The Best Shows of the Lustrum (Part 1)

[Blogged by Jeremy Grayson]

[The Shows That Were Somewhat Awesome]

All right, ladies and gents, let’s kick things off. For those of you who’ve missed it, here’s the Introduction to this list, explaining the parameters, as well as what a “lustrum” is. If you’ve already read that, scroll down to see my picks for the fifteenth through eleventh best shows of the lustrum.

 


[#15.]

There’s an uncomfortable level of hyperbole in saying that a television show accomplished the impossible.

Not that I have anything against hyperbole, mind you. I’ve used it numerous times, both on this blog and in my reviews. I even sometimes use it in my real life, on the occasions that I have one. Nevertheless, there’s something decidedly un-elegant about saying that a series accomplished the impossible.

Let me paint a picture: 30 Rock, Tina Fey’s surreal sitcom about the backstage antics of an SNL-type comedy show, shakily debuted in the fall of 2006 and found its footing by the end of the calendar year, mixing charmingly goofy characters with light and amusing storylines. The infamous Writer’s Strike of ’07 did little to mar the second season, which proved even funnier than the first. In these first two seasons, 30 Rock was on the comedic ball.

Then things started sliding toward the negative. The third season was uneven, lacking the spark and dramatic/comedic mixture of the first two, and featuring that awful Night Court-based episode which suggested the series was getting a bit too clever for its own good. The fourth season kicked off even more poorly, driving the show into downright unfunniness. By the time 2009 came to an end, 30 Rock‘s glory days seemed a thing of the past.

But bear with. As 2010 dawned, 30 Rock slowly began to climb out of its self-dug hole. And it got better. And better. And by the time it ended its seven-season run in January 2013, I was mourning its loss more than I had celebrated its heyday years earlier.

In its last three seasons – and that final season especially – 30 Rock got its groove back. It remembered that the reason we’d fallen in love with its characters years earlier was due not to the fact that we cared about the characters’ dilemmas on a personal level, but on a purely comedic one. And even where the show had failed earlier, it rushed to patch up its holes.

Take the “Liz Lemon wants a baby” arc. This storyline at first threatened to tip the show over into soap opera territory (notably in Season Three’s “Goodbye, My Friend”), but the later seasons managed to both believably progress the story along while still keeping it engaging. Liz’s romance with Criss Chros (God, I love that name) may have felt sudden when Season Six brought it into the fold, but it served marvelously to give Liz’s romantic life a much-needed jolt of self-deprecating humor.

And that’s just the tip of 30 Rock‘s rejuvenated iceberg. The later seasons featured plenty of gems, including Alexis Goodlooking (“She’s good-looking, and good at looking for clues!”), Jack Donaghy’s relationship with Avery Jessup, Kristen Schaal’s performance as an apple-cheeked psychopath, Margaret Cho as Kim Jong-un, Matt Damon as Carol Burnett(!), Kermit the Frog speaking at Colleen’s funeral, and so many more… all leading up to the excellent finale, “Last Lunch”. Fans who followed the show from the beginning couldn’t ask for a better sendoff than the one they got, which gave closure to every major character, and featured enough humorous callbacks to earlier episodes and seasons to make even Arrested Development jealous.

Again, I’m trying to avoid uncomfortable hyperbole in praising the way this series found new life and love in its later seasons, so here goes: 30 Rock accomplished the near-impossible.

…Don’t have the same ring, do it?

 


[#14.]

Less is more. That’s an expression that can be understood in a few different ways. Figuratively, it could imply a similar line of thought as “brevity is wit” by stating that fewer words can have greater power. (I tend to fall back on this expression whenever I’m tired and want to justify not writing a 4,000-word review.) Literally, though, it could refer to a television show – in this case, Sherlock.

Sherlock offers me a privilege not granted by any of the other shows on this list. Whereas most of the Best Shows of the Lustrum have an episode count in the double – and possibly even the triple – digits, Sherlock has aired a sum total of nine episodes in the last five years. This fulfills the “less” of the above statement. The fact that each of these episodes is ninety minutes long supplies the “more”.

Since its premiere in 2010, Sherlock has proven to be one of the most popular BBC imports here in America. And why not? It has, for starters, two leads with electrifying chemistry – the dryly entertaining Benedict Cumberbatch as the titular detective, and the charmingly lovable Martin Freeman as Dr. John Watson. Together, they form the core of Sherlock. And built around them is a worldly air of mystery that modernizes the setting and storylines from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original tales while maintaining the sense of intelligence and fun which made those original stories so alluring.

