Sunday, December 17, 2017

What I’m Watching: Shameless

Shameless: Season 8, Episode 6 “Icarus Fell and Rusty Ate Him” (B+)

This dynamic between Fiona and Ian is predictably tense, and having Fiona experience a crisis of identity at the same time has given her a certain resolve to make a difference. What they’re not agreeing on is what kind of difference to make, since Fiona doesn’t want to be forgotten and have her dead body cleaned out by an uncaring relative who won’t even bother to save a photo of her. Maybe I was wrong and Fiona isn’t going to hook up with Nessa after all, but I guess there’s still time. His new Kentucky identity can’t help Kev with his jealousy about how Svetlana does a better job giving Veronica pleasure than he does, and his efforts to be defiantly gay were extremely entertaining – and equally unsuccessful. His inability to comprehend the notion of domination by having Veronica determine what he would make her do was unsurprising. I knew Frank’s new lease on life might expire at some point, but I think the bubble burst earlier than expected thanks to the closing of his store, and my biggest takeaway was the tone-deafness of an organization that won’t bother to cancel an employee-of-the-month photo shoot taking place the same day as that employee, and all the other employees, were being let go. I wonder if the countdown clock at the bottom of the screen means that Debs really is pregnant again, and something tells me that she’ll be able to, after some struggling, monetize the operation if she ends up with two babies. As Brad spirals out of control, it’s good to see Lip investing so heavily in trying to bring him back from the edge, holding on to that obsession to keep him from slipping back into alcoholism.

What I’m Watching: Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency: Season 2, Episode 9 “Trouble Is Bad” (B+)

I had forgotten how violent this show can get, and I guess I had expected that the likes of Panto and Silas would live happily ever after. I don’t think that any of Wendimoor will survive past this, and it’s going to be an explosive conclusion that manages to outdo the literal explosion that finally broke the Mage’s spell and hopefully took him out and the killing of pretty much everyone on both sides in Wendimoor. We saw Panto exhibit more violence than ever before as he let Bart relax while he killed all of Priest’s men, and it’s great to see the relationship he’s developed with Bart. It was wonderful to see a joyous reunion between Bart and Ken via tablet, and Bart’s excitement not to be killing people anymore was palpable, though Ken’s unsuccessful attempt to get her to come in means that they won’t be reunited in person anytime soon. When Panto was killed, Bart’s inner killer was unleashed, and we didn’t need to see more than the bullets bouncing off her to know what was coming next. Hugo nearly shooting Ken when Mona transformed into his gun was intense, and I liked the introduction of this holistic actress, a perfect addition to the weird bunch on this show. Things don’t look good for Tina and Farah, both of whom I really hope survive. The ending of this episode was fantastic, just like this time last year, with Dirk getting ready to jump back to the real world to save the day after Todd and Amanda teamed up to transport him with their powers. I can’t wait for the finale, and I really hope we get a season three.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

What I’m Watching: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D: Season 5, Episode 3 “A Life Spent” (C+)

I’m really just not understanding why this is where we’re spending our time. I was frustrated leading up to the framework because it felt like everyone was being replaced by robots and that things could never go back to the way they were, but then they did and instead of getting to experience the readjustment, everything is just as irreversible now that they’re stranded so far in the future with little hope of getting back to their quaked-apart planet so many years earlier. It doesn’t seem possible that they’ll escape anytime soon, especially considering the newly-revealed treachery perpetrated by Deke, who made sure that Daisy demonstrated her powers for Kasius before he presented her as a valuable item to sell. I find the “silence” device that Kasius and Sinara use on Simmons to be very creepy, and I really can’t imagine how she’ll be able to communicate with anyone on the team to get out of this life of servitude. She managed to save Abby’s life by training her, but all that did was get her sold too. The side mission that Coulson, May, and Mack convinced Tess to take with them didn’t go too awry thanks to the clever thinking to implicate Zev as the traitor, and Yo-Yo’s abilities continue to be extremely convenient and awesome. Going back to Earth seems less and less appealing with the sight of a stranded Zev ready to be taken by the elements after being banished to its surface, and I’m wondering whether I’ll even feel like tuning in next week to continue watching this seemingly aimless saga.

