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December 17, 2013 7:58 AM   Subscribe

"What happened to Homeland this season?" (Major spoilers throughout!)

Even as the show gained its largest audience ever, major changes and wild hare plot-lines have critics and fans alike wondering if the show has lost its way, or cleared the path for a more grounded series 4. Creator Alex Ganza believes they made the right call.
posted by Potomac Avenue (179 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
"Iran and Al Queda, they're going to be mates, right?" - I believe they plotted this by pulling words from a hat or something, and will not be back for Season 4 where Carrie fights space aliens.
posted by Artw at 8:02 AM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Upon hearing this buzz, I asked my coworker to spoil seasons 2 and 3 for me in four sentences. It made me more, not less, interested in catching up.
posted by radicalawyer at 8:02 AM on December 17, 2013


2 was a bit wonky... 3 has just been terrible random gibberish that alternately drags and veers implausibly.
posted by Artw at 8:03 AM on December 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


I haven't kept up with the show past somewhere in the second season, but to be honest, from the reactions that people have had, it seems to me you can't turn into a more character-driven version of 24 plot-wise if your first season promised more depth. It's like an expectation game.

(I'm sorry if this is an obvious point made by every real Homeland fan ever already.)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:09 AM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


OK - my wife and I have watched the first season and enjoyed it. Should we end it there?
posted by nubs at 8:12 AM on December 17, 2013


So... what are the odds Homeland ends worse than Dexter?



Haha, trick question. Nothing can end worse than Dexter did. When the heat death of the universe comes, it'll be considered a bit worse than Mass Effect 3's original ending but still way better than Dexter.
posted by kmz at 8:13 AM on December 17, 2013 [25 favorites]


I fell a sleep watching the last episode of 2, and it still made more sense than the rest of the season. It felt like suddenly everyone writing it had worked on 24 for years, which I believe may be the case.
posted by opsin at 8:13 AM on December 17, 2013


OK - my wife and I have watched the first season and enjoyed it. Should we end it there?

Yes.
posted by Artw at 8:14 AM on December 17, 2013 [12 favorites]


Season four will flash forward fifteen years and juxtapose Carrie's attempts to stop a massive biological weapons attack with her teenage daughter's boyfriend problems.

Because obviously that's how you spend your time on a show about terrorism and espionage, right?
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:15 AM on December 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


As the article up top pointed out, Season Two is really fun if you like momentum and crazy WTF plot twists, but definitely constituted a step down thematically. But then, season 3, bleh.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:17 AM on December 17, 2013


OK - my wife and I have watched the first season and enjoyed it. Should we end it there?

Yes. I wish I had.
posted by Wordshore at 8:18 AM on December 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Maybe next season will star a gay wizard that fights evil mutants.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:18 AM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'll go against the grain and say that I enjoyed every season. Season 1 was definitely the strongest and really the series could have ended there and been great, but I don't regret watching the whole series. I did think the last episode was the series finale. I can't imagine how it will move forward, but I'll likely tune in (i.e. download) next season.
posted by Thoughtcrime at 8:19 AM on December 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


SPOILERS

"Who should we get to be station chief? What about that desperately mentally ill woman who constantly violates protocol to such an extent that we've had to, at various points, fire her, commit her, and shoot her? Oh what's that? She's also having a baby from her illicit affair with a terrorist she was investigating? SHE'LL BE PERFECT."
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:20 AM on December 17, 2013 [48 favorites]


I liked the second season, but I guess I had pretty low expectations for the show in general ("wonky" is pretty much what I expected and what I got - I wasn't really expecting The Wire here.)
posted by muddgirl at 8:24 AM on December 17, 2013


That baby is going to be disappeared immediately and it's going to be really tedious.
posted by Artw at 8:25 AM on December 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


I liked the second season, but I guess I had pretty low expectations for the show in general ("wonky" is pretty much what I expected and what I got - I wasn't really expecting The Wire here.)

Season 1 had a lot going fir it: tight plot (presumably from the Israeli show), the best onscreen depiction of bipolar I've seen, plot turns that could actually surprise and feel weighty.

Really they should have stopped when they ran out of Israeli show.
posted by Artw at 8:29 AM on December 17, 2013


SPOILERS again

As my partner pointed out to me, while the writers made the right choice to end this season and kind of reset the show, they don't deserve that much credit. They couldn't have done it another way if they tried. There really aren't many if any non-hilarious ways you could explain how a white redheaded man with no resources, hated on an OBL level (but also hated by Islamists now) could manage to hide out anywhere for any appreciable length of time.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:29 AM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty sure he'll be back from the dead and off to be tortured by North Korea next.
posted by Artw at 8:32 AM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I wouldn't be proud, exactly, if they did pull a gotcha and bring Brody back from the dead... but yes, I'd be much happier with him still in the show.
posted by lizzicide at 8:34 AM on December 17, 2013


When he was away up a Venezuelan slum tower - which again, the show made boring - the solo Carrie plot was pretty much a drag, so...
posted by Artw at 8:36 AM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Here's a much smaller plausibility gripe than usually gets discussed (though it still drives me nuts): Saul and his wife have been married 35 years? So they got married when she was nine? Twelve maybe?
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:37 AM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Who should we get to be station chief? What about that desperately mentally ill woman who constantly violates protocol to such an extent that we've had to, at various points, fire her, commit her, and shoot her? Oh what's that? She's also having a baby from her illicit affair with a terrorist she was investigating? SHE'LL BE PERFECT."


It is a television program. If you can't suspend your disbelief...
posted by entropone at 8:37 AM on December 17, 2013


Come on, Supernatural has more believable plotlines than that.
posted by elizardbits at 8:38 AM on December 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


Homeland was done by the same people that did 24. In both cases it went from a really good concept in season 1 to a whoops-we're-getting-great-ratings-and-got-renewed-what-do-we-do-now in season 2, to a fuck it let's make it insane season 3. In both cases I felt like it also tilted from being ambiguous on its viewpoint of how to deal with terrorism to being solidly pro torture.

On the post-season 1 WTF plot arc, see also: Heroes
posted by mcstayinskool at 8:38 AM on December 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


OK - my wife and I have watched the first season and enjoyed it. Should we end it there?

My wife and I have just finished the second season and I wish I had the opportunity to ask this same question 3 weeks ago. Yes. Stop watching.
posted by MoonOrb at 8:38 AM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Spoilers.

The plan to have Carrie committed to magically attract the terrorist responsible for the Langley bombing overlapping with the Afterschool Special level writing of Dana dealing with her father's actions was too much. By the middle of the season, I just wanted to see how bad of a train wreck it was going to be. Not going to bother with the next season.

Masters of Sex, on the other hand? Not bad.
posted by eyeballkid at 8:39 AM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Spoilers ahoy!

