Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Golden Globe Musings: Best Actress in a TV Series – Drama

Golden Globe nominations for this year will be announced soon, so here’s a survey of the contenders and the most likely predictions at this time. Weigh in with your thoughts, and let me know if I’ve left off anyone important. A reminder that last year’s nominees mean zilch at the Globes and that the race is almost entirely unpredictable.

Last year’s nominees:
Catriona Balfe (Outlander)
Viola Davis (How to Get Away with Murder)
Eva Green (Penny Dreadful)
Taraji P. Henson (Empire)
Robin Wright (House of Cards)

New contenders:
Claire Foy (The Crown)
Mandy Moore (This Is Us)
Thandie Newton (Westworld)
Winona Ryder (Stranger Things)
Evan Rachel Wood (Westworld)

Potential first-time nominees:
Keri Russell (The Americans)

Past nominees:
Claire Danes (Homeland)
Julianna Margulies (The Good Wife)
Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black)
Kerry Washington (Scandal)
Ruth Wilson (The Affair)

Last year shook things up in a big way, and there’s a handful of new players who are likely to appear this year to throw things off even more. I would also expect Maslany to be back now that she won an Emmy, and fellow nominee Russell may end up with her first mention here too. Likeliest to join in this race while their shows are nominated in the best series category are Ryder and Wood, and I think that Newton will show up in the Best Supporting Actress race rather than here.

Current predictions:
Viola Davis (How to Get Away with Murder)
Taraji P. Henson (Empire)
Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black)
Winona Ryder (Stranger Things)
Evan Rachel Wood (Westworld)

Golden Globe Musings: Best Actor in a TV Series – Drama

Golden Globe nominations for this year will be announced soon, so here’s a survey of the contenders and the most likely predictions at this time. Weigh in with your thoughts, and let me know if I’ve left off anyone important. A reminder that last year’s nominees mean zilch at the Globes and that the race is almost entirely unpredictable.

Last year’s nominees:
Jon Hamm (Mad Men)
Rami Malek (Mr. Robot)
Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul)
Wagner Maura (Narcos)
Liev Schreiber (Ray Donovan)

New contenders:
Mike Colter (Luke Cage)
Paul Giamatti (Billions)
Anthony Hopkins (Westworld)
Sterling K. Brown (This Is Us)
Hugh Laurie (Chance)
Damian Lewis (Billions)
Matt Smith (The Crown)
Kiefer Sutherland (Designated Survivor)
Billy Bob Thornton (Goliath)
Milo Ventimiglia (This Is Us)

Potential first-time nominees:
Sam Heughan (Outlander)
Matthew Rhys (The Americans)

Past nominees:
Kyle Chandler (Bloodline)
Clive Owen (The Knick)
Kevin Spacey (House of Cards)
James Spader (The Blacklist)
Michael Sheen (Masters of Sex)
Dominic West (The Affair)

Last year, Globe voters brought back a departing contender, who won, and introduced three new actors. I see no reason that Malek, Maura, and Odenkirk wouldn’t return for the second seasons of their shows, but I know that Globe voters don’t have much institutional memory and could easily dismiss any of those shows, likeliest Maura, which is a shame given his excellent work in season two of his Netflix series. It’s possible that Globe voters might catch on to the Emmy excitement around “The Americans” and include Rhys. I would expect at least one former winner in this category, Sutherland, to be back for his new show, and it’s possible that two other Globe favorites, Giamatti and Lewis, may show up for a show that didn’t make a splash at the Emmys but could please this crowd more. He’s not a sure thing, but Hopkins should be able to ride the buzz of his show to a nomination.

