Thursday, March 30, 2017

What I’m Watching: The Catch

The Catch: Season 2, Episode 3 “The Dining Hall” (C+)

If there was ever a more appropriate time to use the phrase “jump the shark,” this would be it. I don’t think it represents an enormous reduction in quality; more just a recognition that this show isn’t meant to be taken seriously at all anymore. There is so much flirtation on this show it’s unbelievable, and it’s hard to decide what’s the most ridiculous. It’s also impossible to determine what allegiances there really are, since Rhys teamed up with Tommy, who was then indebted to the cartel, who Alice agreed to get money for, while Ben agreed to get that same money to save Rhys’ life from a very angry son of a diplomat who also just happens to be in the drug-running business. That ending scene showed me that not everyone should be allowed to hold guns, as I think no one’s under any illusion that Ben or Alice would actually shoot each other, no matter how dedicated they are to their respective figurative and real brothers. Going back to the love world, I can’t fathom why it is that Danny and Margot needed to get together, but apparently some combination of her calling him the B-team and wanting to lash out at Sophie compelled him to get into bed with the number one criminal on this show, and something about his boyish innocence charmed him? I’m not so sure about the latter. And the Hammer, who all of a sudden works for Margot, was so overwhelmed by the kindness of Sophie’s gift of a finger from a morgue that he stopped by her office to give her a $3,000 bottle of bourbon as a thank you. Not only that, but Agent Diaz, who insisted that she couldn’t be part of Ben and Rhys’ operation, not only showed up but was flirting off the charts with the two men to the point that they were shocked when she revealed she had a husband. I’m not giving up on this show right now, but it’s a lot to take.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

What I’m Watching: Legion

Legion: Season 1, Episode 6 “Chapter 6” (B+)

This was the second consecutive episode that took place almost entirely within our protagonist’s mind, and what a mesmerizing journey it was to watch them all, including David, fight their way back to reality. I loved the interactions between Cary and Oliver, who definitely has gotten lost within the astral plane, unsure about what saving daylight meant and convinced that his wife was Asian. It’s incredible to see Melanie as she watches the man she loved who is an on-the-spot poet and can’t be bothered to understand what their connection was, and she’s so happy to see him that she’s all for being enchanted by his disconnect. I really liked the glasses that they gave to Syd, who was so on point that she already knew exactly what was going on and what to do about it when Cary tried to read her in. I don’t know what to say about the silent-movie style black-and-white which included subtitles, but what a thrill it was for them to move their bodies and escape both the prison of David’s mind and certain death. Unfortunately, just as soon as they were free and had mostly trapped Lenny inside the very same coffin David found himself in earlier in the episode, a new threat emerged in the form of a very badly burned, very angry Hamish Linklater, who instructed his forces to kill everyone except for David. That worrisome ending even suggested that maybe Lenny breaking out of the coffin was a good since he/she/it could save everyone out of sheer fury and self-preservation. On a lighter note, I find it funny that British actors always seem to want to use their real accents as Dan Stevens did in this episode, though I’ll admit that the tutorial about who his father was proved to be quite informative and helpful.

Pilot Review: Shots Fired

Shots Fired (FOX)
Premiered March 22 at 8pm

If there are two professions that TV doesn’t need any more of at the moment, cops and lawyers would be it. I’m all for creative series, like “Goliath,” but network procedurals tend to be very tiring these days. I was actually impressed with “APB,” which premiered earlier this midseason on the same network, and I can’t say that this show offers the same kind of novel approach. While yes, it does have the major hook of a black cop killing a white kid, beyond that, there’s nothing terribly inviting about this show. It is very racially charged, with conversations like “Do only black lives matter,” and Aisha Hinds’ Mohawk-sporting pastor is all about uniting everyone by bringing in the mother of the white victim to their black church. But the format of the show isn’t particularly inviting, and it’s not nearly as interesting or engaging as it wants to be. I was a big fan of Sanaa Lathan during season two of “Boss,” and I don’t think that this role, which finds her doing her job incredibly well but struggling considerably more to be a mother, utilizes her talents properly. A trio of familiar TV faces – Stephen Moyer, Jill Hennessy, and Helen Hunt – offer credibility but don’t add much, and this show, like so many others, is so much about sex and flashiness rather than actual content. I can understand why people would want to watch this show and why they might be drawn to it, and I’m hopeful that others found this opening “hour one” to be a more positive and memorable experience than I did.

