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I am excited to begin my Best of 2019 lists!  Let’s kick things off with my list of my favorite TV series of 2019.  What a year this was for TV!!!  I watched SO MUCH great TV, and even so, there were still so many shows I wanted to see but didn’t get to, including but not limited to: the third season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Russian Doll, Barry, Living With Yourself, Undone, The Expanse, Fosse/Verdon, Chernobyl, Unbelievable, Ramy, Modern Love, Sex Education, and so many more shows.

Despite that, I had no trouble coming up with a whopping TWENTY-FIVE shows from 2019 that I absolutely loved.  Let’s take a look, shall we?

Before we dive in, though, please allow me to make a request for you to support my work here by clicking through to Amazon from any of the links on this site.  If you do, I’ll get a tiny percentage of the price of any purchase you make on Amazon for the next 24 hours.  You can use the Amazon banner ad at the top of the page, or any specific Amazon link within one of my blogs.  You don’t have to purchase the specific item I linked to!  Just use one of my links to get to Amazon, and then purchase whatever you normally would.  If all the readers of this site would just click through to Amazon through one of my links, whenever you do your shopping, it’d be a huge help towards keeping the lights on here.

OK, here we go:

25. From the Earth to the Moon OK, I’m starting the list off with a cheat.  This HBO mini-series came out back in 1998!  But this year, the series was released on blu-ray.  It was extraordinary to see the show in HD, and I was delighted that they took the time to redo the series’ visual effects, which were originally created in Standard Definition!  That was very cool and not anything I’d ever expected.  (The series would be even higher on my list if they hadn’t made the boneheaded decision to crop the original 4×3 full-screen presentation to a 16×9 image.  Growing up, I hated when widescreen films were cropped for 4×3 TVs, and the reverse is no better!!)  I adore this mini-series, executive-produced by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg, which charts the Apollo missions that first put a man on the moon.  It’s as entertaining, and vitally relevant, as it ever was.  If you’ve never seen it, do yourself a favor and check it out.  Each one of the series’ twelve episodes is magnificent.

24. Jessica Jones The biggest disappointment of the inglorious end of Marvel’s Netflix shows … [continued]

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Josh Reviews Jessica Jones Season Three

November 18th, 2019
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Back in 2015, the Marvel Netflix shows launched with such promise.  Daredevil came first, and I thought that first season was extraordinary: dark and complex and adult.  Then came the first season of Jessica Jones, and it was as good if not better.  I loved this character from the comics (she was created by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos in their series Alias, and then Mr. Bendis made her an important character throughout his long run on The Avengers), and I was so excited to see her on screen.  I couldn’t have been happier with the sophisticated, compelling first season.  But then we had to wait three long years between season one and season two (though Jessica did appear in the six-episode Defenders crossover series in between), and while I enjoyed season two very much, I thought it was significantly inferior to season one.  We only had the standard one-year wait between seasons two and three, but by the time season three launched on Netflix this past season, my enthusiasm had cooled.  None of the subsequent Netflix shows/seasons came anywhere close to the greatness of those first two seasons of Daredevil and Jessica Jones, and the third season of Jessica Jones launched as a lame duck, as the show had already been cancelled months before that third season was released, as part of Netflix’s decision to end its connection with Marvel.  So when Jessica Jones’ third season did come out on Netflix, it didn’t shoot to the top of my to-watch list.  Nonetheless, I was interested to see how the series wrapped up, and so recently I found time to watch it.  Daredevil season three brought the series to a satisfying end… would Jessica Jones season three do the same?

I have very mixed feelings about this third season.  For the most part, I quite enjoyed it and while it doesn’t equal the greatness of the first season, I thought it was a solid improvement on the second season.  So I was quite happy right up until the finale, which disappointed me.  The finale felt like a season finale, not a series finale, in that it left many of the characters in places that felt like we were still in the middle of their stories, rather than having arrived at a satisfying conclusion.  (This might not be the writers’ fault, as I’m not sure at what point in production they learned that the show had been cancelled.)  Either way, I was left unsatisfied by where many of the show’s main characters wound up in the end, which I’ll discuss more below.

Krysten Ritter continues to be terrific in the lead role as Jessica.  … [continued]

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Josh Reviews Jessica Jones Season Two!

