Tuesday, January 28, 2020

What I’m Watching: The Good Place (Penultimate Episode)

The Good Place: Season 4, Episode 12 “Patty” (B+)

I can’t help but think that the content of this episode could have filled up an entire season if this show wasn’t ending, but maybe it’s better that it didn’t since, like the last couple episodes, it was extremely satisfying to see so much happen. Chidi’s excitement about meeting Hypatia was bound to prove disappointing for some reason or another, and while I wasn’t sure initially about the casting of Lisa Kudrow, her efforts to remember what math was called confirmed that it was indeed the right choice. Michael had no clue that the team in charge of the good place were trying to run away and put him in charge instead, and I’ll certainly miss the soothing, authoritative tone of Michael’s voice that Ted Danson does so well. The fact that they all came in to the party together was both sweet and smart, and the weird amalgam of all of their innermost desires helped them to realize that, if they stuck together, they might be able to avoid the brain mush that befell Patty. I guess we don’t need the judge to create a door to permanent death, but it’s possible that we’ll see her one last time in the finale. Aside from the whole what-happens-next question, things are mostly resolved for our characters right now, which is interesting. I’m honestly not sure what the 90-minute series ender, which airs this Thursday, will bring, but it’s been a fantastic run, and I’m so eager to see how it all ends

Pilot Review: Outmatched

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Monday, January 27, 2020

Pilot Review: October Faction

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Pilot Review: Star Trek: Picard

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Sunday, January 26, 2020

Pilot Review: Awkwafina is Nora from Queens

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What I’m Watching: This Is Us

This Is Us: Season 4, Episode 11 “A Hell of a Week: Part One” (B+)

This episode honed in on just one of our characters, though its title indicates that the next one or two installments will likely cover what happened simultaneously to the other siblings and their families. Randall has always been a fascinating character, and this is the most vivid time I can remember that he’s been featured in so many different incarnations, first as a young child whose father was giving him a pep talk when he couldn’t sleep, then a college student who was having frequent nightmares, and later a full-fledged adult who still hasn’t resolved a lot of the issues he has. Cutting from his childhood to him standing in the kitchen with the intruder was a strong and frightening opening, and fortunately nothing more happened other than him and Beth realizing that he had been in their bedroom to steal some jewelry. Randall seemed understandably distracted at work, especially when Darnell came to see him, and he didn’t want to hear any of what Darnell was telling him about needing to talk to someone. Seeing how Beth supported him when he confessed that he was too scared to sleep alone was sweet, and it was informative to see how he rushed home to deal with something Kate-related and as a result never went to the therapy that could so much have benefited him. At least Kevin was there to talk to him over the phone as he prepared to go to Sophie’s mom’s funeral, and while I’d hope that he’ll once again be able to help Randall through this since he was there for him in the past, we know that’s not quite how it’s going to work out this time.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

What I’m Watching: Legends of Tomorrow

Legends of Tomorrow: Season 5, Episode 2 “Meet the Legends” (B+)

I can tell that it’s going to be confusing this season since, for some reason, this is technically considered the premiere, even though I watched an episode of this show last week which was part of the crossover. It seems that hasn’t had much of an effect on our characters here, save for Sara mourning the loss of Oliver. Opening with a documentary crew following the legends to help with their public relations perception was an interesting approach, one that worked better on this show than it might have anywhere else. I liked the quick clip of Mick presenting Best Picture at the Oscars, and this is likely all that we’ll see of that kind of thing given the way in which they pretended it was all fake at the end of the episode following the premiere. Gideon’s virus was a helpful way to get them back into 1917 St. Petersburg, resulting in the director getting left back there so that he could be a puppet for the undead Rasputin to try to channel his energy into the word of cinema. Each legend’s different plan for revenge was entertaining, and somehow it was the well-meaning Ray, now mistaken regularly for Neron, who returned to his full size from inside him, blowing him up in the process. I was confused at first when I saw Behrad as a member of the team, and that final scene clarified things in a big way, explaining that it wasn’t the crisis but the Hayworld event that resulted in Zari being erased and replaced with her brother. I’m very curious to see what comes of that, and I also hope this isn’t the last we’ve seen of Charlie!

