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.

Retro Review: Killjoys, Season Two: Episodes 6-10

Moving on to the second half of Killjoys’ second season. Again, spoilers ahoy.

The logo for Killjoys“I Love Lucy”:

You know, I’m not really a fan of all the pop culture references in episode titles (or the similarly current soundtrack). It would work for a near future sci-fi set on or near Earth, but Killjoys is so far removed from our society in terms of both time and space it might as well be an alternate reality. It just doesn’t fit.


“I Love Lucy” sees Dutch and the team contact an eccentric collector in the hopes of acquiring more of Khlyen’s green plasma (which sounds like a strain of weed, now that I think about it). Of course, shenanigans ensue.

This is another weirdly mixed episode. The first half is what I remember from season one of Killjoys: a painfully predictable string of cliches I’ve seen countless times before. But it does redeem itself a bit later on. I did enjoy seeing Dutch go full Yalla on the guy — a chilling reminder of the darkness of her past — and the whole twist where maybe he’s not such a bad guy after all was an interesting choice.

Overall rating: 6.9/10

“Heart-Shaped Box”:

Dutch and D'avin in KilljoysSo apparently D’avin’s penis can cure level six conditioning.

Did not see that coming.

Following their night together, Sabine is revealed as a level six, but one who has been stripped of her power and conditioning. This becomes an opportunity to study a live level six, though in practice we mostly learn about their state of mind more than anything practical.

The idea here seems to be to tell a tragic story about how Sabine has regained her humanity, only to have it slip away again. And it kind of works, but not entirely. There’s too many holes and hiccups.

For one thing, we as viewers haven’t really been given enough time to care about Sabine. For another, D’avin was way too okay with letting his girlfriend get tortured in the first part of the episode, which rather kills the romance.

But most importantly they just didn’t do enough to try to keep Sabine cured. Really they didn’t do anything. I cannot believe that this is a phrase I am about to type in all seriousness, but they really should have spent more time investigating the fact that D’avin’s penis seems to cure level sixes, even if temporarily.

The cast of KilljoysSeriously, that should have been a bigger deal. I mean, I’m not saying he should bone her every time she starts feeling stabby, but clearly there’s something there. Something about the whole exchange of bodily fluids, presumably — it messes with the plasma. Maybe they could have used some of D’avin’s DNA to try to create an anti-six vaccine.

Oh my gods what I am even writing right now.

Also, Dutch assuming the name in the box is the other her is a huuuuge leap. How does she know?

Overall rating: 7/10 What am I doing with my life.

“Full Metal Monk”:

This episode manages to have all kinds of bad stuff happen and escalate events quite a lot while still feeling like a complete and total waste of time. Impressive.

Dutch and D’avin investigate a trail of breadcrumbs left by Khlyen and find a long-abandoned facility on Arkyn, which once again raises more questions than answers.

Meanwhile, Johnny, abandoned by his teammates, seeks the aid of Pawter to discover the purpose of the wall around Old Town. Which they are only partially successful in.

The cast of KilljoysI’m bothered by how much of a waste of time this episode is — offering so many opportunities for real answers without actually giving any — but I’m even more bothered by Dutch and D’avin’s treatment of Johnny.

They’ve basically abandoned him to his fate for trying to do the right thing. That’s a terrible way to treat your brother/partner, and massively hypocritical when you consider how much time Johnny’s spent bending over backwards to help them with their problems. As established by the last episode, Dutch is half a sociopath at the best of times, but D’avin’s better than that. Or he should be.

Overall rating: 6/10

“Johnny Be Good”:

This season started well, but it’s really losing momentum as it heads toward the end. Sort of the opposite of season one that way.

“Johnny Be Good” starts en media res, as is common these days (maybe too common — I’m getting a bit sick of it), but it reveals an unusual amount, which both spoils a lot of the episode’s tension and makes the whole thing feel very disjointed, especially considering how much is going on.

To make a long story short, the crap hits the fan in Old Town, Dutch and D’avin drop everything to go rogue and defy the company despite berating Johnny for doing the same thing last episode, and we get yet more super vague sinister hints about the level sixes.

The Quad, the setting for KilljoysI was enjoying this mystery for quite a while, but now they’re just heaping question after question on without offering any answers. It’s stopped being intriguing; now it’s just confusing. I’m being strung along, and I hate being strung along.

There better be a damn good explanation for all this, and soon.

There’s also the matter of Pawter’s death to consider. I know it was coming because I’d had it spoiled, and even if I hadn’t it was quite glaringly foreshadowed, but I’m still unhappy. Pawter was the show’s best character — likable, complex, and well-acted — and Killjoys doesn’t have enough strong points to be able to burn those it has.

Overall rating: 5/10

“How to Kill Friends and Influence People” (season finale):

Well, I finally got my answers. This episode feels like it’s about half info-dumps. Would have been far better to portion out the reveals over the whole season, but at least they didn’t just keeping piling on more mystery.

The finale of Killjoys’ second season sees Khlyen show up, the Killjoys deciding to immediately trust him despite past history, him doing a whole lot of exposition, and finally him sacrificing himself to save the Quad. It’s rushed, and there are parts of it that don’t make sense, but at this point that’s about what I expect from this show.

The mysterious Khlyen in KilljoysI really don’t buy Dutch being so traumatized by Khlyen’s death. I can see her doing some mourning, because he was essentially her father, however terrible a parent he may have been, but I can’t see her being so distraught at his sacrifice when up until about twenty minutes previously he was what she hated more than anything else in existence.

To be fair, though, “How to Kill Friends and Influence People” does have its moments. It’s got some extravagantly over the top action sequences, even by Killjoys standards, and that’s a lot of fun. The banter that often feels so forced is actually pretty funny here, and I laughed out loud more than once.

Really, though, the saving grace of this episode is Johnny. Every single scene of his is amazing. Some of them are exciting, some are intense, some are funny, and some are heartfelt, but he absolutely nails every single one. If the rest of the episode could have lived up to the standard he set, it would have been amazing.

As it is, it’s just okay.

Overall rating: 7/10 Nearly all of those points are for Johnny.

So I leave Killjoys’ second season the same way I did the first: unsure if I want to bother watching more. It has its moments, and there’s glimmers of potential here, but the writing is consistently sloppy, the acting often mediocre, and the overall quality level is consistent only in its inconsistency.

Killjoys is okay, but that’s all it is, and it’s increasingly clear that’s all it will ever be.