What I’m Watching: Jane the Virgin

Jane the Virgin: Season 4, Episode 7 “Chapter Seventy-One” (B+)

I was cheering throughout this episode, since anyone who’s followed my reviews of this show since the beginning knows that I’ve always been #teamrafael, and now it finally looks like it’s going to happen again (though I was convinced that the last scene was just something she imaged happening). The disastrous book tour, filled with video-captured crying and a lackluster review, was helpful in allowing all three Villanueva women to realize something important about themselves. Having all of the reminders about Adam was extremely distracting for Jane, but I think that, in this show’s history, he’s going to be just a blip in Jane’s romantic life, far eclipsed by Michael and Rafael, the two men for whom she’s fallen hardest. I enjoyed the bonding time we got between Rogelio and Rafael since we rarely see those two interact, and Rogelio attributing some of that to Rafael being a playboy when they first met and he was dating Jane was insightful. I was concerned when Rafael convinced Rogelio to be mad at Xiomara for running away, but fortunately it helped the relationship and is now sending them into couples counseling, which should prove entertaining as Rogelio tries to resist it. Alba dashing away from Jorge’s proposal led her to an important realization, but then for some reason she changed her mind at the last minute! Jane reconnecting with Michael’s mother was important and cathartic, and now she really can move on to the next chapter of her life. Petra, on the other hand, won’t ever be rid of her sister, even if she managed to make sure that she’s really dead this time, though we didn’t see the nametag so we can’t know for sure.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

What I’m Watching: Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: Season 3, Episode 7 “Getting Over Jeff.” (B-)

I’ll admit - I watched this episode almost a week ago and didn’t get a chance to write my review until now, so my memory of it isn’t all that clear. I know that it wasn’t my favorite hour, mainly because it took two of our main characters away from home for a visit to Paula’s dad. Being away from her normal surroundings might have been good for Rebecca, and she also noticed that drinking wasn’t actually a trigger for her the way a lot of other things are. Paula ran into her own Josh Chan, whose name was pretty similar to Josh’s, and she had to process that this was just an escape from the regular life that, according to her family, she finds ways to distract herself from with other obsessions on an almost constant basis. Leave it to a precocious child like Madison to be more mature than the adults and help Darryl finally break up with White Josh, a lamentable development that hopefully won’t leave them both in a rut and maybe won’t even be permanent. Josh getting a job as a bartender spoke to his skill and his general ability to do little and make it seem like he’s doing a lot, and that bubble burst in an unfortunate way when his pimple popped right into the drink of the woman he was trying to woo. That was far from his best moment, and he’s going to need to seriously work on his game and improving his self-awareness, something that’s never been his strong suit.

What I’m Watching: The Crown (Season Premiere)

The Crown: Season 2, Episode 1 “Misadventure” (B+)

This show is back for a second season just three short months after I finished the first one, and my opinion of it has definitely risen even if I’m still not as gung-ho about its quality as everyone else I know. It’s still slow but purposefully so, and each episode feels like an epic exploration of isolated figures in monumental moments of history. This one started by revisiting the bickering going on between Elizabeth and Philip, highlighted fantastically by Elizabeth suggesting that one of Philip’s biggest problems was that he complained so much. There were a few moments of more jovial interactions, but mostly it was the cold, kiss-on-the-cheek, unfriendly moments that suggest that even Elizabeth might ascribe to Mike’s joking perspective about marriage being an institution. Elizabeth closing the door on her empty bedroom was another signature ending scored by fantastic music, and she did a great job holding her own as she found out from the prime minister that the Suez Canal operation with the Israelis had been approved without her knowledge. It’s interesting watching this show after seeing “Darkest Hour” a month ago and noting how its portrayals of British diplomacy are similar, if a bit brighter on this show. Margaret’s appearance was as always very memorable, with a fierce jab at Elizabeth for reminding her that she’s alone because she - or, as Elizabeth argues, the crown - forbade her from marrying the one true match that she had found. I’ll be watching this show over the next twelve weeks and look forward to covering some interesting territory.

What I’m Watching: Longmire

Longmire: Season 6, Episode 4 “A Thing I’ll Never Understand” (B+)

There’s a certain point that some shows - especially cop shows - which involve dynamics of sarcasm reach when a main character is either killed or suffers a serious trauma and it’s all about offering uncharacteristically sober support. I think that sort of happened way back when Chance first terrorized Vic, and then when Branch got killed it kicked into gear again since his death, however complicated, was still a big loss to the department. This time, Walt actually had to drive Vic to the hospital and keep her awake during the intense ride, and then they had to deal with the devastating news that she lost the baby. Honestly, I’d say that Vic often shows even less emotion than Walt, and for her to latch on to what sex or blood type the baby would have been was unusually tender, and it’s amazing to see Katee Sackhoff in this role while she’s simultaneously recurring as a costumed British villain on “The Flash.” Maybe she’ll finally give stupid nice guy Travis the chance he deserves after some decent advice on the matter from Walt. Ferg helping out Meg’s mom was a sweet subplot, and the most entertaining part was Bob Clendenin’s Jamie DeBell trying to get Uber started in Absaroka County when it definitely didn’t exist there. I enjoyed Nighthorse and Henry driving to Cheyenne and disagreeing about their favorite candies, and it’s good to see them united in the face of an enemy ready to intimidate and take out both of them for trying to do the right thing.

