The 2013-2014 teevee season is finally in the books (for us, anyway, since it took us a bit of time to get caught up!), so here are some random thoughts on shows and such.
:: As always, I'll start with Castle, which is no longer my favorite thing on teevee, but that's not to say I think the show has slid too far in quality. But in its sixth year, Castle is more the old, comfy, familiar thing now than the fresh thing it once was. And that's fine. The show generally took a more screwball approach this year, and was for the most part quite entertaining after a bit of a stumble out of the gate, when they had Kate Beckett join the FBI in Washington for a few months of show time. Those episodes weren't very satisfying, as they still had to find strange ways to tie in the cops from the NYPD back home; the whole thing felt really forced. It might have been an interesting direction to take Beckett as a character, but it was clear that they weren't going all the way with it. To the writers' credit, they did find a good character-based way to get Beckett out of the FBI and back to the NYPD, in showing how the FBI's approach to law enforcement and justice isn't the same as Beckett's. As an NYPD cop, Beckett always got to find the killer and arrest them; in the FBI, she often had no real sense of the bigger picture of how her work fit into serving justice. That, I liked, but the first few episodes of the season just didn't work. Luckily, once the show got back on its regular turf, it got good again.
And then, the finale, in which Kate and Richard's wedding was interrupted when Richard was chased on the way to the wedding by someone in a black SUV...and then, cut to a bit later on, when Kate comes to the scene to find Richard's car in the ditch and engulfed in flames. Obviously Castle isn't dead, and the writers have come right out and said as much, so now the mystery is, where is he and who was in the SUV? Was it the 3XK killer? Was it someone involved with Castle's father, who is in the spy biz? Was it someone else entirely? We'll find out in the fall.
I'll just say this: I'm glad the show is coming back, but I'm wondering if a seventh season might not be the best time to ride into the sunset. I'd hate to see Castle go the way of CSI, just limping along in duller and duller fashion.
:: So what did take Castle's place in my mind as the Best Thing on Teevee? Person of Interest, which I think is just a brilliant, brilliant show. The resolution to the HR storyline was utterly engrossing, and before it ended it took some really amazing twists and turns, culminating in the death of Detective Carter (thus freeing up the wonderful Taraji Jones for the inevitable screen adaptation of Princesses In SPACE!!! [not the actual title]!) and then the most satisfying bit of a hated villain getting what's coming to him I've seen in a long time.
That said, PoI ended the season on a really strong note of bleak hopelessness. I hope they manage to find their way back a little, and restore some of the show's always understated wit. The season finale ended and I thought, "Yeesh, where do they go from there?!" Again, we'll find out in September!
:: Once Upon a Time continues to vex. It really does. Sometimes it is so good, and sometimes it is so corny as to make me reach for the maple syrup. The season split into two halves, with the first involving an extended trip to Neverland so the heroes (now including former villain Regina, played as wonderfully as ever by Lana Parilla, who is rapidly closing in on Stana Katic on my "teevee crush" list) could do battle with Peter Pan (who is a bad guy on this show). This all worked nicely because it took all the characters and shuffled the decks a bit, putting them all in unfamiliar territory; it helped that Pan was played very engagingly by young actor Robbie Kay.
The season's back half, unfortunately, got a bit tough to swallow, as the gang found themselves tangling with the Wicked Witch of the West, as the show continued incorporating new fantasy realms into its overall universe. Now Oz is a part of things? OK, I guess...but frankly, I hated Rebecca Mader as Zelena (the Witch). She just wandered through her scenes for ten episodes with this annoyingly malevolent smirk, and it just sucked a lot of energy out the show. I was very glad to see that storyline end, as it involved the show's worst villain to date and included what is absolutely the show's single goofiest moment, when Snow White figures out how to save Prince Charming after his heart has been sacrificed. (I know, if you don't watch the show, that makes no sense.) Couple this with the show's most annoying cliffhanger yet (the final scene shows Elsa of Frozen fame arriving on the scene, in what may be the most brazen attempt ever to glom onto the popular-thing-of-the-moment), and...well, Once Upon a Time is on thin ice for me right now. Originally the show felt like an examination of the blurring lines between myth, story, and reality, but now it's just starting to feel like a guided tour of the Disneyverse-that-never-was. Who will turn up next? Tune in and find out!
I did like the newfound chemistry between Emma Swan and Captain Hook, though. Hook was an incredibly lame character in Season Two, but he was very well done in Season Three.
:: The Big Bang Theory marches on. I'm still not totally thrilled with its lazy mocking of geeks and geek culture, but hey, we got to see Sheldon get drunk and then have his first kiss with Amy. And they seem to have finally gotten off the "Raj can't ever have a girlfriend" bandwagon, so there's that.
:: New shows? Not much, sadly...although we did discover Brooklyn Nine Nine just a month or so ago (which we then binge-watched), and it's terrific. Seriously, I love this show. It's got a terrific cast, one of the strongest ensembles I can remember right out of the gate. Brooklyn Nine Nine feels like Barney Miller re-made by the producers of Scrubs (without the latter show's sentimental nature). I'm glad to have another comedy to love, although from what I've read of the ratings, this show might not be around all that long. Here's hoping.
:: Amazing Race was fun, as usual. That's all I have to say about that.
:: I never watched The Good Wife this year, but I might over the summer or at some later point, as I like the show and I've heard that this season was really good. Likewise, I never watched Two Broke Girls, which doesn't seem like much of a loss to me, even giving my love of Kat Dennings, but I would definitely tune in if the show ever worked in a pie fight (seriously, this show is made for a pie fight -- the lead characters are trying to launch their own bakery, for Pete's sake!). Other than that, though...meh.
:: I'm saving Cosmos for when I can watch the original and immediately follow it with the new one. Hopefully later this summer, once we get the moving-dust settled. Ditto the new 24. And whatever else comes along that looks interesting and doesn't get canceled!