Thursday, March 23, 2023

What I’m Watching: Ted Lasso (Season Premiere)

Ted Lasso: Season 3, Episode 1 “Smells Like Mean Spirit” (B+)

It’s great to have this show back, even if that happy fact comes with the knowledge that this is the last season premiere it will ever offer. Three seasons is not a long run, but it’s also a purposeful arc that the creators have always been upfront about, and which it’s highly unlikely they’ll decide to change. Ted sitting sad in the airport with his son next to him did keep his mind preoccupied for a good portion of the episode, but fortunately he hasn’t lost much of his sense of positivity. I laughed out loud for a few seconds when he responded to Rebecca’s angry analysis of her main rival’s prospects by asking if Rupert was going to play this year, and taking the team into the sewer systems may have been exactly the motivation they needed. It wasn’t great fo repress, however, and Nate, who has now had the car Rupert almost towed replaced with a fancy gift, was eager to take advantage of his onetime boss and mentor’s misfortune to appease his new bad role model, Rupert. Ted handled things very well by refusing to give in and dish it back, instead endearing himself to the entire room by joking with himself as the target. Keeley is definitely in over her head at her new company, with no idea what a CFO was until Rebecca came and told her, and the more interesting development is that she and Roy are apparently separating. I loved Phoebe’s reaction in the car and the look on Roy’s face, two things that suggest Richmond AFC isn’t the only underdog to root for this season.

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Pilot Review: Gotham Knights

Check out my one-minute take on every new pilot, which is embedded below and you can also watch by subscribing to movieswithabe on YouTube.

What I’m Watching: Superman and Lois (Season Premiere)

Superman and Lois: Season 3, Episode 1 “Closer” (B)

It’s strange to have this show continuing and officially not part of the Arrowverse when the CW is essentially shutting down and all those other shows are done. The introduction immediately handled the recasting of Jonathan Kent by having Clark clarify who he was at the fortress, and that change doesn’t feel as distracting as I thought it might. We’re getting to watch him learn to drive from Lois, who purports that Clark is a bad driver, while Clark gets to work with Jordan on flying straight home and not going to foreign countries to try to save people’s lives when he’s not fully ready to do so on his own. As usual, the specific nature of the threat that Superman and company are facing isn’t clear, but there’s more than enough drama to go around even without superpowers and interdimensional villains. Lana is hard at work as the new mayor and finding out that messing with the wrong people may have consequences, even if she’s still determined to do so. Sam’s effort to take an interest in Natalie didn’t go well since he wanted to bolster her academic prospects and not have a familial relationship, but that wrong may still be able to be righted. Chrissy sleeping with Kyle is an unexpected development, one with the potential to create awkwardness and add a bit of levity to a show that’s typically best when it doesn’t take itself all that seriously. We’ll see how enticing this season ends up being.

What I’m Watching: How I Met Your Father

How I Met Your Father: Season 2, Episode 8 “Rewardishment” (B-)

This episode felt the most sitcom-esque of any installment I’ve seen yet, which I’m not sure is a great thing. Jesse and Sid are friends who stand by their traditions (as did the characters on the original series), but it hardly seemed necessary for them to require each other to overcome a major fear by the end of the night and to punish themselves with a truly disgusting - and clearly unhealthy - consequence of drinking the drippings. Sid’s commitment to the clock felt like a rule no one else should have respected, even if they did all motivate themselves to change long-standing behaviors just because of peer pressure. That Sophie and Valentina didn’t drive felt unrealistic, even if they were city people who had just never bothered to learn, and it was unsurprising that Sophie found herself in a critical situation where she had to do so and couldn’t quite deliver. Charlie’s inability to shave properly was the most absurd reason they had to go to the hospital, underlining just how much this is a “situation” comedy where everyone somehow gets themselves into absurd scenarios that would surely never happen in real life. The universal appeal of mega-bed also felt like something that they could just have done anyway, but, alas, that’s not how things work in the world of this show. I would at least rather spend time back in the present with this crowd rather than in the future where Sophie has turned into someone much more confident about her own obnoxious habits and tendencies.