May 23rd, 2018
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I have been a fan of the character of Jessica Jones ever since picking up the very first issue of her first comic book series, Alias, by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos, back in 2001.  Jessica is a special creation, and I was excited and nervous when I heard that she’d be one of the characters brought to life by Netflix’s first batch of Marvel TV shows.  To my great relief, I loved the first season of Jessica Jones when it was released on Netflix back in 2015.  It’s been a hell of a long wait for a second season (though Jessica did appear in last year’s Defenders crossover series), but our long national nightmare is finally over and season two of Jessica Jones is out in the world.

Jessica Jones season two doesn’t equal the heights of season one (primarily because the dynamic with David Tennant’s villain Killgrave was so compelling that, try as it might, the show can’t quite overcome his absence here in season two), but it’s still a terrific season of superhero storytelling, and the strongest Netflix season since Daredevil season two in 2016.  The show remains a delight, filled with complex characters and a sophisticated, adult tone that leans far more to character drama than superhero fisticuffs.

I will comment that the season was hamstrung somewhat for me, at least at first, by the decision to investigate Jessica’s origin, which is a story I didn’t think needed telling.  Maybe it’s because I am such a long-time comic book fan, but I have no problem accepting superheroes as-is and don’t feel I always need to know exactly how they got that way.  The lengthy digression into Luke Cage’s origin in the second half of his show’s first season bored me, and I was at first disappointed that Jessica Jones season two was going in that same direction.  In the end, though, as the season unfolded and I understood the story the writers were trying to tell, I enjoyed the places the show went, even if this wasn’t the story I was looking for.

I have read some reviewers describe this season as a “slow build,” with the first batch of episodes being somewhat boring, but I didn’t feel that way.  Right away from the first episode I was happy to be back in the world of Jessica Jones, and I was impressed by the level of craft on display right from minute one.  It’s true that it takes several episodes for the story being told this season to come into focus.  But the strength of that approach is that the storytelling this season escalates in intensity from episode to episode, reaching a peek … [continued]

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Josh Reviews Jessica Jones

I was excited when Netflix announced that Daredevil would be the first of their Marvel universe TV shows.  But I was even more excited when Netflix announced that Jessica Jones would be their second.  I was also somewhat concerned, since as an enormous fan of the character I was worried about whether she would be faithfully translated to the screen.  I adored Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos’ twenty-eight-issue series Alias (published from 2001 to 2004) in which Mr. Bendis & Mr. Gaydos introduced the character of Jessica, and I have thoroughly enjoyed Mr. Bendis’ depictions of the character ever since (in his follow-up series The Pulse as well as various issues of The Avengers).  Jessica Jones is one of most interesting and complex new characters introduced to the Marvel Universe in the past several decades.  The potential of seeing her brought to life on a new TV show was delicious, but I also would have hated to have seen the character not done justice.

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Thankfully, Marvel’s Netflix team is two for two as, just like they did with their tremendous first season of Daredevil (click here for my review), they have created in Jessica Jones a show that is thrilling, sophisticated, dark and very adult that is also a huge amount of fun and a delightfully riveting adventure.  I loved pretty much every minute of it.

(Please note that I will be discussing this show in some detail.  I will try to avoid major spoilers, but there’s no way to discuss the show without also talking about some of its plot twists.  If you haven’t yet watched this show I advise you to go watch it immediately — really, it’s excellent, you’ll thank me later! — and then come back to read this review.)

When we are introduced to her, Jessica Jones is private eye in the Marvel Universe.  Though not a very successful one.  She’s reduced to mostly taking photos of cheating husbands on behalf of their broken-hearted wives.  Jessica has super-powers: she’s very strong, able to run fast and jump high.  But Jessica is no super-hero.  She is gruff and grumpy, short-tempered and hard-drinking.  As she tells Like Cage early in the show: “I don’t get asked on a lot of second dates.”  But what we gradually learn as the show unfolds is that Jessica has become who she is because she has been deeply broken by a trauma in her past.  A trauma with a name: Killgrave, a super-powered individual whose voice gives him absolute command over anyone within earshot.  At some point before the show begins, Jessica fell under Killgrave’s control for many long months, and I probably don’t need to go into … [continued]