Zach’s Zany TV Binge Watchin’ Reviews: Finishing Out Some TV Seasons & Series (10 different one paragraph reviews)

Hey everyone, Zach here, instead of giving you one to two reviews a day and dragging out all my thoughts and opinions through the whole COVID-19 piece of shit summer we are going to have, making you eventually sick of reading my shit, I’ve decided to write one big segment that consists of short and quick one paragraph opinions on a bunch of television seasons (and sometimes series) that ended in 2020. These were mostly not binge-able until now because most of these were episodes that were released on the old fashioned weekly basis (with the exception of Mythic Quest, that came out when I don’t normally do many TV Binge watchin’ reviews and where COVID-19 wasn’t then an issue.) So here are 9 quick reviews on 9 series that ended in 2020 that I didn’t get a chance to chime in on:

THE GOOD PLACE SEASON 4 (SERIES ENDING) (NBC)

THE GOOD PLACE had a great first two seasons (especially the incredible twist at the end of the first season, that I will not ruin here at all) but the last two struggled to find enough storytelling worth a whole two last seasons (although they both had some great moments). The series finale was damn near perfect though. With only 50 episodes, great characters, and a fantastic performance from Ted Danson, this is easily binge-able and enjoyable. Just expect every season after the first to decline a tad in terms of originality and quality. At least it didn’t quite overstay its welcome.

THE WALKING DEAD SEASON 10 (AMC)

The Walking Dead in general has been a roller coaster of entertainment value. The first season is masterful, I did not like the farm based second season, but everything picked back up and was excellent for seasons 3, 4, 5, and 6. Then when Negan, one of the best villains ever to come across our television screens, and one of the best redemption arcs so far on the show, kills two main characters in an over hyped season 7 premiere, the show lost it’s touch for that and season 8 where it killed off Carl for no damn reason. Total snooze fest. Season 9 and 10, mainly dealing with a whole new world, Rick leaving the series and the whisperers has been getting a tad better (just a tad though), but nothing as fantastic as 3, 4, 5, and 6. Unfortunately if you want to binge this you’d have to pay attention to everything that is going on, and in the later seasons you might start to nod off. Might I suggest watching until Rick leaves the show? It was a perfect send off and you don’t need to watch the rest. I just don’t want to quit it now while I’m this far in, especially when I have the sneaking suspicion that 11 or 12 might be its last ride. Oh, and Walking Dead didn’t even finish the season finale post production in time before COVID-19 fucked us all, so it kind of ended right in the middle of a giant cliff hanger. Hopefully the last episode, set to be released later this year, makes up for the absence (although I doubt it). And no, I don’t watch the spin off shows. Fear’s first season was the worst spin off season I’ve ever seen for a television series. So no, not gonna do that.

MODERN FAMILY SEASON 11 (SERIES ENDING) (ABC)

Modern Family had a fantastic 6 or 7 seasons since the premiere but then the last four have just really been going through the motions to get to the pretty damn decent series finale. SEASON 11, like 8, 9, and 10 before it, also goes through the motions until the last couple of episodes. Perfect binge for the first 6 to 7 seasons if you are want to actually pay attention, the last four can be played in the background though and then attention should be picked back up for the finale.

MYTHIC QUEST: RAVEN’S BANQUET SEASON 1 (Apple TV +)

If you bought and only if you bought a new Apple product recently and got a free Apple TV+ subscription for a year would I recommend binge watching this series. Not to say it isn’t good, I really enjoyed it. It’s like a work place office comedy (kind of like The Office) except it isn’t documentary style, there are no confessions to the cameras, but add in more crude humor and language and there you have it. The pilot is okay, but then episode 2 is hilarious and each episode only gets better until the very end. With only ten episodes, its a quick and very easy enjoyable binge watch. It’s from the creators of It’s Always Sunny In Philedelphia, with Mac and Rickety Cricket, except they play entirely different, more sympathetic characters, and some of the episodes are even co written by Mac and Charlie. It’s about the launch of an expansion to a popular MMORPG game, and the crazy shit that happens behind the scenes. I loved it a little to be honest. The only reason why I’m saying only watch it is if you have free Apple TV+ is because it isn’t worth getting a paid subscription to only watch this show. Well…I guess if you can pay for a month and get through all 10 episodes in good time, and then find something else maybe exclusive to watch, like The Morning Show, it may be worth it for just a month. Not for me though, fuck all this streaming subscription shit, it is getting very tiresome.

SUPERSTORE SEASON 5 (NBC)

Superstore had a great first three seasons. Season 4 was meh, and season 5 was meh. The funniest parts of the show is when it deals with weird customer stuff we sometimes see in big department chain stores like Wal-Mart and Target all the time. It stops being funny when the show gets too bogged down in its relationships and the talks of organizing a union for Cloud 9 get very tiresome. Binge the first three seasons and pay attention, the 4th and this current one (that also had to end early because of COVID-Buttfucking-19) can be aired in the background and you wouldn’t miss much. Colton Dunn as Garrett has been the MVP for every season thus far though.