Current predictions:
Anthony Hopkins (Westworld)
Rami Malek (Mr. Robot)
Wagner Maura (Narcos)
Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul)
Kiefer Sutherland (Designated Survivor)

Monday, December 5, 2016

What I’m Watching: Life in Pieces

Life in Pieces: Season 2, Episode 5 “Dinner Professor Steps Lesbian” (B)

For all the things that are over-the-top about this show, one which I enjoy greatly is Tyler’s relationship with Clementine and their attempts to be adult when they really don’t know anything about life. Inviting engaged couple Matt and Colleen over so that they could share their wisdom about being married was hilarious, and of course the game for camp that works to solve problems was only mentioned after Colleen mentioned that it was best not to share secrets. Joan’s writing class was a throwaway plotline, and I just enjoyed John showing up in his football jacket to relive his college days, which was more of an inconvenience than anything since Joan had her car there too. Greg working in China and missing big moments in Lark’s life was funnier than I might have expected, mainly due to Jen’s reaction to Lark walking and then her attempts to cover up the fact that she showed Lark “Star Wars” before Greg had the chance too, something she definitely could have controlled. Colleen’s quick mention of her favorite lesbian bar, because it’s by the airport, was a positive start to a relatively decent plotline about a character I wish wasn’t on this show, Dougie. Unsurprisingly, Tim ran to the bar as soon as he found out that Heather wanted to try kissing a woman, and I like that she was the one who ruined it by saying the wrong thing and being far too honest for her little lesbian experiment to work.

What I’m Watching: The Great Indoors

The Great Indoors: Season 1, Episode 5 “No Bad Ideas” (B)

This show is always close to the line of becoming a very formulaic sitcom, particularly when it comes to the receptionist who welcomes Jack every day with a different irreverent overshare about her personal life. Starting out with an old-fashioned sensitivity training video for how to work with millennials almost had a similar effect, but that’s this show’s hook, and it’s sticking with it. Clark reciting his review word-for-word as Jack was reading it was an excellent example of how absurd this workplace is, and Emma and Mason never even considering doing work after they finished selecting a new intern reinforced that in a big way. Clark’s hot mom coming into the office to tell Jack off for giving her son actual criticism was a humorous development, and I do hope we see her again, especially since I’m curious to see what would happen if Jack started dating her, which seems inevitable. I love that we saw a lot of Brooke in this episode, trying to rap to tell an intern what to do and then saying all the wrong things while trying to search for diversity in the workplace. She hasn’t been used all that much over the course of the show, and I’m eager to see more of her too, particularly when her romantic past with Jack inevitably comes to light. Closing with Clark taking careful notes during the O.L.D. seminar was a great capper to this episode focused heavily on the generational gap that this show so loves featuring.

What I’m Watching: Rectify

Rectify: Season 4, Episode 5 “Pineapples in Paris” (B+)

This show has always done a tremendous job of portraying Daniel’s struggle adjusting to life and getting to know him as a character, but the best thing that’s being demonstrated now is just how much it has informed us about all of the other characters and their relationships. We barely saw any of Amantha in this hour, so I do hope that we’ll revisit more of my favorite character in the show’s final three episodes. The conversation between Ted Sr. and Janet about not having expectations and enjoying the chance to fantasize was hypnotic, and it doesn’t seem that they really disagree about what the ultimate endgame should be, but Ted doesn’t appreciate Janet’s new lease on life and the way that she’s making brash decisions without him. Teddy proposing a divorce to Tawney after coming over for muffins and butter was a cathartic moment, though he obviously had some trouble letting go if his little break-in was any indication. Bobby’s visit provided some enlightening and transformative information about Daniel’s case that could change everything, but in the end we’re left with Daniel as he is now, starting out with a polite request to his roommate and resulting in him starting to get really angry. Fortunately, he found a new roommate who’s much more like him, and he even had what seemed to be a productive moment with his mom when she showed up. And Chloe is there for him in just the right way. Hopefully he’s headed towards a happy ending by the series finale.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

What I’m Watching: This Is Us

This Is Us: Season 1, Episode 8 “Pilgrim Rick” (B-)

