Justin Tadlock

2018-2019 Network TV Review

Old TV with a rainbow wallpaper behind it.

At the end of the summer, I start making a list of all the shows I’m going to watch in the new fall-spring TV season. There’s an excitement in the air with all the potential new stories to come.

Some shows live to get another season out of me. Other shows get dropped after a few episodes.

I have a bad habit of continuing to watch something once I’ve started it, even if I’m not really enjoying it anymore. However, I returned to reading a lot more last fall, so I didn’t feel nearly as bad about stopping a show to open up more time for reading quality novels.

There are a number of series that I didn’t watch enough of to give a review for. Some are still backed up on my DVR. Others, well, I dropped them after 2-3 episodes. And, shows like The 100 and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. are still airing.

What follows is my reviews for most of the TV series I watched this past season.

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God Friended Me

I was pleasantly surprised finding myself tuning into this show each week. Miles, an atheist with his own radio talk show on atheism, starts getting friend requests from God (yes, that God, The Big Cheese) via a social network to help people in need. That has to be one of the dumbest premises I’ve ever heard for a show, but somehow it works.

It’s similar to Kevin (Probably) Saves the World in theme from the previous season but with more serious tones and better production quality. I still have a few episodes left on the DVR because other shows took precedence at times on Sunday.

If you’re in the market for an uplifting, feel-good series, this is it.

⭐⭐⭐⭐/5 stars

Supergirl

What a letdown this season was. Supergirl had become one of my favorite B-level superhero shows, but the holier-than-thou, far-left propaganda was cringeworthy. The entire season was about the producers and writers patting themselves on the back for the social justice points they earned.

I’m as socially liberal as anyone. I shouldn’t need that qualifying statement, but it’s necessary in today’s political and social climate. If you’re going to bash a TV show for its statements, you have to mention it, lest hordes of angry keyboard warriors descend upon you.

There’s such a thing as subtlety. Not a single damned writer on the show has heard of it.

Ben Lockwood (Agent Liberty) was the character to watch in the 4th season. Sam Witwer was phenomenal in his portrayal of a Regular Joe who turned into a political activist after people started losing jobs to aliens. Lockwood’s backstory was the single best episode because the writers managed to show the human side of the primary villain for most of the season.

Most people don’t want to watch a TV show to hear a sermon. We come for the entertainment. Political and social views should be nuanced, not in your face. It’s no wonder critics gave the season 87% and the audience 44% on Rotten Tomatoes. Critics will join any circle jerk to leftist viewpoints if they’re obvious enough for their brains to catch the hints.

⭐/5 stars

Charmed (2018)

I was excited about this remake. The original Charmed has always been a guilty pleasure of mine. It’s cheesy in all the right ways yet managed to take itself seriously when it needed to.

I didn’t stick around with the new show for long. There were enough pointed, men-hating comments in first few episodes to entirely put me off.

And, let me be clear with another qualifying statement. Feminism, which is about bringing equality for women, is a wonderful thing. Some of the modern-day, men-hating feminism is a parasite on our society and should be crushed like the pest that it is.

Frankly, I was already getting my left-wing propaganda fix with Supergirl on Sunday nights. That was enough for me.

The one good thing this show accomplished is that it made me dust off my old Charmed (the original) DVDs and start re-watching the real thing.

⭐/5 stars

Arrow

Arrow has run its course. Giving credit where credit is due, it spurred an onslaught of awesome superhero TV shows within the Arrowverse on The CW. But, I’m mostly over it now. I’ll certainly tune in for the 8th and final season.

The prison storyline in the early season showed promise. We got to see Oliver Queen overcoming his personal demons. The episodes brought back what made Arrow good in its early seasons before too many uninteresting characters got stuck as permanent cast members.

At this point, the show continues to have a mix of quality and mediocre episodes. I’m hoping season 8 brings us back to focusing on Oliver and end the series on a high note.

⭐⭐⭐/5 stars

Legends of Tomorrow

A group of D-level action heroes traveling through time and correcting anomalies in the timeline doesn’t seem like it’d make for a good show after four seasons, but it continues to keep up the fun and action. There were points early in the season where the show went a little too whacky, but it managed to find some balance later on.

The great thing about Legends is that it never takes itself too seriously.

I originally started watching this show because of the promise of more Sara Lance from Arrow kicking ass. I stuck around because I fell in love with the rest of the cast. I can’t wait to see what season 5 has in store.

⭐⭐⭐⭐/5 stars

The Flash

The Scarlet Speedster seemed to be losing momentum over the past couple of seasons. Seasons 1 and 2 were refreshing TV with so much junk on the air. It’s hard to maintain that quality after such a stellar start.

Season 5 was almost a return to form. It was at least a step back in the right direction.

Nora, Barry and Iris’ daughter from the future, has traveled back in time using the speed force. This makes for some interesting family drama. Nora’s quirky, energetic persona was fun. Yeah, I know some people hated her, but I find it hard to hate anything when Jessica Parker Kennedy appears on screen.

Cisco and Ralph helped brighten some of the duller episodes. And, Wells (whichever Wells we’re getting for the season) is always a bright spot.

⭐⭐⭐⭐/5 stars

Roswell, New Mexico

Can we just stop rebooting old and beloved shows now?

I was initially stoked about a retelling of Roswell. The original series only got three seasons, so I wanted to see if the story could take things beyond the original. But, I think my heart was in the wrong place. This isn’t the Roswell near and dear to my heart.

Like too many other shows this season, it seemed to be a vehicle for political propaganda once again. At least the illegal immigration bits were plausible in New Mexico, so I could live with that as part of the premise. You can work that into the characters as long as it’s a part of who they are and not their full identity.

