Saturday, December 31, 2016

Best & Worst TV Series 2016 Year-End Review

Best & Worst of 2016
I watched ninety four TV seasons and mini-series this year. Here are my top 14 and bottom 10 picks for the year. This is based simply on what I watched this year, not on what was released this year.
Check out the previous year-end reviews.

The best pilot goes to The Night of (2016), while the rest of the show didn't quite live up to the first episodes, it's a good show. Read my review.
The Top 14 of 2016:


Black Mirror (2011- )
Season 1 (2011)
Season 2 (2013)

Watch Black Mirror

Created by: Charlie Brooker
Starring:
Daniel Kaluuya, Toby Kebbell, Rory Kinnear
Rating: TV-MA


Plot:
Black Mirror examines the pitfalls when technology and society intersect. What happens when technology goes off the rails, creating a horrifying situation? Ultimately the questions are, does technology make us happier? Is being connected at all times beneficial? Does it do more harm than good?
Black Mirror is an anthology. Each episode is self contained with completely different actors.
Season one and two each have three episodes and an additional Christmas special. Netflix is going to release twelve additional episodes in 2016.

Verdict:
Even the lesser episodes are still amazing. Technology isn't all bad, but the series posits intriguing ideas about how it could go wrong. Movies and other shows have looked at some of the same issues, but Black Mirror does a great job of world building and showing how technological advances can affect even minute areas of life.
Season one episode three The Entire History of You ranks as one of the best episodes of television I've seen. Black Mirror does in one episode what some shows take an entire season.


Westworld (2016-)
Season 1 (2016)
Watch Westworld on Amazon - Free HBO 30-day Trial to Prime Members   
Created by: Jonathan Nolan, Lisa Joy Nolan, Michael Crichton (1973 movie written by)
Starring:  Anthony Hopkins, Ed Harris, Evan Rachel Wood, James Marsden, Thandie Newton, Jeffrey Wright, Jimmi Simpson, Rodrigo Santoro

Rating: TV-MA 

Plot: 
A futuristic theme park recreates the wild west for visitors, but bliss doesn't last forever.

Verdict
Westworld  is a ten episode thrill ride. The plot unfolds masterfully while each episode also reveals more about how a park like this functions. Each episode feels like a big reveal as we learn about the characters, their plights, and how it all connects.
The core mystery engages you. With a one week break in between episodes as they aired, I wondered what could the maze be? What is Ford really doing?
This show is adept at leading you down a path and pulling the rug out from under you. by the end we do reach the center of the maze. No matter what you guess this conclusion will surprise you. HBO has finally conquered the sci-fi genre.


Mr. Robot (2015-)
Season 1 (2015)
Buy Mr. Robot on Amazon Video 
Created by: Sam Esmail
Starring:  Rami Malek, Christian Slater, Portia Doubleday, Carly Chaikin

Rating: TV-14 

Plot: A cyber security engineer and part time hacker is recruited to "save the world" by sabotaging a multi-million dollar company.

Verdict
I was hooked from the first scene and devoured each episode. The vibe is great and Elliot (Rami Malek) is an intriguing, yet unstable character. I prefer the more grounded episodes, but even then this is a wild narrative. The pilot is one of the best I've seen. Episode six is another good episode that is a welcome step down from the craziness in episodes four and five. It's a well crafted show from the music to the title card.


Stranger Things (2016-)
Season 1 (2016)
Watch Stranger Things on Netflix 
Created by: Matt Duffer , Ross Duffer
Starring: Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Finn Wolfhar, Millie Bobby Brown

Rating: --/TV-MA 

Plot: This Netflix original is set in 1983 where a mother tries to find her son after he disappears mysteriously in the small town of Hawkins.

