Thursday, December 26, 2013

More Stuff I Loved in 2013

Sometimes I amuse myself.


Take today.  I was thinking maybe I’d take a few minutes to do a roundup of all the things that I enjoyed this year.


But as it turns out, I already wrote about most of them already.  Up to August, actually.


So instead, I guess I’ll take a minute and talk about things I liked since then.


PTX Volume 2:


I learned about Pentatonix when they came on The Sing-Off and blew all the other competition out of the water a couple of years ago.


Blew.  Them.  Out.


I hate to say it, but The Sing-Off is largely a broken show, and the reason it’s never quite caught on like other shows (despite requiring a lot more talent to get on the show) is because it’s trying to give people awards for something they’re not.


Essentially, the prize is, “Here is some money and a recording contract for your band.” 


Except most of these so-called bands aren’t bands.  They’re friends who tossed themselves together AS a band to get on a show and get some exposure.  The year Pentatonix won, the lead singer of the second-place group said, ON CAMERA, that he hadn’t ever thought about making music his life.


Imagine of the second-place person on American Idol said that.  “I was just standing around, and there was a line, and I got in it, and when I got to the front of the line they asked me to sing, and here I am.”


But I suppose that’s a rant for another time.


So, Pentatonix.  They won not just because they were an actual band, because there were other bands.  They won because they came out and they were trying to do something borderline impossible – create dance music that you couldn’t really tell was a cappella.  So they created electronic beats.  And did live remixes, which is as impossible as it sounds.  But they did it.


Not long after, they put out PTX Volume 1, which I really liked but had a fatal flaw or two.


The first was the lack of original songs.  Out of seven songs (on the extended edition) exactly two of them were original, and while both of them were fine, you could hear the lack of “hit” in them.  They were the filler songs to get to the really great stuff you wanted to listen to over and over again.


The other issue was that you sometimes couldn’t escape the gimmick – they didn’t sound like a band, they sounded like an a cappella group.  And while there’s nothing wrong with that, it limited them.  They needed to demonstrate that they had that “something else” that puts you onto the charts.


They needed a hit song.


And this second time, they fixed all of that.


Yes, their a cappella roots are showing here and there this time out, but this time that’s not the trick.  You’re not listening because they’re doing the impossible (though it’s fun if you know), you’re listening because they’ve got great songs and you want to hear them.


They did themselves some favors this time, writing at least one flat-out great song (Natural Disaster) and hiding the fact that there are no instruments in it. 


When they chose covers, they went just a little more obscure here and there, with one special exception – taking all of Daft Punk’s best-known work, and mashing it all up together to make something even better.


This is easily my favorite album of the year.  Easily.  And I can’t wait for the next one.


Hyperbole and a Half:


Look, it’s a famous blog.  And now it’s a book.  And you should buy and read the book, because it contains two amazing chapters about depression that should be given to everyone diagnosed with a mental illness just so that they realize they are not alone.


Katy Perry – Prism:


Not gonna lie.  This one is getting listed just because Katy cleaned up her act a touch and I don’t have to skip more than half the songs.  Which means my six-year-old can sing along.


It makes for glorious fun times.


The Connected Child:


That book didn’t come out this year.




If you are a parent, you need to buy this book.  And read it.  And highlight it.  And it’s for adopted children and their parents, but even if you have birth children, you should read it.


Start at chapter 12.  Trust me.


Frozen: The Soundtrack


I liked the movie Frozen.  I did.  But I suspect that in the coming years it will be labeled as a minor Disney film, one that made money but didn’t create a cult.


And that’s too bad.  It’s a fine movie, and well worth seeing.


But the songs.  Oh, the songs.  By the guy responsible for Avenue Q and The Book of Mormon.  The man has so many Tonys.  And his wife, who wrote with him, is also impossibly talented.


They’re great songs.  Truly marvelous.  You should listen to them even if you never see the movie.


I expect they’ll get their first Oscar this year.  I hope it’s for the snowman song.  (In Summer.)

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Lindsey Buckingham: One Man Show

I’ve told this story before, but I’m not sure I’ve told it completely.


I discovered Lindsey Buckingham before I really understood what Fleetwood Mac was.


I was in the library, CD browsing, and my dad pulled out Go Insane, Lindsey’s second solo album.  “He’s the guy from Fleetwood Mac,” said my dad, as though I knew who that was.