What I’m Watching: Work in Progress

Work in Progress: Season 1, Episode 7 “14 (Pt. 2), 12, 11, 10” (B+)

It’s really devastating to see that, after everything, Chris wasn’t actually so understanding about Abby finding out his dead name, not because she knew but because of how she chose not to be open with him about it. Explaining the advice given to her by Campbell and Julia was meant to underscore the heartache she endured deliberating whether or not to be honest, but instead it just piled on for Chris, demonstrating that Abby was more comfortable talking to other people than him about what was on her mind. We got to see how frozen she was, flashing back to the moment in which she confronted her previous relationship’s demise, admonished for the way in which she kept things to herself and allowed them to explode into those boxes. We haven’t seen Chris anywhere near this upset before, and hopefully he’ll come to terms with who Abby is and why she couldn’t bring herself to talk to him. Abby getting cited for her “work birthday” allowed for an entertaining back and forth in which she seemed determined to temp forever in spite of company policy. Being told that she gained four and a half pounds and that it wasn’t the end of the world helped her realize that focusing on that wasn’t a healthy way to life, though I imagine she’ll now descend back into other problematic habits following this rupture in her relationship. It was nice that Julia called to invite her to the “This American Life” taping, and maybe that’s just what can give her a bit of a re-charging spark.

Friday, January 24, 2020

What I’m Watching: Curb Your Enthusiasm (Season Premiere)

Curb Your Enthusiasm: Season 10, Episode 1 “Happy New Year” (B+)

It’s been over two years since this show last aired, and it’s just as relevant and hilarious as ever. The timeliest reference was the MAGA hat, and of course Larry would use it as a repellant so that he could avoid annoying lunches, having people sit next to him at the sushi bar, and the possibility of getting hurt by far scarier people when he was the one at fault. A far more innocuous realization was that people do tend to say “Happy New Year” far beyond the first of the year, just one of many typical things that bugged Larry and ended up getting him into trouble over the course of the hour. Ogling the pigs in a blanket and then accidentally grabbing the waitress’ breast got him into trouble, especially when Alice got on the phone with the waitress and compared stories of her own experiences. Jeff being mistaken for Harvey Weinstein is humorous and understandable, and I thought he’d be in bigger trouble for laughing too much at Cheryl and Larry making fun of what Susie was wearing. It’s nice to see a new plot development sure to have lasting implications: Larry sleeping with Cheryl, something she inexplicably still wants to do but might be more complicated now that he put her in the hospital because he put on talcum powder before they had sex. I can’t wait to see how badly Larry fails at opening up a rival coffee shop to get revenge on Mocha Joe. This show is always great fun.

Pilot Review: Avenue 5

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Thursday, January 23, 2020

What I’m Watching: The L Word: Generation Q

The L Word: Generation Q: Season 1, Episode 7 “Lose It All” (B+)

It was clear from the start that a thruple would prove to be complicated for Alice, but this is not how I expected it to go. It didn’t help that Alice had a pretty terrible day at work where the meeting in which she hoped to pitch that Drew should be fired resulted in the news that her show might be cancelled and that he was essentially her only hope to avoid that fate. Coming home to find Nat and Gigi in bed together sent her over the edge, and she’s in part right that they’re working through their marital issues in a way that might not leave space for her. Hopefully this isn’t the end of her relationship with Nat, though it certainly looks that way at the moment. Bette seemed hopeful at the notion of reconciliation with Tina, and finding out that she was engaged to someone else was hard to hear. Maybe now that Sophie, in an understandable moment of grief, kissed Finley, something will finally happen between Dani and Bette, who humorously gets to be the calmer and less abrasive person for once. Tess helped Shane work through some of her hang-ups with Quiara, a relationship that still doesn’t seem destined to last. It was nice to see a focus on Micah as his mom came to town to meet Jose stoned and made things bad right away by bringing up elements of his childhood as a girl. She eventually made up for that behavior with a ringing endorsement of the authenticity of their connection.