Verdict
The Duffer brothers have created an amazing series. It juggles multiple story lines and paces them just right for maximum intrigue and excitement. We've seen the individual ideas before, but it's combined perfectly so that it feels unique and fun. It has hints of Super 8 (2011), Spielberg's E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) & The Goonies (1985), with The X-files (1993-2002). It feels like an eight hour movie and that's a compliment. It's so well made. The acting and directing is great. The score is superb, with the synth sounds fitting the time period exactly. The only bad thing is that it ends. It's great from start to finish. I hope there is a second season and I want it to be an anthology.


Game of Thrones (2011-)
Season 6 (2016)
Buy Game of Thrones Season 6 on Amazon 
Created by: David Benioff, D.B. Weiss
Starring: Emilia Clarke, Peter Dinklage, Kit Harington, Sophie Turner, Lena Headey, Maisie Williams, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Aidan Gillan, Gwendoline Christie

Rating: TV-MA
  
Plot: 
HBO's fantasy drama series adapted from George R.R. Martin's book series A Song of Ice and Fire follows the civil war of kings and usurpers in Westeros who wish to sit one the throne. The scale and scope of the story is staggering, fully realized with a large ensemble cast.

Verdict
This isn't a show you can pick up and start watching. Even having seen every episode, I had to consult Google due to the sheer number of characters thrown on screen this season. This season combines surprises, big reveals, and excitement that obscures the fact that the massive plot moves at a glacial pace. I don't care if we never see the grand finale battle if we keep getting seasons like this.

The show is at it's best when it doesn't feel obligated to update us on each concurrent story. The first couple of episodes felt like clip shows as we got quick snippets to update us on each character, but not enough information to constitute plots. This season then settled into alternating between groups of characters which allowed a better narrative. Surprises and reveals throughout keep the plot engaging while episodes were setting up the next big reveal. This season is really good. It might be my favorite. Rumors are that Game of Thrones will have an eight episode season seven and a six episode season eight.


Mad Men (2007-2015)
Season 7.2 (2015)
Buy Mad Men Season 7 on Amazon
Created by: Matthew Weiner
Starring:
Jon Hamm , Elisabeth Moss, Vincent Kartheiser, John Slattery, Christina Hendricks, January Jones
Rating: TV-MA

Plot: 
In the final season of Mad Men the story lines resolve for the characters we've watched for ninety-two episodesNew jobs, new companies, and new beginnings await them all.

Verdict:   
While this is classified as season seven, the mid-season break pushes it into season eight territory. This is the end of an era. I can't review just this season without offering a retrospective on the series at large. I'm slightly dissatisfied that I can't look forward to more episodes of Mad Men. This show leaves a void. Few shows do I miss when they conclude, but this is one of them.
Who knew the world of advertising could be so engrossing? It was part drama, part documentary, and always a soap opera. The characters were always the focus and they (and we) have been through a lot. Don begins and ends as a creative genius. He battled his demons and lies throughout, a man so talented and at the same time so lost. It's a testament to the show's writing and storytelling that the name Don Draper is part of the pop-culture lexicon.
The show would often elbow the viewer and wink as it displayed antiquated technology and ideology, but it was always fascinating to imagine life in the sixties, though just a few decades ago, it contrasted so sharply with the world we know. The period accuracy always impressed, and it never distracted from the characters.


The Americans (2013-)
Season 1 (2013)
Buy The Americans on Amazon Video
Created by: Joseph Weisberg
Starring:
Keri Russell, Matthew Rhys, Noah Emmerich
Rating: TV-14

Plot:
Two Soviet spies, Elizabeth (Keri Russell) and Phillip (Matthew Rhys), pose as a married couple with kids in Washington D.C. during the Cold War.

Verdict:
I like the Cold Ward and '80s setting in general, so that alone had my interest. I was completely hooked after the first episode. The pilot episode is fantastic, weaving espionage and family drama together. Where does the line between business and pleasure end when your job is to pose as a married couple with kids? At some point theater become reality. The pacing and development is great, moving the plot forward while still telling self contained spy stories and developing characters in each episode. This series was created by a former CIA agent.