BROOKLYN NINE-NINE SEASON 7 (NBC)

Brooklyn Nine-Nine has always been solid. Every season. You can actually pay attention to it and laugh or have it on in the background and still laugh. It’s always been a zany fun series that hits about 90-95% of its jokes every time. Every cast member on there is brilliant (although Andy Samberg is still Andy Samberg, he uses his one note goofy talents to his advantage in this series), but Andre Braugher has been robbed of an Emmy multiple times for his supporting role as Captain Holt. Maybe this is his year as he’s had multiple spotlight stealing moments this year, more than the past couple of seasons combined? Season 7 is fantastic. And while I will say it was better than last season (I would probably argue that Season 6 might be my least favorite even though they are all solid to me), when it transitions from Fox to NBC because Fox didn’t want to give it another chance, the show found it’s footing yet again and is still masterfully smart and funny. It was a smart move keeping it to only 13 episodes a season now. Always keep them wanting more. They are renewed for Season 8, and I’m figuring it’s probably its last due to its ratings, but man if they can keep this momentum and go out on top, we’re in for a truly special final season (if cancelled).

FAMILY GUY SEASON 18 (FOX)

Family Guy has always been 50% hit jokes and 50% miss jokes. Those figures fluctuate a little each season but not by much. Season 18 is no different. Some of the ones that hit can make or break the episode. This is the perfect binge series since there are a shit ton of episodes, but more of a “on in the background” binge than actually paying attention to it. It’s always nice though hearing all of Seth McFarlane’s voice acting. There’s just something about him…

CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM SEASON 10 (HBO)

You never know when you are going to get a new season of Curb Your Enthusiasm. Season 8 ended in 2011 and then Season 9 premiered in 2017, and then Season 10 just ended 2020. Until Season 8 there had never been more than a two year gap in between seasons. Honestly it is just whenever creator Larry David feels like he has some material that he can do a full ten episodes with. Season 9 was funny but stumbled a bit in its execution, but I’m happy to say that Season 10 was a giant step forward back to the fantastic early seasons of yore (3 and 4 to be exact). I laughed hard every single episode this season. To me, Curb Your Enthusiasm makes it seem like Seinfeld never ever left the air. It’s an extension because Larry David, creator of both shows, explores similar things of being a show about “nothing” and complaining about the little things in life all the way through. If you are a Seinfeld fan and haven’t watched one episode of this series shame on you. Do it immediately, if you’ve never watched either, binge Seinfeld first and then binge this. An excellent one two binge punch for what will probably be a very boring COVID-19 fear summer.

THE OUTSIDER SEASON 1 (HBO)

The reason I decided to watch The Outsider because a couple of years ago Stephen King’s novel was first release, and I read it very fast and mostly loved it, except for the anti-climatic ending. The series is okay, but unfortunately it stretches all the material in the book, and adds a few other things, for far too long. This was a ten episode first season (for people that are saying it couldn’t have a second season, if you read the Holly Gibney short 200 page story in King’s new collection of novellas, If It Bleeds, then you can see how they could milk this show for all its worth). This really should’ve been only 6 to 8 episodes. Some of the material is stretched wayyyy too thin. This honestly could’ve been an incredible 2 hr and 15 minute movie. And just like the ending to the book, the ending to the show is a bit anti-climatic as well. Will watch if there is a second season, but kind of hoping there isn’t one. I would recommend reading the novel and skipping the series altogether. And the fact that it doesn’t connect Holly Gibney to her previous adventures with Bill Hodges in the Hodges trilogy of Mr. Mercedes, Finders Keepers, and End of Watch was a damn shame. Not even a hint. Again, just read the book.

PARKS AND RECREATION CHARITY SPECIAL

Finaly a couple of quick thoughts of that special charity PARKS AND RECREATION episode that aired last week. If there was no COVID-19, we never would’ve gotten this episode, which honestly, it could’ve gone either way. All the actors in real life are sheltering in place, so the story line (that thankfully doesn’t break any canon the show established in its main series run) deals with COVID-19 becoming canon for that television universe and Leslie Knope is a little sad and depressed trying to keep in contact with her co-workers and friends throughout this very tough time. I liked that everyone that were main players on the series show up. It would’ve been glaringly obvious if there was a major no show. And the story line was, I guess fine, it had its charming moments (mainly callback to better moments in the main series) but the parts that really stole the quick 22 minute special were the fake commercials with Jean Ralphio and Counselman Jamm and Dennis Feinstein. Especially the Dennis Feinstein cologne commercial. That was fucking brilliant. So while it was nice we got one more adventure with Knope and co. and the episode didn’t manage to tarnish the main series, it wasn’t really necessary to revisit the characters in the end and I hope they don’t try and reboot the series. But hey, it raised $3 million dollars for charity during this virus crisis so what the fuck do I know, right?

Special #11 (I basically forgot and updated this post…): RAY DONOVAN SEASON 7 (SERIES ENDING?)

The reason why I put a question mark on Series Ending for Ray Donovan Season 7 is that even though it was just recently cancelled on Showtime (resulting in the series ending on a very frustrating and depressing cliffhanger), there have been talks by the show runner doing a final season or TV movie to wrap up everything on Showtime or shop it to a different Network. The first four seasons of Ray Donovan are incredibly great. Season 5 is easily the worst for spoiler-y reasons I won’t divulge, season 6 is a little better but then the last season was kind of ho-hum, especially after that downer ending. I recommend binge watching the first four seasons, stop there, and pretend that the end of season 4 was the end of the show. Kind of like how I recommend you stop watching Showtime’s Dexter after season 5 and pretend it ended there. It pretty much has an ending at that point so no harm and no foul not completing the rest. Liev Schrieber is amazing to watch a a fixer for the Hollywood elite. But this is one show that definitely overstayed its welcome, and it was do to the fact that Ray’s family got away clean too much.

