The Walking Dead – Season 6

The Walking Dead

Yep, I’m done. This formula just isn’t working for me anymore. The Walking Dead has always been the occasional burst of awesomeness followed by a lot of feet-dragging, but the ratio of good-to-bad moments has gotten pretty intolerable. The numerous extended runtime episodes aren’t doing it any favors, either. This show really needs to cut back; a shorter season would do wonders. But AMC clearly loves to milk it, and the writers must have finally gotten onboard the studio’s train of thought, because Season 6 was obnoxiously manipulative. It’s like they’re more concerned with generating buzz than telling a good story anymore. The fake-out death near the beginning of the season was already bad enough, but then we got several more cliffhangers along the way and a major “screw you” at the end.

Maybe this was the season where the comic actually hurt the TV show. There was a lot of anticipation towards Negan’s arrival. I did like what little we finally got to see of the character, though. The Saviors were pretty terrifying in the finale, but they would have come across as even more dangerous if Rick’s group hadn’t steamrolled over them in every other confrontation. Rick & Co. have been reaching levels of invincibility—no major deaths this season—so watching Negan take one of them out would have really helped to raise the stakes again. But that godawful cop-out just makes me think the writers haven’t even decided who to off yet and are waiting to cull through the fans’ responses. It’s like when The Simpsons left the fate of Flanders and Krabappel up to a vote. That’s about when I quit that show. I think it’s time I did the same for this one.

Daredevil – Season 2

Daredevil

I liked Season 1 of Daredevil but feel Season 2 is better overall. The pacing has improved a lot, and we get to spend time with more villains than just Wilson Fisk and his cronies. Honestly, I really don’t care for Fisk’s involvement in Daredevil lore and am glad he played such a small role this time around. The best thing about Season 2 was actually the Punisher. Pitting Daredevil against anti-heroes who don’t share his morals is a great way to dig into the character, and Jon Bernthal does a fantastic Punisher. The first four episodes, which make up the majority of the Punisher’s arc, were amazing. It’s too bad his character is downplayed from Episode 5 onward as the story shifts gears with Elektra’s and the Hand’s arrival.

While the show’s portrayal of Elektra is fine and all, every time she appeared, it kind of derailed the momentum they had set up in the first few episodes. I know her history with Daredevil is important and complicated, but I would have rather seen more of the Punisher and the trial revolving around him. It was fun to have Foggy and Karen in court for once, after all. This season probably benefited them more than it did Matt/Daredevil. It was getting to the point of annoying how often Matt let his friends down, friends who have grown substantially since we last saw them. The way things ended in the finale left me wanting to know more about their fates over Matt’s.

And that’s probably because Season 3 of Daredevil (assuming there will be a Season 3) will only double down on the ninja/Hand stuff. Yes, I know the Hand is a big part of the comics, but some things don’t translate that well to film. Watching Daredevil beat up faceless ninjas who will most likely come back from the dead isn’t as entertaining as watching him trying to prevent the Punisher from murdering more gang members. In a way, Season 2 was like two different shows molded into one. That certainly helps keep things interesting. Again, it made for a better pace than Season 1’s slow grind to find the Kingpin. But my take-away is that a Punisher spin-off would be more welcome at this point than a third season.

Zootopia

Zootopia

When all is said and done, Zootopia is a pretty heavy-handed story about racism, but it actually works. Considering how humans with different skin color can’t get along, it makes perfect sense that different animal species would have the same issues. So while the movie’s message may be obvious, it’s also earned. For instance, everyone in the movie thinks that rabbits can’t be cops, because they’re too small and cute. And this is portrayed really well as Judy interacts with her co-workers that literally tower over her. I’m glad the studio didn’t take the easy way out and make all of the animals relatively the same size. It’s a lot of fun to see “to-scale” giraffes and mice populating the same city space.

Much of the humor in Zootopia, then, is derived from the animal-based visual gags. The DMV/sloth sequence particularly stands out, though Disney’s marketing probably already spoiled it for everyone. I also enjoyed the story for the most part with Judy, the rabbit, teaming up with a fox (voiced by the always delightful Jason Bateman) to solve a missing persons case. Unfortunately, they crack the case about 3/4 into the movie, and the cliched fallout that happens afterwards is kind of obnoxious. My other gripe with the movie is how hard they tried to shoehorn in Shakira as a character (pop idol Gazelle) and her new song, “Try Everything.” If the movie didn’t end on a gratuitous dance number, I would have walked away with a more favorable opinion.

