Thursday, April 19, 2018

What I’m Watching: Roseanne

Roseanne: Season 10, Episode 5 “Darlene v. David” (B)

Not having watched this show during its original run means that I’m not familiar with the recurring characters who are now showing up again. I recognized Johnny Galecki from “The Big Bang Theory” right away as David, Darlene’s absent husband who suddenly showed up back in her life. I didn’t recognize Estelle Parsons, the esteemed Oscar winner from “Bonnie and Clyde” who is now ninety years old, as Roseanne and Jackie’s mother Beverly. I wasn’t all that fond of the content involving Beverly, who is apparently quite the sexually active senior, and who may now be sticking around a permanent basis after being barred from her retirement home due to her classification as a danger to others. David, on the other hand, was plenty entertaining, not pausing on the fact that his new girlfriend’s name was Blue and then launching unprepared into a long speech he didn’t expect to be allowed to finish. Darlene was intoxicated by the notion that they might be able to reconcile, but some helpful heart-to-hearts with her family members showed that their marriage never really worked in the first place. At least their relationship can be civil, with Dan sternly warning him not to mess anything up and Roseanne comforting him with her assurances that she still wants him to prove her right. Harris could use a role model that she didn’t have to guilt into buying her weed or ice cream, and having both of her parents around and a bit happier might just set her in the right direction.

What I’m Watching: Good Girls

Good Girls: Season 1, Episode 8 “Shutdown” (B+)

This business truly is unpredictable, and it’s a wonder that our friends have hung in there this long. Though things are generally looking up and the emergencies have subsided, they still need money, and pushing kids around with housewives on the playground, cleaning toilets during the graveyard shift, and taking orders from an empowered teenager at a donut drive-thru are the miseries they have to endure try to make ends meet. It didn’t take Annie long to come up with another scheme to get rich quick, and it was easy to see just how vindictive she felt when Nancy told her not to lean back on the couch because of her hair oils. Ripping her off was a smart plan, though it would have been great if Annie had confirmed with the drug dealer who also sold Leslie the drugs he used to frame her that he could in fact move what they were stealing. Beth choosing to trust Dean to take care of it was a smart choice, though him forcing the doctor he paid off to lie to Beth about his cancer just complicates everything all that much more. Being honest with him about what they’re doing was unexpected, and hopefully he can help somehow as Ruby is sure to keep prodding into Stan’s work now that she knows he’s on the case that could put her behind bars, something she came way too close to experiencing when she was trying to scare her daughter straight. Mary Pat continues to be an intolerable, unsympathetic nuisance, and they’re going to have to find a permanent solution to that problem soon.

What I’m Watching: iZombie

iZombie: Season 4, Episode 7 “Don’t Hate the Player, Hate the Brain” (B+)

It’s weird to see Liv looking more like a human and less like a zombie, especially when she’s on a brain that’s making her act especially sexual. Liv was running wild, texting a number of guys in the middle of the night to ask if they were “down to duck,” and the most entertaining part of it was how she tricked Levon into sharing a passionate kiss with her when he thought that she wasn’t on the brain anymore, only to discover that she was just trying to get rowdy with him. Clive’s efforts at romance were poor, starting with his Tinder photo that made him look teeny and his list of hates that included “This Is Us,” which I would agree, though not nearly as strongly, is somewhat emotionally manipulative. Putting on Liv’s fedora and telling prospective dates about Dale wasn’t much better, but at least he and Dale got to connect on a real level about how they still feel strongly about each other, determined to make it work somehow. I like that Clive knows that Liv is up to something and that his first instinct is to protect her even though she won’t discuss it with him, and hopefully Peyton will be just as sympathetic now that she’s caught Liv printing fake zombie IDs. I wasn’t too fond of all this “fake news” talk, but it does seem clear now that Chase, with Major by his side, is actively working to suppress the reporting of real information and deny what definitely happened, which is a worrisome development. Liv seemed shocked to find out that Angus was Blaine’s father, and I’m curious to see what she’ll do with that information.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

What I’m Watching: Supergirl

Supergirl: Season 3, Episode 14 “Schott Through the Heart” (B)

