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The Best TV Shows of 2017 (So Far)

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2017 may just be the peak-iest year of Peak TV; after a record 455 series aired episodes in 2016, 2017 stands poised to demolish that number, as everyone from NBC to TruTV have announced handfuls of new shows coming to air (not to mention Netflix airing roughly eleven new series a week) throughout the year. Since there’s literally no way any single TV critic could keep up with every single show airing this year, we brought our illustrious collection of editors and writers together to hash out a definitive, decidedly subjective list of the best shows we’ve seen in 2017. After many difficult cuts – shout out to Big Little LiesBrockmireCatastropheDownward Dog, Fargo, Fresh Off the Boat, The KeepersSamurai Jack, Sense8, and Taboo – we’ve whittled our list down to the Official, Hot Take-laden Top Fifteen Shows of 2017 (So Far), presented in alphabetical order below. Enjoy!

 

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The Americans

This was no one’s favorite season of The Americans. In its fifth year, FX’s acclaimed spy/family drama got even more deliberate than usual, lowering the immediate stakes, lingering on needlessly cryptic plots, and placing its already-familiar characters under an even tighter scope to little appreciable effect. Yet, even in an “off” year, it’s still one of the tautest and most psychologically astute shows around, and the performances from Matthew Rhys, Keri Russell, Noah Emmerich, and Holly Taylor are (almost) endlessly renewable resources. Chalk it up to the penultimate season curse – too concerned with setting up the final season to provide enough compelling material all its own. (More or less the exact same issue cropped up with FX’s Justified in its next-to-last season as well.) Still, Joel Fields and Joe Weisberg have earned more than enough goodwill for us to assume the final season will be one for the ages. (Simon Howell)

 

American-Gods-Technical-Boy-and-ShadowAmerican Gods

What’s there not to like about American Gods, a series of wildly ambitious filmmaking that rewards viewers’ with extraordinary visuals, haunting music, and stellar performances by a star-studded cast that includes Deadwood’s Ian MacShane and Gillian Anderson appearing as the late David Bowie. Adapted from the 2001 bestseller by geek icon Neil Gaiman, the new Starz series is the latest act of aesthetic derring-do from Bryan Fuller, the genius behind Hannibal and Pushing Daisies. American Gods is violent, sexual, bloody, gruesome, grimy and bizarre. It’s also one of the most beautiful and invigorating new television series that takes every aspect of show-running Bryan Fuller is famous for and runs wild with it.

Working with screenwriter Michael Green and Hannibal helmer David Slade, Fuller takes more risks than anyone else on television, and at the very least, American Gods is wildly different, highly entertaining and downright jaw-dropping. The boundary-shattering sex scene between Muslim immigrants — Salim (Omid Abtahi) and the Jinn (Mousa Kraish) — is one of 2017’s essential TV moment as is the scene in which Yetide Badaki’s goddess character, Bilquis, devours her helpless partner in the midst of their first sexual encounter.  Whether you’re a fan of Neil Gaiman’s novel or a curious newcomer, American Gods will make a believer out of you. (Ricky D)

 

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Attack on Titan

After a smash hit first season that set it as one of the most popular animes of all time, Attack on Titan tortured fans with a staggering four year wait for its shorter second season.

So was it worth the wait? Well, in a word, yes. Though Attack on Titan’s second season might be a bit surprising due to its early focus on side-characters and world-building, by the end of this sophomore effort things have gotten crazier than even the most subjective of fans might have guessed.

With another killer theme song, a few brutal twists, and one of the greatest battles in anime history, Attack on Titan season 2 may not be what you expected but it absolutely wows all the same.

If you feel a bit stuffy about anime, trust me, this is the show to change your mind. Add to that the recent announcement that next year will see the third season coming much faster than expected, and fans can look forward to giving their heart once again very soon. (Mike Worby)

 

BestTVSHOWS2017

Better Call Saul

Though Better Call Saul has spent much of its existence sheltered in the limelight of its prestige television parent, Breaking Bad, its sense of tone and careful confidence have done a lot to set it apart from its beloved forebear.

