Fall 2016 TV Roundup (Big Bang Theory, Supernatural, Empire, The Flash & Supergirl)


I’ve been trying for years to get an idea like this off the ground, but this year I’m just gonna go for it. Ladies and gentlemen, this is a new biannual segment I like to call TV Roundup. Instead of covering certain TV shows individually come the end of their season/mid-season, I’ll just briefly give my thoughts on them all in one place. Hopefully, I can make this a regular thing which would come after the last episode of every show I watch has aired.

This Fall I saw a total of 5 shows regularly. There were a couple more I did watch, but I’ll just focus on the big ones I tuned into every week. I’ll go through each show individually and give my brief thoughts on each. And don’t worry. I’ll do my best to not spoil too much if you’re still a couple episodes behind. (Though some things I can’t help but spoil).

The Big Bang Theory (Season 10)

It’s been no secret that The Big Bang Theory has been declining in quality as time goes on. It happens to even the best of shows when they go on for too long, and those who’ve seen my previous Big Bang Theory posts may know that I found recent seasons rather weak. That’s why I’m happy to report that Season 10 is a vast improvement from the previous season so far.

While other recent season have started the season with their strongest offerings (for example, last season started with Leonard and Penny’s wedding), I feel the opposite was true this season. I didn’t find the first episode of this season to be that great. Sure the fact that we’re finally seeing Penny’s family is a great touch and made for some funny scenes, specifically involving her brother, but the episode itself was that great. I was actually surprised how good the inner episodes were by comparison.

There were quite a few standouts this season. The Hot Tub Contamination? Awesome. “The Brain Bowl Incubation”? Excellent. “The Cohabitation Experimentation”? Probably my favorite episode of the season. And even the Fall finale, “The Birthday Synchonicity” did a decent job following last year’s Star Wars themed episode. Sure it wasn’t as funny as that episode, but it was a good follow-up nonetheless.

Season 10 is shaping up to be a great season so far, one of the best in a long time. If they can continue this trend come Spring, I see a show that has no business stopping anytime soon, despite what we all thought during the Summer.

Supernatural (Season 12)

I find it remarkable that Supernatural managed to stick around this long. 12 season is no small feat for any show, let alone a monster-of-the-week type show which draws allusions to both religion, urban legend, and lore. Yet not only is it still around. It also manages to get better with age.

I’ll admit I was very skeptical of how this season will fare compared to last season. I mean, how do you top the appearance of God himself? The short answer is they don’t. Instead they made the wise decision of returning to the show’s original formula, making the season just about Sam and Dean hunting different monsters and fighting off various threats. It’s a season much more about the characters and what they’re up to now instead of going after something specific.

That’s not to say we don’t have an antagonist this season. Really we have two-ish: the British Men of Letters and Lucifer. The British Men of Letters are fine I guess. It’s a little silly, and I find their presence very unnecessary so far, but I’m glad I didn’t hate them as much as I originally thought I would. Though, I think that’s mostly due to them being relegated to the background after episode 2 (something I think will change in future episodes). For now, I think that’s for the best until we can get fully used to them. And it’ll be interesting to see what role they’ll play when it comes to dealing with Satan, who makes his presence once again known. This time he comes in the form of Rick Springfield (which is awesome), with his new goal of “having fun”. At first I found that kinda stupid, but then came the finale. Now I know that’s merely a segway into a much cooler plot to come.

Speaking of new faces, this season also reintroduces Mary Winchester, back from the dead courtesy of the man upstairs. Again, I was initially skeptical of this addition, but that changed real quick. I like her. Her character arc of being a person out of time or as Billy said “a dead man walking”, was surprisingly fascinating. She has great chemistry with Sam and Dean, and furthers this season’s focus on being more character-driven than story-driven.

If I had to pick a favorite episode so far, it may be “American Nightmare” even though the ending is sad. “Celebrating the Life of Asa Fox” or “The One You’ve Been Waiting For” also gets props due to how out there the stories are. Honestly, all the episodes this season are pretty even in quality, and as long as they continue that trend the rest of the season we’re in good hands.

Empire (Season 3)

Finally, I get to talk about Empire. I’ve only been trying for a year and change, but here it goes.

I’ve had my issues with Season 2 as quite a few people did. I felt that the Fall portion was insanely rushed and nowhere near the same quality as the excellent first season. The Spring section was a pretty good recovery from that, but it still came across more as damage control than anything else. That’s why I’m glad they decided to take their time and make sure they get it right for Season 3. The result is a fairly compelling start to a hopefully improving season.