How will it work as a series? The personal drama is going to be a mere subplot to everything else, which has to do with the racial politics of the south, complications involving both legal remedies and law enforcement, and just generally people wanting to hurt other people because they don’t like them. It’s pretty standard fare that’s sure to be sensational as much as it can.
How long will it last? Most people seem to have enjoyed this pilot more than I did given the positive reviews I’m seeing, but the ratings weren’t much to write home about. Airing after the very popular “Empire,” this show didn’t impress ratings-wise in its debut airing, and I’m not too sure that it’s going to be able to improve. I’m sure it has those who would like to see it succeed, so I wouldn’t give up hope just yet.

Pilot grade: C

What I’m Watching: National Treasure (Season Finale)

National Treasure: Season 1, Episode 4 (B+)

I’m certain that this is actually the series finale since I don’t see how this could continue, and what an effective four-episode series it’s been. After all the run-up to the trial, we got to see everything play out very bluntly and bleakly, with both of the women accusing Paul of assault and abuse brutally torn apart by the defense and then Paul subject to the same vicious approach from the prosecution when he was on the stand. It was particularly moving and effective to watch Paul’s face and Marie’s face while listening to the testimonies, and hearing how monetary compensation and an affectionate letter written a year after the fact could undo such powerful and horrifying accounts of treatment. Marie telling Paul in the middle of the trial that she thinks he did it was intense, and he didn’t seem the least bit apologetic when he took the stand, against the advice of his legal counsel, admitting to sex with prostitutes and insisting that he wasn’t perfect but he didn’t do this. Seeing what actually happened as remembered by one of the victims right before the not-guilty verdict was announced, much to her horror, was deeply affecting, and Paul harshly telling his daughter that they shouldn’t do family therapy on his big day served as a reminder that, much as he might be endearing in his later years, he isn’t a good guy. Ending with him calling out for Marie and realizing, somewhat angrily, that he’s all alone, was a haunting way to close this show that I’d recommend highly to sophisticated viewers not too averse to its subject matter.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Round Two: Trial and Error

Trial and Error: Season 1, Episodes 3 and 4 “The Other Man” and “An Unwelcome Distraction” (B)

This show is airing two episodes a week, and I feel like I’m enjoying it enough that I can stick with it throughout its run. It continues to be entertaining, with newly absurd facets of the case presented almost every minute. Larry’s brother-in-law having “Taken from us too soon…by Larry Henderson” written on his sister’s casket was hilarious, and just about everything in the legal system of this backwards town seems prejudiced against Larry and any hope of getting him off. Larry himself isn’t helping any, constantly insisting on providing information that will only help lead to his conviction, like a hit-and-run he got away with a year earlier, and celebrating being set free when it was just the latest hiccup in the case averted while he was, as Josh put it, very much still on trial for murder. I like that Josh managed to achieve a brief victory by getting into Carol Anne’s head after she tricked him into giving her a damning piece of evidence. Dwayne continues to provide his idiocy, though both he and Ann actually helped in a minor way with their contributions. It was disappointing to see Kevin Durand, who played a much more serious role on “Lost,” appear for just a brief couple of scenes before getting killed off, and I like the casting of Ginger Gonzaga as a murder-loving stalker who even managed to set off an alarm with Larry that there was something seriously wrong with her. I hope that we’ll see her again, and the sight of her trimming his hedges suggests we very well might.