What I’m Watching: The Punisher

The Punisher: Season 1, Episode 4 “Resupply” (B)

I didn’t find this episode to be as engaging only because I think that Frank’s central storyline is the one that’s most intriguing, and deviating largely from that to focus both on the police investigation and contractor operations didn’t appeal to me as much. Watching Frank and David work together is interesting since they still don’t see eye-to-eye, and what that meant in this episode is that, after a pretty intense car chase, Frank had no intention of harming Dinah, and David crashing into her got him very angry since he was hoping to tiptoe on the line of legality and ensure that innocent people didn’t die. Anyone who’s guilty, on the other hand, is fair game, and therefore Frank was willing to admit that he took out a few henchmen when David seemed disappointed in him. Let’s hope that Frank’s life-saving gesture can convince Dinah that he’s not a bad person and that she should be looking into the boss that he confessed to killing. I don’t know why we’re spending time with Lewis, who so far hasn’t proved to be a very magnetic character, but I’m sure that Anvil will end up playing much more into this, especially if they’re eventually tasked with taking a former operative who went rogue. Frank isn’t exactly great at staying under the radar, though I’d argue that he’s never tried to do that aside from the obviously intelligent steps like not vomiting and leaving DNA behind at a crime scene for the police or anyone worse to find.

What I’m Watching: Stranger Things

Stranger Things: Season 2, Episode 7 “Chapter Seven: The Lost Sister” (B)

I realized a few minutes into this episode that I had read about this seventh episode and how everyone seemed to hate it, which seemed strange to me because I can’t imagine most binge-watchers can identify one episode from another. I do understand that this featured a mostly throwaway plotline that didn’t feel anything like this show usually does, and in all likelihood, we’ll never see any of these characters again except for the one who’s a star of the show. What I found valuable about this episode was that Eleven found her sister and they were able to bond over their shared experiences, and that Eight had some pretty cool powers. Eleven’s abilities have always been one of my favorite elements of this show, and watching her make someone see spiders, turn the group invisible, and create an “Inception”-style barrier to hide their getaway was definitely cool. Whether or not it needed to take up an entire episode, it was still valuable to see Eight try to push Eleven towards violence, something that she resisted since she didn’t think it was necessary unless they were really stopping bad men. Most importantly, she saw Hopper and Mike and realized that they needed her help, prompting her to get on a bus and tell the old lady she was sitting next to that she was going home to see her friends. Bring on chapter eight – I can’t wait until she and Max finally meet, and it will be cool if she and Will get to team up too!

What I’m Watching: Mindhunter

Mindhunter: Season 1, Episode 9 (B+)

We’re getting to the point where the actual interviews encompass a small portion of the hour and it’s the analysis and, in this case, fallout that occupy much more time. Richard Speck was probably the most memorable interviewee yet, mainly due to the showy entrance that Holden and Bill had tried to avoid and the vicious language that he used. It was indeed interesting that Speck was so insistent that he wasn’t crazy like the other people they were talking to, though he didn’t do much to prove that. The most disconcerting part of the entire interview was Holden deciding to use crude language of his own to bait Speck, which worked but also ended up getting the team in hot water after that. The ousted principal’s wife tracking Holden down at home and commenting repeatedly on how young he and Debbie were to be ruining someone’s life was yet another signal that Holden, in his calm, matter-of-fact way of speaking, is going totally rogue. Having Gregg redact Holden’s controversial part of the conversation was a deliberate act, and the fact that no one in the Office of Professional Responsibility actually cared about Speck’s complaints doesn’t negate what happened. Wendy and Shepard listening to the tape indicated that they don’t trust Holden, and their joint decision to destroy the tape didn’t mean much when Gregg decided to mail it in anyway. I’m curious to see what happens in the finale and how that plants the seed for the second season that was recently announced.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

SAG Nominees: Best Ensemble in a Comedy Series

My predictions: 3/5, picking “The Big Bang Theory” and “Will and Grace” over “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “GLOW”
Who’s missing? Modern Family, The Big Bang Theory, Will and Grace, Master of None, Transparent, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, SMILF

