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TV Binging and Season Finales (part I)

Well, the one thing about this COVID-19 crisis hitting in the summer is that we have a lot of television to catch up on. This year is also the year of many final seasons of television shows.  I don't know if this was planned, or it was a good opportunity with the on-going pandemic.  I suspect a little bit of both (depending on the show).  Here are some quick thoughts on some recent finales and their respective TV series.

Hawaii Five-0
I started binging this series, from the beginning, last year in the summer. There were quite a few seasons to catch up on, so much so that I bumped up to the series finale and I only realized that it was the finale at the end! This was basically a reboot of a police procedural set in Hawaii.  A special task force (the Five-O) was put together by the governor and the team is able to investigate crimes ranging from terrorism to kidnapping as well as murder and robberies. This merry band of men includes a Navy commander  - McGarrett - (taking a break from the Navy, I guess), a cop from New Jersey ("Danno"), and various other Honolulu PD folks.  There is a thread that ties the seasons together, and that is unraveling the family history of McGarrett (father's murder, the mother being a spy, and so on).  The ending wasn't bad - I'd argue that McGarrett got his happy ending, and after 10 seasons I can see why people wanted to wrap it up (especially with recent news of a toxic work environment), but I think there is room there to make a spin-off series with other cast members.  On an interesting side note:  Magnum P.I. and the NCIS shows appear to be in the same universe as Hawaii Five-O.

The Magicians
The Magicians was something on my "to watch" list for a few years now, but the lack of new shows due to COVID19 made it possible to go back and revisit. This is something I binge-watched up to seasons 4, and then season 5 (final season) was airing.  The premise of the show is as follows: Quentin,  an introverted teenager from Brooklyn [doesn't look like a teenager in the show...]  discovers that magic is real and that the world from his favorite fantasy series [Fillory] is also real. Instead of attending a regular college, he goes to a magical boarding school [Ummm,, Hogwarts? ;-)] called Brakebills. There, Quentin and his classmates study magical theory and application. They soon learn that magic is both wondrous and deadly. Quentin and his friends also discover that the world of Fillory, a realm written about in fictional books, is actually very real and is very, very different than the world portrayed by the author of the Fillory book series. In the first season, his friend Julia doesn't make the cut into Brakebills and she tries to find other means into magic which leads to some very uncomfortable situations - stuff honestly I wish I had not seen.   The series was OK, for the most part, but I was always left with a "WTF?!?!?!".  Not knowing much of the books prior to watching I think I had a different idea of what this was going to be about before I watched it. I guess knowing now what it's about, if I rewatched it, maybe I'd come out with more of it.  I think the final season did a good job of bringing together threads and wrapping up the series.  I think I got the most out of the bookend seasons: seasons 1 and 5. The middle seasons seemed to blend together for me.

Here's another series finale that just popped up. I think I knew that this was going to be the final season of the show but I had totally forgotten about it before I actually got to it.  The premise of the show, which was a psychological thriller series centered around Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes), a CIA operations officer who attempts to foil the plans of various groups that aim to do harm to the USA.  The first seasons kicked off with Gunnery Sergeant Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis) who was held captive by Al-Qaeda as a prisoner of war.  Carrie has come to believe that Broadie was turned by the enemy and now poses a significant risk to national security.   I think (if I remember correctly) that the Broadie plotline was resolved by season 2.  Carrie does make a variety of questionable decisions throughout the series, which adds to the "WTF Carrie?!?!" feeling I got almost every episode, but her intentions were good, and it points to the fact that she isn't a saint.  The most frustrating thing as an audience member is that she is often right about the various threats, but no one believes her. In the end, Carrie makes a huge personal sacrifice: She decides to defer to Russia and play a Snowden-type of character "exposing" the CIA's wrongdoings as a published author, while at the same time feeding back information to her friend and coworker who is still in the CIA.  Carrie can never come back, but she still fights for a country that is hellbent on imploding.  Sad on many levels.

