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We are just over 20% of the way through the 2013-2014 television season, so I thought I'd put together a few thoughts on my top 5 shows, after 5 episodes.

Castle

It's fair to say that this season of Castle was highly anticipated after the events in the season 5 finale earlier this year. I've been really happy with the season so far. The creative team have managed the transition of 'partner' to 'fiance' perfectly, and I'm loving how Castle and Beckett are working together in a way which reflects the early days, but at the same time the story is staying true to character development and progression.

I was thrilled with the 2 part season premiere. It's been long overdue for the series - there should have been one in season 4, but there wasn't. Lisa Edelstein did a great job in her guest role, and though I did have some doubts about how quickly the FBI arc would end, I was pleased it did last beyond the 2 parter and into episode 3. The time gap made things line up really well too.

I'm not too impressed with Alexis' new lover, Pi. Though the series has a history of bringing strange recurring characters into the equation, Pi is a little too strange, and it just doesn't seem to click with me. However the creative team may have done this deliberately to showcase some character transformation - 'growing up' is probably a good name for it, because Alexis and Pi will need to, especially seeing as they're moving in together.

Ryan and Espozito continue to be the comical stalwarts of the series and they have uppped their game this season. It was good to see Captain Gates make her presence felt in the 2 parter, but to keep the character credible, she has to be seen more frequently than she currently is. The temporary detective who replaced Beckett at the 12th didn't work for me either, for much the same reasons as Pi. He was too heavily contrasted to Beckett, and the creative team could have done much better there.

All in all, I'd give the first 5 episodes 8 stars out of 10. Pi and the detective are the only drawbacks for me. I'm a humorous person but the introduction of both characters fell flat in my opinion.

Person of Interest

I've been thrilled with how Person of Interest has kicked off its third season. The creative team continue boldly take control and steer the series in multiple directions, all backed with an extremely complex and intricate storyline.

With The Machine taking a step back from Finch and Reese, Root now has full control. That right there is what I call a bold move. With the addition of Samantha Shaw to the team, it's allowed the writers to noticeably increase the complexity of the procedural style numbers of the week. Shaw provides the perfect contrast to both Reese and Finch, and the tentative, yet effective relationship triangle they have works perfectly.

It's been fascinating to witness how much Carter has changed from the finale last season, to now. She has been demoted, and thrown a rookie who happens to work for HR. Their relationship is on a knife edge at the moment, and could go either way. However this change in Carter's demeanour has reduced the screen time for Fusco, and that doesn't look like it's about to change any time soon.

With the Snow and Stanton arc finished, the series is free to move. Hersh and Control have already stepped up their presence in the hunt for Root, HR is cementing itself in the wings, and Elias is just waiting to strike too. The interesting things about these conflicts is that neither directly involve Reese or Finch at the moment - they aren't the antagonists in any of these conflicts. They will most certainly have a role to play, however, as potential persons of interest are bound to be caught in the crossfire.

All in all, Person of Interest's first 5 episodes earn a comfortable 9 out of 10 stars from me. The lack of screen time for Fusco is the only thing letting the series down. His character still has plenty to contribute, and the series does need him to compensate for Carter's instability.

The Blacklist

I can't praise The Blacklist enough right now. It hasn't put a foot wrong in its first 5 weeks on air, and there's no sign of that happening either. The cast contribute to the quality of the series in a big way - they all command attention and own the screen in all their scenes. Their delivery of the script is second to none, as is their acting, which is miles ahead of the acting in any other freshman network series in the last few years. James Spader was the star attraction and marketing tool for The Blacklist and he hasn't disappointed, but it's awesome to see the other cast members going toe to toe with him.

The creative team have set out to build a storyline with a solid degree of complexity and mystery. You get the feeling that several of the characters just aren't who they seem, but I wouldn't have it any other way. There's a backstory which is being developed too, though the series is vastly focused on the present, but I've got no doubt that a sizeable dose of history is coming the way of the viewer in the not so distant future.

I want to highlight the production quality of The Blacklist too. The series is very well filmed and directed, I've loved the range of camera angles and cinematography techniques used in the first 5 episodes. There's been bunch of excellent special effects along with an array of outdoor scenes. Some viewers won't notice the details, but when you know what you're looking for, the little things at the technical level really do add another dimension to the series.

My only real concern is character development in the long term for this series. I've got no doubt that there's hundreds of people on Red's blacklist, but at the moment it doesn't seem feasible that he can remain on the level he currently sits at with the FBI and other higher powers. I've spent a long time thinking through many ways in which that could be done, but nothing is sitting right at the moment.

All in all, the first 5 episodes of The Blacklist have been a joy to watch. The creative team are in complete control, with an excellent cast who are performing at the highest level. That earns the series a 9 out of 10 stars from me, with the only drawback being the concern I have regarding character development.

Elementary

I fell in love with Elementary after I binge watched the first season in the summer. Not a single episode failed to make me laugh, and this season has managed to keep that record up without any problems.

Elementary has the unique ability to combine the strangest of concepts with humor and intelligence. Only Elementary could link a carrier pigeon to a murder - that moment is one of the highlights of the series to date for me.

The compact cast means all the lead characters get ample screen time, and all use it very well. An advantage of the small cast is the added flexibility it provides for introducing recurring characters - which was done very effectively last season, and this season also, with the introduction of Sherlock's brother.

The creative team have done a superb job in portraying the chipping away of the wall Sherlock has built up to guard against the influences of others. As time has advanced, the progression and growth of his relationship with Watson has been considerable, whilst remaining very subtle at the same time.

I'm a little concerned with the frequency that we will be seeing the recurring characters such as Sherlock's brother, and Moriarty. Though the show is largely a procedural, the compacted cast means that while using recurring characters is easier, their use has to be frequent to ensure the story's progression and prevent fans from getting bored. This concern means I'm giving the first 5 episodes of this season of Elementary a 9 out of 10.

Scandal

Though Scandal is an episode behind the others I've discussed, I'm talking about it anyway. The series saw a massive jump in popularity mid-way through last season, and for very good reason, with a storyline that moved faster than anything else I've ever watched.

Scandal has some massive expectations for this season, with almost all getting a chunk of their background from events last season. I thought the season premiere was outstanding, as was the second episode, but episode 3 just didn't quite cut it for me. The reason was the bomb in the White House. In my opinion, though the episode itself was excellent, as was that segment of story, the timing was terrible. That sort of story should have come later on in the season - there was too much happening in that episode to run harmoniously alongside Jake's return, and Eli's actions

However alongside that, the introduction of Eli Pope to the storyline is just about the best character introduction I've seen in any series over the last few years. The creative team have done a stunning job in bringing a character who was previously unheard of, right into the center of the storyline. Eli is a very dangerous man who has his brushes in many different colors of paint, and I cannot wait to see how things continue to develop. Alongside that, Cyrus, Olivia, Mellie, Fitz, as well as Harrison, Huck and Quinn, are all really upping their games, and escalating conflict among one another. It's all going to explode or implode at some stage, and I have my eye on the mid season finale for that to occur.

The cast of Scandal is the best on network television right now. Jeff Perry is without doubt the best male actor on television at the moment, and his phenomenal performances thus far this season continue to reaffirm that opinion in my mind. Of course, Perry is one of many highly experienced and extremely talented actors in the series - I just don't have the time in this review format to mention them all.

That concludes my 5x5 review, a brief review of 5 shows after 5 seasons.

What do you think? Do you have any thoughts you'd like to make heard? Be sure to tell us in the comments below!

Thanks for reading! You can see ratings, statistics and much more for all these shows on my TV ratings website, www.seriesmonitor.com
Jimmy

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