Mid-season TV Review: Dex, Nucky, Jax, Carrie, and other faves

I am really happy with the Florida Gators 7-0 record at this point in the season and their #2 ranking. Coming into 2012 as a #23 longshot, Muschamp’s boys have the Chomp momentum right now. It is reassuring that they are probably going to make it out of October unscathed for the first time since Tebow…

But, how about all that television I am watching? Let’s take a quick look, shall we?

Homeland. Carrie has been vindicated in last week’s episode as Brody’s life gets far more complicated. Perhaps a little less riveting than the highly-compensated 2011 season, this year’s storyline is more focused on Carrie’s bipolar state and therefore highlights Claire Denis’ super performance. The show’s exploration of the concepts of loyalty and patriotism continue to draw my interest and I am curious now to know of just Carrie or both Carrie and Saul go rogue in hunting down Brody. Either way, this sophomore season looks to be pretty exciting…just wonder if they will have to jump the shark a bit to fit in the remaining 7 or 8 episodes…Let’s hope they maintain the writing quality throughout and keep the pathos out of the story as they did so well in season 1.

Sons of Anarchy. Jax is back once again with his next seat at the end of the table. His gavel has already instituted reluctant partnership with Pope (with Tig’s full support following his chain of responsibility leading to Opie’s death) and is starting to split the club in two. I suspect that Clay is behind the home invasions which just killed Roosevelt’s wife. Pundits were wondering why that character was introduced and now we know if was to add drama to the home-invasion subplot. As one of the most senior shows in this list (only topped by Dexter), one hopes that the creativity of the writing staff driven by Kurt Sutter will not tail off and that they will deliver something as interesting as S01 or S02. The jury is still out…on whether Jax will become just like Clay and whether S05 will be a memorable one for the Sons.

Comic Book Men. OK, so Comic Book Men got a late start on their second season, but it was pretty funny all the same. I think I enjoyed the longer 45min format of S01 because since there is only 20min pf show, the commercial breaks and CBM generic take a bit too much space. Also, Kevin only gets like 3 appearances and seems a bit rushed in hanging out with Mike, Brian, Walt, and Ming and hearing about their week. There just doesn’t seem to be enough time and it feels less relaxed than last time. Also, the beeped words continue to distract me. They should move this to an uncensored timeslot and give the boys more chill time.

Dexter. Now that Deb is aware of Dex’s “addiction”, things have of course become more complicated. However, there isn’t a central bad guy yet and that seems to be missing kind of like in S03. The disgruntled game developer doesn’t really seem to be the type that Dex’s babysitter would hook up with, so it is hard for me to suspend disbelief on that score. I will finish out the season, but I hope that this doesn’t become a debacle like last season. I am a little concerned about throwing in the Ukrainian mafia as well as LaGuerta’s discovery of Dexter’s secret. Perhaps, they are in “jump-the-shark” mode with 6 seasons behind them and only one more after this one. I have stated before that Dex has had its ups and downs and that I considered S06 a real low-point. I hope that S07 will be good enough for me to come back for the final S08.

Boardwalk Empire. While at the beginning of S03, we know that Nucky has squashed all his competition in Atlantic City, he is now learning that he is still a cog in the criminal wheel and subject to trade disputes and betrayals from former allies in New York and new enemies in New Jersey. The action is pretty intense in places and we are shown this year many strong women characters: Gillian trying to deny the reality of Jimmy’s disappearance while struggling to keep her brothel alive and well-maintained, Margaret struggling for women’s rights and holding her own against Nucky (so far anyway), Sigrid with her consistent and even murderous devotion to Van Alden. This is a great aspect of Boardwalk Empire: it unromantically studies the various movements and prejudices that were already festering in the 20’s: racism, misogynism, and of course organized crime. It is truly inspired television and – for me – continues to be one of the strongest historical fiction dramas since Deadwood. One place where I agree with the critics is Nucky’s obsession with Billy – it is highly annoying and occasionally out of character. Perhaps they are trying to show that – as Rothstein so brutally pointed out – that Nucky has taken his eyes momentarily off the ball. I can’t wait to see how things end up here – I am sure that the pace will become increasingly brutal as the season wears on.

Treme. The last one in my list – and, like the previous entry in its 3rd season, continues to make my heart ache for New Orleans. I have a real affinity for all of the characters and appreciate how they are evolving season after season. One prediction: as Creighton Bernette (John Goodman) and Harley (Steve Earle) in the previous seasons, I think that Big Chief Lambreaux (Clark Peters from The Wire) will not survive Season 3. I don’t think it will be the cancer though, there will be some other issue here. I really like all 12 of the main characters and love how their wives are all interwoven. I don’t understand why the critics are occasionally harsh on this show and why, for example, After Buzz doesn’t even have a podcast on it (as they do other great shows including nearly all of the ones in this list except for Comic Book Men and Treme). Perhaps David Simon’s outlook and politics disturb here as they did with The Wire.

If the fates are kind, I’ll be in the Big Easy for Jazz Fest in May 2013 (back after a 20y hiatus) and will be able to soak up the blues, zydeco, cajun, jazz, and all the other flavors and accents that make up this magic city. In the meantime, I’ll watch Treme to remind me of what I am missing now and what I have to look forward to.

What are you watching this fall and what are you enjoying about it? Comments are always welcome 🙂

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About mfinocchiaro

IT Architecture Guru for large PLM software company but dabbling in Web 2.0 and other stuff.
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