Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Pilot Review: Wolf Like Me

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: Legends of Tomorrow

Legends of Tomorrow: Season 7, Episode 8 “Paranoid Android” (B+)

I liked this episode a lot since I’m all about people trying to counteract their programming, which in this case was specifically robotic and hard to achieve. The idea that the robots believe that they’re the real legends and that they’re hunting the robots who are destroying the timeline is inherently interesting, and this was also plenty of fun since all these characters are sloppier or more exaggerated versions of the people we’ve come to know. They’re also not so quick on the uptake, with Spooner and Behrad vowing to avenge Astra and Zari even after they came back to life following their Dr. Sharpe reboots. Sara being the one to realize that what they were doing wasn’t right made sense since she is a natural leader – apparently programmed with too much leadership ability – and the critical mistake that she and Zari made was that they broke the news to the team before shutting Gideon down, giving the evil computer the chance to corrupt Zari with the allure of enhanced intelligence. It is not good news that Sara was then reset so that she could be a ruthless killing machine whose methods were even grimmer than the robot legends could have predicted in their popcorn-fueled screening session. The ending Citizen Steel bullying promo made reference to John Cena, a curiously-timed reference given that Cena is playing Peacemaker, a DC character who would be fun to see on this show but whose production rights I think would prohibit that from happening.

What I’m Watching: Home Economics

Home Economics: Season 2, Episode 11 “Camping Tent, $39.99” (B+)

One of the things I love most on shows, especially comedies, is when characters who don’t often interact get to spend a lot of time together. We’ve seen the friendship between outlaws Marina and Denise before, but not as much of Marina and Sarah sharing scenes. Tom’s mistake was mentioning to Marina that Sarah didn’t like her when she first met her, and I liked that things came to a head when they were attempting to carry out the “sisterhood agenda” for their daughters and nieces. Fortunately, it all turned into a marshmallow fight and a good opportunity to get closer. Tom’s efforts to “set the table” so that Denise could get used to the idea of Connor and Jojo being together wasn’t a great plan, and Tom being historically not good at keeping secrets made it clear that he was going to blab about their relationship before it could be revealed in the proper way. He shouldn’t have confirmed what she knew without asking her to say it first, but then that meant that Denise switched into a different mode, trying to get them back together when she wasn’t at all supportive of the relationship in the first place. Connor’s attempt to convey Denise’s “Sharknado” analogy fell flat, and Jojo seemed like she was headed for the exit when she thought he was reading too much into a future that they hadn’t even contemplated yet. Denise expressing a desire to be closer to Jojo and wishing that she had told her about the relationship was a good step for their dynamic, which should hopefully only improve now that they’ll be spending even more family time together.

Take Three: The Book of Boba Fett

The Book of Boba Fett: Season 1, Episode 3 “Chapter 3: The Streets of Mos Espa” (B+)

Life on Tattooine doesn’t seem all that pleasant, both in the past with the Tusken Raiders being killed when Boba went to collect the protection money and in the present when he was nearly killed by a Wookiee while he was in the Bacta Tank. He’s gotten better about knowing who to trust in the present, and he came up with a great solution to multiple problems that ultimately ended up saving his life. This episode presented two great new guest stars, beginning with the Emmy-nominated Stephen Root, who I’ve watched in shows like “True Blood,” “Perry Mason,” and “Barry,” as Lortha Peel the watermonger. The other was Danny Trejo as a Rancor trainer who may not be all about Boba’s timeline but is probably open to helping him achieve the goal he has. The Hutt twins are leaving but with an ominous warning for Boba, one that suggests he has many enemies just waiting for his demise. Enlisting the help of the half-droid kids who owed Lortha money was a smart plan, and they kicked into gear in a spectacular way for this episode’s standout chase scene, which found the Majordomo trying to get away through thin streets before getting cornered and revealing the information he was so desperately trying to protect. The Mayor is powerful and doesn’t seem interested in ensuring Boba’s success, and fortunately he has a loyal group of supporters, namely the half-droids and Fennec, who are set on serving him and helping him to accomplish what he wishes.

