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Mid-season evaluation - Reviewing various shows as they stand

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It’s the beginning of February. Four months ago, in late September/early October, the 2013-2014 TV season started. Within four months, mid to late May, the regular season will have ended with summer season ready to start. As we are now somewhat in the middle of the television season, I thought it would be a good idea to have a look at the shows that I watch and see how they are currently doing quality-wise.

Since I have “only” 168 hours in a week, just like the rest of you, you will understand that it is impossible to watch every show on every network. Also, I don’t live in the USA so I watch all my episodes online. I currently have 11 show on my watchlist, 6 which are currently airing, 2 have concluded their seasons, 2 still have to premiere and one show will return later. For the record, I don’t watch cable or comedy shows, but limit myself to the broadcast networks. From my 11 shows, 5 are from CBS, 4 from The CW and 2 from NBC. I currently don’t watch ABC or Fox shows online, although some might be added in the future.

Now let’s get on to the review, going in alphabetical order.

Arrow has been really good this season. After the first few fairly OK episodes, the show’s fourth episode revealed that Sara Lance is alive and is the Black Canary. If only this revelation hadn’t been spoiled already in summer, it would have totally blown me away. The addition of Caity Lotz as Sara is a perfect addition to the Arrow family, and I am really hoping she stays around. Episodes 4 up until the midseason finale were great all together. The seventh episode was probably the weakest of them, but the revelation that Malcolm Merlyn is alive made it still a great episode for me. The two-part midseason finale introduced us to Barry Allen aka The Flash, played by Grant Gustin. I am really looking forward to seeing what the spin-off will bring us. Returning after the holidays, the episodes were again fairly OK, with “Tremors” standing out. I look forward to seeing all the storylines being played out.
Yet there are still a few problems with Arrow. I believe that it currently has too many active storylines, which means that some storylines are being dragged out while others are hastily ended. If we only consider the amount of enemies Team Arrow currently has, we can think of: Deathstroke/Slade Wilson/Sebastian Blood, the League of Assassins, Malcolm Merlyn, Isabel Rochev (she must be an enemy, right?) and the Suicide Squad. Again, I am curious to see the storylines develop but hope they won’t be all dragged out.
Another problem is the amount of screen time/action each series regular gets. Diggle and Felicity have only been in the cave for the last few episodes. Thea doesn’t seem to be active in any storyline. Laurel was finally involved in the Blood storyline, but she now seems to have her own personal drama. I could go on, but most of you will know what I am talking about. Let’s hope it will improve within time.
Grade: A-

As a reviewer for the show, I had to watch every episode. This was, however, not a punishment at all. I really enjoyed Hostages for the time being. After each episode, I was always looking forward to the next one. The plot really gripped me and what made it even more interesting were all the personal problems from both the Sanders family and the captors. I think the limited format worked well for the show. Was it being dragged out too long? Maybe. Did the show stray off too much? Maybe. There might have been a few episodes we could have done without, but overall, it was quite an enjoyable series. Too bad the ratings weren’t there.
Grade: B+

Ever since seeing the first trailer, I have been looking forward to Intelligence. Unfortunately, the show has been quite disappointing for me. The cases are boring and the show just hasn’t been able to really grab my interest like other procedurals do. I do like the chemistry between Riley and Gabriel, but that’s about it. I was supposed to be a reviewer for the show, but dropped that after seeing the second episode. I haven’t seen past episode 2 yet, so it might have improved since then. While I am not ready to drop if from my watchlist yet, the show currently has no priority to me.
Grade: D

NCIS is my all-time favourite show. However, that doesn’t mean it’s the best show currently airing. Of course, the show had quite a shake-up at the beginning of the season when Ziva and her portrayer Cote de Pablo departed. Yet I really liked both the premiere and episode 2 and I would like to believe that the writers did their best, given the circumstances, to write a proper send-off for Ziva. The first post-Ziva episode, “Under the Radar”, was, in my honest opinion, a nice episode to start a new era for the show. Unfortunately, my enthusiasm dropped after that. The following episodes up to and including 7 were a bit boring and couldn’t really grab my attention. Though each episode had its good moments (Mike Franks returns/Tony’s growth/Borin returns/Jackson is back with quite an emotional background story), my interest in the show was renewed around episode 8. I found the alibi case in the episode quite interesting and as such, I enjoyed the episode pretty much. With the introduction of Ellie Bishop in the next episode, I believe the show found some more stability. While I like her character, she obviously still has a lot to learn (telling Gibbs how he needs to do his job?!?). Yet individual episodes started to improve with the new team member, with “Devil’s Triad” being one of the funniest episodes the show has ever done and of course returning with a (literal) bang after the holidays. I liked Moira Queen Hollis Mann’s return and the latest episode was a really emotional one.
However, besides some non-interesting cases, I have a few other problems with the season. The biggest one is consistency. As an example let’s look at the Parsa storyline. In the premiere, it was revealed that he was after the entire team and that his primary target was Ziva David. But by the time episode 2 finished, she and the rest of the team seemed quite safe and the fact that they were in danger seemed completely forgotten. I also don’t like that the characters have moved on too quickly from Ziva’s departure. I mean, Abby didn’t even cry or anything! And Tony acts like she is dead by putting another goldfish next to his other goldfish that resembles his late partner. It’s not like he kissed her goodbye at the airport or so! You might want to talk to her on the phone, or you could simply Skype?!
Grade: B-