The biggest problem I had with the Season 2, which thankfully improved in Season 3, was how there were too many subplots going on all at once. It’s as if a new problem was being produced every ten seconds, each lasting two episodes max before being replaced with some other subplot. It just made the show hard to follow towards the end. Plus, there was just so much melodrama. I get that it’s a soap opera, but could we focus on one problem and stick with it? However, those problems are mostly behind us now.

It’s so nice to have actual character arcs and overarching plotpoints for a change, and they’re all cohesive. Lucius is trying to launch his new streaming service, Empire Extreme, while also avoiding investigation from the FBI and trying to get Cookie back. Cookie is simply trying to move on from Lucius and ends up with a future Senator. Andre is struggling to move on after Rhonda’s death, but he just can’t let her go until he finds someone. Unfortunately for Dre, Hakeem is also after Nessa, which causes friction between the two. Finally there’s Jamal, who is suffering from PTSD following the season 2 finale, leaving him unable to perform and at risk of losing his career.

That may sound like a lot, but by the grace of God they all blend together harmoniously, unlike last season. It feels like you’re watching a full season of something instead of seperate, barely relevant episodes. When something new does come into play, it feeds into the core plotpoints instead of taking on a life of their own. It give a sense of focus to the show and allows for an emphasis on character growth.

Though the show’s most pronounced improvement over Season 2 was its music. The soundtrack this season is the best its been since Season 1. Don’t get me wrong, Season 2 still had “Born to Lose”, “Good People”, and “Shine on Me” among others, but Season 3 had a lot of good ones. My favorite song of the season is “Born to Win” from the finale, followed by songs like “Me” and “Starlight”. The soundtrack is comprised of consistently good songs.

My favorite episode is a tie between “A Furnace For Your Foe” and “Chimes At Midnight”. the prior has the my favorite scene from the season, while the latter just tells a really good story.

I’m glad that I liked Season 3 as much as I did. As long as the show continues on this track of being a unified and focused effort, I see nothing but good coming out through the rest of the season.

The Flash (Season 3)

Everyone knew this was going to be a big year for The Flash. While the show has done a wonderful job at setting a solid basis for this up and coming series, Season 3 decided to enact the famous comic book story, Flashpoint. All that excellent foundation the show spent two years was about to grow shakier still. This was scary for fans, because as cool as the idea was there were so many ways this could go wrong. They change the wrong thing or switch things up to drastically, and the show is as good as ruined for a pretty good while. So how did they do?

Well, Barry may have changed a lot of things when he changed the past, but he thankfully didn’t change the fact that The Flash is still as clever, fun, and exiting shows on TV right now. I’d argue that it’s a half-step down from the previous season, but I still enjoy this show like no one’s business.

Again, there were a lot of ways that Flashpoint arc would end up biting the show in the ass, but they handled it very carefully so as to not alienate the core fanbase. They didn’t go too radical in the differences in this new timeline, making things fairly easy to clean up. Iris and Joe’s relationship is momentarily strained, Cisco’s brother dies, some douche bag named Julian is making Barry’s work life hell, and Kaitlin is turning into Killer Frost. On top of that, Wally now gets these visions of being a speedster like Barry, taking on the mantle of Kid Flash. Worst of all is that a new villain named Alchemy emerges, turning every meta from Flashpoint into a meta in the current timeline.

These all sound like drastic changes on paper, but in execution they don’t amount to much and are resolved quickly. The only major developments are Cisco holding a grudge against Barry, Kaitlin being a metahuman now, Wally wants to become a speedster, and the sudden introduction to Julian. These plotpoints take a little longer to resolve, but the results of those resolutions are excellent. This improves the arcs of Kaitlin and Wally as well as gives Barry a new obstacle to face on a day-to-day basis. The only one I think doesn’t work as well is Cisco’s grudge against Barry. I’ll admit that it is a fascinating subplot, but I found it more of a nuisance than anything. It was something I wish would just end, but it kept going, took a small break, and then came right back again.

Speaking of changes, I’m also liking the two new characters of the show: Julian (Tom Felton) and HP (aka Wells #3). Julian is an excellent antagonist to have, as anyone who’s seen Harry Potter knows. He’s the kind of actor who knows how to get under your skin, but you also grow to sympathize with him at parts. Over time you get to know more about him, allowing him to become more than a roadblock. As for HP… this is definitely an interesting direction to give the everchanging character of Wells. A non-scientist conman who’d knack is motivation instead of idea-making. I was skeptical upon first seeing him, but he grew on me a few episodes in. It’s a great way to give Tom Cavanagh a more humorous role than his previous two incarnations of Wells. Both are definitely good additions to the show.