The “less is more” stance of the show means an added bonus – I can talk about each episode individually, without the fear that I’ll be stuck typing all night. Series One of Sherlock sparked instantly with the energetic origin tale, “A Study in Pink”. Things cooled down a bit in the underwhelming “Blind Banker”, which served as little more than a transition between the pilot and “The Great Game”, an intriguingly tense finale that moved things in place for the marvelous Series Two. “A Scandal In Belgravia” remains my favorite episode, featuring not only one of Doyle’s most intriguing supporting characters, but also one of my favorite plot twists of the lustrum. (That being Irene’s encoded iPhone.) “The Hounds of Baskerville” is a freshly updated take on the classic tale, and “The Reichenbach Fall” gives us the Sherlock/Moriarty showdown of a fan’s dreams. Series Three gets some flak compared to the first two, but it’s not as bad as some proclaim, assuming you can get past the uncomfortably aimless “The Empty Hearse”. Then it’s a smooth joyride through “The Sign of Three” and an excellent finale in “His Last Vow”, which pits Holmes against another well-cast and formidable foe.

Whew. So I’ve just reviewed every single episode of Sherlock in a single paragraph. And yet some people still doubt it when I tell them I’m awesome.

Sherlock‘s seasonal structure is, in truth, its one major undoing. Since the seasons, episode-wise, are so short, the structure doesn’t have much room to maneuver. In the first two seasons, the premiere introduces a storyline, the second episode pads time while drawing said storyline out, and the finale brings things to a head. The formula works (and the third season deviates from it, though not with complete success), but it tends to make the show feel a bit restricted.

Still, arc limitations are a small price to pay for what Sherlock brings to the table. The show is fun and well-performed, a delight to Holmes fans both old and new. And with at least two more series and a Christmas special on the horizon, it looks like Sherlock could be vying for “Best Shows of the Next Lustrum”, too.

 


[#13.]

Ah, yes. You all know this one. I’ve written about this show. Mike’s written about this show. (Though not necessarily in that order.) Though it’s less than two years old, Orphan Black has developed a fanbase to be reckoned with.

Why, then, you may wonder – as well you should – does it rank so low on my list? After all, Orphan Black is a fast-paced, shockingly twisted, and wickedly entertaining series. Isn’t it?

Orphan Black is one of the newer shows on this list, having made its debut in April 2013. As I’ve already written a whole article on the first season, explaining just how it worked the wonders it did, and how it was one of the freshest and most exhilarating shows on television, I won’t delve much into the schematics of the series. But I will factor in one point regarding that article – I originally wrote around the time that Season Two premiered, under the blissful implication that the show’s second go-round would prove just as incredible as the first.

Well… much as I’d like to say otherwise, it didn’t. Whereas the first season featured great bounds in narrative momentum, the second season appeared stuck in a sort of stasis. Rather than moving forward, it seemed more content to widen the walls of the series, adding in several subplots about cloning projects and cultist sects that proved less enlightening than ineffectual. Also, it had Tony. Oy, Tony.

Now, Orphan Black is a young show. A third season is currently in production, and there’s a good possibility it will return the series to the heights of Season One. But as I stated in my Introduction to this list, recent shows are a tricky bag. The decision to leave off series that only had their premieres in 2014 was meant to imply in part that even a show that features a promising inaugural season can suffer an abrupt and unforeseen drop in quality in its later years.

Judging by its excellent first season and its significantly-less-excellent second, Orphan Black is currently hovering on the fence. If things pick up again in the third season, then the show will merit a higher spot on future lists. But at this time, I’m playing it safe and putting it near the bottom of the list, where I can call the sum total of its two seasons great… but not too great.

Though for what it’s worth, Tatiana Maslany still rules.

 


[#12.]

If television were a country, each of its networks would have its own function toward making it a civilization. CBS would be the leader that no one liked. NBC would be the gallant assistant who, for all his willingness, couldn’t help screwing up. FOX would be the loudmouthed general who would declare war at the drop of a hat. ABC would be the independent contractor who just does her job, avoiding any unnecessary interactions.

And The CW Network? They’d probably be along the lines of that cool young associate who does embarrassing things without ever fearing the consequences. And hey, they make mistakes, too. But you know what? Even their screw-ups are fun to watch.

Nikita, the most frustratingly overlooked series of the lustrum, succeeded in large part because of how often it was willing to screw things up. Loosely based on Luc Besson’s film of the same name (which spawned an American remake and a 1997-2001 USA Network series), it’s a classic example about how a show can be messy, surprising – and unexpectedly good.

Developed by Craig Silverstein (a former writer for The Inside, which is a fact I’m mentioning simply because Critically Touched is now hosting reviews of The Inside), Nikita can best be described as an extra-twisty spy/action show with a killer (in all senses) cast of characters. And those characters are crucial, for as much fun as it is to watch the show’s numerous gunfights, explosions, and gunfights-which-lead-to-explosions, it’s the interaction between and development of the leads – particularly Nikita herself, as well as Alex, Birkoff, Amanda, and the underrated Ryan – which makes the show so affecting, even in its weaker moments (*cough*SeasonThree*cough*).

Season One of Nikita is one of my personal favorite seasons of television this lustrum. It’s over-the-top, to be sure, but it’s an exhilarating ride from start to finish, piling one twist atop another, and maintaining suspense over its 22 episodes. Hats off here to Maggie Q, who makes Nikita out to be one of the most exciting-yet-still-human action heroines of recent memory.

