Sunday, September 26, 2021

What I’m Watching: What If…?

What If…? Season 1, Episode 6 “What If…Killmonger Rescued Tony Stark?” (B-)

Even though I definitely saw the first “Iron Man” movie and I’m pretty sure that Killmonger first appeared in “Black Panther,” which I also saw, I still don’t remember the exact details of who was involved in the various inciting elements of their origin stories. This series is highly dependent on that knowledge, since the differences that are seen relate to what characters aren’t involved and how their absence or presence changes everything. It was interesting to see Killmonger save Tony and how the two of them worked closely together, which came to a swift and deadly end when Tony realized Killmonger’s true intentions but then ended up getting killed since the trained warrior was able to get the best of him. Having him command an American army to invade Wakanda only to not to do it because he had his own ulterior motives was somewhat intriguing but ultimately not all that involving. As usual, I spent most of the episode wondering which voices were the same as the actors from the movies. I think I thought that it was Robert Downey Jr. as Tony, but apparently that wasn’t the case (it was Mick Wingert), but most of the rest were the original voices: Michael B. Jordan, Chadwick Boseman, Leslie Bibb, Jon Favreau, Paul Bettany, Don Cheadle, Danai Gurira, and Angela Bassett, with Jeff Bridges and Letitia Wright replaced as Obadiah Stane and Letitia Wright as Shuri replaced. That’s probably the most enjoyable part of this show, since its storylines are hit or miss.

What I’m Watching: Miracle Workers: Oregon Trail (Season Finale)

Miracle Workers: Oregon Trail: Season 3, Episode 10 “End of the Trail” (B+)

Watching a season finale without knowing whether a show will be returning for another iteration is always a bit anxiety-producing, though in the case of this series, these characters are definitely going away, even if the actors might return for another season or two. It’s good to know that two of the show’s stars, Geraldine Viswanathan and Karan Soni, acted together in the film “7 Days,” indicating that further collaborations even outside this series might be possible. This was a pretty solid finale, one that tied up all the plotlines while still keeping the intrigue up until the end regarding whether it was all going to turn out okay or not. Todd treating all of the sex he was watching people have in front of him like a Netflix menu was an entertaining idea, and Ezekiel nearly managed to extract Prudence without him noticing, but naturally that plan didn’t pan out so perfectly. Prudence exacting a very particular form of revenge at the end was extremely fitting. Trig wanting to be bad just for the hell of it was a notion that was quelled by her father finally telling her that he loved her, something that she had always wanted to hear. Ezekiel’s bride first wishing that he would go to the good part of hell and then inviting him and Prudence along was a sign of how endearing his intentions are, and I greatly enjoyed getting to watch Ezekiel and Prudence on their extremely rocky road towards a happy relationship. I think I liked this season as much as I liked season one, and I’m definitely on board for a season four and beyond.

Season grade: B+
Season MVP: Daniel Radcliffe and Geraldine Viswanathan

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Round Two: American Crime Story: Impeachment

American Crime Story: Impeachment: Season 3, Episode 2 “The President Kissed Me” (B)

I’m deeply interested in the subject matter of this show, but I’m not sure I’m too impressed with the execution. There is absolutely a demonization of President Bill Clinton in how this story is being told, and that’s not to suggest he should be let off the hook since he was in fact guilty of having an affair. But this feels a lot more like a hit job in some ways than a telling of history, and it’s taking a rather long time to get to the real meat of the story. That said, it’s good to see strong actresses taking on intriguing roles, like Judith Light as Susan Carpenter-McMillan, who managed to use the clueless and easily manipulated Paula Jones, played fantastically by Annaleigh Ashford, to her own purposes, and Cobie Smulders as Ann Coulter. It’s also great to see the performances from both Sarah Paulson and Beanie Feldstein, whose interactions are quite enlightening since they show how both people want something different from the relationship and aren’t all that interested in the other person’s priorities. Linda desperately wanting to get Monica to come antiquing with her was one such instance of that, and Monica’s obsession with sitting by the phone waiting for the president to call was a problematic habit that led to her revealing the biggest secret in Washington to the worst possible person, which we know isn’t going to turn out well for anyone. I’m eager to see more familiar faces introduced and see how this political process plays out.

