The Autumn shows have started rolling out now, but a quick look back at some of the highs and lows of the summer tv shows including the pleasant surprises of American Gothic and Braindead, a scrappy second season of UnREAL and Mr Robot continuing to baffle.
American Gothic was a family mystery that I ended up really enjoying. The wealthy Hawthorne family is rocked after the death of their father with the revelation he may have been a serial killer known as the Silver Bells Killer. Of course it wasn’t that simple and cue dodgy long-lost brothers, creepy kids and shady cops. This show was notable for each episode being named after a famous piece of artwork, and that picture featuring in the episode in at least one scene. The show was very rich visually and had a real mixed bag of performances. Leading the way, our very own Juliet Rylance (Mark’s step-daughter) who was pretty fab as the oldest daughter, aspiring mayor Alison, who has an affair with her female campaign manager and quietly dumps her dull husband – Orphan Black‘s Dylan Bruce! Virginia Madsen chewed the scenery for much of the show as did most of the other cast, but I enjoyed the mystery and actually it had a very satisfying ending. Not something every show manages.
I LOVED UnREAL season 1, but the second season got a terrible hammering from critics. I didn’t think it was quite as bad as all that, but it was a jumbled mess with dodgy racial politics. Marti Noxon – a favourite of mine from back in her Buffy days – had a falling out with co-creator Sarah Gerturde Shapiro and exited after the first episode. Perhaps that was why it was a bit of a mess narratively. Still, Constance Zimmer and Shiri Appleby’s relationship remained a twisted delight.
Mr Robot is one of the most ambitious shows around but the second season got perilously close to disappearing up its own arse! Once the unreliable narrator Eliot was revealed to be delusional in season 1, it was hard to know what was real in season 2. Mini-Meryl v2.0 Grace Gummer was a strong addition to the cast as a dogged FBI agent tracing the F Society hack and the girls Angela and Darlene got more to do this year. There were some fantastic moments, especially some brilliantly shot, tense action scenes, but some of the conversations were so cryptic and portentous, it felt like they were taking the piss! Still, at its best it was enigmatic and intriguing.
Braindead was another short run but fun show. Robert and Michelle King moved from The Good Wife to this satire on US politics as Washington DC politician’s brains are invaded by alien bugs! Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Aaron Tveit made a cute couple and the show was bonkers fun. Musical recaps at the start of each episode captured the insanity well.
The Night Of – over rated crime drama with a weak ending. John Turturro’s feet still give me nightmares! (jk)
Major Crimes – still going strong and telling good stories. Enjoyed the neo-Nazi story arc leading to the death of a long running supporting character and another in jeopardy. When is Brenda Leigh popping in?
Roadies – not as bad as Vinyl but a huge waste of talent. Carla Gugino, Luke Wilson, Rafe Spall, Imogen Poots and Keisha Castle-Hughes deserved something better than Cameron Crowe’s self indulgent love letter to rock music.
Wentworth – I still cannot BELIEVE they killed *** !!!!!!
Wynnona Earp – Lost Girl-lite. The supernatural stuff bored me but I liked the girls!
The Last Ship – caught up on the first 2 seasons and ADORED Rhona Mitra as Dr Rachel Scott, looking to save the Earth from a killer plague. Come S3 she’s abruptly killed off and the show becomes a Navy action adventure – well it is a Michael Bay produced show. I love Bridget Regan who was added, and the show was still quite exciting but an odd change of direction.
Three cheers for the Emmy’s for finally giving Tatiana Maslany the award for best actress in a drama! Season 4 was a strong one and Tat is fab!
My real summer viewing – The Olympics. A lot of it! God bless the BBC!