Recent weeks saw the final episodes of both Breaking Bad and Dexter: one generally seen as a fitting conclusion to the most addictive TV show in years, the other an opinion dividing finale to a once mighty drama that has been allowed to drag on long past its sell-by date. So which other shows could do with being strapped to Dexter Morgan’s table and put out of their misery?
What the hell has happened to Homeland? It’s morphed from taut political thriller to wildly nonsensical car crash, seemingly more concerned with the romantic problems of Brody’s irritating teenage daughter than any of its original dramatic themes. Add to that characters being given personality transplants (Saul’s headscarf comment, anyone?) and the fact that Carrie mainly seems to just cry and rant, now, ALL OF THE TIME, and the show seems to well and truly have lost its way.
Was there ever a show as infuriatingly inconsistent as The Walking Dead? At its best, it’s dazzling: bold, brutal, original TV that you have to watch through your fingers but you can’t look away from. But it constantly throws away fan goodwill with inconsistent characterization, unconvincing story lines and extended longueurs that stop the action dead in its tracks. At the moment it’s surviving through the optimism of the fans, who are hanging in there like junkies trying to recapture that first amazing high because they know just how good it can be, but if the new season follows the same pattern of the previous ones, I wonder how many will, like me, decide they’re better off going cold turkey?
Remember when Patrick Jane was a likeable maverick whose pain-fuelled quest for revenge against a sinister killer powered a smarter than average cop show? Or has that been obscured in your mind by recent episodes, where Jane is an egotistical prick who casually disregards any rules he can’t be bothered to comply with, no matter what the consequences to those around him, while hunting a figure who now seems so omniscient that unless, when he’s unmasked, he’s actually Satan, his reveal can’t help but be a massive anticlimax. How I wish the show had had the courage to have had Bradley Whitford’s mundane everyman really be Red John, and explore how Jane coped with having achieved the one thing that kept him going. True, the last season showed signs of rediscovering its mojo towards the end (OK, at the VERY end) but I’d love the next season to be the last (then give Cho his own spin off, obviously).
SONS OF ANARCHY
Having reached a perfect end to its character arc – a conflicted Jax assuming the mantle of his dead father that he fought so hard to escape – this show has started to feel rather aimless to me, using excessive violence and main character deaths to cover up the fact that it’s not the powerhouse it once was. Still, at least Charlie Hunnam has come to his senses about the 50 Shades movie, eh?
OK, I’m cheating here slightly because we’re a season behind in the UK (the final season just aired in the US) but my point still stands about this going on way too long. What was once an enormously fun caper show tied loosely into burned spy Michael Westen’s quest to rejoin the CIA was, seasons ago, derailed by its own longevity, as the writers struggled to find increasingly convoluted reasons to thwart him; at this stage he’s been and out of the CIA so much it’s like an espionage hokey-cokey. Killing off his brother took things down a darker road, and while I was impressed by how the show handled the ugliness of bereavement – there were devastating, long-term consequences, with no reset button at the end of each week – it did make what used to be entertaining escapism start to feel, well, sort of depressing. Lord knows I’ll miss Bruce Campbell wisecracking over a mojito, but I’ll be glad to see Michael and his girlfriend Fiona (ex-IRA terrorist but, you know, one of the nice ones) ride off into the sunset.
What do you think? Am I being too mean? Did I miss any? Let me know in the comments!
I’ll be back in a fortnight, but meanwhile feel free to pop over to my book blog, Dark Dates.