Zach’s Zany TV Binge Watchin’ Reviews: WESTWORLD SEASON 3 (& THE SERIES AS A WHOLE)(HBO)

What the fuck happened to WESTWORLD? This is easily another case of “oh how the mighty have fallen” indeed. I mean, Season 1 is near perfect. Perfect story. Perfect pace. Perfect acting. An incredibly creepy performance by the great Anthony Hopkins. We all wanted to go and have fun at that park. Then season 2 happened and instead of feeding us out of the same feeding tube, the same speed of flow, they put about two dozen extra feeding tubes on there and flipped the switch to overload. The sophomore slump was pretty much horrendous. Awful pacing, too many time switches and time line fuckery’s (even though I was easily able to keep up, about 90% of the audience couldn’t though). The acting was still there and the visuals were still crisp and clean, but everything else about it was absolutely convoluted. In the end we ended needed a break from the park. Well, SEASON 3 literally gave that to us, completely reinventing itself, hardly any time spent in a park, both narrative and visual wise, shorter and tighter episode count (8 instead of the other two seasons previous 10), and they even gave us Jesse Pinkman…errr, I mean Aron Paul (one of the seasons very few highlights). And while 1 to 2 episodes of the run were near perfect (in my opinion Episode 2 titled, “The Winter Line” and Episode 5 titled, “Genre.”) and the end to episode four titled “The Mother of Exiles” being very action packed, what the story led to, the other 5 episodes, the end game especially in the final episode titled “Crisis Theory” really led to nothing more than a bunch of meh. The story was supposed to be about fate and what we make for ourselves but in the end didn’t have any major or surprising revelations, I literally shrugged when it went to end credits, and it seemed that all that episode was for was a bridge to give its audience some very ho-hum after credits sequences that will likely build to another empty promise.

I’m still going to finish out the series however long it goes. It’s more interesting than The Walking Dead ever was a a whole (and I still watch that nonsense), but all of this convoluted storytelling makes me want to just go and watch the old short 95 minute movie that was written and directed by the great Michael Crichton. If you haven’t seen the old Westworld movie, please do, it is a real treat. Series showrunners Lisa Joy & Jonathan Nolan (yes, Christopher Nolan’s brother that co-wrote The Dark Knight wit him) say that this series is meant to last six seasons. I really want to know what is in there heads as to how. Even the end of Season 3, as shrug worthy as it was, felt like it could’ve been an ending if not for the couple of after credit only thinking about the future and not the present, ho-hum scenes. Now while all the critics and audiences’ thought it was bold for Westworld to go out of the parks, into the real world and in a new direction, we all agreed that after this season ended. We missed the parks indeed. My guess is that with supposedly three seasons left (I see the ratings completely dipping in Season 4 and that HBO tells them to wrap it up with a Season 5), the story will take us back to the parks that we fell in love with. Kind of like how Hunger Games went back to the arena in Catching Fire, but then Mockingjay book crashed and burned because there were no more fighting arenas. I know that sounds contrite and selfish, but if you can somehow manage to contain your story and keep it in motion with the environment the audience loves…why change the formula?

I would’ve agreed to the formula change if the narrative went somewhere I actually cared about. In the end, kind of spoiler alert, it’s all about Aaron Paul’s character, and his acting, along with Evan Rachel Wood (who’s a good actress but kind of too loud and brash on social media), and Thandie Newton, completely carry the season. They and the two masterful episodes I mentioned before are the only things that make Season 3 a tick above in quality to Season 2. The ONLY things. Especially the Genre episode. It’s the only episode of television to come as close to perfect as most of the episodes we saw in Season 5 of Better Call Saul. It’s action packed, challenges the mind, acted to perfection, and visually gorgeous. It sets up themes that you think will have surprising conclusions (but the final episode fails on that promise) and it is perfectly edited. I think you could watch that episode completely out of context and still enjoy it. If the conclusion to Season 3 had been as masterful as the set up, I would be completely into all of it and really excited for Season 4 (God knows when we’ll get that), but since the final episode was just a bunch of talking leading to a bunch of predictable and “who cares?” conclusions, when Season 4 ends up finally airing, I’m more than likely to be, “oh…Westworld is back, guess I could check that out again.” It’s just so disappointing because the potential is there, but they are having an extremely hard time unlocking it after they went successfully went in and out of Pandora’s Box in the wonderful first season.

