Category Archives: TV

NCIS: On Very Thin Ice

Maybe it’s expecting too much that a TV series remain in your heart for 17 seasons. I still enjoy The Simpsons (starting its 31st season) and South Park (starting its 23rd season), but both the cartoon format and the nature of those shows gives them a lot of latitude in exploring new ideas while remaining true to the show.

A drama, like NCIS, which I’ve rated as my favorite TV show for well over a decade, is more restricted. It’s harder for a drama to find new ground while remaining true to its nature. That can lead to stagnation, viewer fatigue, or, in some cases, “jumping the shark.”

Which is all to say I’m very disappointed in NCIS, season 17.

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Order In the Court!

As I recall, I discovered Perry Mason, somewhere in the early-to-mid 1960s, when I was in grade school. I don’t recall if I first found the Erle Stanley Gardner books or the TV show starring Raymond Burr. I am sure one followed the other very quickly (probably why I don’t remember which was first). Either way, it started a love affair with courtroom drama that exists still today.

The most recent courtroom drama I’m aware of is The Good Wife (2009–2016), and I just finished re-watching that series on Hulu. There is a spin-off, The Good Fight, done by the same producers, and which has some of the supporting actors, but which is part of CBS’s streaming service, so it’s not really on my menu.

And then there’s an old show called The Practice (1997–2004)

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NCIS: Widening Gyre

Just last March I asked, Am I Over NCIS? The question seems even more pressing given the NCIS season 16 finale. (Spoiler warning on the season, not to mention any and all previous seasons.) I’ve never been this mixed in my feelings regarding the characters, and the off-screen personal stuff is especially disturbing given other ugly entertainment-related realities that have been uncovered recently.

There is additional pressure from time in the saddle as well as from how viewing habits have changed (both mine and the world’s). Weekly episodes of commercial-filled broadcast TV seem increasingly quaint somehow. And sixteen seasons — most of them 24 episodes — is a lot of NCIS (378 episodes; over 260 hours).

All-in-all, for me the sun may well be setting on NCIS.

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Am I Over NCIS?

If I reverse the first two words of the title (and call the question mark to attention), it removes all uncertainty, but for now I’m on the fence and asking. I’ve already reached certainty with both spin-offs (the oldest many years ago, the younger sibling just last year). Now, either I might be over their parent, NCIS, or just maybe the show itself is over.

I sometimes get the sense I’m more attached to the idea of over than many. I’ve mentioned more than once that I try to look forward, and around, rather than in the rear-view mirror. I’ve also mentioned how a primary ask of mine for stories is: “Take me someplace new.”

Nostalgia never had much pull for me, nor did more-of-the-same once a story has been finished.

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Storytelling Icons

I don’t know if this is age, experience, or truth (likely a combination), but it feels as if storytelling in the new millennium has become superficial and shallow. Many of the movies and TV shows I’ve seen appear to be mere strings of icons so well-worn we don’t even think about them.

It’s as if the vocabulary of storytelling has expanded into LEGO® pieces connected to build colorful plastic stories lacking in nuance and detail. Special pieces (like little people or wheels) make the model a bit more real-seeming, but those same complete parts get used and reused.

And some of them have started to really annoy me…

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TV 5.0: A Story Cornucopia

Because I knew I’d be dog-sitting Bentley for two weeks, I spent the weeks prior getting a lot of work done with the specific intention of burning out a bit and needing some loaf time. I figured I could spend Bentley time, when not actually interacting with her, reading and catching up on TV (both queues are long). The Yang to the Yin is that, after a goodly break, the work would seem fresh again.

The point is that I’ve been watching a lot of TV. During the day (when not “dogging it”), I’ve read (more about that another post); and in the evenings, I’ve watched TV 5.0.

Which is to say cable-cut internet-streaming wifi TV using downloaded apps from the manufacturer’s online store. We’ve come a very long way (baby).

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Cut the Cable!

Snip!

I just took the plunge and cancelled my Comcast cable!

I’ve been on the cable since 2002, so they were sorry to see me go. I’m sure they are. Cable companies have been losing a lot of customers as technology shifts to a streaming environment. For me, an additional consideration is that, while Comcast has definitely improved how they roll, I have many bad feelings from the earlier years when they seemed always on the Ten Worst Company lists.

The combination of those feelings, plus the economics and logistics of it all, made it exactly the right choice for me now.

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Super Stupid SF

I think I’ve reached the breaking point with The Orville. Watching episode five of the new season, I found myself yelling at the TV for the fifth time, because the writing seems so stupid and the characters seem so lame. I’m angry that a show with so much potential is so infuriating and dumb. I had to turn the episode off and start this post.

When the second season started, I re-watched the entire first season as an appetizer, and my conclusion was that there were many more good episodes than bad. There’s really only one I found a stinker (and couldn’t watch all of), but overall it was positive. I was looking forward to the second season.

Sadly, I’ve really hated all five episodes so far. I’m really torn about watching the show anymore.

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The 13th Doctor

The Doctor is in!

I’ve written before (twice) about how much I love Doctor Who (even more than Star Trek, and that’s saying something). I’ll tell you right now: nothing’s changed; it’s still my favorite TV science fiction show, hands down. I am enjoying the big changes this season: a new The Doctor and a new show runner, Chris Chibnall.

The big change to The Doctor, of course, is the first ever female incarnation, played by Jodie Whittaker. For some this is a bit like a female James Bond, but the idea that Time Lords (slash Ladies) are gender-fluid is canonical. (Statistically speaking, it’s past time The Doctor was female. As the season promos put it: It’s about time!)

In many ways, I find the fan reactions to these changes as interesting as the show itself!

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Idiot Clowns

Nope. Never liked’m.

Watching the Thanksgiving episode of the rebooted Murphy Brown on CBS, where Murphy decides to cook dinner with easily anticipated and well-worn results, it struck me exactly why I don’t find the show very funny. And why I really don’t find any of the CBS comedies since the 1990s very funny: Idiot Clowns.

In general, it’s why I don’t find a lot of comedy very funny. Idiot Clown comedy requires an idiot clown — someone so stupid they are unaware of basic reality, a blindness forced on them to enable a (typically) lame joke. I find it cheap and easy and without much value.

More to the point, I just don’t like idiots or clowns in my entertainment.

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