IZOMBIE Season 4
Ooof. Not since Orphan Black’s third season has a show I once loved fallen so low. And yet, here we are. iZombie was such a fun show, with a great cast and some of the cleverest dialogue on TV for its first three seasons. What the hell happened here? Well, I guess it starts with the audacious ending to Season 3, which launched a new status quo in turning half of Seattle’s populace into zombies and outing the secret to the whole world. In universe, it seemed like a way to reboot the series and try some new things, but in practice? That didn’t go so well. First of all, the inherent setup of the show is nearly procedural, with Liv (Rose McIver) eating the brains of human murder victims, inhabiting their personalities and memories, and using her gift to solve murders with partner Clive (Malcolm Goodwin). With zombies outed, you’d think Seattle PD would have bigger fish to fry now, but the show did not want to jettison its basic premise, so Liv and Clive are still solving human murders, but now it all seems particularly irrelevant, and the cases get sillier and sillier, as the well seems to have just about run dry in terms of funny personalities for Liv to possess. This is the first season I’ve found McIver’s performance bordering on grating. The show has always had intersecting subplots running throughout the season, and now that all has to do with Fillmore Graves, the private contractor army set up last year that runs Seattle, and just about every scene involving them is unbearable. Jason Dohring (once so good on Veronica Mars) is saddled with a terrible, dull character in Chase Graves, the sleepiest villain in history, while Major is highly irritating in his role as Fillmore Graves foot soldier/ true believer, and the endless scenes involving these soldiers feel pointless and stupid. Then there’s Blaine and Don E (the latter of whom was such a scene stealer in past seasons that he’s now implausibly become Blaine’s BFF), whose shenanigans on the side are also boring and stupid (Blaine inexplicably reconciles with his father this season, who even more inexplicably has become a crazy preacher man- wtf, indeed). The season was so terrible that I can’t think of a single subplot or arc that worked at all. Liv’s new boyfriend Levon? A dud. The human smuggling ring she becomes involved in? Terrible and uninteresting. Ravi and Peyton’s romantic reconciliation? I never cared about them in the first place. The dying teen Ravi and Liv befriend? Don’t care. Clive and Dale’s struggle with human/zombie relations? I thought they were cute before, in fact they were the only romance on this show I’ve ever liked. But Dale became a complete non-entity this season (she basically disappeared) while every obstacle they face is one experienced and told to the audience through Clive only, so how are we supposed to invest? For a show I loved so much to fall off a cliff this badly, this late in its run (next season will be the last) is quite an achievement of a certain kind. But it’s so far underwater that I question whether the ship can even be righted at this point. What a mess.
Grade: F (yeah, I went harder on it than Riverdale because the bar was a lot higher to begin with)
SUPERGIRL Season 3
Well, if shows are graded on a scale from "bad" to "decent" to "good" to "great," Supergirl hasn’t been able to make much upward progress. It was never bad, but it definitely started out shaky, proceeded to decent and then…stopped there. Not that it didn’t have potential. In fact, it still has it. Melissa Benoist’s Kara/Supergirl has always been a solid, lovable lead, and some characters, like David Harewood’s Jonn J’onze, aka Martian Manhunter, Jeremy Jordan’s tech sidekick Wynn, and Chyler Leigh as Kara’s sister Alex, have helped to bolster the supporting cast, but for some reason the show has never really made it to that next level. Possibly because it hasn’t had a great villain for any season so far, or maybe because the show struggles mightily with drawing out personal relationship plots for what seems like an endless amount of episodes. But I stick with it because I feel like the show is constantly circling around coming together for a really good season…only to not come through in the end. This year started off with Kara being mopey over the apparent death of the bland Mon-El (Christopher Wood) last season, only for him to make his dramatic reappearance as a Legionnaire from thousands years in the future. Oh, and he’s got a wife now. So the season is spent with endless angst over whether the two will get back together despite the Imra obstacle, but the show is too afraid to pull the trigger on the “a” word (affair) and the resolution is so fruitless as to make the entire storyline superfluous. Why did he even come back at all? The season’s villain is set up more painstakingly with the introduction of Lena's employee Sam and her daughter Ruby, but Sam’s split personality, the worldkiller Reign, simultaneously wears out her welcome and yet somehow isn’t used enough. The characters I mentioned as the good supporting characters are given little to do- Wynn is all but ignored entirely this year, Jonn is saddled with a dying father arc that seems to go on forever, and Alex at first gets a good breakup subplot with Maggie (Floriana Lima, who left the show early in the season), but again, her depression over it goes on way, way, way too long and doesn’t lead to anything concrete aside from her determination to become a mother. Katie McGrath’s Lena Luthor remains in a sort of grey area- once more, the show seems afraid to push her into villain territory, despite the fact that she’d make a great one (McGrath has a cold, intimidating presence that would work wonders as a manipulative villainess), so instead they give her a flat romance with James Olsen, who remains the show’s most useless and boring character. There are some cast shakeups and comic book hints in the season finale that point to some potentially intriguing new directions, but knowing this show, I’m left to wonder if that’s all it can ever really promise- potential. Will all these ingredients ever manage to leave the frying pan?