We haven’t seen this show in a while during its ten-week hiatus where “Legends of Tomorrow” took over its timeslot, and now we’re back into the swing of things with an isolated hour that gives us a break from the world-killer plotline. I loved seeing everyone doing karaoke, particularly Hank’s less-than-emphatic rendition, and the timing for Winn to find out that his father was dead was fitting. Laurie Metcalf, a recent Oscar nominee for “Lady Bird” and cast member on the “Roseanne” reboot, was an interesting choice to play Winn’s mother, returning to apologize for not reaching out to him and telling him to stand up straight before nearly being grabbed by flying monkeys. We also got a guest spot from Brooke Smith, who has gone from terrified victim in “The Silence of the Lambs” almost thirty years ago to the one terrorizing others as the Toymaker’s apprentice. I got momentarily confused when Metcalf’s Mary made a Luke Skywalker reference, mistakenly believing that Mark Hamill was the one who played the Toymaker when in fact he played a similar character on “The Flash” instead – too many superhero shows at the same time, I guess. M’yrnn bonding with Alex was a nice dramatic subplot, and it was good to see Alex and Hank connect once they both learned about M’yrnn’s deteriorating memory. I guess next week we’ll be back to the more urgent business at hand, with Lena hopefully keeping a lid on the Reign problem with Sam unconscious for the time being.

What I’m Watching: Barry

Barry: Season 1, Episode 4 “Chapter Four: Commit to YOU” (B+)

Barry’s worlds are colliding in a way that he doesn’t seem to realize is very bad. His daydreams about the future are rather simplistic and remarkably specific, with Sally thanking him for the laptop he bought her and Jon Hamm complimenting him on his grilling and asking to use his toilet. Things didn’t pan out quite as well in reality, of course, as her response to the very expensive gift was one of shock and confusion, since it amounted to several months of rent for her. Inviting his Marine buddies to Natalie’s party was a poor idea, and their rowdy behavior was the least of his problems after he got drunk and then confronted eager actor Zach Burrows in an aggressively possessive way that really got Sally angry. They’re not nearly close enough for this kind of thing to happen, and Barry doesn’t yet understand how to pretend to be normal. I enjoyed his very passive take on “Glengarry Glen Ross” and how he managed to make the tirade not mean, and Cousineau performed an effective analysis of his deferential nature. I love that it propelled him to confront an unfazed Fuches. Sally’s would-be agent is a rather despicable guy, making her uncomfortable with a supposed joke about sleeping with her instead of signing her, and then failing to consider her a client when she went on the audition. Cousineau’s magic seemed like it might be working on Detective Moss, but it turns out she was just focused and now has a good lead on identifying Barry’s face from the video footage.

What I’m Watching: Silicon Valley

Silicon Valley: Season 5, Episode 4 “Tech Evangelist” (B+)

I cringed when Richard spent so much time trying to show that he had no issue with DeeDee’s site being exclusively for gay people, and I couldn’t have predicted that it would be his closeted status as a Christian that would be the undoing of their partnership. As poor a name as Octipipers is, the people that make up the group actually represent a big win for Pied Piper, which is poised to make a great debut the day before the release of the new Box. Laurie having an unexpected connection to someone at a top company through medically-supervised MDMA was odd but helpful, and crazy as their CEO may be, he’s now officially on board. I couldn’t figure out where I knew Colin from, and I was delighted to learn that Neil Casey played Sam Adams on the criminally-underrated and sadly-cancelled “Making History.” Gavin going off the grid with a cryptic message about the bear and the honey drove his minions crazy, and naturally it was just a literal statement about the bear-shaped jar of honey. It took Gilfoyle little time to find out that Jeff was the mole, and I love that they’re punishing him by making him spend time doing things he really doesn’t want to do with Dinesh. I thought that DeeDee had gone to Gavin after being offended by Richard, but instead he went to someone much worse: Jian Yang. Bighead actually owning Erlich’s stake was a great win by Jared, but now they’ll have to contend with Jian Yang’s Chinese New Pied Piper, which could prove to be a problematic competitor.