With that in mind, season 3 has been a bit of a juxtaposition on both fronts. While the show has never been more audacious or ambitious than in its tragic-comic third season, it has also been using more and more Breaking Bad leverage than ever before. With Hector Salamanca front and center, the introduction of everyone’s favorite chicken-loving kingpin, Gus Fring (a chilling Giancarlo Esposito), and Jimmy inventing the alter ego of “Saul Goodman”, things are getting closer and closer to the world where we were first introduced to New Mexico’s underground drug trade.

Still, Better Call Saul soars in what might be its best season yet, driving a hard wedge between Jimmy (Bob Odenkirk) and his troubled brother Chuck (Michael McKean, doing his career-best work here) while setting up a world of possibilities with the newly realized partnership between Mike and Gus. Finally, Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn) is given the opportunity to shine as never before, with a particular twilight moment toward the end of the season giving her what might be her most interesting arc yet.

Either way, after a cliffhanger ending like that, one thing is for sure: we’re going to find ourselves looking at a very different Jimmy McGill come next season. (Mike Worby)

 

The Carmichael Show

There are a lot of shows vying to be the most #Woke show on television; many of them, however, wear their agendas on their sleeves, their crowd-sourced opinions so brazenly presented as to garnish #support from audiences and #thinkpieces from hip #millennials… it’s a growing problem in the age of Crowd Think TV (the post-Peak TV age we are beginning to enter, that David Lynch is extremely determined to break with his own show… more on that from Simon in this article, however). The Carmichael Show is the perfect antithesis to that, a show that isn’t looking to appease any liberal or conservative agendas when it discusses the social, emotional, and mental impacts of such topics like rape, transgender athletes, religion, marriage… basically any culturally relevant topic sitcoms won’t touch with a ten foot pole, The Carmichael Show dives into head first, without hesitation.

However, the bold approach to current events and debates is not one that comes without nuance; and that’s what makes The Carmichael Show one of the most impressive achievements in modern television. Using the traditional, multi-camera sitcom as a backdrop, Jerrod Carmichael, Nick Stoller, and his team of writers shape conversations around questions, rather than suggesting they know better by forming plot around what they think the most socially accepted answer would be – The Carmichael Show‘s conclusions are often layered, complex, and brutally honest, translating Carmichael’s stand-up into fertile comedic and dramatic territory with a surprising amount of confidence and accessibility.

It’s unfortunate the show was canceled this month, because its much-delayed third season has already tackled topics like mass shootings, rape, assisted suicide, and examinations of beauty…. there’s never been a laugh-track comedy like The Carmichael Show, a show that not only schools leagues of Prestige dramas trying to be #relevant on how to examine both sides of an issue, but still remembers to be a hilarious comedy about family and relationships at the same time. It’s a balancing act like TV’s never seen, and probably won’t again anytime soon. (Randy Dankievitch)

 

Dear White People

Dear White People

The characters in Dear White People, a group of ivy league students, populate the series’ intersectional narrative with heady ideas about the complexities of race, class, and oppression. The (mostly) black characters, while united by skin tone, represent a vast diversity of experience, and each jumps from the screen with unique perspective crafted by backstories that the series cleverly weaves around one flash point: a blackface fraternity event that devolves into a race riot when the school’s black students crash the party.

Sam, a biracial firebrand, weaponizes her college radio time slot, railing against the overwhelmingly white patriarchy of the institution and acting as the central figure in Dear White People. But as much as the show is addressed to a blissfully ignorant monoculture, especially in Sam’s oration, it’s her interplay with friends (and enemies) that gives the series’ broad cultural commentaries an undeniable sense of specificity.

Sam’s boyfriend Gabe is a well-meaning white liberal dude, who clumsily attempts to navigate Sam’s proudly black social landscape. Scenes of tension, and humor, in Gabe’s endeavor are never treated entirely as tribalism on behalf of Sam’s friends or ignorance on behalf of Gabe; the series eschews such easy constructs (and the easy solutions those constructs would beget), in favor of crafting a world that resembles nuanced reality, full of characters driven as much by their ideas as by their emotion.

