Bates Motel, Hannibal, Defiance, Arrested Development
As you know my time is limited but I do still watch other TV shows when I can. Sadly I don't have much to rave about but here are my thoughts on a few of the new shows I've managed to catch.
I've seen about three episodes of Bates Motel (A&E) but didn't feel the need to continue. I'm not a fan of horror for its own sake and I didn't think I was going to enjoy seeing Norman slowly go crazy. It didn't seem to be a bad show and in a way the presence of Carlton Cuse intrigued me but I just felt it wasn't serious enough to demand more viewing.
I had similar issues with Hannibal (NBC) which everyone has raved about. As I know what Dr Lecter is and will become I don't feel much intrigue in seeing the story develop. I've seen all but two episodes of the first season so feel more confident offering an opinion. And while the acting is very good from Hugh Dancy (Will Graham) and Mads Mikkelsen (Lecter) I find the show to be an odd combination of police procedural and creepy grossness.
I've found the serial killer stories really dull. Worse than many of the plots on "Dexter." Serial killers with ludicrously elaborate methods of murder who never get caught putting together their gross trophies until Graham gets on their case. His ability to understand their motives is more like a super power than anything plausible. And the sincere attempts to show the psychological trauma it causes him make it hard to understand why Jack Crawford keeps demanding that he stay on the case. Again the reasoning being that no one else can catch this bizarre conveyer belt of psychos killing in silly ways.
I don't think the writing has made Abigail Hobbs or any of the other characters seem like real people. It's actually pretty hard to do when everyone keeps suffering the kind of trauma that most people don't have to experience. The love and support for Hannibal suggests to me that people enjoy the creep factor. I criticised "Lost" for the lack of detailed characterisation surrounding Ben Linus as people gushed about how delightfully creepy Michael Emerson was. I can't help but feel a similar thing is happening here.
I have only seen the pilot of Defiance (Syfy) which definitely has many of the elements which made my beloved "Farscape" such a great show. However it also felt like it was made for the 1990s. The good and bad guys were very easy to see and the morality of the various alien species fitted the tone of "Star Trek" rather than say the nuance of "Battlestar Galactica." However it was actually pleasant to watch a show where I knew no one was about to run into Walder Frey and so if you're looking for something more innocent and straightforward than "Game of Thrones" or "The Walking Dead" then it might be worth a shot.
Finally I have now seen every single episode of Arrested Development's (Netflix) triumphant return to television. In many ways it's wonderful that the deal could be struck and that these characters could be brought back to life. I definitely enjoyed seeing Tobias and Gob back to their old tricks and the character driven moments did make me smile and sometimes laugh. However the format of the season became frustrating. I won't spoil the story but the necessity of filming the actors separately (because they weren't all available at the same time) really drags things out. By about episode 7 I was pretty tired of the endless reminders of how all the stories knitted together - much of which added little. I was disappointed by the ending and if the show returns for more it really needs to wrap things up.
That's it for now. I'm afraid there will be no major summer rewatch. Just as "Mad Men" ends, "Dexter" will return and I will be covering it. I also have to finish the last seasons of "Family Guy" and "The Simpsons" which will be the last live ones I plan on reviewing. The Buffy Rewatch will continue of course as does Breaking Bad just as the last eight episodes of that show air. See you soon.
The TV Critic