Premise: A deep undercover operative realizes his “true identity” might not be real. Mmm yeah, whatever… lt’s Ned Stark y’all!

Verdict: It’s an action show

Much like I do with Starz, I rarely watch TNT shows. Unfair to discriminate networks I know… and after Outlander I may need to reconsider all my “net favouritism”.

Anyway, the only reason I decided to go out on the limb and watch this TNT show is the cast. So many TV favs could not be ignored! The leading character is played by Sean Bean [AKA Ned Stark] and let’s be real, we have been dying to see him back on TV since we saw him be the first SHOCKING GoT major death. Funny fact… a few years ago I thought of Sean Bean as an actor who could only play devious characters and villains. However, after Game of Thrones, he will be the “most honourable man” to me forever. So I am all for watching him play a hero-type character. Legends also brings back some other familiar faces. We have Ali Larter, who looks like she hasn’t aged a day since Heroes and, although she plays an FBI agent, they managed to give her a completely unnecessary “striptease” scene [that annoyed me a little]. We also have Tina Majorino, recently departed from Grey’s Anatomy and beloved for Veronica Mars. Finally the pilot had a great baddie in the form of Zeljko Ivanek… who seems to be ubiquitous on television these days [not complaining, I adore him]. 

But enough about the cast… what is the show like? It’s not bad. I think it is a good action show, although I started multitasking in the middle of it… which probably means it is not terribly complex. Still… I found the pilot quite enjoyable. It looks like it will be a spy/procedural show, with a mission every week; however, the most interesting aspect is the overarching mystery. Basically, the leading character is having a crisis of identity; not sure if he is who he thinks he is. The premise reminded me a lot of the Christian Slater’s short-lived show My Own Worst Enemy, which I happened to love [unlike everybody else]. As far as action shows go, I don’t think Legends is as mind-blowing as Alias or as intriguing as 24. It may be more on par with NCIS or… Graceland. Not entirely sure what type of show it is yet. I’d like to watch a few more eps before making up my mind. But honestly, I am only willing to give it this chance because I love the cast.

One more completely irrelevant comment. I’ve been discussing Brits with “American” accents a LOT lately, so I thought it was funny they just decided to keep Sean’s English accent and come up with a really lame excuse as to why he has it [or it may be a BIG part of his mysterious backstory… not sure yet]. Whatever the case, I’d be willing to take a lame excuse to preserve a lot of accents *cough* Martin Freeman, David Tennant, Henry Ian Cusick *cough*

Should you watch it? Yes, if you are a fan of action shows. Yes if you like shows like 24 and/or Covert Affairs. And YES if you are still not over Ned Stark’s death. Mostly… watch it because of the latter. 


Premise: A middle age man is unsatisfied with his average upper-middle class life. He decides to start living which leads him to a succession of crazy events

Verdict: Where have I seen this before?

This sounds vaguely familiar… and by vaguely I mean it sounds EXACTLY like the plot for American Beauty. The first act of Satisfaction was SO reminiscent of the Oscar winning movie, at one point I thought it was an official adaptation. I was seriously expecting the guy to go to his daughter’s talent show and become infatuated by a cheerleader. But it goes in another direction from there…

Now… this was a big problem for me. Once I made the American Beauty connection, I just couldn’t get it out of my mind. Anything was bound to pale in comparison. First of all… this is a USA show… and there is a reason Alan Ball writes HBO/CINEMAX shows. The tone of Satisfaction was never going to be as risqué as American Beauty. For instance, Neil (the protagonist) says the most exciting part of his day is “picking a tie” while Kevin Spacey as Lester Burnham says… well… he says something else [if you’ve seen the movie you’ll get it].

Furthermore, this was no A-list cast. Nothing wrong with the cast… but they weren’t major stars either and yes, I kept thinking of Kevin Spacey and Annette Bening and I just couldn’t accept other people in my mind. One of the reasons I loved Fargo-the-show was that the cast was every bit as good as in the movie. This was not the case for Satisfaction but… IT IS NOT ACTUALLY AN ADAPTATION OF AMERICAN BEAUTY!!

