Thursday, July 18, 2019

What I’m Watching: Big Little Lies

Big Little Lies: Season 2, Episode 6 “The Bad Mother” (B+)

I thought that this was the season of Reese Witherspoon, but Nicole Kidman got quite the showcase in this hour. Her entire life really was put on trial in an extremely public way, and Denis O’Hare was born to play the role of the belligerent questioner set on exposing her every potentially unfit action. At least she was honest about pretty much everything, the specifics of Perry’s death aside, and she held up very well considering the onslaught of accusations leveled against her. It was reassuring to see her stand up right before the judge was set to deliver her verdict and demand that Mary Louise be put on trial for her own fitness as a parent, given that she continues to deny that Perry could have been the abusive person everyone else insists he is. That’s sure to make for an explosive finale, one that may also resolve some of the other plotlines prominently featured in this episode. Ed got a relatively straightforward and strings-free offer from Tori that he may well take, and that would probably be the simplest way to be back on good terms with Madeline, who is doing whatever she can to try to atone for her sins and grapple with what she’s feeling now. Bonnie confessing to her mother and expressing her resentment was powerful, and I’m glad that no one overheard that moment of honesty which Bonnie seems desperate to unload. Jane is doing a good job of confronting the people in her life who do things to upset her, and it seems that Corey is interested in being with her, no matter how long it takes for her to trust him again. Renata does go overboard sometimes, but her reaction to finding out that her husband slept with the nanny and that she was demanding hundreds of thousands of dollars for her time felt much more justified than usual.

What I’m Watching: Perpetual Grace, LTD

Perpetual Grace, LTD: Season 1, Episode 7 “Bull Face” (B+)

Sometimes I don’t even know where this show gets its ideas. DeLoash arriving at Grand Central only to get into the Cash Cab felt completely random and surreal, and of course he didn’t understand what a Kardashian was but managed to bypass the “easy” questions so that he could get each of them right, most notably the last one identifying him and Pa as the youngest killers, and win the most prize money ever. This show has mentioned Lenscrafters a whole lot, but this product placement felt even more prominent, namely because it was actually a part of the plot. Pa is in enough trouble after his three hostages turned out to be much more fortified than he thought, and so DeLoash coming for him will have to wait until he gets back across the border somehow. As usual, the dialogue on this show is rather exquisite, with New Leaf giving a whole long speech to Walker about his past and how he just needed to cut him loose rather than trying to interrogate him anymore. It seems that James encouraging Glenn to give his dad the sombrero wasn’t the best idea since the town drunk just went and told Walker about the gift his son brought him back from his latest trip. Scotty has much more personality than it initially seemed, and she’s just the latest person to insert herself into the con that James and Paul are running, one that’s going to get more complicated with no dead bodies to bring back from Mexico.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

What I’m Watching: Euphoria

Euphoria: Season 1, Episode 5 “’03 Bonnie and Clyde” (B)

This show tends to have some trouble focusing, like all of its distraction-addled characters, and therefore it was refreshing to see the fallout from the carnival be addressed so specifically, even if what happened was deeply unsettling. We’ve seen how teen gossip works among the students themselves, and previously Kat managed to use a poorly-phrased question against the principal when he asked about the video in which she was allegedly featured. Here, students were sharing plenty with the principal that he didn’t even want to know about after Maddy passed out in class and the marks on her neck became very obvious to everyone, including the police. Maddy’s backstory made a lot of sense for what we’ve seen of her, and after she shut down during this episode, all she wanted more than anything was to be with Nate again, which is troubling enough in itself. Learning that she watches pornography so that she can better know how to act around men was probably the most interesting bit of information revealed about her. We also got to see how Cal acts in a crisis, first asking his son if he did it and then if he admitted to it, eager to get to a “no” on both fronts to best preserve his reputation. Rue and Jules did move rather quickly in getting their painful tattoos, and we didn’t get many other updates on that aside from Rue’s recount of her super brief and (not so) horrifying sexual history and Jules not taking her father up on wanting the three of them to have dinner. Both Cassie and Kat don’t seem sure of what to do in the aftermath of what happened at the carnival, and hopefully they’ll just be open and honest with the men in their lives so that things don’t get even more derailed.