I get that the story eventually had to get to “how can these robots and humans go exist together in life?” But there aren’t too many ethical questions the series brings up to try and have a good and lengthy debate about the ramifications of said questions. It only half-assed, “well, because it just can” kind of answers. The season also tries to play with fate and has a couple of giant computers that can predict the outcome of every individual on Earth’s life, and of course some of the story is “how can we expose or shut down this system and start letting the humans of Earth make their own choices without any predestined paths. Should we let human’s make their own choices? The conclusion to this train of thought, again, is a bit ho-hum and disappointing. It’s just matter of fact one sided answers. Maybe the true answers are in future seasons? But with the way things concluded this past Sunday, I’m thinking there may not be much more to discuss on the matter. We’ll see. You want to know my biggest problem with Westworld? With about 80%-90% of the actors being robots, no one really stays dead. If they do die, Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) can just use the Devos company technology to make a dozen more copies. WHICH FUCKING HAPPENS. I couldn’t keep track of how many Delores or Maeve’s there were this season. If death doesn’t really stick, why should the audience care? And one of the robot characters seem to have a definite conclusion, but since this actor/actress is one of the main stars of the show, I doubt he/she is done with it, which again, makes me beg the question, “why should we care if there aren’t really any true stakes?” Also, Jeffrey Wright’s character is extremely short changed this season…was he just not available where they had to write a really short story for when he was they could shoot it all quickly? Hopefully they bring him back with a vengeance next year. Westworld Season 3, and the series as a whole…has mastered the art and look of the artificial…but definitely not the intelligence.

Zach’s Zany TV Binge Watchin’ Reviews: STAR WARS – THE CLONE WARS FINAL 7th SEASON (Ranking The Series As A Whole)

Happy May The 4th Everyone! This morning before heading to work I watched the 12th and final episode of Season 7 of STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS, which happens to be the final episode of the show…ever. If you are out of the loop, The Clone Wars began with an awful animated feature film in August 2008, proceeding by the actual television series which ran for 5 seasons between 2008 and 2013. Then the Disney merger happened and Clone Wars was cancelled, which led to a shortened Season 6 being released all at once on Netflix in 2014 (these were episodes that were finished before The Clone Wars was announced as being cancelled). Then somewhere in between all of this we got the animated Star Wars Rebels for four fabulous seasons, two awful animated seasons of Star Wars Resistance, we got comics, books, and other small releases trying to tie up some of the stories that The Clone Wars couldn’t finish, and then finally the announcement that Disney was letting creator Dave Filoni go back and do 12 more and final episodes of Clone Wars. They wanted to give the fans a wrap up to all the stories and go out on its own terms. They announced it I think a little over a year ago and that it would all debut on a weekly basis on Disney+. The season started back in February, and now here we are. The end. Was it a fantastic last season? No, but it had a perfect final four episodes, a perfect series finale, which more than made up for the so-so 8 episodes that came before (I’ll get to reasons why they were a little meh in a minute). I still prefer Rebels, but in the end, The Clone Wars animated television series was a billion times better than what the prequel movies had to offer and they actually made the prequel movies better if you can believe that. And the last four episodes made me want to go back and check out Revenge Of The Sith again. They are THAT epic.

Let’s get talking about the entirety of the series out of the way. Every Star Wars fan knows that the animated Clone Wars feature film and Season 1 are a slog to get through (they suck Jar Jar’s Balls to be precise), and those I would say are the only terrible things in all of the Clone Wars series. If we are talking all of animated Star Wars though…Resistance is definitely the worst thing ever. You could have a gun to my head and I’d pick the Clone Wars feature film every time than having to watch a even a minute of that “really” made for kids series. Even worse than the prequels. Just…just don’t ever watch that show. Starting with Season 2, the Clone Wars just keeps getting better and better in a roller coaster ride type fashion. The main interconnected stories that brought new characters, new mythology, and other new things we didn’t know about our favorite galaxy are masterful…and then there are the single episodes spread out here and there, that most likely either involved Jar Jar, Padme, C-3P0 and R2-D2, that were meant to cleanse the palate…they just being ho-hum forgettable side adventures. Your attention may linger a bit, but trust me, you only have to go through a handful of those spaced out in order to get to the juicy parts. You’ll know it when you see it, and you’ll feel it when you see it, but there is a “The Chosen One Prophecy” 3 episode arc in Season Three that is truly masterful storytelling (reason why season 3 is ranked low is because there isn’t that much that masterful in that season other than that arc). There really is no way to describe some of the fantastic and epic story telling, especially in 4, 5, and 6, (those will explain why Darth Maul just shows up in Solo: A Star Wars Story alive, so will Rebels) you just have to experience it for yourself in order to prove my stance that it makes the prequel movies better.

Now let’s get to season 7. In the latter half of its run, Clone Wars dedicated 3 to 5 episodes on one continuous main storytelling arc, which is why the latter seasons are ranked so high, is because they mostly got rid of the ridiculous one offs. If you look at my ranking after my review, the reason why Season 7 in kind of in the middle and not higher up, is because a. Anakin and especially Obi-Wan, are barely in any of the 12 episodes, b. The first 4 episodes tell the story of a “Bad Batch” of clones (not meaning they are bad guys, but defects that have some roguish type personalities and behaviors) and while the story is entertaining and well paced, if you are a true Star Wars fan, you’ve already seen all four episodes. Because at the time when Dave Filona and company didn’t think they were going to finish the series, these were the next batch of episodes that were going to be completely finished, animated, and aired, but they didn’t get time to finish them before they were shoved away from their work spaces. Thus on the blu-ray extras (and released on YouTube), those unpolished four episodes were already released. Granted these new ones are more watchable now that they have updated animation and special effects, are the story beats and dialogue are the same. Which kind of leads me to my hypothesis was that Dave Filoni pitched he really only needs to completely make 8 new episodes to wrap up the series, and save a whole shit load of money just by polishing these almost finished ones and releasing those into official canon. I mean, come one, there had to have been one catch as to why Disney granted them one last season. Cost cutting is always on the Mouse’s agenda.

