Friday, December 6, 2019

What I’m Watching: Mrs. Fletcher (Penultimate Episode)

Mrs. Fletcher: Season 1, Episode 6 “Solar Glow” (B+)

I’m sad that this show is only a miniseries and that we won’t be getting any more of it since I think these characters are worthwhile and there could be considerably more to explore with all of them. Take Jane, played by Casey Wilson, for instance, who we saw for a decent portion of this episode and who has barely been featured before this. She’s a great actress who has made the most of her material in shows like “Happy Endings” and “Black Monday,” and she wasn’t featured here all that extensively. Naturally, Eve’s mind would be stuck on the idea of getting the same kind of massage that Dave went to get which caused this friction in their marriage, and I had a feeling that, like with what’s happened so far, she wouldn’t actually opt to go for it, settling for fantasies in her car instead. She did try to take a sexy picture to send to Julian but wasn’t satisfied enough with any of the options. Brendan was bold enough to suggest that he should stop by while Chloe just wanted to study, and things were going great for a while until he got way too into what Chloe was doing for him to realize what he was doing to her. I read a scathing critique of that moment since it paints Brendan as unaware of how he treats women rather than deliberately malicious, but to me the former categorization doesn’t excuse any of his behavior, which is indeed indefensible. Let’s see if he or his mother get any sort of happy ending in the series finale.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

What I’m Watching: Silicon Valley (Penultimate Episode)

Silicon Valley: Season 6, Episode 6 “RussFest” (B+)

Watching this episode, I didn’t fully realize that it was the second-to-last, but its glorious ending with a giant hologram Russ visible from the plane was pretty formidable, indicating incredible possibilities that will surely be disrupted by many more obstacles and setbacks we’ll only be able to imagine after this show signs off for good on Sunday. Richard didn’t stand much of a chance once he was told by Michael that he had lost out to YaoNet, and I like how Monica hearing that an “Eric Bachman” with a Chinese accent was running a Pied Piper Girl Coding Camp designed to place fake reviews on Amazon turned into her having to try to suck up to Jian-Yang to get him to help them out. Leave it to Big Head to not even realize that he had memorized the number on the paper that Jian-Yang spitefully ate so that he could come and save the day. When Laurie confirmed that their technology couldn’t do what it was supposed to and guessed that PiperNet couldn’t do either, it seemed like it was all going to be over, but fortunately that wasn’t the case at all. Dinesh and Richard making their own modifications to Son of Anton worked brilliantly, and now our friends are set up for extraordinary success, with just one extended episode left to throw lots of wrenches in their great plans. I think we’re headed towards a positive ending, but I wouldn’t want a conclusion that doesn’t feature some setbacks and one character we didn’t see at all in this episode, Gavin Belson.

What I’m Watching: Mr. Robot

Mr. Robot: Season 4, Episode 9 “409 Conflict” (B+)

I keep wondering to myself whether I’ve looked at this show’s episode count wrong and it’s actually slated to end next week since the storyline feels like it’s very closed to wrapped. After Dom and Darlene were held hostage last week and Elliot and Krista were the week before that, this was an hour that was filled with wins, not to mention some pretty monumental deaths. Not since the first episode where Elliot successfully executed his big hack did he manage to achieve the same kind of electronic takedown, even if this one took a bit longer and didn’t look like it was going to work for a while. Philip was a good ally to have because he was fearless, aware that his death was imminent no matter how it was going to happen and ready to bask in his unexpected victory over Whiterose while he still could (the expression “Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em” comes to mind, even if it’s not totally applicable in this case). I like that Darlene is able to differentiate between Elliot and Mr. Robot, who she doesn’t like at all, and that Mr. Robot had to steer the ship with Elliot out of commission until he finally showed up towards the end. They engineered a pretty incredible attack against Deus, exposing them and sending hordes of onlookers to swarm where they were gathered while they cleverly kept all the drivers trapped in the parking garage. After Whiterose shot Philip in a fit of rage, it looks like she’s going to meet her end, unless it’s only those FBI agents who took the brunt of those bullets we heard over the end credits. I genuinely have no idea what comes next.