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

What I’m Watching: Perry Mason

Perry Mason: Season 2, Episode 2 “Chapter Ten” (B+)

It’s interesting to see Perry drawn in to a case that he wasn’t trying to be a part of, but he’s also exactly the right man to defend Rafael and Mateo Gallardo, who are most certainly not guilty but are being portrayed that way in the press and the courtroom. Perry nearly got himself into trouble by telling the judge what was prejudicial, and now these brothers have essentially been convicted by the severity of the crime they’re accused of, rather than proven to actually have committed it. This show’s cast keeps getting better and better, with Hope Davis chewing plenty of scenery in a very different way than she’s been doing throughout season two of “Your Honor,” and Katherine Waterston showing up as the teacher who was more than ready to answer all of Perry’s condescending accusations with confirmation that she really does care about her students. I was impressed with Perry for figuring out how to save his own life when he ran into Detective Holcomb on the boat and then he told his boys to “give him a tour.” Raising a toast to him so that everyone knew his name was smart, and now Perry has firmly established himself as someone who can’t be killed. Charlie Goldstein, on the other hand, wasn’t so lucky, and this case is likely to only get more sinister. Paul and Pete need to work on their open communication so that they can work together and ensure each other’s safety, and as always, Hamilton got the best line of the episode when he questioned whether Della telling him that he sounded like a DA was a compliment or an insult.

Pilot Review: A Spy Among Friends

Check out my one-minute take on every new pilot, which is embedded below and you can also watch by subscribing to movieswithabe on YouTube.

What I’m Watching: Your Honor (Penultimate Episode)

Your Honor: Season 2, Episode 9 “Part Nineteen” (B)

It’s certainly interesting to hear Lee explain the chain of events that has transpired on this show, with Eugene being declared dead and Adam’s murder solved, only to then have him reappear and now be on trial for that same murder. She’s leaving out a crucial detail, which is that Adam was the one who started this entire cycle of violence by crashing into Rocco and then covering up, something that Lee is now holding Michael personally responsible for even though he now wants to tell the truth. Paul Schulze from “24” and “The Punisher” was a great choice to play the irritable judge who reminded the two lawyers that the most annoying part of his job was having to deal with them before chastising them both about the potential risks of compelling Michael to testify. Olivia approaching Fia had the opposite effect from what she wanted, and now Jimmy is pulling out of his deal with Charlie while still theoretically preparing to confide in his unlikely new right-hand advisor. Talking about his legitimate business reminded me of “The Good Wife,” and, as Carlo tried to detail about his naive smuggling concept, there’s still going to be plenty of illegality inherently involved in all of it. Lil Mo made an important decision to stand by Big Mo when he got asked to choose a side in the brewing coup, and that revolt has now been quelled with a pointed execution, one that leaves Big Mo in charge but has cost her an important part of her personal life.

Monday, March 20, 2023

What I’m Watching: The Last of Us (Season Finale)

The Last of Us: Season 1, Episode 9 “Look for the Light” (B+)

I’m always perplexed by seasons with nine episodes since it feels like an even number, or something like thirteen, but that doesn’t tend to impact the quality of the final hour. I know some were also disappointed with the shorter runtime of this particular installment, but I appreciate the fact that storytelling takes exactly as long as it needs to, and there’s no reason that a season ender wouldn’t happen to run closer to forty-three minutes than an hour. I’m continually impressed by this show’s ability to make each episode mean so much with just two main characters, and the introduction of one and the demise of another only make it more about only the two of them. Ashley Johnson from “Blindspot” was a great choice to play Anna, whose birthing situation explains the root of her immunity, and Marlene was the link between her and Joel, promising her friend that she would take care of her daughter only to later plan to use what she had inside her to help the greater population. Joel did not hold back and killed a lot of innocent people when he rescued Ellie from likely braindeath, and though all those people are dead and can’t tell Ellie that he lied to her, his protective nature is sure to come back to haunt him eventually. This has been a formidable first season with some truly terrific guest stars and I’m eagerly awaiting more of this show along with a large percentage of the TV-watching populace.

