Tuesday, June 28, 2016

What I’m Watching: 12 Monkeys

12 Monkeys: Season 2, Episode 9 “Hyena” (B)

There are times when this show seems to slow down and really invest in one possible reality, or in this case, the moment in which Jennifer Goines came into her own and led her own kind of rebellion. Choosing the hyena as the name for her merry band was very interesting, especially as later analyzed by the Pallid Man while he was being tortured for information about other primaries. While Jennifer does surround herself with legitimately mentally ill people, it’s clear that she’s come to a much better place, and that she could almost exist and survive normally in society. Reading Cole’s cues during their shouting match was the ultimate sign, and it’s a good thing that they managed to suppress the mutiny that nearly got them into trouble and cost them the Pallid Man as a valuable source. Ending the episode with the late Dr. Jones, the one who invented time travel and who we haven’t seen since the season one finale, was quite intriguing, and it’s constantly fascinating to see the emphasis on which a role someone will play in history is put. I do feel like this episode got off track a little bit, away from the impending destruction of time but also from a truly invigorating and exciting storyline. I think we need more action and some dynamic change that will enable our characters to continue traveling through time, preventing paradoxes and causing other unexpected effects on time as it continues to exist and be manipulated.

What I’m Watching: Veep

Veep: Season 5, Episode 8 “Camp David” (B+)

It’s far from surprising that Selina would try to kill two birds she hates with one stone – spending time with her family and making nice to the Chinese. Marjorie being the perfect double from behind for Selina was used to great effect in this installment, as Selina’s new Eastern allies got very upset when they thought that the president was engaged in an inappropriate sexual relationship with her own daughter. Selina didn’t help matters at all by giving away the thoughtful gift from Catherine that she didn’t appreciate so that she could seem more gracious when the Chinese kept plying her with gift after gift. So much of the whole family dynamic is uncomfortable, but at least it’s good to see Catherine given some meager degree of personality, finally comfortable standing up for herself to her truly selfish and uncaring mother. I love that Mike picked up smoking after accidentally chewing nicotine gun and that, somehow, he’s now both having twins and getting a Chinese baby. Jonah’s win in New Hampshire was crazy after a last-minute concession, and he managed to show his adoring crowd that maybe he wasn’t the best choice for an elected position, choosing his victorious moment as the time to boast to those who used to mock him. I’m eager to see how his time as an elected official will go and what horrific actions and legislation we can expect from him in the final two episodes of this season. It’s definitely going to be entertaining.

Emmy Predictions: Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

The 68th Primetime Emmy Awards nominations will be announced on Thursday, July 14th. As always, chime in below in the comments with any thoughts of your own.

Last year’s nominees: Mayim Bialik, Julie Bowen, Anna Chlumsky, Gaby Hoffmann, Allison Janney, Jane Krakowski, Kate McKinnon, Niecy Nash

The competition: There were a staggering eight nominees last year, and every single one of them is eligible again this year. I feel like it’s somewhat arbitrary to pick who will be left out since I can’t imagine we’ll have eight nominees again, but I’m betting that, at the very least, Nash was a fluke. Bialik and Bowen may not be the smartest ones to cast aside, but that’s what I’m predicting. I think that Hoffman’s costar Judith Light (Transparent) will be included after being snubbed last year, and I’m not sure she has much competition. Past nominee Sofia Vergara (Modern Family) could show up again, but I doubt it, and awards favorite Dianne Wiest (Life in Pieces) could be nominated too. And it’s always possible that Melanie Lynskey (Togetherness) could score a nomination even though she’s improperly categorized here.

The predicted nominees: Anna Chlumsky, Gaby Hoffmann, Allison Janney, Jane Krakowski, Judith Light, Kate McKinnon

The predicted winner: Light

Emmy Predictions: Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

The 68th Primetime Emmy Awards nominations will be announced on Thursday, July 14th. As always, chime in below in the comments with any thoughts of your own.

