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The Monthly Binge - February Reviews





Welcome to the second edition of the Monthly Binge. 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 February Binges:



Show: 11.22.63
Episodes: 1.01 - 1.05
Type: new to me
Summary: A man time travels to the 1960’s to stop the Kennedy assassination.
Best Reason to Watch: As a history buff, I have found the details about all the potential key players in the Kennedy assassination to be fascinating.
Best Character: It tends to change each episode, but overall, Jake is a complex but sympathetic character.

Best Episode: The Kill Floor (1.02) was extra gruesome but it also tied both worlds together the best. I loved how Jake was able to make life better for a future student by helping his family escape their deranged father. Plus, it brought Bill into the story and their friendship is one of the better relationships in the show.

Worst Episode: This depends on why you like the show. I prefer the historical elements to the romantic entanglements and, after the second episode, that slows down a lot in deference to the romance-building. Other Voices, Other Rooms (1.03) just edges out The Eyes of Texas (1.04) because less happened in it.

Highlights:
Best Plot Twist - time itself is working against Jake
Best Quote (tie) - Mr. Price: “Last thing you can say about killing a man is that it’s brave.” / Mimi: “Apologies are like dandelions, Mr. Amberson. They’re pretty enough and they sprout up fast, but they don’t have much substance.”

Addiction Rating: 4 - I stayed up way too late to see the 5th episode and there’s only 3 more episodes so I am definitely finishing it soon.

Overview:  Generally I don’t like time travel shows because the internal logic doesn’t hold up throughout. However, this story setup works. I like how the time “portal” leads to the exact same moment of time and anything done there is erased if you go back again. The idea that the protagonist has to stay in time for an extended period turns the time travel genre on its head and makes it more compelling. Jake has to really immerse himself in the culture and play the long game. The other part that really works is that the main target is Lee Harvey Oswald. Instead of focusing on someone who is straight out evil like Hitler, there are a lot of questions surrounding Oswald’s assassination of Kennedy, even if you’re not a conspiracy theorist. The show allows enough doubt to creep in that Jake can’t just kill Oswald outright but it also stays in its historical lane. Bottom line - this is a must-see show if you are an American history buff or you like seeing history from multiple angles.



Show: Wolf Lake
Episodes: 1.00 (unaired pilot) - 1.06
Type: under the radar
Summary: A police officer looking for his missing girlfriend ends up in a small town run by werewolves.
Best Reason to Watch: To get your Vampire Diaries or Teen Wolf fix
Best Character: Sherman, who is funny, wise, and twice as mysterious

Best Episode: The Changing (1.02) / Four Feet Under (1.06) - This was too close to call. The Changing did a good job of explaining some of the lore and answering some questions. Four Feet Under was the most action-packed and upped the ante well. Now that there is a fight for who will take over the town, the story is getting more interesting.

Worst Episode: Soup to Nuts (1.03) - I’ve watched some bizarre episodes but this one felt like everyone involved had taken a few too many LSD trips. They also added an unnecessary subplot, answered no questions, and made me want to slap every other character. Socks thrown.

Highlights:
Best Cautionary Tale Against Teenage Sex - the whole story of how the girl becomes a werewolf was creepy
Best Quotes - 1. Sherman: “Guilt just doesn’t work like it used to.”
2. Nancy: “Fear, that’s all it is. That’s all life sometimes is. 24 hours a day of fear, interrupted by moments of basic cable.”

Addiction Rating: 2 - I only have 3 episodes left, so it is conceivable that I will finish the series, but it is not a priority for me.

Overview: This show suffers from its pacing. Perhaps Teen Wolf ruined it for me, but the main character still didn’t know that the town was full of werewolves by the sixth episode. There aren’t many answers before then either. That said, the sixth episode did pick up the pace and the idea of having a war within the town to see who would become the new alpha has a lot of interesting political aspects. This isn’t just two wolves circling each other. It’s more like planning a coup, with assassinations and alliances galore. If I do finish this series, it will be to watch that play out. Mostly though, this show made me miss Teen Wolf.