The fiercely intellectual Reggie pines for Sam, adding a layer of personal scorn to his rebukes of Gabe. Coco, who has purposefully joined the school’s waspy white segment, clashes with Sam over who has the right to define “black”; Sam, is after all, biracial – Coco is not. The conversations in Dear White People are multitudinous, and hilarious, and heartbreaking, and frustrating. Sam and her friends have an infinite number of questions, but few answers, which is fine. With a wry sense of humor and a keen understanding of human emotion, Dear White People pointedly asks the questions anyway, and suggests you do the same. (Michael Haigis)

 

GIRLS HBO

Girls

Whatever the weaknesses of Girls sixth and final season, you can’t say it didn’t go out on its own terms. For all the hemming and hawing when it first premiered that super producer Judd Apatow would iron out Lena Dunham’s peculiarities in favor of a more mainstream sensibility, Dunham’s brand of hyper-neurotic comedy-of-discomfort hasn’t diluted over the years; if anything, it’s subtly pulled the rest of television a little closer to its orbit instead. The last season opened strong with a series of episodes intended as “one-offs” Dunham and company always wanted to try out but never found room for in the previous seasons; in the age of the arc, Girls always relished self-contained, high-concept episodes as a chance to shed new light on its characters and explore new tonal possibilities. While it stumbled later in the season as it attempted to cap things off in appropriately messy fashion, Girls has left its mark on the medium; no climactic missteps can change that, whether you like it or not. (Simon Howell)

 

GLOWGLOW

Considering how incredibly popular professional wrestling is, it’s amazing that it took this long for someone to make a television show about it. With spot-on 1980s period detail, knockout writing, and a killer cast, Netflix’s wrestling drama GLOW is fast, funny, poignant, and absurd. It’s also chock-full of sharp commentary, great performances, and a smartly written plot, allowing the ensemble cast of women characters to emerge in an organic way. Indeed, the real strength of GLOW is in its exploration of their friendships. Wrestling may be fake, but the relationships these characters forge throughout the season, always ring true. Each episode runs around 30 minutes, which allows the show to delve into individual stories and spin a larger arc, without ever dragging on its heels. It isn’t quite a comedy and isn’t exactly a drama, but it is nevertheless, always a blast to watch. (Ricky D)

 

The Handmaid's TaleThe Handmaid’s Tale

The Handmaid’s Tale is the breakout hit that could shape the future of Hulu. Based on Margaret Atwood’s seminal novel, about a dystopian American future where women are officially downgraded to second-class citizens, this ten episode series is perhaps, the most relevant, and important show of the year. Of course as with any adaptation of a work this beloved, the series could never ever fully please fans of the original source material – but that aside, The Handmaid’s Tale is still a smart, worthy endeavor, blessed with deeply committed performances by Samira Wiley, Ann Dowd, Yvonne Strahovski, Alexis Bledel and yes, Elisabeth Moss, who turned in a performance so good, she may finally  — win her a best-actress Emmy. (Ricky D)

 

TheLeftoversFinalEpisode

The Leftovers

Damon Lindelof made his return to television five years after the end of LOST; that turned out to be not nearly enough time for many of the viewers who felt burned by its final season (and its finale in particular) to give him another chance. Bully for them: The Leftovers proves that Lindelof has learned from his past mistakes, and knows how to reliably lean on his strengths and those of his collaborators. Working again with co-producer Tom Perrotta and director/series fixer Mimi Leder, Lindelof crafted an excellent final act for one of the most consistently compelling series of the last decade. Holy lions, God himself (?) in human form, a Dr. Strangelove-esque nuclear showdown, and many more eccentricities get stuffed into the criminally short 8-episode run, and though it would have been nice for a few more series regulars to get a spotlight episode, The Leftovers’ final season proves that it’s possible to let viewers fill in the particulars for themselves as long as the groundwork is solid. (Simon Howell)

 

LegionLegion

Who would have ever guessed that FX would strengthen its position as one of television’s best networks with the addition of a Marvel-inspired drama from Fargo creator Noah Hawley? The innovative cable newcomer Legion (about a less famous character from Marvel’s X-Men universe) is a bold, clever, psychedelic subversion of the superhero genre that puts viewers inside the troubled head of David Haller, a mental patient who discovers he’s a mutant with extraordinary superpowers.

