L UnBinged TV ReviewUnBinged tackles new seasons of the three popular shows, which put their fandoms to the test with a lengthy hiatus between seasons. 

Bridgerton (Season 3, Part 1; Netflix)

It’s been a hot minute since the bodice-ripping, bosom-heaving antics of Netflix’s Bridgerton graced small screens, making romance fans and Regency-era aficionados swoon with delight. In its third season, the focus has turned to third son Colin (Luke Newton) and next-door neighbor Penelope (Nicola Coughlan) to get pulses racing.  

After ending last season heartbroken after overhearing harsh words from crush Colin and harsher words from former best friend Eloise (Claudia Jessie), Penelope Featherington has decided it’s time for a change. Weary of wilting away in a corner, the former wallflower has decided it’s her turn in the sun, giving way to a much-needed glow-up and a newfound quest to find a husband. In an effort to make amends, Colin promises to help Penelope. But, being Bridgerton, hidden affections have a way of deterring best-laid schemes.  

This is only the first part of the anxiously awaited third season, and  Bridgerton continues to follow its tried-and-true template: Two fantastic-looking people with great hair resist their mutual attraction, but end up falling in love. But the actors, particularly Coughlan, keep the story fresh despite recycled formulas, while the series goes whole hog in fleshing out minor characters who had previously just adorned the parties.

Side stories are abundant, with so many additional plots that the new season feels more like an anthology than a drama. But it is not all for naught, as one of the offshoots provides an imperative (if not a shocking) revelation.  

There is also plenty of humor this season. Nothing that would make a viewer guffaw, but a few chuckles among the pomp and circumstance of court life, thanks to the frankness of Eloise and the daftness of the elder Featherington sisters, who are now given more to do than just appear like vapid doilies. 

For fans of Bridgerton, the drama was worth the wait. In addition to the romance that Penelope so rightfully deserves (just as Coughlan deserves the spotlight), the show also packs in twice as many tales of the Ton. This comes in handy when unveiling the season’s big twist, which will have fans clutching their pearls. 


Interview with the Vampire (Season 2; AMC)

After a lengthy wait, AMC’s hot-blooded yet sinister Interview with the Vampire finally returns for a second season. The first season of the much-beloved Anne Rice vampire saga made massive changes to the original tome, but managed to create a contemporary tale by handling the more problematic aspects of the story with polish and nuance, thanks to great writing and a superb cast. But can that trajectory be sustained?

Last season, viewers got to know bloodsucker Louis de Pointe du Lac (Jacob Anderson) and heard his love story with Lestat de Lioncourt (Sam Reid) and how they created their immortal daughter, Claudia (now played by Delainey Hayles), cursed never to be a woman. But as the love grew violent, Louis needed to flee. Now Louis and Claudia have arrived in France, where they hope to find others of their kind. It is in Paris that Louis falls in love with the 500-year-old Armand, art director for the Theatre des Vampires, where fiends amuse rich patrons with their onstage mutilations. But even as Louis grows closer to Armand (Assad Zaman), he is unable to escape the memory of Lestat, which hangs like an undead albatross around his neck.  

Deviations from the original text once again benefit the vampiric love story, as shifting the tale from the 1800s to the 1940s allows the Theatre to make full use of swing music to set the mood, while old-fashioned rubber-hose animation is adopted to great effect by the troupe to create monstrous illusions. But modern-day conveniences are not the only embellishments enjoyed by the series. There is also a wicked humor infused throughout the season that might catch viewers off guard.

Once again, the cast is superb, as Anderson and Zaman share a chemistry that could convince anyone they have been both in love and at odds for more than 70 years. New addition Hayles picks up where her predecessor left off with nary a misstep, while Ben Daniels breathes new life into the character of Santiago, who in previous incarnations (including on the page) was little more than a fanged thug. It is in its characters that the show truly shines, as the series takes time to develop complex histories that previously did not exist.  

Interview with the Vampire resumes the vigorous storytelling of the first season while crafting a more complex narrative than even Rice imagined. The show manages to build on the mythos, and in doing so creates characters even more vivid than appeared on the page. The result is an outstanding Act II that continues to build upon legacy characters while adding a bit of dark humor that gives the show some serious bite. 


Doctor Who (Season 14; BBC and Disney+)

After 60 years of bumping around time and space with spunky young companions, unbounded confidence, and questionable attire, the time-skipping Time Lord returns to the airwaves after a bit of stretch, which saw the goodbye of the first female Doctor, the return of a beloved Doctor, and the debut of a brand-new Doctor. Now settling into a swanky new T.A.R.D.I.S. and breaking in his new companion, the good Doctor (now played by Ncuti Gatwa) and his gal Friday, Ruby Sunday (Millie Gibson), are ready to save the world. Again. 

Welcome to a new season of Doctor Who. 

After a Christmas that got the Doctor a brand-new companion, the first adventure for the duo opts to attack the hearts of viewers, as the  time-hopping alien from Gallifrey and Ruby find themselves taking care of space babies. But the tale takes an unexpected turn into the serious when it makes a statement regarding laws that govern reproductive rights. The commentary on the current political climate and attacks on vulnerable groups is a subtle motif in this season of Doctor Who, which explores not just time and space but the edges of humanity, even at its most inhumane. 

But while the new season of Doctor Who has something to say about modern times, it also embraces a more flamboyant nature this time around. Sensing a loss of interest in the show of late, the 14th season swings for the fences with big ideas, interesting guest stars, and fun concepts in time travel, like visiting a version of the Beatles made abysmal thanks to the devious plans of Drag Race superstar Jinkx Monsoon as a musically minded villain. 

As the new Doctor, Gatwa has all the components one needs in a planet-hopping Time Lord — he’s charismatic and absolutely entertaining to watch, injecting the proper amount of panache and cockiness we have come to expect from any Doctor. As his companion, Gibson expresses just the right amount of wide-eyed wonder and cheekiness into the role, though she tones down her natural sparkle so as to not outshine the Doc when they share scenes. 

Though the new season might not capture the full glory of previously exalted seasons of Doctor Who, it does promise to be more entertaining than the previous house calls. The newest Doctor assures an injection of much-needed vigor, as these episodes promise to be more vivacious and slightly more demented than previous outings, with far more to say about the state of the world, without blatantly stating it. 













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