Entourage (2004-2011)
Season 2 - 14 episodes (2005)
Season 4 - 12 Episodes (2007)
Buy Entourage Season 2
Buy Entourage Season 4
Watch Entourage on Amazon - Free HBO 30-day Trial to Prime Members   
Created by: Doug Ellin
Starring: Kevin Connolly, Adrian Grenier, Kevin Dillon, Jerry Ferrara, Jeremy Piven

Rating: TV-MA 

Plot: 
Movie star Vince Chase navigates the road to stardom with his agent and group of friends.

In season two Vince has just wrapped a successful indie movie and has his sights on Aquaman with James Cameron.

Season 4 looks at what happens after Vince's movie Medellin wraps, but before it's sold to a studio. Eric trys to become a legitimate talent manager. Vince's next project with the dream team from Medellin has problems.

Verdict
Season 2 has a bit more purpose than the first. Part of that is this season has double the episodes of the first, providing longer arcs. This season's big arc is Aquaman, the movie that could make Vince a legitimate A list celebrity. Of course the season is peppered with celebrity cameos and smaller arcs involving his crew. Johnny is still looking for a job, and Eric is still figuring out being a manager.
Even if it's not true, it's fun to think this is how Hollywood functions. I like just hanging out with these guys and getting a glimpse of this world. With half hour episodes it's an easy and fun watch.

Entourage is just a fun show. I like that each season expands the scope of Hollywood. In season 4 we get to see what happens before a movie hits the theaters, and that's what I want, an insight into the Hollywood machine. We see the city through the viewpoint of a movie and television star, as well as a director, agent, and manager.
Season 4 does have a couple of filler episodes that don't propel Vince or his career, but the characters easily carry those episodes. This season finally figure out exactly how to handle Ari, a complaint I've had about past seasons.


Better Call Saul (2015-)
Season 1 (2015)
Bob Odenkirk in Better Call Saul Season 1
Buy Better Call Saul on Amazon Video

Created by:  Vince Gilligan, Peter Gould
Starring: 
  Bob Odenkirk, Jonathan Banks, Rhea Seehorn, Michael McKean
Rated: TV-MA

Plot: 
Jimmy McGill is a former grifter who is now a lawyer. He wants to do the right thing, but at the same time, becoming a lawyer hasn't been the dream he imagined. 

Verdict: 
This spin-off seemed like a terrible idea. AMC wanted to cash-in on Breaking Bad, and this was the way to continue the money train. The only good spin-off I recall, and even then it was an acquired taste was Frasier.
This defies the typical spin-off result. It works, for the most part. It's not as shocking as a high school teacher that starts selling drugs, but it lifts the concept from Breaking Bad of showing a law-abiding citizen turn to illegal means. Granted, Jimmy McGill doesn't have a clean record, but he is reformed and he isn't a sociopath like Walter White. We've seen the sociopath story, and this feels like it could be a corollary, with Slippin' Jimmy wanting to do the right thing, but slipping into crime.
You don't need to be familiar with Breaking Bad at all to jump into this show. While we get a few cameos from Breaking Bad characters, it's expected. The best parts of this season are when the episode focuses on Mike Ehrmantraut, an enforcer for Gus Fring in Breaking Bad. The series looks like it will be as much about Mike's rise to power as Jimmy's. This series is lighter in tone overall, and while Mike's scenes are often hilarious, Banks is playing it completely straight.
Jimmy's story lacks focus and thus, my attention wanes at times. Odenkirk is fun to watch, but even at the end of the season I'm waiting for him to become the savvy, corrupt, strip-mall located, Cadillac driving lawyer we first saw. We're not there yet, not even close.


Silicon Valley (2014-)
Season 3 (2016)
Watch Silicon Valley on Amazon Video

Created by:  John Altschuler, Mike Judge, Dave Krinsky
Starring: Thomas Middleditch, T.J. Miller, Martin Starr, Kumail Nanjiani, Zach Woods, Josh Brener

Rating: TV-MA
 
Plot: 
This HBO comedy focuses on the founders of a start up company, from developing the technology to generating funding, and navigating the board room.