Yes, we already have plenty of small screen superhero shows, but Legion is seriously a different breed. In fact, it bears very little resemblance to past Marvel adventures; visually, it goes big and aims for the surreal, packing in flashbacks, flash-forwards, visions, hallucinations, psychedelic trips, alternate realities, dream states, suppressed memories, experimental sound design, lush photography and disorienting camera shots as it depicts reality through the rickety mind of its protagonist. Vanity Fair called the show, “The TV version of dropping acid, all colorful and explosive and loose-limbed. Scenes do backflips on a nonlinear timeline, showing no concern for the shell-shocked viewer.”

Admittedly, it’s so scattershot that it is impossible to get much of a handle on it at first, but that’s also what makes Legion so great. And it’s clear throughout the first season that Legion is deliberately weaving its themes into its visual style. For a superhero series, there’s also something to be said about the pace; there’s enough time to slow down and explore the characters, but from scene to scene, it remains brisk and flashy. The first episode is inspiring. The third episode is simply dazzling. The seventh chapter is a small screen masterpiece as Legion pushes boundaries and becomes a full-blown, black and white, silent movie set to Ravel’s Bolero with dialogue printed as inter titles. And credit to Noah Hawley, who is confident and daring enough to employ such a weird stylistic curve in the season’s most pivotal scene. Legion is a tour de force: the writing, producing, directing, visual effects, music and sound are the highest quality of film making. Legion as it all – along with the best soundtrack of any television show this year which includes the likes of Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones, Syd Barrett, Radiohead, Talking Heads and so much more. (Ricky D)

 

masterofnone

Master of None

Master of None is a charming, breezy investigation of yuppie romance that doubles as a harsh rebuke to cultural commentators wondering which generational vestige millennials are killing now. Surely, Dev, the series’ protagonist, has enjoyed his share of avocado toast and drunken uber rides; but beneath the privileged urban façade ofMaster of None, there lies a melancholy suggestion that the trappings of modern life are making newly-minted adults miserable.

Dev’s search for love in an overstimulated, app-based, romantic landscape is the narrative thread of Master of None, but Dev is overwhelmed by every aspect of the character’s life; from the mundane (what to eat) to the existential (what to be). In its second season, the series provides a contrast to Dev’s privilege, with formally innovative episodes that explore the world Dev inhabits. “I love New York” is an episode that abandons Dev, instead gleefully investigating the lives of New York City doormen, Cab Drivers, and one deaf couple. “Thanksgiving” shifts the focus of the series from Dev to his friend Denise, using a series of holiday dinners to tell the poignant story of Denise grappling with her sexuality, and eventually admitting to her mother that she’s gay.

These diversions don’t obscure Dev’s story though, and he finally finds his romantic match. That she is engaged, and lives in Italy, only supports the series’ overarching thesis: past generations weren’t blessed with the unfathomable conveniences, and opportunities, of the modern world; but with so many choices, it’s become harder than ever to make the right one. (Michael Haigis)

 

Superstore

NBC is the eternal home of the “Little Comedy that Could”, a legacy that began with Cheers, and has continued through the years with shows like SeinfeldParks and RecreationCommunity, and now, Superstore. In an era where the workplace comedy has mostly been replaced with fish out of water/diverse family sitcoms, Superstore stands out like a beautiful unicorn in the single-camera comedy landscape. Featuring a cast of characters who may not be at the low point of their lives, but are certainly not at the high, Superstore draws its comedy and pathos from the exact same well of self-discovery and growth by committee, carrying the mantle of Community in a number of unexpected ways, beyond its masterful use of a single setting, and a cast of wonderfully three-dimensional characters.