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

What I’m Watching: This Is Us

This Is Us: Season 6, Episode 2 “One Giant Leap” (B+)

It’s nice to get some good news every once in a while, and even though this episode did include a few false starts and seemingly unpleasant developments, everything worked out wonderfully in the end. I like that, even though Nicky didn’t call ahead to make sure it was the right Sally, they found her easily, and she just needed a bit of reminding to have memories of Nicky come flooding back to her. Things got uncomfortable at dinner with Sally’s husband Eric, played by Jeffrey Nordling from “Big Little Lies,” hearing about how Sally “deflowered” Nicky in her van, but there was also evidently more trouble in their marriage that came out in the form of Sally and Rebecca bonding following her thoughtless comment about possibly having early onset Alzheimer’s. Everyone sharing the things that keep them up at night, like Miguel worrying about his seven lost strands over the course of thirty years, was a nice opportunity for bonding, and what was best – and most realistic – is that Nicky got some closure. He was happy to see his photo on the wall, and even apparently open to meeting someone else on his flight, Vanessa Bell Calloway’s flight attendant Edie, who we got confirmation is his wife in the future. Déjà also had a positive reunion with Malik, threatened initially by the strong presence of his ex Jennifer but ultimately leading to a warm and positive night where she made a choice she wanted to make. I’m wondering whether we’re going to spend more time in the future as this show nears its end or continue only to get glimpses like what we’ve seen so far.

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

Superman and Lois: Season 2, Episode 1 “What Lies Beneath” (B+)

I had forgotten how the first season of this show ended even though the finale was just a few months ago, with Natalie arriving and seeing someone she thought was her dead mother. Her adjustment to being in Smallville has evidently not been going too well, and moving in to the Kent home might help with that. It’s a good thing that the romantically-inclined Kent brothers are technically related to her, and therefore nothing untoward is going to happen until the farm roof. Clark did a good job of giving a sex talk that his kids responded to rather well, while Lois was so thrown off by her feelings of guilt about Natalie that she reacted very harshly to finding Jonathan in bed with Candice. Jordan is much more into Sara at the moment that she is into him, and I imagine it has something to do with a summer romance at camp. It’s nice to see this nice version of Kyle, who’s able to give his daughter good love life advice and even get Lana to smile, prompting his daughter to remind them that they have their own room. While it would be hard to describe General Lane as warm, Lieutenant Anderson isn’t particularly friendly, and it’s going to be an issue that Lane’s replacement doesn’t consider Superman to be an unconditional friend. Saving a North Korean sub was an extremely human thing to do, but it’s not in America’s best interests. There’s plenty going on in Smallville that seems to be concerning, so both Clark and Superman are going to have a busy calendar.

Pilot Review: Naomi

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: Pivoting

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.

Monday, January 17, 2022

What I’m Watching: Call Me Kat (Season Premiere)

Call Me Kat: Season 2, Episode 1 “Call Me Kerfuffled” (B-)

This was a show I mostly enjoyed in its first season, and I was particularly lucky to have the chance to speak with actor Leslie Jordan about his role as Phil, which was a lot of fun. This premiere didn’t do a resounding job of reminding of the show’s quality, focused instead on a “Blossom” reunion that I’m sure meant plenty to fans but not as much to me since I didn’t watch the show growing up. This show hasn’t emphasized its cats all that often, even it has devoted a few episodes to the more troublesome ones, and I think this half-hour spent a bit too much time on the felines. It also seems that one regular customer, Tim Bagley’s Wyatt, is becoming more of a regular on the show, appearing frequently and eagerly volunteering for all of the jobs that Randi and Phil have learned it’s best to steer clear of because they’re truly undesirable. Kat was understandably freaking about having to make a choice between Oscar and Max, and it’s going to be hard to keep going from all of this given the intensity she’s put into the process and her general inability to move on from things easily. Randi and Carter are still sneaking around trying to navigate their own relationship, which is an entertaining subplot. Whenever an episode of this show ends and all the characters start waving at the camera, I think that it could probably be substantially better if it took itself just a little bit more seriously.