I should have, as my dad had given me a CD of the best o’ Fleetwood Mac not a while before that.  But if we’re all stuck with a band from the moment we met them, Mac will always be the guys who did Tango In the Night.  So I knew most of that record, and those hits, and for some reason, the song Tusk always stuck with me (probably because it was just such a weird little song) but otherwise?


I never really realized that at one point they were The Biggest Band In the World.


It would be years, in fact, before I finally listened to Rumors all the way through, and went, “Oh, THAT’S what all the fuss is about.”


I don’t remember what else, if anything, I grabbed out of the CD racks that day, but I took Go Insane home, and…


I don’t know how else to say it, but it kind of blew my mind.


It was the mixing that got to me.  Lindsey bouncing his vocals back and forth from one speaker to another, multi-tracking his voice so that he was singing six or more parts (I counted them, probably wrong, but I did my best).


It was a little Rock.  It was a little Art.  It was oddly highbrow, with odd little instrumental passages, and walls of vocals, and when I looked to the liner notes it said that just about every instrument was played by Lindsey.


I listened to it constantly, and loved the record deeply, and I think it might have been the first time I realized that sometimes, you can’t convince anyone that a thing you love is amazing as you think it is. 


Lindsey’s next solo record was Out of the Cradle.  That one I’ve pushed on a half-dozen people, all of whom like or love it to one degree or another.


But Go Insane?  A lot of the time, that feels like it’s just for me.


I’ve bought all of Lindsey’s studio records since then, and loved them all to one degree or another.  For some reason his Art/Rock crossover never quite worked as well for me on his other records, though I’m not sure why. 


But I’ve skipped his live records, mostly because that’s just what I do.  I’m okay with the existence of live recordings, but for the most part they’re just not-as-well-recorded versions of songs I already like.  Why listen to something inferior if I don’t have to?


Don’t get me wrong, I like the idea of seeing someone live, and the idea of a souvenir from a show I saw intrigues me as well.  But too often, it feels like an inside joke.  You had to be there.


I’m also not much of a fan of iTunes.  I realize that much of the world has moved on from owning objects, and as an indie author I acknowledge that it’s easier to put MP3s into the world than it is a physical thing.  But I dislike trusting my ownership to something as self-destructive as a computer.


And still… when I heard Lindsey Buckingham was touring around, doing a literal one man show, him and a guitar, I had to hear it.  And iTunes was, quite literally, the only way.


It’s an intriguing idea, really.  I don’t know how many people really consider the comparison, but the most famous version of Fleetwood Mac is surprisingly similar to The Beatles.  Multiple songwriters, huge hits, the band internally torn apart by relationships.  Even the sonic experimentation, to some extent.


The solo careers that ensued when the band broke up.


Really, I think, it’s the death of John Lennon that prevents the comparison from going any farther.  Were John still alive today, I suspect that the Beatles might have gotten together around the time they put out all that lost material. 


But I digress.


My “no live albums” rule has had a few exceptions, and therein, I think, lies to key to the mystery.  I remember hearing that Fleetwood Mac was putting the classic band back together, and yeah, I caught the broadcast of the show that would become the live album The Dance.  It was fun to watch, but in the end I bought it for one track, and one track alone:


Lindsey Buckingham singing an absolutely insane version of Big Love, wherein he played the guitar in a manner that… I mean… honestly, I don’t know what he did, or how he did it.  But it sounds like there are at least two guitars in there, and maybe three. 


And here’s One Man Show, the live experience wherein you got to see (or in my case, hear) what happens when he does something like that to even more of his catalogue.


Music critics often like to talk about deep cuts, the songs that weren’t hits or singles, and often aren’t even fan favorites.  They are, instead, those songs that only the true fans, the ones who listen to their records again and again, eventually come to know and/or love.


In Lindsey’s case, that’s maybe half of his Fleetwood Mac output, and about 99% of his solo work.


I’m not sure exactly what I expected from the recording, but I do know this – Lindsey decided not to make it easy on people.


Your average big name performer likes to come out of the gate with you on his or her side.  So they start out with one big hit, maybe two, before moving into the new material, or the stuff that’s not as popular but it still pretty awesome.


(Heck, on The Dance, Lindsey and crew did FOUR big songs before they did a deep cut and a new song, back to back.)


