Saturday, July 11, 2020

What I’m Watching: Dead to Me

Dead to Me: Season 2, Episode 9 “It's Not You, It's Me” (B+)

I know that Christina Applegate got all of the awards attention for season one, but Linda Cardellini is really the MVP of this season. I couldn’t remember what we knew of her mother, and I think the casting of Katey Sagal, who was such a formidable presence on “Sons of Anarchy,” is great. Her long-term absence from her daughter’s life explains a lot, and now, just as she was ready to take the fall for everything and get sent to jail herself, she’s going to have to think about showing up for someone else who’s clearly guilty of one or possibly many crimes. Judy really does try hard, and giving Perez a gift to help her remember Flo was very kind and unnecessary, which made Perez and Nick questioning her about the irrefutable evidence of Charlie being in the car all the more crushing. I like that she went straight to Jen and expressed her desire to shoulder the blame, though she wasn’t prepared for Jen’s confession that Steve hadn’t attacked her but instead said hateful, unforgivable things about how Ted really felt about her. Judy is much more forgiving than Jen, and perhaps that’s why this episode ended with Jen leaving the emergency binder with Judy and showing up at Perez’s door ready to confess to it all. Things on this show never play out as they seem like they’re going to, and so I’m nervously excited for the final episode. I’m also hopeful that a third season is going to happen, though I don’t want to Google anything for fear of unnecessary spoilers so close to the end.

What I’m Watching: Upload (Season Finale)

Upload: Season 1, Episode 10 “Freeyond” (B)

I’ve enjoyed watching this show more than most recently, and I’m disappointed that it’s already over. I’m relieved that it was renewed before I even made it to the second episode. This finale was a bit of a letdown only because I wanted much more of it, and the tone was a bit inconsistent with Nora being chased and Nathan moving down to the 2GB floor. Opening with Nathan experiencing a memory that keyed him in to the fact that his pre-death moves weren’t so innocent, and pretending not to remember Nora was probably the smart thing to do given how upset she was when she saw the footage for herself. Things changed considerably when that creepy guy who threw what he thought was the hard drive with Nathan on it snuck into Nora’s apartment and tried to kill her, and that key she gave Nathan came in very handy when he was able to help her get away and engineer a rather brutal and bloody death for her pursuer. After all that, I was glad that Dave defended Nathan to Nora, and it was sad that she called him and confessed everything only to have him run out of all his data for the month, frozen in black-and-white with a tear on his face. I was not expecting the ending at all, and evidently nearly was Nathan, who hilariously used up the entire bonus gigabyte Ingrid gave him expressing his rage that Ingrid decided to be upload to be with him forever. That’s going to change everything, and it’s going to be a very different show. I’m incredibly excited for season two, and I’ll be recommending this show far and wide to anyone I know until it premieres.

Season grade: A-
Season MVP: Andy Allo as Nora and Allegra Edwards as Ingrid

Emmy Catch-Up: Schitt’s Creek

Every year, I watch the six submitted episodes of every series I don’t regularly watch that’s up for one of the Emmy series prizes. This year, I’m getting a jump start to check out the entire season of some of most high-profile shows I didn’t watch when they originally aired.

Schitt’s Creek: Season 6, Episode 5 “Crows Premiere” (B)

I liked this episode a bit more than the others I’ve seen so far this season. One of the reasons for that was that Patrick, who usually appears more normal and self-aware than any of the Rose family members (or any character on this show, for that matter), was considerably looser and crazier following his dental procedure. I sort of wish we had been able to see him yelling wrong directions at the Uber driver, but it was sufficiently entertaining to hear him loudly whisper that he had a secret, which of course was that he was hungry. Mentioning kids multiple times definitely threw David for a loop, but Patrick seemed quite casual and carefree in his insistence that he wasn’t trying to pressure David to do anything he didn’t want to do. We’ve already seen that Alexis isn’t the most attentive marketer for her mother, and her main weakness is that she doesn’t consider her mother’s capabilities and impulses. Suggesting a premiere in town was actually a good idea, but Moira didn’t come around to it until she saw the enthusiasm of her friends and the positive ornithologist review. Having crows attack those in attendance, however, was definitely not part of the plan. Stevie expecting Johnny to pressure her to come back only made her want to do it more, and though she probably won’t learn much from the book even he admits is outdated, it’s obvious that she has a good head for this and can at least be helpful with the kind of things he really isn’t attuned to, like reading post-it notes and opening files.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Emmy Catch-Up: Pose

Every year, I watch the six submitted episodes of every series I don’t regularly watch that’s up for one of the Emmy series prizes. This year, I’m getting a jump start to check out the entire season of some of most high-profile shows I didn’t watch when they originally aired.