Show: Raising Hope
Episodes: 1.01 - 1.08
Type: rewatch
Summary: Jimmy has a one night stand with a serial killer, who gets pregnant, leaving him to raise his daughter with his wacky family.
Best Reason to Watch: It’s that perfect mix of laughs with a whole lot of heart.
Best Character: Virginia, usually, with Burt a close second

Best Episode: Family Secrets (1.05) - Oh the lies we tell our kids to keep them sheltered. What I love most about this episode is how upset Jimmy is when he learns his mom lied to him as a kid, and yet, when he finds out a secret that Maw Maw hid from his mom, he doesn’t tell her either, knowing the truth would be worse. This episode has Jimmy growing less naive and has plenty of great family moments.

Worst Episode: Dead Tooth (1.02) - My biggest issues with this episode are that I don’t find the main comedy point funny (the dead tooth) and I’m less interested in Jimmy and Sabrina’s relationship than the familial ones.

Highlights:
Biggest Asset - Cloris Leachman. Even though I find the Maw Maw character exhausting, there’s no denying that Leachman is a real hoot in this show
Best Music - Istanbul (not Constantinople) by They Might Be Giants
Best Quote - Virginia: “Burt, working 2 jobs, being the low man on the totem pole, taking cr** from a jerk boss - you’re past all that.” Burt: “But the kid needs insurance. I’m his dad. It’s my job to do whatever I have to do to take care of him.” Virginia: “And you did, by showing him his whole life how to be a good dad. Now it’s his turn to take care of things. You’ve gotta let him do it.” Burt: “I don’t like it.” Virginia: “You don’t have to, but that’s the way it is. Besides, it’s not like you don’t have a new job to do. Somebody’s got to start showing Jimmy how to be a good grandpa.”

Addiction Rating: 4 - With Fresh Off the Boat ending, this was a refreshing look at a family not nearly as put together as the Huangs but still just as loving.

Overview: Some of my favorite shows are comedies that combine big laughs with tender family moments. Raising Hope definitely fits. When I first saw the pilot, I wasn’t sure if the characters would grow on me, but by the third episode I was hooked. I adore Virginia and Burt as two sad sack parents, whose love for each other and their family outweighs the miseries that everyday life brings. They may not be able to afford health insurance or extra toilet paper, but they are taking care of those they love with everything they’ve got.



Show: Supernatural
Episodes: 1.08 - 1.14
Type: Continuation / rewatch
Summary: The Winchesters continue to fight all manner of evil, while trying to find their dad and coming to grips with Sam’s growing powers.
Best Reason to Watch: The brothers Winchester, always, and the reveal of Sam’s powers.
Best Characters: Dean and Sam Winchester, depending on the episode

Best Episode: Faith (1.12), by a long shot. This isn’t just one of my favorite episodes of Supernatural. It’s one of my favorites in all of TV. I’ve watched it so often, I had to replace the original DVD. I love how protective Sam is over Dean and Layla is one of my most favorite one-shot characters. All in all, this is one of those episodes I reach for after a hard day. There’s nothing quite like watching one Winchester desperately trying to save the other.

Worst Episode: I can’t stand a lot about Home (basically anytime Missouri is on screen), but so much mythology happens in it that killer racist truck wins the title. There’s very little about Route 666 (1.13) that works for me, from the terrible guest acting to the dumb plot. I still hate that this is the highest rated Supernatural episode of all.

Highlights:
Best Brother Episode - Faith (Sam) / Nightmare (Dean)
Best Song to Scene - Don’t Fear the Reaper
Best Quotes -
1. Dean: “You’re not gonna let me die in peace, are you?” Sam: “I’m not gonna let you die, period.”
2. Dean: “It must be rough. To believe in something so much and have it disappoint you like that.” Layla: “You want to hear something weird. I’m okay, really. I guess if you’re gonna have faith, you can’t just have it when the miracles happen. You have to have it when they don’t.”
3. Dean: “I’ll say it again. Demons I get. People are crazy.”

