Monday, April 12, 2021

What I’m Watching: B Positive

B Positive: Season 1, Episode 13 “Inflammatory Response” (B)

Well, at least this is something new and mildly unexpected. Gina did seem to feel quite comfortable and at home with Drew and his dialysis buddies, and a romance was probably inevitable. It might have been entertaining to see Samantha go after Gina even though she would only be interested in the kidney, and instead we got a quick connection between Eli and Gina. Getting her way too many flowers because he didn’t know which option she’d like felt like a move but she liked it, and deciding not to move ahead because it might complicate things with Drew getting the kidney didn’t last long. I suspect that Eli is a better secret keeper than Drew and can succeed in not having him find out that they’re still seeing each other for a while, but Gina will probably feel more guilt about it and opt to tell him when he’s not even close to finding out. His night at the cigar bar went pretty well even if he stole a phone number intended for Eli and claimed it at his own, and it’s good to see him have a win. I wasn’t optimistic about how Norma staying with them and turning Drew’s house into her own following the heat lamp incident was going to go, but it was nice to see that it ended up being a bonding moment for her and Drew, where she got to pretend that he was her son for the police officer who brought her home and he got to make her a genuine and warm offer of hospitality. It’s affirming when comic relief characters are also capable of serving other functions.

Round Two: The United States of Al

The United States of Al: Season 1, Episode 2 “Repair/Tarmim” (B-)

This show definitely doesn’t get a lot of points for its writing or creativity, but there is a certain heart to its content that makes me want to stick around to watch more of it. That final scene in particular suggests the depth to the relationship between Riley and Vanessa that means they are meant to be together, something Al is completely sure of even if both of them have accepted things and moved on. There’s evidently fault to be placed not just on Riley but also on Vanessa, and it was entertaining to learn that, after continuously denying that anything was happening with Freddie, Vanessa was in fact now dating the man, something that she knew would anger Riley. After some initial poor reactions, he did come around to it and approached it in a surprisingly mature way, something he almost immediately undercut by acknowledging their positive communication that in his mind still shouldn’t lead to sex. Al’s failure to respect any boundaries is going to push buttons but also lead to unexpected dialogue between people who have no interest in talking to each other. Art’s love affair with his metal detector was a bit much, but it was nice to see him step in right away to help Lizzie search for Michael’s missing dog tags and then go back out to look the next morning after a very lengthy and unproductive first attempt. The Lizzie we saw happily engaged to Michael at the end of the episode was very different, and I think it will be interesting to see more of who she was and who she is now.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

What I’m Watching: Made for Love

Made for Love: Season 1, Episode 6 “I Want You to Give a F*** about Me” (B+)

All the time Byron has spent in a simulated world has made him pretty much incapable of functioning in the real one, though at least he’s aware of how what he’s experiencing isn’t actually reality. Trying to amplify the distractions he might encounter at the beach proved to be very unhelpful, and once he did venture with Bennett into Los Angeles, he didn’t bother paying attention to the ticket he got and to the fact that he was being surveilled and photographed in an environment that he wasn’t controlling. It’s reassuring to know that the main character of this show didn’t die, mainly because Byron didn’t execute the merge, and that, even though Fiffany and Herringbone were only interested in taking the chip out to serve their own interests, they decided to let her go after Hazel compared Fiffany to Byron, something she didn’t appreciate at all. Things didn’t work out positively for Fiffany, who appeared to secure her exit package only to find herself trapped indefinitely by her angry employer. Hazel managed to communicate how she was feeling over the course of this episode very well to other people in her life besides Byron, chewing her father out for not caring about her nearly as much as he did about his sex doll partner. I enjoyed seeing Kym Whitley, who just appeared in last week’s episode of “Call Your Mother,” as Judiff, another peculiarly-named individual who became a nun to infiltrate the church and expose its crimes, and who knew how she might be able to help Hazel provided she didn’t look directly at her. Finding out about Diane seemed to change her perspective, but at least Hazel and Herbert got to a pretty good place bonding at the cemetery as the episode ended.

What I’m Watching: Made for Love

Made for Love: Season 1, Episode 5 “I Want a Lawyer” (B+)

It does seem futile for Hazel to try to figure out a way to get away from Byron without him knowing since he is watching and listening to everything she does, and Herbert is too lazy to use their very convenient secret language to mask their conversations. I’m not sure what it is that Bengals did with Diane overnight that got Herbert upset, but at least he was relatively interested in helping Hazel to connect with his typically sleazy divorce lawyer contact at the bowling alley. Biff – a great name for such a character – was all about minimizing the abuse she described so that it didn’t sound bad at all, and he was only interested once Herbert mentioned Byron’s name and he realized how much money he stood to make from a settlement. That productive development was short-lived as Byron demonstrated his omnipotence with the blackmail photos appearing instantaneously on the bowling alley TV screens, but what he was actually doing was far worse. It tracks that both Fiffany and Herringbone aren’t really on the side of morality but rather money, though it’s possible that selling the chip to Ignacio will also weaken Byron enough that he will no longer possess the problematic power he does now. Things don’t look good for Hazel after Byron apparently executed the merge, but maybe she’ll somehow spring back to life once they take the chip out, or she’ll act like Byron does? I’m sure that would be entertaining, though there has to be some way back from this.