What I’m Watching: Timeless

Timeless: Season 2, Episode 5 “The Kennedy Curse” (B)

I’m surprised that this sequence of events hasn’t happened more on this show, with a famous person from the past that our team is trying to protect ending up having to be transported to the present. It was easy to identify John F. Kennedy right away in 1934 because of his accent alone, and it was a committed performance from actor Grant Jordan. His reactions to much of the technology that he didn’t understand were entertaining, and then he had a far more serious response to the Wikipedia articles about the deaths of his siblings and the Kennedy Curse. Once again, this show emphasizes its timeline-correcting stance, with Kennedy opting not to go to Dallas but getting assassinated at the same time in Austin instead. It’s good to know that Flynn is working with the team now, with the only real issue being seats in the lifeboat that forced them to leave him behind when they brought Kennedy back instead. The situation with Lucy and Jessica was hopelessly awkward, and I’m really curious if Jessica is a permanent addition to the show or if she’s going to disappear again soon, leaving Wyatt devastated and ready to run right back into Lucy’s arms. Carol taking Agent Christopher hostage to remind her that she too has a family was a foreboding development, and there doesn’t seem to be any end in sight for Nicholas’ orders to take care of Lucy, with Emma as the very eager would-be assassin constantly trying to take her out.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

What I’m Watching: Billions

Billions: Season 3, Episode 4 “Hell of a Ride” (B+)

It’s truly appalling to see how viciously and unsympathetically some of the people on this show behave. It was no surprise that Dollar Bill was the one to lead the entire company in a celebratory cheer when Craig Heidecker’s shuttle exploded, with only Taylor and Mafee bothering to process the fact they were getting rich because a man died. Wendy took his death particularly hard, and it was interesting to see Chuck step in to comfort her since he understood the nature of their relationship and why he meant so much to her. Chuck really knew how to manipulate another dynamic, stepping in as the surprise guest to present his father with an award from Yale before which he padded his introduction with references to loyalty. The gambit worked, and Chuck got a strangely intimate and extended kiss on the lips from his father in addition to Ira going away as a threat. As Oliver gets angrier and angrier with Bryan for pushing, Chuck’s onetime loyal devotee is being successfully targeted by Axe’s henchmen, who aren’t too busy doing shadowy work for him to help Wags’ eternal resting place, a fittingly odd sudden obsession. As usual, Axe managed to manipulate everyone around him on his foundation board into enthusiastically endorsing his top choice, pitched by Oscar Langstraat, played by Mike Birbiglia from “Orange is the New Black.” For someone who’s trying not to trade, Axe is being awfully unsubtle about directly working with so many people he really shouldn’t be engaging in trading conversations.

Round Two: Killing Eve

Killing Eve: Season 1, Episode 2 “I’ll Deal with Him Later” (B+)

I’m glad I decided to give this show a second chance since I think that this installment showed that it has a much clearer sense of purpose than I had seen in the pilot. Eve still talks a lot, but the way in which Carolyn refuses to even acknowledge her quirkiness makes her mildly more tolerable. It’s good to see that some of the characters we met in the pilot are going to be involved in Eve’s off-the-books investigation, and I like that Bill revealed himself to be less critical of Eve’s leadership, instead showing that he was pushing her to come up with helpful conclusions like the analysis that Villanelle liked killing long before she got paid to do it. The relationship between Villanelle and Konstantin continues to be immensely intriguing, and after she wore a totally uncharacteristic pink dress during her evaluation, she decided to lift the assignment that he opted not to give her and go through with it anyway. Taking out an office executive and then sitting down bored on the office chair was one thing, but there was something more chilling about her calmly watching her mark choke to death after inhaling some of the perfume she made and brought her. Sebastian seemed like a nice enough guy, but unfortunately he wasn’t long for this world, casually disposed of by Villanelle because he was starting to become a nuisance. He definitely couldn’t keep up with the ferocious pace of her intimacy-free sex. The end of the episode was cool, with both Villanelle and Eve realizing that they had met in person, setting the stage for Villanelle to take some undue initiative to track down the only person sincerely on her trail.

Pilot Review: Rellik

Rellik (Cinemax)
Premiered April 13 at 10pm

I try to go into all shows I watch knowing as little as possible about them, and therefore I misinterpreted the meaning of this show’s title. I assumed that it was a reference to the word “relic,” with characters coming back to life after being killed. Instead, it’s the word “killer” backwards, referencing the way in which the story is told. Unfortunately, this is no “Memento,” and the fact that it’s told in reverse is far from helpful. The actual rewind sequences are cool, but I wish that events were actually playing out in a different way that was based on some weird occurrence with a time loop than just being filled in to help the previous scene make more sense. I know I’m supposed to recognize Richard Dormer, who plays DCI Markham, from his role as Beric Dondarrion on “Game of Thrones,” but I don’t. I’m always happy to see Paterson Joseph, currently starring on “Timeless,” who I loved in his last British series role, as a bald deputy commissioner who got caught shoplifting shampoo once. This is hardly as entertaining a role, and this show in general is pretty miserable. The ultimate question with something dark and disturbing is always what the end game is that makes it all worth it, and my worry is that, when all is said and done and we get to the beginning of this story with multiple suspected killers, it’s still going to be a jumbled and uninviting mess. I’m not intrigued enough to keep watching.