What I’m Watching: Watchmen

Watchmen: Season 1, Episode 7 “An Almost Religious Awe” (B)

Right before I watched this episode, I accidentally saw some posts online about how crazy it was, and fortunately I didn’t have anything spoiled for me. That said, just like “Westworld,” I’m not sure it’s entirely possible to spoil what doesn’t inherently make sense until much more explanation unfolds. I really liked the episode before this that filled us in on everything involving Will, and this hour was much less clear and more mystery-focused, with two major bombshell developments that change everything. Laurie certainly wasn’t expecting Jane to be in on the master conspiracy that she pieced together when she went over there to chat with her, and Senator Keane seemed particularly eager to share in the delight of what he was building with her. Lady Trieu dropped a few important details of her own as she helped Angela along in the pneumodialysis process, like the fact that the kid Angela thinks is her daughter is actually her mother, who she cloned and then implanted with the important memories so that she can be there to watch Lady Trieu’s major moment. The news that Dr. Manhattan is on Earth, living as a human, and about to be destroyed and somehow harnessed by the members of Senator Keane’s Calvary is quite startling, but not nearly as much as the sight of Angela telling a perfectly calm Cal that he’s not who he thinks he is before hacking his face apart with a hammer. I don’t know what to make of all this, and while I’m all for complexities, I’m in need of some more satisfying clarification in next week’s episode.

What I’m Watching: Shameless

Shameless: Season 10, Episode 4 “A Little Gallagher Goes a Long Way” (B+)

It’s so interesting how Frank is the one who tends to get the most serious plotlines about devastating loss. Mikey really has become a great friend for him, and the way that they put on suits, blurted out random financial terms, hopped into someone else’s Uber, and then got as much SWAG as humanly possible at a convention was actually pretty touching. Deciding that he needs to go back to prison so that he can get free medical care feels like the right move for him, and I imagine Frank is going to find another project to distract himself from the loss of his best friend. Debs running into her friend, played by Dylan Gelula from “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” has now set her mind on getting benefits from the widow of Franny’s deceased father, and I can’t imagine this is going to lead anywhere good. Both Lip and Carl are getting cozy with other women, and it was awkward to see both Tami and Kelly show up at the end of the episode, not eager to learn who they hadn’t yet met. Carl has gotten himself in way over his head combating ICE, and, as long as Kelly’s not jealous, she may actually prove helpful. While Kev is dealing with an apparent crackhead who won’t leave him alone, Veronica is in better shape, ready for a new career using some of her natural skills and potentially improving global black-Asian relations. Liam doubting the goodness of his new relative Mavar was indeed very Gallagher, and I like that he’s grown a real personality of his own.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

What I’m Watching: Supergirl

Supergirl: Season 5, Episode 8 “The Wrath of Rama Khan” (C+)

I’m just not invested in this show in the way that I used to be, and my lack of interest in the events of this episode just confirms that. Kara feels like she can get through to Lena, which she can’t, and by using the hologram transmission as a way to hack into her defenses, Alex made it so that, even if Lena had been convinced, she wouldn’t be anymore since she’d think it was Kara who betrayed her. Eve giving herself up so that Lena could go free was relatively expected, and now Lena will be able to do whatever she wants without worry of consequences, if her brother isn’t interested in her imminent demise. The fact that Rama Khan is no longer a threat since he failed to recreate a natural disaster even more terrible than Pompei isn’t much comfort given that Gamemnae was the one who retired him and is sure to reach just as much damage with a bit more self-control. Both Andrea and Dreamer tried to stop what was happening, which was noble, but it was ultimately Ma'alefa'ak who saved the day, now ready to go to Mars and spend some time with M’gann. We saw the same episode-ending scene that was featured in “Batwoman” this past Sunday night (I watched these two episodes back-to-back), and I’m happier that two characters that we’ve seen featured on this show, Hank and Lex, seem like they’re both going to play a significant role in whatever’s to come.

