Tuesday, June 23, 2015

TV on DVD Review: Graceland - Season 2



Stars: 2 out of 5
Pros: Some good moments and episodes, especially early on
Cons: Bleak by end of season with no likable characters
The Bottom Line:
Okay show gets worse
As everything just turns dark
Disappointing slide




"You Used to be a Good Little Boy Scout.  What Happened?"  "I Still Am.  I'm Just Working on Some of the Advanced Badges."

After years of success with their light, “Blue Sky” summer programming, the USA Network decided to get a little darker with Graceland.  I went along for the ride, and sadly, I found the first season to be rather lackluster.  But I was gamed to give season 2 a shot.  Unfortunately, I found it worse than the first season.

The season oepns with Mike (Aaron Tveit) working a new position with the FBI in Washington, DC.  Things appear to be going well until he gets word from Briggs (Daniel Sunjata) back at Graceland that the Caza drug cartel has put a hit out on Mike.  This brings Mike back once to hopefully shut down the cartel once and for all.  He’s now leading a plan involving all of his former housemates.  If only that were their sole focus.  Piage (Serinda Swan) becomes obsessed with helping a woman she meets while under cover.  Dale Jakes (Brandon Jay McLaren) is hoping to win visitation rights with his son.  Charlie (Vanessa Ferlito) gets involved with a dangerous bank heist.  And Johnny (Manny Montana) gets caught up in a love triangle.  Meanwhile, Briggs is trying to overcome his guilt and keep evidence about what he did last season secret.  Will any of them be able to focus on the Caza cartel?

So what went wrong?  Pretty much everything.  Let’s start with the characters.  In the first season, I liked them all at some point, and I could often sympathize with them even if I didn’t like them.  This season?  They all turned unlikeable.  Even those I could like and support for part of the season turned bad by the end.  And, at times, their actions were unbelievable.

The story also went downhill.  They had several equal plot lines going, so I could finally remember who all the players in the cast were.  And yet, the divided focus just kept me from getting fully into any story.  And it’s not like things came back together.  Instead, we are trying to keep track of several equal plots that carry different weights in each episode.

Ironically enough, I probably could have handled the darker themes of the story itself.  While the things the agents face and have to do aren’t my first choice of fictional consumption, I know they exists, and if I liked the characters, I would have been more on board.

The actors always did a great job of bringing their characters to life.  It’s the writing that let them down.

Having said all this, there were a couple episodes early on and moments even late in the season that I definitely got into.  But just when I would begin to think it had turned a corner, it would show that it was just a temporary moment and I would be disappointed again.  Unfortunately, that disappointment kept building as the season progressed so there was less and less stuff to enjoy.

And yet, I do plan to watch at least the season three premier.  I am curious enough about the characters and the cliffhangers to see how things are resolved.  But unless there is a major reversal in the course of the show by the end of that episode, I’m out.

The ratings for season 1 weren’t the best, and they slid for season 2.  That’s why we are getting all thirteen episodes in this MOD set.  As such, there are no extras, just the episodes themselves to watch.

The slide in the ratings shows that I’m not the only one who was disappointed with the way the show went.  Hopefully, things turn around in the new season or season 2 of Graceland will be my last.

Season 2 Episodes:
1. The Line
2. Connects
3. Tinker Bell
4. Magic Number
5. H-A-Double-P-Y
6. The Unlucky One
7. Los Malos
8. The Ends
9. Gratis
10. The Head of the Pig
11. Home
12. Echoes
13. Faith 7

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