River (Series 1)

I have watched a lot of police procedurals, and among them several British ones. This is by far the most unique series I have seen, following Inspector River as he looks for his partner’s killer. The twist on this, his partner still talks to him, along with many other victims and/or influences on his life.

The second twist, this isn’t a supernatural show at all. River just has mental issues and his abilities at being a detective manifest that way. It also shows how that mental illness takes a toll, resulting in a downward spiral.

The acting is great with Stellan Skarsgard as the center of the show (yes he is the father of all the young acting Skarsgard including Alexander). His acting is magnificent, and is in direct relation to the decades of acting he has put in. The rest of the cast are spectacular as well with the stars being selected for their acting ability and not because they fit into some weird young Hollywood attractiveness. This is one of the reasons I love British tv, they do have attractive young actors, but their shows starts seem much more relatable, real.

There wasn’t really any negatives I had with it, except of course the short season always throws me off (being American and used to 13-22 episodes a season, 6 episodes is always quick). I truly think though that is where British TV has American TV beat. It is about telling a story, if that only takes four episodes, that is ok. They don’t have to stretch it out to 22 episodes, thus making the show lose both pacing and heart.

Pros: In the top three for cop shows I have seen, and just a generally great series.

Cons: The fact there is no confirmed season 2, although honestly it might be good to leave it finished as an excellent show.

 

Justified (Season 6 – Final Season)

Well it is in the can and over with and it ended on a very good note, barring one annoyance.

This season focused on Boyd and Raylan’s struggle, but involved Sam Elliott playing Avery Markham and Mary Steenburgen playing Katherine Hale as new bad guys in a tug of war between multiple groups. We also had a lot of  Wynn Duffy which I personally enjoyed.

The season was perhaps the best one to date. The acting still really good, and the fact that almost all the side characters popped up in this (or were put down as the case may be). It was a really good send off for the series.

The only issue I had was the last 20 minutes of the season finale. I won’t say what happened other than it moves forward a few years to give sort of an epilogue, but I think that is where it did a disservice to the series. Not everything needs to be wrapped up completely and sometimes its best to leave things where they end, takes away from the climatic end.

Pros: Acting, story and pace were all great.

Cons: Sometimes its best to not have an epilogue, just leave it where it stands after the final climax.

Made me want to watch Deadwood, maybe I will do that.

Justified (Season 5)

I never realized that I wanted a season to focus on Dewey Crowe’s family, but evidently I did.

Just like prior seasons Justified is entertaining to watch. This time however the story is three factions and the mixing between them. One of them is of course our main star Raylen Givens, the tough Federal Marshall. The second is Boyd Crowder and his crew (which I am just as entertained if not more so by Boyd as by Raylan). The third and final is Dewey Crowe’s family… and they were entertaining.

The backstabbing is upped a notch, the violence is pretty intense and the white knuckle moments are still there. It is true, that other than Boyd and Raylan, none of the new characters measure up to Margo Martindale (yes I am still beating her drum), but they were definitely entertaining.

Oh, and Wynne Duffy seemed to be in it more this season and I approve of more Mr. Duffy.

Pros: Still great acting and writing. .

Cons: Still no Margo Martindale, other than that things were great.

The final Season 6 is in the queue.

Justified (Season 4)

This is absolutely my favorite season as we get to see Boyd Crowder coming back, along with Wynn Duffy and of course Givens.

The writing and acting are still good, nothing to complain about at all. The new story arc isn’t probably the most imaginative, but the whole completed story arc between Raylan and his dad Arlo is absolutely the most gritty real feeling to it.

Pros: Still great acting and writing, but I will be sad to see some of the cast not returning.

Cons: Frustrated with some plot things and how people got treated, but we can’t have everything we want.

 

Justified (Season 3)

I am sad that Margo Martindale is no longer in the series after the end of Season 2, that being said Season 3 hit a better stride.

Following up on the events of Season 2, we know see a mad dash by various groups to fill in the vacuum left by the Bennett demise. On top of this we have a second interrelated plot involving Mags Bennett’s lost millions.

Boyd Crowder, my favorite co-star/sometimes villain is rebuilding his own power base as well, aligning with none other than Raylan Givens dad, Arlo.

This results in kidney theft, prison escape, Detroit becoming involved and the appearance of a bad guy as good as Mags if not even better. Neal P. McDonough, also known for his work as Damien Darhk in the CW DC universe. He steals the show and makes you wince every time he stares at someone with those Husky blue eyes (referring to them in the animal sense, not in a weight way). Oh, and a favorite from first season, Wynne Duffy is back as well.

The one thing I did dislike was the attempted framing Givens. I absolutely hate false charges and the whole “will our hero be taken down by lies”. It is such a common trope that just seeing it done annoys me. Other than that though, it was a great series and I am already on season 4 now.

Pros: The acting, filming and directing are still great and with Mr. McDonough the villain is awesome.

Cons: I hate the “frame the hero” storylines.

Already watching Season 4!

Tin Star (Season 1)

I really really wanted to like the show, but they just couldn’t get it to work. I will try and avoid any spoilers (which means you won’t get much about the story here).

Tin Star is set in Canada, a former London cop named Jim Worth with a mysterious background who also has an alcohol problem (and a violence problem when he is drinking) moves to Canada to become a small town chief of police. There big oil is moving into the area causing problems along with some problems coming back from London to haunt Jim, resulting in big tragedy.