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia – Season 11

Always Sunny

This was a weird season. Almost every episode was either something completely out of the ordinary or 20 minutes of fan service. There were a lot of callbacks. Yeah, Sunny has always been a show that gleefully builds on its history, like Rickety Cricket’s season-to-season degradation, but it was a little much this time around. I realize episodes like “Frank Falls Out the Window” were supposed to be funny in how much they retreaded. However, I would have preferred something original. And not “The Gang Hits the Slopes” original, either. While that episode was certainly a great spoof of 80s teen movies, the characters didn’t feel like themselves. I mean, Dennis, Dee, and Mac are good at skiing now? And Charlie’s not afraid to sleep with a woman who isn’t the waitress? It just felt off. I also really didn’t like the POV Frank episode, either. That was so nauseating…

Maybe we can consider Season 11 the experimental one. I guess 11 years in, TV creators are allowed to do that, though let’s not forget that Always Sunny has shorter seasons than most sitcoms. If the episodes were merged into standard 20+ chunks, it’d be like Season 5 that’s starting to crumble and run out of ideas. But I’m not saying the show’s done. I’m not ready to see Sunny die in the same way I wanted The League to finally be put down. The Gang is still funny and can still deliver a great episode here and there. “Charlie Catches a Leprechaun,” for instance, felt like classic material that highlighted the characters’ awfulness in new ways. And the two-part cruise ship storyline at the end helped redeem some of the things that didn’t feel right earlier in the season. Ultimately, there were more misses than hits, but I’ll take those few hits over what most other shows can offer.

Deadpool

Deadpool

There’s been a lot of talk about Deadpool being rated R, which strikes me as odd, because, while it certainly is violent, it’s not any worse than every other R-rated action movie. I’m not a big fan of the gritty superhero genre, anyway, but Deadpool gets away with it for at least being pretty funny. Violence + humor is easier to swallow than just gratuitous violence. The jokes are all over the place, though, so it’s no surprise that not all of them land. Deadpool will make an obvious poop joke in one scene and then quietly lampoon Ryan Reynolds in another. The self-referential, fourth wall humor is the movie’s best attribute. It’s refreshing to see a movie that’s willing to make fun of itself so endearingly, and I kind of wish there had been more of it.

The fact that Ryan Reynolds is Deadpool makes the movie even funnier, considering he’s already played Deadpool once before, as well as other superheros in other blockbuster flops, which this movie isn’t at all afraid to call out. But, ultimately, I don’t know if he was the best choice. I’ll admit to not knowing much about Deadpool as a character, but it seems like a more manic actor could have done more with the role. I was also disappointed with the character’s final look after he goes through his transformation. The whole point is that Deadpool is hideous and must hide behind a mask. The end result is definitely ugly, but the movie treats it like he’s so ugly, everyone on the street stops to stare at him, and I just wasn’t buying it.

More importantly, this is an origin story, and origin stories are usually somewhat of a slog to get through. Deadpool’s no different as it hits these backstory beats. Fortunately, the story isn’t strictly linear. The movie frequently cuts between Deadpool already kicking ass and his pre-suit days, which helps maintain a more interesting pace. I also liked that it wasn’t just about Deadpool since two X-Men also join him. That makes me wonder how he’ll fit into the overall “cinematic universe,” though, considering his unique sense of humor doesn’t really match any other Marvel character we’ve seen onscreen. Whatever happens with Deadpool next, I think it’ll be fun to see. Heck, with the movie’s current success, maybe Deadpool 2 (or Deadpool Meets Professor X or what have you) will get the budget it deserves.

iZombie – Season 1

iZombie

There are two previous shows that iZombie heavily reminds me of: Psych and Heroes. But don’t worry, iZombie is better than both of those. It features a woman pretending to be a psychic as she aids the local police, only the catch is that she’s really a zombie who’s been eating the brains of the victims to stay alive. The fact that the brains give her new memories and personality quirks was a cool idea, until I realized we’d seen this before in the form of Sylar from Heroes. Regardless, Liv is a fun character, and it’s entertaining to see what the “brain of the week” does to her. It’s just strange how some brains affect her more than others, according to the whims of the writers.

In fact, the writing can be pretty clunky overall as it strives to squeeze in as many zingers as possible. Why does everyone need to have a witty comeback for everything? That said, it should come as no surprise this is a somewhat lighthearted show. At least, the first half of Season 1 is. Things get a little darker near the end as the overarching plot becomes more relevant. It’s weird, then, how the show continues to shoehorn in the weekly murder case when the stakes are so high. I started to get a little annoyed with the character Liv in the same way I was annoyed with Jessica Jones; her selfish reluctance to do anything about the big bad guy just gets more people killed.

Which brings me to the finale, something that was both a good and bad kind of frustrating. It left a lot to look forward to in Season 2 but didn’t deliver a very satisfying payoff with the antagonist. And, by the way, the bad guy’s whole operation teetered on ridiculous. He, too, is a zombie who deliberately infects rich people so he can sell them brains at a high price. How is this a sustainable business model, though?! In the end, you realize there are just way too many zombies in Seattle, and that detracts from Liv’s uniqueness. But I hesitate to keep calling them zombies, anyway, since they act and look more like vampires. Whatever you think of them as, the characters and the detective aspect of the show are enjoyable, and I’ll definitely check out Season 2 when I have the chance.