What I’m Watching: The Detour

The Detour: Season 2, Episode 6 “The Tournament” (B)

This wasn’t the best episode of the season, but it did still have some funny moments as the story progressed forward and we got an important link in the major investigation that’s been underway for the whole series into Nate and Robin’s behavior. The paternity test made things a little bit more serious because the hold that Nate and Robin have on their kids with their wild antics is tenuous enough as it is, and though Jareb wouldn’t really be able to understand it, it would still represent an unfortunate barrier to closeness. Fortunately, Nate is in fact his father, and he also managed to do a terrific job of taking down and beating up Carlos, whose accent is fake and whose lawyer was pretty sure that Nate could take him in a fight. I do love that, since Nate stopped paying attention after he was potty-trained, Jareb makes a big show of not only taking off all his clothes whenever he goes to the bathroom but also hanging them over the door of a public restroom. As usual, everyone is focused on Jareb and not on his sister, and her belt ceremony was the perfect time for Delilah to get out some of her anger, which of course made things seem very bad for Nate when people were only hearing part of the conversation. It’s going to take a lot for Nate to be able to trust Robin again, but something tells me they’ll get through it to arrive at the point that we see at the start of each episode. And now we’ve seen one of the interrogators moving in next door and drilling quite a bit, finally explaining how all this surveillance happened.

What I'm Watching: You, Me, Her

You, Me, Her: Season 2, Episode 6 "What the F Is Wrong With You Trakarskys?" (B+)

If season one of this show was about a whimsical relationship that redefined a marriage, season two is about the harsh reality check that all three members of the thruple are getting. Dave articulated it best when he made clear to Jack that if he didn't come to Emma's rescue knowing her parents were coming to town after Carmen sent him to tell him with Em mama knowledge, things were going to be seriously irreparable. It's not as if Emma and Izzy are having a wild affair with him out of the house, and in fact they're back to mundane relationship things like an attempted cleanse to curb Izzy's excessive pot habit and her subsequent rebellion that included an interaction with Ava, who was still trying desperately not to be as awful as her mother. Emma did mention to Izzy that her parents were coming to town, but she didn't seem to react and something tells me that she wouldn't impress the hyper-conservative parental units we're about to meet. Though Emma isn't blameless in this situation, I think Jack has evolved from a place of being somewhat on the right side of this to a far less sympathetic stage, since he was actively preparing for a date with a woman who wasn't his wife or his girlfriend, and he seems to have chosen her over both of them in the episode's final scene. I do hope we'll at least see the once-happy couple back tougher for as little as a conversation soon, but I'm not too optimistic at this particular moment.

Monday, March 27, 2017

What I'm Watching: Legends of Tomorrow

Legends of Tomorrow: Season 2, Episode 15 "The Fellowship of the Spear" (B)

This is the second time in just a few weeks that this show has invoked a recent piece of pop culture in a way that is meant to be so crucial and relevant to the very fabric of its characters' existence. I would never have predicted any sort of connection between J.R.R. Tolkien and the blood of Jesus Christ, but I guess I don't know very much. The episode's title was clever, but it wasn't as fun as seeing Ian Fleming as James Bond precursor in a similarly-themed "Timeless" episode earlier this season. That's partly because of the violent setting of this quest which was awfully innocuous thanks to the apparent invincibility of the legends and their impressive establishment of a ceasefire on the battlefield. After Mick thought it was a hallucination, it turns out that Snart is really back, plucked from the past to do as much destruction as he could. I always thought that he was more well-intentioned and not as bad as Mick, but now he's fully loving the carnage and encouraging Mick to join him too. Not that there was ever much risk that she would, I'm glad that Amaya made the definitive choice not to join the bad guys but instead to stick to her convictions, even knowing what her future held. I hope she'll stick around next season - she's been a great addition to the show. The now five-member Legion of Doom is set to manipulative events to their will after activating the spear, and it's going to be an uphill battle for the legends to topple them.

What I'm Watching: New Girl

New Girl: Season 6, Episode 20 "Misery" (B)

I understand that this episode's title is meant to serve as a parody of the Oscar-winning 1990 film helmed by Rob Reiner, who got to have fun played the bed bound character here whose caretaker, under the guise of keeping up his health and speeding along his recovery, wouldn't let him out. Like many of Jess' plotlines of late, it fell flat, and it's better just to ignore and forget it altogether. I enjoyed the fact that Schmidt and Cece just showed up at the loft and found that every single person, including Winston's mom, made mention of them having moved out and asked what they were doing there. They were so eager to still be involved in their lives since living in a house wasn't all they had hoped it would be, and I laughed when Cece reacted to Nick not having her number in his phone. Egging Nick on to assert himself in Reagan's life a bit wasn't an initially intelligent idea, but I think it pushed him far enough to be able to realize that he and Reagan just don't work. If Jess ever answered her phone, maybe they could get started on getting back together since anything else seems inevitable at this point. Winston hosting a fake radio show just so that his mom wouldn't know that he was a cop was the epitome of ridiculousness, and I'm glad that Aly found something different - bargain shopping - to bond with his mom about which led to some serious honesty and included a few funny moments.

