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The Monthly Binge - January




Welcome to the Monthly Binge, a new column where I will be discussing the shows that I am binging. As a child of the 70’s and 80’s and one of the last people on the planet to get a DVR, binging is relatively new to me but now I can’t imagine TV without it. In this column, I will attempt to broaden my TV horizons and I invite you to join along. At the end, I’ve included a form you can fill out to tell me what you are binging. I’ll randomly pick 2 or 3 each month to add to the next month’s column.



The Details:

1. A binge, for me, means at least 5 episodes or the entire mini-series if it doesn’t have 5 episodes.
2. No current season of any shows reviewed by the SpoilerTV team.
3. I will typically binge 3-4 shows: 1 new to me, 1 rewatch, 1 show not discussed much on SpoilerTV, and 1 continuation of a show I previously reviewed.
4. The article will typically be posted the first Wednesday of the month.
5. All opinions are obviously mine and may differ from yours. Also, spoilers will ensue both here and in the comments. Read at your own risk!



My January Binges:


Show: Bates Motel
Type: new to me
Episodes: 1.01 - 1.05
Best Reason to Watch: The acting, by far
Best Character: Norman, who makes me feel sympathetic towards a known killer

Best Episode:
 The pilot narrowly edges out episode What’s Wrong with Norman (1.03) for me, mostly because they did a great job of setting up the characters and the main conflict. I felt that the pilot was also better paced overall. The acting in the rape and killing scene was phenomenal by both Vera Farmiga and Freddie Highmore.

Worst Episode:
Nice Town You Picked, Norma (1.02) - While I enjoyed Norman and Emma’s search for the truth, much of this episode felt uneven. Certain things felt rushed while others snail crawled. Dylan’s introduction did little for me, and the vigilantism of the town felt forced.

Highlights:
Best Scene - Norman tells Dylan about the rape and murder
Best Quote - Norman: “Maybe some people don’t get to start over. Maybe they just bring themselves to a new place.”

Addiction Rating: 3 - While I intend to finish the first season at the minimum, right now I think I would like this show better on a weekly basis instead of binging it.

Overview:
While the acting is top-notch (some of the best I’ve seen), they are throwing in too many subplots at this juncture. Plus, it’s hard to believe they live in a town where someone is gruesomely murdered on a daily basis. The random violence is distracting me from the central plot of the Norma-Norman relationship. That said, the bond between them is intriguing, if mysterious. I look forward to getting more on their background. Co-dependent crazy can’t be the only answer. I’m also not sure what motivates many of the characters, especially Human Slave Trafficker Deputy. He’s evil but he’s in love after 2 days? Hmmm. Dylan is another character that needs more context but I’m liking him more with every episode so it will be interesting to see where that leads.




Show: Supernatural
Type: rewatch
Episodes: 1.01 - 1.07
Best Reason to Watch: The Winchesters are still my favorite TV siblings of all time.
Best Character: Dean at this juncture, but narrowly followed by Sam. Basically, the Winchester bond is the real star and makes the show.

Best Episode:
Skin (1.06), although it is a toss up with Dead in the Water (1.03). Dead in the Water is where I fell in love with the Dean character, but Skin is where we get a deeper understanding of  both Dean and Sam’s psyches. Plus, it is a well-paced classic shapeshifter story that gives both brothers their chance to shine. The music is awesome, the action scenes rock, and the femme fatale is a character I can root for. The skin molting scene can go though.

Worst Episode:
Hook Man (1.07) - CGI-wise it goes to Wendigo (1.02) but overall my pick is Hook Man. The Hook Man legend felt stale, unlike the Blood Mary episode. The logic flaws were glaring (great big hook turns into itty bitty necklace). Mostly though, I can’t stand the femme fatale in this one or all the screaming. I do, however, enjoy a good salt and burn. Goodbye, preacher.

Highlights:
Biggest Shock - Jessica’s death, which convinced me right away that this show would not be typical
Best Music - Back in Black (aka Baby’s theme)
Best Quote - This is hard to pick because there are so many quotables per episode, so I went with the unofficial theme. Dean: “Saving people, hunting things - the family business.”

Addiction Rating:
5 - I forgot how much I love early Supernatural and how creepy the first season actually is.

Overview:
Supernatural is, by far, the show I have obsessed about the most in all my TV-watching days. I was hooked by the pilot and consumed by the third episode. Even having seen my favorite episodes hundreds of times, it still grips me. The brothers Winchester have a special bond and it pulls me into their saga like no other. My favorite seasons are still 1-3 and reliving these episodes after taking a 2-year break from Supernatural is like coming home. I may not get caught up in time for the series finale but I am enjoying every moment of this rewatch.




Show: Joan of Arcadia
Type: under the radar
Episodes: 1.01 - 1.05
Best Reason to Watch: The family interactions
Best Character: This is a hard call because I like different characters best in different episodes. Adam is the one I have the most patience with, but Joan is really trying.

Best Episode:
Touch Move (1.03) - I think this episode was the most relatable. The highlight was when the older brother let Joan know that even though he was popular, high school sucked for him too. There were a lot of good sibling moments in this episode and I loved Joan standing up for herself and her younger brother at the end.

Worst Episode:
The Fire and the Wood (1.02) - Mostly this episode was utterly forgettable, as in I had to watch it twice because I fell asleep the first time. More importantly, there is no follow up to the serial killer of teens from the pilot. Is he in jail? Is he going to stalk Joan? That storyline deserves some kind of follow up at least.

Highlights:
Best Side Perk - the music is a fun flashback
Best Quote - Joan: “So my true nature is to be a catalyst? That’s mad anti-climatic.” God: “Anticlimactic. Anti-climatic means you’re against the weather.”


Addiction Rating: 2+

Overview:
This show is definitely not what I thought it would be. My general impression was that a girl heard from God, so I was thinking more Touched by an Angel. I was shocked that the pilot was also about a serial killer who was preying on teen girls. Then I was shocked that this storyline didn’t seem to go anywhere in the next 4 episodes. The show does touch upon some heady issues like rape and adapting to life after becoming a paraplegic. For its time, it was probably brave by bringing up the issue of rape but by not continuing the conversation, it felt stilted and unresolved. Joan is a great character and her family keeps it from being just another teen angst or crime procedural show. Mary Steenburgen and Joe Mantega make a dynamic TV couple, although I never stopped thinking of him as Rossi. Overall, Joan of Arcadia has an interesting premise but it’s not going to be on my “must watch” list.



Your Turn:

If you would like to share your thoughts on what you’re binging, comment below or fill out this form. I will randomly choose 2-3 to share in next month’s column. Please make sure that you have watched 5 or more episodes and that it is not the current season of a show covered by SpoilerTV.




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