What I’m Watching: Made for Love

Made for Love: Season 1, Episode 4 “I Want a New Life” (B+)

I am, generally speaking, a big fan of lengthy flashbacks that help fill in a lot of the important gaps in what we know about characters on a show. That worked very well here in establishing how Hazel and Byron first met, though obviously there’s a lot more to cover about how they got to a point of comfort that then began to disintegrate when Hazel realized that a life with this enigmatic billionaire inventor wasn’t actually what she wanted. Hazel is definitely scrappy and creative, and she’s more effective at that when she doesn’t feel totally paranoid that someone is watching her every move. The fact that she met Byron pulling a scam to get money and then that she got cash to pay her father his carefully-calculated rent by doing something very similar indicates that she hasn’t changed all that much, she’s just falling back into old habits now that she’s trying life on the outside. It took me a while to figure out where I knew her old friend from, and I realized that she’s played by Patti Harrison, a fantastic presence in the upcoming film “Together Together” that just released a trailer a few days ago and is slated for release in just a few weeks. She’s a great addition to this show’s cast and vibe, and I love how much Herbert detests her. Byron’s plan to win Hazel back by recreating the experiences she just wants to have in the outside world is going to fail miserably, and his hapless lackey, who reminds me so much of the AI guy from “Upload,” isn’t trying so hard to make it all happen. I am intrigued by Fiffany and her apparent allegiance to her missing colleague Herringbone, and I’m curious if those two have some secret plan to undermine Byron brewing because they’re aware of just how much he’s willing to risk to achieve his far-reaching goals.

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Pilot Review: Home Economics

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: Kung Fu

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: Chad

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.

Friday, April 9, 2021

What I’m Watching: This Is Us

This Is Us: Season 5, Episode 12 “Both Things Can Be True” (B+)

I hadn’t thought much about what a Miguel-Nicky relationship would look like, though it’s also not such a distant memory when the Pearson children weren’t nearly as warm to Miguel as they should have been because they always blamed him for taking the place of their very much dad father, who happened to be his best friend. I liked that the relatively grumpy Nicky clarified that he had no interest in giving a toast, he just hadn’t wanted Miguel to do it when he was being petty. Miguel stepped in to show Rebecca’s father how much of a mistake he was making by agreeing only to tolerate his daughter marrying someone like Jack, and he earned himself a ring extraction via dental floss from the rather intimidating man as a result. The dynamic between Kevin and Randall is indeed complicated, and it was good to see Kevin so eager to fly out and try to repair things, even if he has no idea what he’s about to encounter from the newly validated Randall, whose transracial adoption support group seems to be opening his mind up to important realizations. If you’d asked me what actor I would never have expected to get cast on this show it would have been Chris Geere, a superb fit for “You’re the Worst” whose unpleasantness as Kate’s miserable boss Phillip was not at all a surprise. Beth got some major wisdom from her mother in how she should approach her relationship with Tess and her romance with Alex, and I think it should get better from here. The brief montage of Kevin’s exes all finding out about his engagement at the end of the episode was nice, and I’d very much like if all of them got invited to the wedding.

What I’m Watching: Supergirl

Supergirl: Season 6, Episode 2 “A Few Good Women” (B-)

I didn’t know what exactly was happening at the start of this episode with a suspected vampire who turned out to be an alien from the planet of Transylvan whose real existence had inspired all of the stories we’ve come to know. Him having a connection to the Phantom Zone since he tried desperately to find his missing husband made more sense, though it still caught me off-guard as completely random. Knowing that her mother was alive but not being able to be with her all the time was peculiar enough, and now Kara has the chance to be with her also very-much-living father, who has taken an “Inception”-like plunge where he believes that there’s no way out of the Phantom Zone even if they tried. Brainy training Nia is hardly what I would call gentle, and she’s already running all over the place thanks to having to babysit William. I suppose it shouldn’t be all that far-fetched that Lex would find a way to get himself completely exonerated in court, but I wonder what the longer game is here, especially since Lena could have wiped more of his memory so that he wouldn’t pose such a continuous threat to all of them. He discredited Eve with ease and then still managed to win over the jury even after Lena baited him, and she’s going to have to work with Andrea to find a way to take him down in the court of public opinion and the press if she can’t do it in the court of law, provided she doesn’t find herself facing charges too.