What I’m Watching: The Righteous Gemstones

The Righteous Gemstones: Season 2, Episode 2 “After I Leave, Savage Wolves Will Come” (B)

So much for Jason Schwartzman being an enduring guest star on this show. The opening indicated that Thaniel wasn’t going to have an easy time of staying in the South thanks to his condescending attitude and his free snorting of cocaine and smoking outside the cabin that wasn’t supposed to be on Airbnb. He wasn’t subtle in his approach to Eli and his threat to go after his wife, and the Gemstone siblings arrived late enough to slip and get covered in blood, something they thought to immediately wash off but which apparently didn’t occur to Eli with his pants. Junior’s influence does not seem to be good for him, and Judy was sure that they were having sex, something that doesn’t seem likely but which doesn’t prevent Eli from engaging in other theoretically sinful behavior, like violence. The free offerings of Judy’s services to entice Thaniel which were backed up by Jesse show how strange and depraved this family really is, and it’s a shame that they continue to alienate those who just want to be part of it, like BJ, who was told he couldn’t come along when he so clearly wanted nothing more. Being married in and accepted does help, as Amber jumped in to do her part when they realized they needed ten million dollars to be all in on their dream project, something they won’t be able to do since, as Jesse pointed out, all his money is tied up in the church. Getting written up for corrupt behavior was one thing, but now it seems like all the Gemstones may be implicated in a murder, which will not be good for business.

What I’m Watching: The Righteous Gemstones (Season Premiere)

The Righteous Gemstones: Season 2, Episode 1 “I Speak in the Tongues of Men and Angels” (B)

I knew that it felt like a long time since this show wrapped its first season, which finished at the end of 2019, more than two years ago. It’s good to have it back, though it does take a bit of adjusting to return to its style, especially when it starts decades earlier in Memphis. As if Eli wasn’t already a formidable enough character, we got to see how he has Jesse-like characteristics, known for channeling his anger into calculated violence, breaking and bending back people’s fingers in a truly horrific way. Junior reentering his life, as played by Eric Roberts, may catapult him back into a different mindset, one that enables him to offload his frustration at the way his offspring want to do things that he doesn’t think represents the brand well. The introduction of the Lissons, played by Eric Andre and Jessica Lowe, is going to give Jesse something to do as the family branches into a wholly new enterprise with potentially incredible rewards and surely lots of trouble along the way. What I do find most fascinating about this offbeat, often crude show is how real religion is incorporated, like with Junior being unexpectedly moved by Eli praying with him and Jesse using a particular scare tactic to convince his son Abraham that he needs to stop masturbating all over the house since his dead ancestors watch every time the alarm goes off in heaven. I do hope we’ll see more of Jason Schwartzman’s anti-religion commentator.

What I'm Watching: Euphoria (Season Premiere)

I had the chance to review the season two premiere of “Euphoria” for - head over there to read my take on the complete fourth season.

Sunday, January 16, 2022

What I’m Watching: Yellowjackets

Yellowjackets: Season 1, Episode 9 “Doomcoming” (B)

I’m not sure what to start with here: what happened in the past or the present. I’ll begin with my less preferred of the two, where we saw everyone under the influence of the mushrooms that Misty had gathered and howling as they prepared to either sacrifice or eat Travis, engaging in a ritual that they all bizarrely knew how to perform since they were on the same freaky wavelength. Jessica confirmed it in plain language as she was talking about getting Misty a ghostwriter and a book deal, that they ate each other, meaning that this is an event we’ll likely see again in the future. Jackie set her sights on Travis even though she knew that Natalie was interested, and the fact that Jackie wasn’t in on the group ritual suggests that she may become a victim of it soon. Van seems to be sticking around for now, brought back to normalcy by Taissa making her matching masks to cover her eye. In the present, a major, irreversible event happened, one involving two men who weren’t in the crash. Shauna killing Adam was a shock, though just as big a surprise was that it was not him but Jeff who had been responsible for the blackmail and the ensuing littering of glitter in the closet. I love that he was most upset that there wasn’t even a book club, and that he offered to get arrested for Adam’s murder to protect Shauna. That he read the journals years ago and still stood by Shauna was important and will strengthen their relationship, and hopefully Shauna can work with the other women and convince them that Adam really is the end of the line here. Misty was delighted to be asked for her help in getting rid of the body, and I’m curious to see how the finale wraps things up ahead of the second season that’s already been ordered.