The next batch of four episodes were original but they focused entirely on Ahsoka and what she did right after she left the Jedi order. Even though a novel that was released several years ago puts into perspective what she did with her time leading to her surprise appearance on Rebels. And while the story was at a break neck pace, and interesting as it ultimately had some ties to Solo: A Star Wars Story, it was ultimately a disappointed because I feel like we’ve seen that kind of story before. You know, the one where a loner befriends a group of people that don’t like her kind (Jedi) but they all come out alright in the end, even after figuring out her identity? Yeah, so not entirely original. But those 4 episodes are set up to the last 4, which are also Ahsoka centric, but also Darth Maul centric (finishing his unfinished storyline from Season 5 + the Son of Dathromir comics that tie that season and 7 together), and it also does the unthinkably bold. When everyone thought that when Clone Wars ended, it would end right up to the events of Revenge of the Sith, so that you can just pop in that movie to continue the adventure when you were done…nope, these last four episodes, EPIC, EPIC, episodes take place at the same time as Revenge of the Sith. I won’t reveal more much than that, but it fits in seamless with that movie, and the Ahsoka/Maul final duel in the second of the last four episodes are masterful. And the final episode’s final five minutes, with no dialogue, and a chilling yet required cameo, close out the series in epic style. So if you are a Star Wars fan, or you consider yourself to be one of high order, and you haven’t watched this series, then you really aren’t one of high order. But you could be. Anyway, the last season was pretty good, with a perfect final four episodes, and if the other 8 weren’t just recycled stories and had a little more umph to them the whole season would be higher, but I think you’ll agree in the middle is where it belongs. So if you haven’t started this series, but plan to, well…I hope you have some mythological discovery fun…and of course…May The Force Be With You.

All of Clone Wars Ranked:

  1. Season 5
  2. Season 6
  3. Season 4
  4. Season 7
  5. Season 2
  6. Season 3
  7. Season 1
  8. The Feature Film

Zach’s Zany TV Binge Watchin’ Reviews: NEVER HAVE I EVER (Season 1, Netflix)

It’s really not that much of a revelation that I don’t like Mindy Kaling very much…as an actress. She’s an incredible fucking writer. She’s written some of the best episodes of The Office, The Mindy Kaling Project, and I really liked the Amazon Original Movie Late Night. She has an incredible ear for dialogue, character, plot, and story. So when I heard she co-created, co-wrote, sometimes even solo wrote many of the ten episodes of the new series NEVER HAVE I EVER, and especially when I found out that she doesn’t even make an appearance in it, I knew I wanted to watch it. No offense to Mindy Kaling as an actress, she has the personality of one, I just think she plays the same person in whatever she does, basically…she just plays herself, and she’s loud, too crude sometimes, and crass, and I just don’t care for it. Anything written by her though, I can’t wait to read or watch. Never Have I Ever is no exception. I fucking loved every minute of this short comedy series and my only problem is that there weren’t more episodes to watch and we’ll probably have to wait a long time for season 2 because of butthold COVID-19. In all the repeated bullshit of television, this really quick and wonderful binge was definitely a breath of fresh air. It’s funny, well acted, the dialogue is snappy and quirky, the characters are all nicely layered, even the supporting ones. It’s just a wonderful show and you should stop reading my review, not because of spoilers, I promise not to give any, but you just need to watch it for yourself. It’s that good.

Per Netflix and IMDB.com the series is about “the complicated life of a modern-day first generation Indian American teenage girl, inspired (not directly based) by Kaling’s own childhood.” That teenage girl is played by Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, and I was really surprised to look her career up, and this is her very first acting credit…ever. She does a phenomenal job for this being her first gig. Phenomenal. Other than two very recognizable narrators (one is just for a special episode dedicated its focus on a different character) who I will not spoil for the fun of it all, the cast is mostly filled with unknowns. And not only is all of their acting great, but all of their characters big and small have fantastic development and arcs and by the end of the ten episode first season one, they feel like a well established television family that I got to know very well and want to spend more time with. This series could’ve played on a regular network like ABC, NBC, FOX, etc. but due to the nature of some of the content (Devi, the main character, wants to lose her virginity to a hot guy and constantly talks about sex) and some well timed choice, yet not overused language, I’m very happy that it isn’t censored and not on Netflix. Makes the entire narrative and situations more relatable. And even though it is a coming of age sitcom, it feels more honest and realistic than most, and that is due to the excellent writing of creators Mindy Kaling, Lang Fisher, & their team. I hope they all stay on for a second season (which is 100% at this point as it’s been in the top ten of Netflix for days now, this series was released last Monday).

