by Molly Schiltz
25 January 2018
Alas, it is that time of year. The long, dreary months of January and February can seem to drag on endlessly as the sun sets early in these cold months, leaving people with nothing to look forward to but the spring. Well, fear not! For I have decided to review five TV shows so that you might binge happily and escape to some fantastical world during these your months of boredom.
I watched the pilot episode of five shows and decided from that first episode whether or not it was a show I would consider binging, or even ever watch again. I compiled my findings into both a summary and a review in hopes of properly encapsulating these shows. They may say don’t judge a book by its cover- but hey, these aren’t books.
Episode runtime: Approximately 20 minutes
Arrested Development follows Michael Bluth (Jason Bateman), whose enigmatic family is a source of constant exasperation for him. He attempts to bring the family closer together while also trying to manage the family business– the same business that his father’s fraudulent work in just landed him in jail for. The storyline focuses on Michael as he tries fix his dysfunctional family and create some semblance of order for them all.
While it did have some witty comments and jokes cracked here and there, Arrested Development just wasn’t that funny. Nothing really stood out about it. Seemingly all of the characters but Michael have extreme personalities. There is younger brother Buster (Tony Hale), whose college degree in cartography and sense of incompetence make him of no help to the family business. Also not contributing anything worthwhile is Michael’s older brother G.O.B. (Will Arnett), who has both a strong dedication to his magic career and sense of self importance. Then there’s Michael’s twin sister Lindsay (Portia de Rossi), whose attention remains devoted to charities that will bolster her social standings, as well as her husband Tobias (David Cross), who after failing in his medical career decides to try his lot in the world of acting. Michael’s son George Michael’s (Michael Cera) obsession with his cousin was simply creepy. All of the extreme personalities likely meant to make the show have more laughs, but for me just made it seem a bit odd, as if it all didn’t quite fit. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t necessarily good, either. I would not find myself watching more of this show.
Episode runtime: Approximately 45 minutes
Available for purchase on Amazon Prime
Chuck follows the misadventures of Buy More employee Chuck Bartowski (Zachary Levi), whose nerdiness makes him the last person anyone would suspect of knowing valuable secrets. But when he opens an email encoded with government secrets that download themselves to his brain, he becomes a walking foundation of knowledge, as well as a powerful tool for rogue and enemy government agencies. He agrees to help them with his newfound knowledge, while NSA agent John Casey (Adam Baldwin) and CIA agent Sarah Walker (Yvonne Strahovski) try to protect him from others who want him for the information he now possesses.
I really enjoyed Chuck. There was plenty of action with little strips of humor laced in along the way. The characters were very likeable and fun to watch. Chuck’s character was funny, which made his dealings with his newfound knowledge all the more humorous. Meanwhile the agents’ exasperated attempts to help him while still serving their own purposes was also amusing to see. The show was almost a bit cheesy, but that’s what made it so enjoyable. It almost gave me the impression of an unconventional Spiderman show in so much as the dorky, unsuspecting guy suddenly finds himself with a lot of tricks up his sleeve and a lot at stake. I would definitely keep watching this show to see more of Chuck’s adventures.
FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: Sarah Walker (Yvonne Strahovski), Chuck Bartowski (Zachary Levi), and John Casey (Adam Baldwin) must put their heads together to save the world. Photo courtesy of NBC.
Episode runtime: Approximately 45 minutes
On Amazon Prime
Hannibal follows Will Graham, whose pure empathy assists him while his social awkwardness inhibits him as he attempts to help solve a string of murders. His unusual way of thinking allows him to rewind and walk backwards through the crime, watching in his mind how it might have unfolded. He is assisted in his crime-solving by the renowned psychiatrist Hannibal Lecter, whose dark mind makes the two the ultimate team in discovering the thinking behind serial killers.
Many crime shows come off as unoriginal, for they are all somewhat the same. Hannibal, however, is unconventional and breaks this pattern. Understand that this horrifying network series is neither a prequel nor a sequel to the famous Silence of the Lambs franchise; rather, it’s an entire reboot of the mythology (similar to A&E’s Bates Motel), allowing viewers to watch the well-mannered Hannibal Lecter devolve into a cannibalistic monster. Everything about it is very quick and unsuspecting, from the sudden plot twists to the puzzling riddle that is Graham’s mind. One moment you are riveted watching Graham experience the crime as if he had lived it, the next, you get a sinking feeling in your gut when you see Hannibal’s unsettling presence enter a room. It’s one of those shows where you find yourself drawn in, enticed by the mystery and uniqueness of it all, not knowing what will happen and not quite having time to guess before the story pattern whisks you off in a new direction. I recommend Hannibal and say give it a chance.
The Good Place
Episode runtime: Approximately 30 minutes
The Good Place follows Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell), who after discovering that she has died and her time on earth is over, learns that her new eternal home is The Good Place, an eternal paradise for those who spent their lives on Earth in service to others. Chaos ensues once it becomes clear that Eleanor’s actions on earth do not warrant her a spot in The Good Place, and that she’s only there due to a clerical error. But with the help of her newfound soul mate Chidi (William Jackson Harper), she becomes determined to learn how to be a good person and earn her spot in The Good Place before her outsider status becomes apparent.
The Good Place is an interesting concept and has the potential to be a fun show. However the dialogue just conveyed a sense of trying too hard to be funny. Some jokes went on for far too long to eke out every available part, while other jokes were barely even discernible from the line of conversation. It might remind viewers a bit of a poorly told joke, in which they realize that the punchline was delivered and they were supposed to have laughed. It was difficult to sympathize with or really even like any of the characters. Some of them seemed to have interesting personalities, but contained little depth. Meanwhile Eleanor’s character was obnoxious, but not in a fun, laughable way. I personally couldn’t really get into it and would not recommend it.
Episode Runtime: Approximately 20 minutes
In this Friends takeoff, six best friends Alex, Dave, Max, Penny, Brad, and Jane try to hold together as their friend group is disrupted after Alex leaves Dave at the altar. Alex (Elisha Cuthbert) and Dave (Zachary Knighton) agree to not let their failed relationship get in the way of their friend circle, while meanwhile the rest of the gang tries to balance being good friends to both Alex and Dave and continue on with life as normal. But normal is really a loose term in this sense, as it becomes apparent through the group’s various misadventures.
Happy Endings is a perfect escape from the real world. Admittedly, it is a bit brainless, a nice show to tune in to so your brain can tune out, but it’s fun. It offers a nice balance of ridiculousness and cheesiness that makes it a good show to simply relax with and laugh at. It’s simplicity and uncomplicated nature makes it an amusing show to enjoy. I would recommend watching Happy Endings, especially to anyone who looks to find some laughs through an easygoing comedy.
Six quirky friends try to keep their circle intact after a breakup rocks the group. Photo courtesy of ABC.
Molly Schiltz is a critic for Oswego East High School’s online news magazine the HOWL