What I’m Watching: Supergirl

Supergirl: Season 6, Episode 14 “Mxy in the Middle” (B)

It’s an interesting concept that superpowered aliens and magic aren’t all that different, yet most of the characters on this show are so willing to accept the existence of the former but not the latter. Pairing Mxy and Nyxly being the major plotline with Lena’s search for answers about her mother, who was apparently a witch, made a lot of sense thematically, and I’m curious if it’s going to end up being Lena who learns enough magic to be able to help the superfriends stop Nyxly. Mxy’s eagerness to be helpful was not terribly productive, and his use of the image inducer was clever but ultimately failed, proving that it wasn’t going to work when they went up against Nyxly. The ease with which she snapped her fingers and first nearly suffocated Kara and then restrained everyone so that they could become dragon bait was formidable, and Mxy allowing himself to be captured at the last minute was a surprisingly selfless act, one that hopefully comes with a plan that he either shared with someone else or which will become clear at exactly the right moment when they next go up against Nyxly. As this show inches closer to its end, facing off against someone who could very well end the universe as we know it feels very appropriate. Nyxly also takes a certain pleasure in getting the best of those she believes have wronged here, and while Kara’s offenses aren’t nearly as bad as even Mxy’s, she’s set her sights on our heroes as enemies, and they’re going to have to take her down.

What I’m Watching: Only Murders in the Building

Only Murders in the Building: Season 1, Episode 5 “Twist” (B+)

The good news is that Oscar was the one tailing Mabel and he didn’t have any nefarious intentions, and they immediately decided to drive to Teaneck to figure out the next piece of the puzzle. Charles and Oliver were so thrown off by the fact that she had lied to them that they went about following her in a predictably immature and obvious way, which Oliver tried to defend as “blending in by standing out.” I enjoyed Oliver recording constantly and asking Charles to call him a simpleton again so that he could get it on tape, and the idea that Oliver pays for parking in the building yet hasn’t had a license in twenty-five years is somehow very fitting. That could explain why he’s having such trouble keeping up with his building fees, paying for things that he absolutely doesn’t need when he simply can’t afford it. I was surprised by Charles’ willingness to indulge Oliver’s pretzel craving, especially since they were trying to stay on Mabel’s tail. The commentary about traveling to Long Island and getting various sexually-transmitted diseases made for some unexpected and moderately heartwarming since those two have plenty in common yet find many reasons to bicker. They seem to have arrived at a good place with Mabel now that everything’s out in the open, but that doesn’t mean they’re all that much closer to figuring out who the murderer could be. I originally thought this show was meant to be eight episodes and I’m glad to now know that it’s ten, meaning that we’re exactly halfway through at this point.

Friday, September 24, 2021

What I’m Watching: The L Word: Generation Q

The L Word: Generation Q: Season 2, Episode 6 “Love Shack” (B+)

It’s most fun – and uncomfortable – when all of the characters on this show come together in one place and are reminded of the many interconnected dynamics that make their lives and especially their love lives very complicated. I think the couple I was rooting for most was Micah and Maribel, and despite the fact that he started out being very awkward and then went to hit on what Maribel describes as the hottest guy in the bar, they clearly both feel the same way about each other and just have to work up the courage to say that rather than beating around the bush and watching the same movie by themselves. Tom and Alice had the best night, with Alice initially coming on a bit strong in her texts but Tom responding perfectly so that they could ultimately put brewing feelings into action. While Dani and Sophie did have a relatively pleasant exchange, I can’t imagine how Dani would ever want Sophie to speak to her again after she very publicly professed her love for someone else while she was in the room, and Gigi was understandably angry when Bette brushed her off and told her that she had managed to find someone who checked all her boxes. Sophie and Finley got together already, determined to write Dani out of existence, which won’t be that easy, while Gigi made her newfound intentions known, and hopefully they won’t play quite as long a game as Shane and Tess are currently playing with not acting on their clear feelings for each other.

