Just like I built my cache of movies to watch over the summer, I had plenty of TV shows to catch up with. Unfortunately, a lot of them were slightly underwhelming, if not outright disappointing.

Let’s get into this:

Preacher

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I actually had high hopes for this one. From the previews, it looked liked it shared the same aesthetic as Banshee, and I’ve always liked a good vampire story.

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly where it went south for me. One thing’s for sure, it didn’t take long: the acting wasn’t anything to write home about, nor was the direction, but I guess it all comes down to the writing. It simply didn’t win me over. There was a lot of filler, the plot was either too simplistic or too convoluted, and if it’s a case of a slow burn and late payoff, I’m afraid I didn’t stick around for it. Five episodes in, I reached my limit.

Maybe I would have exercised more patience had the male lead been more interesting, or the female lead less annoying. The show’s namesake, Preacher/Jesse, is as generic as they come; Dominic Cooper is great, he just didn’t work for me in this role. The female lead, Tulip, feels like a Tarantino-esque caricature. And Cassidy… Ugh. Half the time I’m having trouble following the story and the rest I’m just having trouble understanding what the hell he’s saying. I don’t know if it’s the sound quality or his northern-english-wannabe-irish accent, but I’d hate to have to resort to close-captioning because I find it too distracting. It’s a shame, too, because I find his character the most interesting of the bunch.

Perhaps I’m being too hard on the show and it just needs a while to find its legs, but if something doesn’t immediately grab me, I have a hard time warming up to it again. And with Seth Rogen among the co-creators… well that’s just yet another reason Preacher just turns me off. (I’m sorry mjennings, I tried, I really tried!)

Bloodline

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Now, this one I wanted to love. I’ve heard only good things about it and it sounded like my kind of show on paper. Except there’s just something off about the whole thing. Granted, I’ve only managed to watch the first three episodes, but still…

I don’t know if it’s because I don’t really have any feelings – positive or otherwise – about Kyle Chandler, because american football leaves me completely cold so I never watched Friday Night Lights… I only remember him from Early Edition, and now he just looks old and bloated. In the end, I don’t think it’s about Chandler, the admittedly great Ben Mendelsohn or Linda Cardellini for me. It’s mostly the pacing of the show, and partly the writing that didn’t live up to my expectations. I have no doubt it picks up as the episodes go on, but for now it just doesn’t grab me the way I wanted it to.

I also have an issue with the frequently used flashbacks as a way to explain plot holes. It’s a perfectly acceptable – often quite useful in advancing the story, and very welcome when masterfully done – but I feel that so many shows resort to it as a ploy to make up for lazy writing that, unless it’s truly spectacular, it subtracts more than it actually adds to the flow of a scene.

I can’t really find much to fault or complain about here, just a general sense of feeling underwhelmed. I simply don’t care all that much about these characters – not the way I instantly felt compelled to follow the Daniel Holden’s story on Rectify, for instance. I will give this one another go at some point, but for the time being… yeah, not too impressed.

Penn & Teller Fool Us

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Season 3 is underway and, in keeping with the theme of this post, I find it very underwhelming.

For one thing, they have replaced the hilarious Jonathan Ross with Alyson Hannigan. As much as I love me some ‘this one time, at magic camp’ jokes, she simply doesn’t hold a candle to Ross when it comes to presenting a show, although there’s really nothing wrong with her; she’s bubbly and cute and overall lovely, but she’s a far cry from Ross’ signature witty deadpan remarks. And what’s with that blue dress she’s always wearing? It’s not a cheap-ass production, so you’d think they’d spring for an extra outfit or two for the presenter, you know? I doubt they filmed all 7 (so far) episodes in one sitting, so what gives?

Secondly, the overall quality of the acts so far seems much less impressive. Maybe after having watched a few dozen magic tricks you start to get a sense of what’s to come, or to expect which ones will fool Penn & Teller, but for the most part the big illusions are usually played out by now and the card/memory tricks are nowhere near as jaw-droppingly impossible as some of the ones in previous seasons.

Add to that the fact that, in the rare instances when P&T are actually fooled, it’s usually by an act that wasn’t that spectacular to begin with, and the show just falls flat this year.

There’s also another reason it doesn’t work for me any more: P&T themselves. After having performed their biggest, most famous tricks over the past two seasons, it looks like they’re scraping the bottom of the barrel this year, and it’s just disappointing when the contestants out-perform the ‘masters’.

Finally, and I know it’s very politically incorrect to say so, I liked Penn better when he was heavier. It’s like Craig Ferguson says of his former co-star Drew Carey: he was funnier when he was fat. He was much more enjoyable as a ‘judge’ on the show’s first season, filmed in England (I also enjoyed his podcast more). This probably has a lot more to do with the funny banter with Jonathan Ross than with Penn’s humor, but in any case, the show has just lost a lot of its appeal for me this year.

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