I've enjoyed large swaths of this show much more than I was ever expecting to, given the basic gist, but that season finale was a real head-scratcher, even after a full season of increasingly unbelievable twists and turns.

I have a whole lotta feels about Carrie in general, I've adored Claire Danes since the days of Angela Chase, and the involuntary institutionalization plotline left me bereft and shaken for weeks on end. But the wonderful Morena Baccarin was so underutilized it's practically criminal, and my only abiding wish in life is to strap Dana Brody to a rocket aimed at the core of the sun. Holy god, my loathing for that character knows no bounds.

I would actually be really interested to see the writers deal with an ambivalent/terrified pregnant woman by having her give the baby up for adoption, but my guess is that they'll either have her fall in love at first sight or she'll let her dad temporarily take the kid and then gradually realize that her One True Calling in life is to be a mother, because woman.

My kingdom for one (1) earnest, intelligent, accomplished female lead who remains unmarried and does not go baby-crazy.
posted by divined by radio at 8:39 AM on December 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Season 1 had a lot going fir it: tight plot (presumably from the Israeli show), the best onscreen depiction of bipolar I've seen, plot turns that could actually surprise and feel weighty.

Well, except for the whole "What if her mania-induced genius is actually just real genius???" which was present even in the first season.

Maybe I just have low expectations for American dramas in general. The second season was wacky, but it still had everything I loved from the first season: Carrie making self-destructive life choices, Mandy Patinkin, and Morena Baccarin. Pretty much everything I could ask for. I've heard this is changing in the next few seasons so I'll probably stop watching whenever they move on to greener pastures.

I wish dramas would move to a model where they only expect to get one or two seasons, so that the writers can focus on quality over quantity, but until then I'll take wacky over boring.
posted by muddgirl at 8:41 AM on December 17, 2013


The Sunni/Shia plausibility gap could have been closed by using Pakistan instead of Iran, what with the ISI is absolutely riddled with Al Queda types and the CIA getting into all kinds of wacky scrapes there. It'd add the extra dimension of working on the soil of an ally that there's a Ricky relationship with and having to be extra careful because of that.

But no, Iran. Because Axis of Evil.
posted by Artw at 8:41 AM on December 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


INT -- IRAQI PRISON CELL -- NIGHT

Brody is brutally beaten by one of Abu Nazir's men. He endures the punishment stoically at first, but the beating becomes progressively worse. Brody begins to whimper. His cries become loud, shrill and high-pitched.

CUT TO:

INT -- CARRIE'S ISTANBUL APARTMENT -- NIGHT

Carrie awakes to her baby's cries.
CARRIE

Fuck.
posted by BobbyVan at 8:42 AM on December 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


The last time Homeland surprised me was when Carrie got electroshock therapy. That was a devastating scene, full of painful clarity about human limitations and the emotional costs of war. As a denouement to Season 1, it was worthy of le Carré at his best: espionage as masks over masks with just a spastic, broken self at the core.

Compared to that, Season 2 was a manipulative and ham-fisted farce. I didn't even bother to check in for Season 3 and I don't regret that a bit.
posted by R. Schlock at 8:44 AM on December 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Masters of Sex, on the other hand? Not bad.

Most useless prop 50s comic ever in episode 2...

Another Showtime thing I ended up enjoying was The Killing season 3, which is surprising as you can basically skip from the first few episodes of S1 to the last few of S2 and miss nothing.
posted by Artw at 8:45 AM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


And just so we don't hate on solely American spy dramas, Spooks (known as MI:6 in the US) had a similar arc of being insatiably interesting to basically unwatchable.
posted by mcstayinskool at 8:45 AM on December 17, 2013 [7 favorites]


Speaking of espionage shows that have trouble sustaining their premise... We rewatched some Alias in our house recently. They managed two seasons of gold before coughing out a confused, uneven season then devolving into a total shitshow. But still, kind of the same deal. Also another show with a crying spy as the lead.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:49 AM on December 17, 2013


Spooks at least got super boring as it got super awful, so you didn't really feel like you were missing much when you stopped watching.
posted by jason_steakums at 8:49 AM on December 17, 2013


Well, except for the whole "What if her mania-induced genius is actually just real genius???" which was present even in the first season.

Purple!

I don't know, even that was better than usual, they had it more that she had a real insight as she was beginning to peak that her subsequent mania made it difficult to get out.
posted by Artw at 8:50 AM on December 17, 2013


And just so we don't hate on solely American spy dramas, Spooks (known as MI:6 in the US) had a similar arc of being insatiably interesting to basically unwatchable.

Sandbaggers, people. Embrace the beige.
posted by Artw at 8:50 AM on December 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


My ideal espionage show would probably be like an HBO/Showtime/AMC version of Greg Rucka's Queen & Country.
posted by jason_steakums at 8:50 AM on December 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


I would watch all of the Greg Rucka spy shows.
posted by Artw at 8:52 AM on December 17, 2013


For the finale, Claire Danes will wake up in a crypt with a poisoned Leonardo Dicaprio, dead at her side, and as the screen fades to black, she will be saying, "What the Fuck?"
posted by Danf at 8:53 AM on December 17, 2013 [10 favorites]


Nthing the advice to stop watching Homeland after the first season. I really liked the first season. Perhaps this was helped because I binge-watched the whole thing in the 18 hours before it expired from OnDemand, so I didn't have a lot of time to think about the plot holes and enjoyed the tension. Season two was improbable and--much like with 24--the family subplots were just really strained. Once I realized that season 3 was barely going to have any Brody in it (I do love Damien Lewis, but they wrote the character into an inescable corner) and would have way too much of Dana Brody pouting, I quit watching and only tuned in for this last episode.

I'm actually pleased that Brody is dead (or at least I hope he remains so!) so that now I'll have no temptation to tune in to season 4 at all.

I actually think that the show could have been far more sustainable if every season had been a complete reboot, much like it seems they're doing with American Horror Story. A new cat-and-mouse with suspected terrorists could be really interesting; the increasingly improbably life of Brody and Carrie... wasn't.

(Side note on Masters of Sex: show is enraging, but the performances are amazing, particularly Allison Janney's!).
posted by TwoStride at 8:57 AM on December 17, 2013


For the finale, Claire Danes will wake up in a crypt with a poisoned Leonardo Dicaprio, dead at her side, and as the screen fades to black, she will be saying, "What the Fuck?"

After a while I was just watching to see if she'd complain about her do called life.
posted by Artw at 9:05 AM on December 17, 2013


Yep, Masters of Sex reminds me of a lot of other Showtime fare (House of Lies, Shameless): great actors, great mise en scene, abominable writing.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:06 AM on December 17, 2013


Has anyone here watched the original Israeli show Hatufim (of which Homeland is a remake)? How similar are they?
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:06 AM on December 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Masters of Sex has "abominable writing"? Really?
posted by Big Fat Tycoon at 9:06 AM on December 17, 2013


Yeah, this season was a bit of a letdown and full of implausibilities. Whatever. I'm just glad the rest of the Brody clan got written out of the series by the time Dana moved out on her own. Jessica Brody and Mike were so boring. Chris Brody was not at all necessary as a cast member.
posted by emelenjr at 9:10 AM on December 17, 2013


All of the praise for Homeland as the best new show to debut in 2011 seems misplaced, in retrospect, given how far it's fallen.

