Yesterday, I started my two-part coverage of shows I watch on a weekly basis but rarely write about with any regularity. We left off on Tuesday, so let’s cover the rest of the week now.
A newcomer to the weekly watch list, “Arrow” was a victim of unfair comparisons on my part (to “Smallville”) in its early eps, and a marketing campaign that all but begged me to not take the show seriously. I skipped most of season one, but found the finale easy enough to jump into and have watched every episode since. Whereas “Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD” has yet to jump into its deep comic book mythology, this season “Arrow” has gone full Ra’s al Ghul on us. Can the show do that iconic villain justice? Who knows! But it will be fascinating to see, especially as the show deploys some of the best action on any show and has a corp of compelling characters. The dialogue is still very “Smallville”-esque: people declaim in the direction of other humans rather than speak to them half of the time. Still, it’s refreshingly dark, morally complex, and way deeper than any ab-tastic marketing campaign would have you believe.
I wrote about this show earlier in the week. It’s going away soon, but I’m sure the Esquire Network will be running this often during the offseason.
Season two started a few weeks ago, and there’s a confidence on display that adds to the already existing pleasures of this talking heads-based program. There are myriads of programs that feature comedians talking about pop-culture topics, but this one has a great variety of perspectives, a relatively low-key approach, and portrays female sexuality and friendship in a multi-faceted, sometimes contradictory way. In other words: it accurately reflects the messiness of real-world relationships, and does so while putting a smile on my face. Forget about the other “Code”-tastic shows on MTV. This is the one you should be watching. (See more thoughts on this show here.)
I’m watching this for The A.V. Club for the third straight season. Were I not paid to watch it, I probably wouldn’t be doing so. The last two seasons have been so-so, although last night’s episode was refreshingly awesome and has me more excited to see the next episode than any time during my professional coverage.
It’s lost a step or three over the past few seasons, and NBC hasn’t done it any favors by yanking it off the schedule this Fall to help salvage something of its Thursday night lineup. Still, will I never not be in front of my TV come 8 pm EST watching this show? I truly doubt it. At this point, I’m largely watching for April Ludgate, as hers is the last story to truly reach an emotional climax. There are pleasures across the board here, but they largely come from familiarity. With April, there’s much less certain, and so much more to be explored. Hopefully “Parks” does that in this, its potentially final season.
Sorry. This is when I watch any shows still piled up on my DVR. And about 15 episodes of “House Hunters.” Sorry, “Blue Bloods.”
Saturday Night Live
I’m in my fourth season covering this for HitFix, and you can read my many, many, many thoughts about this show over on that site. You can also listen to the “SNL” podcast I host with HuffPo’s Mike Ryan as well. In short: It’s a fascinatingly turbulent time for the show, as its history chafes with the pop-culture present. As with several shows I watch with reservations on this list, it’s often as instructive, if not more so, to watch what a show is doing wrong as what it’s doing right. In that regards, writing about this show each week is a masterclass in the good and bad about the industry.