Even though I predicted a lot of the things that were going to happen, the show brought them on in a way that kept me interested and wondering how a season two will play out. This season has a well established arc, and you think you know what it is going into the season, but doesn’t really show its true cards near the end. It’s a very strong message about family, and it completely sticks the landing. I’m just also amazed by how much the series subverts your expectations on some of the supporting characters. One character named Ben goes from a completely despicable asshole and morphs into one of the best characters. Another character, Kamala, the cousin of Devi, seems like she’s going to be a stereotypical good looking Indian woman that is too much into her looks, boys, fashion, but again, the show goes in the opposite direction and makes her a very smart and compelling character, another one of the best of the supporting ones. Every character is great here, even the jock the Devi ultimately wants to hook up with. By the time you are done with all ten episodes, you’ll feel like you are at home with the world within the show. It just sucks it’s only ten episodes right now and we might have to wait awhile for Season 2, but I have a feeling it will be worth the wait. The good thing about these 10 episodes is that they are definitely re watchable, over and over until we get a new batch of episodes. When a comedy get re-watchable episodes for me right off the bat, sort of like Seinfeld, Friends, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, etc….that is really saying something. Highly recommend. Never have I ever fallen in love this fast with a comedy series right off the bat. Check it out immediately.

Zach’s Zany TV Binge Watchin’ Reviews: HOMELAND SEASON 8 (The Final Season & I talk about the series as a whole)

Thank God HOMELAND SEASON 8 stuck the landing in their series finale last night. I was dreadfully afraid it was going to be another Dexter or Ray Donovan series finale fuck up of epic proportions. To be fair, the makers of Ray Donovan didn’t know their last episode was a series finale, I’m just pissed I invested so much time in a television show (7 seasons) that didn’t have an ending…yet (I hope maybe they wrap shit up in a TV movie or be brought back from the dead in a final really short, maybe only 4 or 5 episode season?). Anyway, the reason I was dreadfully afraid of a terrible series ender was because the 8th and final season of Homeland was okay, with some decent parts and the same can be said for Dexter’s final 8th season as well. But then Showtime gave us that final episode, you know the one where Dexter, a serial killer who kills serial killers/bad guys, becomes a mute lumberjack at the end, that is now the staple of bad endings whenever and wherever television series endings are discussed. Dexter’s first two seasons were great, the 4th it’s best, the 3rd only okay with a couple of juicy moments, and the fifth was better than average with what could’ve been a decent ending. Seasons 6, 7, and 8 (especially after the ending of the latter) are all tedious, uninspired, and boring.

To be fair, out of 8 seasons, there has only really been one terrible season of Homeland, that being Season 3 and how awfully boring it was and the way they handled Brody’s arc. I’d say season 1, 2, 6, 4, and 5 were great although all but the 1st had their minor share of problems (that red neck massacre with that conspiracy theory nut in Season 6…what the fuck was that?). Season 1 to me is perfect as Season 1 and 5 were to 24 (same creators and writers if you didn’t know). And then when we get to the final two seasons of this show season 7 and 8, they were only okay really. I’m just glad this last one, didn’t massacre the ending, and makes me look back at the entire thing with fondness and maybe even one day revisit binge wise. When I look at my complete series set of Dexter, I cringe when I think about revisiting it and then going past season 5. Anyway, if you don’t know what Homeland is, or the only thing about Homeland you know is that it is from the creators and writers of 24 and both television shows are similar, it is about a highly skilled CIA agent named Carrie Matheson (played brilliantly by Claire Danes) who is very intelligent, there is just one problem, she is mentally unstable dealing with being bi polar and a bit schizophrenic. The first season deals with an American soldier prisoner of war being turned by Islamic terrorists and then the seasons get different from there. At the heart though has been Carrie all along, and her CIA handler/confidant Saul Berenson played to perfection by the great Mandy Patinkin.

To me, Homeland was a much more serious, much more realistic, much more political version of 24, even though I loved the latter show much much better as Jack Bauer was much more of a bad ass than Carrie Matheson was, and 24 got really really dark really fast and had much better action. But I still like Homeland, I could see Jack Bauer’s character living somewhere in that universe, waiting to come out of the shadows. But enough about 24. Homeland was an engaging show throughout its 8 seasons on the air. The political intrigue, the stakes, the acting, the plot threads, the spy game, all must watch television. If you are looking something to pass the time during quarantine season and have already gone through Breaking Bad, El Camino, and Better Call Saul, 24, and The Americans (up next for me), Homeland is a great title to add to this list. There are a bunch of twists you don’t see coming, memorable villians, the future Supergirl naked, naked little older Inara, the works. This season’s final thread had America being in peace talks with the Middle East, and then going almost straight to hell with a devastating tragedy, only for Carrie to go out and prove that this tragedy was just a mistake. It was very simple, which is probably why I found it to be a bit tedious and a little boring. Without getting into spoilers, Carrie Matheson had to go after this device that proved what really happened with this tragedy, and all the plot threads from it seemed a bit of a copycat from the latter half of season 4 of 24.