The best quality of Nikita may, in fact, also be the worst. The show never sits still, constantly messing with the status quo, rarely avoiding consequences and not afraid to pull the trigger on several of its characters. The show’s fearlessness would exhaust things by the third season, which drifted about aimlessly in search of an intriguing plot, but the abridged fourth season allowed the show to go out in a creative final burst of energy.

Nikita may not be the most polished or refined show on my list, but it’s easily one of the most fun. If you’re in the mood for a series that’s intriguing, action-packed, and surprisingly intelligent, I recommend you track this series down and watch the heck out of it.

 


[#11.]

I’m one of those firmly-minded individuals who believe that Western animation peaked in the Nineties. Call it a childhood bias, but the sheer amount of four-color brilliance pioneered by the likes of Bruce Timm, Tom Ruegger, Greg Wiseman, Mark Evanier, Tad Stones, and Ben Edlund (to name some obvious choices) is a force to be reckoned with.

The Two-Thousands (Zeroes? Aughts? Whatever) were a slight step down, as producers returned to some of the merchandise-driven ‘toons that populated the Eighties. Still, there is animated greatness to be found during that decade – SpongeBob, Kim Possible… and Avatar: The Last Airbender.

That last one has achieved the most notoriety, for in the years following its conclusion, many fans of Avatar have put it in contention for one of the best shows of all time. (It would have certainly made my “Best Shows of the 2005-09 Lustrum” list.) It was the rare show that told a complete, unifying story, didn’t stretch things out or needlessly rush them, and featured about as satisfying a series finale as you could hope for.

Avatar ended its three-season run in 2008. After a few years’ break and a terrible M. Night Shyamalan film, Nickelodeon debuted The Legend of Korra, a sequel series that many have semi-affectionately dubbed “Avatar: The Next Generation”. Following a new avatar, this one slightly older and significantly more female than Aang, the show attempted to build off the universe set by its parent show while crafting itself around a whole new set of stories and characters.

And for the most part, it hass succeeded. The first season of Korra was unevenly paced, starting off too slowly and ending too abruptly, but it delivered some promising themes, and its sharp animation and score were a welcome step up from Avatar‘s. Season Three capitalized on the show’s potential, delivering as taut and riveting an arc as this lustrum has seen. And Season Four (which is still airing as of this writing, but which I have my full confidence in) has further humanized its characters, and its protagonist in particular, while leading the show to its conclusion.

You may have noticed that I neglected to speak about Season Two in the above paragraph. There is good reason for that – Season Two is bad. Like, really bad. It crams way too much story into its first two episodes, then spends the next 12 stumbling around in hopes of finding a justification for its existence. It features shallow villains, contrived plotting, and a whole lot of dullness – hardly becoming of a show from minds that once brought us “Sozin’s Comet”.

Were it not for that disastrous second season, I would have no qualms about placing Korra in the Top Ten. As it stands, though, it must settle for skirting the edge. But that’s not to knock the show’s quality a great deal. With its colorful characters and excellent visual flair, The Legend of Korra is proof that animation can still be awesome.

Tune in next week when I reveal my picks for the Best Shows, Numbers Ten through Six. Hey, that kind of rhymes. I’m a poet, and I didn’t even realize that fact.

 


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47 thoughts on “The Best Shows of the Lustrum (Part 1)”

  1. [Note: Freudian Vampire posted this comment on November 9, 2014.]

    I watched some of the first season of Nikita and quit because it was such a shallow, pale imitation of a film which I love dearly. I similarly made it through six episodes of Korra before deciding that, while significantly better than the Avatar: The Last Airbender pilot, it was still a silly and frivolous show with cardboard cut-out characters and a blandly uninspired world.

    I’m going to go on record as one of those people who think Sherlock season three is exactly as poor as the naysayers proclaim it is. “The Empty Hearse” was dreadful. “The Sign of Three” was fun at times but badly paced and the ultimate resolution to the mystery was so unrealistic I genuinely laughed at the screen. “His Last Vow” was more enjoyable than the other two, but the scale was ramped up to ludicrous levels (John’s wife is an ex-assassin? Yeah, right) and it cheapened the ending that Magneson had a mind-palace. It was implausible enough that Sherlock had one. Giving them to villains-of-the-week would near ruin the show.

    And Orphan Black season two was disappointing.

    This does not bode well for this lustrum, especially when compared to 2005-10’s lineup of Battlestar Galactica, The Sopranos, The Shield, The Wire, Deadwood, Mad Men, Breaking Bad and Six Feet Under.

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  2. [Note: Debisib posted this comment on November 9, 2014.]

    I was with you until Nikita. Seeing 30 Rock up there makes me wonder if the other fantastic sitcom comedies Parks and Rec and Community will make the list, as well.

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  3. [Note: Zach posted this comment on November 9, 2014.]

    I have seen only one show on this list (Sherlock) so I can’t really contest anything.