But then, people only said it was the best show to come out that year because most people didn't see Black Mirror.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:10 AM on December 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Masters of Sex has "abominable writing"? Really?

Yes? I mean, just in my opinion. But they don't even try to hide the anachronistic phrases and obvious stereotype-bustin' sassy The Help modernism coming out of the ostensibly 50s character's mouths. The plot is "I love you but I am A Doctor" "Stop all the science in here at once!" "You are gay therefore I must blackmail you". There's no subtlety to any of the characters or their actions. It's just textbook soap-opera.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:11 AM on December 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


"But how can we have sex? It is the 50s!"
"I have discovered that people in the 50s... HAD SEX!"
posted by Artw at 9:12 AM on December 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


I can suspend my disbelief, I cannot levitate it into orbit. I am not a wizard, as much as I would like to be.
posted by Slackermagee at 9:12 AM on December 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think Masters of Sex is pretty good, but it often gives me the same feeling I got from early Mad Men, a feeling of having been beaten clumsily about the head and neck with a stick marked THINGS WERE VERY DIFFERENT BACK THEN.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:14 AM on December 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


SHE'LL BE PERFECT.

So is Alexander from the NSA then some kind of performance art or do Homeland writers have access to the operations manual and are just implementing it for their show?
posted by rough ashlar at 9:14 AM on December 17, 2013


I think Masters of Sex is pretty good, but it often gives me the same feeling I got from early Mad Men, a feeling of having been beaten clumsily about the head and neck with a stick marked THINGS WERE VERY DIFFERENT BACK THEN

It's really not as good at it.
posted by Artw at 9:18 AM on December 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Warning, Big Season Four SPOILER:

She meets several weird bald guys wearing fedoras, FROM the Future!
posted by sammyo at 9:19 AM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


"What happened to Homeland this season?"

They tried to fix the mistake of not killing Brody off last season. If he somehow manages not to be dead after what happened in the season finale, then yeah, this show will have sunk into pure soap opera territory.
posted by fuse theorem at 9:20 AM on December 17, 2013


12 episodes of Masters of Sex and I still have no fucking idea what Johnson sees in Masters.

I thought the first season of Homeland was the best because it was a character study of Carrie Mathison that used Brody's presence as the hook for a spy thriller built around her brilliance and her personal difficulties. I was less interested when the second season started and it became clear the producers thought this was The Carrie 'n' Brody Show.
posted by Mothlight at 9:21 AM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Carrie 'n' Brody Show.

See but I was fine with this. It was the Saul and Dana show I couldn't deal with.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:23 AM on December 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's the smartest fucking show and the dumbest fucking show... Mainly the dumbest fucking show.
posted by Artw at 9:24 AM on December 17, 2013 [8 favorites]


fedoras

Argh, the server crash has impacted my timing.
posted by sammyo at 9:25 AM on December 17, 2013


First-season Carrie Mathison was a terrific character — deeply flawed but also weirdly competent, with her status at the agency clearly protected by her friend and mentor Saul, who believed in her abilities even when her actions were frustrating, even alarming. In the second and third seasons, she was defined almost completely by her romantic relationship with Brody, and was useful to the agency solely because of that relationship. I don't understand how she came out of this season with a job.

I like Brody, too, but there was nowhere to go with him after that first season arc.
posted by Mothlight at 9:25 AM on December 17, 2013


And just so we don't hate on solely American spy dramas, Spooks (known as MI:6 in the US) had a similar arc of being insatiably interesting to basically unwatchable.

So like, as someone who is quite selective about the TV he watches but has viewed a lot of these sorts of conversations from the outside...can someone name me a show in the past ten years (other than the Wire) that stayed good throughout? Mostly they seem to follow this arc:

Season 1: AWESOME
Season 2: STILL PRETTY GREAT
Season 3: UM, OK...I GUESS? I WATCHED THIS MUCH, I SHOULD PROBABLY STICK WITH IT...
Season 4+: OMGWTF
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 9:26 AM on December 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


If we limit it just to dramas, Breaking Bad (although there is some uneveness within each season). Short shows like Terriers (although the finale is a doozy as it packs like 3 seasons of plot into one episode) and Enlightened.
posted by muddgirl at 9:30 AM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, I think it's inarguable that one point was made pretty solidly by S3: When you play the Game of Nations like Saul does (as the most benevolent possible manipulative spy-master) even when you win you lose. His plan did work, but in the end Brody is turned into as big of a monster by him as he was by Abu Nazir. Was it worth it? Is our international meddling worth it? The first season raised that question, and the 3rd season makes it's case, I would argue, that: No, it's not. Peace through those means are not worth the evil. It's clumsy, but taken purely on its own merits (without the extra weird coda after that), Brody's death scene is a drawn-out condemnation of the methods we in the US employ to keep ourselves safe.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:30 AM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Season 1: AWESOME
Season 2: STILL PRETTY GREAT
Season 3: UM, OK...I GUESS? I WATCHED THIS MUCH, I SHOULD PROBABLY STICK WITH IT...
Season 4+: OMGWTF


I think the problem is the life cycle of a writing staff more than limitations of premise. That is, initially, a good show debuts with its showrunner(s), who are very talented writers, typically. They surround themselves with the best writers they can find as staff, many of whom quickly start to shine, elevating the show even further. Then, somewhere along the way, one or both of the following things happens: the producer/showrunners are lured into leaving or splitting their attention to launch additional shows and the program suffers as they back off; or the talented staff that was working for the showrunners gets lured away to launch their own shows and their replacements never quite measure up.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:33 AM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


OK this season was actually the best season of Homeland:

This season was NOT about Carrie/Brody, it was about Saul. Saul before was a pretty nice guy, but in this season we see him subject his best friend to mental torture, resort to physical violence, not care about his cheating wife, and ruin his career in the pursuit of this wildly successful scheme. This is a new side to Saul, deepens his character, and was why I kept watching.

Carrie's pregnancy: what was interesting about this to me was how the show really didn't talk about it, I think because Carrie herself was in total denial. I liked watching her deny it to herself.

Season 3 is different (being that it's not really about Carrie/Brody) but I really liked it because it was about other things.
posted by The Ted at 9:33 AM on December 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


Yay, someone else who liked Terriers!! I adored that show and think it should've gotten a longer run.

