TV Midseason Report Card: Which of Your Favorite Sci-Fi Shows Made the Grade?
Minority Report season 1: D
Minority Report had one of the most well-realized sci-fi futures of all time to play with, and it was just a dud. It wasn't even bad enough to hate-watch (like this season of Gotham, for example), it was just completely and utterly uninspired. The cast was fine but didn't gel together, the futuristic aspects were practically an afterthought, and most of all, it committed TV's cardinal sin: being boring. It's technically not cancelled yet, but really, it's only a matter of time.
Limitless season 1: C-
Limitless has a couple of things going for it: we always love to see Jennifer Carpenter on our screens, and the chemistry between her and Jake McDorman is perfectly charming. But his character is completely whitebread, Bradley Cooper's cameos should be exciting but are just distracting, and the plot is so riddled with holes, we can't even keep track anymore. Limitless was a somewhat entertaining movie with a slightly ludicrous premise and a completely ludicrous execution, which doesn't exactly scream out for a TV adaptation, and the quality of the show has done nothing to convince us otherwise.
Gotham season 2: C
The first season of Gotham was definitely a bit rocky to say the least. Likewise, the beginning of season 2 seemed to be off to a similarly mediocre start, but after the first few episodes, things began to get progressively better. Young Bruce Wayne is starting to begin his transformation into the skeptical, obsessive, and unrelenting Batman that fans know and love. Likewise, this version of Selina Kyle, though obviously quite a bit younger, captures many of the core components of Catwoman's character, which is something that has become increasingly evident throughout Gotham's sophomore season. Of course it's really the cast that carries the show - Robin Lorde Taylor, Cory Michael Smith, David Mazouz, Sean Pertwee, Cameron Bicondova - they're all extremely likable and put on wonderful performances. Sadly, there are still many issues that the show needs to work on before it can live up to it's potential. Jim Gordon's latest moral dilemma has been drug out for long enough, and the show still suffers from occasional issues with pacing. Nevertheless, Gotham has become a worth-watching show midway through season 2, and hopefully this upward trend will continue after the winter break. - Zain Charkawi
Heroes Reborn season 1: C
Whether it's season one of Heroes Reborn or season five of Heroes, this show just doesn't work. It has entertaining moments here and there, especially when HRG is being his old compelling self or Tommy is flirting with Emily. But Miko's video game nonsense doesn't fit in with the Heroes universe, Carlos's entire plotline could be lifted out and no one would miss him, and while we love Zachary Levi, his tortured vigilante character leaves a lot to be desired. They even managed to screw up the nostalgia factor, unceremoniously killing off Molly Walker and turning Matt Parkman evil without any plausible rationale. Heroes Reborn may not be unwatchable, like the later seasons of Heroes were, but it certainly doesn't come close to the cohesive, irresistible storytelling of season one.
Arrow season 4: C+
The first and second season of Arrow made the world fall in love with billionaire superhero Oliver Queen and his team. Sadly, season 3 could very well be considered a flop as the show took a noticeable change in direction and drop in quality. Fans hoped that season 4 would redeem the show, and while this season of Arrow is definitely markedly better than season 3, it still suffers from many of the same problems. It seems as if emphasis is put more on the emotions and personal dilemmas of Team Arrow than the actual threats that Central City faces, and that's not what made the first two seasons of Arrow so great. However, with standout moments like the announcement that Ollie would now be called Green Arrow (instead of just the Arrow), the arrival of Constantine, and the supposed death of Felicity during the midseason finale, redemption for Arrow may still be found yet. - Zain Charkawi
Fear the Walking Dead season 1: C+
I'm willing to give Fear the Walking Dead the benefit of the doubt for next season, since it only had six episodes to build a compelling world populated with likable and/or interesting characters, but it certainly didn't succeed based on this season alone. There was nothing wrong with it, per se, it just gave us no reason to care. The younger characters were bratty, the older characters well-acted but underdeveloped, and the zombie scares were tepid at best. We liked when the show used the zombie apocalypse to critique American military tactics, but all in all, it didn't use the intriguing premise to nearly its full potential. Especially compared to the first six episodes of The Walking Dead, which weren't perfect, but undeniably drew the viewer in, these first episodes of the spin-off were a let-down.
The Walking Dead season 6: B-
I was very conflicted about which grade to give The Walking Dead this season. On the one hand, it has delivered some of the best action and horror sequences of the entire series, which is extremely impressive for being in its sixth season, and "JSS" was one of the very best episodes of the last few seasons. But the latter episodes of this half season were unusually weak, especially the midseason finale, which went out with a whimper. And then there's that whole Glenn fiasco, which demonstrated to us that certain beloved characters are essentially unkillable, at least until Negan comes along. Which gets to the heart of the problem: while some of the episodes have been strong, none of it actually feels like it actually has any consequence, and probably won't until Negan's arrival. For now, we're just repeating the same plotlines over and over, and although some of that is to be expected after six seasons, it's time for The Walking Dead to get its act together.
Star Wars Rebels season 2: B
Star Wars Rebels has come on in leaps and bounds since its wobbly first season. The introduction of iconic characters like Darth Vader and Ahsoka Tano were more than just lip service to the fans, and though she has been used sparingly up to now, Ahsoka's presence has given a much needed air of familiarity to the show. While season 2 has often threatened to trip back into the trap of aimless storytelling, the development of characters like Ezra and Kanan as well as the appearance of the fledgling Rebel Alliance have helped give us the sense that Dave Filoni and co. are really driving towards a bigger story with this show. The second half of the season brings with it the promise of Ahsoka Tano finally facing off against her old master, Darth Vader. If that's not enough to bring you back next year, we don't know what is.
