Wednesday, September 12, 2018

TV on DVD Review: This is Us - Season 2

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Wonderful characters and relationships
Cons: Growth seems to stall in the middle of the season
The Bottom Line:
Drama continues
Next chapter for the Pearsons
Still much watch TV

“I Love It When You Guys Talk Twin in Front of Me.”

After being surprised by just how much I enjoyed the first season of This is Us, I was looking forward to seeing how season two developed.  While it wasn't quite as strong as the first season, it still provided plenty of drama and heart felt moments.

Once again, the season kicks off on the big three's birthday, this time their 37th.  And it's a year of changes for all three of the Pearson siblings.  Kevin (Justin Hartley) has returned to Los Angeles to star in that Ron Howard film he was cast in last season opposite Sylvester Stallone.  However, an injury on the set puts him on a path of self-destruction.  Meanwhile, Kate (Chrissy Metz) works on planning her wedding to Toby (Chris Sullivan) as well as pursuing her own dream of becoming a singer.  And back in New Jersey, Randall (Sterling K. Brown) and Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) welcome the newest addition to their family, a foster teenager named Deja (Lyric Ross) who has a chip on her shoulder and sets out to make life for the family difficult.

Meanwhile, in the flashbacks, we continue to get glimpses of these characters growing up.  We go back as far as seeing when Randall is officially adopted.  But the main focus of the flashbacks is their father Jack's (Milo Ventimigila) death.  Yes, we actually do find out just how he died this year, and even spend an episode mostly in the past as we watch his wife Rebecca (Mandy Moore) and the kids deal with the immediate aftermath.

Those episodes are absolutely heartbreaking, as you might expect.  And yet they are beautifully written and acted.  This show has a real artistry to it, and the writers craft some amazing scenes and moments in the midst of the on going larger stories.

Having said that, I do have a bone to pick with the writers.  Some storylines seem to get bogged down in the middle of the season as characters repeat the growth we saw in the previous two or three episodes.  Considering the show has shorter, eighteen episode seasons, this is especially annoying.  The worst offender to me was Kevin, who seems to take a few weeks spinning his wheels.  Even Randall seems to get stuck at times in goofy adult mode.

Overall, this is still a strong show with amazing characters, however.  The last couple of episodes do show the growth I was looking for and really tie everything together wonderfully.  And there are some great moments in every episode.  Yes, the show will still make you tear up just about every week, but it will also make you smile and laugh, just not as frequently.

This season even managed to change my mind on Toby.  I found Kate's finance annoying in the first season, but he was much stronger here.  In fact, I found him to be one of my favorite characters.

One thing I still love about the show is the strong bond the characters share.  The couples on the show have wonderful, strong relationships.  They may disagree, but ultimately, they have each other's backs.  And, while the characters may have their issues with each other, they are there when someone else needs them.  And the show doesn't make anyone the villain.  While a character may make the wrong decision, causing pain to someone else, we understand why they did it, and they usually recognize the consequences of what they've done.

I definitely do recommend you watch the first season first.  What happens here is an outgrowth of that first season, and to fully appreciate what happens here, you need that background.

As I already mentioned, there are eighteen episodes in this season, all of which are included here in wide screen and full surround.  Extras include the after show, where various members of the cast talk about what their characters went through in that particular episode.

Even with all the drama, and this show heaps on the drama, it is nice to watch a show where the characters truly do love and care for each other.  I think it's one reason that This is Us continues to pull in strong ratings for season two.  Fans will enjoy revisiting these characters again, and those new to the show will get caught up in the lives of the Pearson family.

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