    And to Freudian:

    “This does not bode well for this lustrum, especially when compared to 2005-10’s lineup of Battlestar Galactica, The Sopranos, The Shield, The Wire, Deadwood, Mad Men, Breaking Bad and Six Feet Under.”

    Agreed (although the previous lustrum would be 2005-2009 technically, I always disagree when people say that we are in the best age of TV ever, well I kind of disagree, if we talk about the lustrum with the best shows in it, our current one would not be very high on that list, with 2005-09 and 2000-2004 being at the top.

    However I would agree that ‘in general’ shows tend to be of a higher quality than in the past. I think TV is starting too get more serious attention worldwide as a storytelling medium, and most shows have so much greatness in the past to allow for a kind of canvas if you will of what to include too make a show great. So I think generally the shows are of a higher quality, the shows in the past are still unsurpassed by anything, except for arguably Breaking Bad, but I think its still not as good as: Buffy, The Wire, and The Sopranos

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  4. [Note: Zach posted this comment on November 9, 2014.]

    “it was still a silly and frivolous show with cardboard cut-out characters… ”

    That actually pretty much sums up my complaint with Fargo actually…

    Sorry, I will say no more about it until I have rewatched the pilot xD.

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  5. [Note: Zarnium posted this comment on November 9, 2014.]

    Of this list, I’ve only seen Sherlock and Orphan Black, but I’m glad to see they’re there. I’m really hoping season 3 of Orphan Black will be better, and have more substance than just throwing huge plot twists at the viewer as fast as possible. Then I can look back at season 2 as that one season that was a little underwhelming, and not as the season where everything fell apart and never recovered.

    Also, I’m now curious as to what exactly your thoughts on Spongebob are. Personally, I’d hardly call it great, or even good, at least not if we’re considering more than the first couple of seasons. I watched it a lot as a kid and some of the early episodes are cleverly done and still make me chuckle (“East? I thought you said Weast“), but it’s gone massively downhill since then.

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  6. [Note: Boscalyn posted this comment on November 9, 2014.]

    Interesting list; I’ve never heard of Nikita but otherwise I could get why you placed everything where you did.

    Of course, I disagree with most of your placements. 30 Rock but I’d rank it below a lot of comedies of the last five years (Bob’s Burgers, Archer, Parks and Rec, Brooklyn Nine Nine, Community, Key and Peele, etc) and I sincerely doubt you have all of those on there. Sherlock frustrates me because it has everything good and everything terrible about Steven Moffat’s writing in one clean package, but I’ll just say that if your favorite episode is “Scandal in Belgravia” because of Irene Adler rather than in spite of her you are not awesome in the slightest. I actually loved Orphan Black S2, even if it wasn’t as good as S1; is ten minutes of Tony really bad enough to ruin Alison and Donnie, or Cosima and Delphine and Scott, or Rachel and Ethan, or Rachel period, or Sarah and Helena, or the complete absence of Paul?

    No comment on Nikita. I’m cool with you listing Korra there, but I will say you’re not giving the 2000’s enough credit. Courage? The Grim Adventures? Class of 3000? (Okay, so maybe I’m the only person who cared about Class of 3000.)

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  7. [Note: Freudian Vampire posted this comment on November 9, 2014.]

    He beats his wife to death with a hammer. What’s your definition of frivolous? And if you think Molly Solverson is a cut-out character I think I should just end this conversation right here. 😉

    In all seriousness, I’d recommend you check out the film and No Country for Old Men before you give the pilot a go again. It seems to me that your criticisms are nitpicks which could be rectified by revisiting the show, but it could be that the Coen brothers formula just doesn’t work for you. Nonetheless, most of what you’ve written seems to be personal frustrations rather than genuine complaints.

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  8. [Note: Zach posted this comment on November 9, 2014.]

    By frivolous I mean to imply it’s overly silly.

    By dictionary.com – not having any serious purpose or value. (Yup…)

    Other than the act itself, than the tension it brought in itself, it had no value for me, considering I thought everything that built to that point was ridiculous.

    And I have seen No Country for Old Men, and I liked it a lot, although not one of my favorite films.

    As opposed to them being personal frustrations…Well…Yea…We would be lying to ourselves if we actually thought any of our complaints were anything more than entirely subjective frustrations (although perhaps frustrations isn’t the best word).

    I, as you put aptly in an older post, subjectively objectively feel that Fargo had completely contrived and out of place progression, in order to fulfill a false sense of realistic tension, and shock value. Like I said though, perhaps rewatching will lessen my harsh claims on it; but I doubt it will change much, but either way, I will be much more prepared to support my claims with evidence than I do as of now. I don’t even really know who Molly is yet, so I can’t really argue that.

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  9. [Note: Zach posted this comment on November 9, 2014.]

    Hammering your wife to death with a hammer in the sense that fargo used is actually more silly than an ancient demon that infects the internet via scan machine.

    Lol…Just kidding.

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  10. [Note: Freudian Vampire posted this comment on November 9, 2014.]