Last year’s nominees: Andre Braugher, Tituss Burgess, Ty Burrell, Adam Driver, Tony Hale, Keagan Michael-Key

The competition: All six of last year’s nominees are in the running again. I don’t think the lineup will change too much, though Michael-Key is definitely the most vulnerable. My prediction is that Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Modern Family) will benefit from positive Broadway buzz and return to the race again, and costars Ed O’Neill (Modern Family) and Eric Stonestreet (Modern Family) could also be back too. Louie Anderson (Baskets) seems to be high on a lot of people’s prediction lists, but I don’t think it will happen. They could have been nominated last year, but maybe this is when Laurence Fishburne (Black-ish) and Jaime Camil (Jane the Virgin) will sneak into the race. Or is there someone else altogether that we’re underestimating?

The predicted nominees: Andre Braugher, Tituss Burgess, Ty Burrell, Adam Driver, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Tony Hale

The predicted winner: Hale

Monday, June 27, 2016

Emmy Predictions: Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

The 68th Primetime Emmy Awards nominations will be announced on Thursday, July 14th. As always, chime in below in the comments with any thoughts of your own.

Last year’s nominees: Uzo Aduba, Christine Baranski, Emilia Clarke, Joanne Froggatt, Lena Headey, Christina Hendricks

The competition: Count out Hendricks, whose show ended, and the simplest solution is to sub back in Maggie Smith (Downton Abbey), who was snubbed last year for the first time and shouldn’t have any trouble re-securing her place for the final season of her show. The likeliest to displace any of the probable nominees are Maggie Siff (Billions), now on an Emmy-bait show, and Cush Jumbo (The Good Wife), a popular addition to a proven Emmy favorite. I would be ecstatic if Rhea Seehorn (Better Call Saul) made the cut. The other three major threats, all of whom will have no support from their shows, are Regina King (The Leftovers), Constance Zimmer (UnReal), and Edie Falco (Horace and Pete).

The predicted nominees: Uzo Aduba, Christine Baranski, Emilia Clarke, Joanne Froggatt, Lena Headey, Maggie Smith

The predicted winner: Aduba

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Emmy Predictions: Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

The 68th Primetime Emmy Awards nominations will be announced on Thursday, July 14th. As always, chime in below in the comments with any thoughts of your own.

Last year’s nominees: Jonathan Banks, Jim Carter, Alan Cumming, Peter Dinklage, Michael Kelly, Ben Mendelsohn

The competition: One of last year’s nominees, Mendelsohn, won’t be back. It’s likely that both Carter and Cumming will benefit from it being the final year of their shows, and I expect that both Banks and Dinklage will surely be back. Kelly is more of a question mark, but he’s likely too. The easy choice for the sixth spot is Golden Globe winner Christian Slater (Mr. Robot). Other possibilities include past nominee Mandy Patinkin (Homeland) and a whole slew of other contenders like Michael McKean (Better Call Saul), Tobias Menzies (Outlander), Jussie Smollett (Empire), and freshman possibilities Ray Romano (Vinyl) and Rufus Sewell (The Man in the High Castle). I’m sure there are also one or two contenders I’m not even thinking of since this category tends to turn over a lot.

The predicted nominees: Jonathan Banks, Jim Carter, Alan Cumming, Peter Dinklage, Michael Kelly, Christian Slater

The predicted winner: Slater

Emmy Predictions: Best Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

The 68th Primetime Emmy Awards nominations will be announced on Thursday, July 14th. As always, chime in below in the comments with any thoughts of your own.

