Saturday, March 4, 2017

DRAMA ROUNDUP: '24: Legacy,' 'The 100' and 'Riverdale' (February 27-March 3)

Some brief reviews for various dramas from February 27-March 3:

FOX's 24: Legacy - Episode 1.05 "4:00 PM - 5:00 PM"
The CW's The 100 - Episode 4.05 "The Tinder Box"
The CW's Riverdale - Episode 1.06 "Chapter Six: Faster, Pussycats! Kill! Kill!"

Due to the demands of Peak TV, it is becoming more and more difficult for this website to devote the time to full length episodic reviews. And yet, there are still thoughts to be had about the ongoing adventures on a number of series. So I thought it would be good to still write down a couple of brief thoughts about each episode on a weekly basis. Of course, you can still probably expect full reviews for premieres and finales. If the networks should make screeners available, those episodes would get detailed analysis as well. But for now, this will be the way to continue to provide content for these shows while also being a lighter workload for me.

24: Legacy - "4:00 PM - 5:00 PM"
Carter and Grimes try to make a deal with the leader of a smuggling ring in order to find out the location of the terrorists for whom they've been searching. Amira and Khasan get a visit from an unexpected guest. Progress is made on the leak. Written by Robert Cochran & Leigh Dana Jackson and directed by Nelson McCormick

This is the first episode of the drama that FOX hasn't sent out for advanced screening. It's easy to understand why. The death of Ben Grimes is meant to be a big and shocking moment. It establishes just how serious and lethal this series will be. And yet, it's not particularly exciting at all. It's hard to feel anything towards his death. He's the first major character to die on this show. Others have been killed but they've largely been glorified extras. Grimes has been important so far. He's been frustrating. He's the character who has forced so many things to happen in the plot. So that basically meant he would have a short shelf life. But his death really isn't about him. It's about whether Carter will be the one to kill him. He's still loyal to his friends. The need to save the world hasn't beaten that out of him yet. But it still just feels like formulaic 24 action twists without a whole lot of depth to it. Carter still potentially gets the information he came for. Meanwhile, all the other stories continue to percolate but none of them are particularly exciting. Amira and Khasan being activated means their time on the show will hopefully end soon. But other than that, this episode was just bland with no new evidence being presented as to why anyone should care about any of these characters. C

The 100 - "The Tinder Box"
Clarke makes a desperate plea with a former allied force in an attempt to avoid a war and ensure the survival of her people. Written by Morgan Gendel and directed by John F. Showalter

Clarke and Roan sure do make an interesting pair of leaders. That's been clear for awhile now. They are pragmatic in ways that don't always work with the rest of their people. And yet, the conflict between Arkadia and Ice Nation here just feels like a way to give this hour some tension. It's all about the two of them having a negotiation only for the solution to be taken away at the end. It's a devastating final note to see the Ark completely destroyed. It was propped up as the savior for the impending radiation. But it also makes some of the plots in this hour completely meaningless. That's certainly the case with Clarke and Roan - which is also needlessly complicated by Riley, who never should have been on that mission in the first place. It's also true of Octavia back at Arkadia. It's still ridiculous that she survived a stab wound and the fall. It's just as ridiculous that Ilian was able to completely wander the Ark with no one noticing him or the explosive supplies he had. The lack of commonsense to get to a certain plot point is abundantly clear and very annoying. And yet, the Abby and Raven corner of the universe is fun. It's just as ridiculous too. But it establishes clear stakes that are personal and grounded. Both may die in their quest to create nightblood. However, that's really the only solution that's left to save everyone. That already seemed to be the case before this episode. But it's abundantly clear now. C+

Riverdale - "Chapter Six: Faster, Pussycats! Kill! Kill!"
With Riverdale High's annual variety show around the corner, Valerie's efforts to help Archie prepare for his big performance lead to some major fallout between her and Josie. Betty and Jughead's investigation into Jason's death brings them to a home for troubled youth and face-to-face with Polly. Just as her relationship with her mother was on the upswing, an unexpected betrayal sends Veronica spiraling. Josie deals with her own pressures at home after her overbearing father returns. Hermoine's first day at Andrew's Construction finds her and Fred growing closer. Written by Tessa Leigh Williams & Nicholas Zwart and directed by Steve Adelson

 has proven to be such a compulsive show. Every hour is entertaining and makes one want to watch the next one right away. I breezed through the first five episodes in one sitting. And now, "Chapter Six" continues that trend. Of course, the show has a major Archie problem as well. He's the lead character but he's so bland and unimportant compared to the rest of this universe. This episode is perhaps his most interesting yet from a storytelling perspective. It embraces the fact that Archie is not just average and naive; he's actually pretty dim and stupid. His musical ambitions are likely the least engaging ongoing storyline. But it's fascinating to see him be casually mean to his friends like a stupid teenager would and then them pulling away from him. With him getting even more confidence following that standing ovation, this is a trajectory that could continue in the future. Plus, Archie's story shows the series can handle small-town drama as well. It doesn't have to be focused on the murder mystery all of the time. In fact, it can just simply be devastating to watch as we learn more about Josie and her upbringing. That's a solid story here too. And yet, Betty and Jughead's ongoing investigation into Jason's death continues to be so amazing. Here, they finally get some definitive answers by talking to Polly. That's been a long time coming. It comes with new bombshells (she's pregnant!) and a twist ending (her jumping out her window!). But it also confirms that she may be crazy. Everyone in this town seems to be crazy and that's what allows the series to be so unpredictable and big with these twists. It's proven to be a very entertaining way to move this narrative forward. B+