Warning: Contains spoilers for Dexter, The Tudors, Jericho, Supernatural, Smallville, Heroes, Prison Break and others.
I have watched quite a bit of series. Some of them I stopped watching in mid-season. I don't like to stop watching something, as I don`t like stop reading something. Not only do I then not know how it will end - which in some cases really doesn`t matter that much - but my inner demon tells me that then everything before will be wasted time, and who wants to waste time, right? Nonetheless, there is some stuff I didn't finish, and now I will take the time to tell you why, and you may stop reading anytime and consider what you've read up to this point as wasted time. So, here we go.
13 Reasons Why. Watched: The first two episodes. Not a really bad series by any means, if you're willing to overlook wooden dialogue, but it failed to click for me. The characters just don't interest me, and in a series in which the whole premise is to figure out what these characters did and how they connect to each other, that's pretty much a death sentence. Also the Highschool is totally unbelievable. Why do movies have such a big problem depicting school in a halfway believable way?
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Watched: The first three episodes. Agents of SHIELD is by no means a bad series, but it isn't particularily good, either. There's a mission, there are characters that try to be interesting, and there's the Marvel appeal, but on the other hand, the writing is very stereotypical bordering the cliche, you can't really get into the storyline and the lines aren't especially gripping, so I stopped.
Arrow. Watched: First ten minutes of the first episode.
I wasn't sure whether or not to include this one, because I literally
only saw the first ten minutes and then quitted in disgust. It was such a
bad Batman ripoff, with such a laughable character setup, ridiculous
dialogue and clichees dripping out of every corner that I couldn't help
myself. I'm told it gets better, but no thanks.
Babylon 5. Watched: The pilot. I know of the status that this series has, and I was repeatedly told that it suited my tastes, but the pilot at least was pretty boring, the special effects around the level of Wing Commander III, and the make-up reminded me uncanningly of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Perhaps I will give it another try some day, but right now, it didn't compel me enough to watch.
Black Sails. Watched: The first half-hour or so of the pilot.
A series about pirates gets everybody's attention, I guess, and so I
watched the pilot. I wasn't entirely intrigued by the trailer, I have to
say - it looked too much dependend on its boobs and violence to be any
good, and the pilot at least confirmed me in that suspicion. There's a
mysterious main character, a captain obsessed with a secret treasure
that needs to be hunted, some moral ambiguity and passable supporting
characters, but all in all, I didn't care enough about the trials of the
captain to continue, despite it's solid production values. Perhaps I'll
give it try again sometime later, but I doubt it.
Carnivale. Watched: All but two episodes. Putting Carnivale here is really strange, especially
since I watched all of it up to the final two or three episodes (would
have to check). I really, really liked the setting of the series in the
30s dustbowle, although the mundane parts always connected more with
them me than the mystic stuff about prophecies and special powers. The
sets are great, the characters interesting, and the mood and ambience
almost unparalleled. I know why I stopped - something more interesting
came around the corner at the time - but I don't know why I didn't pick
it up again. Like "The Borgias", I always wanted to, but somehow, I
never quite got around to it. I have the hope to do at some point,
Desperate Housewives. Watched: The pilot. Another
one wife asked me to watch, just so I know why I don't like it. Funny
thing, I actually don't know why I don't like it because I don't
remember much from it. It did the American Beauty thing with the dead
main character narrating if I remember correctly, but else? Had some
half-way interesting characters and didn't seem totally hopeless, but it
simply isn't my genre of field of interest. Definitely better than
Pretty Little Liars and its ilk, though.