    Nope, you subjectively subjectively think that, since there was proper build-up to Lester’s actions seen through the events of the pilot, Freeman’s acting and suggestions about the past; therefore your criticisms are purely personal frustrations that the show did not fulfill your pre-existent criteria rather than judging it based on it’s actual quality.

    Imo.

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  11. [Note: Zach posted this comment on November 9, 2014.]

    No, I disagree, I objectively think the chain of events was forced and unnatural.

    you subjectively think that my subjective objective (ultimately subjective) analysis is rooted in subjectivity entirely rather than subjective objectivity. That about right?

    I don’t take anything about Fargo personally, there is nothing in it that I personally had a distaste for…I thought it felt forced based on what I remember. It was entertaining and intriguing, but I thought the writing was terrible…That’s basically about the it…However, I am going to watch some of it again right now.

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  12. [Note: Freudian Vampire posted this comment on November 9, 2014.]

    No, you subjectively think my objectively subjective analysis of your subjectively subjective critique of this objectively great show (in my subjectively objective opinion) is subjectively subjective whereas it is in fact objectively subjectively objective.

    😉

    If you want to continue a discussion of Fargo, I’d suggest you create a new forum thread.

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  13. [Note: Zach posted this comment on November 9, 2014.]

    I think you subjectively think that your objective subjectiveness is the ‘true’ objective subjectiveness, and that mine is simply subjective, even though something being subjectively objective is ultimately completely subjective, therefore you can’t really definitively say….Ugh, I got lost in my own words…Anyways!

    http://www.criticallytouched.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=19&t=2286&p=36047#p36047

    Fargo comments xD

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  14. [Note: StakeAndCheese posted this comment on November 9, 2014.]

    Yeah, if you think that the world of ATLA and Korra is “blandly uninspired,” you’re too divorced from any perception of reality that I have ever encountered for any discussion to be worthwhile.

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  15. [Note: Freudian Vampire posted this comment on November 9, 2014.]

    To clarify, that’s the world presented in the first six episodes of The Legend of Korra. I’m well aware it might be better presented in the later seasons or in Avatar: The Last Airbender but I quit before I got that far. All I saw were some archetypal magic powers, some archetypal “philosophy” about airbending and a city that was in severe need of some fleshing out. None of it was bad per se, but what I saw was definitely unoriginal and lacking in nuance.

    The shows have some enjoyable elements, but they also have a lot of flaws and too few positives to keep me engaged.

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  16. [Note: Comandante Spi posted this comment on November 9, 2014.]

    Yeah, after the 2004 movie the show went downhill. The humor became crude and unfunny, the storys succumbed to either being stupid or weirdly dark, and, by god, the characters couldn’t be more annoying, especially SpoungeBob. Well, at least there’s the original 1999-2004 run, which is pure gold.

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  17. [Note: Jeremy G. posted this comment on November 9, 2014.]

    Cool comments, everyone. I figured I’d get some debate going about my choices, particularly with regard to the inclusion of 30 Rock and Nikita.

    Zach (#3): I’m with you here. I think television this lustrum hasn’t had quite as many peaks of brilliance as we’ve had in 2000-04 or 2005-09. But I do believe that, in terms of broad range, television has never been more consistently or plentifully good as it is now. (I may do a Blog post about this someday, too. Yikes, I think I’m suffering from a major case of Blogitis.)

    Zarnium: My thoughts on SpongeBob are pretty much the same as Comanadante Spi’s. I think the early seasons were often brilliant, but the post-movie years are painful. Still, given its massive cultural influence, I tend to overlook the show’s decline (though I don’t hold it in as high regard as I do Avatar or Kim Possible.)

    Also, can you believe they’re making another movie? I swear, they’re squeezing that poor little sponge dry.

    Boscalyn: I’m not sure if this is coincidence, but in the circle of Sherlock-viewing fans I’ve encountered, the guys all seem to love Irene Adler and the girls all hate her. Am I the only one who notices this?

    I love Grim Adventures (though its humor can get uncomfortable at times), but Courage – well, I liked it a lot as a kid, but it hasn’t aged very well to my mind. And I’ve never heard of Class of 3000.

    Regarding your list of comedies… well, at least one is in the Top Ten, and at least one falls under my “Haven’t Seen” rule. But that would be telling…

    Freudian: We will have words about Korra on the forums someday. Oh, and Avatar, too.

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  18. [Note: StakeAndCheese posted this comment on November 9, 2014.]

    Watch Avatar: The Last Airbender. The first season can be rough at times, but it’s probably the single greatest achievement of long-form storytelling in Western Animation, and that’s including the entirety of the DCAU, Young Justice, Samurai Jack and Gargoyles.

    Zuko’s arc may well be better than Wesley Wyndam-Pryce’s.

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  19. [Note: Zarnium posted this comment on November 9, 2014.]

    I’m not sure if this is coincidence, but in the circle of Sherlock-viewing fans I’ve encountered, the guys all seem to love Irene Adler and the girls all hate her. Am I the only one who notices this?

