Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Starting As You Don't Mean To Carry On

Since I'm completely stuck for anything to write about today and since I did say I was going to do it, I guess we might as well have that list of TV shows I started but didn't finish. Always assuming I can remember what they were, that is. And why I stopped watching them.

Here they are, in no particular order, apart from a slight bias towards the few I can actually recall something about without having to look them up...


I watched just one episode of this. I didn't hate it but I didn't much like it, either. 

The premise looked promising - an ex-music journalist and recovering addict remakes himself as a "brutally honest sobriety counselor" - but the execution, at least in the first episode, felt lackluster and labored. I fully realize it takes most shows a while to get going but this isn't a sitcom with a twenty-six episode season arc. It's a ten episode dramedy and those really need to kick harder off the wall.

The real reason I didn't follow through, though, was Loudermilk himself. I just didn't like him. I didn't find him appealing or endearing or sympathetic. I found him smug and annoying. In something like this, if you don't enjoy the star turn there's very little prospect of the rest of the cast picking up the slack and given I didn't much like any of them either...

I was a bit disappointed I didn't enjoy it more. I'd had it in mind for a while to give the show a try and then Wilhelm included it in one of his TV posts, saying he hoped it would "scratch a bit of the Brockmire itch". I'd also watched Brockmire and enjoyed it and I would have liked more of the same or at least a passable facsimile.


Which makes me wonder now why I didn't just watch more Brockmire. I mean, there was more I hadn't watched already. A whole season, in fact. Actually, now I come to look into it further, three whole seasons.

And here we go again. Until I wrote this post I was under the impression there were only two seasons of Brockmire. There are, in fact, four. Last year, when I was watching it on Amazon Prime UK, only the first two seasons were available and there was no mention of Seasons Three and Four at all.

This time, though, lack of access wasn't the reason I stoppped. I stopped with Season One because at the end, Brockmire decides to take a new job in another town, leaving behind the entire supporting cast except for the one I wasn't all that keen on.

Obviously, I should have trusted the process and carried on watching to see where the show was going to go. For all I know, the move could have been a total disaster and Brockmire could have been back where he started in S2E2. 

The truth is, I wanted Season Two to carry on just the same as Season One and when it didn't I threw a hissy fit and walked away. I've always intended to go back and try again and now I know there are actually three more seasons I'm more interested than ever. Let's hope my VPN can make that happen because the show isn't available in the UK at all any more.

Blue Period

An anime in which an enervated, bored, popular high school student decides, for some inchoate reason, to slum it with the art kids, only to discover he has a hidden talent for painting. Or something like that. I expect he also falls in love or gets a crush on someone or learns some life lessons, too. All of the above, probably.

I thought it sounded promising and once again I didn't hate it but it didn't hold my attention for more than a single episode. I can remember bits of the plot and a few scenes so it can't have been entirely uninvolving but when you get to the end of the first episode of a character-driven show, the minimum expectation is that you should want to know what happens to the characters next. 

I didn't and I still don't.


Another anime. It's an eight episode limited series and I this time I got half way through before I stopped. My reason for bailing was pretty much the opposite of the one I gave just now.

The premise of Pluto is that there are a small number of exceptionally advanced, intelligent, self-aware robots and someone is killing them all, one by one. That's right. It's an AI serial killer show.

It's beautifully animated. It looks gorgeous. The writing is supple and subtle. The characters are distinct and memorable. The plot is compelling. Each episode is around an hour long so there's time for a huge amount of detail and backstory and world-building, all of which is done well.

So why didn't I finish it? Simple. I just found it too emotionally draining to continue. It was wearing me out. 

The whole show is steeped not just in emotion but in the examination of emotion. Having some of the central characters be robots allows for a continual comparison between what is real and what is artificial, what is valid and what is surrogate. I found it exhausting, especially late at night, like going to bed with a philosophy textbook.

The main reason I couldn't keep up with it, though, were the robots themselves. The show does an excellent job of  presenting these few, special machines as unique and irreplaceable, making it a harrowing experience to see one destroyed forever in each episode.

My sense was that, even if the central character, himself one of the special robots, now acting as a detective, was to solve the case, find and stop the killer and survive the final episode, at best it would be a Pyrrhic victory. By then he'd be the only one left. It would be like watching fire destroy an entire art gallery and having the fire finally go out leaving just one painting unburned.

I will go back and finish this one at some point but I'll really have to be in the mood for it.

Little Witch Academia

And on the exact other end of the entertainment spectrum...

I watched this after a run of super-heavy, emotionally draining shows, including the last one. I was hoping to relax with some silliness. To be fair to the show, there is plenty of that but even in the two or three early episodes I saw, I found myself watching with a creeping sense of foreboding. Very much not what I was either expecting or looking for.

It's a perennial problem with many institutionally-set shows. This one happens to be set in a school but it could just as easily be a hospital or an office or a prison. There has to be dramatic tension and in institutional settings that tension almost always turns inwards on itself.

The particular premise here is that a girl from a humble background gets a place at a school for witches but the place turns out to be full of snobs, bullies and disciplinarians. After only a couple of episodes I could see we were in for an endless series of battles with authority, tradition and repression, during which, over time, the virtues of our hero's kind, empathic persona would slowly - oh so very slowly - work to change hearts and minds. 

