From the apparent death of the romantic sitcom to the resurgence of superhero shows, there have been a lot of developments in television over the year. But if there is one trend that has defined 2014 in television, it has been the migration of directors to the small screen for season-long projects. While not an idea that’s unique to the year, as the Jane Campion-helmed first season of Top of the Lake signalled the trend in 2013, this year’s television firmly established the migration as something more than a novelty.
Adventure Time, Pendleton Ward’s kids show turned Cartoon Network cult sensation, is being turned into a big screen, animated movie by Warner Bros., Deadline reported Friday. Mathematical! Chris McKay and Roy Lee, both of whom were producers on The Lego Movie, and McKay of Cartoon Network’s Robot Chicken, will produce the Adventure Time movie. The …
With Rectify, Top of the Lake, and The Returned, SundanceTV made a name for itself in 2013, creating and/or distributing thoughtful, stylish short-run television. The Red Road,their first series of 2014 and only second original series (the first being Rectify), doesn’t live up to these antecedents, at least in its pilot, but is nonetheless interesting. While it lacks the emotional depth and gorgeous visuals of these other series, the pilot makes the case for following for this first, six-episode season thanks to two of its central performances and its unique setting.
Second seasons are notoriously difficult to pull off. We saw the collapse of Homeland after putting together an exciting debut season, and it’s certainly not alone in recent promising shows that have struggled to improve upon themselves—or even just prevent themselves from declining. Two shows, though, have really stood out to me this year in terms of upping their games in their second seasons. Both Arrow (The CW) and Banshee (Cinemax) have come from relatively meager beginnings to grow into two of the most entertaining and rewarding TV experiences for me at the moment.
In last week’s review, I talked a little bit about how the decision to keep Rabbit around for another season might have been an understandable misstep for the freshman series, Banshee. “Bullets and Tears” makes the best case possible for why Rabbit’s presence this season has at least been important in helping develop the relationship between the man known as Lucas Hood (or Tom Palmer, as he would have been known in another life) and Anastasia. And even though I would have liked to have seen more Proctor or Chayton in the main antagonist roles this season (more on that below), “Bullets and Tears” is about as perfect of an ending to the Rabbit years of Banshee as you could get.
Season one of Agents of SHIELD ends with Fitz recovering from nearly drowning, Coulson taking on the task of rebuilding SHIELD, and the remaining loyal agents of SHIELD on the run from the over-zealous Brigadier General Glenn Talbot. It only stands to reason that season twowould open in Austria, 1945, with Agent Peggy Carter and the Howling Commandos taking out the final Hydra base. Agent Carter orders that Hydra’s collection of artifacts be taken into custody and locked away from folks who want to tinker with them, including Howard Stark. (Don’t forget to watch Agent Carter, coming soon to ABC!)
In a lot of ways, The Good Wife is a show that takes its time. Part of this comes from its status as a network drama, which requires it to produce 22 hours of television a season and thus, to stretch its storylines over longer periods than its cable brethren. Yet mostly, this is a stylistic choice for the show, one that allows it to develop characters in moments, over time. Every week, the show needs to create some procedural element to hook in new viewers, but by allowing for small character moments even in its most stand-alone episodes, The Good Wife allows us to learn its characters over time, until all it needs to deploy is a glance or a gesture to shake us to our core.
As a midseason capper, “Coda” was a bit of a mixed bag. Rick attempts to negotiate with Dawn for the lives of Carol and Beth, while Gabriel makes a shocking discovery of his own. “Coda” has some nice moments, but overall it was an unsatisfying end to the first half of season five. To help us discuss our disappointment in the episode, we’ve invited Todd VanDerWerff the Culture Editor for Vox.
The mid season finale of Gotham hits the ground running, with Bruce and Cat being pursued by deadly assassins, which sets in motion a tour through the shadowy spots of Gotham for Bruce, with Cat as his guide. It’s always fun to see the kids together, and this episode puts them on Cat’s turf, which is vital for Bruce to see firsthand if he’s to grow into the hero Gotham needs. The reason they are on the run is because Gordon screwed up by putting his faith in Harvey Dent, who wants what Gordon wants, which is to take down the bad elements of Gotham. But Dent is willing to risk anything or anyone to reach that goal.