It took me a while to accept it, which is a pitty because the show wasn’t actually bad. It’s still a universal premise and the characters were compelling enough. It even had a few touching moments. However, I think they should have avoided that American Beauty comparison at all costs! Especially because the best parts of the show were the original bits. Like how the husband gets tangled up in a high class male escort service and the daughter ousting her teachers as lovers.


Should you watch it? I need to watch a few more episodes to decide [not exactly rushing to do it for now]. I think it is a nice enough USA show and it has potential to go somewhere. Just ignore the first few scenes and keep telling yourself this IS NOT American Beauty.



Premise: Claire Randall is a strong World War II nurse, relatively happy and relatively satisfied with her nice [yet boring] husband. Everything changes when she is mysteriously transported back to 1743; where survival is not something to be taken for granted and men wore the hell out of kilts.

Verdict: I could REALLY get into this.

Let’s start with a SPOILER DISCLAIMER. I know many won’t get to see this until the end of August and, although this post won’t have any major plot spoilers, I will mention a few things that happen in the pilot so you might want to avoid reading this if you haven’t seen the episode [but do bookmark it for later!]

Now, on to the show.

I had never heard of the books which apparently are very popular. I tend to avoid reading anything that has the “bestseller” stamp on the cover, which is totally unfair on my part. Popular books are not necessarily bad [although a LOT of them are], the same way popular TV shows can be good. I get annoyed by people who dislike blockbusters or high rated shows just because they are not obscure enough. In summary, the books may be great [or not]. I really don’t know, but I’ll stick to the show for now.

I was aware that the show was coming up; however, all I knew was that it was on Starz, was based on a book and had something to do with Scotland. I wasn’t even planning on watching it, but suddenly I started hearing a lot about it on twitter. I read the premise and it seemed interesting enough but it didn’t grab me either. It wasn’t until I found out that the show was written by Ronald D. Moore that I became REALLY interested.

For the ones who aren’t familiar with his work, Ronald D. Moore is best known for Battlestar Galactica, which is an incredibly complex show [to borrow from Joss Whedon “BSG is the most political show on television]. I was surprised by Moore’s involvement with this show… If you think about it, Battlestar Galactica is a show for sci-fi lovers… and well geeks; while Outlander is very female oriented. I happen to be both [geek female], so I think I will be one of the few crossover fans. However, I might be wrong. I know a lot of women watched BSG, and Outlander does have a sci-fi element.

But enough about that. What did I think of the show? I sort of loved it. And a testament of that is that right after watching the first episode I felt the sudden urge to write a recap [a very detailed scene by scene one], perhaps I will at some point, but for now I am posting my quick first impressions.

The show didn’t follow the classic screenwriting structure. The big event didn’t happen until three quarters of the pilot, yet it never felt slow or boring. I thought all the characters were perfectly cast and they did a wonderful job setting the state of mind of the leading lady, Claire. I thought she was a very interesting character. She wasn’t a cliché unhappy housewife. She was strong, adventurous and had a husband who loved her… although he wasn’t precisely everything she needed.

As I was watching the episode, I kept thinking that it could have looked so silly… with the witches dancing in circles and the time travel and the whole female fantasy scenario. It could have so easily turned into one campy fest. But it was not. It didn’t feel silly at any point. It had an air of seriousness about it and that’s why having the right team behind it was key. The dialogue was not overdone, the scenes were subtle and well written and the tone was perfectly defined. Everything from the way it was shot to the scoring worked.

So, from not being particularly interested on this one, I think it may become one of my favorites.

Should you watch it? I am not sure what men will think of it… but I do think female viewers will love it. And I would encourage Ronald D. Moore fans to watch it as well. This doesn’t have the traditional space/sci-fi elements of his other shows; but I could recognize his voice and style. In summary, I think it’s worth watching. It has an interesting premise, good writing and really hunky Scots being heroic… I am not gonna pretend I am not into that.