|Natural fit for Netflix for obvious reasons.|
|Scoring 10 of 10 on the mediocre-o-meter|
|Totally not Batman.|
|Never ask them what happened to Babylon 1-4.|
|Very dark sails indeed.|
|If this looks strange, wait for what's within.|
|Desperate for vierwers, one hopes.|
|He looks as bored as I am.|
Dexter. Watched: First two-and-a-half seasons. I did come a long way with Dexter. It was praised by several friends whom I attributed at least rudimentary taste in these things, and the premise of the show - a forensic expert is a hidden serial killer - sounded interesting enough. I made into the midst of the third season before I finally quit, after watching three or four episodes in a row that left me cold like if I was Dexter myself. Already in season 1, several problems presented itself, of which the biggest was the lack of cohesion. The characters did whatever the plot required of them at that moment, and they didn't do it because they were compelled, to quote Rorchach. Believability was absent from the show from the beginning. This is evident by such simple things as money. In so many shows and movies, money is nothing one needs to be concerned with. As a police detective, you simply jump in a cab in your time off to follow a lead on your own, because, well, money grows on trees and these characters don't have a private life to begin with. Absurdely, they also own lavish apartments they could never afford on their salary. But money doesn't get into it, it's there when needed. Dexter also lacked serious character motivations, which led to frequent overacting and more and more absurd character development (or lack thereof). Written out like this, I fail to understand how I suffered it to season 3.
Downton Abbey. Watched: the first three seasons. Downton Abbey is a bit of a guilty pleasure. While watching, you know how wrong it is, with its glorification of the reactionary British nobility back in the 1910s and 1920s and with all the justification for horrible social circumstances with at best superficial criticism thereof. But boy, did they make it work. It's so incredibly schmalzy, so clicheed, but it still works because of the great looks and good character performances. And of course, most important of all, scripts that are able to pull all the emotional levers required. But after three seasons, you feel like that one time in the year where you eat at McDonalds: oversaturated, swollen and slightly disgusted.
Goliath. Watched: First 15 minutes. In this series, an attorney fallen from grace gets a case that only he and his superior abilities can solve, provided he can get himself off the booze and cigarettes. It's a waste of Billy Bob Thornton in the leading role, with dialogue that lets his estranged ex-wive exclaim to her fellow lawyers just what a genius he is. Bwah.
Gossip Girl. Watched: About half of the pilot.
Same reason for watching as with "Pretty Little Liars", but this one is
even worse. The characters are even flatter and more stereotyped, if
that's even possible, the constant voice-over is irritating at best, and
the setting and dialogues absolutely cringeworthy. Get away with this
Gotham. Watched: The first ten minutes of the pilot. I was a bit sceptical about Gotham, because I simply can't imagine the premise amounting to anything. The teenage years of Gotham's villains aren't exactly something that needs to be explored and will most likely amount to a bunch of malarkey. The character of Jim Gordon has nothing to do with the Jim Gordon we see later, and the dialogue is cringe-worthy bad. On the plus-side, the actors try their best with the material they're given and the visual style is pretty well done.
of Cards. Watched: The first season. House of
Card's Frank Underwood is bound to moments of great entertaintment,
especially when he snarkily comments on some really stupid stuff other
people are doing, but unfortunately, the plot is quickly derailed by
writers afraid of their own courage and borders the totally insane. The
Vice President of the United States murdering inconvenient senators and
journalists is perhaps a bit much, but unfortunately, someone thought
this to be a good idea. I sincerely hope there won't be a third season,
but I had to realize weeks after the second season was out that I
stopped caring about this, so it came here.
Jericho. Watched: 16 episodes.
Oh boy. How much could they have done with that one! "The Day After",
only as a series, with interesting characters...oh wait, there weren't
any. There were walking clichees. Again, we were forced to watch the
midwestern town, where ordinary people have their heart at the right
place and overcome serious problems that don`t really look that serious.
I haven't seen such a cheerful apocalypse since Kevin Costner's
"Postman". People don't even get dirty. After several weeks into the
nuclear apocalypse, their cloths are still in perfect shape, their
cheeks clean shaven. Such sloppiness in ambience really bugs me. Jericho
suffered from an even greater problem, though. The writers didn't seem
to have much confidence in it, because they decided to write a
super-idiotic conspiracy plot into the show basically from day one. If
you don't know what to do with your material, make a conspiracy out of
it. But, seriously, even Lost survived some episodes without it. I
didn't even finish Jericho's first season, and now I know why they cancelled it so quickly and really mourn the money.