Pilot Review: Y: The Last Man

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: Work in Progress

Work in Progress: Season 2, Episode 6 “Eleanor Roosevelt” (B+)

I like that, after the ominous ending of the previous episode, this show started off the pandemic experience with a flashback to a different time when Abby had other issues interacting the world. Being shouted out of an event because she was bisexual rather than just a lesbian was harsh, and she seemed to have a really enlightening and great time on the road trip. Seeing her first trans experience and the look on her face while she was struggling to understand the people around her spoke volumes, and it’s quite a departure from the way that she tried hard to say the right thing with Chris and treat him the way he wanted to be treated. Back in the present, Abby and Campbell were having a blast shopping in the supermarket with gloves, and, when someone wasn’t observing the proper protocols, all Abby did was mutter under her breath about six feet and all that. Hearing that she was thriving not having to go into work and making her own schedule presented a much more optimistic view than I had expected, though I suspect that’s all about to change with the news of her father being in the ICU. Her friendship with the similarly-minded Campbell is surely going to be what will help her get through it, and I enjoyed her beauty school dropout background that came to light and the excitement of her pet adoption that went through rather seamlessly. I don’t imagine what comes next is going to be easy for either of them.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

What I’m Watching: Billions

Billions: Season 5, Episode 9 “Implosion” (B)

So much for the balance of power, something that’s always unpredictable on this show, but I guess that’s what keeps things interesting. Prince going after Axe’s prized pizza business was a serious mistake, and who better to betray Chuck than his own father, who it turns out could be bought by a major chance at good health brought to him by none other than the very connected Axe. If it’s good for one person almost as much as it is for Axe, it’s Wags, who was worried that Axe was spending too much time targeting Prince and wanted to be able to talk to Axe like Axe talked to him. Prince’s efforts to appeal to those who no longer wanted to be in business with him were met with failure, but he was able to compel him not to jump ship by unsubtly warning him of how little he would think about him if he didn’t stick with him during this difficult time. His friend’s mother had the right impression of him, though Prince did want to be someone better, which just isn’t in the cards given his competition. After Chuck initially failed to get the Delaware AG to intervene, he came up with a perfect plan to put his father in there as a permanent roadblock, and Axe’s subversion of that notion didn’t seem to faze Prince at all. Taylor showing up at exactly that moment to affirm their intention to take down Axe after he dumped everything associated with Prince behind their back was an exciting moment, one that’s sure to lead to exciting drama. Tanner destroying his own paintings when he found out that Wendy and Axe had cut his commissions wasn’t terribly mature, and Wendy got the definitive last word with her undeniable confirmation of the end of their relationship.

Pilot Review: Scenes from a Marriage

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.

Pilot Review: American Rust

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, September 19, 2021

Final Emmy Winner Predictions

The Emmy Awards air tonight, and I’ve had the pleasure of breaking down a few of the major categories for The Film Experience and Awards Radar, along with the rest of the drama, comedy, and limited series races here. I also got to interview a handful of Emmy nominees for Awards Radar and AwardsWatch. Will that give me more insight into who will win? We’ll see!

In preparation for this year’s awards, I caught up on the full seasons of a few shows I had never really watched before: “The Boys,” “Bridgerton,” “Cobra Kai,” “Emily in Paris,,” “Pen15,” and “I May Destroy You.” None of those, except maybe the last one, should figure too heavily into tonight’s ceremony barring a real surprise, and the same is probably true for the two other shows that I sampled heavily, “Black-ish” and “Saturday Night Live,” though the latter did pick up the guest actor and guest actress trophies already.

This night is almost sure to be mostly about “Ted Lasso” and “The Crown,” and the only question is which limited series will triumph. I’m betting on “The Queen’s Gambit,” but it could just easily be “WandaVision” or “Mare of Easttown.” I think my boldest prediction is Mj Rodriguez winning best actress for “Pose,” which I would love to see happen.

Enjoy the show, and leave your thoughts in the comments! For detailed predictions in almost every category, click on the hyperlinked category name.

No guts, no glory:
“I May Destroy You” wins Best Limited Series

The Crown

Billy Porter (Pose)

Mj Rodriguez (Pose)

Michael K. Williams (Lovecraft Country)

Gillian Anderson (The Crown)

Fairytale (The Crown)

War (The Crown)

Ted Lasso

Jason Sudeikis (Ted Lasso)

Jean Smart (Hacks)

Brett Goldstein (Ted Lasso)

Hannah Waddingham (Ted Lasso)

The Hope That Kills You (Ted Lasso)

Pilot (Ted Lasso)

The Queen’s Gambit

Paul Bettany (WandaVision)

Anya Taylor-Joy (The Queen’s Gambit)

Daveed Diggs (Hamilton)

Kathryn Hahn (WandaVision)

The Queen’s Gambit

Filmed Before a Live Studio Audience (WandaVision)

Celebrating America - An Inauguration Night Special

Bo Burnham: Inside

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Emmy Winner Predictions: Best Comedy Series

Here’s my breakdown of the last Emmy category. Beware of major spoilers for listed episodes.