SUNDANCETV Thursdays 10 PM (UK viewers can catch it on BBC Two)

Premise: Maggie Gyllenhaal is British… OK, so that’s not really the point, but kind of shocking to see… The show actually revolves around the heiress of an arms empire who becomes a target due to her views on Israeli and Palestinian reconciliation.

Verdict: It is very “Sundance”

When I say this is a very “Sundance” show, I mean that this isn’t something you would see on network television. Sundance shows have that independent and/or European feel to it. In an interesting way, The Honourable Woman was and wasn’t what I expected. Co-produced by the BBC, The Honourable Woman feels very much like a British drama and has that slow and contemplative tone which is typical of Sundance shows. However, I didn’t feel the tone was as well defined as it was on Top of the Lake. In addition I didn’t anticipate the style of some scenes. The opening scene, for instance, where a man is murdered in front of his children was very surreal in tone and visual style. This is not a criticism at all. I thought those elements made the show more interesting. However, I was expecting a very realistic show, for some reason.

Above all, I feel The Honourable Woman is different to the other “political” offerings on TV. It doesn’t have the flash and hyper-reality of shows like 24 or the cynicism of House of Cards or the level of fictionalized drama of Homeland. It’s not TOO close to reality as to feel like a documentary either. It presents a refreshing approach with superb acting and very good production. Objectively speaking, I thought it was a very good show; however I am not particularly dying to watch the next episode. Can’t really say why. I thought the story was compelling and I am moderately intrigued, it failed to hook me [yes, even when everyone is calling it a “masterpiece”]. I still think I should keep watching, though.

Should you watch it? Definitely watch it if you are interested in the subject matter [and/or love independent film style]. If you don’t enjoy shows with a slow pace like Top of the Lake, you may want to skip this one.


WGN Sundays 10 PM

Premise: Revolves around the life of the families and the scientists involved in the Manhattan Project.

Verdict: Much more enjoyable than I expected.

I haven’t seen Salem, so I wasn’t sure what I should expect from a “WGN show”. I wasn’t sure if I should look for a cool period drama in the vein of AMC/Showtime… or a disappointing network attempt at a 40s show. I believe it was more of the former. I won’t say the show was on the level of Mad Men, but it had a feel that reminded me of Masters of Sex [different period/place/setting, I know… but I am talking about the “feel” of it].

I thoroughly enjoyed the first episode. I think it is a wonderful dramatic setting with a lot of potential for character exploration. I do love shows that take place around a historical event and I really don’t get too caught up on historical inaccuracies [unless they go as far as Reign… but that is a topic for another post]. All in all, I think Manhattan will be more about the characters and will use the obvious aspects of history but won’t dwell on the details. And I think that is all right. I am interested in the journey of the characters and it has a great cast which includes Olivia Williams AKA the lady from Rushmore and the evil mastermind of Dollhouse. I am so glad to see her back on TV, she is truly amazing.

I am really looking forward to seeing what comes next.

Should you watch it? Yes, I think it is heading in the right direction. Won’t be the next big edgy cable drama but it looks pretty good.



Premise: Humans have stopped having children and the species is heading towards extinction. A scientist is able to fertilize 100 eggs and the powers that be decide to conduct a lottery of children. Of course the authorities turn out to be evil [killing women, stealing children and whatnot]. The fertilization doctor realizes it and she, naturally, steals an egg and runs. What will happen next?

Verdict: I really like the concept

I love the idea. I love dystopian stories… did I love the show? I thought it was all right. There wasn’t anything particularly bad about it and I am very intrigued; however… there is the tiny issue that it is on Lifetime! You know… the network of women oriented shows and moralizing movies of the week.

