When I get writer’s block sometimes I binge watch television series under the guise of research to look for names for characters, but also to pick out weak plots or to nod at good twists in storylines. It helps, because sometimes you think you can do better (and how did that corny script make the cut?) and other times it can inspire you as in nothing is off limits. A successful show depends on excellent dialogue, decent acting, and mainly characters that the viewers like. If a bulk don’t like an actor or character they switch off, and when new characters are added it can break a show, for example many including myself stopped watching NCIS with the annoying character of Bishop and equally as bad acting from the actor who portrays her. Some characters get killed off due to contractual issues and some actors want to leave because they don’t want to get typecast. In some of most recent popular shows there have been a few changes, and it has altered the dynamic of the show. Most notably a new season premiere has to grip an audience from the start, so we are a few episodes in now, so which are going to lose viewers and which ones may gain?
NCIS: Los Angeles
Miguel Ferrer died recently, so his role as Owen Granger went in a fitting way as he disappeared, even though it was evident he was ill in his final episodes where his speech was difficult to understand. However, his role never seemed that important, and his character wasn’t a major part of the show either, and served more to show Hetty’s background. As a result I didn’t see the need to replace him, as the show has done with Executive Assistant Director Mosely and her sidekick assistant Harley, and it maybe a huge mistake.
The dynamic of the show has been lost with a new boss that seems to smirk in each shot, who treats the team with disrespect, and who is a political player. Judging from some of the social media comments I am not alone in this thought, and while Hetty makes a brief appearance now and then, I feel that is the only thing keeping fans tuned in. One only hopes Mosely gets killed in the field, but that maybe wishful thinking. Others suggested she is a new love interest for Sam, but that would be a huge mistake too. As much as the writers feel they have control, they cannot control the viewing figure and people posting their dislike of how a show is moving.
Is the show becoming too politically correct with more ethic minorities in the series? The characters never really gripped me to be frank, except for Sam Hanna played by LL Cool J who is convincing as an ex-Seal. The others don’t cut it; G. Callan, who seems to go undercover and look the same all the time, Kensi who is a tomboy sniper who does as she is told, Deeks, a scruffy LAPD misfit assigned as a liaison who talks too much but does provide some humor, Eric pulls off sounding and looking like a tech geek, and Nell, who annoys me with her range of sarcastic looks and who really shouldn’t be in the field.
Like most viewers, the only thing everyone wants to know is what is Hetty up to which makes pretty much the rest of the show boring. The best thing about the show was Hetty taking care of her team, reprimanding them, but also the odd reveal about what Hetty used to get up to. The new characters don’t fit in, and that matters—a lot! They need to speed up what is happening with Hetty or the show will lose viewers, especially as the holiday break approaches.
How to Get Away with Murder
Although I’m not a fan of flash forwards, it’s the only thing right now keeping me watching. Flashbacks are useful to fill in the gaps as to why certain characters behave or say what they do, but by now we all have a good idea of where all the main characters come from and their strengths and weaknesses. Watching the fall of Annalise Keating was inevitable, but now we wonder who was murdered this time? Does Laurel lose her baby, what does Asher do with his time, has Connor really given up law school (and do they give you a refund in full, I think not), who was Wes calling as his ICE number before he died, and what has happened to all of Annalise’s money?
Bonnie and Frank continue to be a messed up pair; one minute they will do anything for Annalise and next minute they want to destroy her. Then there’s Nate who hates Annalise, but plays good cop when he feels like it. I think they all need shrinks, but the resident shrink seems to be having a breakdown himself.
The acting is still excellent, even if in this series the characters are revealing more flaws. Part of you wants Annalise to bounce back, but what to? Things could never be how they were which were messed up, and the chances of her being a professor again are remote. The show is more about trust, morals, and betrayals and how each character deals with them. As ever, one wonders how any of them managed to do any studying is beyond me, and as Jimmy Smits has joined the cast this season as the therapist assigned to Annalise, will he be pulled into the web of ever growing lies that the group must contain? It’s watchable, not as good as the first series, but the storyline needs to pick up pace, while the flash forwards show poor Oliver distraught at a crime scene again. By now he should have learned his lesson, but who felt pushed to murder this time?
NCIS: New Orleans
I’ll admit when this first aired I wasn’t impressed with the storylines or the characters. Pride, played by Scott Bakula was trying to be a Gibbs, LaSalle was a mirror of DiNozzo, Brody was clever but scarred, Sebastian was a mirror of Abby, and only CCH Pounder who plays Dr. Wade the coroner pulled off her own character in this spin off.
Now in season 4 it seems to have picked up very slowly. Brody left and was replaced by Tammy Gregorio who as a former FBI agent fits in with the team, and her character challenges all the others. The season begins with Pride being suspended, yet again a hero that has been reprimanded for doing the right and moral thing. The fall of Pride helps the storylines because he has to think about his team and their future too and not be so morally stubborn. The problem is this spin off lacks professionalism where the communications always seem to be down, back up arrives late, and the office seems to have strangers wandering in every now and then.
The one good thing is the location, and the amazing scenery of New Orleans. The cast seemed to have settled into their characters now and you can see where the bonds lie. It’s light viewing, but the plots have been a little thin and some episodes are focusing more on the characters, which had been lacking. Worth watching, mainly for Gregorio handing out blunt sound honest advice to all on their love lives, which usually falls on deaf ears, and the amazing kitchen where Pride cooks some rather yummy looking dishes.
Now in season 13, the Winchester brothers are still on the road, but it hasn’t been an easy journey. Some seasons were blink and miss, others had really bad storylines, but the last few have regained the authentic charm that has made this series a cult series.
Sam and Dean carry on bickering as ever, but also the endearing brotherly love means they will both take a bullet for one another or indeed go to hell. This season begins with the possible death of some characters (remember they can all come back from the dead), and the birth of a nephilim named Jack whom the boys mentor and hope doesn’t choose the path of his father Lucifer. The storyline is credible and again pushes the brothers loyalties and strengths.
Out of all the new season shows this one stays true to the writing, character development, and the plots. It can be a little graphic in some places, but as the boys remain in hope that their mother (who was brought back to life) is still alive, the sub plot of what is happening on the other dimension where she is trapped will be a twist in the show. Some old faces come back as guest stars to help them out, and maybe God will make an appearance too.
The first few weeks are crucial for viewing figures as it is then that the decision to renew a series often is made. Scheduling is one thing, but also social media plays a big part in how popular a show is and if people are tagging the show giving them exposure. The more followers they have means advertisers are more likely to book slots during a show, and they can keep fans interested and see what they like and what they don’t.
Supernatural and How to Get Away with Murder have held me, but the NCIS franchise is losing me. Mark Harmon wasn’t enough to keep me watching NCIS and NCIS: LA seems to be headed in the same direction (adding new characters that no one likes and that don’t fit in, because it matters what the viewing public think and not the production crew), and NCIS :New Orleans is holding its own for now, but needs a good twist in it. I stopped watching Law and Order SVU as all the good characters had gone, and the new ones are hard to get to like, plus do we really care about Benson and baby Noah? The answer is no, and it’s a waste of airtime pushing that storyline. It won’t be long before NCIS and Law and Order SVU will have to end, and it’s best they do it on a high and not like Friends where the last couple of seasons were cringeworthy. I’m now on the hunt for some new shows, or to write some!