Las Vegas. Watched: The pilot. I
picked the first season up at the same time as The Shield, watched the
first episode and put the thing on ebay, where some poor sucker luckily
bid for it. I couldn't tell you why it was bad. I don't remember
anything about it. Seriously. Normally, especially concerning series I
didn't like, I at least remember why I hated them. But this one...I'm
surprised I remember its existence, honestly.
Cage. Watched: Eight episodes. Luke Cage is the (currently) third Marvel series on Netflix.
Following a cross-over in "Jessica Jones", Luke Cage now takes
center-stage. The cultural setting in Harlem works as well as
Daredevil's does for Hell's Kitchen, and the plot is grounded and local
enough not to overreach. The acting is good, as is the soundtrack, but
the show has some serious pacing issues in the middle where the plot starts to get ludicrous as well, and after the grueling experience of Jessica Jones, I called it quits.
Orphan Black. Watched: Eleven episodes. Another series that already overstays its welcome in season 1, and there are like four of this thing. The concept is that a woman finds out there are several clones of her leading radically different lives, and someone's after them and mystery and McGuffin and GOD I'M BORED ALREADY. The main drag on this is that a charming idea in theory - an actress portrays radically different versions of her character, from suburban housewive to hipster hacker to Punk - cannot be pulled off by the lead actress, leading to crass overacting and overwriting of these characters and turning them into caricatures that don't allow me to actually emphasize with them.
Pretty Little Liars. Watched: The pilot. Not
exactly what I'd ususally watch. I was persuaded by some students in the
last days before the summer holidays to watch "one of their series".
Well, I did. It sucks ass. Not only is the writing incredibly lazy and
the camera-work boringly uninspired, the acting is also sub-par with
most other entries in this category and the story resembling a Swiss
cheese with the plot holes and all in the pilot already. Add on that the
professional jealousy for the rich and beautiful induced to the
audience and the promotion of harmful gender stereotypes. Lazy, boring,
stupid. Count me out.
Prison Break. Watched: First two seasons.
The premise did sound very exciting. A guy gets himself imprisoned and
stages a high-level escape for his brother. Ususally, this would involve
Clint Eastwood and 90 minutes of suspense, but with more time it could
possibly make for some really exciting TV. And it did in one half of its
first season, the half that was not killed by a conspiracy plot. Again,
the writers seemed to have lost faith in their own brain child,
deciding to add some mystery. As it is nearly always the case with these
things, logic and believability go right out the window. In the first
season, the conspiracy plot is distracting, but you suffer through it to
get back at the action in prison. In the second season, when they are
running through the US, it becomes predominant, and even more stupid.
But at one point, they had to solve it, season finale, thing was over.
Of course, you didn't make your calculation with the execs, did you?
Ratings were good enough, so they needed a third season for what should
have been a mini-series to start with. And for that, they added an even
bigger conspiracy, even less logic, and resetted all to the first
episode of season 1, just meaner. Wow. I never even bothered with season
3. Really, had they made a mini-series, it would have been hell of a
ride, dense and exciting. Now, it's bloated and stupid. Great call.
