TV reviews from 2019

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes

In 2019, Akhil Arora’s TV series reviews looked at the fall of Thrones, the rise of a monster hunter, and the death of SRK’s Netflix deal.

Henry Cavill as Geralt of Rivia in The Witcher

The Witcher

The Witcher has plenty to offer … spellcasting, genies, or supernatural beasts, and dealing with colonisation, xenophobia, infertility, or superstition. [And] it boasts a bona fide Hollywood star. It’s easily Netflix’s most coherent attempt at a [Game of] Thrones, one that’s similarly based on a property with an existing fanbase. But it doesn’t have the requisite depth and takes too long to get going.”

Inside Edge season 2

Inside Edge: Season 2

Inside Edge continues to be an unnecessarily over-the-top TV show in season 2. In fact, given how melodramatic it usually is, it’s less of a TV show and more akin to a soap opera. Slot it alongside today’s Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi and no one would bat an eye.”

Rasika Dugal as Dr. Meera Kapoor in Out of Love

Out of Love

“[The creators] display no understanding of pacing, momentum, shot angles, character play, or emotional beats, and have no idea of what notes they want their actors to hit. Out of Love manages to make [Rasika] Dugal look bad, and that’s a shame.”

Dhruv Sehgal as Dhruv Vats, and Mithila Palkar as Kavya Kulkarni in Little Things: Season 3

Little Things: Season 3

“The lengthy discussions between the two … form the bedrock of Little Things. That also partly explains its talky nature, which functions as a double-edged sword of sorts. It helps what it’s trying to get at, but results in Little Things explicitly spelling out its themes through dialogue at times.”

Dafne Keen as Lyra Belacqua in His Dark Materials

His Dark Materials

“[Though] the visuals are on point, the writing isn’t. Despite the elements at its disposal—talking animals, a modernised Victoriana fantasy, and scheming, tyrannical individuals—it’s made to feel ordinary, especially the farther it gets from its fantasy trappings.”

John Krasinski as Jack Ryan in Jack Ryan: Season 2

Jack Ryan: Season 2

“It’s a shame … that Jack Ryan succumbs to the pitfalls of being an action spy series, by way of an audacious rescue mission in the season 2 finale. In doing so, it undoes its intent to look at American overreach by itself overreaching. It’s possible it’s meant as additional commentary, but Jack Ryan season 2 doesn’t seem self-aware about it.”

Jason Momoa as Baba Voss in See


See has nothing to offer beyond its surface-level premise and violence—no gripping plot, no interesting characters, and no relevant messaging. It’s an empty husk of a show.”

Regina King as Angela Abar/Sister Night in Watchmen


“The meat and potatoes of the new Watchmen … is a deep-seated exploration of racial inequality in the US, with [Damon] Lindelof … seemingly interested in delving into its cross-generational effects. Watchmen goes to great lengths to showcase the hate, violence, injustice, and disregard meted out to African-Americans, and how that leads to a corrosion of society itself.”

Emraan Hashmi as Kabir Anand in Bard of Blood

Bard of Blood

“[The] irresponsible travesty that’s on display with Bard of Blood. For a show set in the troubled Pakistani province of Balochistan, that deals with cross-border terrorism, and involves rogue Indian agents contending with Pakistani intelligence services, it’s laughable that its makers think the Netflix series isn’t political.”

Manoj Bajpayee as Srikant Tiwari in The Family Man

The Family Man

“[Merely] knowing which relevant topics to deal with does not a good series make. TV shows—like any piece of entertainment—are about presentation and execution, and The Family Man falters more than is acceptable.”

Orlando Bloom as Rycroft Philostrate in Carnival Row

Carnival Row

“[An] intriguing mixture—which descends into a hotchpotch now and then—of several genres in one. At times, it’s a murder mystery, a political drama, a love story, or a supernatural fantasy. [… For] a show that offers so much on paper, it’s surprising that not much of it is very engaging in execution.”

Saif Ali Khan as Sartaj Singh in Sacred Games: Season 2

Sacred Games: Season 2

“While the larger idea of Sartaj and Gaitonde’s self-worth exploration and ultimately ending up in each other’s position looks good on paper, the execution wasn’t always convincing […] Most of it is down to how illogical some of their actions felt, or how it was inconsistent with what we had known about the character until that point.”

Purab Kohli as Ravi Anand in Typewriter


Get Out explored racism through the vein of horror, A Quiet Place was about the fears of parenting, and closer to its Netflix series home, Stranger Things is a coming-of-age tale wrapped up in a supernatural mystery. And even as Typewriter has some of the latter’s ingredients, it has none of its soul, charm, or intrigue.”

Stranger Things 3 poster

Stranger Things 3

Stranger Things 3 benefits from the change of setting. It’s set in the (American) summer of 1985, which allows it to leave behind the gloomy autumn that contributed to the mood on the first two seasons. On-screen, that also contributes to a vibrant blast of colours and nowhere is that more obvious than at the new locale that brings everyone together: Hawkins’ shiny new Starcourt Mall.”

Miley Cyrus as Ashley in Black Mirror: Season 5 “Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too”

Black Mirror: Season 5

“[None] of them is as disturbing, prescient or memorable as what Black Mirror has given us before [… Charlie] Brooker still has the teeth—and the imagination to craft tales that link into our techno-paranoia, showing us a world gone wrong where we are not too careful—but the bite is somewhat lacking.”

Kit Harington as Jon Snow, and Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones: Season 8

Game of Thrones: Season 8

Game of Thrones’ butchering of the Dorne storyline was the first major warning sign that the writers were incapable of successfully deviating from the written word.”

Michael Sheen as Aziraphale, and David Tennant as Crowley in Good Omens

Good Omens

“With [Neil] Gaiman at the helm, there’s a whimsical charm to Good Omens, which blends eccentric humour that takes pot-shots at everything from religion to Hollywood, historical fantasy and sci-fi happenings that span the Roman Empire and nuclear power plants, and adolescent drama.”

Shefali Shah as DCP Vartika Chaturvedi, and Adil Hussain as CP Kumar Vijay in Delhi Crime

Delhi Crime

“[Paints] a scathing picture of India as it signifies the omnipresent nature of sexual violence, and that the Nirbhaya case was simply different for the attention it garnered. And it says a lot more about our society that local producers and filmmakers have kept their distance.”

Sobhita Dhulipala as Tara Khanna, and Arjun Mathur as Karan Mehra in a Made in Heaven poster

Made in Heaven

Made in Heaven is meant to be a satire of the extravagance of Indian weddings, but in practice, it’s more a display and celebration of the culture alongside perfunctory remarks about the social ills, monetary waste, and family one-upmanship.”

The Umbrella Academy poster

The Umbrella Academy

“[It] sheds the vibrant colours and the fantastical elements that gave the comics its wacky feel, leaving behind a production with a dour, gloomy aesthetic that makes it feel as generic as many others.”

Four More Shots Please! season 1

Four More Shots Please!

Four More Shots Please! wants to be an easy, frivolous comedy that also tugs at your heartstrings, [but its] story threads [aren’t] set up and executed in a convincing fashion.”

Neil Patrick Harris as Count Olaf in A Series of Unfortunate Events: Season 3

A Series of Unfortunate Events: Season 3

“[On] the third and final season of A Series of Unfortunate Events, its insistence to adapt every book and stick so closely to the written word partially ends up being its undoing.”