Verdict
Parodying tech start ups, Silicon Valley continues to entertain. Great chemistry among the leads generate great jokes. The disconnect between the business and technology arms of the company seem ludicrous, yet completely believable.
Richard never seems to catch a break, but that also is the impetus for the story arcs. Jared flourishes into an understated but great character Dinesh, Gilfoyle, and Bachman are great as always. This season may be the best yet.


Black Mirror (2011-)
Season 3 - 6 episodes (2016)
Watch Black Mirror on Netflix 
Created by: Charlie Brooker
Starring:
Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Mackenzie Davis, Jerome Flynn, Bryce Dallas Howard, Alice Eve, Kelly Macdonald, Wyatt Russell
Rating: TV-MA

Plot 
Black Mirror examines the pitfalls when technology and society intersect. What happens when technology goes off the rails, creating a horrifying situation? Ultimately the questions are, does technology make us happier, is being connected at all times beneficial, and does it do more harm than good?
Black Mirror is an anthology. Each episode is self contained with completely different actors.

Verdict
This is a good Black Mirror season. I would take a season full of the worst episodes, but thankfully this season has solid ideas and even the worst Black Mirror episodes are better than the majority of television. It's as bleak and ingenious as I expected. All of the episodes display top notch directing and acting. The nuance the actors provide and the directors pick up really adds to each episode. Nearly every episode feels much quicker than it's hour long run time. The sixth episode is 90 minutes, but never feels too long.
I have to take a break between episodes to digest what I saw and what it means. This just isn't a show to be binged. It's often the realizations after the episode ends that makes this show so good. Few shows cause you, or in this case force you, to think after the episode.
Black Mirror has an ability to nail the ending of the episodes. The episodes don't just end, we get a flourish that has far reaching implications and also makes the preceding hour retroactively better. None of these episode supplant the best Black Mirror episodes, but they aren't at the bottom either.
This season is everything I wanted.


House of Cards (2013-)
Season 4 (2016)
Watch House of Cards on Netflix

Created by: Beau Willimon
Starring: 
Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright, Joel Kinnamon, Michael Kelly, Neve Campbell, Ellen Burstyn, Cicely Tyson,
Rating: TV-MA

Plot:
This Netflix original series follows Frank Underwood. He has maneuvered from Senator to President, but what's next? His next step is securing his party's nomination for president in his bid to stay in the White House. First, he has to find a Vice President and fend off the Republican nominee.

Verdict:
House of Cards has already been renewed for a fifth season, but creator and show runner Beau Willimon is stepping down after season four. 
I like House of Cards, but the first season has been the strongest. The show didn't know what to do with Frank once he became President, and season three felt stagnant with Frank pushing a bill that will leave a lasting legacy, AmWorks. He appoints and then later dismisses his wife as an ambassador. Season three ended with Claire deciding she will leave Frank.

Season four is a return to form, regaining the momentum lost in season three as Frank campaigns for the presidential nomination. This season doesn't slow down and the Republican candidate Will Conway (Joel Kinnamon) is a great foil for Frank. Frank deals with an assassination attempt and picking a running mate while trying to gain ground in the polls. I never tire of seeing Frank manipulate someone into doing exactly what he wants. He and Claire form a formidable team that are willing to go one step farther than anyone else.
When Lucas Goodwin's story resurfaces, it could topple the empire Frank's built, but of course he has a plan.
This season is everything I want from House of Cards. I couldn't stop watching.


Bojack Horseman (2014-)
Season 3 (2016)
Watch Bojack Horseman on Netflix

Created by: Raphael Bob-Waksberg
Starring:   Will Arnett, Amy Sedaris, Alison Brie, Aaron Paul, Paul F. Tompkins

Rating: TV-MA 

Plot: In season three of this Netflix original, Bojack hopes his latest film Secretariat nets him an Oscar nomination. In this animated world anthropomorphic animals and humans live side by side.