How will it work as a series? That’s the operative issue – going only backwards in time is supposed to fill in more missing information, but it’s hard to remember what’s happened already, or rather what will happen, which makes it hard to piece everything together. There may be some worthwhile revelations, like the fact that Markham is married and that his wife knew about the affair, but overall it’s not a productive format for this particular story.
How long will it last? All six episodes of this show aired back in September on BBC1 in the UK, where it had a strong debut and then lost most of its viewership in subsequent weeks. The reviews aren’t great, and while I imagine that, even if this story is a closed loop, a second season could feature another such case in the same format. I doubt that’s going to happen from either BBC1 or Cinemax at this point.

Pilot grade: C+

What I’m Watching: Jane the Virgin

Jane the Virgin: Season 4, Episode 16 “Chapter Eighty” (B+)

I was wondering about this show doing a bit of a time-jump since I thought that we still had a few episodes left, but for some strange reason seventeen is the magic number this year. It does feel like pretty much everything has been wrapped up at the moment, with the ominous return of Rose and her need for Rafael to give her Luisa’s location as the one outstanding cliffhanger item. I was waiting for that to come back, and hopefully it will lead us to an intriguing fifth season. I’m glad that this show knows which moments to skip over since they’re not all that exciting, like Rafael working on his hotel development deal and Alba being really angry at him for yelling at her after she spanked Mateo. It’s understandable that Alba would feel powerless, especially with Xiomara struggling with her cancer with Rogelio by her side. The introduction of Amy Brenneman’s Donna was a tragically bittersweet addition since she helped Xiomara to feel better for a bit before suffering a relapse and untimely demise to leave her even more alone than before. The pot brownies that she left helped River to realize the importance of keeping telenovelas true to their roots, an apt plotline to be featured on a show that, more than any other show, is the closest America has come to a telenovela of its own. Magda proved not to be much of a problem, and things between Petra and JR may just work out if the newly disbarred lawyer doesn’t turn into an entirely different person without her job.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Pilot Review: Lost in Space

Lost in Space (Netflix)
Premiered April 13

I’m confident that I’ve seen the original “Lost in Space,” but I honestly don’t remember anything about it other than “Danger, Will Robinson” being a key catchphrase. As a result, I was going into this remake without much context at all, and I’m pleased to report that this was an engaging opener. The stakes felt very high and these characters quickly became believable, forced to confront dangerous circumstances all on their own as a family. When I mentioned this remake to my mom, she asked about a stowaway aboard the ship, something that was only hinted at as the pilot closed, though Dr. Smith is an adapted character here, with Parker Posey’s mysterious criminal taking a man’s coat from him and stealing his identity while jumping aboard a ship. The familiar face that I knew here aside from Posey was Molly Parker, who I’ve liked since “Swingtown” and has more recently earned an Emmy nomination for her recurring role on “House of Cards.” She has exactly the right composure to play the wife of an absent husband who took it upon herself to make sure that all of her kids – including one who shouldn’t have – passed the necessary requirements to be able to head into space for colonization. Actress Taylor Russell, who plays Judy, was particularly impressive in this hour as it seemed like she wasn’t going to make it to episode two after she got stuck under the frozen water. The production values here are great, and this is a world I’d love to visit again, hoping for just as much intrigue in episode two and beyond.

How will it work as a series? They got lost in space and now they’re stuck on a mysterious planet. As they get to know this new world that they’ll call home, I imagine that we’ll see extensive flashbacks that explain how things got to where they are now and help to develop the characters. As long as that balance stays consistent, I think this show should remain interesting and very watchable.
How long will it last? Reviews don’t seem to be as overwhelmingly positive as I might have expected, and in fact they’re on the lower side of decent. The real question is how many people have already watched and will watch this show, including those who were fans of the original and those who have never heard of it. I think that Netflix will choose to invest in this one for a second season, but we’ll have to see how the numbers stack up.