Hero Pizza,” “Age Against the Machine,” “Our Wedding Dre,” “What About Gary?,” “First Trap,” “Things Done Changed

This show receives its fourth overall bid after a two-year absence from this category. I don’t regularly watch but did screen all six submitted episodes, which were mostly entertaining if unextraordinary. This show has one season left and could compete then, but don’t expect it to do much this year.

Cobra Kai
Nature vs. Nurture,” “The Right Path,” “Miyagi-Do,” “King Cobra,” “Feel the Night,” “December 19

This show went from one nomination each of the past two years to four this time, plus a place here. I had never seen it before but screened the pilot on the eve of Emmy nominations. It’s fun occasionally but I’m not sure I would classify it as a comedy. I’m not sure exactly what it’s doing here, but I can understand some appreciate nostalgia, karate, and what this show means to them.

Emily in Paris
Emily in Paris,” “Masculin Feminin,” “Sexy or Sexist,” “Ringarde,” “Family Affair,” “Cancel Couture

While this show’s placement here might be a head-scratcher for many, especially since it received exactly one other bid, I actually quite enjoyed it when I went back to catch up on all but the pilot. It’s absolutely light and may not be one of the best comedies of the year, but I had a great time watching it.

The Flight Attendant
In Case of Emergency,” “Rabbits,” “Funeralia,” “Conspiracy Theories,” “Other People’s Houses,” “After Dark

This show is an absolute genre hybrid, classified as a comedy but involving some pretty deadly and often disturbing stuff. But it is pretty great and so very watchable, and its nine nominations suggest that it’s been widely well-received. I don’t think it can upset the two more popular freshmen this year, but it has its supporters.

There Is No Line,” “Primm,” “Falling,” “New Eyes,” “1.69 Million,” “I Think She Will

This show is a lot of fun, and I was fortunate enough to be able to interview the “stars and “creators when it premiered. Its fifteen-nomination haul means that it’s the most serious competition to one very lovable American football coach, and an upset, while not so unlikely, is possible.

The Kominsky Method
Chapter 17. In all the old familiar places,” “Chapter 18. You only give me your funny paper,” “Chapter 19. And it's getting more and more absurd,” “Chapter 20. The round toes, of the high shoes,” “Chapter 21. Near, far, wherever you are,” “Chapter 22. The fundamental things apply

This show, which missed out for its first season, returns for its third and final season after earning a bid last year. It doubled its previous nomination total of three to six this time, and while there’s a sliver of a chance that Michael Douglas or Paul Reiser get goodbye prizes, this show doesn’t stand a chance here. While those, like me, like it, others seem to find it tired and uninspired. It is the only show that aired just six episodes, meaning that its whole season is represented here.

Wrestle,” “Vendy Wiccany,” “Three,” “Sleepover,” “Play,” “Opening Night

I’m not a big fan of this show, which earned a writing mention last year and is now here with six of its seven aired episodes. Some of it can be fun, but I just find it too cringeworthy and awkward to be enjoyable (which I realize is the point). The absence of its two lead actresses means that it doesn’t likely have widespread support, but expect this show to be back in future years and to win some prizes at some point.

Ted Lasso
Pilot,” “Trent Crimm: The Independent,” “Tan Lines,” “Make Rebecca Great Again,” “All Apologies,” “The Hope That Kills You

Now everyone knows this show, and for good reason. It’s solid fun, truly a pleasure, and it’s also in the middle of airing its second season, which definitely helps. I see no negatives, and I think this show is as certain as “Schitt’s Creek” was last year to win this thing.

What should win (based on entire season): “Ted Lasso” or “Hacks”
What should win (based on individual episodes): “Ted Lasso” or “Hacks”
What will win: It’s going to be Ted Lasso for sure.

Next up: That’s a wrap!

Emmy Winner Predictions: Best Drama Series

I've had the pleasure of covering some of the Emmy races for The Film Experience this year. Click here to read my detailed analysis and predictions for this category.

Emmy Winner Predictions: Best Limited Series

I've had the pleasure of covering some of the Emmy races for The Film Experience this year. Click here to read my detailed analysis and predictions for this category.