The actors/actresses are great. You have Tim Roth (Lie to Me, Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs), Christina Hendricks (Mad Men), Christopher Heyerdahl (Stargate, Van Helsing, many other tv shows) all of whom want to do a good job and they have all proven in the past that they are capable.

The issues of the series are the writing and editing/directing. They take the characters too far, make them unbelievable, the situation with Jim Worth is especially unbelievable (not his history, rather that they don’t sack him in the third episode let alone later), and they totally don’t use Hendricks or Heyerdahl at all to their advantage.

All that being said, the editing/direction was way worse. The first several episodes keeps jumping back and forth in time, makes it a bit confusing and doesn’t bring anything to the story. When in doubt, tell the story linearly, the whole back and forth just annoys viewers.

Pros: The actors really were trying.

Cons: Editing, directing, just the whole plot.

Don’t watch it, I definitely won’t catch a season 2 if it happens.

Justified (Season 2)

As is said in Bojack Horseman cartoon “highly acclaimed Character Actress Margo Martindale, is a wonder to behold”.

The second season of Justified is better than the first. You are past most of the basic background storytelling and now it gets into specifics. This time Raylan is dealing with a family feud that has lasted over 70 years with the Bennetts, and the best villain in awhile is in charge of that family as Mags Bennett (played by Margo Martindale), the matriarch of the Bennett family who control the town of Bennett.

She is my favorite character of the season (followed closely by Raylan and Boyd). Watching how she deals with her sons, while Raylan deals with his being to close too the edge is definitely interesting.

The only real frustration I had was people’s reaction to Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins) trying to go straight. Funny enough I have seen similar things like that in real life, but I was so frustrated that he couldn’t get a break.

Overall though, the season is good, I don’t want to go into too much, but you will also care for a 14 year old girl. That is all I will say though.

Pros: Still great acting and writing, and of course the highly acclaimed character actress Margo Martindale is the best part.

Cons: Frustrated with some plot things and how people got treated, but we can’t have everything we want.

Season 3 is in the queue.

Justified (Season 1)

Definitely a good show, especially if you liked Timothy Olyphant in Deadwood and Walton Goggins in the Shield. It definitely has a western feel to it, not as much as Longmire, but its there.

I cheated a bit though, I watched the first few episodes when it first came out and I really liked it. However, like most things life caught up and I wasn’t able to finish the season.

Following US Marshall Raylan Givens (Elephant) as he is transferred back to his home state as a punishment due to his proclivity to shoot bad guys down. There he meets with an old friend named Boyd Crowder (Goggins) who is part of the criminal world there.

It tells about why Raylan left his small town along with his family, friends and history and how he tries to avoid dealing with it when he comes back. Combine that with him attempting to take down the Crowder clan, full of criminals, especially Boyd it makes for pretty good tv. The writing and acting are great, and it goes by quick. I sometimes wonder if 13 episode seasons aren’t the best way to do tv since it forces them to make it tight storytelling.

Pros: Great acting, writing, etc. Pretty much all of it is in the top 10% of television.

Cons: I get a little uncomfortable with how they portray people from very small towns in Kentucky. It feels a bit tropey, and I can’t tell how accurate it is. So sometimes I wince a little.

Already halfway through Season 2 because it is that good, and I hadn’t seen Season 2 before.

Bosch (Season 3)

Bosch-Season-3The show surprised me again, it just got better.

Now don’t get me wrong, if you aren’t interested in a trope-y cop noire series, then you still don’t want to watch this. My complaints in the past though have been addressed in a few ways.

It isn’t just about Bosch anymore. He is still the main star, he will always be the main star, however we get to learn more about his partner, about the other cops and about Irving.

The plot isn’t just about his mother. Oh, it is about his mother, but there are so many other plots, relationships, and encounters that you don’t feel quite so overwhelmed by it. To be fair though, I really dislike his ex-wife’s plot involving working for the FBI. I could do without her completely, and definitely without it.

The show is very serialized, meaning the episodes bleed into each other. I know what happened in the season, but I would be hard pressed to point at the specific episode it happened in. The show is good at the long form of writing, but I am spoiled with most of my shows and sometimes wish there would be that “oh shit” episode.

Pros: The writing is getting better.

Cons: Repeat of season 2: Dear god can we stop with the murdered mother storyline?

I hear they are writing season 4. I am definitely in on it.

Bosch (Season 2)

It surprisingly got better.

If y0u are wanting big changes, you won’t find it here. If you want the acting and stories to get better and deeper then you do have it. Instead of a single individual, Bosch is investigating another case, lots of groups and a couple of relationships that intertwine those stories.

This time a pornographer, bad cops, the Armenian mob and an ex-wife that can’t stop getting in trouble add up to 10 episodes of a good police drama. I can’t say enough that I appreciate that the whole “thin blue line” thing isn’t necessarily a positive.

I also like how they have started wrapping the third season into the end of the second season. Although while I like his background, the murder of his mother was the impetus for Season 1, and evidently it will be the storyline for Season 3 and seriously could we stop with the murdered mother trope.

Pros: The story is better this season, the acting is still good.

Cons: Dear god can we stop with the murdered mother storyline?

Yes, I will watch season 3 now.