My favorite episode is a bit of a cop-out, but how can I not say “Invasion!”? Not only was it the best episode of the season, but it’s also the best episode of the crossover it belongs to. Seeing everyone come together and having that awesome fight scene where everyone’s mind-controlled except for Barry and Oliver was Avengers-level awesome.

I like the way the show is going so far, and I hope momentum continues to go up from here; not that I have any doubt with that hint we got during the finale.

Supergirl (Season 2)

I’ve yet to mention Supergirl on this blog once; not even to tease a future post that never happen or drop the name in passing. That’s because up until August or September, I’ve never seen the show besides the one episode where Flash guest stars in. I remembered enjoying the episode a lot and wanting to know more, so I took the plunge one night when I was bored and got hooked. I binged the whole season and enjoyed myself thoroughly, finishing just in time for the Season 2 premiere. I was actually really excited to see where the show will go now that it switched from CBS to CW (ground zero for the Arrowverse). Even though, the reason I was excited wouldn’t be realized until the crossover event, the season surrounding it was very enjoyable.

I’d say this season matches the first one in quality. I wouldn’t say the show has necessarily gotten better since Season 1 If anything, this season solidifies and expands on what fans liked about the first season, and that’s totally fine by me.

It’s actually somewhat ironic that I find the show on par with Season 1 since they’ve added so much. For one, we finally get to Superman in the first couple episodes. Not in text format or as a quick, faceless bit of CGI, either. This is the real deal. You have Hank finding another Martian on Earth, a woman who leads a much different life than Hank. There’s now another alien refugee named Mon-El (aka Mike) who comes from a Kypton’s neighboring planet, Daxam. That’s cool because there’s a bit of animosity between Kryptonians and Daxamites both character have to overcome. This season even has the Guardian, a crimefighting Jimmy Olsen with Winn as support. That’s just a couple of the new and awesome things this show does this season.

This should be a massive improvement over the last season, and it is. Slightly. Again, that’s by no means a problem, because this is a new season of a new show now under different management at a different network probably with new writers. This sameness may be the result of the show finding its footing as part of the CW. So me saying this season is on par makes a ton of sense.

However, I will say there’s one element of the previous season that I do miss, and that’s Cat Grant. I know she’s not totally gone from the show, but her absence is still felt and her replacement still needs to grow on me. It’s not a total deal-breaker, though. It’s just something worth mentioning. On a similar note, where the hell is Maxwell Lord? One of the best parts of the previous season and we haven’t heard a peep out of him so far in Season 2. Apparently he didn’t leave the show, so my hope is that he pops back up in the latter half of the season.

In addition to the show being on par with Season 1, the show has also been consistent when it comes to episode quality. It’s actually quite hard to pick a favorite episode. Even her crossover episode wasn’t all that, since…it really wasn’t a crossover episode. That scene at the very end with Barry and Cisco was even shown during the Flash’s episode “Invasion!”. I’ll just say “The Adventures of Supergirl” is my favorite so far, because it has both Cat Grant and Superman in it, plus I enjoyed the action scenes in that episode.

So far, I think Supergirl is doing great on the CW. There are a ton of signs of the show getting bigger and better as time goes on, and I can’t wait to see where they go next, especially after Kara’s awesome scenes in the crossover. If you’ve been on the fence about watching Supergirl, I’d give this season a shot. As of right now, it’s a consistently good action show with good characters and a decent story. This coupled with The Flash makes for an excellent Monday-Tuesday combination I’d recommend to anyone.


 

Indeed that was a mouthful, but those are the shows I’ve been watching this Fall. Hopefully you guys enjoyed this new segment of mine. If you like this format for TV season reviews or have suggestions on how I can make it better, leave a comment and let me know. I’m trying to talk about TV a lot more often on this blog, so any feedback would be appreciated. For now, here’s to better things to come with all of these shows.

I’m SBox180. Thanks for reading!

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2 thoughts on “Fall 2016 TV Roundup (Big Bang Theory, Supernatural, Empire, The Flash & Supergirl)”

    1. Haha, yeah it’s what everyone was waiting for. Yep, he does show up in Season 11. He turns out to be a character we’ve seen in the show before. I won’t say who it is just in case, but it was really cool.

      Like

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