Verdict
I started watching season one of Bojack because Will Arnett voiced the titular character and it also featured Aaron Paul. I quit half way through the fourth episode. Reviews agree the first half of season 1 was bad and the second half was much better.
I picked up at season three just to see if this did get better. I wasn't expecting much and I was surprised. I don't typically like animated adult shows, but this is an incredible show.
It's often hilarious, but just as often incredibly depressing and dark. I can't recall any show that so deftly handles both emotions. This would be too morose if it was live action, as it's an exploration of how terrible Bojack's life can become, and it's his own fault. Bojack is broken. The animation blunts the dark edge of the show.
It's punctuated by hilarious moments from great supporting characters. It's hard not to like Mr. Peanutbutter. This is very well written and clever. I can't even pick a favorite episode as they are all really good.


Orange is the New Black (2013-)
Season 4 (2016)
Watch Orange is the New Black on Netflix
Created by: Jenji Kohan
Starring:
Taylor Schilling, Danielle Brooks, Taryn Manning, Uzo Aduba, Kate Mulgrew, Laura Prepon, Laverne Cox
Rating: TV-MA

Plot:
In Netflix's original series, Piper Chapman was convicted of an old crime and sentenced to jail. She acclimates to prison culture and finds friends and enemies alike.
In season four, the prison is for profit and the population has been doubled to maximize profits.

Verdict:
This is a solid season. It's not as humorous as previous seasons, far from it. This season is full drama with more than a few emotionally manipulative moments. It also explores dynamics between inmates and the guards, and from the first few episodes you know chaos is imminent. Will it be the guards or the inmates that snap?


The Bottom 10 of 2016:

Bloodline (2015-)
Season 2 (2016)
Watch Bloodline on Netflix 
Created by: Todd A. Kessler, Glenn Kessler, Daniel Zelman
Starring:  Kyle Chandler, Ben Mendelsohn, Linda Cardellini, Norbert Leo Butz, Jacinda Barrett, Jamie McShane, Enrique Murciano, Sam Shepard, Sissy Spacek, Chloë Sevigny, John Leguizamo

Rating: TV-MA

Plot: 
Netflix's well casted, family drama centers on the Rayburn family, where everyone has a secret. With their black sheep brother Danny out of the picture, what happens now? The siblings cope with the aftermath and Danny's son.

Verdict
Season one was fairly self contained. It was a slow burn that became addictive during the second half. I couldn't see how they could make a decent follow up with season two. Either way, after season one, there was no way I wouldn't watch.
That was my mistake. It spins a similar web, but doesn't provide a payoff. Ben Mendelsohn really carried season one, and while we see him in every episode this season, it's just not the same. It's an attempt to keep a breakout star in the show when he's not really there and it doesn't work. Chandler fills the role well, but he can only do so much.
This is another slow burn, but not enough happens. We're teased that something might happen or somebody knows something that's going have a major impact, but then nothing happens and the situation disappears. This setup and lack of payoff plagues the season. Season one teased the murder that would happen in the last episode and Danny's past which helped, but this season doesn't have either to fall back on.
The last two episodes are very good. Do they make the season worth it? No. Nobody significant dies. I was on the fence about this season, until the last episode where we get no resolution. It's a giant cliff hanger that is unwarranted. When the credits rolled, I double checked to make sure there wasn't an episode eleven I missed. With no conclusion, this season felt like a waste with multiple abandoned plot lines. Watch season one and stop there.


Call My Agent! (2016-)
Season 1 - 6 episodes (2016)
Watch Call My Agent! on NetflixCreated by: Fanny Herrero
Starring: Camille Cottin, Thibault de Montalembert, Gregory Montel
Rating: TV-MA

Plot
The Netflix press release lists this as Ten Percent, but the Netflix site lists it as Call My Agent! Six episode French mini-series centered around talent agents and their clients. The agents get 10% of the actor's pay.

