bit of a change in style this time around, and it’s entirely a change for the better.

My biggest complaints with last season were its slow pacing and the lack of any meaningful reveals on the nature of the Risen or the circumstances of their return from the dead. Right away, season two addresses this.

By the end of the first episode, you’ll have a pretty clear idea of what’s actually going on, even if not every single question has been answered. And the reveals continue at a pretty good clip from then on in. Some of them only raise more questions, but that’s as it should be in a good mystery.

The pacing is better, too. It’s still a bit on the slow side at times, but it’s definitely not as glacial as the first season, and the finale is actually quite a thrill-ride — not a phrase I ever expected to apply to Glitch.

The cast of GlitchOn the downside, there is still more time wasted on the James/Kate/Sarah love triangle than I’d like, and Glitch still tends to feel a bit too “soap opera” sometimes.

Another continued issue is that this remains a series where most of the characters are deeply unlikable, and the worst elements of humanity are often on full display. It can get quite wearing at times. Relaxing television this is not.

As before, salvation comes from the trinity of Charlie, Kirstie, and Paddy. Kirstie continues to be intensely likable even at her most fiery and furious, and Charlie is still the nicest guy ever.

But the MVP award for season two of Glitch must — surprisingly — be awarded to one Patrick Michael Fitzgerald.

Paddy is a character I really don’t want to like. He’s a violent, drunk, racist bastard. He has no right to any sympathy. But damn it if he didn’t somehow worm his way into my heart.

Partly it’s that Ned Dennehy plays him with such swagger and charm, and partly it’s that self-awareness goes a long way.

Thing is, Paddy knows he’s a violent, drunk, racist bastard. Underneath all his cockiness is a great deal of remorse, and the desire to earn what little redemption he can.

Ned Dennehy as Patrick Michael Fitzgerald in GlitchI can’t say too much more without spoilers, but all the most poignant moments of season two are part of Paddy’s story — and that’s saying something, as Kirstie provides stiff competition.

On the whole, season two of Glitch is still a bit rough in places, but it’s a definite improvement over the first season. I was on the fence about this show going into the second season, but now I’m hoping for a season three renewal. If you haven’t tried Glitch before or previously gave up, it may be worth a(nother) look.

Overall rating: 7.7/10