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The Mandalorian (2019)
Started great but ...
I usually like to give a show at least a season to prove itself but there was a dramatic quality difference between the first three episodes and the following two. I started watching because the initial reviews were amazing so I thought a bit of a follow up might be helpful to those considering whether to start watching now.
The first three shows were actually amazing. Fantastic world building, intriguing characters, gorgeous sets and excellent CGI. More importantly, it felt as though the writers assumed the audience was intelligent and willing to wait for a good story to unfold throughout the season.
Then in episodes 4 and 5, everything seemed to come off the rails. The plots of both episodes were boring and pretty tired. I won't spoil but they felt like something from the eighties. There was also an over reliance on 'cute' which Disney is often guilty of but I found overdone even for them. This may have been to disguise the lack of good story telling. Perhaps the most disappointing element was when, in episode 4, the writers seemed to decide that the audience was too stupid to figure out a key factor of our main character and used the most stilted dialogue possible to explain it to us.
If you're a Star Wars fan, you'll love the world and the fan service happening in this but, unless things change, don't go into it thinking you'll get anything thought-provoking or innovative.
The Rookie (2018)
Not a bad episode yet
I'm amazed that, even in season 2, there still hasn't been an episode that I would consider below par. Every episode delivers stellar acting, a great story and a believable amount of thrill. I will admit that I tuned in for Nathan Fillion but I've become attached to all the characters and their story lines.
For All Mankind (2019)
Alternative universe sci-fi done very well with solid and believable plot lines. Superb acting and a great balance between personal stories and world events. Love the surprise twists in each episode and I really hope that there is more.
Great idea but taking a bad turn
The first episode of this was so exciting for me. An 'Elon Musk like' character who decides to use his powerful ideas and technology to change policing seemed like a great way to showcase the best of both policing and science.
Sadly, after the first five or six episodes it has become a platform for The Fox Network to show how brutal police tactics are far better than genius or technology. SPOILER A good example of this is how his non- lethal weapons are discarded after the flimsiest reason possible. The writers didn't even try to explain why police prefer killing over disabling suspects. END SPOILER
I've kept watching because the acting is quite good even and because there are a few nuggets of joy among the rubble leftover from the car chases.
Why do I keep watching this?
A show about five geniuses that has been written for idiots. The acting is poor, the plots are ridiculous and the science/tech is so insanely cringe worthy that I don't know how they actually have the nerve to write it. This is background noise for when I'm cooking etc. but not worth watching as real TV.
Each episode is in two parts. One part tells the story of a 2030s mission to Mars and the other part is comprised of interviews and real science behind a Mars mission from our 2016 perspective.
I felt that the dramatic part of the show was told beautifully and with talented actors. They do seem to have a great deal of bad luck but if you consider that 50% of all missions to Mars have actually failed in reality, it's kind of believable. The cinematography/special effects are gorgeous and even the opening music is fantastic.
The science/interview aspect of the show was well done also. A good range of specialists and no futurism crap. Pure science.
We first saw flip phones on Star Trek and now we have them. National Geographic has given us a valid picture of what our first mission to Mars might look like and maybe that will inspire the future scientists and explorers to make it reality.
Legends of Tomorrow (2016)
They're comic books heroes and plots
UPDATE: I've continued watching this for the second season and it's gone downhill as far as the writing goes. The plots are getting thinner and the characters have become cardboard cutouts. Dominic Purcell is still pulling off some amazing scenes considering how poorly his character is being written but other good actors like Victor Garber are flailing with the dismal dialogue. I'm downgrading it from a 7 to a 6.
First Season; This is wonderfully over-dramatic and insanely convoluted with gaps in logic and reason. It's a comic book come-to-life. If you've tuned in for award-winning acting and realism, you're not finding it here and you're kind of crazy for thinking you would.
For me, it's fun, energetic and full of inside geek jokes. It's also a bit heavy-handed with the 'redemption/friendship' themes but this is pretty standard in superhero stuff.
If you follow Arrow or Flash, this is going to feel very familiar. Many of the characters were introduced on those shows and the productions are all filmed in Vancouver so they have a similar vibe to them.
My only real complaint about the show is that the 'captain' isn't particularly likable. It feels like they've tried to cross Dr. Who with Indiana Jones but he can't quite pull it off.
Marvel Comics has set the bar very high with Joss Weadon at the helm and this doesn't compete on the same level but it's still entertaining.
Hoping for improvement
UPDATE: After watching the second season, I'm upgrading this from a 5 to 6. The writing is more consistent, the acting has improved a little and they've upgraded their special effects. They've also moved some of the focus off of the really bad actors which has helped the overall show.
First season: This franchise was written for a younger audience so I can see the appeal of pretty actors and lots of angst but it's difficult to forgive such horrendous scripting, dialogue, directing and editing. Add in the often questionable acting and cheap props and special effects and it becomes painful to watch.
There have been a few high points. Harry Shum is brilliant as Magnus, overcoming bad writing and direction. The fight choreography is quite good in the few instances we've seen it. They didn't shy away from the gay romance which is a healthy step for American TV.
I'll tune in next season to see if they've gotten their act together but, even if they get new writers, editors and directors, some of their casting choices may have already sunk them.