I've recently started watching the similarly-named My Hero Academia and it suffers from much the same problem. To many shows do.

It's all very well to teach life-lessons but they can be excruciating to have to live through, even vicariously. How many times do you really want to see the character you're supposed to be associating yourself most closely with be humiliated, embarrassed and made to look and feel inadequate before you reach the catharsis of their ultimate vindication?

Or, in other words, does there really need to be quite so much Shawshank before every Redemption? Maybe there does. There always is, after all. And usually I can handle it. This time, though, I really wasn't in the mood.

The Great Pretender

More anime. I lasted three or four episodes with this one and I liked it but it had something of the opposite problem from either Pluto or Little Witch Academia and that sunk it for me in the end. 

The elevator pitch for this one is that Japan's greatest con artist meets another scammer who's even better at defrauding people than he is. What that doesn't tell you is that they're both total gits.

Watching two self-satisfied, arrogant liars try to out-lie each other for twenty-five minutes does not, in my opinion, make for great entertainment. Once again, the writing seemed fine and there's every chance all of this was going somewhere, but for me to go with it long enough to find out where that might be, the two leads would have to be a damned sight less obnoxious. 

When you're being asked to spend time with fictional criminals, I never feel it's a good sign when you really, really want the police to catch them and bang them up for good. Or for their intended victims to catch them at it and give them a good kicking. Either would be fine.

One Piece

By no means the last show I've quit on but the last I can remember right now. This was one of Netflix' big shows of last year. The trailer looked good and I was looking forward to it. When it started, a friend watched it and told me it was great. I watched the first episode and...

It was a bit dull. I kept meaning to go back and watch the rest but so far I haven't and the longer we go on, the less likely that seems. Maybe one day.

At least it's one episode ahead of Fallout or The Three Body Problem, neither of which I seem to be able to start watching at all. Once again, I thought I was looking forward to both of them but apparently I'd rather watch old CW shows, now I can access them through my VPN.  

The Flash starts out really well and there are nine seasons of that one. Pretty sure I'm going to watch them all.


  1. Yeah, Loudermilk... I pressed on a few more episodes and it got a bit better... but never quite got there. I should do a post about shows that we never finish a season of. Though, that would require me to remember them, and the whole streaming thing means we jump from show to show to show with such rapidity that I forget half the shows we did complete, so forget about the shows where we bailed early.

    Brockmire does carry on pretty well for seasons 2 and 3, though it gets pretty dark in the middle there. Season 4 jumps ahead to a crazy future where he is made the commissioner of major league baseball to try and restore the its popularity and... well, it was meant to be the final season.

    1. I'll definitely catch up with Brockmire at some point - or at least the second and third seasons. Loudermilk I'll pass on permanently, I think.

      Other than those two, I was really only able to do this post because I put all the above shows in my watchlist and I never clear it out. I know there were a bunch of other shows I just watched one or two episodes of but never watchlisted but I can't even remember now what they were.

  2. " It would be like watching fire destroy an entire art gallery and having the fire finally go out leaving just one painting unburned."

    That's exactly what it was like for me, and I finished it. Great show, but hard to recommend as an enjoyable experience.

  3. On Piece is a show I seemingly just don't get. It's filled with all this stuff I should like, fantasy, pirates, crazy powers and such. I think I also read somewhere that it's among the most popular manga of all time (ok google says best selling manga in the world from 2008 to 2018).

    But I just find myself slightly annoyed and impatient whenever I try to watch it. I made half way through season one of the anime. I like the live action version marginally better due to better pacing. But even that I made it two or three episodes in and dropped it again. Childish shouty main characters are rarely my thing.

    1. As I said in another post, pirates don't do a lot for me anyway, and coupling them with a really hyper-annoying main character really doesn't help. More than that, though, the general concept didn't seem to be going anywhere. He's looking for a treasure (Big deal.) and he doesn't even know what it is (So why should we care?). I'm going to go out on a limb and guess he never finds it, either, since if he did that would be the end of the show.

      Worse, though, the characters that got introduced in the first episode seemed very cliched. If even one of them had been interesting I might have at least made it to Episode Two but they weren't so I didn't. It is weird that the manga is so successful but then so is Harry Potter and that never made any sense to me either.

  4. Oh, this reminds me that we watched Season 2 of Sweettooth, with the 3rd and final season coming in June. In fact first we re-watched Season 1. We still like it, though it is still rather ham-fisted about it's messaging around accepting people who are different and all that. But the growing bonds between Gus and "Big Man" is pretty endearing and the mystery of how things came to be kept our attention.

    S2 is a little less road-trip oriented but I don't want to say too much for fear of spoiling things.

    1. I nearly put Sweet Tooth in this post because I still haven't watched Season 2. It didn't quite fit, though, because I haven't stopped watching it so much as not gotten around to starting yet. I didn't realise S3 was coming, let alone so soon. I guess I may as well wait for that and then watch 2&3 together.

  5. "Or, in other words, does there really need to be quite so much Shawshank before every Redemption? Maybe there does. There always is, after all. And usually I can handle it. This time, though, I really wasn't in the mood."

    Yeah, that's me with written SF&F lately. (And video/television/movies too, but I've found that after my high point of the early-mid 90s I've stopped watching tv and movies pretty much entirely.)


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