I think that most people agree that The Wire's final season was by far its weakest, though arguably the fourth was its strongest... (My favorite was the third). Game of Thrones is still holding strong for me. Friday Night Lights was excellent for every season except the cringeworthy first half of season two.
posted by TwoStride at 9:34 AM on December 17, 2013


Fringe was mostly wall-to-wall great, and had a rare thing for a genre show: an ending that felt satisfying, earned, and for the most part tied up every single loose thread. It also had an unusual path in that rather than starting great and then managing its decline, it started good, then steadily improved into greatness.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:35 AM on December 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm going to cut against the grain here. I liked all three seasons on balance, meaning despite the obvious flaws. Season 1 was really quite good. Season 2 had outlandish plot holes and too much DANA AKA "KIM BAUER", but the pacing was pretty decent, and the 3 leads still chewed up the scenery, so, still worth it for me. And I liked this season. Better writing than last season, and some good gut-wrenching scenes, if you could still manage to care about the main characters. Still too much DANA, still some obvious plot holes, but like I said - on balance, I managed to enjoy watching all 3 seasons.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:36 AM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]



So like, as someone who is quite selective about the TV he watches but has viewed a lot of these sorts of conversations from the outside...can someone name me a show in the past ten years (other than the Wire) that stayed good throughout?


The Good Wife is still on the air, but has had an excellent 4 seasons (except for one idiotic plot arc we shall not speak of) and, in its current fifth season, has totally reset the show, with excellent results.
posted by lalex at 9:39 AM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think season four will open with Lockhart standing above Carrie, shaking his head disapprovingly as she scrubs her poorly drawn star off the CIA wall.
posted by jessssse at 9:40 AM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


And yet, in the end:

It speaks to some commendable qualities of Homeland that I actually found season three to be watchable (especially in its final Zero Dark Brody stretch) even as it consistently disappointed me. It's a well-acted, well-directed, well-paced show. For these same reasons, I'll be back next season, with the hope that Homeland can do better, and curious to see where it goes from here.

Which is more than I can say for, say, Downton Abbey.
posted by Obscure Reference at 9:40 AM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


To be clear, by ''incredible'' I do not mean, like, ''totally awesome.'' I mean: ''not credible.'' As in: ''I didn't buy this at all, no matter how many psychotic Iranian super-spies or cartoonishly craven politicians Homeland used to manipulate me into cheering for our heroes to succeed.'' It wasn't just the fact that real-life events — specifically, the prospect that diplomacy, not cloak-and-dagger, might achieve a better relationship with Iran — clashed with Homeland's cynical fantasy. It was that, plus the show's simple inability to make us believe in its own heightened reality.

I'm not claiming any clairvoyance here but, having watched about half of the first episode of season one about six months ago and then stopping, this speaks to my worst fears of what Homeland was promising.

But it's not why I stopped watching. That had more to do with:

A. my just not getting any entertainment value out of a serious drama concerning the American war on terror (I never watched an entire episode of 24 either)

B. the fact that Brody had a family with young kids just made the whole thing instantly unpalatable to me (ie: there was bound to be a kid taken hostage by baddies, or killed, or maimed ... or whatever, and sorry, I don't need that -- Downton Abbey does better with intrigues over a missing few bottles of wine, and who will win a flower show).

But that said. There's no denying that what little I saw wasn't very well crafted on all kinds of levels. Just not my kind of meal.
posted by philip-random at 9:41 AM on December 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Nikita has been pretty awesome throughout.
posted by kmz at 9:41 AM on December 17, 2013


can someone name me a show in the past ten years (other than the Wire) that stayed good throughout?

Mad Men of course, is just getting better imo. The West Wing dips in the middle but ends really strong. So does Friday Night Lights. Treme never changes, as long as you can deal with Steve Zahn's character ad nauseum. Eastbound and Down has an arc, and it sticks to it like a motherfucker. The first two seasons of the Hour are awesome. That's about it!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:41 AM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I won't derail this thread further, but I'm curious to know of all these other subtle 50s depictions; it's easy to mock Masters of Sex from the standpoint of now, but I think it's a pretty strong, comedic depiction of attitudes at the time. And saying "Mad Men" does it better seems odd given some of those amazing "hey look at these kooky antique cigarette stand" shots from that show.
posted by Big Fat Tycoon at 9:41 AM on December 17, 2013


I'm mostly disappointed with the season finale because I really liked the second-to-last episode and thought it was very satisfying. I'm convinced that Showtime hires the best actors they can get and doesn't care about the writing (see also House of Lies starring Don Cheadle).
posted by kat518 at 9:42 AM on December 17, 2013


Downton Abbey as serious drama is basically a trick the UK plays on the US.
posted by Artw at 9:45 AM on December 17, 2013 [15 favorites]


Yeah House of Lies is the most dissapointing show I've ever seen. Actually it's a good example of a show actually getting better and better the longer it's on the air, finally letting the characters be smart and real rather than descend into idiotic questionably-misogynist Dream On sex fantasies every 5 minutes.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:45 AM on December 17, 2013


House of Lies made me actively angry for wasting Don Cheadle.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:48 AM on December 17, 2013


House of Pies, on the other hand...
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:50 AM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


...was a refeshing slice-of-life dramedy.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:52 AM on December 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also, perhaps I was being overly optimistic but I was hoping that Brody was not the father of Carrie's baby because really? Really?!
posted by kat518 at 9:53 AM on December 17, 2013


I'm curious to know of all these other subtle 50s depictions

Check out The Hour. Same kind of "modern guy and gal fighting the restrictions of the times" characters but way more believable and clever.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:54 AM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Downton Abbey as serious drama is basically a trick the UK plays on the US.

Absolutely. Every single character on Downton has a single trait. They are, as per classic definition, "flat." This works well enough early on, then devolves into repetition very quickly. C'mon, you know who they are. Mary is "the spoiled brat growing up." Edith is "the bitter, frustrated second-rater." Lord Grantham is "the masturbatory fantasy of the National Review editorial board." Etc. These single traits are all they are.

Once a plot is kicked into motion by outside events (and plots are always kicked into motion by outside events, in the manner of Bugs Bunny cartoons), you know exactly who is going to do what. Feh.

What the hell can they do in Season Four? Take Bates and Anna -- Bates is nothing but "suffering for duty," and Anna is nothing but "suffering out of love for Bates." Or can you pull yet another Charlie-Brown-and-the-Football-of-Love with Edith again and expect it to work? But that's all they are and all they've ever been.

One solution, suggested by the work of the master of flat characters, Charles Dickens: MORE CHARACTERS. Keep piling 'em on! Wait, you didn't know about Lady Morag, Lord Grantham's forgotten fourth daughter? Or Baron von Chickenpants, a German junker who owed his survival in the Great War to Matthew's mercy and now has come to England to settle his debt and seduce a few chambermaids? Or ROB-E, the mechanical man purchased by the estate to serve as a new footman and a source of resentment for Carson, as clockwork men are not proper servants to a family of the Granthams' stature?

