The Knick, Ep. 2.01, “Ten Knots”

The Knick has returned for its second season, and anyone fearing that the grotesquely involving surgery scenes might take a backseat during a plot heavy premiere need not hold their breath.

Sons of Anarchy S07E01 Black Widower promo pic

Sons of Anarchy, Ep. 7.01, “Black Widower”: The Sons return to business as usual

Coming off a bloody and shocking season finale, the final stretch of Sons of Anarchy kicks things off with nothing less than a bloody and shocking premiere. The actual action takes up less than a third of the episode, with most of the super-sized premiere ending up as time spent watching various gangs and family members talk in circles about last season’s events. With only a handful of episodes to iron out all of the conflicts from last year’s denouement, set up a proper season arc, and tie everything up in a satisfying manner, one would think Sutter and co. would have a sense of urgency when it comes to moving the plot along. Instead, a small number pieces on the chessboard are shifted a few spaces while everybody else stands around and observes the events unfolding.

Doctor Who S08E01 promo pic

Doctor Who, Ep. 8.01, “Deep Breath”: Two steps forward, one step back

There’s a new Doctor on the TARDIS, one with the energy and gravitas to bring significant and much-needed change to the series, and on the whole, this episode is a promising start for the Twelfth Doctor. Unfortunately, as big a difference as the Doctor’s regeneration has on the show, in the end, he is only the lead—the buck stops with the showrunner, and if Moffat’s unwilling to step away from his favorite and at this point, very overused toys, it seems unlikely the series will get the fresh start it deserves.

Vikings S02E01 promo image

Vikings, Ep. 2.01, “Brother’s War” disappoints with leaden, soapy script

In the return of the History Channel’s Vikings, viewers will expect to be reacquainted with all the savagery and remorselessness of writer-creator Hirst’s compelling universe. Pitiably, the second season’s first offering, “Brother’s War”, is a patchwork of the first season’s dramatic elements, and one that’s shot through with lead-footed dialogue. In it, Ragnar (Travis Fimmel) remains where he was last left, the newly appointed leader of his people, despite opposition from his Loki-esque brother, Rollo (Clive Standen). Considering this complex relationship, Rollo’s surrender to Ragnar on the battlefield (and his later release by virtue of some anticipated divine plan) feels unwieldy, the narrative buckling under the need to save an intriguing character from an anticipatable fate. The title of the episode’s a little a bit of a misnomer then; tonight’s focus is upon Ragnar’s ongoing connection to the sea, and all the ties that come with it: personal, spiritual, and fortuitous.

Grimm, Ungrateful Dead, promo pic, S03E01

Grimm, Ep. 3.01, “The Ungrateful Dead” an entertaining start to the season

The Grimm premiere picks up right where last year’s finale left off. Actually, that’s not quite right- it rewinds a bit, replaying those final moments with the added perspective of Renard, who apparently was just off camera, lurking and overhearing enough of his brother’s dastardly scheme to be able to thwart it, at least somewhat. There’s a bit too much retread, but this is more understandable in a premiere. Otherwise, the setpiece at the docks works very well, giving each of the characters enough to do and providing an entertaining, engaging backbone for the episode.

Scandal, Ep. 3.01 “It’s Handled”: Strong premiere keeps series on track

On this week’s Scandal premiere, Olivia’s father reveals himself to be the worst human monster (“I am the Hell AND the high water.”) on a show filled with moral ambiguity, Olivia pulls the proverbial fire alarm to plot with Fitz and Mellie, and Pope and Associates (minus the “Pope”) sacrifice one woman’s career to save their faltering leader.

The Good Wife promo pic S05E01, "Everything is Ending"

The Good Wife, Ep. 5.01 “Everything Is Ending” a reminder why this is one of the best shows on network TV

Every season of The Good Wife begins with a resounding reminder of just how great this show is and how much television has missed it over the course of the summer. The Good Wife is a whip smart, lightning quick legal procedural with dramatic heft and a sense of humor. It has also developed serialized elements over the course of its run that put it on par with the best of what television has to offer. Few shows are as great at building out their world with recurring characters and developing plotlines and at its best, The Good Wife has enough on the stove that something is always sizzling.

Once Upon a Time promo pic, S03E01, "Heart of the Truest Believer"

Once Upon A Time, Ep. 3.01, “The Heart of the Truest Believer”: Darkness comes in the form of Peter Pan

At the close of the second season, the writers of Once Upon a Time set our heroes (and villains) up for a nice journey to Neverland. We know, given how everything was described last season, that Neverland isn’t going to be what we grew up with and with this premiere, we are proven right. In a much more dramatic introduction than we’re used to, the third season of Once Upon a Time gets off to an intense start with the killing of Tamara and Greg mere minutes after they arrive in Neverland.

Boardwak Empire promo pic, S04E01, "New York Sour"

Boardwalk Empire, Ep. 4.01: “New York Sour” an efficient, promising reintroduction to the show’s world

Jumping into a series partway through its run can be a tricky endeavor. There’s a lot you miss- nuances of meaning in character interaction, thematic development, and stylistic callbacks to previous significant moments, to name a few. It does, however, provide an often underrepresented perspective, that of the more casual viewer, and sometimes, fresh eyes are useful in examining a show’s strengths and weaknesses.

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