I am not a baseball fan (it's an OK game, just not for me), but I thoroughly enjoyed Brockmire. I think I have baseball in my veins from having grown up around the Fenway area as a kid :-).  Anyway, the series follows Jim Brockmire who is a famed Major League Baseball announcer who suffers an embarrassing and very public meltdown on the air after discovering his beloved wife's serial infidelity. A decade later, he decides to reclaim his career and love life in a small town, calling minor league ball for the Morristown Frackers. Brockmire is a very flawed character. He is a drunk, doesn't know when to shut up (which is one of the reasons he's eventually hired to do what he does - controversy brings people!), and he is toxic to his relationships. Despite all this, he is someone you are rooting for (to get better at being human), and he is rather funny. I think the final season (which takes place in the future) pays off on that hope with him getting sober, reconnecting with people, and trying to be a good father.  I think all seasons have pointed social and political commentary, but the final season is really on the nose.  I think this is a series I really enjoyed (definitely worth a rewatch!)

The Arrow finale was before all the crazy COVID stuff hit.  The series takes place in the DC universe affectionately named by fans as the Arrowverse (is it now Flashverse that the Arrow is off the air? :p). The series, over 8 seasons, follows rich playboy Olive Queen returning to civilization after he's been derelict on a desert island on his own for the last 5 years.  Or was he alone?  Or was he even on the island? Hmmm...  Well, watch it and you'll find out.  The first five seasons take place between the now, and a flashback to each year on Lian Yu (the island) and how Oliver became who he is, and explains why he's become a vigilante.  Over the five years he gets more people on Team Arrow (even though he is, admittedly, a lone wolf).  The season where we see the future wasn't the best season, IMO, but I think it can lead to some sort of spin-off series.  The ending was fine.  I get that the namesake character's actor wanted to move on, but I think the series had a few more seasons under its belt.  Once this COVID19 craziness is under control, perhaps there can be another Arrow (sort of how the TV show "The Closer" became "Major Crimes") with actors from Arrow returning, except for Oliver - he got a hero's death.

Blindspot had 5 seasons (or 100 episodes). The story centers around a mysterious tattooed woman (Jane Doe) who is found naked inside a travel bag in Times Square by the FBI. She has no recollection of her own past or identity. The FBI, along with Jane, discover that her tattoos contain clues to crimes they will have to solve. A team is assembled and each week they are off solving another tattoo mystery. While solving mysteries they try to uncover the real identity of Jane.  I think that the show should have been a one, or two season - at the most, show. I think there was an interesting premise there, but eventually, all tattoos would be solved, and some sort of overarching plot would be uncovered.  In reality, over the five seasons, I think the show jumped the shark when more and more conspiracies were unearthed making the show less and less believable.  In the end, Jane needs to bear with the Zip effects (zip being the memory wiping drug) in order to remember some important aspects of her past in order to diffuse a bomb in Times Square.  This was a good opportunity to be reunited with guests and series regulars (that died) from the past seasons, but the end was unsatisfactory.  On the one hand, there is a callback to that first episode (Jane in a bag, in Times Square), but you are also left wondering if the lovely dinner scene at the end was all in Jane's head as she was dying.  Despite the jump-the-sharkness of the series, I was hoping for a happy ending.  As an aside: Zapata's dad is Bill Nye, which puts Blindspot in the same universe as Stargate Atlantis ;-).  Overall, a 3/5 stars for the series.

Not a ton to write about FutureMan. This show was a Hulu original. The premise is that a janitor, Josh Futturman, successfully completes his favorite video game (that was previously considered unbeatable), Biotic Wars, when suddenly the game's two main characters, Tiger and Wolf, appear and recruit Josh to save the world from the real Biotic Wars. Josh and his companions travel through time to change the future. As with any time-travel show, it's all wibbly wobbly, timey wimey. The show is a take on sci-fi like the terminator, the hunger games, and various superhero shows (with a lot of slapstick).  It was a fun diversion for a few seasons, definitely one of those "must rewatch" shows.

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