A second solution: switch traits between characters and play up the drama of the reversals. Maybe now Anna will suffer for duty while Bates pines for her. Mary becomes the Charlie Brown of Love while Edith becomes the object of desire for all eligible men. Branson obsesses about propriety while Carson gets political. (Or, let's face it, "political." The politics of DA make me want to hit people in the face with an entrenching tool. I digress.)

A third solution: go bananas and keep the show moving. Keep the inciting events coming, with an escalation of craziness to keep viewer interest. Secret love children coming to visit, amnesia, evil twins, Terminators sent back through time to kill Mrs. Hughes, etc. Pepper episodes with knife fights, gratuitous nudity, and bulldogs riding skateboards. Make it pop!
posted by Harvey Jerkwater at 10:00 AM on December 17, 2013 [36 favorites]


Also, perhaps I was being overly optimistic but I was hoping that Brody was not the father of Carrie's baby because really? Really?!

Just because Carrie told Brody the baby is his, doesn't mean it really is. SPOILER: In Season 4 we find out that the baby is really a double agent implanted by Saul.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:00 AM on December 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


One major problem I have with both Mad Men and now Masters of Sex is that they are terrible, just terrible on race. Matthew Weiner responded to critcism by (insultingly) having SCDP literally hire a token black employee (Dawn). MoS has shown us early on Masters nobly treating a black woman going into labor rather than relegating her to the "Negro Ward" and has had a few black people on the periphery in service jobs, but otherwise largely pretends that they do not exist. Just because you set your shows in the segregated 50s and onward is no excuse for completely whitewashing your plots and your casts. I mean, even Boardwalk Empire has had more for black people to do!

Back on topic: Season 4 will feature Carrie being inspired by her fetus's heartbeats to uncover some complicated network of Turkish plots. Then she'll give up the baby and there will be tons of filler scenes of her dad making a rocking chair and crib for baby Nicola, and Carrie doing that sucked-a-whole-lemon face and wibbling while she taps into surveillance video from the baby monitor.
posted by TwoStride at 10:05 AM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Mad Men at least had the honesty to portray its characters as racist.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:06 AM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yes, but Mad Men, on the meta level, wants a pass on that. So we can all feel superior about how much more advanced we are now, but still not get very much quality work about the lives of black people, David Simon shows aside.
posted by TwoStride at 10:08 AM on December 17, 2013


So like, as someone who is quite selective about the TV he watches but has viewed a lot of these sorts of conversations from the outside...can someone name me a show in the past ten years (other than the Wire) that stayed good throughout?

Adventure Time.
posted by The Bellman at 10:10 AM on December 17, 2013 [8 favorites]


SPOILER: In Season 4 we find out that the baby is really a double agent implanted by Saul.

He names the baby "Goddamnit Carrie", so he can say it an extra 6 times an episode.
posted by inigo2 at 10:10 AM on December 17, 2013 [8 favorites]


Check out The Hour.

Thanks for the recommendation, looks interesting.

Good points on the white-washing. I do agree there are some really one-dimensional characters, but I've never really approached Masters as a "realistic" show that is trying to perfectly depict every aspect of 50s life. There's a lot of comedy in the writing that makes the characterizations tolerable to me, and might read poorly if you're looking for realism.
posted by Big Fat Tycoon at 10:13 AM on December 17, 2013


Did anyone watch Rubicon? I caught up on it via Amazon Prime after reading this AV Club article (its pretty far down the list). I really liked it.
posted by mullacc at 10:15 AM on December 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


There's no denying that what little I saw wasn't very well crafted on all kinds of levels

Ummm, thanks all for not making fun, but I can't not disallow a mucked up double negative to stand without correction.
posted by philip-random at 10:16 AM on December 17, 2013


Fair warning on The Hour, though: you *will* love it, and the characters... and it ended a season on a cliffhanger and got canceled. So, if that's going to drive you nuts, bear that in mind.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:18 AM on December 17, 2013


Ugh didn't know that. Damn it Britain I thought you were better than us at that kind of thing!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:21 AM on December 17, 2013


Boardwalk Empire hasn't had a duff season yet and it's done 4... they've even manage to dodge the 'big bad comes to town, stirs everything up and then gets taken out at the end of the season' loop that The Sopranos fell into.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 10:21 AM on December 17, 2013


Adventures in Time and Space was better...
posted by Artw at 10:22 AM on December 17, 2013


I take it Agents Of S.H.I.T.E hasn't improved?
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 10:23 AM on December 17, 2013


Rubicon was a great beginning but at some point something actually has to happen on an espionage show other than just abstract menace and slow paced investigation. If it had been produced just a few years later it could have used real life whistleblowing as a template for some incredible action! I mean how much more exciting is the worldwide Where Is Snowden manhunt than most fiction about spies these days?

My point is: I have seen ALL THE SHOWS. I defy anyone to name a show I haven't seen. HI-YAH!!! *kicks a flatscreen in half*
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:24 AM on December 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


At this point all my hopes and dreams are resting on Sleepy Hollow and Brooklyn Nine Nine.
posted by elizardbits at 10:24 AM on December 17, 2013


I take it Agents Of S.H.I.T.E hasn't improved?

It has improved. But that's one fucking low bar you got there.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:25 AM on December 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Boardwalk Empire hasn't had a duff season yet and it's done 4... they've even manage to dodge the 'big bad comes to town, stirs everything up and then gets taken out at the end of the season' loop that The Sopranos fell into.

Did you watch season 3 ?
posted by Pendragon at 10:25 AM on December 17, 2013


Boardwalk Empire hasn't had a duff season yet and it's done 4... they've even manage to dodge the 'big bad comes to town, stirs everything up and then gets taken out at the end of the season' loop that The Sopranos fell into.

Isn't this exactly what happened in Season 3 with Gyp Rossetti?
posted by MoonOrb at 10:25 AM on December 17, 2013


Revenge has actually maintained its hilarrible standards of telenovelaesque silliness throughout all seasons thus far, I think.
posted by elizardbits at 10:25 AM on December 17, 2013


My point is: I have seen ALL THE SHOWS. I defy anyone to name a show I haven't seen. HI-YAH!!! *kicks a flatscreen in half*
Have you seen Utopia? That should be back for season 2 soon. And it was pretty insanely enjoyable, if flawed.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:26 AM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Did you watch season 3 ?

well yeah, they've only done it once
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 10:26 AM on December 17, 2013


if flawed.

I will accept no flaws for Utopia, the best UK show in years
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 10:27 AM on December 17, 2013


I really liked Damian Lewis in Life. Shame it got cancelled.
posted by Pendragon at 10:28 AM on December 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Boardwalk Empire should have written off Nucky entirely after the amazing S2 or after Margaret left and just become the Chalky White and Gretchen Mol show.