What I'm Watching: The Flash

The Flash: Season 3, Episode 17 "Music Meister" (C+)

So I don't really read much about shows or episodes before they air, and as a result some major crossover events like this one come as a surprise to me. I'm not sure I would have been any more excited had I known what was in store. The entire existence of the Music Meister felt unnecessary, and showing up to teach them a lesson about the power of love was far from a convincing legitimization of his appearance. I'm also not sure why we needed a musical episode, though I can understand that the talent involved makes it seem like a no-brainer. I remember seeing Grant Gustin, Jesse L. Martin, and Victor Garber in musicals back when I first heard of each of them, and it suddenly occurred to me halfway through the episode that the Meister was played by Darren Criss, who had a thread with Gustin during his breakout role on "Glee." Having Cisco, Stein, Winn, and Merlyn play parts in the musical was moderately fun, but I've seen the same thing done better in other projects in the past. I honestly would have preferred to see Kara and Barry get together before going back to the old inevitable couples from their respective shows. Barry re-proposing to Iris while belting out an incredibly operatic tune was one way to reignite the romance, and at least it means that they'll be back on the right track, united to finally try to defeat Savitar once and for all by the end of the season. This musical diversion shouldn't last past this episode, and I think there's more to be done to cover the team in its own universe without the need for more musical tunes.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

What I’m Watching: Humans

Humans: Season 2, Episode 7 (B+)

Okay, so I know that AMC actually aired the eighth and final episode of this season right after the seventh, but I’d prefer to stretch this show out longer, especially since this hour was really good. It’s hard to decipher who the good guys and who the bad guys are when the one at the top is actually Dr. Morrow, whose feelings about synths come from a much more personal place and who isn’t intent on making the sentient ones suffer the same way as some of her colleagues are. After Hester nearly intimidated Mattie into cooperation by force at the start of the episode, she showed a cool, calculating demeanor when she didn’t let herself be talked down by a surprisingly adept Pete and instead killed both the doctor and Pete. I’ll admit that Pete’s death caught me off-guard since I hadn’t imagined that he would be killed and certainly not like this, and the most intense part of it was seeing Karen sob with such sadness and then reveal no trace of any emotion just seconds later. The devastation that Leo and Anita felt when all of the freed synths collapsed behind them after they had been broken out was poignant, and it’s easy to forget that they too can be simply switched off with a mere touch or click. As they are immersing themselves fully into the battle, Niska is deciding that she doesn’t want to be a part of it anymore, preferring instead to spend time with her girlfriend, someone who makes her feel human. The news that Renie isn’t really a synth probably shouldn’t be too surprising, and it’s just the latest interesting comment about what kind of behavior passes for normal in this new world.

What I’m Watching: Jane the Virgin

Jane the Virgin: Season 2, Episode 14 “Chapter Fifty-Eight” (B)

I’m usually all for this show and its imagined diversions enthusiastically described by the narrator, but I wasn’t too fond of the election parody that served as the meat of this episode. Having Jane and Petra fight to be room mom was dramatic enough on its own, and the “I’m with her” ending, which mildly amusing, wasn’t worth the whole thing. I do like the fact that Rafael ended up being the choice, though I’m not sure what that says about patriarchy in society (not much, I assume, just a bit of food for thought). Mateo’s new aide seemed a little casual and laidback, ready to clash with Jane on everything, but he turned out to be just the right dose of optimism for both Jane and Rafael, who were feeling insecure in the face of Mateo’s behavior. I enjoyed Rogelio having a Sunday Funday with Mateo which involved being fitted for suits, and clearly Rogelio’s inappropriate communication was well-timed since Bruce got the hint that Xiomara wasn’t over her ex, who may now have moved past his kid condition. It’s nice to see Alba reinvesting in her romance with Jorge, despite an unfortunate mishap. As the narrator would say, she’s not the only one jumping back into the dating scene, with Jane declaring herself ready to think about it and Rafael and Petra going down a very familiar road for what’s now probably the third or fourth time. Will it stick this time? I’m betting not, but I’m eager to see how it plays out and what happens when it comes out.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

