Saturday, April 22, 2017

DRAMA ROUNDUP: 'Chicago Justice,' 'iZombie' and 'Designated Survivor' (April 16-20)

Some brief reviews for various dramas from April 16-20:

NBC's Chicago Justice - Episode 1.09 "Comma"
The CW's iZombie - Episode 3.03 "Eat, Pray, Liv"
ABC's Designated Survivor - Episode 1.17 "The Ninth Seat"

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.

Chicago Justice - "Comma"
When Abigail Chapman returns from Spain after being acquitted for murdering her boyfriend while studying aboard, she finds herself the prime suspect in another murder case involving a young college student. During the trial of the real killer, the Second Amendment is put to the test. Written by Michael Chernuchin & Allison Intrieri and directed by Alex Zakrzewski

It's understandable why this show is more openly political than the other shows in the Chicago extended universe. The law is inherently political and the people who work here need to have beliefs and be able to articulate them in the courtroom. This episode is probably the most political one so far. And yet, it's also easily the worst episode so far too. It lives in extremes. It only wants to deal with super conservatives and uber liberals. Gun control is a timely subject matter. And yet, this show thinks it can just use hot-button words and phrases in order to seem relevant. This episode isn't ultimately about something. It's simply the show manipulating the audience through a weird use of an Amanda Knox-type character. All of that stuff is completely unnecessary and keeps the show from having a distinct point-of-view in the actually case. It's just so impersonal. There's a lack of connection to the characters. So, that makes it very difficult to listen to them when they are talking about gun control. None of this hour worked. C-

iZombie - "Eat, Pray, Liv"
To help Clive solve the murder of a lifestyle guru, Liv consumes his brain and takes on his zen approach to life. Ravi's old boss, Katty Kupps, is getting closer to discovering the truth while also getting closer to Ravi. Blaine and Peyton continue their budding friendship, much to Ravi's dismay. Major is struggling a bit at his new job. Written by Graham Norris and directed by Mairzee Almas

Ravi is the personification of a good, nice guy. This episode could make him toxic as a character. The fact that it doesn't is very impressive. He just does so many bad things in this hour in his handling of the situation with Peyton. Of course, the show is aware of how awful he is being. He's not rewarded for any of this behavior. But it's also easy to understand why he is doing all of this. This isn't a sudden turn for him. He's been wallowing in this situation not sure what to do. And now, when he finally acts, it all rightfully backfires on him. It's compelling to watch even though it is very devastating. It's also significant to know Major and Blaine's different opinions on the potential cure to the memory side effects of the zombie cure. Blaine knows he was an awful person but takes the new cure in order to help these people. He's changed. And so, it should be fascinating to see how this knowledge affects him if he does regain his full memories. Meanwhile, it's important to know that Major will do whatever it takes to remember his life because he cares about these people and doesn't want to forget a single detail. He's simply running out of time though. B+

Designated Survivor - "The Ninth Seat"
As President Kirkman struggles to put together a new Supreme Court, FBI Agent Hannah Wells goes undercover and discovers much more than she ever could have imagined. Seth has to contend with journalist Abe Leonard, who returns from the Middle East with an explosive story. Written by Paul Redford and directed by Frederick E.O. Toye

The reveal at the end of this episode is incredibly lame and boring. First of all, Nestor Lazaro has operated more as a plot device than an actual character this season. But more importantly, the audience already knew he was a part of this conspiracy - even though he had allegedly been killed. The moment felt like it was building to a shocking reveal of someone new somehow involved in all of this. When it didn't, it was immediately disappointing. Hannah and Jason's adventures in North Dakota are started to seem too disconnected from everything else. Meanwhile, it's fun to see President Kirkman lose his temper while trying to put together a Supreme Court. Of course, the ultimate solution seemed a little predictable. As a story though, it had a nice emotional through-line with Kirkman's colleague having dementia. And finally, Abe Leonard is just this broad and one-note character. He's absolutely right with what he's investigating. It's just the way he carries himself is very annoying. C+