I haven't seen Utopia therefore it does not exist and neither does Orphan Black.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:29 AM on December 17, 2013


Yeah, if we're making recommendations for shows to watch, please count me in. Husband and I tried to watch the second episode of Breaking Bad last night and I don't know that we can do the third after that. Yikes. What about Scandal?
posted by kat518 at 10:29 AM on December 17, 2013


Yes, but Mad Men, on the meta level, wants a pass on that. So we can all feel superior about how much more advanced we are now, but still not get very much quality work about the lives of black people,

sorry, but taking Mad Men down because it doesn't get inside "the lives of black people" feels sideways to me. It would be like taking down a drama about Formula 1 motorsport because it doesn't deal with poor people. Not every TV show has to be about everything. Particularly now that we live in a world with so much choice, so many options not just in shows, but also how we access them. Indeed, a big part of Mad Men's genius has been how it's kept its focus, how it's stayed true to its "reality"(for lack of a better word).

But if it moved into the 1970s without getting deeper into "the lives of black people" (or whatever), then it would genuinely start to smell of something.
posted by philip-random at 10:30 AM on December 17, 2013


DirtyOldTown, Hatufim (Season 1 available in North America as Prisoners of War) is more about the families of the returned/dead soldiers. As far as I know the Carrie Matheson analog character is not nearly as important or as screwed-up.

Upon review, it's actually not available in the US for some reason? But I'm sure Amazon.ca will sell it to you.
posted by infinitewindow at 10:31 AM on December 17, 2013


There's always Sherlock. New season in two weeks !!
posted by Pendragon at 10:32 AM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Agents of SHIELD provides me with enjoyment in the form of increasingly desperate articles about how it will get good anytime soon - watching them twist is way more fun than the actual show.
posted by Artw at 10:32 AM on December 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Utopia is AMAZING. They didn't have enough episodes to give the characters much room to breathe, but it was still one of the best things on tv, kind of like Marathon Man with graphic novels. And it was one of the very best-looking shows I have ever seen. Short version of plot: there's a very abstract graphic novel with a cult audience that may have information about a conspiracy. Its unpublished sequel is uncovered and some of its fans who stumble onto it end up on the run from mysterious, nefarious, murderous people.

Opening Scene

I don't think there's an entirely kosher way to get it in the US. But the usual alternatives work.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:35 AM on December 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


At the same time phillip I understand that the focus on rich racist dudes can make a show unpalatable to some, who just aren't interested in that kind of character. I don't like Breaking Bad because I don't care about the central figure of the show or his struggles either. I can't say its a bad show for that reason, but I don't have to enjoy it, unlike the Wire, which should be required viewing for all humans, on pain of Lost.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:35 AM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'd be way more interested in a drama about Formula 1 racers if there were plots that focused on the lives of the pit crew or, say, the poor-but-skilled driver trying to break in without the usual deep pockets. Just sayin'.
posted by TwoStride at 10:38 AM on December 17, 2013


excuse me I just have to have a white wine jazz freak out
posted by The Whelk at 10:38 AM on December 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


Season 1 was very good. Season 2 tanked horribly first episode out of the gate. downhill from there mostly
posted by Bwithh at 10:41 AM on December 17, 2013


I don't think there's an entirely kosher way to get it in the US. But the usual alternatives work.

Amazon have a region free Bluray, I believe. For DVD you'd have to go to Amazon UK - no streaming options that I am aware of.
posted by Artw at 10:42 AM on December 17, 2013


Is Karl Urban Scowls at Robots aka Almost Human any good? That one's kind of hovering towards the top of my "what to watch next" list.
posted by jason_steakums at 10:44 AM on December 17, 2013


Amazon UK says it won't deliver to the US. THANKS OBAMA
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:44 AM on December 17, 2013


Formula 1 Pit Crew was great in Season 1, but Season 2 has been a total drag.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:44 AM on December 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Utopia is probably harder to find because David Fincher has acquired the rights and intends to remake it in the US.

I do feel I should mention that Utopia is relentlessly grim and bleak, and not in a gothic or dark superhero way, more in a you-have-no-idea-how-evil-some-people-really-are kinda way. There are child murders, graphic torture, mass killings, etc. Most upsetting of all is how sorta kinda reasonable the conspiracy is, even as it is unfathomably evil.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:46 AM on December 17, 2013


Is Karl Urban Scowls at Robots aka Almost Human any good? That one's kind of hovering towards the top of my "what to watch next" list.

I love it. Good chemistry.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:46 AM on December 17, 2013


Almost Human's pilot was pretty good and then the sexbot episode happened and I was like "oh look a modern family rerun is on instead".
posted by elizardbits at 10:46 AM on December 17, 2013


Amazon UK says it won't deliver to the US. THANKS OBAMA

What? This has not been the case before.
posted by Artw at 10:47 AM on December 17, 2013


Also Karl Urban has a sort of weird pinched constipated hamsterface which interferes with my enjoyment of the show.
posted by elizardbits at 10:47 AM on December 17, 2013


/hopes for Dredd TV series despite all logic.
posted by Artw at 10:48 AM on December 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Almost Human is a relentlessly ordinary buddy cop/robot paired with human thing that has terrifically charming stars and the crackerjack production team from Fringe around, somehow making it delightful past any point where it has a right to be.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:48 AM on December 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


I love Utopia but it's so close to being an Invisibles series without actually being it that it just makes me want that more.
posted by jason_steakums at 10:50 AM on December 17, 2013


Almost Human is a relentlessly ordinary buddy cop/robot paired with human thing that has terrifically charming stars and the crackerjack production team from Fringe around, somehow making it delightful past any point where it has a right to be.

Exactly. Perfectly explained.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:50 AM on December 17, 2013


I can't say its a bad show for that reason, but I don't have to enjoy it, unlike the Wire, which should be required viewing for all humans, on pain of Lost.

Preach.
posted by Aizkolari at 10:51 AM on December 17, 2013


Just ordered Black Mirror and Ytopia DVDs, Amazon didn't seem to have a problem with me doing that.
posted by Artw at 10:57 AM on December 17, 2013


Are they Region 1 or 2? Does that matter? Help me understand how 2 bbc
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:05 AM on December 17, 2013


I think if you get them and then rip them with MakeMKV the region # should not matter, but I could be wrong about that. Do you have a Roku or Apple TV?
posted by Aizkolari at 11:07 AM on December 17, 2013


In my book, this season of American Horror Story is the best yet, after a good first and a slightly weaker, overly ambitious second season.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 11:08 AM on December 17, 2013


I just want to pay for a show and then watch it :C
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:08 AM on December 17, 2013


Black Mirror is THE BEST. It's basically Charlie Brooker's humanist update on Twilight Zone for our technological age; he comes up with not that far-out scifi premises in the near future, for the purpose of damning us all to hell as tweeting, tumbling, texting, selfie-snapping goons.