Verdict
I found this incredibly boring. It doesn't help that I wanted this to be Entourage. It lacks the humor and emotion, failing to capitalize on the premise. This might as well be set at any office.


Paranoid (2016)
Mini-series - 8 episodes
Watch Paranoid on NetflixExcludes United Kingdom, Ireland
Created by: Bill Gallagher
Starring: Indira Varma, Robert Glenister, Dino Fetscher
Rating: TV-14/PG-13

Plot
This series follows the ever expanding investigation into the murder of a doctor that occurred in broad daylight in front of her son on a crowded playground.

Verdict
It won't take long before you don't care about the mystery. The trailer made this seem spooky, but the conspiracy is lackluster. A pharmaceutical company wants to conceal information at any cost. It's not groundbreaking, but instead this series focuses on the romantic relationships of the characters. The romance nor the characters are that interesting. The mystery is relegated to a subplot.
I know I'm supposed to care about the characters, but the writing had the opposite effect. After the first episode, this wasn't even mildly interesting until episode seven, and by that point I'm just mad at this show for existing.


The Ranch (2016-)
Season 1 (2016)


Watch The Ranch on NetflixCreated by:  Jim Patterson, Don Reo
Starring:
  Ashton Kutcher, Sam Elliott, Danny Masterson, Debra Winger, Kelli Goss
Rating: TV-MA

Plot:
In this Netflix original series, Ashton Kutcher is washed up football player Colt Bennett. He moves back home to help his dad (Sam Elliott) and his brother (Danny Masterson) on the ranch.

Verdict:
This show is the intersection of an R-rated comedy and a '90s sitcom. The laugh track was incredibly annoying, but I slowly got used to it. It's never anything more than a bland comedy. It doesn't get better as it goes on, you just get used to it and accept it.
While the show has all the pieces, a man having to give up his dream and move back home and a tough as nails dad, it just doesn't execute. The jokes aren't as funny as the laugh track would have us believe. It's much easier to list what I don't like about the characters than what I do like. Masterson could be replaced with a cardboard cutout and it wouldn't change the story much, if at all. If this were on a network, it would have been canceled after a few episodes.


Fuller House (2016-)
Season 2 - 13 episodes (2016)
Watch Fuller House on Netflix 
Created by: Jeff Franklin
Starring: Candace Cameron Bure, Jodie Sweetin, Andrea Barber
Rating: TV-G

Plot
DJ Tanner-Fuller lives with her sister Stephanie, best friend Kimmy, and their kids in this spin off of the sitcom Full House.

Verdict
This is more of the same from Season 1 (read my review). If you liked season 1, you'll like this but the nostalgia has faded. Each episode is easy to predict within just a few minutes. While it's simple entertainment, it isn't always as clean as I expect it to be. There are more than a few double entendre jokes.
It never strives to tackle stories that are anything more than painfully cliche. This show imagines that the most pressing problems in the adult women's live is guys.
The most annoying character is the middle kid Max who sounds like a pack a day smoker and is eight with the insults of an adult. With a cast of annoying characters, he's the absolute worst.


Love (2016-)
Season 1 (2016)
Watch Love on Netflix

Created by:  Judd Apatow, Lesley Arfin, Paul Rust
Starring: Gillian Jacobs, Paul Rust, Claudia O'Doherty

Rating: TV-MA

Plot:  
This Netflix original series is a Judd Apatow produced, not created, comedy about relationships. The show follows Mickey and Gus who just came out of separate relationship and now navigate the world of dating in Los Angeles.

Verdict:   
Why does an adult comedy mean excessive language, nudity, and drugs? Why can't it explore complex themes or just adult relationships? If you were hoping for a successor to Freaks and Geeks or even Undeclared, this isn't it. While Apatow's name is prominently displayed, he is not the creator. 
Netflix frees creators from restraint in content and length, but it's not helping. Love could be better with restraints. Requiring each episode to clock in at under thirty minutes would force it to focus the plot. Restraining content would force them to actually exercise creativity in conveying the same information. If I wasn't reviewing this I would have quit after episode one. Actually, if I wasn't reviewing it, I wouldn't have started the first episode. 
The two leads are polar opposites. I know they'll meet, but that doesn't happen in the first episode and it should. The show drags the events out which makes it incredibly slow. With each episode my dislike of the characters increases. By the end I don't care. My mission is to get to the end for my review. The pacing is terrible and it takes seven episodes just to get going. There are three or four episodes worth of content that is stretched to ten. 


