TV reviews from 2024

May the Force be with you.

In the ongoing 2024, Akhil Arora’s TV series reviews have been to the skies of World War II, post-apocalyptic America, and pre-independence Lahore.

Kaleen Bhaiya Mirzapur season 3

Mirzapur: Season 3

“With a combined runtime of 500 minutes, Mirzapur season 3 suffers from extreme levels of padding. Worse, it feels listless. Like it’s simply going through the motions—imitating what Mirzapur ought to be rather than having the courage to push the Prime Video series, or the genre, in new directions. In ways that would surprise or be unexpected. What we get, on the other hand, is an overlong mess.”

Jitendra Kumar as Jeetu Bhaiya in Kota Factory season 3

Kota Factory: Season 3

“The third season wants to do better. The introduction of a new character, who has no love for Kota, seems poised for such a thing. They go from wanting to leave to choosing to stay but it’s unclear why that happens beyond a narrative requirement. It doesn’t help that they are barely in the show or end up contributing to rudimentary lines like ‘Kota is a factory’. Surely, you’ve more to say.”

Antony Starr, Cameron Crovetti in The Boys season 4

The Boys: Season 4

“Its desire to commentate on the American culture wars—that have spun ridiculously out of control and encompass a spectrum that’s impossible to cover—feels like trying to make a dozen different dishes with the same base sauce. There is no one-size-fits-all approach, sorry. Pick a battle. In its current maddening state, watching The Boys is like being forever online. It is Elon Musk’s Twitter feed … come to life.”

Amandla Stenberg in Star Wars: The Acolyte

Star Wars: The Acolyte

“The Star Wars series fares infinitely better in the action department. The heavy use of martial arts—a mix of kung fu, kenjutsu, kali/arnis, and kickboxing—sets The Acolyte apart from what Star Wars has given us in the past. […] It helps too that the action is handled very well, from a direction, editing, and sound design standpoint. But The Acolyte cannot coast on that alone. It’s found lacking elsewhere.”

Joel Edgerton in Dark Matter on Apple TV+

Dark Matter

“With two very different characters paired up, we’re put on a wild journey that makes them question everything they know. If you take away what we do, the people who surround us, and the world we inhabit, where does that leave us? […] Who are we, underneath it all? But for all its big questions, it’s also uneven, overlong, and doesn’t find its footing soon enough. If only we could look up all the other versions of Dark Matter out in the multiverse.”

Heeramandi

Heeramandi

“[Sanjay Leela] Bhansali can never seem to decide where he stands on his female protagonists. Does he view them as women who sell their bodies and souls to survive? Or does he see them as diamonds, women who defied the odds and struggled amidst pressure to emerge as shiny objects that everyone covets? Bhansali thinks he’s spinning a women empowerment tale … but the reality is far from it.”

The Veil

The Veil

“At its core, The Veil is about two women with a traumatic past who possess the ability to assume new identities and blend into their surroundings. Despite being on opposite sides, these shapeshifters have a lot in common with one another. In a way, it feels inspired by the Phoebe Waller-Bridge-created spy thriller series Killing Eve, with the target and her handler another version of the assassin and the woman trying to catch her.”

Fallout

Fallout

Fallout can be quite ugly and self-serious … but it’s got a penchant for the goofy and eccentric, too. There’s a lot of blood, gore, and violence. Limbs are blown off, heads are chopped off, and dogs munch on giant roaches. On the flip side, the series balances it out by sewing replacement fingers (convenient) and scoring its violence at times to old-timey songs. Additionally, we have funny robots that won’t shut up, action movie tropes flipped on their head, and two hammered dudes running an organ-harvesting clinic.”

Colin Farrell as John Sugar in Sugar

Sugar

“Forget riffing on classic film noirs, Sugar outright invokes them. And I’m not talking mentions. The Apple TV+ series goes further and slips in shots and dialogue from said films into its scenes. Like plonk them right in the middle. […] It’s obvious that creator Mark Protosevich … has a deep reverence for all things film noir. The era, the history, and the pop culture.”

Anna Sawai as Toda Mariko in Shōgun

Shōgun

“[Prefers] a statelier, proper tone in keeping with the Japanese culture of deference and politeness. There is a lot of talk of honour, loyalty, and seppuku—the ritualistic suicide practised by samurai in feudal Japan. And while it’s more contemplative on the whole, there are times when it cuts underneath that sheen. What I’m trying to say is that it has the capacity to be ugly and violent.”

Donald Glover and Maya Erskine in Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2024)

Mr. & Mrs. Smith

“The show’s pacing and tone … are the most interesting things about it, as it rejects the notions you have of what makes a modern-day high-intensity espionage thriller. It’s sometimes more of a hangout show, with people existing and talking. Mr. & Mrs. Smith is in no artificial rush. It’s not constructed to make you feel the thrills—instead, it’s designed to explore the characters and the moments in between.”

Austin Butler as Gale Cleven in Masters of the Air

Masters of the Air

“You don’t really see your enemy, as they are either zipping past you at jet speeds or firing anti-aircraft rounds from below (flak, as it was called then). There’s an eerie quiet between the two, and Masters of the Air perfectly captures that feeling. The respite from the constant flak bombardment turns into a sense of dread as the bombers scan for the German jets that are about to come and pick them off one by one.”

Konkona Sensharma in Killer Soup

Killer Soup

“As with … cooking, [filmmaking is] a delicate arrangement of several ingredients in the correct order, the perfect amount, and just enough time. But the new Netflix series gets it wrong—and when you screw up the mix of camp and dark comedy, you threaten to turn into a farce. It’s an unappetising dish that’s crying for someone to hold back the salt. Sadly, the plate has already reached the table.”

Alaqua Cox as Maya Lopez in Echo

Echo

“[Originally] developed and shot as an eight-episode miniseries, but … Kevin Feige reportedly deemed it ‘unreleasable’. [It] was ‘so bad’ that they ended up reshooting much of it. We’re left with five episodes … which have five screenwriters and eight story scribes […] It’s a sign of how often Echo has been rewritten, over and over. It’s also been reedited multiple times […] This is committee filmmaking to the nth degree.”