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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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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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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Florence Pugh shines as ‘The Little Drummer Girl’ shifts from beautiful to deliciously dreary (TV review)

A friend mistook “The Little Drummer Girl” for a Christmas series, and I explained that’s not what it is. As for what it really is, there’s the short version and the long version. Simply, it’s an espionage drama set amid the forever war between the Israelis and the Palestinians in the 1970s. AMC’s seven-hour miniseries has all the twisty spy intrigue you could want, but its strongest elements are the character study of English actress Charlie (Florence Pugh) and the amazing set and costume design. A viewer feels every minute of the run time, though, and often might desire to watch something more upbeat, like Norwegian death metal videos or snuff films of kittens being strangled.

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Which is the less bad show? ‘Black Lightning’ vs. ‘The Gifted’ (TV commentary)

In the tradition of legendary matchups such as “The Cape” vs. “No Ordinary Family,” “Almost Human” vs. “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” and “Riverdale” vs. “Supergirl,” I ask the question on the mind of every fan of middle-of-the-road superhero television: Which is the less bad show – The CW’s “Black Lightning” or Fox’s “The Gifted?” Rather than go by gut feeling, let’s break down these sophomore sci-fi series by category.

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First episode impressions: ‘Mars’ Season 2 (TV review)

From the beginning, “Mars” (9 p.m. Eastern Mondays on National Geographic) has aimed to show what humanity’s colonization of the Red Planet will really be like. Season 1, which aired back in 2016, chronicles the travel and settlement in the 2030s. Now Season 2 brings us into the 2040s, after the initial challenges have been conquered.

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