What I’m Watching: Supergirl

Supergirl: Season 2, Episode 16 “Star-Crossed” (B-)

I didn’t find this episode to be all that great, mainly because, once again, characters jumped to conclusions and assumed that personalities had changed overnight when that couldn’t be further from the case. Yes, it’s true that Mon-El lied to Kara about who he was, but that’s also because Daxomerites and Kryptonians apparently really hate each other. I didn’t recognize Teri Hatcher, famous for her own part in a Superman series, at the end of the last episode, and if I hadn’t seen her name before Kevin Sorbo’s in the credits I may not even have recognized her. It’s a fun idea to have the likes of Hatcher, Dean Cain, Lynda Carter, and Laura Vandervoort take on guest roles on this show, but this was the most lackluster such spot thus far. I’m not sure the whole plotline added much, other than leading to Kara’s breakup with Mon-El, which was immediately followed by the appearance of yet another otherworldly disruptor to trap Kara in a trance of sorts and lead to the very exciting end titles declaring that this story would be continued on “The Flash,” an unexpected but welcome crossover just a few months after the last CW multi-show event. Lyra turning into a con woman felt like it came from out of nowhere, and of course she was just doing it for her kidnapped younger brother, a device that seems to be used very often. Let’s hope a visit to Earth-One will help improve the quality once this show picks back up next week.

Friday, March 24, 2017

What I’m Watching: Girls

Girls: Season 6, Episode 6 “Full Disclosure” (B+)

This episode was a return to more of the conversations that have helped to define this show throughout its run, and the content of this half-hour constituted what this show should be covering right now. Hannah isn’t being too subtle about her pregnancy, telling the world in a blunt way and almost always receiving laughter as a response since no one can believe that she would actually be seeing considering having a baby. I enjoyed the fact that even the likes of Keith, her father’s boyfriend, decided to weigh in on whether she should tell the father, something she apparently considered at the end of the episode even if it didn’t lead to much since the operator couldn’t connect her to Jean-Louis. Jessa coming by to tell her that she was hurt was interesting, and her choice of the word “dear” to describe her friendship with Hannah was telling, since it didn’t indicate any sort of real or true closeness but rather an enduring presence devoid of substance or strength. Adam was obsessed, predictably since it’s his nature, with Hannah watching the movie to tell him if it was real, and the lingering shot of him calling her back to the bed at the end of the episode suggests that he may well be where she’s headed in the end. Desi showing up high was a predictable development, and the more telling thing is that, as articulated by her mom, Marnie still can’t tell when she’s around someone who’s not in his right mind and clearly under the influence of drugs. I’m not sure that we needed to see Marnie’s mom as her partner slash fake sister, since this seemed like a ripe opportunity to focus in on Marnie’s revitalized career as a solo artist.

What I’m Watching: Billions

Billions: Season 2, Episode 5 “Currency” (B)

I’ll admit, I didn’t exactly follow what happened in this episode and who was playing who. Axe is all about risking it all for a huge return, and he nearly got screwed over – I think – by one of his former allies, and then managed to bait his other friends-slash-enemies into sticking with it to ensure he could still make a boatload of money. Not telling Boyd about his impending arrest after he found out was a calculated move, and he managed to get the upper hand with Chuck by telling him that he definitely expected to see more of Chuck arresting people with him looking on and getting to walk away. I’m not sure why we needed so much time devoted to Wags on his personal journey back to a place of soundness and mental fitness, and anyone should have been able to realize that he was feeling inferior because he was no longer Axe’s only right-hand man. It was jarring to see Axe exhibit such cruelty towards Lara, someone he has always supported up to this point, and I think it’s something that she’s not going to soon get over since he clearly doesn’t want her to be successful, certainly not as much as him. Despite the church status update, it doesn’t seem that the world’s least friendly and social internal auditor Oliver is really headed anywhere with his case, still determined to find a smoking gun that may not be there in the way he wants it to be if he hasn’t been able to stumble upon it yet.