    I know that there are complaints of sexism surrounding Moffat’s Irene Adler, but my Mom and my sister both love the show and have never voiced any complaints about her. Granted, neither of them are heavily involved in feminist circles, but they’re still intelligent people who I’d expect to recognize offensive portrayals of women they see them, and they don’t see any here. (Same for Moffat’s Doctor Who.)

    So, I dunno. I don’t want to sound like a clueless chauvinist, but the women in my life just don’t think that Moffat’s work is sexist, so I’ve never seen any real reason to object.

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  20. [Note: Boscalyn posted this comment on November 9, 2014.]

    Adler is ostensibly a lesbian dominatrix, but we never see this in any meaningful capacity– in fact, the only person she’s seen having romantic interactions with is the very male Sherlock. She spends a notable portion of the episode completely naked. I think it’s safe to say that these aspects of her character exist solely for male titillation.

    I haven’t seen Class of 3000 since it first aired, honestly. Mostly I just remember it for having a likable cast and a really, really good funk/blues soundtrack. Pretty much all mention of the show has been scrubbed from the face of the earth because Cartoon Network got involved in an IP lawsuit over it, but I’ll try to find it at some point and see if I like it as much as I did when I was eleven.

    I… am actually super damn excited for the new SpongeBob film! The Simpsons Movie was good even when the concurrent episodes were shit, so I don’t see why the same wouldn’t hold with SpongeBob.

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  21. [Note: Jeremy G. posted this comment on November 9, 2014.]

    I liked Irene Adler mainly because Moffat and Co. showed an understanding of why she worked in the original “Scandal in Belgravia” short story, and bringing her to the forefront in a manner that made her more interesting. (She was little more than a background figure in Doyle’s original story.)

    I can only speak for myself here, but the nude scene didn’t influence my liking for the character any, since I thought it was far too broadly comedic and over-the-top to be “sexy”. Plus, I hate it when television shows feel the need to feature nude scenes. They’re cheap, discriminating, and extremely uncomfortable to watch. (Remember that furious rant I went on after watching The Wire‘s “Stray Rounds”? A lot of that was due to the brothel scenes.)

    And I’ll probably wind up seeing the new SpongeBob film, regardless of my feelings toward the later seasons. (The Simpsons Movie came out when the show was at a creative low, and shortly afterwards, the series took a notable surge up in quality. There’s always a chance that SpongeBob could climb out of its rut.)

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  22. [Note: Zach posted this comment on November 9, 2014.]

    Nude scenes don’t especially bother me in itself, but I dislike when they fill way to much screen time as an obvious attempt to ‘fill time’.

    AHEM Game of Thrones!

    Nudity isn’t really content as far as tv shows go, they usually don’t help with any sort of progression, etc, and, most of the time, are made simply to titillate people…It’s pretty much the equivalent of a throwaway joke, except for the fact that it’s basically the same thing over and over again in the case of GoT, so it doesn’t really work. Nude scenes rarely, but sometimes are necessary, or are there to progress the plot, a good example would be Romeo and Juliet’s sex scene (Had to go pretty far back for that one xD). No but a more recent sensical nude scene would be The Wire’s frequent visits to the strip club, etc, where we see strippers in the background…This is obviously realistic, it would be weird for them to be in a strip club and for there not to be naked women dancing…Since that’s obviously what happens there.

    All this being said, I don’t think that scene in Sherlock was an offender of any of these things, and I am pretty sure it wasn’t designed to titillate men considering it wasn’t really a ‘sexy’ scene…Also…No nudity was shown, so I think it’s fair that it’s her type of character and was there to progress the story…I find no faults with it really.

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  23. [Note: StakeAndCheese posted this comment on November 10, 2014.]

    I really don’t think The Wire’s nude scenes can be characterized as exploitative, considering that they also show Omar from the front, Daniels from behind (in a long, long shot) and have a cadaver’s penis in the corner of the frame for a several minute exposition scene.

    People are naked sometimes, so people are naked in The Wire sometimes.

    Like

  24. [Note: Other Scott posted this comment on November 10, 2014.]

    You may be thinking of The Sopranos, which was much more exploitative in its nudity than The Wire was. The Wire didn’t go to strip clubs all that often, it was one of the main settings of The Sopranos.

    Like

  25. [Note: Jeremy G. posted this comment on November 10, 2014.]

    Between The Wire and The Sopranos, my question isn’t so much “Why do the strip clubs feature so much nudity?” as it is “Why do these shows so prominently feature strip clubs in the first place?”

    (I can pretty much guess the answer.)

    Thankfully, whenever the onscreen content gets too racy, I can just look away. (My favorite way to do this is through a bemused sideways glance, like the ones characters use on The Office. It’s like you’re indicating to some imaginary audience, “What? No, I didn’t come here to watch this. Now turn off the camera.”)

    Like

  26. [Note: Zarnium posted this comment on November 10, 2014.]