What I’m Watching: iZombie

iZombie: Season 5, Episode 10 “Night and the Zombie City” (B+)

Now this was an involved episode that fully embraced the mood and nature of the detective brain that Liv was eating. Turning it into a noir was cool, and it worked both for the serious investigative moments and for the humor it involved. Clive insisting that he closes all his cases by the book was one such funny scene, representing his frustration overtaking his amusement with the situation. Liv almost had Blaine against a wall and actually headed to prison, but instead he blamed the whole thing on Crybaby so that he can once again get off without any consequences. Martin was very forthcoming with both Liv and Ravi when confronted about being Beanpole Bob, but they ultimately saw through him and realized that he had far more nefarious aims. Now that the vote has been held, General Mills calling Dolly is a disturbing development, one that’s going to pit them against Martin’s controllable army with all the innocent zombies and humans caught in the middle. In happier news, it was fun to see Peyton let loose and do some karaoke before starting a bar fight, and it was sweet to see Don-E make up for his misstep with a lovely proposal to the girl whose last name he didn’t even know. Darcy, like this show, doesn’t have much time left, and it’s good to see some characters headed for a potentially happy ending. Let’s see if the same is true for everyone with just three hours to go before this show signs off for good.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Emmy Nominees: Best Comedy Series

My predictions: 4/7, missing “Fleabag,” “Russian Doll,” and “Schitt’s Creek”

Well, here are a few surprises. Possibly the biggest snub of the day is “The Kominsky Method,” which was expected completely here, and there’s also no repeat nomination for “GLOW,” no farewell bid for “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” and the ousting of “Black-ish” from the lineup. Instead, we get the truly shocking inclusion of Schitt’s Creek, here for the first time for its fifth season. I’ve never seen it and will have to check it out. I stopped after episode one of Russian Doll, which did extremely well, so I’ll have to go back and keep watching. I’ve also been meaning to watch season two of Fleabag, a show I loved in season one that really win voters over this year. I’m absolutely thrilled that The Good Place finally made the cut, joining two great shows from last year, Barry and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, both of which upped their totals this year. And lastly, we have Veep, which didn’t dominate the categories the way it has its past two seasons, but it’s evidently still popular enough to merit a place here.

Who should win? I have to watch three of these, but I’m all for “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” with “The Good Place” and “Barry” as good choices too.
Who will win? I think that The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel repeats, but who knows?

Emmy Nominees: Best Drama Series

My predictions: 7/8, missing “Succession”

Well, it seemed like there were eight contenders, and all of them made the cut. That’s not the case, of course, for “Homecoming,” which managed just one technical bid and no other nominations. Game of Thrones pulled off a staggering 32 nominations, eight more than its previous high, and scored ten acting bids, which makes it a formidable frontrunner. The other returning nominees, Better Call Saul and This Is Us, did about as well as they have in the past. Both Ozark and Killing Eve jumped up to nine nominations and a place here for their second seasons. Despite making the cut here, freshmen Bodyguard, Pose, and Succession all performed less fantastically than expected, earning a grand total of one acting nomination among the three of them. I would have loved to see some fun inclusions here, but at least we get a few new shows that seem to be popular.

What should win? I don’t watch “Ozark,” “Pose,” or “Succession.” I think I’d pick “Bodyguard” over “Better Call Saul.”
What will win? I don’t think it’s wise to bet against Game of Thrones, and none of these seem strong enough to beat it.

Emmy Nominees: Best Writing for a Comedy Series

My predictions: 1/7

The nominees: ronny/lily (Barry), Episode 1 (Fleabag), Janet(s) (The Good Place), Anna Ishii-Peters (Pen15), Nothing in This World is Easy (Russian Doll), A Warm Body (Russian Doll), Veep (Veep)

It seems I accidentally only predicted four nominees here, though I’d like to think that I would have included the series finale of Veep along with the one puzzlingly nominated episode of Barry. I’m thrilled that The Good Place merited a mention here for a clever installment, though it’s a shame that actress and nominations announcer D’Arcy Carden didn’t get credit for that too. I guess I have to start watching Russian Doll, which earned bids for its pilot, which I saw, and its third episode, which I didn’t. I’m utterly shocked that Pen15 made the cut after having seen the first episode, but I’m happy that Maya Erskine, the standout star of the Tribeca film “Plus One,” is an Emmy nominee, so hopefully I’ll like that episode better than the first. And Fleabag, which I really have to catch up on, earned a nomination here along with a whole bunch of other bids.