Given that this show airs on network television, it makes sense that it would feature a Thanksgiving episode. This framework actually worked a little bit better for this show’s format, with the young family experiencing a disaster of a Thanksgiving resulting in a stay at a random motel and then a different kind of crisis at a more standard sit-down meal in the present. Hearing just how much the kids hate Rebecca’s parents didn’t tee it up to be a great holiday, but having a tire blow out was a considerably bigger issue. It was sweet to hear Randall say that he wanted to replicate this kind of Thanksgiving going forward, and then to see it play out decades later when he woke up early and excitedly prepared for a meal in only the way that his unique energy could. Kevin inviting Olivia to come with him was initially poorly received when she speculated about his “whitebread family” and it only improved once she got a reality check from William while waiting for her Uber, a concept William somehow has never heard of. With Olivia there, Kevin was able to grow up a little and extend a hand of friendship to his stepfather. After putting the brakes on her relationship with Toby, which I hope will be temporary given that they are a good fit, Kate had a turbulence-inspired epiphany that may not end up being the solution to all her problems. Everything paled in comparison to Randall going to William’s apartment and finding a note that revealed exactly what Beth knew to be true and shattered his relationship with both of his living parents in a way that’s going to be nearly impossible to repair.

Round Two: Good Behavior

Good Behavior: Season 1, Episode 3 “From Terrible Me” (B+)

I’m struck by just how plot-driven this show is, since it feels much more like something that might air on a premium cable channel. Every event and development in this hour relied on something that happened earlier, and it’s still hard to tell how this show is going to ultimately look on a weekly basis since it hasn’t established any sense of normalcy just yet. Instead, they’re driving around with a body in their trunk trying to get rid of it, and nothing else can happen, including Letty checking in with her parole officer so many miles away, until they resolve that issue. The minutiae, like the electric car they took losing its charge and gas stations along the way not having working charging ports, are taking over, and it’s causing plenty of stress between our two criminals. I love some of the conversations that happened in this episode, particularly Javier revealing that he used to watch movies about criminals getting caught and that’s why he made a friend who runs a funeral home. After Letty leaned over Javier while placing her fish fry order, she made a few smart split decisions, like faking pregnancy problems to get out of the fender bender delay and bringing a gun when she got a ride into town from a random passing stranger. Finding out that Christian used to be a professor who got caught buying drugs from a student is interesting, and his loyalty to Letty is impressive given just how much scrutiny he’s under from his obnoxious boss.

What I’m Watching: New Girl

New Girl: Season 6, Episode 7 “Last Thanksgiving” (B-)

I don’t watch too many sitcoms these days, and therefore this is one of the few Thanksgiving episodes that I’m watching this year. We got a reminder about a few of the past Thanksgiving plotlines that this show has covered in the past, and this installment wasn’t too exciting mainly because it focused on two plotlines that are far from my favorites. I was looking forward to seeing Reagan again and finding out how she would react to being around the group, and her not showing up, while relatively predictable because Megan Fox is no longer a regular player, was disappointing. Instead, we got another guest who just won’t leave, Robby, whose injury is one of the most obnoxious things to happen to this show in a while. At least he and Jess got to a good place of beginning their relationship on relatively equal footing (pun very intended), and my only hope is that his leg will be miraculously healed as soon as possible. I like Peter Gallagher but I’ve never found his character on this show to be all that fantastic, and the idea that he doesn’t see anything wrong with pining over one woman when he’s dating five others is seriously absurd. Yet somehow Schmidt still found it worthwhile to have his father around, and being told that he was the man of the house and could carve the turkey was a great moment that made an otherwise lackluster and unmemorable episode end on a sweet note.

Friday, December 2, 2016

What I’m Watching: The Flash

The Flash: Season 3, Episode 7 “Killer Frost” (B-)

The whole idea of alchemy was already a bit to take given that it’s extremely supernatural in the way that it’s constructed, and I think this episode took things even further in an unappealing direction by introducing the “speed god” Savatar. I’m not even a fan of the speed force existing as something corporeal that manifests itself in human form to convey its wisdom to Barry, and I think there’s more than enough in the way of superpowers and compelling characters to make this show work without such things. That’s also why I found Caitlin’s full-on transformation into Killer Frost to be less than exciting, since she didn’t do anything that truly can’t be reversed but also showed that her powers can get the best of her, making her a volatile member of the team who will need to be monitored closely. Wally, on the other hand, managed to get his powers under control pretty quickly after vibrating at a formidable frequency. The new Wells is proving to be relatively useful by making connections that are actually worthwhile, which is a good thing given how tired everyone was getting of him. Caitlin taking Julian wasn’t good for anybody, and Barry quitting his CSI job is a real shame. It turns out that Julian may be far more nefarious than he initially seemed, and I imagine that Barry will be happy to take him down eventually. Let’s hope that’s soon, so that we can get back to metas just being metas without any of this Alchemy or Savatar business in the way.

