Veep – Season 5

Veep

Veep has one of the best ensembles of any TV show, and the cast just keeps getting better with every season. I have no idea how they’re going to keep them all together next season, though, considering how this one ended. Season 5 was already starting to feel a little disjointed with so many of the characters taking on roles outside of the White House. Please don’t tell me Season 6 is going to be a “where are they now” type of thing. I will certainly miss watching political power slip out of Selina’s grasp. It did take me a while, however, to warm up to her being president. When the stakes are higher, her team’s fumbling isn’t quite as amusing. But since I had all of last season to come to terms with that, Season 5 wasn’t nearly as disconcerting.

And at the end of the day, this was a pretty funny season. Normally low-key characters like Mike, Gary, and Catherine got a lot more time to shine, and the insults were as sharp and memorable as always. This season did feel a little off, though; it felt more “sitcommy.” I usually don’t get caught up in behind-the-scenes drama, but I was aware that the showrunner had changed, and the repercussions of that were obvious. Yes, the characters remained faithful, and the jokes were still great, but the situations veered on the cliché side. A scene where two characters argue until they start making out? An episode where a character tries to juggle two groups of people without them seeing each other? Come on, Veep, you can do (and have done) better than that.

The Last Man on Earth – Season 2

Last Man on Earth

The Last Man on Earth is like the Walking Dead of comedies: a post-apocalyptic story with a lot of promise that it only occasionally reaches. I was hesitant to even give Season 2 a chance, considering how quickly Season 1 devolved into a generic sitcom. I’m glad Season 2 remolded Phil’s personality, though. He’s no longer the huge jerk bent on having sex with every woman in town. In fact, the best parts of Season 2 were the episodes that didn’t feature “the group.” When the season started out with just Phil and Carol together, I was really hoping it would stay like that. It would have been a great way to reboot the series and make up for last season’s shortcomings. But then they went crawling back to Tuscon/Miami, and the sitcom material started right up again.

Fortunately, Season 2 got a great sub-plot in the form of Phil’s brother, Mike, trapped in space. Every shot of him alone in the space station was so sad and so well executed. It was like watching an entirely different movie. The episode where he finally fell to Earth was just as fantastic and really took advantage of the whole “last man” theme. It was worth sticking through the season just for that. And I’d like to think that’s the show the creators want to make, but it’s the studio executives who keep dragging it down. Not surprisingly, then, once Mike shows up in Miami, we get a stupid prank war and a ridiculous Will Forte haircut that drags on for way too long. And, in the end, Jason Sudeikis’s guest star role went to waste, and The Last Man on Earth continues to squander its potential.

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.

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.

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.