Pilot grade: B+

What I’m Watching: Santa Clarita Diet

Santa Clarita Diet: Season 2, Episode 4 “The Queen of England” (B+)

One of the best parts of this show is the relationship between Sheila and Joel, and this episode featured some entertaining banter that involved them shouting the same arguments at each other because they hadn’t moved past their fight to realize that they were in fact in agreement. I also love that they’re so concerned about being perceived well, whether it’s discussing Nazi-occupied bookshelves or the embarrassment of having nothing but a frozen lasagna and tomato soup to serve to Lisa and Ann for their long-postponed dinner. The notion that Ramona was a high-energy auctioneer before she became undead is far-fetched, and she went from using Eric to wanting to keep him forever in a short span of time. After they learned about Mr. Ball Legs, Sheila and Joel did a great job accidentally convincing her that she needed Eric to be her Joel, and I loved the moment where Sheila, Joel, and Abby all decided that they were going to try to protect Eric and save him from her grasp. After some awkward fighting, Abby proved that she is capable of more than just smacking bullies in the face with lunch trays and convinced Ramona to back down and move to Seattle to pursue the Joel she really needed. We still have the unresolved issue of Gary not wanting to die, and I for one really want to see this dinner party actually happen! More crucially, the clam special is the first clue that might explain how Sheila got this way, whether or not that will actually lead them to any more answers.

What I’m Watching: Sneaky Pete

Sneaky Pete: Season 2, Episode 6 “11 Million Reasons You Can't Go Home Again” (B+)

It would be have been irresponsible to assume that Maggie’s return after so much time away would be without awkwardness. Otto was so overjoyed to see her, while Audrey had considerably more complicated feelings. Maggie telling Audrey that she forgave her was a tense scene, and Carly being obnoxious after drinking too much didn’t help matters at all. Taylor telling his aunt that he didn’t want her causing any trouble was a particularly strong moment since we don’t often see that fiercely protective side of him except when he confronts Marius. It seemed like Joyce was onto Taylor and his collusion with his grandmother, but she seems much more interested in bolstering his ego and flirting with him. As Julia gets more and more money to have to launder, the heat is much more on her alleged cousin and her aunt, who are in the crosshairs of the FBI as their criminal pursuers get closer to them. It would be great if Marius revealed that he did wear a wire and therefore caught Luca’s murderous act on camera to convict him, but I can’t imagine things will be that easy, especially considering the fact that we have four more episodes left this season. I knew that Luca looked familiar, but I didn’t think that he was John Ales, who I remember best as Rehab on “Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll.” His affinity for coffee was introduced early on in the episode, and Joe being the only one to share it turned out to be his downfall, as he received a violent and scorching face full of his latest brew shortly before being executed. The real Pete is going to have no idea what’s coming for him, and let’s hope the other Murphys don’t suffer in the process.

What I’m Watching: Grace and Frankie

Grace and Frankie: Season 4, Episode 10 “The Death Stick” (B+)

This has been an inarguably tumultuous year for our protagonists, and in this hour we had another death to rile them and make them realize that life is precious. Going to surprise Harriet with vagina balloons left them woefully unprepared for the news that she was dead, having gone out using their vibrator, no less. Grace attempting to do damage control and fielding questions like whether the vibrator was too dangerous for its target demographic was undercut incredibly by Frankie coming over and speaking directly into the recorder with an admission of their status as murderers. Grace made a good point that they had come so far with a business venture that no one expected to see succeed, and Frankie had undone much of that by presuming that they were responsible for her death. Fortunately, her cousin coming over and giving them the “I Am Harriet” shirts provided a huge boost to business, interrupted only by the ominous descent of the bathtub through the floor, which should give them plenty to clean up in the final three episodes of the season. Robert preparing opening arguments for couple’s therapy was entertaining, and I think he and Sol were both equally shocked at the suggestion of an open marriage to help fix their problems. Jessica St. Clair from “Playing House” was a great choice to play Brianna’s nemesis Lauren, and though it didn’t seem like it was going to turn out well for a while, the whole thing inspired Barry to quit and to tell Brianna that he was ready to stick it out with her regardless of whether Say Grace went under.