Since I AM Lifetime’s target audience I do enjoy some of its shows [most are guilty pleasures like Devious Maids], but it is not exactly the place where I would go to satisfy my science fiction needs. When I heard about this show, I thought the network may be going through some major rebranding… and perhaps that’s the goal in the end. However, this show still felt a little “Lifetimey”. There was a lot of heart and cute family scenes… which is not necessarily a bad thing… but it is a little out of place when you think of a “dystopian” TV show. As I said, the concept is really intriguing and the show is not badly made, but this WILL NOT fill the void left by Almost Human [and before that Fringe]. For this to be truly dystopian sci-fi… it needed to be much much darker. Instead… it felt more like Grey’s Anatomy in the future [which could be a good thing depending on your taste]. Yet… I am still intrigued.

Should you watch it? If you are just looking for a drama that is original and has a new spin, watch it. If you are a hard core sci-fi fanatic… you may want to skip it. If you are both [like me], you may want to give it a go. It could turn out all right.


HBO Sundays 10PM

Premise: On October 14th 2% of the population vanishes into thin air. Three years later, as the world still mourns “the departed” some members of the community leave their families and join a cult-like group. They don't speak, they dress in white and they don't acknowledge their families [A/N initially I assumed they were people who "departed" and came back or that were in contact with the departed or know what happened... but it was pointed out there is no evidence of it, so I will keep it as a "theory in progress" Book readers, please don't tell me if I am wrong]

Verdict: I have NO IDEA of what is going on… Well… it’s a Damon Lindelof show so it sounds about right.

It took me a while to catch up with this one but I finally did! This is the first Damon Lindelof TV show since Lost, so there is no way I am not watching it. If only for loyalty… but I am actually enjoying it… in a disturbing kind of way.

I find the concept very intriguing and I like the surreal tone it has [it reminded me a little of Hannibal, but not as cool]. I have to admit… it got a little too bizarre at times… even for me [and believe me, I can take a lot of bizarre]. But overall I think it is very promising. The characters seem full of mystery and the cast is incredible! I quite enjoy Justin Theroux as a leading man and I am so glad to see Amy Brenneman back on TV. She was way too good for Private Practice! And let’s not forget Christopher Eccleston who is absolutely perfect for this type of show.

Unlike many other new shows I’ve seen I felt a connection with all of the characters. I felt their struggles and I want to know more about their histories. I thought the first few eps were very well written, but this is the type of show that makes you work for it. Nothing is what it seems and storylines are not spoon-fed to the audience. Personally, I am always up for a confusing show.

My burning questions are… Is this Dharma? How many of Sydney Bristow’s boyfriends are involved in this project? And what is up with “The doctor”? [Bonus points to whoever gets all of those geeky references].

Should you watch it? I am going to watch the entire season for sure but I can’t say I love this show just yet [I can definitely say I like it]. I need to watch a little more before I make up my mind about it, but… it’s definitely different. I believe it is worth watching… however I can also tell it is not for everyone.


FX Thursdays 10 PM

Premise: A married couple. No sex life. Wife suggests husband looks for a mistress. Comedy ensues.

Verdict: It’s OK.

I think FX comedies are generally good, but for some reason I never stick with them. It happened with Louie and later with Wilfred. I have a feeling this will be the case with Married.

The pilot episode was pretty funny, it was original, it was good. It made me laugh and I LOVE Judy Greer, I think she is awesome. She has made a career of being the “best friend” on every imaginable romantic comedy ever. We know she can be funny [she was great on Arrested Development] and I am curious to see if she can finally make the jump to leading lady.

Now, the show… it’s good. I didn't feel it was the edgiest and most original comedy ever, but it puts a new spin on the married couple comedy. I think one of the lines in the episode summarizes the type of show it is:

“Find out what she [his wife] is into. Pretend to like it, no matter how stupid it is. It’s called being sensitive”

This prompts the husband to dress in a cape and fake teeth because his wife was into vampire movies. And that is pretty much the tone of the show, which is fine I guess… Comedies usually take a few eps to find themselves [although this is technically a dramedy], so this could still turn out pretty great. But for now, it is “good”.

