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Saturday, 7 January 2017

Fission Mailure Awards 2016: Television.

Fission Mailure Awards 2016:

So, our third category, and the last one for this week, is television! This covers any show which isn't anime, and as with the other categories, anything I watched and reviewed this year is fair game, regardless of if it aired this year or not, as is anything which I watched this year but didn't review.

That about covers everything, so let's head on with the awards.

3rd Best Television Show: Star Wars: Rebels S2.

I was a bit hesitant to put Rebels on here, if only because there's a question mark over whether cartoons belong in this category or over in anime, since anime are just cartoons. That minor clerical kerfuffle aside, though, it really does deserve its place here, since it was easily the standout children's show of the year.

While Rebels' usual fare of being a fun, fast-paced action show would have made it more than entertaining enough, its second series allows it to show off its darker, more menacing side, as we are given several episodes revolving around Darth Vader, Ahsoka Tano, and Malachor -- a world from Knights of the Old Republic II, now reappearing in the new, trimmed down Star Wars universe.

The show captures Vader's menace perfectly, and it uses his and Ahsoka's conflict as a springboard to develop main characters Ezra and Kanan, including having Ezra end up in a de facto master-student arrangement under Darth Maul. With a truly excellent finale, the series set us up for a great third series, and so far, it's not disappointed.

3rd Worst Television Show: The Shannara Chronicles.

God, The Shannara Chronicles was dull. It's weird how boring it was, actually, because the writing was terrible enough that you'd think that alone would make it interesting -- characters frequently behaving like no human being ever would, a barely coherent plotline getting constantly yet suddenly derailed for relationship drama, Austin Butler doing the exact same performance he does in every single thing he's in, the works.

I felt my interest in the show start to fizzle out early on, and it only got worse when the opening few episodes were over and the show's pacing slowed right down. As the story worked in more and more bland, tired post-apocalyptic elements, including the reveal that they were in Chicago all along (kill me), and a Walking Dead style sinister enclave of ranchers (kill me), I ended up just skimming through the episodes, hoping to get to the end.

I don't think it's been renewed for a second series. I haven't checked. I'm not going to check, and you can't make me.

2nd Best Television Show: Killjoys S2.

Space operas seem to be a dying (or possibly just dead) genre, so I've always been willing to give Killjoys and Dark Matter, the last two real holdouts of the genre, a little bit of leeway. While the first series of both didn't quite live up to my expectations, both of their second series made massive improvements, becoming much more satisfying fares while also preserving their distinct flavours.

Killjoys wins out over Dark Matter for me, though -- although you might well consider its conclusion here to be representing both -- for its more focused story, more fun and engaging characters, and its generally more interesting setting. With a second series that introduces the idea of aliens, sets us up for Dutch to face off against a villainous doppelganger or herself (I -- I really love villainous doppelgangers, it's my favourite cliche), and manages to tie off several loose ploy threads, Killjoy's second series easily takes the silver medal this year.

Also, it's definitely been renewed! Oh joy of joys.

2nd Worst Television Show: Heroes Reborn.

I described Heroes Reborn as beginning where Heroes ended in terms of quality, plot construction, and how much sense it made, but as time goes on, I've had cause to wonder if that assessment was maybe unfair to the original Heroes.

After all, Heroes never had a character pull a video game controller (attached to thin air) out of his bag in order to partake of a strange, nonsensical this-video-game-is-real plotline consisting mostly of prolonged PS1-era CGI sections. Heroes never had a character whose entire personality was 'makes destiny speeches' and whose powerset was 'being Captain Planet.' Heroes was at least attempting to hide the fact that it was basically cut-price X-Men.

Heroes Reborn could have very easily been the worst television show of the year, and I wavered over whether or not to put it in the top spot, and ultimately the only thing that saved it from that spot is that at least its special effects were usually pretty.

Best Television Show: Supergirl S2 (First Act).

So, yeah, all of the shows which have won the good awards on this list were second series of shows involving aliens in some fashion, and all of the ones that have won the bad awards on this list were the debut series of shows which hoped to take the viewing public by storm. Make of that what you will.

Supergirl had a very strong first series, so I was not altogether surprised that its second series was even stronger. We've lost a few key parts of the first series' formula, Cat chief among them, but the show has made up for that with the addition of characters like Lena and Clark, and an actually really interesting storyline involving Cadmus.

There's not a lot for me to say here, except that Supergirl is just a very technically competent show with a great cast. It's not the most daring or out there show on television, but then this has been an extraordinarily un-daring year anyway, so what can you do.

Worst Television Show: Guilt.

You know how people say 'don't write for other people, write for yourself, write what interests you and gets your heart racing,' ? Well, I'm here to tell you that you should never write for yourself, ever, because that's how you end up writing Guilt, and none of us want that. None of us will ever want that.

Purported to be a dark mystery, Guilt ended up veering off the rails early on as its entire plotline was revealed to revolve around a weirdly neurotic idea that all British women secretly hate and envy American women. Barely an episode could pass by without someone mentioning it, or without a scene where a crown prosecutor would openly seethe with jealousy over the main characters.

But that's not meant to suggest that this show would have been any good if that hadn't been the case: Oh no, with stilted writing, bad acting, and a mystery that was both incredibly obvious and incredibly uninteresting, Guilt was dead on arrival, and nothing could have saved it. When I started writing this list, it was immediately in my head for the worst show of the year, and while I wavered a little on whether it was truly worse than Heroes Reborn, it ultimately won out.

It's not been renewed, by the way.

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