Here are a few I could find online. It's an anthology series, so it doesn't matter in what order you watch.

-The National Anthem (s01e01) in which a madman kidnaps the UK princess and informs the people that she'll be executed unless the PM has sex with a pig on live TV. Played entirely straight.
-15 Million Merits (s01e02) - young people condemned to a life of menial manual labor are offered the chance to escape their lives via a reality show. Stars the actress who played Lady Sybil on Downton.
-Be Right Back (s02e01) a newly widowed woman is offered the chance to engage with a simulation of her late husband, created from his social media postings.

That's three of the six, anyway. Pity I couldn't find "White Bear" though, which upset me and dominated my thoughts for days on end.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:09 AM on December 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


elizardbits: "Also Karl Urban has a sort of weird pinched constipated hamsterface which interferes with my enjoyment of the show"

Yeah, "Karl Urban scowls" is pretty redundant. Which made him great for Dredd, but I don't know if I can deal with that through a whole TV series about someone who's not a fascist enforcer.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 11:11 AM on December 17, 2013


Are they Region 1 or 2? Does that matter? Help me understand how 2 bbc

Region 2. I have a venerable region free DVD player, one of the first things I bought when I moved to the US.

I guess really I should streaming all the things, but I feel happier having paid for stuff even if I am circumventing the region encoding bullshit. Eventually I'll figure out how Tunnel Bear works or something.
posted by Artw at 11:13 AM on December 17, 2013


DVD drives used to not give a shot about regions but I think that's not been the case for some years.
posted by Artw at 11:14 AM on December 17, 2013


relevant stuff here, mostly concerned with Netflix + House of Cards. I'd consider posting it as an FPP, but I know the writer ...

In this environment of nearly infinite choices what then, becomes of mass appeal products, mass markets, and mass tastes? Could programming once thought to be marginal or niche now have a chance to rise beyond cult status? [...] Fortunately, to help me think about such questions, I was able to attend a Q&A session the other week featuring a writer from the New York Times and a member of the creative team of House of Cards (hereinafter to be referred to as HoC).
posted by philip-random at 11:20 AM on December 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Blu-Ray has a more reasonable region system, if that helps.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 11:20 AM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


You can view the original Israeli series on Hulu.
posted by scrump at 11:47 AM on December 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


Just wanted to get back to the main topic and say that I liked season 3. The long con of Carrie as bait drew me in and worked well, and it became clear that the show was moving towards being more about Carrie and Saul than Carrie and Brody so i wasn't suprised that they killed him off. Yes, the plot got ridiculous at times but it is a tv show after all. And surely season 4 will feature more Quinn so that's another reason to keep watching.
posted by emd3737 at 12:02 PM on December 17, 2013


/me flags DirtyOldTown's Black Mirror comment as spoiler.

Only through the first season of Black Mirror; personally, I loved going into it not knowing what each episode was about; YMMV, of course.
posted by inigo2 at 12:16 PM on December 17, 2013


Homeland has been ripping off The Spy Who Came in from the Cold so wholeheartedly I feel like I've been taking crazy pills. Faked sacking to draw out the enemy spies? Check. Massive, morally fraught operation to ensure that the nasty, kill-crazy fellow you've recruited as a double agent stays at the top of the enemy spy outfit? Check. Thoughtful, liberal, humane yet ruthless and chess master-like spy chief with unfaithful wife? Check. Haven't watched the finale yet but I fully expect Brody to be gunned down at the Berlin Wall and Saul to retire to his studies of the lesser German poets while polishing his glasses on the fat end of his tie.
posted by Mocata at 12:30 PM on December 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


I don't think I gave any more info than you'd get from say, TV listings. Less than you'd get from a trailer.

Still, you may be right. Knowing nothing going in might be better.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:31 PM on December 17, 2013


Yeah, Utopia courted a fair amount of controversy regarding some of its tone and content... apparently the writer hates Hollywood toned down violence and he wanted it to be really really nasty. Which it is. Though it is tv and it's no gore fest... and well you'll just have see for yourself.

Where is Jessica Hyde?
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 12:32 PM on December 17, 2013


WHERE. IS. JESSICA. HYDE?
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:34 PM on December 17, 2013


Though it is tv and it's no gore fest

The scene in the basement with the spoon was one of the more harrowing things I've seen in a fictional television broadcast. Ever. I watched an episode or two after that, but they'd pretty much lost me at that point. There's dark, and then there's viscerally unwatchable.

Black Mirror on the other hand is simply marvelous.

Also, new Sherlock coming!
posted by mcstayinskool at 1:14 PM on December 17, 2013


Homeland has been ripping off The Spy Who Came in from the Cold so wholeheartedly

interesting that Le Carre would enter the discussion, because my feelings about what seems to be wrong with Homeland are wound up with what's so right about Le Carre, and the various BBC adaptations.

1. it's Le Carre, so there's never any gratuitous violence or action, because in his world of spies and espionage, that's just not how stuff works. It's complex characters in complex situations -- a world where everything can come down to a pilfered pack of cigarettes (the symbolism of them, not what's secreted away inside).

2. they're not open-ended productions with no particular end in sight but taught narratives with well-defined beginnings middles and, most important, ENDS.

3. Alec Guinness.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Smiley's People
posted by philip-random at 1:24 PM on December 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


Homeland should have ended with Brody detonating the vest. When it didn't I realized that it was going to get extended and become dumb, and I was and am okay with that. The show becomes more and more like 24 and Sean Callery's score gets more similar to his 24 score which is all I can ask for the 24-shaped hole in my heart (soon to be filled by the return of Jack Bauer anyways).
posted by edeezy at 2:05 PM on December 17, 2013


Speaking of awkward endings...From the Department of Corrections, NYT (scroll to bottom of article)...
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: December 17, 2013

An earlier version of this column included an erroneous reference to the first time Carrie and Brody had sex. It was in a car, not a lakeside cottage.
posted by MonkeyToes at 2:14 PM on December 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Hey does anybody know what's been happening in Agents of SHIELD since uhh...episode 2?
posted by turbid dahlia at 2:48 PM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Season 1: AWESOME
Season 2: STILL PRETTY GREAT
Season 3: UM, OK...I GUESS? I WATCHED THIS MUCH, I SHOULD PROBABLY STICK WITH IT...
Season 4+: OMGWTF


Community in a nutshell.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 2:50 PM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hey does anybody know what's been happening in Agents of SHIELD since uhh...episode 2?