Pilot Review: Search Party

Search Party (TBS)
Premiered November 21 at 10pm

This show is certainly unique. I’m not quite sure how to describe it, a comedy of sorts with an odd, semi-supernatural dramatic undercurrent. I couldn’t imagine anyone more perfect for this role than Alia Shawkat, who got her start on “Arrested Development” and has made it her business to play those who don’t quite fit in with society, often in supporting roles in films like “Cedar Rapids” and “Whip It.” Giving her this lead part is a great choice, and she responds ably by committing to it wholeheartedly, portraying someone who just isn’t able to put in any effort and gets a harsh and unforgiving response from some, like her would-be employer, as a result. She’s engaged in a dead-end relationship with a guy who accidentally brought two milkshakes to a confrontation with her ex-boyfriend, and she has friends who don’t really understand her and who aren’t inclined to believe her when she says that she saw Chantal. It took me a few minutes to figure out where I recognized Portia, who is portrayed by Meredith Hagner, but then I placed her as the star of the unique comedy with a twist, “Hits,” that I saw at Sundance a few years ago. It’s hard to figure out how to describe this show other than singular and intriguing, and the way that it ended makes me interested in seeing more. With how far behind I am on all my shows right now, I can’t commit to watching ten episodes of this show in just one week, but I think that I’ll experience as I do with Netflix and Amazon shows, with two episodes per week rather than per night.

How will it work as a series? It’s hard to know exactly what’s going on and how this is all going to play out, and the novelty of airing all ten episodes in the span of a week probably means that it’s very story-driven and meant to be watched all together. I look forward to seeing it a different way and appreciating it over a longer period of time.
How long will it last? I have no idea. I assume that it's supposed to be a closed loop given its premise, but I won't finish the show for at least another month, so who knows? The ratings seem like they were nothing spectacular but the show did get great reviews, so a second season is certainly possible.


What I’m Watching: Timeless

Timeless: Season 1, Episode 7 “Stranded” (B)

This was a fun episode if not the most focused one, starting in media res and then staying in the past with its very stranded characters. They should have figured that this would happen eventually, and luckily they had an extremely technological and smart plan in place to make sure that Rufus could communicate with the present by leaving a literal ship in the bottle for Mason to find centuries later. Rufus had numerous opportunities in this episode to shine, keeping his cool in the situation when Lucy and Wyatt seemed ready to give up and negotiating for their lives due to the color of his skin and his not being seen as an imperialist. I love that Wyatt once again referenced “Back to the Future” as his framework for understanding time travel, earning the ire of Rufus, who said that he needed to build a capacitor since the “flux” was fictional. Wyatt asking Lucy how to tell their French guard that he slept with his mother was entertaining, and he does have a rather brash way of doing things. In the present, we got to see what Rufus would have left behind if he didn’t make it back, and now he may embarking on a relationship, which I think would be nice for him given the terrible luck he has every time they go back in time. Mason obviously regards him highly, and hopefully that will serve to protect Rufus should his noncompliance with his side directive become known.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

What I’m Watching: People of Earth

People of Earth: Season 1, Episode 5 “Unexplained” (B+)

This was a great episode, featuring some truly hapless tinkering with Ozzie’s implant by Jeff and some unexpected exploration on Don’s part of what being human feels like. Ozzie is the most normal of all the group members by far, and to see him acting strange was startling, even if he does regularly have conversations with talking deer. The fact that Jeff could press buttons and it would trigger responses in Ozzie which he had absolutely no clue about was very entertaining and totally in line with this show’s sense of humor. In the hospital, Ozzie put it all together and expressed what was happening, but he also called Gerry his best friend, which might negate the validity of everything he said. I liked Gerry’s response to meeting Nancy, which consisted mostly of him commenting that Jonathan would have come in person if he was really his best friend. Wyatt seeing goatees on all the group members was a truly trippy sight. Don’s fascination with Kelly following her asking him how he was doing when he was examining her was fantastic, and he definitely didn’t get the same warm reception when he eavesdropped on her conversation and did something nice for her, though that probably has something to do with the fact that she doesn’t recognize him due to the whole memory being wiped thing. I’m enjoying Chelsea’s budding relationship with Father Doug, one that was initially built on an interest in Christianity but has now blossomed into something much sweeter that I think will benefit them both immensely.