Supergirl is not without its problems: its dialogue can get a little cheesy, the relationships are very broadly written, and at times it's a little more "girl power" than feminist. But the writing is getting stronger with every episode, with a particular highlight being Kara and James bonding over their inability to get angry in public as a result of their respective identities as a woman and a black man, Melissa Benoist and Calista Flockhart's performances are flawless, and it has a sense of energy, optimism, and fun that is sorely needed on the superhero landscape right now. It may not be quite as good as The Flash quite yet, but it has the strong central performance and unfailing humanism that could get it there.
Doctor Who: A-
This season of Doctor Who might have had its hit-and-miss moments, but despite its ups and downs the show managed to deliver some truly stellar episodes. Compared to previous seasons, there were undoubtedly more instant-classic episodes this season- which was largely due to Capaldi finally being allowed to show off his acting chops. Capaldi is clearly well suited to the role of the Doctor, and his status as a life-long fan of the show was to his credit as he channeled some of the previous Doctors. The writing for his character definitely changed a bit this season, and I would argue that it was for the better. Jenna Coleman's Clara was the perfect companion to Capaldi's Doctor, and the chemistry between the two made for an unstoppable duo. Not since Donna have we seen such a tragic end to one of the Doctor's best friends. Unlike Donna though, Clara got to leave on her own terms ending her time with the Doctor as his equal. This season also gave more brilliantly executed nods to previous episodes than any season in the history of New Who. Overall, this season was an engaging emotional roller coaster that left us looking forward to both the Christmas special and the eventual announcement of a new companion. - Rhonda Dehaini
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 3: A-
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has achieved has achieved a remarkable turnaround since it first appeared on our screens in 2013. From churning out awkwardly generic characters throughout its first season, AOS has now become some of the most entertaining viewing in prime time. That's mainly down to some solid writing and excellent character development, but this season it's also because the show has taken risks, most of which have paid off in a big way. Think about it. Already this season we've travelled to alien planets, seen major characters die only to return as villainous Inhumans, and watched Hunter conversing in new dialect of 'Drunk English'. There have been more twists and turns in this season than in any of the previous 2 combined, and while this kind of pace may not be sustainable it's been a fun ride so far. Unfortunately, many of the show's flaws were all too apparent in its mid-season finale; a lack of attention to detail and convenient plot loopholes still plague AOS, but when it is this enjoyable we're willing to look beyond that for now.
iZombie season 2: A-
In the midseason finale we saw Liv as a justice-obsessed, crime fighting, masked vigilante in one of the most adorable and hilarious episodes yet. Liv going up against Drug lord Santa in full on vigilante attire was a perfect example of how smoothly this season was able to pull off the comedy angle without compromising the darker elements of the plot. Speaking of darker themes, the show upped its game with the "Major" plot twist this season and the shocking new developments in the search for a zombie cure. Above all else, the close-knit cast is what makes the show so endearing and fun to watch, and this season we've gotten to see those relationships progress a great deal. Overall, iZombie seriously improved this season as it maintained a better balance between being a light-hearted comedy and a procedural drama. - Rhonda Dehaini
The Man in the High Castle season 1: A
The Man in the High Castle was made for binging, because it takes a little bit of patience. It moves a little bit slowly at first, immersing you in its alternate history and building up the tension in a subtle, nuanced way. But if you give it a chance, it quickly becomes completely gripping, nightmarish, and terrifying, piling on twist after twist until you're left wondering how things possibly got so dark. If there was any doubt that the "Golden Age of TV" was spreading to streaming services, The Man in the High Castle (not to mention the show that took our top spot) should go a long way towards dispelling it.
The Flash season 2: A
The Flash's success in season one was somewhat of a surprise. Sure, most people knew the show would be OK, but it ended up being so much more. The Flash hit all the right notes, delivering a lovable hero, lighthearted humor, a compelling villain, an absolutely perfect cast, and just the right blend of originality and comic book source material. Thankfully, none of that has changed in The Flash's sophomore season. The Flash has gained new powers, got a new girlfriend, and has even learned of the existence of a parallel universe - all without missing a beat. The set-up for Legends of Tomorrow has been a little bit much, and it's always difficult to remain coherent once you introduce time travel into the mix, but overall the show has lived up to expectations. Hopefully The Flash can continue to deliver on such a high level throughout the rest of season 2, and with the legendary Wally West just now joining the show, there's a lot to be excited about. - Zain Charkawi
The Leftovers season 2: A
I was among those who loved the first season of The Leftovers, relentlessly grim as it could be, but even I have to admit how much the series improved this season. Adding the tiniest bit of levity and wry self-awareness made all the difference, and transformed this show from a great show to a classic show. It's still incredibly dark, and at times despairing, but the confidence and artistry of the writing allows it to get away with almost anything. A character starts running people down with her car, with almost no consequence? Okay, we'll accept that. Nora might be the chosen vessel of the demon Azrael? Sure! The afterlife is a fancy hotel where you become an international assassin and prevent your nemesis from becoming president? Do what you need to do, The Leftovers, we're right here with you.
Jessica Jones season 1: A+
Jessica Jones was not a perfect show, but it was pretty damn close, and important enough that I just had to give it the A+. It's consistently compelling and well-written, with a pitch-perfect performance from Krysten Ritter and the most terrifying Marvel villain we've seen thus far. It's also the most feminist show I've seen in a long time, foregrounding female relationships, developing complex and unapologetic female characters, and handling the subject of rape and abuse with thoughtfulness and sensitivity. It's not only the best superhero show on television, but one of the best shows on television, period.