Should you watch it? You may or you may not. Your life won’t change either way. I’d say this falls under the category of “watch it if it’s on”.


FX - Sundays 10PM

Premise: Think of a cop show, but instead of cops we have two CDC agents, instead of bombs there are some weird-looking worms that are turning people into vampires (?) and instead of a perp we have a… grim-reaper-alien-life-sucking thing who lives in a well-ornate coffin.

The cast is interesting and works well. The two leads are played by Corey Stoll [who I barely recognized as Peter Russo from House of Cards] and Mia Maestro [that Argentinian girl who occasionally gets roles on hit shows]. Supporting actors include David Bradley (Broadchurch, Game of Thrones), Sean Astin (The Lord of the Rings) and Francis Capra (Veronica Mars) [OK, I may be the only one who noticed him, still… love Weevil].

Verdict: Too gory for my taste

I am a fan of the vampire genre, so when I first heard the premise of this Guillermo del Toro show I was very excited. Then I saw the promos and pics and realized it may not be for me at all. Then I started watching the episode and I was enjoying it well enough… until that “thing” showed up and started eating people… yeah… not for me.

But it wasn’t just about the gore. I know the “disaster inside a plane” is a staple of the horror genre, but that opening scene felt a little too much like the opening sequence of Fringe. Except the one on Fringe was just that: an opening sequence. It happened, it was gory, faces melted, it was shocking, it was over… let’s move on to some other cool [and/or heart-breaking] stuff. The plane thing went on forever on The Strain and we didn’t get to find out much about the characters. Granted, they can develop the characters in the next few eps… but I just didn’t feel connected enough to the story.

Also, I was surprised at how bad the dialogue was some points. “Viruses don’t have political agendas”? WTH?

Having said all this, the show wasn’t terrible. It was entertaining and it made me curious about what is coming next. This show is definitely not on the level of other FX shows like Sons of Anarchy, Justified and The Americans; but it wasn’t the worst thing ever made either. As I said, it was entertaining enough, and if it weren’t for my aversion to gore, I’d probably watch a few more eps.

Should you watch it? I am not sure what to say… If you don’t like gore like me, don’t watch it. However, for the people who do like gore… I am not sure it is gory enough! So… it may be stuck in some horror/fantasy middle ground. If you sort of like the genre you may want to give it a go. Plus… where else will you see a Westeros baddie colluding with a hobbit?


Sci-Fi Fridays at 10:00PM – It’s also on Netflix UK

Premise: Four kiwi brothers are the re-incarnation of Norse Gods… I know, it sounds ridiculous, but stay with me…

Verdict: It’s a cult-hit type of show

This is not exactly a “new” show; it’s just new for the US. In fact it has already been cancelled twice in New Zealand. Kind of sad that the US waited until it was cancelled to buy it. Maybe that American money could have kept it in production for a little longer.

I had never heard of this show before, but the day Sci-Fi channel announced they were buying it, I quickly discovered The Johnsons had many passionate fans. A number of people told me this is the type of show that creates addiction. I am two episodes in and I wouldn’t say I am there yet, but I can see why it is so beloved.

The premise is quite out there [but so are most sci-fi premises]. This show is not about great special effects or a complicated conspiracy theory. It’s more about the characters and the fun situations in their daily [godly] lives. I am a sci-fi fanatic and this definitely doesn’t have the complexity of other shows I love (Battlestar Galactica, Dollhouse e.g.), but there is something about this show that makes me want to watch it. I think there is a bit of nostalgia involved. It feels like an 80s/90s show. Back when TV shows were sometimes allowed to just be fun [and even naïve]. I was trying to compare it to something and all I came up was “Supernatural meets Vikings”? which is an awful comparison. In truth, The Almighty Johnsons reminded me the most of the sci-fi Aussie shows I used to LOVE when I was a kid (Ocean Girl, The Girl from Tomorrow), but with a lot of adult content…

I think all eps of this show deserved to be watched, if only to have something different. And I have the feeling that the mythology could eventually get more interesting and complex. So I am in.