Sometimes, a band will even leap out of the gate with something fast and fun, just to get the blood flowing.


Lindsey does none of this.


Granted, he doesn’t go full-on art.  He starts off with Cast Away Dreams, which is, in my estimation, one of his prettier late-period ballads. 


He then tries to ease into the harder stuff by doing a bang-up job on Bleed to Love Her, which translates surprisingly well from the big band version, mostly because he seems to be able to play two guitar parts at once. 


But it still wasn’t what I’d call a hit, more of a semi-deep cut from The Dance.  So I figured he’d whip out one “big” song before he started laying out the truly arty stuff.


But, no.  Instead we get Not Too Late, and Stephanie, and Come and Shut Us Down.


These are not terrible songs, but as I sat listening, I felt restless.  None of this was bad, truly.  It was all nicely performed.  But as a fan, I felt a kind of unease.  It was my big fear, as there was little to no reinvention going on here, just slightly more noisy versions of songs I’d already heard this way.


Go Insane was next on the list, and it works.  This is a slow, ballad-y version of the song, with little pauses in the picking and the strumming, for dramatic effect.  I think seeing it live onstage might give it an extra kick.  As a recording, it’s mostly just okay.


Next he moves to Never Going Back Again, one of the few songs off of Rumors that wasn’t a hit.  It’s a great, plucky little tune in its original format, but here, he makes the song wander along for twice its original length.


Big Love is, more or less the same live version I already knew, and I’m So Afraid, while still a great guitar solo song, isn’t quite as marvelous since Lindsey is clearly working with some kind of pedal effect or backing track to get his guitar riff to play over.


The show “concludes” with Go Your Own Way, which in my estimation would have been a much better starting point than an ending point.  And once again, he resorts to a backing track, and once again he plucks out pretty much the same solos we’ve always heard.  And the show ends.


Except, of course, there’s an encore.  And honestly, I wish the encore had been the show.


He first steps out with what was probably his biggest solo hit, a one-guitar version of Trouble that is, in my estimation, the superior of the original in just about every way.  Reduced to a single guitar and voice, it’s a high-wire act of guitar picking and strumming and lovely singing of a pretty tune. 


The show then finally closes with Seeds We Sow.  It’s not my favorite Buckingham track (I would have preferred Say Goodbye, off of Say You Will) but it closes the show nicely and, perhaps more to the point, the song is a lot more accessible than some of the rest of the recording.


I think Lindsey is probably happy with what he accomplished, going out on the road and doing his own thing, just him and the audience.  And in reality, I stand by my earlier thought – if I could have seen this live, I probably would have enjoyed it a lot more.


But my suspicion is that I still would have had some disappointments.  Gift of Screws, for example, contains two great up-tempo numbers (Gift of Screws and Love Runs Deeper), both of which would have livened up the show a bit.  There’s nothing here from Out of the Cradle, which is a perfect album with a lot of songs that are seemingly designed for solo performance (in particular, Street of Dreams).


And as a recording, there are some serious flaws.  Lindsey sometimes sings so quietly I wasn’t even aware the recording was still running… until I turned the volume up a hair, and then he started screaming.  I’m all for dynamics, but the mix could have used some tweaking.


I’m glad the recording exists, for guys like me who somehow missed that he was even on tour.  But with such an extensive catalogue, and so much talent, I can’t help but think that it could have been so much more.  A better mix.  A longer concert that didn’t ignore so much of Buckingham’s catalogue, or stuck strictly to his solo work.


In the end, I’m glad I own a few of the things here – in particular Trouble is now the song I want it to be.  I just wish there was more here that I loved.

What I'm Watching: Mid-Season Finaaaaaaaaallllllle

I’ve probably said this before, but I find the idea of the mid-season finale to be a little odd.


I remember being a kid, and your show was on, or it was not on.  And sometimes it was new, and sometimes it was a rerun, in which case you’d watch it if you missed it last time.  (Though we rarely did in my house, because my dad is way into technology and so we owned two VCRs.)




So now, there’s this big buildup, and you can tell that showrunners are working really hard to go out on a high, but realistically?


Timing things on TV is just about impossible.


Because schedules shift.  And shows move.  And so a show that was going out on episode nine suddenly goes out on episode eight.  Or a spot needs to be filled because another show failed, and storylines get bumped around.