Season grade: A-
Season MVP: Bella Ramsey as Ellie

What I’m Watching: Party Down

Party Down: Season 3, Episode 3 “First Annual PI2A Symposium” (B+)

It took me a while to realize who it was playing Stuart, the relatively nice leader of the Nazi-adjacent group putting on the conference, and I now realize that it was Calum Worthy, who was a great part of Hulu’s sadly short-lived “Reboot.” It’s not great that there were so few objections to working with Nazis from the catering team, but Lucy was the one who got most upset and hatched a plan to poison the protesters. While Kyle opted to go out and deliver that food and could have screwed everything up, it was helpful that they weren’t actually protesters at all but instead people hired to drum up press for the event by Stuart himself. It was great to see Nick Offerman, husband of Megan Mullally and former “Parks and Recreation” costar of Adam Scott, as Dermott, the speaker who was very much into naming and praising Hitler and was able to get that permitted by Stuart when he ended up having to foot the bill since Stuart didn’t have any money to pay the caterers. After showing up with that questionable check engine light mention, Henry seemed like he wasn’t in great shape, being pulled in multiple directions by his students and by Evie, who showed up at precisely the wrong moment. But then he did exactly what he needed to in order to get them paid and show his students that he’s worth taking seriously, since acting can be very convenient and persuasive at times.

Pilot Review: UnPrisoned

Check out my one-minute take on every new pilot, which is embedded below and you can also watch by subscribing to movieswithabe on YouTube.

Sunday, March 19, 2023

What I’m Watching: Shrinking

Shrinking: Season 1, Episode 8 “Boop” (B+)

We don’t often get to see Jimmy really get angry since he’s typically the one apologizing to other people, and therefore that was a welcome thing when Brian chose to deliver the bad news that he didn’t want Jimmy to officiate his wedding as planned while he was behind the wheel and they were looking for Alice. He also, at Paul’s urging, opted to be the hardass, serious parent he never is with Alice when she expected not to have any consequences for sneaking out to go to meet some college guy. Responding to her declaring her hatred for him by shouting his love for her was sweet, and it was good to see him feel some sense of fulfillment. While Paul isn’t doing a great of keeping up his own family relationships, it was fun to see him delight in the opportunity to just stand there and terrifying the college guy who believed that Alice was old enough and needed to be sufficiently scared. Jimmy telling him that she was twelve was pretty hilarious, as was Brian protesting when Paul made a comment that seemed to imply that they were the same age. Liz and Sean were great companions for Gaby as she made the questionable decision to go to Nico’s art show, and things went okay for a portion of the night. She really went all in when the gallery owner that she had liked earlier turned out to be Nico’s new girlfriend and apparent muse, and this was a superb showcase for actress Jessica Williams should she get a very well-deserved Emmy nomination for this terrific performance.

What I’m Watching: Hello Tomorrow!

Hello Tomorrow! Season 1, Episode 6 “The Numbers Behind the Numbers” (B+)

I appreciated this opportunity for an expository flashback, one that showed how Jack was fired from his previous job and hatched his scheme after looking out his window and seeing the promise of the sky. Trying to feed his tie into the automatic sink so that it would end up sucking him in too was a dark development that didn’t feel like the Jack we know, but there’s also a clear detachment from reality that Joey was able to see when he confronted Jack about everything and his only response was an overly optimistic “it’s getting realer every day.” Shirley is the one who might be able to save all of them by figuring out a way to sell enough units to pay the old customers back, though she’s likely to change her tune if she learns that Jack is the one who has been lying to her all along. It’s also distinctly possible that their new mark Elle will either not be interested or pull her money when she finds out it’s a scam, and there’s also the emotional impact on people who have become so invested in the idea of going to the moon that, like Mildred, they don’t want a refund. Joel Marsh Garland’s Hank was one such example, and we also saw how Jack has some serious issues from his past to deal with that Michael Paul Chan’s Walt was working on with him regarding the loss of his father. Mildred and Lester are an intense team, and her sincere laughter after being electrocuted suggests that she is extremely intent on taking them down, no matter how much pain the process might cause her.