    My take on nudity (either full-on nudity or the “the privates are barely obscured” kind) is that if there’s going to be a bedroom scene or some other scene where the characters are nude, there’s no reason why a show or movie should go out of its way to not show it. I’m more concerned with why there’s a nude scene in the first place; if it contributes to the story, I don’t mind, but if it’s gratuitous or obviously there for titillation, it’s a little more problematic from a sexism standpoint.

    What I’m more concerned with, though, are female characters who wear ridiculous “sexy” outfits 100% of the time for no legitimate story reason. Star Trek: Voyager was very bad in this regard with Seven of Nine’s outfit. Besides being demeaning towards women, I always felt pretty insulted as a male viewer as well. It’s like the producers were saying “Not interested in our subpar, disappointing show? Well here, have some BOOBS. Now you’re interested, you slobbering caveman! hur hur hur!”

    Like

  27. [Note: Other Scott posted this comment on November 10, 2014.]

    Well, the answer is that both shows feature many of the types of characters who would spend extended periods of strip clubs. That said, having Tony Soprano’s main place of business be a strip club is probably a bridge too far. Though, the last couple of seasons I’ve watched, I haven’t seen nearly as much of the show be set there.

    Like

  28. [Note: Zach posted this comment on November 10, 2014.]

    I was actually referring to The Wire S1 where they went to that strip club that Avon owned (or did he own it?)

    But yes, there is a lot of that in The Sopranos as well…

    I never really have the “sexism” problem with nude scenes…I think I disagree with most here in regards to that subject since the majority here seems to be more on the feminist side than I am, so I very rarely have any complaint regarding sexism, racism, etc compared to some here.

    My biggest problem is whether the show is using it to appeal to the audience, or if it is necessary to the story…If it’s the latter, I have no issue with it.

    That being said, The Sopranos had a lot of useless nudity…Fortunately the show is so damn good I can’t really complain too much.

    Like

  29. [Note: StakeAndCheese posted this comment on November 10, 2014.]

    Well, he did own it…AND he didn’t own it.

    It makes perfect sense that they’d use a strip club as a front, too. There’s no better way to launder money than through a cash-based business, after all.

    And it’s not like he could just buy a bunch of car washes based in the West Side of Baltimore.

    Like

  30. [Note: Jay posted this comment on November 14, 2014.]

    (raises hand sheepishly) My name is Jay and I only think that Sherlock is okay and also didn’t really like “The Reichenbach Fall” as an episode, even with Moriarty who is admittedly a real charmer.

    (ducks and runs away)

    Like

  31. [Note: Other Scott posted this comment on November 14, 2014.]

    Hi Jay.

    I actually don’t think there’s too many Sherlock uberfans around here from what I can tell. It’s a show that pretends to have intelligence more than having actual intelligence.

    Like

  32. [Note: Jay posted this comment on November 14, 2014.]

    Everyone has smartphones, so why didn’t Sherlock take his out and start recording as Moriarty faked him out in the cab with the videos and the supervillian-esque revealing of his plot? It’s just… ugh…

    Like

  33. [Note: buffyholic posted this comment on May 25, 2015.]

    Better late than never, right?

    30 Rock – Granted, I only saw one or two episodes but I gotta say that I just didn´t find it funny. Maybe I will watch it when I have the time.

    Sherlock – I may be the only person who doesn´t like Sherlock. I just find everything so cold and impersonal.

    Orphan Black – Freaking amazing. I just started season 2.

    Nikita – I love Nikita and yes, season 3 is very uneven but the characters are fantastic, complex and human. Season 2 is fantastic and even better than season 1. These characters are complex, human and interesting.And I´ll add that the relationship Nikita/Alex is the best and one of the highlights of season 1.

    The Legend of Korra – Never saw it, sorry.

    Like

  34. [Note: JustAnItalianGuy posted this comment on May 18, 2016.]

    I have to strongly disagree with your high consideration of The Legend of Korra. I finished watching season two and I’m forcing myself to continue. Apart from the disastrous second season (I won’t spend words on it), the first season was awfully bad. Every aspect of the product had tons of problems, starting from the characters, bland and without any development over the course of the season, to the story (too many subplots, none of them covered enough), to the storytelling (the pacing, oh my god the pacing), to the interactions between characters (they felt forced, the only love interest that felt genuine was The Bolin infatuation with Korra, and it was thrown away), to the underusage of the setting (I never felt neither Republic City to be part of the story, nor the threats really menacing), to the fights (uninspired, with no choreography at all) to the real ability of Korra (she goes from being master of three elements and baby prodigy, to being knocked out 9 times in 12 episodes, and mostly by insignificant chi blockers that randomly appear in the city), to the complete waste of a great villain like Amon (social problems arise with the evolution of the society: how can we solve this situation without falling to the extreme measures of the equalists?? Nah, Amon is a waterbender, so the problem ceases to exist because the plot needs to wrap everything up in 12 episodes).
    Last but not least i hated the bastardization of the uncommon powers of the original series: metalbending goes from one user to an entire police force being able to master it (hundreds of people in RC alone), lightingbending was extremely difficult to master (Zuko, one of the greatest firebenders of his time couldn’t use it) and now is an ability that even street kids like Mako could achieve, bloodbending, the peak of the waterbending powers, that can be used by an entire clan without the limitation of the full moon, because ‘reasons’.
    And I didn’t talk about that ending, with Aang ex machina that solves every problem. Embarassing.
    I hope it gets better in the last two seasons, but I can’t understand how a show that has half of its runtime that is complete garbage could make it to this list.

