Entertainment Television

TV CHEAT SHEET: Defenders worth a binge

TV titan Denette Wilford says The Defenders is well worth a binge watch. MARVEL

TV titan Denette Wilford says The Defenders is well worth a binge watch. MARVEL

DENETTE WILFORD/ 24 HOURS

**WARNING: Some content may contain spoilers**

Binge-Watch

The Defenders

If you love Daredevil and Jessica Jones and only kinda-sorta like Luke Cage and Iron Fist, you'll still be satisfied with the saga that unites the leads (that would be Charlie Cox, Krysten Ritter, Mike Colter and Finn Jones) and the supporting casts of all four shows to fight a common enemy: The Hand. Though you'll have to get past the first hour because our heroes don't interact at all until Episode 2. But it's that buildup that will have you needing to know how they meet up and, when they do, what their reactions will be. Yep, it's about what you'd expect. Unlike its four predecessors, The Defenders is eight episodes rather than 13 - and shorter is so much sweeter. The stories are much more concise, the pace is livelier, the scenes are meaty and they all make sense - individually and together. And while it's still pretty damn dark, it also manages to be a little wittier (Jessica insulting the others never gets old) and the images are less Gotham, more bright; dare I say, hopeful? Let the superhero adventures begin.

Premieres: Friday, August 18 on Netflix

Beginning of the End

Halt and Catch Fire

As AMC relies on Preacher, and the returns of Better Call Saul, The Walking Dead and Fear The Walking Dead, it's easy to take for granted Halt and Catch Fire - a trusty, reliable player for the past three years. But as it enters its fourth and final season, it's one of those instances where you didn't realize what you had until it's (almost) gone. Set in Silicon Valley in the mid-80s, it began a little like Mad Men, centering on a charismatic anti-hero, but unlike Don Draper's shenanigans, people weren't feeling it here. The producers and writers took that feedback and it has since evolved, with two ambitious women proving they're there to play. HACF has gotten better with each season, developing its characters, and making it more of an ensemble. Has any other show gone from critical loser to a critical success in such a short time? I don't think so. The final season of the series finds the core four navigating the early days of the Internet as they search for answers. And it only gets tougher as the tech world continues to grow and becomes increasingly competitive. But ending on a high, that's what happens here. HACF has grown so much in so little time, it's proof that it's never too late to find yourself.

Premieres: Saturday, Aug. 19 on AMC

On The Fence

The Sinner

Like Motive, which showed viewers who committed the crime in the opening scene of every episode, The Sinner kind of does the same thing. Because in the first 10 minutes, we see Cora (Jessica Biel) commit a disturbing, graphic act of violence. But why? And that question might be part of The Sinner's problem. Where it worked on a weekly procedural like Motive, I'm not sure if it does here. It's clear from the flashbacks and hints that we get that Cora's got some terrifying s---buried beneath the surface and while living a mundane - albeit decent - life with her family has its issues, there are other signs that showed us this was going to happen sooner rather than later. Biel is pretty good here, subtle yet you can really feel her numbness and just how rock bottom Cora is. But unless you've read the book (I have not), I'm not sure how surprised viewers will be at the big reveal. She's clearly damaged, abused in some way, it's just a matter of by whom (by her monster of a mom, her too-sweet dad, someone else?). So my question is, why should I stick around? To confirm what I already think I know or will the reveal be so shocking that I'll have regretted not tuning in for more? If it's any consolation, Motive found a way to maintain interest throughout its run; let's see if The Sinner can do the same.

Premieres: Monday, August 21 on Showcase

Applause, Applause

Tatiana Maslany, Orphan Black

Sigh. Orphan Black is officially over and Clone Club members are still crying. But that doesn't mean we can't still fondly remember the series finale, which basically had a red bow tied around it. But for a show like this to end happily, that was what many of us were waiting for. The first part featured all kinds of brutal murders and enough blood to rival The Walking Dead, but the second half had a surprising serenity about it, as all the clones we know and love have found a neolution-free life. And because it was such a calm episode, that's what made Maslany's performances all the more mesmerizing. She didn't have all kinds of action to distract from or hide behind. Helena giving birth and the backyard scene, featuring the four main clones, was the payoff for fans. Technically, it must've been a beast but Maslany tackling all four characters and truly making us forget they aren't all being portrayed by separate actresses is a testament to just how gifted she is. (Side note: Maslany's doubles, Kathryn Alexandre and Bailey Corneal, also deserve special mention.) Cosima, Alison and Helena all comforting Sarah was a sight to behold. No fireworks, no fake blood, just four women having a drink, chatting and relating to one another and finally accepting themselves for who they are. Because what are sestras for? Overall, a superb finale to a fantastic series. It highlighted everything we love about the show, particularly the incomparable talent of Maslany, arguably TV's finest actor.

Reality Bites

The Amazing Race Canada

You know what's amazing? When the team you want to see eliminated actually gets eliminated. After two last-place finishes in non-elimination rounds, Andrea and Ebonie were finally sent packing. Relying too heavily on alliances, and the navigational skills of others, they were no longer fun to watch. The final five, however? As far as I'm concerned, it's a coin toss. Whoever wins, I'll be more than happy to applaud them at the finish line and congratulate them on a well-run race.

Quote of the Week

Jimmy Kimmel Live

"It's the last thing you want to do. But the truth is - and deep down inside you know you made a mistake, you know this is true - you made a mistake. You picked the wrong guy." - Kimmel to Trump supporters who can't admit the liberals were right about Trump and his failings

Oh, if only takebacks were allowed in life.