What I’m Watching: The Flash

The Flash: Season 7, Episode 6 “The One with the Nineties” (B)

I love a good time loop – they’re actually among my favorite phenomena in film and television – and this one had some of the workings of a good one but not all. I appreciated the specificity of “The Matrix” being cited as a 1998 film when it in fact came out in 1999, and it was fun to see all of the characters in the present get made over into outfits that were more befitting of the stylish times, including Caitlin ending up as a buttoned-up scientist while the rest of them were decked in something much more fun. Maybe it’s that I prefer episodes that make better use of all of Team Flash, even if characters like Chester could use some more alone time so that we can get to know him. He geeked out over meeting Nora, or rather the speed force in physical form, and then he got to bond with his dad in a totally unexpected way the day before he died, completely transforming the way he saw the mostly absent father figure who was killed in a car crash when he was very young. Working with his father to help get them back to the present was nice, and he’ll likely be inspired to finish their work on his own. It was good for Iris and Nora to talk about how Barry seeing his mother’s face made him feel, and even if it doesn’t make all that much sense to see the speed force in this human form, it’s reassuring to know that there’s someone – or something – who cares deeply for the Flash just as his mother would if she were still alive. Joe going to Frost to tell her what was coming for her didn’t end well, and now it seems much likelier that she will end up getting captured given her attitude.

Thursday, April 8, 2021

What I’m Watching: Breeders

Breeders: Season 2, Episode 4 “No Faith” (B+)

I love how Paul tries to navigate everything that comes up with his children so carefully since he knows that they’re automatically going to be worried that he’ll overreact and get very angry. The look on his face when he saw his daughter praying and crossing herself was priceless, and he went about it in exactly the right way, asking her what she believed and felt and then encouraging the behavior if it was something that she wanted to do. Praising her intelligence but questioning her faith in her grandfather’s prayers being somehow responsible for Luke getting better was also done surprisingly sensitively, to his true credit. He wasn’t quite as gentle with his parents, affirming that he too hoped they would die before him when they told they weren’t infirm but were definitely not firm. Exploring with his father how him turning away from religion hurt his mother was interesting, and it’s good to have those two around to make Paul think constantly about his choices and attitudes. Keeley’s sudden return seemed like enough of a disruption to what counts as regular routine for this bunch, but it seems like Ally is about to add an entirely unexpected new factor to the equation which should change things very dramatically. I thought Ally just couldn’t stand the idea of being vegan and that’s why she was sneaking meat from the refrigerator, coupled with the severe hangover she was nursing, but it looks like Keeley’s hunch was right and another baby may be on the way for these stunned parents.

What I’m Watching: Shameless (Penultimate Episode)

Shameless: Season 11, Episode 11 “The Fickle Lady is Calling it Quits” (B+)

It’s hard to believe we’re almost at the end, and even wilder to think that Frank might not make it to the finale. After everything he’s been through and the medical assessments that he’ll survive the apocalypse along with the cockroaches, him going out on his own terms in his own house would be pretty crazy. It’s very sweet that Liam wanted to spend the day with him doing “Frank things” and that he was serving as the kind of parent he never had for his own father. No one else had terribly positive news aside from Kev and Veronica, who managed to get a great offer on their house so that the only thing stopping them from saying goodbye to Chicago was their concern about the other’s feelings of longing, which were certainly stronger in Kev than in Veronica. It’s hard to watch Lip get torn down again and again, since he did do a masterful job negotiating with the woman who came and offered him $200,000, and now he’s sold all of the furniture and appliances with no offer to show for it. Mickey didn’t give his new digs much of an effort, but it’s nice to see that he and Ian have found some common ground in Mickey getting permission to pee in the pool in exchange for coming with Ian to a yoga class, something I’m sure won’t go well. I was worried that Mickey was going to go ballistic when he found out that the furniture they saw wasn’t actually included, but maybe he’ll make a minimal effort to adjust to his new surroundings. Debs was ready to give up hope and then she got held up by exactly the right person for her, someone even more volatile than Mickey, but I have a feeling it’s all going to work out. Carl getting demoted to meter maid after he went off on the rich landlord has given him a new sense of purpose, which is entertaining, though now he’s going to be obsessing over whether Tish is pregnant with his baby. I know that there’s not much hope, but I’m still holding out for Emmy Rossum to appear again in the finale since this show just isn’t the same without her. Either way, I’m eager for whatever bittersweet conclusion is to come!

Pilot Review: Atlantic Crossing

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Wednesday, April 7, 2021

What I’m Watching: Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist

Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist: Season 2, Episode 8 “Zoey’s Extraordinary Birthday” (B+)

It’s difficult to keep track of who on this show is actually a couple and what romantic feeling still exist between potential partners. Like on “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” when songs helped characters realize who they were and who they liked, the dizzying duets that showed the many couples who were actively interested in each other were extremely informative. It was a lot for Zoey to take, and also hinted at some brewing romances like the one between Rose and Tobin that might eventually emerge out of their endless banter. Tatiana singing to Simon and him not singing back to her was key to her realizing that it was a romance she could once again pursue – though I was under the impression that they were already a couple – and I can’t quite understand why it is that Zoey and Max don’t just un-hit the “pause” button so that they can restart if they know that they feel a certain way about each other. Mo’s new relationship seems like it’s off to a good start even if Perry appreciates directness more than Mo might be willing to give, and that should be a healthy distraction for Zoey’s nosy neighbor. Aiden’s proclamation of love for Zoey was a bit random and served mainly as a way to detach David from the already auxiliary band plotline. His own marriage has heated up again, which is good, and even Maggie found a positive outlet in the planning of the big party to channel her energy somewhere.