Nothing much.
posted by Artw at 2:54 PM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


For drama shows that don't drop in quality as they age, I have to ditto The Good Wife. No one I know watches it, and it is the show I look forward to most every week, easily. To quote a recent AVClub review of an episode from this season (which I am not linking to the intersection between 'the spoiler averse' and 'the clickhappy' are safe):
It goes without saying that this is the episode we’ve all been waiting for. Not just for this season, but for [five] years. [...] This is one of those episodes that a show earns. The series has been building this careful house of cards for years now, and when it lets those cards tumble, every moment is weighted with significance.
I also saw a tweet from a TV reviewer (whose name escapes me) that said that the episode I'm discussing was the best episode of any show of the year, including the Breaking Bad finale.

That is how good this show is. Other than one quickly-abandoned, really dumb plot involving Kalinda in s4, the show is consistently great.

-Margulies plays emotionally reserved so, so well. It is an incredibly difficult role and she is perfect.
-The supporting cast is consistent excellent--Christine Baranski is a goddamn treasure as Diane Lockhart (a woman in her fifties who is given a respectful love story!). The actor who plays David Lee is fabulous. Alan Cumming as a Rahm Emmanuel-like is simply the best. And so on.
-The characters are consistently written (although I have trouble with one character supposedly being a blabbermouth this season, that's still an edgecase in that I can see where that interpretation comes from). So never think that people are acting in service of a plot, against their character (Sons of Anarchy, I'm looking at you), but their character happens to align with the plot. Is one character petty and vindictive and shortsighted? Well, he or she will continue to be, even if they evolve as a person/character otherwise.

Is it always perfect? No. The show can sometimes have too-topical-for-their-own-good cases of the weak (the tech cases tend to be particularly weak in this regard), and the subplots involving Alicia's kids can seem forced.

But still. I've loved it for 4 seasons and season 5 is just firing on all goddamn cylinders.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 3:18 PM on December 17, 2013


No one I know in life watches The Good Wife but the people I know online who do watch it ARE VERY VOCAL ABOUT IT so I figure I might have to give it a shot even if having a Mom in the justice system means I am painfully allergic to legal shows.
posted by The Whelk at 3:28 PM on December 17, 2013


*Spoiler*

I watched the last episode with increasing despair. It was all about Carrie. The tension and drama of earlier seasons has been replaced by too many shots and scenes of her eyes becoming ever more moist. For me the "jumping the shark" was when she leapt up the fence shutting "Brody" as he was being hung. Really? Amongst all that crowd? Yeah, nah, as we say here. Someone on The Guardian wisely observed that once Claire Danes, who plays Carrie, became a Producer of the show, it would be all downhill. Sadly this true. We won't be back for Season 4.
posted by vac2003 at 3:33 PM on December 17, 2013


Short shows like Terriers (although the finale is a doozy as it packs like 3 seasons of plot into one episode)

This is true, and in fact it does go from "interesting" to "barf I can't watch this" all in the space of that one season, too.
posted by bleep-blop at 3:49 PM on December 17, 2013


Sons Of Anarchy.... when it went to Ireland... oh jehsus and begorrah... that was glorious (+1000 bonus points for diddly-deeing up the theme music). Pitty not soon afterward it just went to boring terrible and I could no longer watch.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:57 PM on December 17, 2013


SHIELD is still putzing around with the Centipede bad guys, it took a few detours into meh land (including a stuuuupid tie-in with the new Thor movie) and has yet to let any of the characters develop in any way whatsoever. This series has been such a dissapointment, geez. In particular, Jackson's cameo or not, it doesn't feel at all like it's part of the Marvel universe, but a cheap clone of Alias or something like that.

Yes, bring back Utopia!
posted by Iosephus at 4:05 PM on December 17, 2013


But then, people only said it was the best show to come out that year because most people didn't see Black Mirror.

Black Mirror gave me the existential heebie jeebies.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:15 PM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I gave up on Homeland before this past season started. Tell me, was Carrie right about everything again this year?
posted by dobbs at 4:54 PM on December 17, 2013


Carrie was the mystery.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:59 PM on December 17, 2013


As I have said in the past, I love this show. Other shows, not mentioned yet, that I'm loving right now (in alphabetical order) are:
Breathless
Broadchurch
Copper
Hell on Wheels
Peaky Blinders
Ripper Street
Spies of Warsaw (mini-series)
Spiral (Engrenages)
The Paradise
The Village (mini-series)
Whitechapel
posted by unliteral at 5:17 PM on December 17, 2013


Sons Of Anarchy.... when it went to Ireland

The only good thing about that entire rubbish arc was the sweaty shirtless fighting scene.
posted by elizardbits at 5:37 PM on December 17, 2013


Was it shittier than Heroes in Ireland?
posted by Artw at 5:51 PM on December 17, 2013


Not possible.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:53 PM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hatufim, AKA Prisoners of War (available on Hulu+, as mentioned above) and Homeland are not actually all that similar. Homeland took the general premise and went in a completely different direction (quite successfully, at least in the first season). I think Hatufim is stronger overall, although the second season also goes in some weird directions. Worth watching, for sure.
posted by jindc at 7:26 PM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I couldn't get past the Sunni/Shia conflation. And the conflation of Farsi and Arabic. That's just fucking embarrassing in its obtuseness and stupidity.
posted by professor plum with a rope at 1:00 AM on December 18, 2013


When did they conflate Farsi and Arabic? I always watch with the captions on and they infallibly specify which one is being spoken. They have also had scenes where a character speaks one but not the other.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:02 AM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm watching Bron and then Bron II and then I'm going to rewatch Forbrydelsen, and then who knows, probably by the end of that I will want to kill myself, which could probably be achieved by watching two episodes of Almost Human in one sitting.
posted by turbid dahlia at 2:15 PM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


When did they conflate Farsi and Arabic?

I haven't spotted any of that, at least. They at least skimmed their copy of Perseopolis.
posted by Artw at 3:25 PM on December 18, 2013


They do seem to have at least a few times used a sort of trick to get around situations that clearly call for Arabic or Farsi when characters cannot speak the language in demand.

Character A will speak Language X to Character B who doesn't speak that language. Character B then says something in Language Y as a sort of "hey I don't speak that, could we do this instead?" and then Character A switches to match them quickly and without comment.

You could call it writing for convenience, and it is, of course, but it's not that awful, really.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:33 PM on December 18, 2013


Late to the finale, just watched it, loved it. I liked this season. It has huge big problems, sure, but also some really brilliant moments and great TV. I even liked the silly Dana subplot because she turns out to be a good actress and her silly teenage romance did a nice job mirroring Carrie's silly teenage romance with the on-again-off-again terrorist. I even liked how Brodie twisted at the end, almost giving up the plot and then going through. Fun television.

Has anyone watched Hatufim / Prisoners of War, the Israeli show Homeland is based on? Is it worth watching for someone with American tastes?

And seconding the love for Almost Human up above. Stars my TV boyfriend Michael Ealy, previously of the excellent little terrorist thriller "Sleeper Cell" which is definitely worth watching if you're a Homeland fan.
posted by Nelson at 3:38 AM on December 27, 2013


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