Perhaps the strongest element of Superstore – and what, in my mind, cements its place in NBC’s legacy of great comedies – is how the show’s slowly started to inject subtle societal commentary into its small world of discount soaps and mandatory lunch breaks; from guns to the Olympics, Superstore‘s strong, confident voice really came to life in its sophomore season, never losing its quirky, goofy sense of humor while it explored everything from the harsh realities of benefit-free full-time jobs, to the strike-busting practices big-box stores like Wal-Mart and the like excercise on their employees to keep them in line. Never pretentious (or more importantly in 2017, artificially #Woke), consistently funny, and always heartfelt, Superstore is the guilt-free, feel-good comedy with more mind and soul than any of us could want – or honestly, deserve. (Randy Dankievitch)

 

TV-Series-Twin-Peaks-The-Return

Twin Peaks

A lot of column inches (and podcast hours!) have already been filled debating the merits of the new season of Twin Peaks. Is it a misbegotten experiment, a season-length troll of 90s TV audiences, or a worthwhile standalone statement? There are still nine episodes to go as of this writing, and what might be most impressive about the new season is that the jury is still out as to just what it actually is. Perhaps the highest compliment one can pay to the new season (series?) is that it feels as far removed from the current TV landscape as the original series was from its 1990 contemporaries. Just when it seems like you’re beginning to finally get your bearings, David Lynch and Mark Frost trot in a new set of characters, concerns, and images in to destabilize your perceptions once more. What’s more: the fact that it’s coming to us weekly via Showtime instead of being dumped in our laps for binge viewing adds to the mystique, creating perhaps one last communal viewing experience before the entire industry goes the way of Netflix. (Simon Howell)

 

The Young Pope

Though it’s already been largely forgotten by the American public, Paolo Sorrentino’s auteurist The Young Pope will be remembered as a definitive piece of 2017’s small-screen art. A show that rose to prominence on a wave of memes and a ham-filled Jude Law performance I don’t think anyone thought he had in him, The Young Pope is a perfect encapsulation of TV in 2017: too enamored with forgetful plots to offer a memorable narrative, so visually audacious it burns GIF’s of Pius’s dreams onto the retina of one’s third eye, and so brazenly performed and produced it would make Baz Luhrmann blush. But goddamn, if The Young Pope isn’t the most intoxicating show of the year, a gloriously grandiose melodrama about sex and power set in the most holy, shadow-y and corrupt place on the planet Earth. The only way this could’ve been more memorable (or meme-able, wink wink) would’ve been if Nicolas Cage was playing the Pope – which we can only hope is the premise for The New Pope, the confirmed next chapter in Sorrentino’s brazen, surrealist HBO experiment. (Randy Dankievitch)

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TV

“Crisis on Infinite Earths” Is an Endearingly Clumsy Love Letter to DC’s Television Legacy

DCTV’s sprawling, ambitious crossover is creatively uneven, but its endearing nostalgia easily outweighs its flaws.

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Crisis on Infinite Earths

The ambition of The CW’s “Crisis on Infinite Earths” crossover can’t be understated, an attempt to integrate the network’s sprawling set of universes into a single, coherent reality – and perhaps more importantly, to say farewell to the series, and star, at its heart. A world-hopping, universe-jumping adventure acting as an homage to 50-plus years of DC television (and, in one notable case, film), the first three parts of “Crisis on Infinite Earths” are unfiltered joy, embracing its limited budget and impossibly large cast of characters (and famous cameos) in a wildly entertaining – if creatively uneven – journey through DC’s strange history on the small screen.

The sheer audacity of “Crisis on Infinite Earths” is, frankly, incredible to watch: while it doesn’t always work, it makes the crossover event utterly fascinating to dissect.