Should you watch it? It’s not for everyone. Sci-fi lovers should definitely give it a go… and the throwback tone may appeal to a larger audience as well. 


CBS Wednesdays 9/8c

Premise: Halle Berry is sent to outer space and she has some kinky encounter of the third kind with her dead ex-boyfriend. Once she gets back to earth she discovers she is pregnant with an intergalactic mystery baby. She must keep the truth from her husband who has his hands full raising a robot kid that may or may not go into terminator mode in the near future.

Verdict: Definitely has potential

It felt like a movie, for sure, and with all the people involved it shouldn’t come as a surprise. I would describe it as “Gravity meets A.I., with some touches of Alien”.

I love science fiction, but I am not particularly drawn to “space” stories. However, I quite enjoyed the pilot of Extant. I have zero complaints about the cast. Glad to see Goran Visnjic, who has been a bit of a show-killer lately. Remember Red Widow? Yeah, me neither.

I find the premise of Extant intriguing and just the right amount of creepy. The pilot was very promising. Let’s hope this doesn’t turn out like the last show Stephen Spielberg produced (Smash), which had an amazing pilot and then just failed to maintain the quality until the end. I have the feeling this will not be the case for Extant since it is a limited series [or “event” as they call them now].

I also have to say… I am pleased with CBS for commissioning some shows that aren’t cop shows! Last summer they had Under the Dome and now Extant, which looks better so far. In addition, this show struck a historic deal with Amazon UK. Episodes are available the day after they air in the US and could mark the beginning of a new level of TV globalization. Personally, I find that very exciting.

Should you watch it? Yes, I think it is worth it, unless you are REALLY against science fiction. If you live in the UK and have Amazon Prime you can stream it for free. 
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The TV Empress is a Media Management graduate, screenwriter in the making (and financial engineer in the meantime). She has serious plans to take over global television. You can follow the TVEmpress on twitter @TVRepublik

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  1. It's about time you jumped on the Johnson bandwagon! Haha. Yes yes yes! And you're right, over this and the course of all 3 seasons the mythology definitely becomes much more complex...and the characters even more compelling. You'll be laughing and crying for gjem all at the same time.
    One thing - although it's technically true to say it was cancelled (again) after the 3rd season, the final episode was very much written as a series finale - with of course that slight 'out' just in case, but I think it's clear they knew all along it wouldn't go further. But I am Getty waaay ahead of the game here! Just so thrilled to see you writing about it, haha.
    Oh, and I agree about Extant - very cinematic feel, enjoyed it more than I expected, and intrigued enough to keep going for now.

    1. Thanks Julie and agree about Extant too... honestly I was expecting to go: "Meh" but I enjoyed it and I am very curious about it now...

    2. TAJ (The Almighty Johnsons) definitely was a 'slow burn' for me. But when it hooked me, I watched the entire s1 in less than a day and it took everything in me not to finish the second season the next day. It's so good. S2 is my fave but I love the show in general. And like Julie said, s3 was definitely written as the final season.

      Hope you enjoy it!

    3. You are not the first person to say that... about it taking a while to hook you and then BAM hehe I think I'll catch up after I finish watching The Wire which is my current TV project :)

  2. Oooops - sorry for the autocorrect typos. Too excited to proofread my comment! ;)

  3. I am so glad you like Outlander! I read the books years ago and loved them. I quite enjoyed the first episode as it was mostly true to the books and the casting is wonderful. As a true blue BATB fan, I found similarities so I think Beasties will enjoy it while waiting for S3 even without reading the books.

    1. I think this is airing on Showcase in Canada? Someone told me that and my 1st thought it how well it would pair with BatB...


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