The curtain closes on Doctor Who series nine with the show’s first three-parter since series three and while it’s not perfect, the extended finale is a fitting end to what has been one of NuWho’s most consistent seasons.
Parenthood has had an uneven season. After starting the year out promisingly, odd and unexamined character choices started to take over the show, leaving the audience to connect the dots to understand the extreme reactions (or lack of reactions) demonstrated by several characters. Joel, swamped at work (except when he isn’t), reacts poorly to Julia’s indiscretion and leaves. Hank’s back, but he’s not with Sarah, and no one knows why. Kristina runs for mayor, because remission? , and Adam, inspired by her, convinces Crosby to start their own label. Several of these storylines overstayed their welcome, stretched too thinly over the 22-episode season, but fortunately the finale draws more heavily from the narratively energetic start of the season than the slog that was much of its second half.
All season, Boardwalk Empire’s decision to focus on a fractured group of characters has hampered its ability to give its long-running arcs weight. The highlights, and there have been a few, have been in episodes pared down of extraneous characters, allowing the writers and performers to create specific, episode-long journeys. In “Farewell Daddy Blues”, due to the writers’ unwillingness to trim the ridiculously talented fat throughout season four, several characters’ journeys come to a less-than-compelling close and one in particular winds up his time on the show memorably, but nowhere near as emotionally as he deserves.
Like the Tuesday comedies last week, the ABC Wednesday sitcoms take a week off as the CMA awards take their place. This feels like a much needed break from the underwhelming installments we’ve been getting as of late. With the unentertaining sitcoms unable to distract us this week, we’re able to focus and enjoy this week’s episode of It’s Always Sunny even more. Unfortunately this isn’t possible because it’s not the show’s greatest episode. Up until now this show has been outstanding as it delivers outrageously funny episodes week after week. Recently these episodes have all been happening outside of the show’s progressing narrative and they’ve really delivered. “The Gang Squashes Their Beefs” attempts to move the narrative forward but fails because it’s also a holiday-themed episode as well.
Battlestar Galactica’s stirring, epic finale is one of the worst and most hated in recent years, if the internet is to be believed. As with Lost, whose finale aired the year after and received similar blowback (read Randy’s thoughts on it here), fans had spent years trying to puzzle out the mysteries behind BSG’s central mythology and in the finale, they expected closure, which for many meant answers. The show had different plans. There is no right or wrong way to appreciate art, and it’s understandable that fans who watched BSG, or Lost for that matter, purely for its intriguing mythology were left cold by a finale that offered simple answers when it gave any and instead prioritized the characters’ personal journeys. What these disappointed fans are overlooking, however, is just how fitting this sprawling, operatic finale is to the emotional, philosophical series that preceded it.
And with a crazy stare from Marco Ruiz, the tumultuous first season of The Bridge comes to a close. At times it was enthralling – and at many other times, frustrating: but always intriguing, even when the show was in the midst of its David Tate nosedive (which unfortunately still exists… but we’ll get to that). ‘The Crazy Place’ is all of that wrapped into one neat 43-minute episode, a series of promising and not-so-promising new directions for the second season.
There is a preconception in parts of Hollywood and America in general that shows one might call “genre”, shows set in a different time period (other than ‘60s, apparently) or featuring actors in billowy coats or, heaven forbid, prostheses are somehow inherently less than their more traditional peers. They can be fun, sure, but they’re not really art and admissions of watching them should be made only in hushed, somewhat embarrassed tones.
Leave it to Mad Men to make the inevitable seem surprising. The way Don has acted this season—from Jaguar, to warring with Ted, to his Hershey pitch—it’s unfathomable that he would escape without reprimand, yet the moment he is asked to step away from his job is truly shocking. Perhaps because more than anything else—his wife, his family, his relationships—his job is what defined him as Don Draper. Part of me expected the episode to end as the elevator doors closed in front of his face, the man brought in as his replacement smugly asking “going down?” It would have been unbearably dark, but fitting for a season that began with Don reading Dante’s Inferno on the beach.
Back in ‘Plato’s Cave’ (which is my favorite hour of television so far this year, in case you’re keeping track), Daniel and Tawney have long talks about the intersection of reality and faith as Daniel struggled to find ways to reconcile himself with the changed, but still unforgiving Paulie, Georgia he returned to. ‘Jacob’s Ladder’ puts faith to the side (mostly) for a moment and replaces it with danger, as the threats existing mostly in Daniel’s peripherals greets him face to face.