The CW’s sixth official crossover technically began during its fifth; last season’s “Elseworlds” established the broad strokes to follow, setting Oliver Queen on his path to destiny – and in the process, muting the impact of every isolated story line of the extended DC lineup. The reveal of The Monitor in “Elseworlds (Part 3)” (which was Supergirl‘s ninth episode of its fourth season, if anyone is keeping score) was intriguing, but ultimately distracting: knowing the fate of the multiverse was casually hanging in the balance, limited the ability of stories like Lex Luthor and Barry’s convoluted time-traveling to have any sort of noticeable impact. Knowing what was coming made these (slightly) smaller scale stories just not matter; knowing the final season of Arrow was directly integrated with the “impending crisis” only further overwhelmed any sense of purpose the stories of its shows held.

(and if we’re being honest, “Crisis on Infinite Earths” has kind of been teased since The Flash‘s pilot episode in 2014, though that’s splitting hairs a bit.)

Crisis on Infinite Earths

Perhaps it is all that hype that makes “Crisis on Infinite Earths (Part 1)” the weakest entry of the three to air this week (parts four and five air in mid-January) feel like such an underwhelming, rushed introduction to this universe-hopping story of Drama and Emotion. When an anti-matter wave begins wiping out parallel Earths (including Earth-66, letting them sneak in a quick Burt Ward cameo), “Crisis on Infinite Earths” begins pulling it its many iconic major characters – which, let’s admit, doesn’t quite have the same impact it did back in “Invasion” or “Crisis on Earth-X”.

It then spends an inordinate member of time trying to integrate Supergirl‘s supporting cast into the fray (albeit briefly); which, as fans of previous crossovers would probably agree, always ends up being the weakest part of any crossover. Lena, Querl, Alex, and Kelly feel like nothing but obligatory inclusions in the episode – whatever is going on with Supergirl and the DEO, “Crisis on Infinite Earths (Part 1)” struggles mightily to make it feel like anything meaningful.

In their defense, it’s hard to invest in whatever side stories Part 1 is trying to nod towards; it all pales in comparison to seeing Kara fawn over momma Lois and poppa Clark, which is a tall task to compete with. But the DEO’s characters are noticeable momentum killers, moments where “Crisis on Infinite Earths” fumbles at grounding its outlandish, epic story with the non-powered entities of its universe.

Crisis on Infinite Earths

Unfortunately, it gets worse before it gets better: once we get all the heroes arranged, we get a lame-ass fight scene where the heroes (Supergirl, The Flash, Green Arrow, Atom, White Canary, Superman, and Batwoman) battle against some terrible CGI demons. It is easily the low point of all three hours, a clumsily-executed scene that utterly fails in providing any sense of urgency to the larger story (The Monitor’s nemesis killing off entire planets and realities with a massive wave of anti-matter, in case you were wondering).

It’s strange, because the fight scene ostensibly serves as the kicking off point for the whole crossover: and boy, is it awkward when it tries to make the CGI ghost fight the moment Oliver sacrifices himself to save the universe (or does he?). It’s a halting way to end Part 1, after a herky-jerky hour with a few choice cameos (including Griffin Newman as a trivia host, and Wil Wheaton as a protestor) and a lot of sci-fi mumbo jumbo establishing the stakes of the anti-matter wave.

“Crisis on Infinite Earths (Part 2)” is really where the crossover comes to life; both as a contained story, and a cumulative celebration of the strange, long legacy of mixed DC media. Batwoman travels to a parallel Earth to visit a embittered Batman (played by longtime Batman voice actor Kevin Conroy), Sara Lance gives Jonah Hex his signature scar outside a Lazarus Pit, and there’s an extended cameo of Tom Welling and Erica Durance as the OG The CW Clark and Lois; though all of those things are exactly as ludicrous and self-indulgent as they sound, the more Part 2 – and as a byproduct, Part 3 – bounce around worlds to visit iconic characters (and performers) from its past, the more powerful it becomes as a true crossover event.