Chewing Gum (2015-)
Season 1 - 6 episodes (2015)
Watch Chewing Gum on Netflix 
Created by: Michaela Coel
Starring: Michaela Coel, Robert Lonsdale, Danielle Walters
Rating: TV-MA

Plot
In this Netflix distributed series, Tracey is a sheltered, sex obsessed twenty-four year old that wants to discover what she's been missing.

Verdict
I watched the first two episodes. It's a gender switch on the sex obsessed male teen comedy trope. Tracey wants sex more than anything, but knows nothing about it, not even basic concepts because her religion and mom have sheltered her. It's over the top humor at the expense of Tracey's ignorance. The first two episodes rely on the humor of Tracey's making out with a boy for the first time and confusion as to how the morning after pill works.
I've seen two episodes, and don't care to continue, but that's not because this isn't funny. It's just really silly, and that is absolutely the point. This is like an adult oriented, sex obsessed Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, with a similar silly type of humor. My favorite gag was when Tracey realizes long after the audience her boyfriend is gay.


Fearless (2016-)
Season 1 (2016)
Watch Fearless on Netflix 
Consulting Producer: Sean Gleason
Starring:Kaique Pacheco, Guilherme Marchi, Robson Palermo, J.B. Mauney, Renato Nunes, Silvano Alves

Rating: TV-14 

Plot: 
This Netflix reality series follows professional bull riders as they risk pride, fortune, and health for eight seconds at a time.

Verdict
This could have been a great two hour documentary, but instead it's four and a half hours over six episodes. It's too long and becomes repetitious. I liked the first episode, but it plays more as reality television and each successive episode is more of the same. It never has a destination, instead continually reminding us about the difficulties of bull riding and the determination of these cowboys.


Lady Dynamite (2016-)
Season 1 (2016)
Watch Lady Dynamite on Netflix
Created by: Pam Brady, Mitchell Hurwitz
Starring: Maria Bamford, Fred Melamed, Ólafur Darri Ólafsson 

Rating: TV-MA
  
Plot: 
Netflix's latest half hour comedy features comedian Maria Bamford as a struggling comic.

Verdict
Partially based on or inspired by Bamford's life, it's manic, surreal, subversive, and strange, falling somewhere between a sitcom and a sketch show. If you're not interested by the third episode there is no reason to go further. Even then, you may not like this but it's worth watching a few episodes.


Haters Back Off (2016-)
Season 1 - 8 episode (2016)
Watch Haters Back Off on Netflix 
Developed by: Colleen Ballinger, Christopher Ballinger, Perry Rein, Gigi McCreery
Starring: Colleen Ballinger, Angela Kinsey, Steve Litte

Rating:TV-14

Plot
This is based on Colleen Ballinger's Youtube persona Miranda Sings. Miranda is a terrible singer that doesn't realize it, but thinks she is destined to be a Youtube star. Her uncle wants to manager her, her mother wants to pacify her. and her sister is the only sane character.

Verdict
I never understood the fascination with the Youtube channel, and I don't get this show. Miranda is beyond annoying, and her voice is so aggravating that I don't know who could persevere through more than a couple of episodes, much less binge this.
It relies on just a few jokes that it recycles throughout the episode. I have to guess the demographic skews much younger than me. If this is aimed at teenagers, I can begin to understand it.
The biggest issue, aside from the lack of humor, is that the episodes are just too long. Youtube thrives on short videos, yet this show, based on a Youtube channel, clocks in with episodes over thirty minutes.

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