Last year’s nominees: Edie Falco, Lisa Kudrow, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Amy Poehler, Amy Schumer, Lily Tomlin

The competition: Look for change in this category, since three of the nominees – Falco, Kudrow, and Poehler – won’t be back since their shows are over. It’s a good bet that the other three will return, and it’s just a question of who will join them. Their shows air on the CW, but I’m going to predict that both Rachel Bloom (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend) and Gina Rodriguez (Jane the Virgin) will show up despite historical snubs for the network. She was shut out last year while every other aspect of her show got recognized, and so it’s a good bet that Ellie Kemper (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) will get nominated this year. Other possibilities include past nominees Lena Dunham (Girls) and Melissa McCarthy (Mike and Molly), as well as potential first-timers like Tracee Ellis Ross (Black-ish) and Sharon Horgan (Catastrophe), and three contenders I’d be thrilled to see, Michaela Watkins (Casual) and Aya Cash (You’re the Worst).

The predicted nominees: Edie Falco, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Ellie Kemper, Lisa Kudrow, Amy Poehler, Gina Rodriguez

The predicted winner: Poehler

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Emmy Predictions: Best Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

The 68th Primetime Emmy Awards nominations will be announced on Thursday, July 14th. As always, chime in below in the comments with any thoughts of your own.

Last year’s nominees: Anthony Anderson, Louis C.K., Don Cheadle, Will Forte, Matt LeBlanc, William H. Macy, Jeffrey Tambor

The competition: There were seven nominees last year, and two – C.K. and won’t be back for sure since their series, not yet cancelled, didn’t air last season. I suspect the rest will be back, although it’s far from guaranteed for anyone except Tambor. The two top contenders to score slot number six are Aziz Ansari (Master of None) and Gael Garcia Bernal (Mozart in the Jungle), and it’s also possible that two Golden Globe nominees whose shows have since been cancelled, Rob Lowe (The Grinder) and Patrick Stewart (Blunt Talk), could squeeze in. Zach Galifianakis (Baskets) is a contender, as Rob Delaney (Catastrophe) could be, as well a near-nominee who has been on the cusp of a nomination for two years now, Thomas Middleditch (Silicon Valley), and past nominee Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory).

The predicted nominees: Anthony Anderson, Aziz Ansari, Don Cheadle, Will Forte, William H. Macy, Jeffrey Tambor

The predicted winner: Tambor

Emmy Predictions: Best Lead Actress in a Drama Series

The 68th Primetime Emmy Awards nominations will be announced on Thursday, July 14th. As always, chime in below in the comments with any thoughts of your own.

Last year’s nominees: Claire Danes, Viola Davis, Taraji P. Henson, Tatiana Maslany, Elisabeth Moss, Robin Wright

The competition: Just one of the six nominees from last year can’t return, and that’s Moss, whose show has ended. The easiest thing to do would be to sub back in Julianna Margulies (The Good Wife), who has been nominated four times and won twice in the past six years, for the final season of her show. I’m most worried about Maslany coming back just because I feel that it would be too great for her to actually be honored for so many amazing performances, but I’m predicting that she will be back for the show’s fourth season. I don’t think either of the two new Golden Globe additions, Caitriona Balfe (Outlander) and Eva Green (Penny Dreadful), will pose too much of a threat, but it’s possible. Don’t count out past nominees like Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey) or Kerry Washington (Scandal), as well as never-nominated Keri Russell (The Americans). It’s way too much to hope for that Krysten Ritter (Jessica Jones) could actually become an Emmy nominee, but I would be so overjoyed, especially if Maslany gets nominated too.

The predicted nominees: Claire Danes, Viola Davis, Taraji P. Henson, Julianna Margulies, Tatiana Maslany, Robin Wright

The predicted winner: Margulies

Emmy Predictions: Best Lead Actor in a Drama Series

The 68th Primetime Emmy Awards nominations will be announced on Thursday, July 14th. As always, chime in below in the comments with any thoughts of your own.