Or the network wants a particular episode to happen on THIS date instead of THAT date, so some editing is done and the episode that made sense before now only sorta makes sense.


We’re now two weeks away from the end of the year, and every TV show (or just about every TV show) has tossed what it had to toss at us, and here’s where I’m at with what I’ve been keeping up with.


The Sing-Off


Much like American Idol, this one was forced on me by my wife because she knew someone in the competition.


At this point, we’ve gone through three AI cycles and I’ve come out with exactly one musical artist I felt like following – Phillip Phillips.  And even though I like the guy well enough, I’m not sure if I’ll pick up his second record when it comes out.


By contrast, the last winner of The Sing-Off?  Pentatonix.  And I’ll buy EVERYTHING they put out.


(I want to give their newest release, PTX Volume 2, a full review at some point.  But for now, the thumbnail is this: It’s great.  Everything they needed to fix on the first go-round got fixed.  If you like them at all, buy it now.)


Pentatonix, along with The Little Movie That Could, Pitch Perfect, brought The Sing-Off back from the dead after a poorly-rated third season.  And from what I can tell, the show is putting up decent numbers.


Not great, but decent.


And I hate to say it, but I suspect that’s at least in part because the show isn’t quite as good this time around.  The problem with the premise is that we’re not dealing with individual people, but a collective that’s at least five and sometimes almost 20 people strong. 


There are, you can tell, millions of people auditioning for Idol.  But I’m guessing there are 100 groups across the country trying to get on The Sing-Off.  Maybe less.  (Maybe more.  But I kind of doubt it.)


And even these best of the best groups are often good, but not VERY good. 


I remember watching last season, and right after Pentatonix sang I looked at my wife and said, “I think they could take it.”  (Ultimately, it came down to the three groups I thought it would.)


And this season, again, there’s a group that’s far out ahead of the pack, in Home Free. 


But the thing of it is, they’re already a working band, doing more than 200 shows a year.  This is what they do for a living.  They’ve put out multiple albums, all of which you can pick up on iTunes or Amazon right now.


The group is, ultimately, on the show to get some more exposure, and they’re getting that.  The probably want to go from working county fairs to working BIGGER county fairs.  And that’s about as far as I think they’re going to get.


But I don’t think they’ll become the next Pentatonix.


I think that’s an inherent flaw in The Sing-Off, and what killed it last time.  It’s got a strong gimmick, inasmuch as there are no bands, only voices.  But unless there’s something more to bring to the table (Pentatonix, with their seemingly impossible remixes and breakdowns, has that in spades) the only thing you offer is a lack of band.


And it’s fun to watch, but it doesn’t sell records.


I think, given the holiday season, that The Sing-Off is doing well, though it’s losing out to other “real” shows.  I wouldn’t be surprised if this came back, since it’s probably not terribly expesive to produce.


But I do wonder how many really good a cappella bands are left.


The Walking Dead


The mid-season finale brought us to one of the most brutal moments in all of comics-dom, wherein Rick lost his wife and baby in a massive shoot-out with the Governor and his crew.


And it ended… roughly the same way.


This was mostly handled with the “vanishing” of the baby, which they tried to make appear as if a zombie got her.  But there were a lot of folks running away, getting on buses, and scampering off at the end of the episode, and I’m about 98% sure that we’ll find out that the baby is just fine come spring.


People love to talk about how Walking Dead loves to kill off characters, but I must to continue to reiterate the truth – they don’t have the guts to go all the way and really make it hurt.


Harry Potter had that same problem.  Someone of “note” was finally killed in book five, after hundreds of pages of build-up, and to be honest, my reaction was, “Meh.”  They took out a second tier character, and really he was perhaps even a third-tier, and then tried to pass it off as sad because of a first-tier connection.


By the time we got to book six, and iced someone of real importance, it was, in my estimation, too little, too late.


And that’s the continual issue with The Walking Dead.  Yeah, we’re losing redshirts semi-regularly, but those are redshirts.  Yes, we lose other characters from time to time, but if the guys running the shows are following social media at all, they know in their hearts that they’re getting rid of characters almost no one actually likes.  (The mom, for example.)


I think before next year hits it’s time for whoever is running the show to sit down with the box sets of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and really understand that death only matters if people are interested in your characters. 


And a lot of the time, they aren’t really pulling that off.