What I’m Watching: Batwoman

Batwoman: Season 1, Episode 8 “A Mad Tea-Party” (C+)

The fact that this entire episode is focused on events that aren’t going to be relevant for the five-series crossover that begins next week is probably all the assurance I need that this isn’t a show that should remain on my watchlist. At least this was an impactful episode, one that permanently shifted Kate’s focus away from trying to save the sister she thought she still had to defending her family against someone so hellbent on revenge that she doesn’t actually have any interest in reconnecting with the family members who had spent so long grieving her loss. I was thrown off by Kate’s mention of a bat mitzvah (cue a pun there), though there wasn’t time for such chitchat with Mouse impersonating Jacob, who then got arrested for Catherine’s murder since he was found drunk in a car with the poison in his pocket. Sophie being “on it” didn’t work so well because she got knocked out before she could do anything about it, and spending some time tied back-to-back with her husband may well have led to the dissolution of her marriage. Kate’s going to need her as an ally now more than ever, and maybe Sophie being single will come at exactly the right time. Alice poisoning Catherine and Mary so that one had to die for the other to live was cruel, and I suspect that Mary is going to be gunning for her just as much as Kate. I’m not sure I’ll be back to experience any of that since I was more than excited to see Nash Wells at the end of the episode, letting me know that it’s officially time for the crisis I’ve been anticipating for so long, which will be featured in an episode of this show on a special night next week.

What I’m Watching: Ray Donovan

Ray Donovan: Season 7, Episode 3 “Family Pictures” (B-)

I’m still debating if I need to be watching this show at this point, and nothing about this episode swayed me towards continuing. Mickey being alive just means he’s talking incessantly and trying to figure out a way to stick around rather than leave the country since he’s inevitably going to get caught, especially with Detective Perry trailing all the Donovans. Her running around and asking them for ticket stubs and backstage photos felt repetitive, and she doesn’t buy any of it anyway since she doesn’t think Mickey could have executed the whole thing. I’d also be suspicious of all of those tips coming in right around the same time, particularly because they were pretty specific in support of the narrative that Ray wanted to construct. Ray is definitely distracted at the moment, not focused at all on getting a ten-year-old boy so that Feratti can announce the charges he wants, and instead decided to help Molly, who I recognized as being played by Kerry Condon, a memorable presence from “Better Call Saul” and “Dom Hemingway.” I also haven’t previously mentioned another strong actress, Louisa Krause, from “Toe to Toe” and “Bluebird,” who’s playing Liberty, who herself is Terry experience a bit of serenity. Bunchy isn’t doing well, earning demerits rather than a promotion for his bold bravery, and it looks like Lena’s finally leaving now, which is a shame, though at least it will free actress Katherine Moennig up for “The L Word: Generation Q,” which premieres this Sunday.

What I’m Watching: The Crown

The Crown: Season 3, Episode 3 “Aberfan” (B+)

I find this show to be most compelling when it looks at a real-life event that initially seems innocuous and then turns gravely serious. The fog is one that I remember strongly, and the teacher telling his students to hide under their desks when that wasn’t going to do anything for them was deeply upsetting and haunting. The fact that both Tony and Philip got emotional was a sign of the heartbreaking nature of this situation, and both Margaret and Elizabeth understood that it was traffic but couldn’t quite comprehend the feelings that their husbands were expressing. Harold didn’t seem into the idea of throwing Elizabeth under the bus when it was suggested to him, and he was honest about how it was undoubtedly one of them who leaked it to the press. She chewed him out right away for not giving her the respect of being direct with her, and what ensued was a very personal and intimate conversation that should make their future encounters considerably more pleasant and honest. Telling him that she was deficient in not being able to cry led to him opening up in an unexpected way about not ever having done manual labor and not liking beer, vulnerable admissions that show that he wants to have a positive relationship with the queen. No one has ever accused this show of being fast-paced, but sometimes its purposeful introspection can be absolutely perfect. Reading that the queen still regrets not having gone to Aberfan right away was appropriately powerful – it won’t be easy to forget this episode.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Netflix with Abe: Stranger Things (Season Premiere)

