B is for Belated

We live in an era of fractured television habits. I cut the cable cord long ago, and that makes for some creative methods of getting access to the shows I want to watch. Some of them are so streaming-unfriendly that I unfortunately have to give up on them until later. So...I'll get to you at some point, last season of Mad Men!

I was streaming a lot of the shows I watch and enjoy via a Hulu Plus account that's no longer active, so I began to fall behind on a lot. But a new Hulu vein has been tapped, and I finally got to go back and (mostly) catch up on a trio of shows, just in time for their new seasons to begin. I call these my "B" shows, for obvious reasons: Bob's Burgers, Black-ish, and Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

We'll start with the one I've already mentioned, and the one that comes with the caveat. The inaugural season of Black-ish easily made my Top 5 of 2014, and the episodes that aired in the new year were just as remarkable in their ability to straddle the line of social commentary and comedy. The show did begin to lose a bit of steam in its final episodes, but never to the point that it wasn't quality television. My caveat is that I didn't see the last couple of episodes of the season, and thanks to Hulu's weird rules, they're not available to stream anymore. I seriously doubt that two episodes could undo all the goodwill Black-ish built up, and I'm excited to jump into Season 2.

Favorite Episode: "Crime and Punishment" (Episode 5)

While premiere seasons like Black-ish certainly have challenges, it's arguably more difficult to score a win in a sophomore season after a terrific debut. Season 1 of Brooklyn Nine Nine blew me away, and it would have been so easy for it to rest on its laurels and go through a bit of a backslide. Instead, it built on the terrific foundation it has already established, and became even better, to the point that it's difficult to pick a favorite episode. The addition of guest star Kyra Sedgwick as Captain Holt's nemesis brought constant hilarity, thanks to Andre Braugher's impeccable performance, and the will-they/won't they of a Peralta/Santiago romance didn't derail the series at all. The acting and writing were spot-on for the entire season, and really, the only thing I can criticize is an underdeveloped Rosa plotline involving Holt's nephew, but that can be put down to Nick Cannon's flat performance, and didn't detract from how wonderful this series is as a whole.

Favorite Episode: "Jake and Sophia" (Episode 6)

Meanwhile, Bob's Burgers, a show that captured my heart from the very beginning, continued its reign. Season 4 was my #1 show of 2013, and while Season 5 didn't reach the heights that Season 4 did, it's still a hell of a show. Much as The Simpsons did in its Golden Age, the universe the Belchers inhabit has been expanding in deep and believable ways, pulling in terrific tertiary characters like Jocelyn and Tammy. All of the family's victories and failures feel earned and the music is as insanely catchy as ever. There's been a wealth of amazing television this year, so it's unlikely that even a season as good as this one will make the top five. But make no mistake, Bob's Burgers is still firing on all cylinders.

Favorite Episode: "Can't Buy Me Math" (Episode 11)

Black-ish - Season 1: A-
Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Season 2: A
Bob's Burgers - Season 5: B+


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