On the bright side, however, they really took a grenade to the central stories of the season, and gave us what might have been a season finale halfway through the season.  There’s a real possibility for taking major chances now. 


I hope they use it.


Agents of SHIELD


I’ve covered this before, and I think I’ll do it again and be done.


I wish that critics would stop trying to fix this show.


I’m not saying the show is perfect, but I’ve grown tired of the scads of digital ink being flung all over this show in an attempt to improve it.


Let us pause and consider something for a minute.


Recently, a Thor movie came out.  It came in at a cost of 170 million dollars and ran for two hours.


Agents, on the other hand, will probably run for 22 hours this season.  (15.5 hours, if you take out commercials, I suppose.)


If they’re lucky, and they probably aren’t, they’re getting 8 million dollars to turn out each episode.  If that’s the case, the yearly budget is about 176 million.


And I think those number are just close enough to make my point – Agents has to fill almost 8 times the amount of screen time for the same budget as Thor.  And they have to do it faster.


I don’t know that George RR Martin is right about everything, but he nailed it a couple of years ago when he said the problem with television is that it looks like a movie now.  It’s in wide screen, it’s high definition, and they can’t really cut the corners they used to and get away with it.


And unlike Thor, which had a pretty iffy plot, but spectacular action, well, they can’t get through every week just by adding people punching other people in the face.


The fact is, yeah, Agents is still working on finding its feet.  It had storylines that started that have to be worked through now, and some of them are interesting to people, and some aren’t. 


But what people forget is that the show was built with a ton of masters, all of which must be served.  ABC wants the show to tie-in to the movies, and so we get little scenes that we have to pretend are germane to the films. 


Geeks want all their classic heroes and villains to show up, many of which are just plain too expensive to pull off.


And non-geeks who like the movies and the movies alone don’t want to get bogged down by storylines featuring obscure characters they’ve never heard of.


People keep talking about Arrow as being the better show, but, well, look.  It’s on the CW.  If it put up the numbers it was putting up anywhere else, the show would have been scrap-heaped roughly two episodes in.


And the show has “Agents” in the title, which means it was always going to be a team thing, and not just one guy you have to meet and root for.  You can only cram so much character development for everyone in each episode before they just implode on themselves.


The show has been swapping characters out and trying to build everyone a piece at a time.  It’s a slow burn, and yeah, I wish it would hurry up just a touch.


But the fact is, I have FUN every week when I’m watching.  I smile through the episodes.  I laugh at the jokes.  I enjoy myself.  And at this point, it’s probably my wife’s very favorite show.  She asks for new episodes on days the show doesn’t even air.


It’ll get there, everyone.  Give it time.  Enjoy.   It’ll get there.


The Originals:


Speaking of shows and retooling.


I’m just about caught up with this one now – two episodes to go and we’re caught up and ready to rock and/or roll when the show comes back.


And much like Agents, this one was a slow burn.  Plots were being set up, rivalries put in place, character dynamics configured…


At which point the show knew it had some flaws.  So it dropped a grenade on everything.


Not everything-everything, you understand.  But the original (ahem) plotline was pretty just-okay – Klaus tries to take the city back as his own.


The, week by week, we met new people, added new dynamics, and the show scrambled to try to gain traction. 


And then they tossed a grenade in the works.


Actually, they dropped a few, grabbing all the character dynamics and, in a couple of episodes, upending them as much as they possibly could while still keeping the show the same show.  Good guys turned out to be not so good.  Bad guys turned out to be not so bad.


There are a lot of things as stake (heh, sorry) and there isn’t really a good way to resolve them where good guys win (because there aren’t many) and bad guys lose (though there are a lot of bad guys).


The show is intriguing, is the thing, and over the course of a couple of episodes I found myself going from mildly curious where things were headed to increasingly curious as to how they’re going to keep raising on the bar as these conflicts come to a head.


I don’t know that this show will ever be as good as Vampire Diaries was during their best years.  But I’m hoping it can get close…




There are certain works of art you almost wish you could erase from your brain so you could see them all over again with fresh eyes.  And Supernatural?


Man, I’d kind of love to do that.


Here in the ninth year, it’s almost impossible for the show to really pull off any surprises.  Killing characters is almost passé now, because that’s unavoidable.