Crisis on Infinite Earths

And despite the abundance of casting announcements and on-set photos, “Crisis of Infinite Earths” is still able to deliver a number of surprising appearances: who could’ve predicted a scene where Netflix’s Lucifer Morningstar talks to NBC/The CW’s John Constantine, which occurs after Part 3 does a motherfucking Birds of Prey cameo with Ashley Scott (AND the voice of Dina Meyer as Oracle, to boot). It is a fan fiction wet dream come true, even FINALLY integrating Black Lightning‘s Jefferson Pierce into the multiverse, with a shockingly (sorry) strong introduction of The CW’s most underrated hero into the already-crowded mix.

The sheer audacity of “Crisis on Infinite Earths” is, frankly, incredible to watch: while it doesn’t always work, it makes both Parts 2 and 3 utterly fascinating to dissect. It is Justice League by way of Into the Spider-Verse and Avengers: Endgame, as clumsy and endearing as that sounds; at times, it utterly fails to make its universe-ending narrative hold any actual weight, but it is an emotional powerhouse of iconic, often underappreciated performances in DC’s television history (I swear to God, if they bring in Linda Hamilton for a Wonder Woman cameo, I’ll lose my shit).

If we’re being honest, it’s more interesting in its construction than it is in execution: after ingesting 200+ episodes of DC television over the years, I hold no expectations for “Crisis on Infinite Earths” to ever capture the immense dramatic potential of its narrative.

Crisis on Infinite Earths

That’s just not what DC television is good at (save for a couple seasons of Arrow, and most of Legends of Tomorrow): where these shows shine is their heartfelt depictions of human connection, of the beauty in finding shared purpose. At that, “Crisis on Infinite Earths” is a pretty resounding success; whether Batwoman and Supergirl’s young friendship, or Barry’s tunnel-visioned optimism, “Crisis on Infinite Earths” proves the DC universe still has engaging stories to tell with the biggest stars of the present – and with characters like Kate Kane, Jefferson Pierce, and Ryan Choi (introduced in Part 3, in what appears to possibly be establishing a new Atom), the future.

We’ll have to wait until January to see how the grand experiment to unite all the timelines works out – but in its holiday send off, “Crisis on Infinite Earths” is a pretty touching love letter to decades of superhero television, earning its entry into the annals of modern television’s most ambitious endeavors.

Other thoughts/observations:

In what appears to be his swan song (knowing that he is departing Legends of Tomorrow), Brandon Routh’s double-duty as Ray Palmer and Superman (reprising his role from Superman Returns) is wonderful.

Even Wentworth Miller makes an appearance, kind of: the alternate-reality Wave Rider the team of heroes, paragons, and ominous entities is guided by Leonard, an AI who ironically sounds exactly like Captain Cold.

We forever stan Sara Lance; to see her guide and organize the team in Part 1 and Part 2… well, it’s just beautiful to see.

Boy, it is strange how “Crisis” just kind of glosses over Batwoman killing the bitter, murderous version of Batman her and Supergirl visit in Part 2.

Easy litmus test to know whether you’re in or out on this whole endeavor; whether you jump for joy or scream in agony when hearing the word “infinitude” in the opening moments of Part 1.

There is a very, VERY brief shot of a few characters from DC Universe’s Titans, which I always forget exists. No Doom Patrol or Swamp Thing, unfortunately.

Unlike previous crossovers, only Supergirl‘s episode feels like it is still kind of trying to be an episode of its own series. I haven’t watched much Batwoman, but part 2 definitely does not attempt to make any play at drawing in a new audience with a unique display of personality (and in fact, I don’t think there’s a single other Batwoman regular in the episode).

Apparently the Brec Bassinger Stargirl character will make her debut in the final part of “Crisis on Infinite Earths”, even though her series is not airing until 2020… on DC Universe? Modern television is so fucking weird.

It is still hard to believe Jon Cryer as Lex Luthor.

There are hints of the theme from the 1989 Batman film in Blake Neely’s score, which is just fucking insane.