And I was afraid that with the ending, basically a “Carrie vs. Saul” type of ordeal, that the show would jump the shark the first time since the terrible season 3, but instead smartly side stepped what I thought was the inevitable, and contained a conclusion that was smart, bittersweet, and made sense. And no, Carrie does not become a lumberjack thank God. The acting here is all top notch, with a few noticeable exceptions. Hugh Dancy, who is Claire Danes’ husband in real life, plays a villainous advisor to the President of the United States. This role was not a stretch for him as he’s done that a lot recently since Hannibal being cancelled. And the wonderful Beau Bridges is wasted as the current President of the United States in that universe. Without spoiling anything, he isn’t in this season that much which is a shame. But really, this last season was all about Carrie and Saul, which it had to be. The crux of the show, the heart of it, was their friendship and relationship as mentor and apprentice. Throughout all 8 seasons, Saul was grooming Carrie to not only be the person that he could trust the most in the world, but be a terrific CIA agent. And this last episode even goes back to Season 1 to tie up some themes (mainly one asking the question: Could Carrie ever betray her country and why?) but mostly has a good farewell to their awesomely platonic relationship. If you like international espionage and political intrigue type shows, that even though it tries to keep it as realistic as possible it manages to still keep some sort of sense of fantasy for your entertainment enjoyment, you can do no better than Homeland.

My Homeland Season Ranking

  1. Season 1
  2. Season 2
  3. Season 6
  4. Season 4
  5. Season 5
  6. Season 7
  7. Season 8
  8. Season 3 (again, really the only terrible season)

Zach’s Zany TV Binge Watchin’ Reviews: BETTER CALL SAUL SEASON 5 (Netflix + AMC App & basically a review of the show as a whole)

It doesn’t really necessarily count as binge watching for me if I’ve watched the latest helping of BETTER CALL SAUL SEASON 5 over the past nine weeks, watching every new episode one it came out on a app now does it? But it does count as binge watching for you if you take my following recommendation: watch Breaking Bad on Netflix, it’s all there, then watch the El Camino Breaking Bad movie (love, love, LOVED it), and then start Better Call Saul, watch through season 4, and then borrow someone’s AMC Network log in information to watch all of Season 5. It’s going to be the best quarantine binge watching of your life. I guarantee it. Usually sequel or prequel series that come almost directly after one of the greatest television shows in history are doomed to fail, there is no way that the creators can reproduce that kind of quality so fast and the end product ends up nowhere near as masterful, sometimes even ruining and tarnishing a bit of the phenomenon that came before. But not Better Call Saul. It is the one and only television show that I have ever seen come so close to matching the glory of Breaking Bad, it’s absolutely astonishing that it has been able to pull it off so far, with each season being better than the last, and just getting that much closer to being the television show that Breaking Bad was. That’s right, Season 5 is easily the best season of the show, then 4, then so on to the first season. Not saying the first season is bad at all, just want to get it in your head the fact that this show that keeps on getting better and better is an almost near impossible feat. Yet it still does it.

After this season, there is one more green lit season (who knows when it’ll actually start getting filmed because of bitch ass COVID) and in the end, if you count the El Camino movie as one episode of Breaking Bad, both Better Call Saul and it will have had the same amount of episodes. 63, I think. Which to me, is perfect, stay in the game to tell the story it needs and then goes out on top without any sort of bad after taste whatsoever. If you don’t know what Better Call Saul is (first off, shame on you) it’s a prequel series to Breaking Bad that stars Bob Odenkirk as Jimmy McGill and his eventual transformation into the sleazy criminal lawyer named Saul Goodman that we all love to hate in the masterful series that starred Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul. And while the series has had some minor cameos from old Breaking Bad alumni (Tuco, Crazy 8, Huell, Lydia etc.) and some major series regular call backs (Mike and Gus) it hasn’t felt the need to be a fan service kind of series, but one that stands out on its own, making the call backs tiny little winks, but then getting down to the original nitty gritty so to speak. The story telling is wonderful, and with each season, Jimmy slips deeper into becoming Saul, but also has giant satisfying character arcs of other original characters that were never in Breaking Bad, for example, Kim Wexler, played amazingly by the wonderful Rhea Seehorn. While she’s been a major supporting background character, season 5 was her’s to shine, revealing something shocking about her by the end that we didn’t know we were supposed to know all along. You’ll see, it’s just a fantastic narrative.

The early seasons dealt mainly with Jimmy and the relationship with his brother Chuck, and while those were the weaker seasons to be sure (but still wonderfully addicting), Season 4 and 5 have gotten so close to the quality of Breaking Bad, it’s unbelievable. My God, if in Season 6, they can stick the landing just like the last season of Breaking Bad did, you’ll have two series and a movie that will be unmatched and unrivaled for the years to come. “But what about Game of Thrones?” FUCK GAME OF THRONES. It was masterful until those two schlock showrunners David Benioff & D.B Weiss ran out of book material and pulled shit out of their ass to bring us one of the worst final seasons I have ever seen out of a tv show. And while I love 24, only really season 1 or 5 of that show got anywhere near the ballpark of (and certainly not even in the stadium) of how great Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul are. It is storytelling, acting, cinematography, editing…to absolute PERFECTION. Breaking Bad is a perfect series and Better Call Saul is a near perfect series, with El Camino as a nice, sweet, really great, yet unnecessary epilogue for both of them. If you haven’t watched any of it, you are a moron. I said it, a moron. And well, if you have nothing to do right now…what are you waiting for? Especially if you haven’t heard any sort of spoilers whatsoever. You are in for an absolute treat. The only bad thing is we’ll probably have to wait another year to 2 years for the final season. Fuck you COVID-19, you fucking FUCK.