Addiction Rating: 5

Overview: I love season 1 of Supernatural and this set contains some of my favorite episodes. The Asylum - Scarecrow - Faith trifecta is well written and suspenseful, with great brother scenes throughout. It remains my favorite trio of back-to-back episodes. Starting with Home (1.09), the mythology of the show expands rapidly, especially with Sam, and it feels like the show hits its stride here. The monster of the week episodes are tighter, well except Route 666, and delve into interesting folklore, while the overarching story contains enough clues to keep it progressing at a good pace. Overall, this is the best section of season 1.



Reader Reviews:


Jonny:

Show: Felicity
Episodes: 3.1 - 3.11
Best Reason to Watch: The journey, from moving off campus to the shocking Christmas shooting cliffhanger, is a journey worth revisiting.
Best Character: Amanda Forman, who plays the lovely Meghan
Best Episode: And to All a Good Night (3.11) had this super sweet moment between her and actor Greg Grunberg, while trying to sell Christmas trees, that just fills my heart!
Worst Episode: Final Touches (3.10) - Molly’s storyline by this point is worrisome and Finals for college age kids is never a fun time.
Overview: I love this show. Season 3 in particular hits many high points. The shooting in episode 3.11 is a welcome cliffhanger that is scary. These are great college-age characters that live in this world. It’s always fun to watch that shift from real life.



Supergirl:

Show: The Ranch
Episodes: 4.11 - 4.15
Best Reason to Watch: It’s a great, underrated show, with an interesting plot, great characters, and love interests.
Best Character: Colt Bennett
Best Episode: Fadeaway (4.14), the conclusion to the 2-part cliffhanger. Ashton's acting was amazing. You really felt for him. It showed his impact on the characters. I loved seeing Abby change her mind when she almost loses Colt, the accident forcing them back together.
Worst Episode: Like It’s the Last Time (4.12) - The storyline seemed forced and there was very little going on. It focused way too much on Mary, who is my least favourite character. The murder from the last episode also went untalked about.
Overview: This show is very unique and I would recommend trying it. It's funny without trying too hard and has a lot of drama. The characters are all enjoyable to watch. The love story between the main characters is something you keep coming back for.



Milo:

Show: Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Episodes: 121
Best Reason to Watch: It's more Star Wars, if that wasn't enough of an answer for you.
Best Character: Ahsoka Tano
Best Episode: Carnage of Krell (4.10) The Clone Wars is at its best when it is focusing on the everyday Clone soldiers rather than the Jedi and this is a fun divergence, building up to a climactic finale where the Clones begin to question their superiors’ orders. It was a blockbuster finale that delivered on more than every account, and reminded us that when this show works, it really shines.
Worst Episode: Bombad Jedi (1.09) This show has made a lot of irredeemable characters redeemable, but one thing that the series cannot improve, no matter how hard it tries, is Jar Jar Binks. Bombad Jedi was just painful to watch. None of the humour landed and the end result is just a mess and not one of the series' finest hours.

Overview: The Clone Wars has proved to be an exciting start to the year for me. It's an entertaining series that retroactively improves Revenge of the Sith and makes it all the more tragic. It's a redemption arc for Dave Filoni who turned the series that started off with an underwhelming animated film into a fan-favourite – and you can watch Ahsoka Tano transform from a disliked character at the start into one of the franchise’s best as the series progresses, with the show having everything you'd come to expect from a Star Wars prequel tie-in, for good and for worse. Adding rich depth to the Star Wars universe, the series is a bumpy watch with plenty of highs and plenty of lows – and I still prefer Star Wars: Rebels overall. But rest assured, you will have a good time, especially if you're a Star Wars fan - and with all the episodes on Disney+, what better reason to get caught up on the show than for the new season returning later this year? I'm still only on Season 4 myself, and have two seasons left to go, but it's proved to be a thoroughly entertaining ride, flaws and all.




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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