When Earth 90’s Barry Allen makes a major sacrifice, we are treated to a brief flashback to actual footage from the 1991 The Flash series. It is perhaps the most breathtaking surprise of the whole crossover.

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TV

‘J.T.’ – A Tragic, Poetic and Improbably Beautiful Holiday Special that is a Must-See!

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J.T.-1969-Christmas-Special

Join us as we spend the next 25 days writing about some of our favourite Holiday TV specials! Today we look back at the unsung gem, J.T.

What’s it About?

Produced for a Saturday morning children’s anthology on CBS, J.T. premiered to such rave reviews, the network scheduled it again a week later in a prime time slot. The Christmas special follows J. T. Gamble (Kevin Hooks), a shy, withdrawn Harlem boy who befriends a sick, one-eyed, old and badly injured alley cat days before Christmas. Showing compassion and responsibility, J.T. secretly nurses the feline back to health.

J.T.-1969-Christmas-Special

Review

Those who have seen J.T. will never forget the emotional impact this heartfelt drama has. Nor will they have forgotten the heartbreaking moment in which the cat is hit by a car. Priceless because it catches the sights, sounds, and moods of a city that are of a bygone era, watching J.T. is like being present for the opening of a time capsule, giving us one a look back at pre-Giuliani NYC. Brilliantly written by Jane Wagner and based on her own book of the same name, J.T. will capture the hearts of many, as we witness the young boy create a wellspring of comfort for his newfound pet in an abandoned apartment complex.

Winner of a Peabody Award, J.T. is also a story of a single mother’s struggle to be independent and support both herself and her son, while refusing to allow the ghetto life to break the family’s optimism. Come the teary denouement, this story will warm the coldest of hearts and challenge even the most hard-hearted moviegoer. There is a wonderful surprise at the end when a local grocer and his wife offer the young boy a second chance. Kevin Hooks is amazing in the lead, as is Ja’Net Dubois who plays his overworked mother, who tries her best to supply for her family while slaving away and working a low-paying job. Sensitively directed and rarely over-sentimental, this touching parable will likely ravish the emotions of cat lovers everywhere.

J.T. 1969

How Christmassy is it?

There isn’t much Christmas cheer, Christmas music, holiday shopping, decorations and so on, but the special ends on an uplifting note – one that rings true with Christmas spirit. So I would say 50/50.

You May Like It If…

If you are nostalgic for the late 60’s New York City or are an animal lover.

Final Thoughts:

It stars actor Kevin Hooks as the young lead. Hooks currently works as a director for several hit TV shows including Lost, 24, Monk and Prison Break. The role of J.T.’s mother is played by actress Ja’net DuBois, who also appeared as the upstairs neighbour, Willona, on the groundbreaking 1970s sitcom Good Times.

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Before the Internet

Watchmen Podcast: Breaking Down “A God Walks into Abar”

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Watchmen Podcast A God Walks into Abar

“A God Walks into Abar” is the deeply heartfelt episode we’ve been waiting for!

The wonderfully pun-titled penultimate episode—directed by Nicole Kassell, written by Damon Lindelof and Jeff Jensen— is a powerful love story that spans many years, and told in a disjointed fashion to explain just how the most powerful man in the world wound up in Tulsa, Oklahoma, married to Angel Abar and with his memory wiped out. It’s an amazing hour of television—able to carefully turn a seemingly indecipherable character, into something beautifully textured, human, and meaningful— and we have plenty to say about it.

Our Watchmen podcast will see Simon Howell and an assortment of guests tackle the entire series (or at least the first season). In this eight episode,  Simon Howell , Randy Dankievitch and guest Sean Collettin take a deep dive into “A God Walks Into Abar” and note some of the more astonishing facts of the episode you might have missed.

And for those of you wondering, in order to keep things simple, we’ve decided to upload each episode to the same feed as our other podcast, Before the Internet.

Listen here on iTunes or listen here on Stitcher. 

You can also catch our show on Pocketcast and on Spotify, or simply listen via the player embedded below.

Before the Internet Watchmen Podcast Special
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