What I’m Watching: Jane the Virgin

Jane the Virgin: Season 3, Episode 6 “Chapter Fifty” (B+)

As our esteemed narrator would say, “I know this show is a telenovela, but come on!” There are so many twists that follow double-crosses that it’s hard to know if anyone is ever going to stick to what they originally pledge to do. Petra coming out of her coma and vowing to take down Rafael didn’t last long at all since Scott proved a sincere nuisance with his sexual harassment lawsuit, but even Rafael wasn’t loyal to Petra, telling Scott that it was really Anezka and making a side deal with him to buy his cooperation. Rogelio had some lovely flashbacks to his dance-off with Xiomara in high school which propelled him to make a profession of love to her, only to find her locking lips in the most romantic of settings with her ex Bruce, played by Ricardo Chavira from “Desperate Housewives.” Catalina made a big impression and asserted herself into Michael and Jane’s life, and now she might be trouble just as much as her lying abuela if her new romance with an all-too-eager Rafael is any indication. Leave it to Jane to, for once in her life, tell a white lie about knowing how to do something only to be asked to demonstrate it and delete her prospective employer’s work. She may have salvaged the situation, but I imagine it’s going to be an uphill battle to get the job and continue to make a good impression, particularly with her visiting cousin serving as such a distraction.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

What I’m Watching: Supergirl

Supergirl: Season 2, Episode 7 “The Darkest Place” (B+)

As new superpowered beings are showing up in National City, it’s important to understand who is an ally and who is an enemy. Though he doesn’t actually have any special abilities, James is doing a bang-up job as the Guardian, and it’s only natural that someone far more set on vengeance would follow him around and give him a bad name. That threat was neutralized pretty quickly, and the only relevant development is that Alex knows that James is Guardian and that Winn is his right-hand man. Megan was initially a friend and now she’s revealed herself to be a compassionate White Martian, who has already done enough damage to Hank by giving him her blood. And then we have the real Hank, who is not a nice guy and who really, really hates aliens, who got enough of Kara’s blood to go impersonate her and gain entry into a place where he can do plenty of damage. I’m curious as to whether Jeremiah was actually free to roam around and help Kara and Mon-El escape, or if he’s instead a part of Lillian’s nefarious plot. It didn’t take long for Mon-El to realize that Kara may well be the mate of his dreams, and I suspect she won’t be too resistant to the idea. Though she shut it down when Alex came out and kissed her, I think that Maggie is coming around to the idea of a romance with Alex that is likely to blossom in the near future.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

What I’m Watching: Insecure

Insecure: Season 1, Episode 7 “Real as F**k” (B+)

Issa has gotten to a point where it’s no longer a real question about how successful she’ll be in her job, as evidenced by her terrific event and Joanne asking her where she’d be in a year and assuring her that this is the person she’s wanted to see all along. Though she made a quick comment about it, she didn’t even have to be worried about the kids stealing anything in the fancy house that most of her work colleagues couldn’t believe actually belonged to a black person. Instead, it was her personal life that imploded like crazy just at that one event. Lawrence did a spectacular job in his interview, netting a job offer on the spot, and it’s great to see him bounce back from the monotony of Best Buy to do something that actually excites him. But Issa wasn’t even up for entertaining the idea of him trying to make a go at his app, and then, after he met Daniel at the event, exploded at Issa when she didn’t deny sleeping with him. He wasn’t violent with her, but his reaction certainly was violent. And Issa is going to be hurting bad because she also offended Molly by pointing out that she always looks for something to be wrong with the men she dates, leading to imperfections ruining great possibilities. Getting turned away by Jered was a harsh end to her day, and I do hope that in the season finale they’ll at least be able to make peace since the prospects for both of them at the moment are looking quite grim.