Stranger Things: Season 3, Episode 1 “Chapter One: Suzie, Do You Copy?” (B+)

I came to the party late with this show, and I’m also someone who found season two to be much stronger than season one. I watched this episode a few months ago with plans to continue through the streaming backlog I’ve created for myself one episode at a time, but I decided that I’m going to watch all of season three starting now so that I’ll be up to date on this previous Golden Globe and SAG contender. It’s been almost two full years since I finished the second season. This opener was both informative and entertaining, catching us up on what’s happened in the interim. It’s so strange to see Mike and Eleven making out all the time and acting like a real couple, much to the annoyance of both their friends and Hopper. I like that Hopper tried to get Joyce to help him talk to Eleven, and that it went so poorly when he panicked and then threatened Mike in the car after making up a story about his grandmother. Lucas and Max’s dynamic is fun if not looking too good for Lucas, and I’m hopeful that Dustin’s Mormon girlfriend from Utah is indeed real. Everything is definitely not all good with Will, and he should really talk to someone about it, perhaps Dustin since he’s also going to have a tough time getting people to believe that he overheard some sinister Russian code on the radio. The older kids have changed much more, with Billy now the dreamboat lifeguard for all the mothers at the pool. Nancy isn’t flourishing in her low-level newspaper job, and it would be great to see her finally break through after the harsh treatment she’s getting from the chauvinistic male reporters.

Take Three: Dollface

Dollface: Season 1, Episode 3 “Mystery Brunette” (B)

I liked that this episode didn’t have too much of Jules’ imagination as she continues to grapple with being newly single, and the one real diversion it did have was a harmless game show presentation of the options she was looking at if she went to the party or stayed home and allowed Madison to make a new best friend. Jules also, to her credit, did a good job resisting picking up her ex-boyfriend’s calls, and when she learned that it wasn’t him but his sister who still wanted her to be in her wedding party, she held fast to the concept of not getting back together with him. I hope she goes through with still being a bridesmaid, though she was obviously worried enough about being judged that she went ahead and actually succeeded in keeping a secret after all of this. Madison should know better than to leaves Jules alone for even a minute by herself when she might say exactly the wrong thing to an influential reporter. I was pleased to see some interaction between two supporting characters who hadn’t previously really talked to each other, created from Stella’s apparent interest in the highly volatile and chatty Izzy. Suggesting that she try to be mysterious did not work well with the guy who had no interest in guessing her name out of thin air, but then she got tagged in the story headline as a mystery brunette, fulfilling her goal in a way she didn’t expect. My favorite line in an episode full of irreverence was Izzy telling Jules that she could “sunset a widget” to make an undeveloped technology work.

Take Three: Dickinson

Dickinson: Season 1, Episode 3 “Wild nights” (B)

I wasn’t sure if I was going to keep watching this show, taking a week off from it, but now I’ve decided I’ll probably see it through to the end of the first season. This episode’s title is part of the name of the film from last year that deals with the same subject, and what a wild night it was. I was caught off-guard when Jane outright told Austin that his fiancée was in love with his sister, and him bursting in on them kissing was not good, mainly because it caused Sue to run away and leave since she didn’t want to be fought over by the two of them. I’m never overly fond of when drugs become too featured in a storyline, and that’s pretty much what this was here. It did bring out some interesting things, like some courage on Lavinia’s part after the man she so wanted came to her rescue did. I also recognized the voice of the bee that Emily hallucinated dancing with right away, and it belonged to none other than Jason Mantzoukas from “The Good Place.” I’m still debating how I feel about this show’s completely anachronistic tone, with the expected costumes and certain speaking styles still maintained for a relatively disjointed and irreverent experience. At the moment, I’m most interested to see what happens between Emily and Austin while Sue is gone, how long it takes her to return, and whether they’re going to continue to compete for her affection in a now open and surely awkward manner.

