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Monday Night - Mini Review - Castle / The Blacklist / Almost Human and more

(Check out my website, www.seriesmonitor.com

Monday is my favorite day for television. Five of the dozen or so shows occupy a Monday night timeslot, and they're finally back on air following the Winter Olympics break

Minka Kelly as Valerie Stahl
FOX's Almost Human kicked the night off for me at 8|7c, with its penultimate episode of the season. The case revolved around a pretty interesting chap who was killing chromes to source DNA for his own facial reconstructions. On the surface, the concept sounds like something out of Criminal Minds, but the motives of the killer were to impress someone he had met online. It was much more moving than I expected, and I have to say I almost shed a tear for John Kennex when Valerie Stahl left the office on a date with another chrome, having swapped numbers only a few episodes ago in an amazing scene. I'd hate to see the series end without those two becoming a thing. The finale next week will hopefully reveal more.

I was a late arrival to this series but once I began watching just before the new year, Almost Human hooked me very quickly. I enjoy its pace, the characters and their interactions, but most of all, I enjoy how this series tries to predict how a future world would look. It's raised some interesting points of discussion around areas such as human cloning and genetic modification, the use of robots and automation, and all the cool gadgets. This is a television series, not a movie, so there's plenty of current stuff around the place, which, I think, adds to the character of the series. Unfortunately, despite having a reasonably strong online following, Almost Human is a toss-up between renewal and cancellation. I really hope FOX rules in its favor and gives Almost Human another season, because it's one of the better shows on television at the moment, and certainly one of FOX's
Kevin Bacon as Ryan Hardy

The Following, also on FOX was next up for me. Last night's episode was the first one this season that really got down to business and accelerated the storyline. With the family of weirdos separated, and Joe Carroll now in the wind with Emma, Ryan Hardy may have the upper hand, and with assistance in the form of Max Hardy and Mike Weston, things have got a lot more interesting since Monday's episode. I've enjoyed how the showrunners have taken the fans' advice and tried to turn Ryan Hardy into a stronger character who takes no prisoners, and has a higher IQ than last season. Doing this has increased the enjoyment factor dramatically for me.

After a strong opening performance on the back of an NFL game, The Following seems to have lost a lot of followers. This has surprised me somewhat, considering how the show has improved this season. Again, it seems like a toss-uo for renewal at this stage, though it is one of the series that could wrap things up this season with some degree of ease. Once Carroll is dead, there's really not a lot to build from.

Josh Holloway as Gabriel Vaughn
CBS's Intelligence was a lot better than usual last night, and I'm putting that down to the much needed absence of the father and son scientists, coupled with a stronger storyline with a bit of character history weaved in. The more time the leads, Gabriel and Riley, are on screen, the better. The showrunners haven't done well enough to build the supporting characters around the leads, which is a pity really, because despite their plentiful chemistry, they really can't do it all on their own.

Because of the poor pilot and the following 3 episodes, Intelligence hasn't captured enough viewers to make it viable for a second season at this point. It is doing ok in the timeshifted ratings though, but this isn't what the buffs at CBS are looking for. The series does have a lot of potential, but it's lacking quality execution at the moment. More episodes like Monday's episode, minus the doctors, are what's needed.

One show that is coming back for certain later in the year is NBC's terrific The Blacklist. James Spader was in a league of his own in last night's episode. The scenes in the cells and while Liz was tied up were simply stunning. Alongside that, the possible backstory we learned in Monday's episode was also fascinating. In addition, Liz's husband, Tom, is beginning to lose patience, and the doubt that Reddington is inserting into Liz's mind is eating away at her. It's all going to come to a head in next week's episode, when one of the list's members strikes very close to home.

I get the feeling that The Blacklist could be so much better with a better directing team, and special effects/CGI crew. For an action oriented series, The Blacklist doesn't come close to other less action oriented shows in scenarios such as shootouts and car chases. The flaws in some of the editing are eyesores at times, and given the ease with which CGI and special effects can be executed in this day and age, The Blacklist really should be a lot better in this area.

Stana Katic & Nathan Fillion as
Kate Beckett & Richard Castle
Finally, on ABC, it's Castle. Monday's episode was a real gem in several areas, chiefly the interaction between Kate and Alexis. We haven't seen this level of interaction between these two since season 4's 'Cops & Robbers' episode. I do hope we see more of it too, especially considering there's a wedding on the horizon. It was also long overdue to see Captain Gates back in amongst it, as she never fails to spice things up. The case was also highly entertaining, with the multiple confessions causing a conundrum.

With the annual 2 parter episode occurring as the series premiere, it doesn't look like we will get one at this time in the year, which breaks a bit of an unwritten tradition for Castle, which has put together a 2 part episode around this time in the season since season 2. One wonders whether things will return to normal next year, given Castle is slated by most analysts as having a very high chance of renewal.

That's all for now. Remember you can see the ratings and statistics for most of the shows I mentioned on my website, www.seriesmonitor.com.

What was your Monday night highlight, and what is your favorite night of the week for television? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Jimmy

About the Author - Jimmy Ryan
Jimmy Ryan lives in New Zealand. He is an avid follower of drama television and has a keen interest for television ratings and statistics. Some of his favorite shows right now are Person of Interest, Scandal, House of Cards, Orphan Black, The Blacklist, and Castle. You can visit his television ratings website, www.seriesmonitor.com or follow him on Twitter, @SeriesMonitor.


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