Welcome to Temperature Take, a recurring column here at Pajiba wherein I check on a show during its current season. For the latest installment, I’ll be checking in on a variety of programs rather than one in particular. I’ll stay as spoiler-free as possible, but if you see a show title that you’re behind on, feel free to skip to the next one just in case.
Fresh Off The Boat (ABC, Season 3)
I wrote a few months ago about how Randall Park and Constance Wu form my favorite couple on TV right now. That still holds true. But what’s really stood out this season is the evolution of the already talented Forrest Wheeler and Ian Chen as Emery and Evan, respectively. It’s not like they were doing subpar work before this season, but both have been able to blossom this year, which in turn has allowed the show to push those characters into more central roles. The Jessica/Evan relationship in particular is delightful, with Wu and Chen possessing incredible chemistry when paired together. Fresh off The Boat has the current, coveted “First Show I Watch On The DVR” status in my household: Pound for pound, it might be the most consistent and consistently funny show on the network right now.
Wynonna Earp (SyFy, Season 1)
This isn’t exactly new, but I did manage to consume the first 13-episode season on Netflix over the course of about four days recently. The average show budget seems to be less than what Game Of Thrones pays for craft services, but its leads have chemistry to spare, everyone’s either killing demons, boning, or boning while killing demons, and creator Emily Andras understands how to put sympathetic characters in all-too-understandable conflicts with one another. In lieu of a budget, Andras went and concocted compelling characters that tower over any special effect.
Catastrophe (Amazon, Season 3)
Sweet fuck, you guys. I was not ready for the show to get THAT dark. No spoilers here at all for this season, which is available in its entirety right now. I watched all of it in one sitting last weekend, and most of that was conducted while under my couch. Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney have crafted something so lived-in that it feels almost like voyeurism to peek into the lives of their characters. It’s not like the first two seasons of the show were puppies and sunshine 24/7, but things started off in a bad place and just kept sliding into worse territory. The stunning thing about the journey this season is how it, not unlike life, did not travel in a single direction. But that didn’t mean the ending wasn’t in some way inevitable. I haven’t a damn clue where this goes in season four, but I’m sure of two things: I will definitely watch to find out, and I’ll definitely appreciate a long break in which I can wander aimlessly through the streets wondering if happiness is worth pursuing.
The Goldbergs (ABC, Season 4)
Of course happiness is worth pursuing! And The Goldbergs makes me very, very, very happy. I’ve been a fan of this show almost from the start, and its mix of ‘80’s nostalgia combined with sometimes schmaltzy but always effective melodrama gets me every single time. I’ve particularly enjoyed two arcs this season: the running gag about the “other” Adam Goldberg that paid off after about a dozen episodes, and Erica and Jeff’s oft-thwarted journey towards finally being a couple. I’m not sure how the show will handle Erica going to college next season, but I’m hopeful Hayley Orrantia sticks around in some capacity.
Beachfront Bargain Hunt (HGTV, Season 15)
The commitment to serialization has been both refreshing and necessary. Some hunts end quickly. But we all know that’s not normally the case. Following the Jenkins’ relentless pursuit for the perfect bargain through thirty-seven beachfronts across four continents has been one of the most hypnotic descents into madness ever captured on film. What started out as a nice place for the family to unwind is now threatening to tear them apart, and the upcoming season finale is Must See TV of the highest order. I can’t believe more people aren’t talking about this.
(Yes, I’m kidding, but for a half-second you weren’t sure, right?)
Brooklyn Nine-Nine (FOX, Season 4)
This might be the most frustrating show on TV, not because it’s bad, but because it’s rarely GREAT. Every episode has flashes of brilliance, and occasionally all three subplots are equally awesome. But it’s frustratingly inconsistent, almost as if it knows it has the best pound-for-pound comedy cast on television and coasts off of that rather than truly push for all-time comedic greatness. The show’s never quite known how to handle the “reality” of its setting, which at times produces jarring dissonances that make the police officers on the show seem like genuine risks to citizen safety rather than wacky people that also happen to be really good at their jobs. For every time in which that tonal shift works (such as a recent ep in which Terry and Raymond deal with institutional racism), about four or five fall utterly flat.
Speechless (ABC, Season 1)
ABC took its sweet time renewing this show. I’d say that confused me, but literally everything about renewing/cancelling shows seems to be confuse me. So nothing new there. I’m extremely happy about an upcoming second season, because the back half of its inaugural year has seen the show go deeper, weirder, and often dramatic with its characters. Every member of the DiMeo clan can lead an episode, and Speechless has gone a long way towards carving out Maya as her own specific brand of ABC Comedy Supermom. But it’s Micah Fowler as JJ that really makes this show work: He’s at times silly, at times sarcastic, at times heartbreaking, and at all times a unique and much-welcome character in the TV landscape.
The Voice (NBC, Season 12)
Hoo boy, this season’s pretty much trash. I’m essentially in it for Alicia Keys’ reactions at this point. Usually I have a bead on who will win it all about halfway through each season, but not only do I not have a clue who will win, for once I don’t care at all who will win. I’m watching out of pure inertia at this point. Honestly, I could read the results on Wikipedia and just Google “Alicia Keys The Voice adorable .GIF she’s too good for us and this” and save myself the time at this point.
Doctor Who (Series 10)
I’ve only made it through a few episodes. I probably won’t stick through the entire season. Love Peter Capaldi. Pearl Mackie is awesome. Find me when Steven Moffat’s gone. My tolerance for his timey-wimey puzzles-over-emotions BS is over. I don’t care what’s in the Vault. Maybe it’s the Pandorica, which appeared in perhaps the last time I could truly enjoy this era of Who. In fact, let’s just listen to this kid recite that speech rather than listen to me complain more about Moffat.