But then they pull out their mid-season finale.  And suddenly, all the little problems that have been building up over the course of this season come home to roost, and I found myself saying aloud, “Oh, THAT’S where they were going.”


And it was totally worth it.


I’ve got all of Supernatural on DVD, and someday, I really want to go back and experience it all again, just to watch all these stories unfold a second time.


If you haven’t, start now.  You’ve got so much greatness ahead of you.




Short and sweet:


This season is better than the last one.


I’m liking it, but not loving it.  There are glimpses of greatness that could be.


My wife is just not into it.


We still have a lot of catching up to do.


Overall, I think the biggest flaw is a lack of clear, interesting goals.  Taking out the new US government feels too big and vague.  Making it personal by threatening our main cast rarely works because the cast just isn’t all that interesting or well-liked.


So the show falters.


But it could still get good.  It could.


Modern Family:


Here’s the problem with this show: It just plain got too much love in its early days.


It has a lot of well-deserved Emmys, and that’s a fine thing.  But it has also painted a target on the show’s back, causing people to evaluate it with extreme prejudice. 


But ye cats, people.  The show has 12 characters in it, and it tries to service almost all of them every week.  It’s churning through plots at a breakneck pace, and all the things that felt fresh five years ago, well, yeah, they’re going to age somewhat as the show goes on.


I swear, some days critics are like toddlers.  All happy with their new toys right up until they start feeling just a little bit old and used up… and then it’s on to the new toy, which is SO much better than that old toy…


South Park:


Speaking of old toys, South Park came back after a long, long time off.  And it proved two things that don’t go together at all.  The first is that the show, after 200 episodes, has gotten ever more hit and miss over the years.


The second thing is that the hits are still there, and when they are, as in their George RR Martin mockery, the show is still capable of making you go, “Well, that’s just… I didn’t… I did not ever see that coming.”


The Big Bang Theory:


I often state that I’m out of things to say when it comes to this show, and I suspect that might always be the case.


I feel like they’re really working on Sheldon this year, though, trying to take off some of the sharp edges they’ve created and note that, yes, he’s supposed to be a human being instead of a rudeness-centered joke machine.


Unfortunately, this has turned some of the other characters a bit more one-note, but they can fix that, right?  Amy is more than just a frustrated nerd in need of man-love, right?


The Vampire Diaries:


‘S funny.  Every time I figure they’re going to drag something out, they drop a bomb on it.  After a year of dealing with Silas, suddenly all that’s over and done with and the guy I figured would be the major villain this year is gone.


Which makes for mid-season weirdness, as now they’re setting up some new bad guys, and it feels like the start of the season all over again.


So, yeah.  Here’s hoping this fresh season-within-a-season is good.






Talk about your failure of a mid-season finale.


The rise and fall of Glee is one that kills me, more often than not.  Mostly because I remember that first season, that first episode, that first blush of TV that was fun, that was heartfelt and hopeful.


And now?


Let’s talk about the last two episodes.


The last episode?  They said it was a “lost” episode, just so they could jam in a Christmas special, even though it’s spring on the show.  Like their other Christmas episodes, it was a pretty mediocre affair with a couple of nice moments and some good songs.


But you can tell how far the show has fallen.  The previous three years have had really wonderful Christmas CDs, with extra not-in-the-episode songs, wonderful little performances, and a few lovely song-gems that were worth hearing whether you were a Glee fan or not.


But this year, it was an online-only thing, with Love Child thrown in there even though, really, what was the point, and only one real enjoyable song, Mary’s Boy Child, which was destroyed by girls in hot pants basically making the song weirdly uncomfortable.


The week before that, we had the puppet episode, wherein Blaine made a bunch of puppets, because there hadn’t been a puppet episode yet.


As I’m thinking about it, I’m realizing that I can’t think of anything “great” about this season.  The Finn episode was heartfelt, but all over the map and didn’t really offer the catharsis the show needed.  The various themed episodes (Beatles, Katy Perry/Lady Gaga/Billy Joel) feel like a desperate push to cram songs on the soundtrack.


And I can’t think of very many covers I want to own.  Marry the Night, maybe.  And the acoustic version of Wide Awake?


I wonder if the death that overhangs the show is what’s dragging it down, or if there’s just an absence of ideas at this point. 


Either way, the show still has a season and half of episodes ahead of it, and I’m starting to suspect even the writers don’t know how to fill them.