First episode impressions: ‘The Passage’ (TV review)

The latest event series that will likely end up going nowhere – either by treading familiar ground or by being canceled – “The Passage” (9 p.m. Eastern Mondays on Fox) is at least driven by a nice relationship at its core. Mark-Paul Gosselaar plays special operative Brad Wolgast and Saniyya Sydney plays recently orphaned 10-year-old Amy. Initially, Wolgast is part of the duo that kidnaps the kid for a secret government project, then he thinks better of it and goes on the run with her.

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First episode impressions: ‘Roswell, New Mexico’ (TV review)

“Roswell, New Mexico” (9 p.m. Eastern Tuesdays on The CW) is the latest in this decade’s mostly unfortunate trend of rebooting things we love that were already perfect. While I resist with almost every fiber of my being the idea of anyone other than Jason Behr and Shiri Appleby being called Max and Liz, I approached the pilot episode with an open mind and I admit it held my attention. What’s hard to parse out is: How much of my enjoyment comes from noting similarities and differences to “Roswell” Classic (1999-2002, WB/UPN) and how much comes from “RNM” being good in its own right?

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Marvel Cinematic Universe flashback: All 13 episodes of ‘Luke Cage’ Season 2 (2018), ranked (TV review)

Burning slowly like a 1970s urban street thriller, “Luke Cage” feels more comfortable in its suits and shades and bullet-riddled sweatshirts than it did in its first season. Bushmaster (Mustafa Shakir) and his Jamaican cohorts – all of the actors doing a wonderful job with the dialect – are entertaining antagonists, but we slowly realize the uber-villain of Season 2 (2018, Netflix) is slick Harlem councilwoman Mariah Stokes Dillard (Alfre Woodard). Cheo Hodari Coker’s series – after many examples illustrating what powerful people can get away with – morphs into a smart meditation on the cost of holding on to power, and how a few bad decisions can see that power spiral away.

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First episode impressions: ‘Gotham’ Season 5 (TV review)

“Gotham” (8 p.m. Eastern Thursdays on Fox) starts its fifth and final season in bats**t-crazy fashion (pun intended). In a way, that’s par for the course with this show, but it intends to go out in an especially big way. It’s doing the same risky thing “iZombie” did last year: expanding the scope beyond the city to a national scale (even though the events are contained in the city).

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‘Black Mirror: Bandersnatch’ goes down the wrong path (Movie review)

I don’t classify myself as a gamer, but video games are definitely still a part of my life. Having played through multiple “choose your own adventure”-style games, I was excited to give “Bandersnatch” (2018) a try. I have enjoyed nearly every episode of “Black Mirror,” so I was excited to dive in to this movie spinoff of the Netflix series.

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John’s top 10 TV shows of 2018

It’s never before been so hard to pick the 10 best shows of the year, as streaming services deliver strong short series on a regular basis, and cable and network TV have mostly kept pace with the quality. Some staple entries have dropped out of my top 10 not because they got worse but simply because they were supplanted. Here are 10 shows worthy of special mention even in this age of Peak TV.

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‘The Ranch’ shifts into soap-opera mode with the departure of Masterson (TV review)

“The Ranch” Part 6 (a.k.a. the second half of Season 3) has a big issue to address: the loss of Danny Masterson. Due to sexual harassment allegations, Masterson was fired from the Netflix comedy last year. This is the first portion of the series to not include his character, Rooster. That will be a hard sell to a lot of fans, being as he has been a big part of the series since its launch.

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‘Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’ Season 2 a delightful romp through Paris, the Catskills and NYC that loves all its crazy characters (TV review)

Saying a TV show spends a lot of money might be an odd way to extoll praise, but that’s what pushes “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” from great into the stratosphere of “I might cry if it gets canceled before the story is over” in its sophomore year. Season 2, now available on Amazon Prime, takes various members of the Weissmans and Maisels to Paris, their annual summer vacation in the Catskills Mountains, comedy clubs around the Northeast, and of course the familiar haunts of New York’s Upper West Side.

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‘Sneaky Pete’ remains a fun and twisty long con in Season 2 (TV review)

“Sneaky Pete,” developed by Bryan Cranston and Graham Yost, was originally created as a “mystery of the week” series for CBS, about a con man who would solve different cases each week, all while pretending to be a member of a family that wasn’t his own. However, CBS passed and Amazon Prime turned it into a serialized story. Season 1 was a smart, fun, “Ocean’s 11”-style story.  The show became Amazon’s most watched series, most likely because of “Breaking Bad” fans looking for their Cranston fix.

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