What I’m Watching: Supergirl

Supergirl: Season 5, Episode 10 “The Bottle Episode” (B+)

In the aftermath of the five-show crisis crossover, I wasn’t sure which shows I’d continue watching. After ten minutes of “Batwoman,” I decided to give up on that series, mainly because it returned right back to the stale storylines that had been featured last year. This show, on the other hand, is all about implications from the multiverse being combined into just one earth. That worked very well in this case as multiple Brainys appeared and they had to deal with what that meant, both personally and for the fate of the universe and all that. I knew I recognized the female Brainy, who it turns out was Meaghan Rath, actor Jesse Rath’s real-life older sister, which was a clever bit of casting. It’s a shame that what came of all this was that Brainy had to close himself off from everything to ally with Lex, which meant dumping Nia and breaking her heart. William starting to doubt Lex’s true intentions was a relief for the flabbergasted Kara who now has to put up with Lex being in charge of the DEO in this newly-modified reality. Bringing a truth seeker so that Lena would trust him was smart, and neither of them minced words about their true intentions. Lillian in particular is the same as she’s always been, not eager to give her daughter a hug since that would be far too weak. Lex showing Brainy a photo of Winn was a surprise, and it will be nice to have him back as a character. On a slightly lighter note, it was very strange and funny to hear an N’Sync song playing during the barfight.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

What I’m Watching: Shameless

Shameless: Season 10, Episode 11 “Location, Location, Location” (B+)

I didn’t realize that this was the second-to-last episode of the season, a realization that stings even more with the recent news that this show has been renewed for an eleventh and final season. Honestly, this show has had a long and great run, and eleven seasons is nothing to scoff at for any series. I’ll have to enjoy whatever’s left! Mickey’s dad showing up at the house threatening to kill Mickey pushed him in a truly insane groomzilla direction, which proved to be extremely entertaining. I thought that more might come of the florist rejecting the idea of working with a gay couple, but instead it was just all a run-up to Ian showing Mickey that he did care about something by finding the perfect person to sing Bon Jovi for their wedding, which I’m sure will be a blast to watch when it happens. Liam managed to find Frank so that he could stay at school, and Frank’s response to his wish to move in with him so that he could get enrolled somewhere better meant that Liam wasn’t interested in coming over when he was scared of the dark in his apparently haunted house. Of course it would end up being another squatter whose crystal meth made Frank feel right at home. Lip buying a house down the street made much more sense for a lot of reasons, but Tami didn’t react well, and their future together may now be in serious jeopardy. Kev was very smart to realize that he could make some money as a personal trainer and get rid of some obnoxious bar chores at the same time. I like that Carl is working as an informant – or undercover, as he likes to think – though naturally he ended up on the wrong side of the law with the cop wanting in on the take rather than to execute true justice. Debs splitting her time between a mother and a daughter was bound to end badly, and the corsage she forgot to take off was her undoing, resulting in the two of them fighting bitterly and forgetting all about her. She even got to rebound with a Milkovich sibling of her own!

Pilot Review: 9-1-1: Lone Star

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Tuesday, January 21, 2020

What I’m Watching: Ray Donovan (Season Finale)

Ray Donovan: Season 7, Episode 10 “You’ll Never Walk Alone” (C+)

This was an unspectacular end to a truly disappointing and rather pointless season. I’m unsure why the far superior “Shameless” got its final season announced already while this show’s fate has yet to be determined, but that’s maybe because no one cares enough to find out what might happen next after this lackluster finale. We concluded the flashbacks to a young Donovan family with the revelation that Bridget was pregnant when she killed herself with Jim’s baby, something that might feel more impactful if we had known the character before this season. I don’t understand the need for mystery in identifying who Ray was carrying in that body bag since it really should have been Mickey, but yet again there was someone who was temporarily worse and managed to allow him to live just a little bit longer. Daryll showing up to kill Declan was perhaps a bit too clean, though one person doesn’t think so, and that’s Smitty, who no one even seemed to notice had been apparently killed in the crossfire. Ray shooting Jim is one of the most violent things he’s done in a while, and he did it so emotionlessly that it hardly seems like progress for him. Whether his relationship with Molly continues is unknown since she’s much smarter than any of the women he’s been with in the past, Abby excepted. Terry going to see Dr. Amiot and then heading up to the top of the Empire State building was cause for concern, and his fate remains uncertain. This episode featured yet another unnecessary musical montage, and, if for some reason this show is permitted to return for a swan song, I think I’ll have to come back and read this review to remind me that it’s just not worth it anymore.

Season grade: C+
Season MVP: Kerry Condon as Molly Sullivan