2016 so far is shaping up to be pretty awesome for us genre fans across a variety of platforms, but it’s especially seeing a resurgence on television. In this past week, we’ve seen the debut of no less than three shows. The question is, which, if any are worth watching? Here are my quick takes:
Lucifer gets bored, moves to LA, and becomes a homicide detective (or technically outside consultant). It’s about as stupid as it sounds, complete with a “hey wait a minute, my charms aren’t working on this lady cop,” side-story. And yet…it works. By not taking itself too seriously, the show actually manages to be fun to watch, so long as you toss any need for realism straight out of the window. My biggest question around this show is whether there’s going to be enough depth to make you want to keep watching. Still, I think it’s definitely Worth a Look, unless you’re a fan of the source comic and wanted a more faithful adaptation. From my understanding, the similarities between the two (at least in the episodes that critics were allowed to screen) is pretty shallow at best.
A brief history of my history with the X-Files: I watched the first six or seasons fairly faithfully. In 1999, I started attending college and I didn’t have ready access to a TV (let alone a VCR). By the start of the seventh season, X-Files was neck-deep in its mythology and watching on a weekly basis was more or less a must if you wanted to make heads or tails of anything going on that wasn’t related to a monster of a week and over the course of that seventh season, I stopped watching it. I remember seeing the first film, but not the second. So I was a fan, but maybe not a full on X-Phile. So from that perspective, here are my thoughts:
Those who didn’t watch the previous series at some point before now can probably Skip It. The info dump in the first episode to get you caught up with the basics can’t make you appreciate the chemistry and deep relationship between Mulder and Scully, the joy of seeing Skinner (and how it seems that you wouldn’t have noticed his aging if it weren’t for the fact that he has a salt-and-pepper beard now), and the sheer WTF of seeing Cigarette Smoking Man alive even though he was unquestionably dead at the series finale. On top of that, the concept which really was fresh when the show first debuted, now just feels kind of campy and there are so many real-life versions of Mulder online now that the character feels old-hat. I just don’t think that there’s enough here if you don’t have nostalgia to carry you.
For fans and X-Philes though, it’s definitely Worth a Look. And hey, at six episodes (two of which have already aired) it’s at least a short commitment.
I think this is going to be the most divisive show on this list. Those who really loved the books will probably be disappointed by it. Though some changes (the college being more of a post-grad thing now) are relatively meaningless, they did start combining elements of the first two books and those looking for a more pure adaptation of the first novel might be bummed about it.
As for me, I wanted to give it a shot despite that I didn’t love the first book (I can’t stand Quentin) and didn’t finish the second. I don’t know that the series did enough differently, however, to win me over. Quentin is less obnoxious than he is in the books, but I still wouldn’t go so far as to call him likable. The classmates are all broad sketches of characters. The show looks decent for Syfy, but still has some cheesy effects. It does do the overall darker tone quite well, and I do think a lot of the changes are for the better to help move things along. I’ll give it another week, I guess and it’s probably one of the three shows that I liked the least. This might be an instance where being completely new to the series might actually be to your benefit. I’m going to call this a Worth a Look if only because I think your mileage may vary greatly with this show.
I don’t think any of the three series are home runs, but none are so terrible that it isn’t at least giving them a shot either. Try ’em out, and see what you think!