|After this picture, everyone went back to the social class they belong to.|
|In really small letters on the pavement.|
|Getting ready to watch in a bed, in case they fall asleep.|
|People. Looking at you.|
|Created by Tim Kring, as it never fails to remind you.|
Heroes. Watched: First two seasons. Heroes was my first love after being weaned from Smallville. A consecutive story, interesting characters, nice themes - it was really exciting, and we burned through the episodes. Then, the long wait for season 2. When it finally came, it was underwhelming, to say the least, but it was Heroes! It had to be great. After the last episode of season 2 was over, it hadn't been, though. Tim Kring's supposed masterpiece fell into the trap of bloating itself up with epic scale, which is a common mistake. Heroes, season 1, already told you about "Save the cheerleader, save the world", but in the end, it was just an attempt to defeat Sylar and not get blasted - a plot to prevent disaster. In season 2, they did what I like to call the "DragonBall effect" and gave everything just one potency level more. It also became more unfocused. Several plotlines had no connection to each other, and with the scale of the story growing the scale of the human emotions that drives every good story shrank. After hearing from several people that season 3 was even worse, I never bothered trying it. A shame, really, because Heroes is another show that could have been great.Homeland. Watched: First season. I wrote about it in detail, check it out here.
|He was a lot better in Band of Brothers.|
|When a political drama gets bloody, something's deeply wrong.|
|The look on their faces when they first saw the script.|
|Looks like the 90s. Cheap and without taste.|
|Strong man in search for a strong script.|
|Too many orphans, too much blackness.|
|Pretty only if you like inches of make-up.|
|Adding a high-level conspiracy to a prison break. What could possibly go wrong?|
|Revolutionizing exactly nothing.|
but someone already did it.
|A series about coroners. That should cheer you up!|
|Gimli is in it.|
|Kansas. Who doesn't love the place?|
|Not depicted: blood and sex. But there's a lot of that, no worries.|
|Unironically celebrating violence and misoginy.|
|A sofite and a badass, what could possibly go wrong?|
Supernatural. Watched: First season. Two brothers chasing ghosts and other supernatural stuff, hunted by the demon that killed their mother, trained by their now missing father - solid premise, if you ask me. The actors weren't half bad, but not brillant either. It worked out. In the first half of the series or so, the episodes didn't really have that much connection with each other, each telling its individual story. It was like a lottery; one time, you'll get a good episode, one time, it really sucks. Later in the first season, they actually try to make sense of it, bringing daddy in and letting them charge at the demon (or whatever it was, I don't really remember). The story mainly worked on the actors looking scampered and creating suspense out of thin air by letting something supernatural appear whenever they needed it. That way, they covered a lot of ground, but neither story not characters did progress in any meaningful way, so I never bothered with season 2. Since then, many people have told me that it starts to get good at season 3, but when someone can't tell a story for two consecutive seasons, it's not worth the bother in my eyes.
The Borgias. Watched: First three episodes.
I guess this is the strangest entry here. It's not like the show is
bad. I think I watched the first two, perhaps three episodes, and I
almost intended to continue. Now it's, what, three years later? I
haven't done so, so it seemed fair to me to include it in here. I can't
put the finger on why I stopped to watch the thing. Perhaps it was just
unremarkable. Solid work, solid cast, solid plot, but nothing that
really grabbed me. Perhaps it felt too similar to "The Tudors", which I
described above. There are some striking parallels, after all.
The Newsroom. Watched: The first season and one episode of season 2.
I love Sorkin as much as the next guy, but in this one, his inner
demons got the better of him. His idolizing stance of workaholicism, the
permanent denegration of women, and above all the condescending style
of it all was too much to bear. As a liberal, I could enjoy the West
Wing well enough, but The Newsroom is just a step too far, with the
protagonists being these saint-like creatures, always shouting and
enraged in the true fight for good. Gnah.
The Shield. Watched: The first season.
Also not a bad series by any means, I watched the whole first season.
It was on discount at Amazon together with Las Vegas at some point, for
10 Euro each, so I gave it a shot. But reaching the end of season 1, I
never felt an urge to know how it would go on. There are some
interesting things in there, especially the morally dark grey areas in
which the characters prod around, but I started watching The Wire at
around the same time, and watching at two police series seemed a bit
excessive, and there could be no question which one would survive my
scrutiny. I have read numerous times by now that the show really gains
in the later seasons, which would technically be enough to give it a
try, but my time is too limited by now, and I mostly stick with the
series I already watch.