Frankly, I was simply bored with the show. I didn’t connect with a single character. I neither loved nor hated any of them (except maybe Isobel, who I found completely unlikable). Most were just bland. I didn’t stick around long enough to see if things picked up.

Oh, well. That just opened up a new timeslot for more reading.

⭐⭐/5 stars

Black Lightning

I just never fell in love with this show. I’m always a fan of Cress Williams, and he portrayed the one character who kept me tuning in beyond the first season. I suppose it’s fortunate that he was the show lead.

The first season was average at best. The second season was a little worse, at least up until the point I dropped it from my schedule. Too clichéd. Too many stereotypes.

I’m just hoping Williams moves on to bigger and better things. His talent is wasted on writers who can’t find a solid direction.

⭐⭐/5 stars

The Rookie

Repeat after me. Nathan Fillion can do no wrong.

The whole time I watched him in Castle, I kept thinking that he should be an actual cop in a cop show. Apparently someone else was thinking the same. Or, the TV gods were hearing my prayers.

A middle-aged man decides to become a rookie police officer? What can go wrong? The entire premise is at least worth a few dozen easy-to-write-can’t-go-wrong jokes. But, it’s not all comedy. The first season breaks down tough issues involving police work without being one-sided.

Dear writers of Charmed, Supergirl, and any other shows that want to tackle social and political issues. Watch The Rookie. This is how it’s done. This show also has strong female characters in spades that often outshine the male lead. Most of all, the characters are three-dimensional humans who must learn to deal with their personal flaws.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐/5 stars

Riverdale

Riverdale had become something of another guilty pleasure. Season 1 was superb. Season 2 was mediocre in comparison. But, season 3 was just laughable (and not in a good way) with its whole D&D/live-action-RPG rip-off.

Season 3 is what happens when writers run out of ideas and just start making up shit as they go.

The show has always existed a bit on the outskirts of reality. Some bits reminded me of the high-school detective theme from Veronica Mars, which intrigued me. But, now I don’t even know what it’s about. I dropped it like a bad habit after the midway point or so. There were just enough bright points spread thinly throughout the early part of the season that I held on that long.

⭐⭐/5 stars

Supernatural

It’s hard to believe that I’ve been watching this show since I was in college. It’s even harder to believe that was 14 years ago.

I quickly tired of the Michael (the angel) storyline. The show continues to find new demons and battles to fight that feel relatively fresh after all these years. At its core, it’s always been about family.

But, what an ending! It was reminiscent of the final moments of the 5th season of Angel but with another season still coming so that we can see how they resolve this predicament Sam and Dean are in.

Fifteen seasons would make for a good stopping point. It’s time for the show to end. It’s had a good run.

⭐⭐⭐⭐/5 stars

Legacies

Legacies is a spinoff of The Originals, which is a spinoff of The Vampire Diaries, which is a show based on a book series of the same name. That’s a rabbit hole if I’ve ever seen one.

I’m so over the hot-20-somethings-playing-teens dramas at this point. Perhaps I’m just at a time in my life where I crave more adult-themed shows. The problems of high schoolers don’t seem so bad when you’re in your 30s. At least it showed more promise than that other high-school drama, Riverdale, this season.

Frankly, I came for the magic and not the make-out sessions.

Admittedly, I didn’t watch the entire first season because of scheduling conflicts. I do have it DVR’d for later watching. I’ll pick it back up when I don’t have anything else to watch.

⭐⭐⭐/5 stars

Blindspot

Meh.

I’m mostly bored with the show now. It’s getting repetitive. The original premise for the show made for a good 2-3 seasons at most. A woman with tattoos all over her body and no memory shows up in the middle of the city with an FBI officer’s name on her back. The tattoos are clues about events that will happen.

Some stories should have endings and not stay on their air beyond that. I blame it on American commercialism. Milk any success as long as you can instead of moving on.

⭐⭐/5 stars

All American

I was hoping for my Friday Night Lights fix just in a different setting. I was hoping to watch a show about football. What I got was a show about trust-fund kids and one guy who was supposed to be good at football who seems a little bummed about life blessing him with the short end of the stick.

I was an all-state football player in high school. Aside from a couple of years in late elementary school, I played all the way from 1st grade until the time I graduated. I know how high school football works.

You don’t take beach trips on a regular basis after school if you’re playing football. You’re hitting the field by 3:15 after class lets out and leaving around 6:30. You’re doing two-a-days in August heat before your summer break is over. If this is football on the West Coast, it’s no wonder that the sport’s greatest talent and teams come from the South. Our programs mold boys into men.

You have your stereotypical white guy who dislikes the black guy joining the team. And, of course, the white guy’s girlfriend apparently has a thing for the newcomer. It’s not that these are bad elements to work with. There’s just not anything more than surface-level reasons for them in the story. You can find this tale told much better elsewhere.

The show had a lot of potential. It just didn’t deliver quickly enough to keep me watching the second half of the season.

⭐⭐/5 stars.

The Orville

Saving the best for last?

The Orville is a modern-day Star Trek: The Next Generation, the Star Trek that I grew up with. TNG didn’t hit its stride until a few seasons in. Seth Macfarlane and The Orville have delivered from Day 1.

I’ll go ahead and say it. It’s the best series on network TV today.

The show manages to tackle real social and political issues without forcing a particular viewpoint down your throat. It doesn’t preach to you. It presents balanced looks at the problems of our time in a setting far into the future. Ultimately, humans always have and will likely continue struggling with our own nature, regardless of the era.

It’s comedy. It’s tragedy. It’s romance. It’s drama. It’s political satire. It’s a space opera done right.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐/5 stars