I want to open with a realization that I missed when this category was announced: four-time winner and eight-time nominee “Modern Family” is not here for the first time ever. That’s a big deal, and it’s been a long time coming. “The Big Bang Theory” also isn’t here after six consecutive bids, and I’m a bit surprised that “Will and Grace,” a past five-time nominee, missed out in favor of Curb Your Enthusiasm and its six-member cast, who I don’t think deserve to be here. I’m fine with GLOW since I found the pilot entertaining enough, and >Black-ish also has a great cast. I’m very happy about three-time defending champ Orange is the New Black continuing to show up since I think it’s one of the best ensembles on TV and Globe and Emmy voters have all but abandoned it. Veep rounding out the list is also no surprise, and it’s possible that it could finally win this year after four losses.

Who will win? I’d say Orange is the New Black continues its reign for a superb showcase this season.

SAG Nominees: Best Ensemble in a Drama Series

My predictions: 5/5!
Who’s missing? Ozark, House of Cards, Homeland, The Deuce

Is there anyone who didn’t get this right? This list matches the Globes exactly, inserting 2017’s top new Emmy-winning drama and another nominee that inexplicably wasn’t here last year. Only last year’s winner Stranger Things managed two individual bids, while the other four each got one: The Crown, Game of Thrones, The Handmaid’s Tale, and This Is Us. I thought “Ozark” might have gotten it after seeing it reap twin acting bids, but apparently not, which I’m completely fine with it since I didn’t like the pilot.

Who will win? I feel like The Handmaid’s Tale could take it unless “Stranger Things” repeats.

SAG Nominees: Best Female Actor in a Comedy Series

My predictions: 2/5, picking only Aduba and Louis-Dreyfus
Who’s missing? Ellie Kemper, Pamela Adlon, Issa Rae, Rachel Brosnahan, Frankie Shaw

Well, this wasn’t my best category. Interestingly, we have just one nominee who’s also contending for a Golden Globe, and that’s Alison Brie (GLOW), whose show I didn’t watch past the pilot but did enjoy in its initial hour. She’s also the only new nominee here, unfortunately bumping Kemper. Jane Fonda (Grace and Frankie) and Lily Tomlin (Grace and Frankie) are clearly popular with SAG voters, as is Uzo Aduba (Orange is the New Black), who is hardly the best part of her terrific ensemble these days. And then we have Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep), rebounding from a Globe snub and looking to win her third award for this show and fifth SAG trophy overall.

Who will win? I don’t see why it wouldn’t be Louis-Dreyfus again.

SAG Nominees: Best Male Actor in a Comedy Series

My predictions: 4/6, picking McCormack over David and Maron
Who’s missing? Jeffrey Tambor, Tituss Burgess, Ty Burrell, Eric McCormack, Kevin Bacon,

I didn’t even notice that Burrell missed out on a nod (as did his show) after seven nominations, out along with Burgess and Tambor, making way for a list of mostly returning nominees. Sean Hayes (Will and Grace) is the only member of his cast to return after his show’s long hiatus, and this six-time nominee and three-time winner shouldn’t be underestimated. Larry David (Curb Your Enthusiasm) is also back after bids in 2005 and 2009, along with his show’s ensemble, which is a bit strange. Two-time winner and reigning champ William H. Macy (Shameless) is back, and how nice it would have been for his show to score an ensemble bid. Anthony Anderson (Black-ish) returns after joining the list last year, and I’m so thrilled for Aziz Ansari (Master of None). And this year’s left-field inclusion is Marc Maron (GLOW), who was interesting in the pilot of that show and who I don’t think anyone expected to show up here. This is a decent list to be sure even if it’s not who I would have picked.

Who will win? I’d go with Hayes over Macy or Ansari.

SAG Nominees: Best Female Actor in a Drama Series

My predictions: 4/5, picking Ryder over Linney
Who’s missing? Winona Ryder, Caitriona Balfe, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Katharine Langford

I just don’t understand what voters see in Laura Linney (Ozark), an actress they never nominated for her great work on “The Big C” and whose current show I stopped watching after the pilot. Everyone else here makes sense, with Emmy winner Elisabeth Moss (The Handmaid’s Tale) joining three nominees from last year: Millie Bobby Brown (Stranger Things), Claire Foy (The Crown), and, expectedly here without her TV husband, Robin Wright (House of Cards).

Who will win? I think Moss takes this unless Foy repeats.