The Sopranos. Watched: The first season. There
is really no reason I stopped this. An age ago, I bought the first
season, watched it and though "Hey, I should watch this, this is cool."
Then - it was an age of small purses - I never did, and I never
revisited The Sopranos, always having another project going. I will
revisit them in the future since the series is good by all accounts, but
I still haven't managed to do so.
|Jeremy Irons, front and center. His hands, anyway.|
|Listen to the liberal demigod, he is so much smarter than you are!|
|Not quite sure what they're shielding.|
|In black and white, classic style, to remind you of the good old days.|
|Try as you want, you sure as hell won't seduce me.|
The Tudors. Watched: First two seasons. The first season of The Tudors I found interesting. Sam Neill was great as Wolsey and provided an interesting and exciting counterpart to King Henry. The second season...not so much. The first season had an interesting and well functioning diversion between the love plots (who is allowed to fuck Edward when, where and why) and a political subplot about the founding of the Church of England, alliances with France and the German Empire and intrigues at court. When Nathalie Dormer as Anne Boleyn showed up, the plot consisted only of "who fucks when why where". The only other themes where the fight of Thomas More and his ultimate execution. To make up for it, the series dove into brutality porn with their gruesome execution and torture scenes. At the end of the season I had stopped caring and never even considered touching the third, because to see Edward ponder on whether he was in love or not after the question had been resolved fifty times over didn't have great appeal anymore. It was especially jarring to see how the political subplots and intrigues that had made up much of the variety in season 1 where completely beaten into the affair-mode of season 2, where even the question of war with Spain could somehow be reduced to the question of who was getting into Edward's bed.
The Walking Dead. Watched: Six seasons. The series often borders the insanely stupid and boring, with almost non-existent character arcs and the misperception that characters talking endlessly about the same stupid stuff for four seasons in a row would make up for that. Unfortunately, the show is also bound to moments of great fun and excitement, especially if the zombies finally do show up and "the group" (how I hate that term) stops the stupid talk for just a second to split some zombie heads. This, however, doesn't enable me to overlook the increasingly fascist and nihilistic undertones and the sheer unpleasantness of it all, rubbing in the misery constantly and without any point. I despise this thing by now.
True Blood. First five seasons. In the first version of this article, back in the day, True Blood was in my list of good series, but that was before I had watched seasons 4 and 5. I stopped after 5, never even bothering for 6. In the beginning, it was interesting, but at some point, the show simply outstayed its welcome. The real trouble started with two plotlines: Lafayette being some witch-capacity and the whole Alcide-and-the-werewolves stuff. Lafayette, like Jason, always had the function of an anchor in the madness of fantasy elements all around. At some point, everyone was able to do some magic stuff. Why? And Alcide certainly is the most uninspired addition to the main cast. As if the Bill vs. Erik struggle for Sookie wasn't tiresome already, we get a third member for the love story, but one that's so uninteresting that you grab your remote. But the show went totally haywire at the end of season 5, when, out of any sensible plotlines, they introduced Lillith as an harbinger of the apocalpyse to raise the stakes (heh) after Russel essentially eliminated any menace that derived from very old and powerful vampires. True Blood, there's a line between cool fantasy ideas and outright sillyness, and you not only crossed it, but jumped over it with both feet.
Z Nation. Watched: The first eight minutes of the pilot.
Oh my god, this is every bit as awful as it looked in the trailers. I
swore to myself not to watch this because it looked batshit awful, but
my wife, being a fan of all things zombie, coaxed me into it. And even
she groped after the remote only a few minutes in. This thing is so
fucking bad, I won't even start to describe why.
|From the people who brought you "Sharknado". Seriously.|
And writing all this made me realize how much I already watched, and I feel sad and absurdely proud at the same time. To make up for the sadness, a complete list of series I did finish.