What should win? I need to watch a few of these hours, but I’m all for “The Good Place” right now.
What will win? I think it will be the pilot of Russian Doll.

Emmy Nominees: Best Directing for a Comedy Series

My predictions: 3/6

The nominees: The Audition (Barry), ronny/lily (Barry), The Stockholm Syndrome (The Big Bang Theory), Episode 1 (Fleabag), All Alone (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel), We’re Going to the Catskills! (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel)

This is a decent list, and I think I’m happiest about the two episodes of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel making the cut. I like Barry too, though I’m not sure what people see in the “ronny/lily” episode. The series finale of The Big Bang Theory marks the show’s second consecutive nomination, and I look forward to watching it as I’m sure it’s fun. I really have to catch up on Fleabag, which did enormously well overall. I am surprised that “Veep” didn’t show up at all despite multiple previous nominations in this category each year.

What should win? Of the four I’ve seen, I’d choose either of the Maisel episodes.
What will win? I think All Alone might win.

Emmy Nominees: Best Writing for a Drama Series

My predictions: 4/6

The nominees: Winner (Better Call Saul), Episode 1 (Bodyguard), The Iron Throne (Game of Thrones), Holly (The Handmaid’s Tale), Nice and Neat (Killing Eve), Nobody Is Ever Missing (Succession)

Three of these episodes were also nominated for directing: the series finale of Game of Thrones, one of the “hanging episodes” leftover from season two of The Handmaid’s Tale, and the second episode of Killing Eve. It’s interesting that the pilot of Bodyguard got nominated here rather than for directing, but I’m all for it. I’m a fan of the season finale of Better Call Saul, while I’ll have to catch up and watch the season finale of Succession, which I didn’t watch past the pilot.

What should win? I’d probably be most excited about “Bodyguard,” but “Better Call Saul” or “The Handmaid’s Tale” would be great choices too.
What will win? I actually think Bodyguard might win, but I’m not sure.

Emmy Nominees: Best Directing for a Drama Series

My predictions: 4/7

The nominees: The Iron Throne (Game of Thrones), The Last of the Starks (Game of Thrones), The Long Night (Game of Thrones), Holly (The Handmaid’s Tale), Desperate Times (Killing Eve), Reparations (Ozark), Celebration (Succession)

As expected, Game of Thrones bests its three-year streak of two nominations each time with three for its final season. Even though it wasn’t eligible in the major categories because it didn’t technically air this season, The Handmaid’s Tale earned a bid here, and a double nominee last year, Ozark is back for its season premiere, which I have to watch. I’m not sure what was so special about the second episode of Killing Eve, and I also wasn’t too fond of the pilot of Succession, which I’ll now have to dive deep into considering it earned a Best Drama Series nomination.

What should win? From what I’ve seen, I’d probably give it to “The Long Night.”
What will win? It’s hard to imagine something other than The Long Night winning.

Emmy Nominees: Best Guest Actress in a Comedy Series

My predictions: 3/6, missing Shaw, Scott Thomas, and Thompson

I really should have watched season two of “Fleabag” already. I loved season one, and I’m a fan of both Fiona Shaw (Fleabag) and Kristen Scott Thomas (Fleabag). I’m looking forward to watching them soon. I’m glad that Emma Thompson (Saturday Night Live), who’s having a great year with “Late Night” and “Years and Years,” got nominated, and it’s no surprise that Sandra Oh (Saturday Night Live) did too. She wasn’t the best performer on her show, but I’m a fan of Maya Rudolph (The Good Place), and I’m fine with Jane Lynch (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel) even though she too wasn’t the most memorable element of her show.