Pose: Season 2, Episode 5 “What Would Candy Do?” (B+)

This episode’s title was misleading in that it didn’t have much to do with Candy or with the new category created for her, but instead shined a spotlight on two characters we haven’t seen featured all that prominently in a while. I thought that the news coverage of the voguing classes that mentioned the ball scene might mean a mainstream breakout for the community in general, but it did help to propel Damon and Ricky toward the same kind of breakthrough stardom that Angel achieved with her modeling gig. I liked the presentation of the opportunity for the two of them to audition for Madonna’s Blond Ambition tour, with Blanca expressing how proud she was of Damon and Elektra announcing that she was proud of herself. The house mothers do have different styles of encouragement, and Blanca stressing that Damon needs to continue his studies was certainly gentler than Elektra telling Ricky not to come home if he didn’t get it. It’s a relief that people talk and that Blanca was able to convince Elektra to surrender her hammer and her sabotage plan. Ultimately, it was good that Damon and Ricky reconnected and repaired their relationship, even if Damon is insistent that things remain platonic and business-oriented. While the tour would have been an amazing accomplishment, being part of something slightly more down-to-earth but still incredibly exciting was a great way for things to turn out. Their pilot could lead somewhere and it could just as easily not, but at the very least, it was a fun opportunity that allowed them to express themselves.

Emmy Catch-Up: Succession

Every year, I watch the six submitted episodes of every series I don’t regularly watch that’s up for one of the Emmy series prizes. This year, I’m getting a jump start to check out the entire season of some of most high-profile shows I didn’t watch when they originally aired.

Succession: Season 2, Episode 5 “Tern Haven” (B+)

It’s incredible to see the lengths Logan will go to so that he can prevent anyone else from winning. There were so many awkward moments when these two families came together, and plenty of opportunities for the Roys not to make things worse that they didn’t take. Shiv making fun of Mark’s degrees was relatively tame, and Logan wasn’t kind when he made specific requests about what he needed from each of them, like Roman laughing at a normal volume so that he didn’t sound like a hyena. I had heard a lot about Cherry Jones as a top Emmy contender, and I’m glad to see that she’s playing a powerful woman lacking the same self-righteousness that her characters in “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Transparent” possessed. She’s honest and knows what she wants, and she wasn’t trying to strong-arm Logan into announcing Shiv but rather finding a way to ensure that he couldn’t go back on his promises that he could be trusted since he surely would have. Shiv did make a major play, however thoughtlessly, by announcing her candidacy at the table, and Logan is so furious that he’s probably not going to make it happen now. Given that Naomi was the one who convinced Nan to go ahead, Kendall actually deserves most of the credit. I’m not sure why Annabelle Dexter-Jones, who plays Naomi, isn’t on HBO’s list of Emmy submissions, but she really impressed in this hour. After trying to get Tabitha to pretend she was dead didn’t go over too well, Roman’s nighttime trip to Gerri’s bathroom was possibly ill-advised, especially because he gleefully told everyone about it because he knew no one would believe him. It’s sad to see Tom, who seems nicer now that he’s not throwing water bottles at the newly-serious Gregory, so easily sacrificed by Logan, a pawn he’s happy to move around as he needs to serve him.

Emmy Catch-Up: Ozark

Every year, I watch the six submitted episodes of every series I don’t regularly watch that’s up for one of the Emmy series prizes. This year, I’m getting a jump start to check out the entire season of some of most high-profile shows I didn’t watch when they originally aired.

Ozark: Season 3, Episode 5 “It Came From Michoacan” (B)

Marty definitely seems like a different person now that he’s back from his term in captivity in Mexico. Ordering the video game he tried to play at the hospital and spending hours in the garage feeding quarters into it was a disconcerting obsession, and his willingness to stay over at the horse farm and break into the stables felt very out of character. The owner seemed so excited by their offer, and that joy turned into heartbreak and fury when Helen showed up to neuter her prized horse so that Navarro could get back at his top rival. Helen may have her marching orders, but she still would have done well to let Wendy know what was happening first. For whatever her relationship with Navarro may have become, Wendy should have taken Helen’s advice not to call him cold on a private line since he didn’t react to that well at all. Marty’s belief that he can turn Agent Miller is likely wishful thinking, but he’s either playing both sides by feeding her information or working some serious reverse psychology to get her into something illegal he can hold over her at some future point. Erin isn’t making great decisions, and Charlotte received a rather direct threat from Helen regarding the knowledge about what her mother really does that Helen never wants her to discover. As Ruth continues to rub some people the wrong way, she’s found a solid and even sweet ally in Ben, whose eagerness to cause trouble might get him in too deep too. It would have been too easy for Wendy to get custody from Darlene without a fight, and I’m sure she’s going to use Darlene’s increasingly intimate relationship with Wyatt against both of them in her next attack.