    Like

  35. [Note: Jeremy G. posted this comment on May 18, 2016.]

    I took to the world of Korra rather easily, in part due to the general familiarity I had with its rules thanks to Avatar. The widespread use of the “uncommon powers” never bothered me, as plenty of time had passed since the original series, and it seemed obvious that bending had grown more sophisticated with time.

    That said, the second half of the series is by far the better effort, from both a character and story perspective.

    Like

  36. [Note: JustAnItalianGuy posted this comment on May 19, 2016.]

    I appreciate the point you make but still, in a world as old as the one those characters live, it doesn’t make sense the fact that for thousands of years uncommon powers remained uncommon, and then in 70 years everything changes and suddenly everyone can bend whatever they want. And it still doesn’t explain why Amon and his relatives could bloodbend without the full moon.
    That’s just bad writing.
    My greatest complaint with this series is that it’s like a teenage girl, unsure if she wants to became a woman or to remain a baby. It continuosly introduces interesting plot points or mature themes and situation, only to throw them in the dumpster by trying to solve them with childish attitude. The result is a somewhat incoherent mess, a pulsar of dissonant signals that isn’t capable of finding it’s own way of dealing with the story, the characters and everything else.
    Also a minute of silence for the character of Mako, that to me is still a mystery after two seasons. Who he is? How does he thinks? What is his character? It’s zero dimentional being lurking around.
    I’ll finish it thou.
    Thanks for the good work btw 🙂 keep reviewing, you’re an ispiration
    (and sorry for all the errors, english is not my mother tongue and my autocorrector is set in italian)

    Like

  37. [Note: Jeremy G. posted this comment on May 19, 2016.]

    Thanks! And no worries about the grammar.

    One thing to keep in mind is that Korra was initially designed as a standalone 12-episode miniseries, and was only brought back when that first season proved popular. So while Season One does wrap things up a bit too easily and neatly, the writers didn’t initially design it to continue.

    Some shows find their footing quickly, others take a bit longer. Korra falls into the latter category, but when it finally hit its stride, it became a worthy successor to Avatar (which itself, I should point out, took a little while to become a great series).

    Like

  38. [Note: JustAnItalianGuy posted this comment on May 19, 2016.]

    Exactly, I believe that the writers were over presumptuous. It’s rather difficult to write a compelling story with enough character development in just 12 episodes, altough Japanese animation usually does that (like in Madoka Magica, Death Parade, Psycho Pass, Sakamichi no Apollon etc..)
    I’m wandering how different those two seasons could have been if Aaron Ehasz was there helping with the writing.
    Thanks for the reply 🙂

    Like

  39. [Note: Jay posted this comment on May 19, 2016.]

    We actually have an anime thread in the forums where we’ve talked about three of the four shows you mentioned. I’m a big Death Parade fan, have serious criticisms of Madoka, and am positive on Psycho-Pass and Sakamichi no Apollon though mostly because, hey, Yoko Kanno and Shinichiro Watanabe, although I think its gaps sometimes show as an adapted work.

    Like

  40. [Note: JustAnItalianGuy posted this comment on August 6, 2016.]

    I finished TLoK and I have mixed feelings about it. The last two season were good (they still had some problems, like KuvHitler) but is that enough to make up for other two very bad seasons? I don’t know, but still I fell like they wasted 26 episodes.

    Like

  41. [Note: Jeremy G. posted this comment on August 6, 2016.]

    I really liked Kuvira, actually. She was the show’s most complex villain, and probably its most compelling. And thankfully, no one on the show ever referred to her as KuvHitler.

    Like

  42. [Note: JustAnItalianGuy posted this comment on August 7, 2016.]

    I actually preferred Zaheer, although Kuvira potentially could have been the greatest of them all. My problem was that they went overboard with her. Reeducational camps? Segregation and discrimanation against non-earth benders? That was laughable. Come on, I want a villain, not a wannabe Hitler/Mao. For that I can watch Iron Sky

    Like

  43. [Note: Flamepillar112 posted this comment on August 21, 2016.]

    30 Rock-My least favorite of the 4 NBC sitcoms that aired on Thursday nights, but still a really good smart comedy (Parks and Rec, The Office, Community, 30 Rock)

    Sherlock-Yep.

    Orphan Black-Great 1st season, kind of shit 2nd season. So meh overall.

    Nikita-Never heard of it.

    Korra-I don’t like it as much as its predecessor, because there was too much padding.

    Like

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