What I’m Watching: The Morning Show

The Morning Show: Season 1, Episode 5 “No One's Gonna Harm You, Not While I'm Around” (B+)

I appreciated this episode because, even though it had two predictable developments – Bradley was going to sleep with the bartender and Mitch and Alex apparently have a past – it complemented those with some genuine surprises and very watchable moments. I’m speaking specifically of Cory’s attempt to apologize to Alex for being awful to her, which she chose not to accept, prompting him to start singing a tune from “Sweeney Todd” that he reminded Alex was a duet. I loved that scene and the performances in it; I just wish the singing had been a bit more natural instead of seemingly lip-synched for the sake of showier production values. I’m glad that we get to see Mitch again, who boldly marched in to work and asked people to speak up for him. We know already that Fred is pretty despicable as a person, and Mitch’s promise to take him down with him rather than be thrown under the bus is ominous and can’t lead anywhere good. Alex tried to control the story that Bradley gave Marcia Gay Harden’s Maggie Brener from New York Magazine and failed, and she evidently had more than a friendship with Mitch, even if their quick kiss isn’t indicative of just what the nature of that really was. Bradley going out drinking with her colleagues wasn’t necessarily a good idea, and the most memorable moment of that storyline was Mia shouting down a callous Claire and nearly revealing just how close she was to what happened with Mitch.

Monday, December 2, 2019

What I’m Watching: Living with Yourself

Living with Yourself: Season 1, Episode 7 “Piña Colada” (B)

It’s interesting to see how Miles being a clone of himself presents certain problems that this new and improved version can’t possibly comprehend aren’t positive. The important thing that I think Kate realizes is that this new Miles was created, and that even though he has the memories of her husband, his personality doesn’t match the man at all. He came on way too strong with a perfect breakfast in bed, unable to dial it down and try to meet somewhere in the middle of her expectations and what he was offering. It’s intriguing that their sex wasn’t all that successful despite a whole lot of passion, and that’s probably because, despite certain enhancements, Miles is the same man he used to be, as in the original. I’m continually compelled by Aisling Bea’s performance as Kate, and I’d love to see her earn a surprise Golden Globe nomination to go along with Paul Rudd’s more expected bid next week. Miles read Dan into the big secret about the clones, and now it appears someone else snatched the real Miles before his clone could, possibly whoever is in charge of the clinic since they’re concerned about the secret getting out. It was chilling to see Miles walk in the door and loudly boast “Honey, I’m home!” before taking a moment to ruffle his hair and fine-tune his impression of the man he’s going to impersonate. Let’s hope Kate is able to tell the difference and does something to try to locate the husband she doesn’t even know is missing yet.

What I’m Watching: Modern Love

Modern Love: Season 1, Episode 7 “Hers Was a World of One” (B)

I should start by expressing my affinity for two of the performers featured in this episode. Andrew Scott is beloved by anyone who watched him as the hot priest in season two of “Fleabag.” Olivia Cooke impressed me greatly in “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” and “Thoroughbreds,” in addition to in the pilot episode for Amazon’s “Vanity Fair.” I’m not as familiar with Brandon Kyle Goodman, who played Andy, though I think I remember him from his small role in “Plus One.” I wasn’t quite as taken with the premise of this episode, which pitted Cooke’s pregnant free-wheeler Karla against Scott’s more buttoned-up worrier Tobin, with Andy somewhere in the middle trying to make peace between the two. I most enjoyed subtler moments like Andy passive-aggressively explaining how he felt about pregnant women who drink wine to their obviously stunned and unhappy reaction to finding out that Karla had invited over a random guy, played by none other than Ed Sheeran, to share the bed they had pretty much been forced to offer her. Ultimately, by the end of this episode, things got much sweeter, with Andy nearly passing out in the delivery room and Karla yelling at Tobin to stop breathing loudly. Transitioning from Tobin telling the baby about the mother he probably wouldn’t get to meet all that much to him regaling her nightly with that same tale as we learned that she did come back and visit quite a lot was very sweet, making this particular journey worth it in the end.