What I’m Watching: Doom Patrol

Doom Patrol: Season 2, Episode 5 “Finger Patrol” (B+)

This show isn’t consistent in its weirdness, and I like when it does strange things for the first time. Vic’s father wasn’t open to the idea of rebuilding Cliff since he thought that the Chief was a criminal who had committed manslaughter, and even though he was disappointed, Cliff was still excited about the notion of teaming up with his pal Vic, commending him opening up about in fact having a penis and imagining an old-fashioned TV show intro for “Cliff and Stone.” When there was actual crime happening in his vicinity, Cliff froze before literally having his arm freeze, and he seemed more curious about the possibilities of keeping the finger he accidentally removed from the criminal’s finger than feeling bad about it after an initial apology. Vic may just have gotten another chance with Roni, and it would be great to see her become a more regular part of this show. After an unsuccessful audition for a part she ended up getting anyway, Rita really was a friend to Larry, though she was only able to save his great-grandson, not his grandson, when Paul revealed his true colors and tried to get Larry taken away. Knowing that his remaining family hates him will likely hurt more than whatever torture he would have endured had he not been able to evade capture. Baby Doll was irritating enough to bother the usually happy-go-lucky Dorothy, but when she got mean and threatened Dorothy with fire after locking her into a tight space, things got really bad. Dorothy’s wishes are indeed destructive, and Jane isn’t going to soon recover from the permanent loss of several of her personalities, if that’s even where the destruction ends.

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Pilot Review: Close Enough

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: Little Voice

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: Stateless

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: Stargirl

Stargirl: Season 1, Episode 8 “Shiv Part Two” (B)

Things progressed in a big way in this episode, and, as if this town in Nebraska wasn’t small enough already, it’s going to get much smaller once everyone’s secret identity is out in the open. Cindy coming by to see Courtney and apologize to her was definitely a surprise, and Courtney seemed completely shocked by her acting very nice. I was intrigued to see where that might go, but Cindy didn’t want to leave the mystery in the air and instead complimented Stargirl’s staff as she was walking out. Saying that she wouldn’t tell anyone so her dad would feel that she was still useful suggested a longer game of cat-and-mouse, but the simultaneous efforts of Courtney’s teammates quickly made that irrelevant. Those goggles are indeed useful, and fortunately Beth made it out of the basement without encountering anything too harrowing and was spirited out of Cindy’s room right before she walked in. Henry’s powers activated at just the right time for him to be able to hear what was really going on in both Cindy and Courtney’s heads, and with Cindy dragged underground now after Henry read the letter from her father about her being tasked to watch him, he’ll hopefully go to Courtney for some much-needed answers so he can choose his side. I hadn’t considered that Pat’s cover story would get him into hot water with Barbara since it means that she got into an accident when he let her drive without being ready. There are still five episodes left in this season, but this show has been officially renewed for a second season, which will air exclusively on CW, not on DC Universe. I think that’s an expected and logical move, and I’m hoping I feel excited about watching it.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Take Three: Perry Mason

Perry Mason: Season 1, Episode 3 “Chapter Three” (B+)

This episode opened with some very showy presentations in front of the press, with Maynard displaying all of the damning evidence and E.B. laughing it off during a shave. It certainly seems that the district attorney has the advantage at the moment, getting the judge, played by Tatiana Maslany’s “Orphan Black” costar Matt Frewer, to approve his request for $25,000 bail and getting to lord Emily’s distraught proclamation of her guilt (for her feelings, not her actions, obviously) over his opposing counsel in the next stage of the trial. E.B. is having trouble, both physically and mentally, and even his more lucid moments – like yelling at Della for having ignored him eleven times if she only left three voicemails – aren’t working in his favor. What I’m finding most interesting here is the subtle ways in which characters interact, like Alice being the only one to laugh at Perry’s quip about “plugging holes” and her knowing what to say to get his attention while still clearly proselytizing. Her post-fainting revelation about being able to resurrect Charlie is a surprise, and I’m sure that Birdy, who wasn’t happy that she was trying to help Emily, won’t be at all happy with that new promise. Della is fighting to be heard, both with Perry and E.B. and with the corrupt police officers she caught torturing and coercing Emily into a confession. Pete doesn’t mind throwing around whatever crass language he wants to, and he’s considerably less attached to each case than Perry is, focusing instead of whatever expensive meals he can charge. Paul is a fascinating character, so furious at Perry for continuing to come after him while arguing with his wife about whether they should in fact appreciate the food Ennis bought them to ensure Paul’s cooperation.