Last year’s nominees: Kyle Chandler, Jeff Daniels, Jon Hamm, Bob Odenkirk, Liev Schreiber, Kevin Spacey

The competition: Count out two of last year’s nominees, including the winner, since their shows have gone off the air: Daniels and Hamm. Of the remaining four, I think only two are strong contenders to come back: Odenkirk and Spacey, whose shows are still popular and well-regarded. While I think that he completely deserves it, I’m not sure that Schreiber will manage to return for nomination number two. I’m equally dubious about Chandler, who was here with costar Ben Mendelsohn last year for season one of his new Netflix drama. I expect that both Golden Globe additions, Rami Malek (Mr. Robot) and Wagner Moura (Narcos), may join the list, though the latter isn’t a lock despite being truly excellent on the Spanish-language streaming show. Looking at experts’ predictions, no one chose both Damian Lewis (Billions) and Paul Giamatti (Billions), both of whom are past Emmy winners, but many chose one or the other. I think both will make the cut. Bobby Cannavale (Vinyl) is the other new contender who may end up with a nomination, especially considering he took home an Emmy for his last HBO role on “Boardwalk Empire.” Other possibilities include Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey), a past nominee, and Matthew Rhys (The Americans) or Terrence Howard (Empire), who could finally score their first nominations after being ignored in the past.

The predicted nominees: Bobby Cannavale, Paul Giamatti, Damian Lewis, Rami Malek, Bob Odenkirk, Kevin Spacey

The predicted winner: Malek

Sunday, June 19, 2016

What I’m Watching: Silicon Valley

Silicon Valley: Season 3, Episode 8 “Bachman’s Earning’s Over-ride” (B+)

It’s a wonder that Erlich managed to keep his secret as long as he did, since Richard would have given it away immediately and Erlich’s ego usually leads to much boasting. I like the way that it all played out, with Richard initially suspecting Monica and then quickly getting to the root of the truth which is that it was his supposed best friend and Pied Piper stockholder who had to sell his shares to get back to a point of financial solvency. The people who interview for jobs at Pied Piper really are full of themselves, and this latest candidate was quite eager to exploit what he thought he knew about the company to his advantage. Laurie was blunt with him about what happened, and it was interesting to see Richard start to feel bad that Erlich pretty much ended up getting nothing. Appointing him Director of PR after he bared his humiliation and fell on his sword publicly was a smart move, though Erlich didn’t waste any time declaring himself Chief Evangelism Officer, which is sure to be confusing. I enjoyed the brief interaction we saw between Gavin and Jack, who were nearly friends but then agreed just to play games via their excessive internet while in the air on separate private jets to the same destination. Gavin getting fired has been a long time coming, and I hope he’ll continue to be part of the story in some way since he really is a unique and unforgettable character.

What I’m Watching: Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones: Season 6, Episode 8 “No One” (B+)

This show always catches me off guard with its short ten-episode seasons, but each installment is so packed with content that I guess it’s actually much more substantial than a lot of other series. It’s intriguing to see the different attitudes towards Tomman’s newfound submission to the faith espoused by Cersei and by Olenna. The latter was happy to celebrate that the one positive of this awful situation was that Cersei suffered and lost while the former was not content to let things sit as they are. She has an enormous uphill battle now that trial by combat has been outlawed for what it is, a way for the rich to skate by and be absolved of their misdeeds. Jaime is off conquering another kingdom, and it’s great to see him reunited with Brienne and pausing to think about whether he should be a good person or not. Their relationship is one of the most complex and terrific on this show, and it was fun to see them meet again. Tyrion did a marvelous job getting Missandei and Grey Worm to drink and tell jokes, and it seemed like it had all been interrupted by an attack until Daenerys walked in triumphant. Arya’s fate seemed bleak, but training to take out the woman she could never beat with skills she had inherited from being blinded was extremely cunning. Declaring her name and her intention to return home was a fantastic moment, and I’m excited to see where she goes next.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

What I’m Watching: House of Lies (Series Finale)

House of Lies: Season 5, Episode 10 “No es Facil”