What I’m Watching: Dexter: New Blood (Series Finale)

Dexter: New Blood: Season 9, Episode 10 “Sins of the Father” (B+)

I was going to optimistically term this a season finale without definitive word of a cancellation or a renewal before watching it, despite the fact that Showtime described it as a series finale. After having seen it, it does appear that this is the last we’ll get given the demise of the main character. It’s a shame in part because this newest season was actually quite worthwhile, and showed that the character was strong even without the familiar Miami Metro surroundings. Ten episodes wasn’t quite enough to deliver a fully satisfying deep dive on the characters, or to deliver scenes that would have been ideal like Dexter actually confirming his identity as the Bay Harbor Butcher to Angela or him coming face-to-face with Batista again. But we didn’t get those things in part because Dexter could never bring himself to trust anyone aside from Hannah, and he probably didn’t need to kill Logan but made that choice since all he could see was a way to run. If he had been honest with Angela, she might have understood him and they could have taken Kurt down together. That’s not what he chose, however, and instead he had Harrison kill him as a way to prove that he could still distinguish good from bad. It’s possible that Harrison will now spend his life on the run, but it’s likelier that he’ll be able to move on since Angela will take the blame for killing Dexter and there’s no one else left to blame. And at the very least Angela got closure on all the missing persons cases who ended up being in Kurt’s hall of victims. I enjoyed the opportunity to revisit Dexter in this context, and to get an ending that felt a little truer to what the character deserved.

Season grade: B+
Season MVP: Michael C. Hall

What I’m Watching: Search Party (Series Finale)

Search Party: Season 5, Episode 10 “Revelation”

It’s hard to say goodbye to any show and feel satisfied, and I think I’m still processing this finale. The first half was a direct continuation of the latest hijinks related to the zombies, with Dory and Drew failing to understand what was happening and more people turning into zombies with every moment. I liked a few choice quotes, like Portia’s “the pills are bad, babe. The disciples are zombies” and Elliott’s “there’s no such thing as enlightenment, just psychosis.” The two diners who thought it was just street theater surely met a terrible end, and after Marc was making out with another man just days after Elliott had allegedly died, it wasn’t much of a surprise that he met a dark fate since he ate a handful of the jelly beans. It was still a rather horrifying scene, as was the guy giving bridge directions getting eaten as he was about to get to the important part. It was good that Dory didn’t leave Portia behind, and of course that was the perfect opportunity for a masked firesprayer to emerge from a dumpster and turn out to be Chantal. Her arguing with Dory over who had caused the end of the world was futile, but it was fitting that Chantal was there at the end. What ensued was very typical for our characters, indulging in their own self-importance, celebrating Dory and Drew’s wedding and Portia’s “Broadway debut” while Elliott casually considered moving to Los Angeles so that he could be around new people. Getting sprayed and scanned to determine if they were still human and seeing a zombie Gail all happened in an eerily calm way. That final shot of Dory staring at the wall of missing people and then walking away was indicative of just how poorly her good intentions worked out and ended up with her being terribly irresponsible. To assign blame to her for destructive behavior wouldn’t help much because she’s a fictional character, but there’s plenty to unpack here about performative goodness and how much damage it can really do. In any case, it’s been a wild ride, and I’ll look forward to reflecting back on some of the craziest moments of this show.

Series finale: B
Series grade: B+
Season MVP: Alia Shawkat as Dory
Season grade: B
Series MVP: Alia Shawkat
Best Season: Season 1
Best Episode: Pilot