TV Season Mini-Reviews: October Edition

by Matthew Thompson

I have really been enjoying the mini-review structure I’ve been utilizing for both games and TV pilots. It is a great way to check in on the myriad of things I finish up and I’m hoping to extend that into individual seasons of TV throughout the year too. I’m still trying to feel out the way to handle these, but for now I’ve kept them spoiler-free. They will definitely be a work in progress though. I’m going to start with the seasons I finished up back in October.

The Bridge: Season 2

The Bridge Season 2 2

The Bridge, which finished its second season early last month and was cancelled a few weeks later, was a show that struck me as full of untapped potential. Overall it was an enjoyable ride, but it also felt like it could be much more than it was. Towards the end of the first season they put to bed the serial killer plotline that was such a large focal point of the show’s early run. With that behind it, I felt the second season could focus more on its strengths. While in some cases it was able to, in others I felt it took a step in the wrong direction.

For instance, I just didn’t find Sonya Cross’ character as interesting this season. I loved seeing a serious show like The Bridge’s take on a character with Asperger’s. At the time, I hadn’t really seen it done much outside of comedies and Diane Kruger’s performance was impressive. But this past season Sonya seemed to lose some of the nuances that made her stand out. Despite shedding the murder mystery, I do think the second season suffered from some of the baggage carried over from Season 1. I appreciated the scope they attempted with these seemingly disparate storylines happening each week, but I’m not sure they ever all came together the way the writers’ had hoped. Particularly the Charlotte stuff, but to a lesser degree I’d say Linder’s as well. I think the way the writers’ finally wrote Charlotte out was further evidence they never quite figured out what to do with her.

But this season did a great job in plenty of other areas. The focus on the border politics, able to take a greater focus in Season 2, was interesting and the setting was fairly unique at least among shows I watch. I loved delving into the relationship between Marco Ruiz and Fausto Galvan, two Jaurez natives whose lives took different directions. My biggest surprise from the outset was the performance of Matthew Lillard as Daniel Frye, a reporter with a substance abuse problem. I’ve liked Lillard in various roles in the past, but he showed off some serious chops on The Bridge. Frye and his growing friendship with fellow reporter Adriana Mendez continued to be a strength in Season 2 as they investigated  the government’s involvement in some shady things going on around the border. Cesar also became a favorite of mine in The Bridge‘s sophomore effort. I’ll miss his chats with Eleanor about erotic vampire fiction. They provided some fun moments in what was otherwise a serious hour of TV.

The show wrapped up fairly well all things considered. It seemed a bit rushed to the finish in some ways. It certainly could have continued and I wouldn’t have minded. Maybe a third season could have seen it reach the kind of potential I saw in it. But what we got was still good and I’m glad I stuck with it. Grade: B

Legends: Season 1

Legends Season 1

Legends focuses on Martin Odum, a deep cover operative who takes on various aliases aka “Legends” to handle different cases and situations. For better or worse, I sometimes have certain expectations based on the network on which a show airs. For this one, I came in expecting a weekly procedural based on this premise on TNT, but I was happy to see those expectations defied in some ways. Over the course of the season, Martin does deal with multiple cases, but Legends wasn’t afraid to let them linger for several episodes and cap installments with exciting cliffhangers that left you wanting more. It made for a more interesting setup than many similar shows.

In hindsight, it wouldn’t have made much sense for him to swap identities every episode especially given the overarching mystery running through the show. Martin has issues keeping his various personas straight and separating reality from his fake identities. An encounter in the pilot also makes him doubt who he really is. I didn’t find myself particularly interested in this thread early on, but it grew on me. I have to give the show credit for a season finale that managed to answer some of the questions that the central mystery presents while leaving some open for a potential second season along with an intriguing route for the show to take going forward.

Sean Bean’s performance in the lead role was definitely the highlight of the show. He gets a lot of good material to work with taking on the various Legends (I particularly liked cocky weapons dealer Dante Auerbach). The rest of the cast isn’t quite as good, but is still mostly solid. Seeing Tina Majorino (Mac from Veronica Mars) was welcome. The only character I didn’t really care for was one of Odum’s fellow agents played by Ali Larter. She just comes off as a real stick in the mud and her constant questioning of Martin gets a little tiring.

Legends isn’t award-winning TV, but by the end of the first season it grew into something very enjoyable. I ended up liking it much more than I expected to and it is a solid summer show filled with good action and a solid mystery buoyed by a great performance by Sean Bean. Grade: B

Franklin & Bash: Season 4

Franklin & Bash Season 4

By the fourth season of a show like Franklin & Bash, you sort of know what you are getting into. It’s a light-hearted legal romp about a couple of goofball lawyers’ antics in and out of the courtroom. It’s perfectly watchable and I find it pretty funny, but at the same time isn’t must-watch television in any way.

This season saw the cast shift a bit. Pindar is gone (his actor went to work on the very funny Silicon Valley). His absence is actually explained in a fairly fun way which includes an eventual guest spot for him, but his quirky presence is missed this season. Ex-con investigator Carmen is also gone. Her replacement never really meshed with me. He is certainly good at his job, but his shtick seems to be his highly creepy nature which can be very hit or miss.

Franklin & Bash Season 4 leaves off on a cliffhanger which is kind of a shame given its recent cancellation. It is hard to mourn the loss of a show like this. It was never anything special and that wasn’t likely to change. Still I will miss Jared and Peter’s bro-y relationship, outside-the-box solutions, and silly “Would you rather” scenarios. Grade: C

That will do it. The hope is I can chime in with reviews of whatever wrapped up in the past month, but I will see how it goes. Thanks for reading!

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