Who should win? I’ve only seen two of these, so no comments just yet.
Who will win? I’ll have to watch, but I suspect Oh wins here.

Emmy Nominees: Best Guest Actor in a Comedy Series

My predictions: 2/7, picking only MacNicol and Sandler

Well, this is probably my worst category. SNL broke its own record, dominating with four nominations here for Adam Sandler (Saturday Night Live), Robert De Niro (Saturday Night Live), Matt Damon (Saturday Night Live), and John Mulaney (Saturday Night Live). I’ve only seen a bit of De Niro’s work, and I’ll look forward to seeing the comedians’ monologues and the actors’ political impressions. After his nomination was rescinded because he appeared in too many episodes a few years ago, Peter MacNicol (Veep) made the cut again. I thought they might do well, and it turns out that they both scored: Luke Kirby (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel) and Rufus Sewell (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel), two actors who very memorably connected with Rachel Brosnahan’s title character this season.

Who should win? I’ve only seen three of these performances. I’d love to see Sewell, a consistent standout on “The Man in the High Castle,” honored.
Who will win? I’ll have to watch, but I think Sandler will win.

Emmy Nominees: Best Guest Actress in a Drama Series

My predictions: 5/6, missing Cox

This was a good category for me, and I missed one returning nominee for another expected returning nominee. Laverne Cox (Orange is the New Black) did actually play a small part this past season, and so it’s decent that she’s nominated, joining repeat nominees Cherry Jones (The Handmaid’s Tale) and Cicely Tyson (How to Get Away with Murder), and Jessica Lange (American Horror Story: Apocalypse), earning her show its only major nomination following its transition to the drama series races. Phylicia Rashad (This Is Us) becomes the first woman to earn a guest bid for her show, and Carice van Houten (Game of Thrones) scored an expected nomination for a memorable and popular turn.

Who should win? I haven’t seen Tyson or Lange’s work this season, but otherwise I’d probably pick Cox or Rashad.
Who will win? I think Jones wins.

Emmy Nominees: Best Guest Actor in a Drama Series

My predictions: 4/6, missing Angarano and Turman

I did pretty well here, though I picked the wrong version of a “This Is Us” character in Griffin Dunne when Nicky’s younger portrayer Michael Angarno (This Is Us) got nominated instead alongside last year’s winner Ron Cephas Jones (This Is Us). I’m all for the makeup nomination received by Michael McKean (Better Call Saul). I’m also happy about Bradley Whitford (The Handmaid’s Tale), and I couldn’t be more ecstatic that Kumail Nanjiani (The Twilight Zone) made the cut, apparently the only recognition for the new anthology reboot. Knowing that he was on the ballot, I should have expected that past winner Glynn Turman (How to Get Away with Murder) would be nominated, and I’ll have to check out his performance on a show I don’t usually like.

Who should win? I need to watch Turman’s work, but otherwise I’d probably vote for Nanjiani with Whitford and McKean as close runners-up.
Who will win? I think Whitford wins unless Turman does.

Emmy Nominees: Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

My predictions: 5/8, missing Clifford, Colman, and Goldberg

For the second year in a row, this category has eight nominees, though only four of them are the same even though just one of the eight wasn’t eligible. Last year’s winner Alex Borstein (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel) got joined by Marin Hinkle (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel), which is marvelous indeed. I should have predicted Sarah Goldberg (Barry), and I’m happy that she’s here. I really have to watch the second season of a show whose first year I loved, and so I’ll have more to say about Sian Clifford (Fleabag) and Oscar winner Olivia Colman (Fleabag) after I do. Though I don’t watch her show, I’m happy that Betty Gilpin (GLOW) made the cut again as her show got dropped from the top race. Expectedly, we have perennial nominees Anna Chlumsky (Veep) for the last time and Kate McKinnon (Saturday Night Live) representing her show solo for the first time in three years. It’s a shame that nominations announcer D’Arcy Carden didn’t get nominated for “The Good Place” even though the episode she would have submitted did for its writing.

Who should win? I haven’t seen a lot of these nominees, so I’ll hold off judgment until then.
Who will win? It’s hard to say without having seen so much, but I’ll pick Colman for now.