Fall Season Reviews
Another year another group of Fall premieres. Instead of the usual news I figured I would quickly review some new and returning shows. Surely haven’t you heard enough complaining about Scream Queens at this point? I hope to come back once the season is over and give a full review. For now though, here are reviews of a few season premieres.
Of all of the new shows this year Scream Queens was the once I anticipated most. I’m a fan of slasher movies and I generally enjoy Ryan Murphy shows for at least a season. He seems to like the genre (if 382 seasons of American Horror Story is any indication) and if nothing else it has Jamie Lee Curtis. At the very least this could be better than the Scream show, right? Well I have some good news and some bad news.
The good news is that yes, it is better than MTV’s Scream. It certainly grasps the horror-comedy concept better. Instead of having a faux-Jamie Kennedy to have meta monologues about the rules of we get quick comments that are actually funny. There are also the kills which are not only creative but surprisingly gory for Prime time, network TV. He also does a great time at casting the adult roles. Niecey Nash as Kappa Kappa Tau’s security guard steals every scene she’s in. She’s been hilarious for years but her lines are probably the funniest on the show. Then there’s Jamie Lee Curtis. Maybe it’s because I haven’t seen her in anything for years but by god nobody does ice queen better than her. As silly as it sounds the adults act circles around their younger costars. Then there’s the soundtrack. Ever since Nip/Tuck Ryan Murphy productions have had a knack for being able to mix pop music and scenes perfectly. This tradition seems to continue with Scream Queens.
Maybe I’m getting soft in my old age but I can’t say the more mean spirited humor worked for me. For lack of a better term, it was too mean. I am actually a big fan of cringe/mean spirited humor. Shows like Review with me because they can be so mean spirited. That’s not what makes it work though. What makes it work though is the fact that all these things happen to Forrest MacNeil, a character you care about. The writing is so focused on being witty that it completely ignores giving the characters personality. So instead of “Deaf Taylor Swift” being oblivious being funny it feels more like the writers being needlessly cruel about deafness. Or the casual racism of Emma Roberts the sorority’s maid White Mammy. The fact that Roberts can say that but the N-word can’t be used on Black-ish to actually discuss the term seems kind of messed up. Speaking of Emma Roberts, she is a really bad actress. Her character Chanel is supposed to be the fun kind of offensive Sue Sylvester was. Instead we get less Jane Lynch and more Gallagher; just a bitchy, racist character. Maybe I’m more sensitive to this or I’m finally maturing but it hits a lot harder than on his other shows.
On a lesser, but just as annoying, note I really hate the look of the Red Devil. I know this isn’t a true horror show but the costume looks crazy cheap and non-threatening. If you’re going to play with the conventions at least do the one thing they all try to do and have a cool looking killer. You know you dropped the ball when The Gallows did a better job at something.
At the end of the day this is a Ryan Murphy show at it’s best and worst. The writing can be really fun at times and the story has enough intrigue to it that I want to see it through. When the show is on it’s one of the better network comedies going today. At its worst it can be pop culture jokes and make the creator come off as a massive douche. I’m not sure how good the show will be but for now I’ll stay optimistic and hope we get at least one good season.
Confession time, I dropped Gotham late last season. While it had a promising start I just kind of phased the show out rotation. Then I saw a random headline on a nerd site. While I can’t remember the exact wording it basically said that with the new season they were addressing issues the show had in it’s first season. It’s pretty rare to hear a show mention that it’s flawed let alone that they were actively improving. So with a bit of optimism I decided to give Gotham another chance.
If I had to pinpoint my main issue with season one it would be a lack of focus. One week it would be police procedural and the next it would be a villain of the week. At times feeling too campy and others taking itself too seriously. With this new season it seems like things are a bit more under control. While still a bit campy the humor is melds way better. I can’t remember any scenes solely done to get a cheap laugh. Not to say it is all comedy now. While a bit cliche the drama all works out pretty well. For a full season they danced around the whole “will Gordon break his ethics” plot point and it’s great to see it finally done. I think then he show’s willingness to finally move forward is a good sign.
Given the show isn’t perfect. Despite being a show involving Batman I find the Bruce Wayne story to be a bit slow. Even though they have a decent child star in David Mazouz the character is whiny more than anything else. Still the show seems to have finally found it’s footing. The Rise of the Villains gimmick seems to be what the show needed. Hopefully my optimism in the show isn’t misplaced again.