Zach’s Zany TV Binge Watchin’ Reviews: BOSCH SEASON 6 (Amazon Prime & kind of a review of the series as a whole)

I’m not sure if I’ve ever reviewed BOSCH on my blog, I might’ve done Season 4 and 5 really quickly as quick blurbs on a Facebook status update (don’t think I ever even mentioned 1-3), but never a review such as this, so since I watched all 10 new episodes in a matter of 5 days, and there isn’t much to review anymore, let me talk about SEASON 6! Already renewed for one last season after this one (providing that this cocksucking buzz kill of a virus ever goes away and they can go into production), I’m happy to say that Season 6 does not just feel like a bridge season to its final go around. It is its own thing, tying up loose ends that were introduced late the previous season while bringing up some new mini cases/disputs that are solved in a couple of episodes and some threads introduced in the last couple of episodes that will mold themselves into the next and final season. All wrapped around giant and satisfying character arcs. That’s BOSCH in a nut shell. Every season has been this way. This isn’t like the Marvel Universe where they just plant stuff for a big endgame. No season has been better than the last and I can’t for the life of me think of my least favorite season. It’s like a company that pays its credit off in 30 days, never early, never late. Always constant and steady. Though I’d have to say if I were to go back and rank all the seasons (basically I’d have to watch them all again to determine any type of comparison) I would probably rank this one high up there as I probably watched Season 6 the fastest out of any other season (though because I’ve had time on my hands with quarantine more than my “gotta watch the next one now” vast enjoyment of the season). Basically…if you’ve never watched the show but my review piqued your interest, and you have a shit ton of time on your hands because of bitch ass COVID-19, I highly recommend that you watch these very tight and entertaining 60 episodes all together (10 a season).

Bosch is based off of Michael Connolly’s fantastic novels that feature the L.A.P.D. homicide detective named Harry (Hieronymus, named after the painter) Bosch (if you have some time to kill, read all of those novels starting with The Black Echo, they are fantastic police procedurals, the most realistic ones I’ve read). The tv series is more like companion pieces to the novels than actual page by page adaptations, so you can both read and watch and no really be spoiled by too many similarities (although there are definitely some). Season 7 takes its cues from an older Bosch novel, ‘The Overlook’ and a much more recent one, ‘Dark Sacred Night.” Harry has two main pursuits of justice this season: he’s trying to track down the killer of a woman’s daughter that he met last season when he was going undercover as a drug mule, and also trying to find 32 missing pieces of cesium that were stolen from a Los Angeles hospital that they are afraid might be used in a dirty bomb. If you are worried that that just sounds like typical old episodes of Jack Bauer and 24, don’t be. Bosch is probably the realist police procedural show I have ever seen on television. The whole force takes its time and detectives do (and you see them) do actual detective/police work to mount enough evidence to get the criminals justly behind bars. There isn’t some random person doing work ‘behind the scenes’ like in NCIS, Castle, what have you that just comes out of the background to deliver a startling piece of evidence/revelation at the last minute that changes the entire case outlook. So while you think that the police work might be slow, to me, all of its taking time just makes it feel that more rich, believable, and authentic.

Kind of like Michael Connolly’s books that I’ve obsessed over ever since my father introduced me to them. And not just his Bosch series, all of them. Connolly creates fantastic attention to detail in detective work, where you didn’t know filling out a police report in the mind of one of the characters could be so damn entertaining! At first it was hard for me to adjust to Titus Welliver playing Bosch (as I had a different image of him in my head when reading the novels), but man, after the first season or two, he’s all I see when reading the books now. He’s got the character nailed to a T. In fact, everyone is good here. This show isn’t just about Bosch, it’s about several different characters, sometimes with their own little stories completely separate from him. Bosch’s daughter, police chief, direct lieutenant, his partner, etc. etc. all get little stories within the season that just bulk up their character development arcs and make the show just have that much more impact as a whole. If there was a weak link to all these stories, would definitely be Bosch’s partner’s (named Jerry Edgar, whose character is much more mature in this than he is in the books). Not to say it is bad, it was just his story dealing with people who killed his confidential informant just wasn’t as interesting as the others, and sometimes it was a bit difficult to follow with all the moving pieces in play. Still decent though.

If I had any complaint about the filming of it is that some scenes linger a couple of seconds longer than they should, sometimes with weird character expressions, reacting to a situation. That’s just a nit pick really, my own personal bullshit complaint, as I realize it is probably to make all their performances more realistic and grounded in the long run. The biggest strength of the series is that it doesn’t get too…well 24ish or Homelandish (even though both are still two of my favorite series of all time). Nothing is bombastic, nothing with an actual countdown clock to signal impending doom for the city and/or characters. It just feels…real. It feels like the books, and isn’t that the best compliment in the end, where you can say that both the novels and the medium they are based on compliment each other very well and that you don’t at all even close to hate the adaptation? But in fact, almost love it just as much? You can tell that Bosch is produced on the cheap end, there aren’t that many, if at all, explosions or fancy gun shooting with unique camera angles…but in the end…you don’t want Michael Bay bullshit in stuff like this anyway. You want it simple, tight, concise, and realistic. Bosch Season 6, and the entire series as a whole, has exactly that. And you just feel criminal if you even ask for just the slightest bit more.