What I’m Watching: Ghosts

Ghosts: Season 2, Episode 17 “Weekend from Hell” (B+)

It was fun to see Matt Walsh, who was at SXSW for his dad less flamboyant role in the upcoming Hulu film “Flamin’ Hot,” back again as Elias, who really is just about the worst possible person. I’m convinced that the document he got Pete to sign was made up all along, but that he really could have dragged him back to hell with him as he tried to do at the end there. Making him think that Little Pete was in an accident was particularly cruel, and Pete gets picked up far too much as it is and doesn’t deserve that kind of stress in his (after)life. It doesn’t help that Hetty is probably the most stubborn ghost and didn’t want to do anything to risk having Elias back in her life. Getting Thor to threaten to lock him in the vault again was an effective scare tactic, though I have a feeling we may see him again sometime down the road. I like that Jay so wants to be a part of things that he read Pete’s family newsletter out loud, unaware that everyone was moving on to other things, and it would be helpful if the ghosts actually tried to helped him out by paying attention to what he was doing when he thought he was alone. Accidentally walking through Flower and making a delicious meal he could never hope to recreate was a humorous setup, and I love that Sam was able to show her support by getting her specific Star Wars references right and telling him to kiss her like “I’m your sister.”

Thursday, March 16, 2023

What I’m Watching: Star Trek: Picard

Star Trek: Picard: Season 3, Episode 4 “No Win Scenario” (B+)

There’s something appealing about the repetitive nature of things on this show and the general Star Trek universe, which made Jack’s appearance in the crowd of eager students cornering Picard in the bar five years feel all the more emphatic. That Riker had heard the story about the daring escape pulled off by Picard and Jake’s namesake only added to that, and he once again managed to pull off a near-impossible feat with the help of a carefully-calibrated Beverly and a creative Jack. Earlier on, Jack wasn’t taking things seriously and just wanted to know when Picard went bald (I believe that such things are inherited from a mother’s father, but no matter), but then he turned out to be much more attuned to what was really happening in the moment. It does appear, however, that he shares some less physical bond with whatever it is that’s pursuing him, which gave me flashbacks to the Red Forest from “12 Monkeys,” another show that featured the great Todd Stashwick. Shaw expressed a great deal of resentment about Picard’s past actions as Locutus but then seemed to appreciate Picard giving him a hard time and sprung into action to work with Seven on something only someone of his rank and age actually knew. Seven was smart to spot an Ensign La Forge impersonator who didn’t know to call her Commander Seven out of respect, and it seems that, the Jack mental flash aside, this crew is safe for the time being.

What I’m Watching: Bel-Air

Bel-Air: Season 2, Episode 3 “Compromised” (B+)

I feel most bad for Carlton in all of this because he’s legitimately trying to push himself outside his comfort zone and experiencing the unfortunately-timed resurgence of crippling anxiety while his meds are being recalibrated. Negotiating with the administration to have a walkout that was only symbolic and not intended to actually procure action was never going to be effective, and Yasmin, Drew, and Will all seemed to know that. Will hanging that “Black Teachers Matter” banner was very emphatic and will be sure to both get him into trouble and ensure that this won’t be swept under the rug. Phil and Viv seemed shocked and a bit perturbed when Mrs. Hughes showed up at the house to advocate for her own reinstatement, and I think everyone is trying to follow the rules just enough to be able to reshape them. It’s a good thing also that Will was able to pivot from being the showy one-man star of his team to someone who brought them together enough to protest with him for a cause that mattered to him. This may inadvertently jeopardize Will’s basketball prospects, but hopefully knowing that he’s doing the right thing and making a difference will help him see the big picture. While Hilary is having some serious trouble with Ivy that will likely soon lead to an uncrossable bridge in their relationship, she did help Viv come to a much better decision than partnering with Hilary, which was to hire a very willing and competent Lisa to be her assistant.