What I’m Watching: Snowpiercer

Snowpiercer: Season 1, Episode 8 “These Are His Revolutions” (B-)

Well, things escalated quite quickly and now there’s absolutely no going back. I can understand that there’s a lot of pent-up rage from the tail and that they’d be eager to exact that on their oppressors. That said, this show still contains an unnecessary amount of brutal gore, and these characters really have retreated to barbaric ways since society all boarded one train, both those rebelling against tyranny and those enforcing it. I can’t imagine that those planning and writing this show would have imagined how much more disturbing these images would be when they aired, and that scenes like the brakemen stepping aside would be even more loaded as a result of current events. Everyone has chosen a side, and Bess made her decision emphatically and irreversibly, with Andre fully endorsing her position to the tail so that they wouldn’t charge at her. The rest of the train still feels like a different place, though the chaos there is just as vicious. The secret about Wilford’s non-existence is now out for everyone to know, and the person who seems most betrayed is his loyal devotee Ruth. Executing Melanie because she broke the rules of the train doesn’t actually make sense if Melanie made those rules since Wilford was never aboard, and there’s no clear path to leadership for anyone else other than her. Reviving Pike to get into Andre’s head feels like a random and illogical step, mainly because Melanie would likely have kept a tight lid on who was in the drawers and how to bring them back to functionality without the doctor. It’s hard to know how things will resolve in the two-hour season finale, especially since this show is already slated to return for another season.

What I’m Watching: Black Monday

Black Monday: Season 2, Episode 8 “Lucky Shoes” (B+)

Well, this took a very serious turn. Blair isn’t terribly honest about a lot of things, but I don’t think it was unreasonable for him to expect that Roger would act to help him with what he needed after he managed to squeak by and get reelected. Roger suggesting that he wouldn’t even considering it until his next term sent Blair over the edge after he had been ignored all night by Roger, who felt such a closeness to him that he reached out for his hand when they were about to announce the winner. Showing the tape to Pastor Newell was a vindictive and irresponsible choice, and now Blair’s going to have to defend his own reputation and deal with the devastating news that Roger couldn’t live with it. Though no one died, the double date at the restaurant also ended quite poorly with no one happy. Mo got Dawn and Marcus to pile on against the FBI, and now, thanks to Keith, everyone knows that Connie is an FBI agent and Marcus is well aware of Dawn’s true intentions with him. Keith didn’t react at all to the news that someone he thought was dead is very much alive and not in great shape, and he’s going to be of little use to anyone now that he’s blown his cover. The opening commercial with Tiff and Corky perfectly setting each other up was great until Tiff couldn’t handle the question about how many kids she had and truly blew the entire thing.

What I’m Watching: The Politician

The Politician: Season 2, Episode 4 “Hail Mary” (B+)

The notion of a 91% approval rating for a politician is unfathomable in our current polarized climate, and I love that Georgina’s response was to go after the nine percent who for some reason found her objectionable. This show’s characters always have tricks up their sleeves that their opponents don’t see coming, and I appreciated that one of those was for us viewers, in the form of Tino’s comatose wife waking up and revealing to the American public that her husband had constantly whispered in her ear that she should just hurry up and die. While that was the one thing that could hurt Georgina’s popularity, she was smart to jettison him from anything related to her, leaving him instead to go back to another possible running mate who might instead be able to save his campaign. Hadassah wasn’t pleased to find Payton at the restaurant when she was expecting William, and, in turn, William was devastated to learn that he had so quickly been replaced by Dede and Marcus in the thruple. It turns out that Payton is the one who has to face more consequences from his own thruple, with not one but two women pregnant with his child at the same time. Alice telling him was typically dry and matter-of-fact, with a whole plan laid out that a baffled Payton was apparently going to have to follow, while Astrid was far more confrontational since she knew that, as the other woman, she’ll need to fight for Payton’s attention. All I know is that James is not going to be happy that he didn’t know about this first.