I don’t think this episode was intended to be a series finale. This show was officially reported as cancelled with just four episodes to go about a month ago, and it seems to me that the writers might have been planning on having this show go on for a while more even though this historic trip to Cuba was exactly the kind of event fitting for a series finale. It’s great that Marty and Jeannie got married, even if the proposal was hardly romantic. And good for them for realizing that they could screw over both Monica and Skip by leaking false information via the platform they knew already that Monica had hacked, and for doing it even when they didn’t get anything out of it other than the satisfaction that their opponents hadn’t won. What didn’t impress me as much was how disjointed this episode felt, with all the “earlier” and “later” cue cards designed to help – or, more accurately, prevent – the audience from piecing together what was going on. It just seems like there wasn’t time for any of that, and it made enjoying the episode less possible. Ending with a dance sequence worthy of “Slumdog Millionaire” which showed the entire cast and crew – the “House of Lies” hat one of them was wearing was a helpful tip – dancing and celebrating the filming of this episode in Cuba was fun, and it shows that ultimately the pod found something in Cuba that they couldn’t find anywhere in America. I’m not sure exactly what that says other than that some things are more important than money. In that sense, this wasn’t a superb finale, a less enthusiastic ending note for an otherwise strong season. Nothing compares to this show’s first season, but it’s been an extravagant foul-mouthed wild ride that I won’t soon forget.

Series finale: B-
Series grade: B+
Season MVP: Don Cheadle as Marty
Season grade: B+
Series MVP: Kristen Bell as Jeannie
Best Season: Season 1
Best Episode: “Family Values

What I’m Watching: Hell on Wheels (Mid-Season Premiere)

Hell on Wheels: Season 5, Episode 8 “Two Soldiers” (C+)

I would have missed the mid-season premiere of this show entirely if I hadn’t happened to see an ad. I don’t usually check Saturday listings since so few shows air then, and I had honestly forgotten that this show was still airing. This second half of the fifth season should really be considered its own standalone sixth cycle, and I certainly hope that the remaining episodes are more engaging than this one. While the quality of this episode may not have been all that bad, its pacing was torturous. I don’t really understand why it was so necessary, since Cullen had two opportunities to kill the Swede and opted not to take either of them and instead to nearly lose a leg and almost his life transporting him back to face justice, which of course meant execution. Cullen has been transformed from someone who had questionable views on ethics and their importance to someone who holds them dear and needs to see them upheld by others. However boring and pointless this episode may have been, there’s no denying its strong stylization of the Civil War-era western, best illustrated by Naomi’s lonely run for her life and the flashbacks to the Swede’s experiences as a soldier. I’m not sure what the point of all it was, however, if the Swede was just going to die in the end anyway, since it nearly happened so many times before and now is a closed-loop plotline. I recognized Jeff Fahey from “Lost” as the man who patched Cullen up in a quiet but memorable role.

What I’m Watching: Daredevil

Daredevil: Season 2, Episode 3 “New York’s Finest” (B+)

This was a cool episode, though it certainly did feel like it lasted forever just like the last hour. What was really interesting about this episode is that it permitted us an audience with the killer we’ve just seen and barely heard up until now. Matt waking up chained up by the Punisher was not a promising start, but our new villain was feeling very chatty and more than happy to spell out his reasons for doing what he does. Not taking off Matt’s mask made some sense since he really doesn’t care who he is, and his continued reference to him as Red made the conversation seem much more casual than it should have been. Arguing that they do the same thing but Matt doesn’t go far enough was certainly thought-provoking, and the notion of the two of them talking is still what’s most involving for me. Matt bursting out of his chains made for quite the finale, and his beating of the bikers the Punisher incited was quite brutal, something that I’m sure the Punisher will celebrate. Foggy did a spectacular job breaking up the fight in the hospital, showing his lawyer skills at their very best and earning him some credit from an overworked and stressed Claire. Karen is making some progress fighting the close-minded and apparently corrupt D.A. and she now seems to have found something very useful that indicates that there is something seriously wrong with the Punisher that could explain his penchant for killing.