Reviewing television’s dramas

downloadOctober 7, 2013 – Yes, I watch too much television, especially at the beginning of the season when I give all of the new shows that have some appeal a chance to hook me. Here’s a rundown of the new and returning dramas that have caught my eye. The question is will they keep it?

Once Upon a Time – (Starring Ginnifer Goodwin, Lana Parrilla and Jennifer Morrison) – I am surprised how much I enjoyed the first season of this Sunday night drama. It was original, and the struggles between Storybrook, Maine (in the real world) and the fairy-tale world were an imaginative way to unwind before beginning a new work week. The writers, the same who gave us “Lost”, cleverly blended the lives of our favorite fairytale characters with each other, and their modern-day counterparts. For example, Rumplestilskin is Mr. Gold in modern times, and Little Red Riding Hood is Ruby. I was less than impressed by season two, which was darker, yet much less exciting. So far, the first episode of season three hasn’t impressed me, either. Perhaps it’s time to close the book on this and its spinoff “Once Upon a Time in Wonderland” — even though it hasn’t even started yet — for good.

Revenge – (Starring Emily Van Camp, Joshua Bowman and Madeline Stowe) – I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but like “Once Upon a Time”, the first season of “Revenge” was better than what followed. In season one, I cheered for Emily/Amanda as she took on the evil Grayson family and tried to avenge her father’s arrest, false imprisonment, and death. Season two, however, veered off course, gave us new characters that didn’t seem to work, and took us into a strange world of “the Initiative”. Yawn. Still, I’m not ready to give up on this mystery/thriller just yet, and I’m happy to see that so far, season 3 looks like its back on track.

Betrayal – (Starring Hannah Ware, Stewart Townsend and James Cromwell) – This brand new drama is likely trying to capture the “Revenge” audience, but failed to pull me in during its debut episode. The premise, a married wife/mother begins an affair with a lawyer from a wealthy, powerful family, only to find herself caught up in a murder that pins her lover against her husband in court. Sounds like good soapy fun, but the first episode failed to convince me why the woman was unfaithful. She didn’t seem unhappy, and her husband seems like a good man. Perhaps the why wasn’t supposed to be revealed yet, so I’ll give this a few more chances before I decide whether to continue or throw it to the side.

The Good Wife – (Starring Julianna Margulies, Josh Charles and Chris Noth) – Season five kicked off in fine dramatic style as the lawyers at Lockhart and Gardner scrambled to save a death row inmate they believed to be innocent. All four seasons, and episode #1 of season five of this classy drama have been compelling stuff, so there is no way “The Good Wife” is being deleted from the DVR.

Hostages – (Starring Toni Collette, Tate Donovan and Dylan McDermott) – I was immediately sucked in to the drama that has a FBI agent (McDermott) holding a surgeon’s family hostage and threatening to kill them if the mother/doctor (Collette) doesn’t kill the president when she operates on him. I’m curious as to where this will go. Why does this agent want the president dead? Who is he working for? I’m definitely in for the long haul, and look forward to a satisfying conclusion. If it has anything to do with Obamacare, I may shoot my television!

The Hart of Dixie – (Starring Rachel Bilson, Jaime King and Cress Williams) – This lighthearted comedy/drama is pure fun, and reminds me of “Northern Exposure”, one of my favorite shows of all time. Dr. Hart (Bilson) moves down to the deep south to practice once she graduates from medical school, and meets some of the quirkiest people on earth. It’s a nice chance of pace from all of the other dramas on TV.

Lucky 7 – (Starring a cast of newcomers I’ve never heard of) – The jury is still out on the new drama that focuses on seven employees in a New York gas station/mini mart who win millions in the lottery. They all have their own secrets, of course, which were slowly revealed in the first two episodes. I get the strange feeling that this one may not last long, but I’m willing to give it a little more time.

Nashville – (Starring Connie Britton, Hayden Panettiere and Chip Esten) – This Nashville music scene drama is back for season two, and although I’m not a fan of country music, I thoroughly enjoy the story of a prominent country singer whose star is beginning to fade. The characters are interesting, the series is well written and the acting is superb. That all adds up to good TV.

Scandal – (Starring Kerry Washington and Tony Goldwyn) – This intriguing political thriller gives us a behind the scene look at public relations experts who are hired to clean up the messes of Washington DC political figures. The show hooked me at its beginning, and I am happy it is back for another thrilling season. I haven’t caught the season premier yet, but last season ended with a great cliff hanger.

Parenthood — (Starring Peter Krause, Lauren Graham, and Monica Potter) – “Parenthood” is the overall best television show on television right now, and to think it was nearly cancelled. If the first two episodes of season five are any indication, we’re in for a great year of drama. Love the Braverman clan!

Blue Bloods – (Starring Tom Selleck, Donnie Wahlberg, and Will Estes) – This police drama about a family of New York City’s finest began season four on Friday night. It’s a good drama with a solid cast, but I don’t go out of my way to watch every episode, partly because it’s too heavy sometimes and it doesn’t seem real. Do these people ever smile? Do they ever have fun? It seems all they talk about, even at Sunday dinner, is the case of the week. I know it’s a cop show, but come on. Let them have a little relaxation, writers, please. I stick with it, though, because I’ve always liked Tom Selleck, although the role of the police commissioner is the polar opposite of the loveable Magnum P.I.

After reviewing this list, I’m amazed at how many shows I watch that are violent and depressing. Apparently, the writers subscribe to the theory that happy characters are boring characters. If you add “Homeland” and “Boardwalk Empire” into the mix, it’s most discouraging.

Special kudos goes out to “The Masters of Sex”, a new Showtime drama that premiered last Sunday. I thoroughly enjoyed the pilot, it reminded me of an early “Mad Men” episode, and it contained zero violence.

Thankfully, this new television season has re-embraced the sitcom. I’ll review that list next Monday.

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4 thoughts on “Reviewing television’s dramas

  1. Never saw any of the ones you mentioned, but I did watch “The Blacklist” and that is a good show for folks who enjoyed “24”.

  2. Pingback: Reviewing television’s sitcoms | janemcmaster

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