NCIS: Los Angeles
NCIS: Los Angeles and I have a love-hate relationship that goes all the way back to its pilot. When it premiered, I wasn’t really an online viewer besides the occasional important episode of NCIS. When the show premiered in the Netherlands (where I live), I started to record episodes of the spin-off as they were airing after its mothership anyway (I couldn’t watch them live). I remained doing so until the season 1 finale, when the show went on hiatus. When the show returned (in the Netherlands) with season 2 episodes, I actually forgot to record the episodes and at a certain moment decided to drop it all together. After not having seen the show for one and a half seasons, the Blye K. two-parter was airing in the Netherlands and I thought these episodes were interesting enough to record both of them. Frankly, my interest in the show was renewed and the DVR was on again. As such, I have seen every episode up until the season 4 finale when they aired in my country. Since I did follow the Sidorov storyline online, I of course watched the season 5 premiere online as well. Episodes 2 and 3 were somewhat of a continuation of that storyline (Deeks’ PTSD) and episode 4 was the 100th episode so I couldn’t wait to see those ones either. The next episode I have watched since is episode 10. I skipped episodes 6 up to 9 (besides the final scene of 9) because there wasn’t really an ongoing storyline. In episode 10, the Densi relationship was brought up again so I wanted to watch it. It also started a new storyline (White Ghost if I remember correctly) which will be interesting to watch, but I have yet to catch up on that. Fortunately, there is no original programming during the Olympics which means I have time to catch up. I liked the five episodes that I’ve seen.
As to why I don’t love NCIS: LA like its mother show, I can make a few remarks about that. Nearly all of the team’s cases seem to involve some matter of national security (usually terrorists), while I think there could be more ‘simple’ cases (e.g. a family drama). Plus, all of the bad guys are usually killed at the end of the episode which makes the team seem like some sort of rogue unit. Seriously, if Richard Parsons were to pay them a visit, they would have long lost their job.
Grade: B

Nikita aired its final six episodes in late 2013. The advantage of the very short season was that the show wasted no time. Every episode was well-paced and nicely followed up on the previous one. I especially liked the second half of the season (episodes 4, 5 and 6) which had a little bit more action and were perhaps more personal than the first three. The series finale was tremendous and there was nothing more I would have wanted for the series ender. In fact, there was only one thing that I wanted from the final season in general: more episodes. There were some storylines that didn’t entirely get the time to develop thoroughly (I am looking at you, Alex/Sam!) and there were some loose ends from earlier seasons (Alex’ mom, Michael’s son and Cassandra), although some fans are perfectly fine with them not reappearing. Overall, season four was a near-perfect final season. Now it’s time to re-view (not review) some old episodes as I have recently bought seasons 1 and 2 on DVD.
Grade: A

The Blacklist
I have only gotten excited about The Blacklist as recently as two weeks ago. While I have watched the series premiere in September, I didn’t love it like everyone else did to be honest. Also, to be completely honest, I gave more priority to Hostages as I both liked the pilot (and premise) more and I was a reviewer for the show. The Blacklist, however, stayed on my radar and with Hostages having ended and Intelligence gaining low priority, I finally decided to continue with the show. So far, I have seen the first six episodes, but I believe I will catch up fully during Olympics. I really like the show and I think James Spader is a great criminal. I also heard there are some great storylines coming up, thanks to having read some spoilers ahead (remind me to never do that again: I already know who the mole is before even knowing that there is a mole).
Grade: A

The Tomorrow People
The Tomorrow People’s position is similar to NCIS: LA’s position. While I don’t love the show like its lead-in (Arrow), The Tomorrow People is still an enjoyable and good series to watch. Its quality has seen ups and downs. The show started off slowly (I can barely remember the first few episodes), but after they more or less dropped the breakout-of-the-week story, the show gained more steam. Although I wasn’t an enormously big fan of the mid-season finale (I liked episode 8 better), this year’s episodes have been really great to watch. Standing out the most is perhaps the most recent episode, “Sitting Ducks”, with lots of important events happening.
Grade: B

Under the Dome
While not officially part of the fall season, Under the Dome is also a show that is on my watchlist. Its first season seems like ages ago, though, and I need to watch it again before it returns for its second season. I have enjoyed the first season and have looked forward to the episodes every week. One reason for that may also be that there was nothing else to watch in summer so it was easily the best summer show for me. However, I do tend to agree with most critical points of the show. There were various plot holes throughout the season and some characters really need better writing (we are looking at you, Linda!). I also liked Under the Dome’s time slot successor (Hostages) more than Under the Dome. Still, I am looking forward to its return and believe that, with Stephen King writing the premiere and hopefully supervising the rest of the season as well, the show can come back even better.
Grade: B-

That’s it for the season so far. However, I think there are some great series that have yet to premiere. The two that I am looking forward to most, are Crisis and The 100. As I will also be a reviewer for both of these shows, I can tell you that both of these shows look very good. I am especially excited about The 100!

Elsewhere, towards summer, Under the Dome returns and some new shows premiere as well. One that I might be checking out is Gang Related. I am also considering watching 24: Live Another Day, although I have never seen 24 before, and Extant, although it might be too supernatural for me. It’s also likely that I will add one or two shows to my watchlist in summer since there is not a lot on TV. One that I am seriously considering to start watching is Scandal. Just a few months ago, the Netherlands started to broadcast the show from the beginning. While I haven’t been following it, I have seen various trailers that actually made the show look quite interesting. I do hope that it’s more than your typical Shonda Rhimes everybody-sleeping-with-everybody show. If anyone cares to elaborate in the comments why I should or shouldn’t watch it, please do! Also, if you have more tips for me, feel free to tell me! I think I have given you a good idea of what kind of a TV viewer I am. For example, how is Chicago PD?

What do you think of the TV season so far? Any yet-to-premiere midseason shows you can’t wait to see? What about summer? Any tips for me what I could start watching in summer?

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